Exodus Cry

For those of you who have been hearing about sex trafficking and have been desiring to do something more than just be horrified from an armchair, people at Antioch Church have put together RunFor1, a 5K run where all the proceeds will go to the ministry, Exodus Cry, aiming to abolish human trafficking and slavery through prayer, education and restoration.

The run/walk is on March 29, 2014. Please, please register and tell your friends to help put an end to this horrible trade.

May the grace and favor of God be over the people involved in these ministries and to those who are affected and/or in captivity. May they be set free spiritually, physically, and emotionally and find joy in Christ, our Savior.

To learn more about the run and to register, click the following: RunFor1

exodusLive Long!

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Spirit verses the Flesh

shore

You enter the courts, ready to bring your praise. Normally you’d stop to take everything in, the beauty of this place. But today, today all that stands before you is nothing compared to the One who sits before you, rightfully on His throne. He, who has been waiting patiently for you to come into His presence, who has been guiding each step faithfully, listening with such love and devotion to His child—sometimes ready, sometimes resisting, desires you to see Him and continue, to come rest in this place.
His throne is magnificent—nothing compared to Him. His light overwhelms the throne, his love pulses through the floors, his presence brings waves of peace. You stand at the shore. You hesitate. How? Where to dive in? You feel it, you want it, but what is holding you back?

“If you dive in, there’s no returning.” You say to yourself. No. That’s not you. You turn to look and are confused. It is you, your body, your Flesh. Yet you stand here at the threshold of the King.
Your Flesh leans in at your shoulder—no, not your shoulder. You don’t have one. You are the Spirit, not contained by limitation of the body. Flesh whispers, “You are comfortable here at the shore. Can’t you just gaze at how beautiful this scene is? The Lord is before you. He sees you and smiles upon you. He loves you. You can feel it from here. This will do just fine.”
You shake your head because somehow that does not seem right. “That’s not enough. He’s given me more than just sight.”
You suddenly remember all the times you’ve stood here, some invisible wall keeping you here. All this time it was your own Flesh resisting, not understanding the plunge was not about Death and Chains but about Life and Freedom. His Power is so much more than just hearing a song and feeling better or being comfortable or seeing beauty on this earth. His power is all that and more.
“For so long I have spent too much time focusing on you, Flesh, and missing the most beautiful thing to ever happen to me. Flesh, you do not define me. For a time we may behave as One, but when you fail, I will live on. Will I live on separated forever from the King, or will I accept this invitation to be in His presence, a friend to the King, an honored position? I can do this now. Why wait?”
Your Flesh, who once stole your identity, says nothing. Any argument against this will not win.
This shore, you understand now, is a step—not an end to the path. You, the Spirit, can go beyond into His Most Holy Place, His presence.
“Flesh, you control me no longer.”

Locksley Hall by Lord Alfred Tennyson

“Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet ‘t is early morn:
Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn.

‘T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call,
Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall;

Locksley Hall, that in the distance overlooks the sandy tracts,
And the hollow ocean-ridges roaring into cataracts.

Many a night from yonder ivied casement, ere I went to rest,
Did I look on great Orion sloping slowly to the West.

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.

Here about the beach I wander’d, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.—

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Then her cheek was pale and thinner than should be for one so young,
And her eyes on all my motions with a mute observance hung.

And I said, “My cousin Amy, speak, and speak the truth to me,
Trust me, cousin, all the current of my being sets to thee.”

On her pallid cheek and forehead came a colour and a light,
As I have seen the rosy red flushing in the northern night.

And she turn’d—her bosom shaken with a sudden storm of sighs—
All the spirit deeply dawning in the dark of hazel eyes—

Saying, “I have hid my feelings, fearing they should do me wrong”;
Saying, “Dost thou love me, cousin?” weeping, “I have loved thee long.”

Love took up the glass of Time, and turn’d it in his glowing hands;
Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.

Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;
Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass’d in music out of sight.

Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring,
And her whisper throng’d my pulses with the fulness of the Spring.

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships,
And our spirits rush’d together at the touching of the lips.

O my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more!
O the dreary, dreary moorland! O the barren, barren shore!

Falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all songs have sung,
Puppet to a father’s threat, and servile to a shrewish tongue!

Is it well to wish thee happy?—having known me—to decline
On a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart than mine!

Yet it shall be; thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathize with clay.

As the husband is, the wife is: thou art mated with a clown,
And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down.

