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conditional

conditional is a word that i never really thought could sum up my life. but looking back at what i was taught, what behaviors i learned and even in my relationship experiences, conditional has done damage . . . it has created fear, guilt, obligation and shame. 

i grew up in a religious home. and i only use religious to define the set of rules and conditions that were thrust upon us by men’s interpretation of the Bible. “if you don’t read your Bible, you’re not saved.” “you can’t listen to that music. that’s not honoring to God.” “true love waits. never give your heart away. God would want you to be pure for your husband.” conditions.

i also grew up with a family that didn’t allow  the freedom to express our thoughts and feelings for fear of the reaction we’d receive. i remember at one time being honest with my mother and she was furious. didn’t talk to me for weeks, ignored me until i took the blame and responsibility of making her upset . . . even though they were my feelings.

i dated certain men, which also brought conditions. “if you do this, i’ll love you more. if not, i’ll leave.”

i don’t list all of this to glorify the negative. please understand God has redeemed so much of what has been broken and He still has a long way to go with me, but i am healing.

some of you, if not most, know that i’ve been dating a man for almost a year. my pain of conditions was never really amplified until i met him. you see, he loves me without conditions. i can be a weepy mess and he listens, encourages me and stays beside me. i wouldn’t share things for fear of his reaction. i placed expectations on him and then felt sad that i did and expected him to throw his hands up and say “enough! i can’t deal with you anymore. love me for who i am.” but he didn’t. he still wants to be with me, to listen to me, to laugh with me. he loves unconditionally.

i get why people embrace ‘religion’ – people want a checklist to know they’re doing good. i’d love a checklist from my friends so i know i was being a good friend. i don’t fault people for wanting conditions. i’m human. i get it.

but after being with this dear man in my life, i’ve been struck with the realization of what unconditional love is. and honestly, it’s hard to understand. it’s hard to accept. it’s terrifying and unsafe. it doesn’t seem secure because there’s no checklist for approval and acceptance. it’s grace. it’s mercy. it’s patience and kindness. it’s the God of the Bible that i never fully understood.

i don’t think you could ever verbally explain how much we were made to be loved. i remember talking to a friend and he said that to believe that God loves him without him doing anything to earn it, is unfair. we want to earn things. we want to be justified that we’ve done something good in order to get something good.

and i think that’s where religion and Jesus bash heads. that’s where Jesus and i bash heads.

gently and slowly though, i’m learning what it is to be loved without conditions. what it means for God to love me – in the most perfect definition of what love is. it’s beyond human love, it’s greater, deeper and more extreme. 

i’m learning to love others better too. to not fear when a someone reacts a certain way. to love without expectation. to trust God that His love is enough. to have patience, kindness, grace and mercy. 

i am so thankful that the Lord knew i needed to be shown His love towards me and He gave me my dearest friend, my handsomest man to show me what that looks like. 

conditional may be safe. but safe isn’t always good.

reunion

it’s been three years since my last post. i just read my final entry before i had journeyed off to india.

the girl then is different. she’s young. she’s desperate. she’s unaware. she’s pretty clueless and very ignorant. but she’s honest. she hopes with madness. she weeps without control. she loves freely. and she knows Jesus.

it’s weird coming back. to connect heart and mind sometimes seems like an unfeasible task. how do you put words after 3 years of  . . .life? of loss? of gain? of love? of joy? of change?

i mean the practical is always a place to start.

here we go . . . let’s see:

  • i have a cat i adopted named henry. he squeaks when he’s happy, meows when he’s hungry and groans when he’s completely resting.
  • i live in a studio apartment by myself. pictures of flowers, a painted lion and my dear favorite man louis armstrong curtain my walls. a borrowed couch, free cat-scratch chair and a piano are my pillars of furniture.
  • i work at a coffee shop after swearing to myself i’d never do customer/food service again. but i love it. i’m learning latte art, how to weigh a perfect pod of coffee and enjoying the swirling of pour overs. i bake too – gluten and dairy goodies. i have no idea what they taste like but people seem to like them and no one has gotten sick or died.
  • i am in the best relationship of my life. i met a man about 10  months ago via an advanced technology robot named eharmony. he’s funny, he’s kind, he’s handsome, he’s humble, he’s smart, he’s patient, he’s a good listener, he’s a gift. we like to liter, play games, watch cartoons, hike, go on road trips to eugene, go on awkward dates, pretend to be the most amazing dancers, and sing arias about people and each other in the most beautiful and ear-clogging voice we can muster. i could go on but i will save that for another post (stay tuned).
  • i don’t go to a church.
  • i rarely play the piano.
  • i’m pursuing acting in portland.
  • i love Jesus deeper, stronger, and realize i still have a long way to go.

