Advent: Day 14

I really wanted to stick to my personal challenge of writing daily blogs for advent. When I missed one last week, I justified, explained it away by saying it was my sabbath. It wasn’t a trickery. It made sense in the moment, and I really liked how that explanation bloomed out of my own mishap.

However, trying to write this week has been hard. My brain feels uninspired. My heart felt uninspired. Maybe I had used up my week’s worth of inspiration creating that 11:11 album. I listened to it on Tuesday and was sobbing myself; it does work having someone cheer you on when you feel like you’re crushed in the dumps. I skipped + missed writing the last two days. I didn’t have much to say. And I already felt like my last post was being phoned in. Why? What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to prove to? I think it becomes a bit inevitable that you feel responsible to the community that might read these posts, and I guess I didn’t want to let you down. So if some of the last posts were eh, I’m sorry. I’m trying. Why didn’t I just say, I got nothing to say…?

But today I do have something because last night I got rejected from a writing lab I really wanted to be in. I’ve been working on a screenplay for 4 years and for this Sundance fellowship, I pulled 3 all nighters to write 5 personal essays and complete the 2nd draft. That week in October, I worked from 8a-4:30pm, had rehearsal from 6-9pm, and worked on my application from 9-3am. It was hard, and it was glorious. I felt motivated. I felt like this is what my life can be full of — meaningful civic work, acting projects that are important, and creations that could change the world. I was really excited and I sent in my application. And I waited for the last two months.

Before the no, you have not been selected, I felt hope. I felt possibility. I felt excited imagining the people on the other side seeing my story and my heart. I felt excited about a future where I could have collaborators that understood how I saw the world and where I want to take this world. My waiting was full of possibility + hope. And the no came and the flood erupted. Duh. You suck. Of course, it would never happen. The sadness. The frustration. The desire to just stop working on this story because very very honestly I may just not have what it takes. I’m sad. And I’m disappointed in myself. And my mind starts to even wander into places of comparison — why does SHE always get it? why do people like THEM get these? people like me…never…

Sometimes in the waiting, you do get an answer, and it brings up feelings and beliefs. How can these answers, which we want, getting an answer, be more helpful than harmful?

Maybe it’s a sign to take a break. Maybe it is a sign to stop altogether.
However, this I know.
It’s an opportunity to embrace the feelings and question the harmful beliefs that come up.
It’s an opportunity to invite the right people into this heartache or tough moment.
It’s an opportunity to reevaluate the deep deep goal. For me, I wanted the validation that I am good enough of a writer and I wanted a community to collaborate together with.

Every answer in this lifetime of waiting is an opportunity to witness what comes up, what we care about in this world, and who we can share. We can’t do this alone. We can’t. We are made for community.

Advent: Day 9

I emailed on Wednesday. No response. I followed up on Friday. No response. I gave them the weekend and this morning I sent another email, this time with extra vulnerable & heart sauce. Very soon after I got a response in the vein of, these things take time, we haven’t forgotten about you. My immediate reflexive response was, ugh my fault! Sorry!!

But no! One, why didn’t you respond with that to my first and second email? I just wanted to know that you heard me, that you saw my ask. Two, why did I feel like I did something wrong when I was the one with a very reasonable request? Pushing back, standing up for yourself, advocating for your needs feel uncomfortable in a body that has been comfortable with being walked all over. Three, maybe I could have started with the vulnerable and heart space from the beginning, rather than the business/professional tone people around me suggested I use? Where is the sweet spot of integrity, self-advocacy, self-worth and vulnerability? It requires giving the recipient the benefit of the doubt and a deep certainty in one’s own worth.

As I wait for this response or for god, or for my life is change, or for some magic or miracle to bloom, I have to remember that I am worthy to receive, worthy to want, worthy just as I am to have a life that is full. I also have to remember that god is good. God is not forgetful. God didn’t miss your email. God isn’t feeling awkward that you’re asking again and again and again. God is not dangling possibilities in front of us just to taunt us.

God can handle our push, our vulnerability, our belief that we are worthy. God needs us to be all that and do all that. Waiting is exhausting because it requires me to believe it can happen, it will happen, and god has NOT forgotten about me.

Where can you demand a response from God, even if it’s a not yet, or keep on, especially if it’s this?

Where do you need to advocate for yourself as a practice of self-worth?

Where can you sprinkle in vulnerability and heart in your professional and difficult relationships?