He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,
Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.

What is this? his eyes are heavy; think not they are glazed with wine.
Go to him, it is thy duty, kiss him, take his hand in thine.

It may be my lord is weary, that his brain is overwrought:
Soothe him with thy finer fancies, touch him with thy lighter thought.

He will answer to the purpose, easy things to understand—
Better thou wert dead before me, tho’ I slew thee with my hand!

Better thou and I were lying, hidden from the heart’s disgrace,
Roll’d in one another’s arms, and silent in a last embrace.

Cursed be the social wants that sin against the strength of youth!
Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth!

Cursed be the sickly forms that err from honest Nature’s rule!
Cursed be the gold that gilds the straiten’d forehead of the fool!

Well—’t is well that I should bluster!—Hadst thou less unworthy proved—
Would to God—for I had loved thee more than ever wife was loved.

Am I mad, that I should cherish that which bears but bitter fruit?
I will pluck it from my bosom, tho’ my heart be at the root.

Never, tho’ my mortal summers to such length of years should come
As the many-winter’d crow that leads the clanging rookery home.

Where is comfort? in division of the records of the mind?
Can I part her from herself, and love her, as I knew her, kind?

I remember one that perish’d; sweetly did she speak and move;
Such a one do I remember, whom to look at was to love.

Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the love she bore?
No—she never loved me truly; love is love for evermore.

Comfort? comfort scorn’d of devils! this is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.

Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to proof,
In the dead unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof.

Like a dog, he hunts in dreams, and thou art staring at the wall,
Where the dying night-lamp flickers, and the shadows rise and fall.

Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to his drunken sleep,
To thy widow’d marriage-pillows, to the tears that thou wilt weep.

Thou shalt hear the “Never, never,” whisper’d by the phantom years,
And a song from out the distance in the ringing of thine ears;

And an eye shall vex thee, looking ancient kindness on thy pain.
Turn thee, turn thee on thy pillow; get thee to thy rest again.

Nay, but Nature brings thee solace; for a tender voice will cry.
‘T is a purer life than thine, a lip to drain thy trouble dry.

Baby lips will laugh me down; my latest rival brings thee rest.
Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the mother’s breast.

O, the child too clothes the father with a dearness not his due.
Half is thine and half is his: it will be worthy of the two.

O, I see thee old and formal, fitted to thy petty part,
With a little hoard of maxims preaching down a daughter’s heart.

“They were dangerous guides the feelings—she herself was not exempt—
Truly, she herself had suffer’d”—Perish in thy self-contempt!

Overlive it—lower yet—be happy! wherefore should I care?
I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by despair.

What is that which I should turn to, lighting upon days like these?
Every door is barr’d with gold, and opens but to golden keys.

Every gate is throng’d with suitors, all the markets overflow.
I have but an angry fancy; what is that which I should do?

I had been content to perish, falling on the foeman’s ground,
When the ranks are roll’d in vapour, and the winds are laid with sound.

But the jingling of the guinea helps the hurt that Honour feels,
And the nations do but murmur, snarling at each other’s heels.

Can I but relive in sadness? I will turn that earlier page.
Hide me from my deep emotion, O thou wondrous Mother-Age!

Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife,
When I heard my days before me, and the tumult of my life;

Yearning for the large excitement that the coming years would yield,
Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father’s field,

And at night along the dusky highway near and nearer drawn,
Sees in heaven the light of London flaring like a dreary dawn;

And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then,
Underneath the light he looks at, in among the throngs of men:

Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do:

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew
From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro’ the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.

So I triumph’d ere my passion sweeping thro’ me left me dry,
Left me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;

Eye, to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint:
Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point:

Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher,
Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire.

Yet I doubt not thro’ the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen’d with the process of the suns.

What is that to him that reaps not harvest of his youthful joys,
Tho’ the deep heart of existence beat for ever like a boy’s?

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore,
And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest.

Hark, my merry comrades call me, sounding on the bugle-horn,
They to whom my foolish passion were a target for their scorn:

Shall it not be scorn to me to harp on such a moulder’d string?
I am shamed thro’ all my nature to have loved so slight a thing.

Weakness to be wroth with weakness! woman’s pleasure, woman’s pain—
Nature made them blinder motions bounded in a shallower brain:

Woman is the lesser man, and all thy passions, match’d with mine,
Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine—

Here at least, where nature sickens, nothing. Ah, for some retreat
Deep in yonder shining Orient, where my life began to beat;

Where in wild Mahratta-battle fell my father evil-starr’d,—
I was left a trampled orphan, and a selfish uncle’s ward.