 

it’s hard to caption all the changes. but there you go.

heart and head. where to begin . . .

looking back at these past three years, the pain of traveling to india and the bittersweet healing that came with it, or embracing a life living in my own space and the quietness that became my companion, or the realization that i don’t know much about love when in a loving relationship, or understanding what it is to be a daughter and even a good sister . . .

i’m different. i’ve changed. are the changes good? am i happy with who i am?

the changes were what i needed. like trimming a rose bush as more flowers have room to grow.

i am happy to be who i am. because i know that regardless of how much i fail and fall short, i’m forever loved by God. daily that humbles me and shows me that my only right in life is to love.

my only right in life is to love.

i’m reminded of a common theme throughout the Bible “those who trust in the Lord will never be put to shame”.

i’ve walked many roads, seen many things and experienced all that this world will give and withhold from me. but there is one thing that has never shamed me, that has never left me with regret, that has kept my freedom, protected my dignity, and has heroed me out of this world’s constant lies. Jesus.

the girl now is still desperate. still young. still ignorant. still in love with Jesus. and still has so much room to grow.

i’m so happy to be back and to be vulnerable to you. to expose my scars, my joys, my successes and my honest questions and struggles. thank you for letting me into your life and sharing your time with me.

more to come 🙂

absence

“i wept and wept. pleading and asking You to grant me vision and direction. ‘please! please! please!’ did my heart cry. i ache to understand, to see. please family. please purpose. please direction. oh Father, please! please give me perspective. please help me see. help me to understand the lull and the moments of absent purpose. i have faith You will . . . please help my unbelief. please stay me to Your will and please help, guide and direct my steps. it’s Your daughter in need of peace and vision, strength and love. You gave adam purpose when he was alone with You and then You gave him a helper. please Daddy, with everything i breathe, please help me.” written august 8, 2011.

this was a journal entry over a month ago. after weeping myself to sleep the night before, i woke up with an even heavier heart. i walked into my little prayer closet, where many prayers have been uttered before. weak and weary, craving smiles upon my face, i knelt down on the plaid blanket flooring the space. the door was shut. i put my head down into my hands and moaned, barely giving time to breathe. i didn’t know what else to voice but ‘please! please! please!’ . . . over and over and over again. and every time i graveled those words, tears poured out so fast – faster than my fingers could wipe them away.

up to this point, i had been unemployed for five months. i had applied to so many jobs, but nothing. ‘hello! yes, i applied for your open position as a . . . oh, the position has been filled? oh, okay. you’ll keep my application and resume on file? great. um . . . thank you.’ ten applications one day, five the next. one day i walked down the street with resumes in hand, asked for managers and gave them my resume. still, nothing.

every first day of the month was a big lump in my throat, as money to pay rent and other bills were still absent. it felt as though my adam’s apple grew to be an over-sized prize winning pumpkin at the state fair. i couldn’t swallow. and yet, despite the giant gord in my throat, the Lord would provide many small jobs. when the income added up, i always had just enough for those debts. and that was it. if there weren’t small jobs, a friend would give me money and at one time, an envelope anonymously gave me $100.

i was at a place of total and complete mercy. a place of immense vulnerability. i felt like i literally had one day at a time to live  – sometimes only one hour at a time. i felt so small. so purposeless.

no job. no purpose. no direction. no desires met. no. no. no.

it was this realization that led me to drench my blanketed floor with my tears. why was i unemployed? why was i not doing things that i had been gifted to do? why did i have desires? and why were they being thrown away as quickly as i would think of them? all these questions plagued my heart and anchored my smile in hopeless defeat.