The Balance tips towards the Inevitable

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far way have been brought near by the blood of Christ

Ephesians 2:10-13

Living by faith and living in God is living in the gap of remembering where we come from and believing where we are going. Each side balances the journey so we don’t fall too deep into despair or get sucked into naive hope. Our hope and our impact in this world are destined. They are inevitable. We were created to make impact, to demonstrate beauty, to be the light in this world. The past and the realness of disconnection and separation that we have experienced, even currently experiencing, keep us grounded and keep us rooted in the why that is bigger than our individual self. This why is rooted in our ancestry, our upbringing, our experiences, our pains and heartaches and gives each of us a specific calling and community. We are drawn to different causes, to reconcile certain relationships, to bring healing to specific aspects of society.

But if we don’t also hold onto the inevitability of our good words and of our beautiful inherent nature — God’s handiwork — we might cave into despair when we are discouraged, sink into self-hatred when we are rejected or give up when we are momentarily disappointed. If today, right now, this moment, you know without a doubt your calling has been prepared, and it is beautiful, unshakeable and about to explode out for all to be affected, what would you do differently? How would you speak to yourself differently? How would you see the successes around you differently? How would you engage with others? How can you ease your mind, soul, heart and body and keep on your path, one step and one breath at a time?

But first, who is God?

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:1-2

Paul knew his identity. He knew his audience. And he knew his message. Each step builds off of the prior planting. Before Paul could have his message, he needed to know his audience. He needed to know the people he was trying to communicate with. He needed to understand what specifically the people of Ephesus needed to hear, what were their pains, what were their hopes, what language would best resonate. The messages comes out of the audience because its purpose is to serve those receiving. Before Paul could find his audience, he needed to know who he was. He needed to know who he was called to connect with. He needed to know his community. He needed to understand his place in the world. Out of that trust and stillness emanates the connections. Before Paul could know who he was, he needed to know God. He needed to know the God who created him and the world. He needed to know the God who structured and watches over this world. He needed to know that God is kind, good, loving and desires to redeem all of this world. He needed to know and experience the God who is near, who can move mountains, who can do the impossible. Paul’s identity flows out of this knowing of God.

  1. How do you see God? How do you view God? What does God’s identity say about your identity?
  2. Who are you? What is your “title” or “role” in God’s kingdom? Who needs your specific leadership and wisdom?
  3. Who are the people you already connect with? Who are the people you hope to connect with? What are they longing for? What do they hope for?
  4. What message and offering will serve the people you are called to? What message and offering will bring these people to God’s presence?

I lack nothing

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23

What are green pastures when the clouds overhead are gray and the days are foggy? What are quiet waters when it feels like news bombs drop like clockwork? What does being refreshed in my soul feel like?

What is rest and coolness when you’re in a state of rage? What is calm when the noise in our heads is on blast? What is refreshment when you’re so depleted?

What is a gentle pause and moment of acceptance in the face of the reality we are in right now? What is the cost of allowing for a full deep breath when the world charges that you must have answers now? What parts of my body can I actually drop and relax?

Where is the permission to feel the heartbreak of the world without being deemed melodramatic? Where is the freedom to no longer curate and smile in spaces that make us smaller and invisible? If I’m exhausted, where have I been running, going, trying to get to?

Can I lie down and feel the ground hold me up? Can I focus on the beauty and glisten of light? Can I take care of myself or let another take care of me?

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. What do I have now that I haven’t noticed? What do I need to be complete and what does that reveal about what I value? If in my feeling of being nothing, I also lack nothing, what does it mean to see this moment as utterly important for my purpose and path that is being revealed?

CBG: 100

100 posts. What started out as a project for my friend and I became a tracker of my emotions, longings and conversations with God. I gave myself permission to question and to doubt. I let myself be angry and sad, while in the Word. My honesty and my learning are welcomed in the presence of God. How I feel on 3/25 can evolve on 5/25; dear God I hope it will always! While I don’t come to the end of this journey with a burning desire to start my mornings with the Bible and in prayer, I have learned the following.

  1. I don’t need to prove my faith to anyone. God is my judge, and for that I will answer to God when it is my day.
  2. Writing different devotionals on the same verses showed me the power of God to speak beyond words. The Word evolves to translate God’s intimacy and nearness. That is usually what I need to grow and to take action.
  3. God’s Word is active as in it must lead to self-reflection and action, and more often than not, change. This is spiritual conviction — a self-growth rooted in being loved and is demonstrated as outward action for others.