Or to burst all links of habit—there to wander far away,
On from island unto island at the gateways of the day.

Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,
Breadths of tropic shade and palms in cluster, knots of Paradise.

Never comes the trader, never floats an European flag,
Slides the bird o’er lustrous woodland, swings the trailer from the crag;

Droops the heavy-blossom’d bower, hangs the heavy-fruited tree—
Summer isles of Eden lying in dark-purple spheres of sea.

There methinks would be enjoyment more than in this march of mind,
In the steamship, in the railway, in the thoughts that shake mankind.

There the passions cramp’d no longer shall have scope and breathing space;
I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race.

Iron-jointed, supple-sinew’d, they shall dive, and they shall run,
Catch the wild goat by the hair, and hurl their lances in the sun;

Whistle back the parrot’s call, and leap the rainbows of the brooks,
Not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books—

Fool, again the dream, the fancy! but I know my words are wild,
But I count the gray barbarian lower than the Christian child.

I, to herd with narrow foreheads, vacant of our glorious gains,
Like a beast with lower pleasures, like a beast with lower pains!

Mated with a squalid savage—what to me were sun or clime?
I the heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time—

I that rather held it better men should perish one by one,
Than that earth should stand at gaze like Joshua’s moon in Ajalon!

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.

Thro’ the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.

Mother-Age (for mine I knew not) help me as when life begun:
Rift the hills, and roll the waters, flash the lightnings, weigh the Sun.

O, I see the crescent promise of my spirit hath not set.
Ancient founts of inspiration well thro’ all my fancy yet.

Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley Hall!
Now for me the woods may wither, now for me the roof-tree fall.

Comes a vapour from the margin, blackening over heath and holt,
Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt.

Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail, or fire or snow;
For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.”

Mind Wars: Entitlement

There is a possibility I may have learned about the mentality of entitlement without Pine Cove, but it would have more than likely taken me a long time to process it in a healthy way.  I have been fairly privileged my entire life. We did have to count pennies at times. We went shopping every once in a while for clothing and toys.  There were many times my mom would have to say no when I asked for something.  Yet…although we watched the bills, we never went a whole winter without heating or a summer with AC unless mom wanted to keep the expenses down. We went on a few family vacations, not nearly as many as a lot of the families I know…but we did have the ability to go those few times. We have always had just enough. I did not get everything that I wanted, but I had plenty. We are blessed.

My first dose of entitlement had to do with my own selfishness.  I cringe at the memory, but here we go. I was a bossy and strong minded girl (still am in many ways), but the black tendrils of entitlement had encaged my heart with the notion that I deserved a car no matter the way I treated my parents. I was not a bad child, but I was a terrible early teen. Everyone should just take a moment to pat my parents on the back for making it through that war zone. My mom asked me something along the lines of “Do you think you should get a car?” or she may have even said “do you think you deserve one?” All I know is in my heart there was nothing in life that I had done wrong, so I deserved a vehicle as a thanks for being a normal child who did not do drugs, steal, treat people terribly. (My definition of treating people terribly was skewed. Instead of looking at good examples to follow, I was looking at the bad examples and comparing myself.)  

I did receive a vehicle, but I think this was more so my parents did not have to taxi me around and less about me needing one. If my mom were anything like me, there is no way I would have gotten a vehicle after stating the condition of my blackened and selfish heart. My mother is much more forgiving than I am.  

[Side note: The car I got was my grandmother’s 1987 Grand Marquis. I am so grateful for that car because it has given me a good perspective on needs and how to parent. No 16 year old should get a brand new vehicle that is worth more than 10K, and a 10K car is pushing the limits. My dad found me a truck about 7 months later.  I had to earn the right to drive that one though by learning how to drive stick. Let me tell you, that was another battle to overcome. There were many tears. Like Rocky, I overcame the struggle though and through the training of my patient family members, I became quite skilled at manual driving.]

My second or third dose of recognizing entitlement was when I got back from Zimbabwe. I had spent a couple weeks in Harare seeing how a culture could function differently and with so little. It was sad but beautiful. These people’s lives were not run by electricity or celebrities. I would even say it was not run by their possessions, but their possessions were all they had to live on, like a house or a bed or supplies for merchandise to sell. I cannot romanticize the Zimbabweans; they are still human and capable of being just as dark as Americans. You cannot stop at a stop sign without looking at your surroundings even though you are supposedly protected in a vehicle. If you are not aware of your surroundings, you may find yourself robbed of possessions, the car, and possibly your life.