“then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.'” isaiah 58:8-9

no one’s words could soothe my raw and bleeding heart. no one’s comfort could grace me to sleep. no one’s love could bring me joy. no one on earth could meet me or understand where i was at. only my Beloved in heaven could understand. only my Savior understood my grief. only my God could speak me to peace. and there He was.

a few days later, i was asked by a friend to consider going to india with her for four months. what? go to india? but . . . how? why?

no excitement came. no jumps for joy. no ‘aha’ moment of ‘this is my purpose! yay!’

the only emotions i had were fear, hesitation. is this it? should i go? i’ve never had a deep desire to go. i love indian food, but living there? four months? it didn’t make sense. i didn’t make sense.

here, i had been weeping and crying out to God to give me some direction, some purpose. and when presented with it, i was scared. what was wrong with me? what was my problem?

‘uh . . . i don’t have much to offer. i mean, i play music and i love teaching. but i’m not ready. i’m not equipped to do anything. and besides, it’s not the right time. i mean . . . well, it just isn’t.” i had so many empty reasons to say ‘no’. and for a while, i did.

i began to ask the hard questions. the questions that most believers will avoid because of fear of what will be revealed. and when i began to ask them, they were answered with what i feared would be revealed. pride. doubt. disbelief. empty faith.

the truth is that i am not qualified to go anywhere. the truth is that i cannot offer anything. the truth is i’m just as broken as the homeless man down the street. the truth is i am weak. the truth is life is hard.

john piper once wrote “if we exchange God’s glory for lesser things, He gives us up to lived-out parables of depravity – the other exchanges that mirror, in our misery, the ultimate sellout.” the ultimate sellout. that is exactly what was holding me back.

i was selling myself out of knowing Him deeper and greater. i was selling myself out of knowing how furious His love for me is. i was selling myself out to fear. . . selling myself out to my self. and i knew it.

i began to see these months of nothing as months of a greater something. Jesus was more sweet, His love more tender, His truth more living than anything else. there was nothing so that i could understand that i was nothing, and He was everything. every morning, He met me with His presence. my sleepy eyes would open and i’d whisper ‘today is Your day, Jesus. i only have today. help me to know You and give me purpose.’ He did and He has. for now, i serve whomever and wherever. for later, i am going to india.

i am excited. i am joyful. i am at a peace that really does defy understanding. i can’t even explain it to you. it’s that good!

i’ll be leaving november 11 and coming back at the end of february. my friend, jaclyn, and i will be going to india with a church in california. they will leave after three weeks while she and i will travel up to pune, india where we’ll stay for three months. we’ll be working at an orphanage – a place where children with aids, children without parents, and even children whose mothers are prostitutes, will be. in the ‘red light’ district, there are women with children who, while working, will drug their children and put them underneath the bed while they go to ‘work’. other children get sold into the sex-trafficking business. these, along with others, are the children that my friend and i will work with and show the love of Christ that is greater than any philosophy, religion, or social justice. it will be an intense journey, an i’m completely incapable . . . but He makes all things capable.

i’m still unemployed. still trusting. still believing. still weeping to my Daddy who hears my cries.

Him? well, He is still pursuing, still healing, still hearing, still speaking and still loving. i haven’t arrived at any peak of understanding. i don’t pretend to have it all together, because only God in heaven does. what i do know is that i need Him every breath. . . that i am at His mercy . . . that it is His love that keeps me typing these words to you.

i am a little ‘i’. and He is a big ‘He’. i pray that will never change.

leaving the window

i love portland mornings. the mornings here are met with winds laughing. birds chat about which place has the best worms. the sun and the clouds hem and haw over who should come out first. the city wakes up unscathed, sleepy-headed from dreaming. it’s in these mornings that i find stillness, peace, calm. it’s in these mornings that i lean my head atop my wrist, peer out the window and remember just how small i really am.

the window i peer from has become a home. and i have to leave. it is time.

i’m ready to leave, ready to lay down the comfort and embrace the change. it will be hard. what i’ve heard, what i’ve seen, what has made me weep – all these things will become companions. i’ll be on the other side of the window looking into that room, wondering if the bed is still comfortable, wondering if my pillow remembers me.

rather than see the winds caress the trees, i’ll feel the wind caress me. rather than hear the birds chatting about the best place for worms, i’ll see them eating at the best place for worms. rather than see the sun and clouds debate their decision, i’ll feel which one won the argument. rather than see the city wake up from a dreaming sleep, i’ll be the one to wake up with them.

i am small as i should be.

a daisy the size of a tree would be awkward. a daisy that whales in the ocean is ridiculous. a daisy that floats in the sky is pointless.

she is ready, she is going. and with every bit of strength in her petals, she waves goodbye to her world and bows. “thank you all for coming,” she smiles.