Thoughts as I take the next however long to process:

  • Who have we allowed and not allowed to interpret and teach the Word, and how does this play into greater separation from God?
  • Why do certain populations (which ones) shy away from the Word in times of suffering and pain? How is this related to our current gatekeepers for preaching and teaching?
  • How does our onset insistence on right theology actually prevent the curiosity and safety to get to that same theology?

Because of God, even when I feel alone, I have faith that it might be different in the next minute. Because of God, I have dreams to make this world better. Because of God, I have been freed from generational prisons. Because of God, I know a love that keeps me going when the world falls apart. This is the God I love and I want others to experience. This is my purpose.

CBG: Peace

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolation on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46

What do you hold onto when the foundations you’ve set your feet on fall away? Your security and your safety net, if you were ever lucky enough to have one, show themselves to not be stable after all. Where do you look when all you’ve worked towards is thrown into emptiness? Your achievements and your diligence are unprepared for new obstacles. When you thought you had done enough and gotten on top of your circumstances, exhaustion creeps in. How will you make it to the morning?

Peace is the anchoring into what hasn’t been been shaken and what hasn’t been defeated. Peace is making room for God’s presence when everything around you is telling you to close up shop and protect. Peace is looking at everything coming at you while focusing on the fortress of your character and God that exist in between. Peace is hearing the noise and shouts yet recalibrating the breath to a 4 count inhale, 4 count exhale. Peace is seeing all that seems against us with compassion. Peace is silent during the good times and loud during the hard times. Peace is a practice of presence. Peace is a muscle of response rather than one of reaction. Peace is a choice to surrender control.

Prayer: God I pray that you will reveal where I am placing my trust. Teach me how to breathe in a manner that quiets me and those in my presence. Teach me to pause before reacting out of anger or hurt. Teach me to see attacks and attackers with compassion.

Character: Where am I choosing to fight by ignoring the bigger scene and narrative?

Grace: How can I make room for moments of presence today?

CBG: Reflection

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous ways in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139: 1-5, 23-24

Self-reflection and quiet meditation to hear God’s voice are courageous acts. It requires surrender. It acknowledges that you don’t have the full picture. It allows another to reflect who you are. When we have the right God — one who is kind, compassionate and ever-for-our-good — we learn to trust being seen. And if we are in consistent practice with God, it will overflow to our trust in being seen by humans. Take some time. Sit with the questions. And whatever form responses come is perfect.

  1. How have you been brave?
  2. Where has fear dictated how you acted?
  3. Who are you when you are quiet?
  4. Who do you want to become?
  5. What questions do you have for God?
  6. How do you want God to respond?

CBG: #16

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 3:17 – 4:2

Our weekly rhythm of sabbath — to see all we have done and learned and to remember all we have engaged with, because who you are today is not the same as who you were last week. If we are honest, if we can be even a little bit open to the work of God, if we had ventured even a foot into vulnerability and faith, who we are today is closer to we were created to be. The process of sanctification seems unkind until you stop to see what it’s trying to teach you. You are a champ. You are a warrior. You’re in the work. Please give yourself a hug, a kiss, a tap for being brave, creative and generous.

  1. What moment(s) did you feel God’s presence, close and kind?
  2. What moment(s) did you actively push God away?
  3. What emotion has been your friend this week?
  4. Where was joy?
  5. Where was heartbreak?
  6. What is one thing you can bring to next week to step more into your power?

Love to hear your thoughts! xo

CBG: #11

Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

Psalm 119: 36-40

Prayer: God give me an eagerness for you even when so many things are trying to pull my focus away. Make you feel relevant because sometimes you don’t seem too close. Help me to trust that the silence and alone-ness still holds your presence. You are very near. You are close, even when I don’t feel it and even when quieting scares me. Turn my eyes from the worthless things of fear and scarcity. Turn my eyes from the worthless things of building security in this world in things that will wash away again. Remove the need to be okay. Reassure me of your promises that you complete your work. Restore the joy of having a purpose beyond the circumstances of today.

Where are your thoughts? Where is your focus? Where are we sheltering in for comfort and security, and do you feel safe and hopeful there? Are you outward focused on others and their actions that impact you? Are you looking in at your hurt, scared, cradled heart? Are you too tired or reluctant to turn to God?

When was the last time God beckoned you back? What was whispered into your soul? What was felt in your body? What did you recall?

What were you once so sure about because you had God, and now feels unsteady or blurred? What drew you in at the beginning? What would you need for that first attraction to come full bloom right now?

Creative: Share your heart.

Brave: Come back to your body. Enjoy your body.

Generous: What non-profit needs a sprinkle of your heart?