When I returned to Kansas after spending a couple weeks in Zim, I discovered I had culture shock, not while I was in the foreign country but when I returned to what I had called home for 18 years. I went to Wal Mart shortly after returning. I remember looking at all the overstocked shelves and closing my eyes to see a vision of the empty shelves in the Zimbabwean markets. When I opened my eyes again, I had a hard time being sympathetic for my fellow Americans, especially when I overheard a child whining about not getting to keep a toy she had picked out and deceptively placed in the shopping cart hoping her mother would not notice. Oh the ruckus she made when her mother refused to buy the toy. Thankfully my mother was usually pretty clear about what we were in the store to get. I asked for things anyway, but I do not remember throwing a major fit in a public place because I could not get the toy I wanted. My usual route of persuasion was debating about why I needed the toy, hence my parents’ desire for me to become a lawyer. (Correct me if I am wrong, Mutti. I’m in a humble mood this year.)

I was absolutely disgusted with our culture’s obsession with what we deserve. We deserve the brand new car. We deserve the three story house. We have earned our right to party and “drop it like it’s hot.” Absolutely not, my friends. I consider myself to be a good citizen, but do I deserve whatever I want? No. I can be a terrible human being in my heart and my mind. I can be judgmental and rude and unforgiving and selective about who I will talk to. Not only do I have the ability to, I have been these things!

Thankfully God did not give me the opportunity to move away from America just then because I would probably still have an aversion to our culture today if I had taken off to travel Africa. Like I said earlier, Pine Cove has helped me see entitlement and change my attitude in a healthy way, not in a spiteful way where all I can do is tear another culture or person down in order to feel like I got my point across.

God has used Pine Cove to keep me in America and help heal my poor opinion on the American culture. We are different than Zimbabweans, but that does not mean we do not need ministry. Our country is blessed with constantly stocked shelves, but our sense of community is broken. Pine Cove is religious but not exclusive to particular doctrines because so many doctrines focus on things that are not important. Do you love Jesus? Have you accepted Him as the Way to God? Those two things are important, so stop being so haughty if someone disagrees with how many times you should take communion or who in the congregation should be allowed to. Christians are not supposed to have an air of entitlement, but many do. I hate it when I recognize it in myself. We are supposed to “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” (Eph 5:21).We are supposed to be the servants.

Currently I am reading through the book Esther in the Old Testament. God is hardly mentioned in the book of Esther, but you can see Him at work in all the little details. King Xerxes is an entitled ruler, his culture is sexist, and he does not understand how to be a servant leader. As a leader, you need to be able to lead with authority, but you most definitely need to be a servant. This is what I look for when I look at voting in the country. There are many things I disagree with in the two main runners for the 2012 candidates. This will be a difficult choice for me because of this. My parents will shudder at the fact that I am even considering Obama, but I would rather look at him with open eyes than with a blind rage just because he has more socialistic tendencies. I think our constitution is fantastic, and I would like to keep it the way it is for the most part. I see Obama as a good friend, but not necessarily the one you want as a parent. On the other hand, I see Mitt Romney as the parent who cannot relate to the kid because he hasn’t been one for a good while. Can he make good decisions? Yes. Is he what we need right now? Maybe. Is he the good provider of the family but an absentee father? Both candidates have made decisions and changed their minds because they have grown in their beliefs. Which is better? Could I maybe do a write in?

I may be stretching to make the above paragraph relevant to the rest of this blog, but I think it does fit in. We should be looking to serve each other regardless of our social status. If a gay man or woman walks up to me and asks me for help, I am not going to turn them away because their sexual orientation is against my beliefs. They are human. If a homeless person needs money, but you don’t trust them, take them out to eat…pay for groceries, get their contact information so you can keep in contact. Treat them like the individual they are and not a statistic. People are constantly screwing up by forgetting whom Jesus reached out to. He reached out to the people the Pharisees turned their backs on; he broke bread with them and preached about God to them. He loved them, and they could see that because He did not ignore who society deemed to be the least saveable. Is this blog about converting people? No. It is, however, about how Jesus is a great example of how to not be entitled. He is God’s Son and did not consider himself to be greater than the people He lived amongst. He even listened to the convicted felon on the cross beside Him.  