 

it is may. and it’s still cold.

but this daisie has remained planted, withstanding the winds, reclining in the Sun, letting her roots grow deeper and deeper and deeper.

since february, i told you all of my many self-thought plans, the seemingly Divine direction that i was being led into. i had it mapped out, planned out, and resolved out. it was in my hands and i was glad. well . . . for a while at least.

He wasn’t joking when He said “a man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). truth be told i have no clue where He is leading me . . . this daisie only knows to Who He is leading me – to Himself. and that, all selfish tantrums aside, is enough.

it was in the month of april, that i began to become weary of struggling, of myself, of my life, of my past, of all the hardships that have befallen me so often – so quickly. desires of my own heart climbed their way to the top – desires of being wanted, desires of talents coming forth, desires of being known, desires of having purpose. throughout the rainy days, the heaviness of self plagued me. “what am i doing? where am i going? why haven’t my desires come?” tears were my food and the emptiness in my stomach was the only feeling i wanted.

and then it happened. i knew i had to die. i knew i had to lay myself and all desires upon the altar for the sacred and beautiful death that He wanted of me for so long.

so i did. i fell on my knees and wept for a long, long time. i told my Beloved that i was tired and i couldn’t do it anymore. i couldn’t go on hoping in my desires to come, in my past to be healed, in my prayers to be answered. i was done. i was done with me and i just wanted Him.

and Him i got. Him i received.

everything at that point was gone. every little vein of my heart was a bloody carcass upon the altar, smoking with no sign of it’s remains bearing on the altar seer. i was dead. and He was alive.

you’d think after walking with Him for 25 years, that i would have it down. that i’d know what it meant to truly follow Him. the truth is, i barely know Him. the truth is, it will take eternities after eternities to know Him. the truth is, my heart has tasted and it has seen and it hungers for Him like the ocean hungers for the shore. my prideful record of being with Him matters little and the more i think i know, the more He shows me that i don’t.

He resurrected my heart and breathed life, His life, His desires into me again. i was free. i was happy. i was in so much love.

He became all i thought about, all i wanted.

during this time, He let me go to nepal again. and how much i had missed it. but how much i realized that He didn’t want me back there again. during this time, He let me act on a tv show as an extra. and how much i enjoyed the hair, the makeup, the lights, camera, action, the costume. but how much i realized how empty a profession it was. during this time, He healed my heart in areas of relationships that i thought were healed. and how much i didn’t see the need for His healing. but how much i realized my heart mattered to Him.

during this time, He let me see glimpses of His promises. this is my Friend. this is my Beloved.

i’ve continued to do film/tv work as an extra. i did quit my job at the retirement home. i don’t know if i’m going to india. i did get my teaching english as a second language certificate. i am still in portland. i am now tutoring refugees in my neighborhood for free. i cut my hair.

i don’t know what the next step is. i don’t know where i’ll be going. i don’t know who i will meet. i don’t know what plans to make.

all i do know is to be still.

you’d think that it’d be easy for a daisie to not move. well, it usually is – if she is planted right.

she is now. and what a lovely view it is when you can be still.

sleepers

he was sleeping deep while the bus steadily drove it’s determined route. cozy and warm did the atmosphere blanket this stranger, this man with weighted, tired eyes. his coat and hat were nothing too great of a spectacle. albeit worn and tattered, he wore his hand-knitted hat tugged down below his ears. his puffy cloak wrapped around his frail body.

the bus stopped. the bus stopped for a while.

strangers seated as passengers aboard began to look at one another. eye brows furrowed. a few hands went up in the hair as though they were helping oxygen propel itself to the ceiling. heads peered to the windowpanes to see if they could determine the cause for the bus’ pregnant stop.

another bus driver marched up the steps of the bus as the door opened. he exchanged an obviously private discussion with the other bus driver while they both gazed back into the tunnel of their vehicle. it was hard to know where their eyes were pointing, since both had sun glasses barring direct contact with ours. the drivers commandingly stood at the front while we all sat ready for their next order.