The church has failed here. We do charity outreaches, but the congregation does not reach outside of our privileged bubble enough. It is not a lifestyle but an event in our life to love on those with less. If we all took care of our community, kind of like in Acts 2, we would not need our government to do all the work for us. We all, including Republicans who want a smaller government, rely too heavily on our government to take care of those in need of healthcare, the unemployed, and those without the means to live. It isn’t all just about education for the underprivileged either. The educated need to be re-educated on what it means to be a good member in society and how to serve, not just look out for number one. I will step off my political soap box for the moment.

There are some things you can earn in life: like a degree or a job over another person due to conduct or experience. Do I deserve a roof over my head, a car, or an education over the orphan down the street or in Africa? Do I deserve healthcare over my neighbor? Some say if I am a contributing member to society, then yes. I like to believe I am a good citizen, but I have really contributed to society? I donate clothes periodically, and I pray for those less fortunate than I. Like I said, I cringe when I think of all the ways entitlement has influenced me over the years.

Opinions welcome!

Live long,

L

Angels

This expierence happned to my dad when I was around five months old.  It’s a beautiful thing he describes, so I’m just going to copy it word for word as he wrote it.  If it sounds choppy or jumbled it’s probably because as soon as this happened, he sat down and wrote the whole thing down so he would never forget.  I know he went back and tweaked it in places to make it flow more like a story.  I hope you enjoy this as much as our family does

Angel

It happened late one night in the summer of 1986.  My wife and I were house sitting fora couple who were in Jamaca for eighteen months with the United Way.  We’d had our first child in February that year and she was a delight to us.  Especially since the first few months of colic werenow only a fading memory.  We named her Katherine and called her Katie.  She had been ill and wasnt breathing well at all.  As we stood over her bed and watched her sleep we could hear her labored breathing.  Any parent knows the sound, you wonder whether or not they’ll take their next breath.  Or, how in the word they ever get enough oxygen in their little lungs to sustain life?  Of course, now after three other children have blessed our home I realize we may have had some of those “first child” jitters that go along with being a first time parent.  None the less we were concerned, wondering whether or not to call the doctor.  As we stood over her bed we asked God to please watch over her, keep her safe and allow her to breathe a little easier.  After that we went to bed ourselves. 

I recall going right to sleep being tired from the days activites.  The next thing I remember was being awakened by a knock in the direction of our bedroom door which was open.  Two distinct knocks.  I awoke lying on my left side with my back to the door and facing the digital alarm clock on the night table.  The clock was flashing 12:00 like it does after the power has gone out and come back on. I’m sure you know what I mean.  I also noticed a light in the room coming from behind me.  I rolled over on my back and looked in the direction of the door.  There I saw an angel.  It’s one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.   He completely filled the doorway being quite large.  He had long golder hair and was wearing a robe that was white.  One thing I remember really well were his wings, so very majestic and powerful looking.  The fold in the wing that came up behind his head reminded me of the smooth fold you see in the wing of one of the large birds of prey only much larger.  His eyes reflected total, undeniable peace.  Absolute control.  A slight smile on his lips, his expression was one of knowledge too wonderful for words.  In his arms was Katie.  Although I didn’t hear her I could tell she was giggling, happy to be playing with his long curls.  Feeling not the least bit alarmed at this scene, I just lay there taking in this experience.  I can’t say how long the moment lasted, there was really no sense of time passing, only the blissful realization of the absence of fear.  Katie, I could see was having the time of her short life in the arms of someone she adored.  I turned to look at the clock which was still blinking and as I did the light in the room faded.  I turned back to the doorway to find it empty. 

I lay there for a few minutes contemplating what I had just witnessed.  I slowly came to the uncomfortable realization that our Katie and her companion had gone Home to be with Jesus.  And that allowing me to see the angel was God’s way of lettings me know it was okay, that Katie was as happy as we could ever hope for her to be.  I slowly sat up on the edge of the bed knowing I had to go into her room.  As I walked toward her room I fully expected to find her lifeless little body lying in the crib.  I thought about how Rosie and I would second guess our decision regarding a trip to the doctor for the rest of our lives.

Now, to fully appreciate what I found you have to know a little bit about Katie first.  She was a child who, from the first breath she took, was going to let the world know she had arrived.  She had boundless energy, constantly on the move and this held true even as she slept.  She moved all over her crib, rolling around, scooting this way and that, never staying covered. 