from the corner of my eye, a parade of blue-shirt, slick-haired EMT men with white gloves and Red-Crossed satchels boarded the bus plank. the commanders pointed their order towards the man asleep. an uproar of guffaws and curses echoed. more hands pushed the air up towards the ceiling – evidently the ceiling needed it. one man behind me sided jokes with another man. boastful comments of  “hey! let’s get this on youtube and see how many hits we can get.” or statements of “f*** this man! i got places to go. i can’t sit here and wait for this f****n business!” women towards the front of the bus glared at the commanders with a “how dare you do this!”-glare.

the sleeper rose to his feet with help of the uniformed glovers. they escorted him off the bus and made a spectacle outside. the comments continued. the commanders asided with their own personal comments.

once the blue EMT team walked away, the sleeper shook his head in disbelief and boarded himself upon the tube of strangers once again. evidently, there was concern for this man’s health so the blue team was beckoned to see if they could have another medical victory in aiding the man. everything was ok. the man was just fine.

once the sleeper seated himself, the comrade of bus drivers parted and the new bus driver closed the door and continued on our journey. two women in the front continued to make comments and glares, pointing their fingers and rolling their eyes in disapproval of the concerning efforts of the bus driver. the men behind me continued to lather their speech with curses, regarding the whole situation with selfish disdain.

sitting in my seat alone, trying to evade the orchestra of hatred with my mp3 player rolling the next tune of the Lord’s prayer, the nature of mankind became heavy. i began to think of even worse things than degrading someone who tried to help another person. i thought of the self-filled, the proud, the uncaring, the unloving, the post-modern acceptors of no absolute truth, the arrogant, the liars, the abusers, the greedy, the murderers. every possible evil came to the battlefield of my mind.

heavy. saddened. grieved. overwhelmed. disgusted.

what is man? what is man? what . . . is . . . man?

to think that Jesus would be kind to man. to think that Jesus would die for man while he continued to pervert this earth with every possible evil. to think that Jesus became the punishment that man deserved. to think that Jesus would love, forgive, and forget a man’s sins should he simply confess. . . simply . . . believe.

that is scandalous.

what is man that You are mindful of him? that You took the wrath upon Yourself that man so well deserved?

when presented with evil, with even my own evil, i forget the cost. the cost of life. the cost of death. i realize how much i deserve His wrath. how much i deserve His judgment. how much i deserve Him to ignore my cries and for Him to be justified in walking away from me. 

we deserve so much.

and when we  surrender, confess and believe, we get none of it . . . none of what is rightly ours.

Jesus cared. we didn’t. and we still don’t.

why won’t the world see the costly exchange? why won’t they see the need to be saved . . . the need to be saved from self . . . the need to be saved from death . . . the need to be saved from what they deserve – wrath?

the sleeper didn’t see his need. the passengers didn’t either.

only the bus driver did. only the bus driver dared to help. only the bus driver got the curses.

the bus continued steadily on and i reached up to grab the chain that halted me to my stop. i thanked the bus driver and i stepped off the bus.

i was glad that at least One person cared. even if us sleepers didn’t.

the february-cold streets of portland’s illuminated city, sit silent and pensive at 3:06 in the early morning. creation continues to parade it’s stars and flashlight it’s moon, while the world below such beautiful pageantry sleeps. cars wisp by, carrying the wind and sound with them. two minutes pass and the lazy streets beneath my gaze continue in their slothful slumber.

i’m on the 6th floor, comfortably stretched out on the mediocre cushioned couch. the tenor snore and the soprano air-conditioning fan, sing a lovely duet, whirring my eyes to rest. but I can’t give in! i must resist! mr. lockert, a 93 year-old world war II veteran and purveyor of the classiest gentleman suits, needs me to be awake. he falls easily. or, he did fall and now he’s prone to falling even more so, due to his innocent fear of reliving what lead him to have 24-hour companionship. he’s doing better and he moves with the agility of a man who simply enjoys the short cuts in getting things done, i.e. me!

what are you doing there? you may ask. i’d ask it too. i mean, a single-white-faced young woman hanging out in a 93-year old’s apartment typing on her computer, sipping starbucks’ lifesaving invention of good-tasting instant coffee, would definitely lead me to question why not a day job, andrea?