My apprehension increased as my bare feet hit the cold wood floor of Katie’s room.  I stood there a moment just inside the doorway.  All was dead silent.  I slowly walked over to the crib.  From the light in the hallway I could see Katie lying on her tiny tummy with her knees pulled up under her just the way she liked to sleep.  She was lying in the middle of her crib with her blanket spread out perfectly over her as if she’d been covered.  I leaned down very close to her face, she was breathing!  Breathing as free and easy as I’ve ever heard her breathe.  I stood there a while as my tension melted away into thanksgiving to God for answering our prayers. 

To this day Rosie and I are not sure what it all meant.  Some folk we’ve shared the experience with have felt it was a sign that God has some special plans for Katie in the future.  Maybe her angel just knew she needed some play time to feel better!  Maybe it meant none of that, maybe it was a way for God to show how very much he loves us, how intensly He cares for us.  Regardless, Rosie and I feel very blessed to still have Katie with us, along with Hannah, Tanner, and Ethan.  Each one is a unique, precious gift entrusted to our care for a brief moment in time.  May we bring honor and glory to our Lord by the way we nurture these gifts.

Bruce Speake 

And with that, I’ll leave you with a verse about angels that I love 

Hebrews 1:14 – Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. 

Mischief Managed

 

Mind Wars: Confidence

This has been quite a year for reflection. I don’t think I have spent so much time really thinking about myself in a productive manner except for in this year, which is sad because aren’t you supposed to have done all these things before you pick a degree for college? I still agree with my choice of degree—there are times I wish I had continued studying sciences to become a veterinarian, but really I am very happy to have a different focus for my life—and this isn’t a post that will be filled with regrets. 

I was recently fed a good dose of humility through the discovery of some unsent references. “Why did I read references about me?” You may ask.” Isn’t that a breach of confidence or trust?” Another may inquire. If you must know, the envelopes were stashed away once I decided I was not going to apply for a job overseas through a ministry. I was cleaning out one of my boxes filled with files, and I found these mysterious and intriguing envelopes. I thought to myself, “Maybe I did something and wanted to surprise myself for later, and I apparently forgot that I even did that?” it’s been known to happen. Sometimes I’ll put money somewhere, forget about it, and am ecstatic when I find it months later. Anyway, so I read the references, and most of them were pretty nice and encouraging, yet honest and humbling in a constructive way. Then there was this one where my confidence from reading the nice and encouraging ones was taken, strung up, beat with a bat, let down and thrown into the river. Wow was this reference a doozy. I should have thrown the reference out before finishing it because by the time I had read the answer to the first question, I knew this was not going to be constructive…but really, who does the wise thing in these situations?

I like to think I can handle a lot anyway.

Apparently this manager did not like me. Okay, not everyone needs to love me and want to be my best friend. That is fine, but to think so poorly of me that the only positive thing that is said is “she’s friendly, I suppose” ??? Either I need to have a growing experience and change of character, or this person has some serious grace issues with people who a) do not have the same personality as she  and/or b) is not perfect. Really, I think the issue here was personality differences and maybe a bad impression was made by insensitivity somewhere either on my end or on hers. This is unfortunate because while I was not super fond of this particular manager, I do not remember having ill will toward her, nor did I have any chance to improve in the areas where she was disappointed with me. I like to be challenged and grow, so this would have been beneficial. Then again, if she actually did find me awkward then she might not have known how to approach me.  

The reason I am even sharing this with the cyber world is not because of a need to vent to a veiled audience. One of my friends asked me what having confidence looks like. Lately I have had quite a few conversations about confidence and a huge part of my reflection time this year has dwelled on what I have learned while working at PC for 4 years and becoming a barn manager in the last 3.

Some people think that a person who always needs to be in the limelight is probably insecure. Okay. Maybe. There have been times I have been verbal just to avoid thinking or allowing people to see that there was an actual war going on in my mind. Other times I am verbal just because I genuinely want to talk with someone. I am a terrible person to talk to on the phone, but Katie, Monica, and I are as close as ever in spite of the fact that I live 500 miles away from them. Same goes for Whitney, and I have never counted up the mileage between East Texas and Northern California. Katie calls me almost everyday at 5, and if I cannot talk I call her back later that evening. Monica and I sometimes go weeks without speaking (really we can blame it on phone tag and living outside of the city on both our parts), but there are times when we talk for hours about our lives. Sometimes Monica calls at 5 just to spite Katie. 😉

Some people think that a person who does not talk often must be shy. Yeah, meet Annie, my coworker. She is not shy. She just doesn’t need to say much in order to be awesome.  Seriously though, she is not shy. If you ask her a question, she’ll reply with something well thought out, sometimes profound, usually wise, and always with an open heart. Quietness can be insecurity, but people cannot just assume that is the case. We condemn people by assuming they are shy or insecure so we have to baby or stay away from them.

Really, we condemn people when we are not sensitive to others being different. This world is so diverse, and it would be a shame if we were all conformed into one type of personality. You can be quiet and still praise the Lord more passionately than any outgoing person can. You can be typically loud and silly but serious the next moment. I constantly feel as if I am being criticized for thinking differently or gravitating toward different interests. Don’t go to Africa, Lauren. That’s crazy. Don’t you know what is happening there? Stories are not real, Lauren. Those people are not real. Okay, I know that, but they feel real, and you can still learn from a fictional story. Fictional stories can be great sources for psychology and human experiences.

Battling nay-sayers is tiring. I am getting off topic though. Now, back to confidence:

I have learned these things:

  • Confidence to say something and stand firm in this opinion because it was formed from a solid foundation. I knew this before, but I think the confidence could be more correctly defined as “stubbornness.”
  • Confidence in changing my mind. I can make a decision and decide it isn’t the best route and change it! No big! Not the end of the world. My poor wranglers experience this all too often.
  • To tag onto the above, being okay with failure but not being comfortable enough to not grow.
  • I don’t know everything, and that is okay. If I do not know how many MB go into GB (1,000 apparently. My techy friends told me this summer.), then I shall embrace the fact that I get to learn new things everyday.
  • To be comfortable with myself. I am very different. Sometimes, depending on how it is done, people have been hurtful in their opinions of me (i.e. said reference from above). I have been called random and weird and looked at as if I was some lost puppy or nonsensical because of something I have just said.  I do not need to be the expert in everything or the smartest person in the room in order to be confident,  but it is hurtful when someone looks at you as if you just started wearing real undergarments as opposed to pull ups.

Some of these lessons are surprisingly brand new, some began back in the day of spandex shorts and steel-toed cowgirl boots, and some of these lessons have been learned and unlearned along the way.

Anyone else with thoughts, feel free to add! This is nowhere near a finished thought.

Live Long,

L

Here are a few pictures I drew for viewing. Forgive my lack of skills on paint:

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Above: After reading first references… cloud nine from the encouragement.

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Above: The results after reference of doom; notice how the TARDIS disappeared. You can view this two ways: negative: I felt like I had been separated or abandoned by The Doctor or positive: No one can ever destroy the TARDIS. Live on, TARDIS!

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Above: Defiance. Lauren the Lion roars again!

 

Why I ride

Recently I have been thinking about horses, and why they mean so much to me.  This stemmed from a quiz Lauren gave me and a comment that my mom made.  In the quiz, I was asked to state my favorite animal and why it was my favorite.  I said a horse because “they are magnificent, beautiful, powerful, gentle, and they make me, me.  My love of horses seems to have been ingrained into me on the day I was born; Katie will love horses.  And most importantly, I am me when I ride”.   The comment my mom made came from a conversation we were having in which she mentioned that people who are confident tend to stand up straight and not bite their nails.  To which I laughingly replied that I am confident, I just slouch out of habit and the same goes with my nails.  (I have since stopped biting my nails! Yay!).  I later remembered a comment my dad made while we were riding the horses once.  He was marveling over my good posture and asked why I couldn’t stand up as straight as I sit when I ride.  So I began to mull all this over and suddenly everything just clicked into place.  It may seem a small, trivial thing to you, but I would like to share.