some of you have been traveling this road with me for a while, sitting on the bandwagon eating apples and chucking old acorns at the greedy squirrels passing by (it’s three a.m. – don’t think too deeply about that one . . .in fact, just don’t think). i realize it’s been a while since the daisie has had a chance to petal-push her fingers with news of what’s happened, what is currently happening, and what may happen. so here I am!

let’s shove the daisie back down into the ground and see where she left off. i was employed at oregon right to life in the quiet, yet serene town (hardly a city) of salem. however, during november’s mid-term election, i along with many too-long-termed democrats, got removed from office. yup . . . i was voted out, let go. admittedly it was a difficult experience to swallow – never had i been let go from any job in my entire i-can’t-believe-i-have-to-call-myself-an-adult career! i was let go . . . as though that term implies that i was in a cage, barred from running around in the park and peeing on any tree i wanted (remember . . . 3 a.m.!). although my original reaction had my heart sinking, my confidence in myself earthquaking below sea level, and my new friendships hanging in the balance of will i ever see them again?, i walked away from my office that day in tears and arrived home in serenity. i must say that i loved working for the cause of life, being a voice for the voiceless.iI must also say that i loved the women that i worked with – giants of faith in a world that depreciates life quicker than new cars. fishes struggle to go against the current and only a few succeed. the women at oregon right to life succeed with every life saved – woman and child. but a huge part of my job was an aspect of life that from early on in my childhood had despised – politics. to me, this is what politics was: politics, pronounced paul-eh-ticks, the art of talking like you will do something, looking like you did something, and waving really elegantly so no one can see that hole in the armpit of your suit. basically, i had never had a positive feeling about it. however, and this is a hurkin’ HOW and essential EVER, but being in the position at oregon right to life, i began to understand it deeper. not that my definition had changed, but my approach to politics had changed. rather than be a careless stand-byer, i became a careful go-getter. sure, politics is politics. but i saw how even having a voice in politics for something right, something good, can make a difference. it won’t change everything all at once, only the Lord can change things. but it does get the ripple going in the water.

so in a long-winded approach to tell you, i was very sad to leave those dear ladies and leave the cause that i had emotionally and spiritually invested so much of myself in. and in the same breath, i was relieved. i felt free. free to do what i was created to do – go back overseas.

since that november afternoon, much has happened and yet so much more lies ahead. in brief (no, i don’t wear men’s underwear . . . 3 a.m., remember?), i was able to do some temporary seasonal work at the woodburn columbia store and continue to teach speech at corban university until the end of the fall term. i decided to take a sabbatical from working and stay at home to help my once-very-pregnant friend (who’s baby is now just shy of 3 days old) with her 1.56 year-old. the beauty of unemployment is that there is freedom! ah, to wake up at just about any time you wanted,  schedule your day however you wanted, and stay up late reading and talking til’ however late you wanted. it was great! it was money-sucking. i lived off my last paycheck and some savings, but money was running out. acquaintances would pop up at random places with job offers that for one, felt awkward to pursue since i barely knew the person and two, the offers were for positions i knew a square peg like me would never be sanded to fit a round hole. employment opportunities would quickly close even though i was pursuing them. it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that a friend of mine had mentioned a job opening at her work, terwilliger plaza. she mentioned the position was for an in-home care provider at a ritzy independent living retirement home in downtown portland. I told her well, i don’t sense the Lord leading me to work there. and then immediately the Lord interjected, He said well, I don’t sense you prayed or even talked to Me about working there, did you andrea? it’s a good thing He’s Him! so i prayed, i talked to my father about it. and here we are, sitting up into wee hours of the night with mr. lockert and his snoring. (i will say this will be the last 12-hour night shift I will ever do. my hats off to you 12-hour night shift nurses and doctors! wow!)

my new job isn’t the only new petal to bloom on my stem. my church, my home community, has had a huge car-accident dent on my life – it’s that big, that damaging . . . in a wonderful, wonderful way. for years and years, specifically these past few years, i’ve been on my knees crying out to God where do i go? what country? here am i! send me!! no country was ever brought to mind. no city, people group or even landscape became appealing! i felt like a compass spinning out of control, not knowing where to stop because the direction mechanism was broken. i was that direction mechanism. what if i had been praying the wrong thing? what if i was asking for chocolate ice cream but really should have been asking for goat cheese? (yup . . . fill in the blank ____ a.m.) instead of asking where why not start asking with whom?

lightbulbs everywhere – 40 watt, 60 watt, 120 watt, fluorescent, christmas, LED . . you name it, they were going off. i began to pray with whom, Lord? my heart has always been people – not to meet material needs (because we’ve done enough damage doing that), but spiritual, relational and emotional needs. those go deeper and are the root of all the material problems in our world! handing out rice to poverty stricken village is like slapping a bandaid on a gaping wound. the people are still left bleeding.

what can i say about my home church? to give a clear and understandable understanding of the gospel community that i am blessed to be a part of, i will say that we are known as an acts 29 church. if you read in the book of acts, chapter 29, you’ll see that the early church met in homes, worshipping the Lord and reading His scriptures. that is what my home church is – the body and the blood of Christ in portland (if you’re still skeptical like i was, you can visit http://www.breadandwine.org). i’ve realized how much of my western christianity has diminished the Jesus of the Bible and has boxed the God of the old testament. i’ve realized how much i’ve missed while living an independent go-to-church-twice-a-week-cause-that’s-enough-to-give-you-community life. i’ve realized how short i’ve become of the true definition of what it means to be truly called a child of God. no wonder i was no different than the world. i can’t completely pen what God has written during these past few months. but in regards to leading me back overseas, He’s provided that ‘with whom’ that i’ve been praying for.

in the fall of this year, my home church is looking to do a church plant in pune, india. pune is known as the oxford of the east with a vast population of collegiate students from all over the world. their hope is to establish an acts 29 church for unichs, untouchables even by the ‘church’ in india because they are simply unichs. they also desire to help organize and manage an orphanage that is overflowing with parent-less children and under-flowing with rest-less workers. high-caste hindus are rarely reached and yet the high castes are the most influential in this one-of-the –highest-poverty stricken-countries in the world. along with all of these needs, is the partnership in aiding a woman by the name of mommy. mommy rescues children in the ‘red-light district’ of pune – a district where mothers prostitute themselves for income and the children reap the harvest of their mother’s actions. they are subject to child trafficking, sex-abuse, slavery, or simply hiding under the bed while their mother’s go to ‘work’. the needs are great, but there are laborers. since the church plant goals were placed before me, i have daily been committing and submitting my desire to go to india to the One who loves those people exceptionally more than i could. i am confident that the Lord will lead me when He so desires.

along with the church planting in pune, the Lord is using our gospel community to reach the people of portland. next week will be our first luke 14 love dinner. Jesus told the guests at that particular dinner (luke 14:12-14) to invite the poor, the maimed, the blind and the crippled into your home when you have a feast, for they cannot repay you. Jesus told His disciples many things, and i’m seeing how little of them i have obeyed. luke 14 love dinner is just that – bringing the homeless, the maimed, the blind and the crippled into our home – not into a ‘shelter’ – but into the very place that will give them the place of honor, the place of friend. we’ve been aiming to establish relationships with the homeless that are out on the street and there are so many of them. we pray that the house overflows and that these people know what it means to be truly loved. a few of us have also been going to bus stops, MAX (portland’s electric-train public transportation) stations or wherever large clumps of people gather, serving them coffee, conversing with them and sharing with them the Gospel. it’s all for Him – none of what i have experiences is for any other glory or honor but the Lord’s. He knows i couldn’t or wouldn’t do this on my own – it’s too uncomfortable for me. and by it, i’ve been blessed to meet michelle,  larry and cory and hopefully more who just need someone to care, to truly care.

i am pleased to let you know that it is now 4:30 in the morning and am hoping this all still makes sense. more than that, i pray that you are encouraged to see and hear what God is doing, can do if His people are willing. a question was posed to our home church that if we were to leave the city of portland, would people miss us? would the city of portland miss our home church? right now, i can honestly say ‘no’. sure, they may despise the gospel message, hate our love and reject our service. but in the end, they would still miss us? we must be different than the world. we must be contrary to modern christianity that stays in the pews and true to the Jesus Christ of the Bible Who stayed in the streets. because we didn’t just do social justice work. anyone can do that. no, they should miss us because we were Him. that is why.

my hope is that when this daisie is plucked, that the world will miss her. not because she liked to smile or play the piano. but because she genuinely loved. and that love was only ever because of the Savior that died for her, the Father who loved her and the King who forgave her. i pray in the end they won’t go looking for the daisie but for the One who planted her.