When I ride, I am my most confident.  More so even than when I am fabulously made over by my wonderful sister.  When I ride I feel like I can do anything.  I feel beautiful.  I feel proud.  I feel secure.  I feel fearless.  I feel unbelievably happy and at peace with everything.  There is nothing I love more than flying across the ground on the back of a horse, my heart beating in perfect time to the drumming of the horses’ hooves on the ground.  I have a connection with these amazing creatures that I know is God given.  In fact, I have had some of my most raw, meaningful conversations with the Lord on the back of my horse Scout.  I can very easily parallel my relationship with God to a rider’s relationship with a horse.  It is a relationship built on trust first and foremost.  This became apparent to me once when I was riding with my dad and we were going down a steep, muddy bank.  The slope of the hill broke off a couple feet from the bottom and at the bottom there was a stream.  As we headed down, I felt Scout’s hooves slip and slide in the mud as we plunged down the hill.  I had a moment of fear but it was replaced almost instantly in the trust that Scout would get us down this hill all in one piece.  So I leaned back in my saddle, gave him his head, and let him do his thing.  And sure enough, a slide and a hop down later we were in the creek.  I found myself knowing I need to trust God as easily as I trusted Scout in that situation.  It was startlingly clear to me then for some reason.  God has used these animals to teach me many things about him and the way he loves us, and I do not doubt that the horse is God’s favorite animal.  Just read Job 39:19 if you don’t believe me.

But I digress. When I get on a horse, I feel my most confident.  I sit up straighter and I feel a sense of rightness when I settle onto a saddle or the bare back of a horse.   I feel like myself; I have an identity when I ride.  I know who I am and I like who I am when I ride.  I am confident in my decisions I make while I’m riding and I have had to make some very quick decisions.   My confidence on a horse must be a visible thing because whenever there was a “problem horse” at Pine Cove, the camp I worked at for a summer, that horse was entrusted to me.  My barn manager told me that she saw horses respond to me when they refused to listen to other capable wranglers.  That, naturally, made me feel good and reiterated to me my belief that I am meant to have horses in my life.

One of my favorite horses at Pine Cove was a tall buckskin gelding named Watson.  He had a breathing problem and was very skittish, but when I rode him I felt like my confidence transcended to him because he became a more confident horse.  Scary balls flying at him didn’t faze him and he seemed to want to please me.  My other favorite was a short chestnut named Hans.  He was a punk and I instantly loved him.  I rode him on every trail ride, and my goal was to make him a horse that campers could ride.  He was a blast, and a few short weeks later he was transferred to another camp to be used as a camper horse.  I was so sad to see him go, but I was also proud of the work we had done.

Me and Watson.

My buddy Hans

I think that feeling beautiful also comes from feeling confident.  When I ride, I sit upon this extraordinary, magnificent, beautiful, powerful animal.  When I ask the horse to canter and we move out together, I can feel the animals’ muscles bunching and releasing, propelling us forward.  When I laugh or say something to the horse, the ears flick back, always listening.  When I feel the horse responding to my body signals, I feel in control.  When the horses’ mane streams out behind its’ neck, stinging my hands and face, I can only imagine that my hair is doing the same, and how can that not be beautiful?

I remember many times at camp when I would have a clunky helmet on my head, dirt smeared across my arms and cheeks, hair matted, and sweat just rolling down my body, but I never felt self conscious about how I looked.  I felt proud to know that I was able to ride this horse in a rodeo and make her do the suicide run to close out the show, that I could whip around three barrels on her while the crowd cheered us on, that I could proudly carry the American flag on him while we cantered around to someone singing The Star Spangled Banner.  I felt proud.  I felt cool.  I felt confident.  I felt radiant despite, or maybe because of the sweat.

Me and my girl Shiloh doing the suicide run.

Running the barrels with Starla

Carrying the flag on Desperado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I ride, I can almost feel my worries and cares melt away.  It’s totally unexplainable except to say that it is a gift from God.  I talk about things that bother me or worry me with the Lord when I ride, but I don’t dwell on the things that stress me out when I am on two legs.  It’s like I am transported to this whole other place where troubles and anxiety aren’t allowed.  I can’t not be happy when I ride.  And this is true even when I am riding a horse who is misbehaving.  Instead of feeling frustrated or anxious or worried, I feel my determination settle down on me and I am determined to turn any situation into a positive experience for both me and the horse.  And when the horse finally listens to me or responds to me, like I have said before, I feel confident.

My darling Jem

I know that because of how horses make me feel, I will always have them in my life.  They are my God given drug.  They make me laugh.  They make me cry.  They are wonderful.  They are beautiful.  They are kind.  They are trusting. They teach me things about myself.  They break my heart.  They bring me joy.  They allow for me to be me.  They help me.  They comfort me.  They are used by the Lord to draw me closer to Him.

And that is why I ride.

Mischeif Managed