Trees and Floods: Bible notes

I’ve notice the scriptures speak not only of building up the Lord’s House, but doing so with living vessels.  I’ve seen/study some ideas of living fence or living hedge, which are very interesting.  How much more beautiful to imagine that God could make up a whole “house” of living material?!

Also I’ve watched some teachings on desert plants and general deep-roots vs erosion. The concept of a deep roots holding the ground while a flood comes through is amazing.

In the Bible their a famous passage (Rev 12:15) where we read the parable of a dragon who is intent on persecuting a woman, even chases her into a desert/wilderness area, and then spews out a flood from its mouth. The earth comes to her help and “swallows” the flood.

Could it be that the Lord seeks living trees to build up his house and save this beloved woman? It’s beautiful idea to entertain. But will we allow the Lord to moves into a place which requires the Lord to provide or else we parish? Yet if God has already promised to provide should we fear any plans upon which God smiles?
Can we trust that God places where we are needed? Without deep roots wadis easily become washouts. Do we want to be those who can laugh at the times to come and fear not erosion? Or are we already afraid of the danger of coming storms?


“Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.  “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.

Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy.  It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
 The wild animals will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
    the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

The poor and needy search for water,
    but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
    and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
    and the parched ground into springs.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,
    and my blessing on your offspring.
 They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,
    like willows by flowing streams.
 This one will say, “I am the Lord’s,”
    another will be called by the name of Jacob,
yet another will write on the hand, “The Lord’s,”
    and adopt the name of Israel.
 I will put in the desert
    the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
    the fir and the cypress together,
 so that people may see and know,
    may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

The beams of our house are cedars;
    our rafters are firs.

Those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord; and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus  it shall blossom abundantly,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    “Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.”

 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
 the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

 A highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
    but it shall be for God’s people;
    no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
 No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain joy and gladness,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
    the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary;
    and I will glorify where my feet rest.
The descendants of those who oppressed you
    shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
    shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
    the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
    with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
    a joy from age to age.


Hag 1:7-9; Neh 8:15; Is 4:5-6; Is 43:18-21; Is 41:17-18; Is 44:3-5; Is 41:19-20; Is 55:12-13; Song of Solomon 1:17; Zech 6:15; Is 35:1-10; Is 60:13-15;


Contrast to the trees which are not brought into the building for the Lord’s House:

Look, the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts,
    will lop the boughs with terrifying power;
the tallest trees will be cut down,
    and the lofty will be brought low.
 He will hack down the thickets of the forest with an ax,
    and Lebanon with its majestic trees will fall.

 I will make justice the line,
    and righteousness the plummet;
hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
    and waters will overwhelm the shelter.
 Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
    and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through
    you will be beaten down by it.

Open your doors, O Lebanon,
    so that fire may devour your cedars!
Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen,
    for the glorious trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan,
    for the thick forest has been felled!
 Listen, the wail of the shepherds,
    for their glory is despoiled!
Listen, the roar of the lions,
    for the thickets of the Jordan are destroyed!

Until a spirit from on high is poured out on us,
    and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
    and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
 The effect of righteousness will be peace,
    and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
    in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
 The forest will disappear completely,
    and the city will be utterly laid low.
 Happy will you be who sow beside every stream,
    who let the ox and the donkey range freely.


Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
    the guard keeps watch in vain.
 It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Is 10:33-34; Is 28:17-18; Zech 11:1-3; Is 32:15-20; Ps 127:1-2;


For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—  the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.  If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

1 Cor 3:9-15; 2 Cor 5:1;


What Does Relating Have to Do with Relationships?

I listened to an interesting video of an orthodox Jewish woman talking about the concept of “Judaism is not a Religion, It’s a Relationship”. What a familiar phrase. Yet there’s good evidence in the roots of Judaism for such a concept. I watched to see what she’d say.  Not much, I’m afraid.

We don’t understand relationship. We don’t practice relating. We are a must-do-these, must-be-this, must-be-seen-as such&such. We don’t know about relating, and therefore our best concepts of relationship suffer.

We bend our language to make things fit. We don’t consider what is being said and what needs to be said. Sometime we only know that something should look like this, it should cover that, it should fit across here… but don’t consider the limits of a word or the benefits of that limit.

In the previously mentioned video I heard the woman give different examples of relationship and how we can compare our interacting with God to something similar. The problem came in when some examples were of a relationship, yes, but a tip-toe relationship.

Appeasing isn’t relating.
It maybe done in love, but it still isn’t relating. It isn’t dealing with root issues. It isn’t connecting to how someone other than ourselves might feel and why. If we take enough time to fix the problem, but not enough to consider why the problem arose in the first place, we are just managing one another. It’s not relating.

My husband maybe one unlucky man. He married a woman who wasn’t planning on marrying. He married a woman who straight-face told him she not a believer in “woman submit!” theology.  When he married me, his life began to change, and he didn’t know what he was in for.
Everyday I work with my man on life. Sometimes I feel sorry for him. Many christians marry and their wives are these humble-meek creatures the live to serve and honor their man. I teach him. I don’t mean to do it. It’s not my intention, but yet it’s my goal that he realize who God has created him to be.

He came from a reasonable family, but not one that was going help him become into greatness. In fact they expected him to fail because a few doctors and teachers had critical words to say,  and for some reason I cannot conceive his parents believed those “professionals”.  Yet I meet him as a young man, and something in my spirit recognized his spirit, and fate was sealed.

I think probably everyday in our marriage I ask my man questions. Simple questions, hard questions, rhetorical questions, long-term-thought questions, intraspective questions. I cause for him to work, to search, to rise up. …and he has.
I think a reason that I do this, isn’t because I don’t already love who he, but because I don’t think he has seen who he really is.

We all believe lies about ourselves at different points in our life.
Sometimes we allow those lies to define us. Sometimes we get tired of fighting them when they’re repeated over & over again. Sometimes it’s all we’ve known and we are not aware that they are lies.  And yet, they form us into something we are not. They keep us from being who are meant to be. The stifle beauty that means to gently unfold. Yet we don’t always see them within ourselves. Sometimes it takes someone else who can relate and therein reveal a problem that hasn’t yet been dealt with or considered.

I propose that sometimes, as loved ones, we perpetuate the lies that one we love wears. We mean to treat them with honor and therefore we allow them to continue to cover their shame or hurt (ect.).  But a wound that is covered can still get an infection. It must be treated underneath a clean cloth. …But in relationships… that a hard place to be. It’s a fragile company to keep. It’s deep.

Sometimes it’s easier to allow it to be “their problem” and let them deal with it in their own way. Sometimes others’ wounds remind us of our own, and we too would like to keep that hidden.  But that’s not relating, it’s just managing.

I might also point out, that to dig up wounds for the sake of “healing” them and being a hero or rescuer, can be manipulation or using one another, and that’s not healthy either. There’s no healthy substitute for relating.

It takes learning what it’s like to be in our own skin, or to feel our own bones before we can actual relate to another. And yet…we have this thing called “relationships” were sometimes we just get lost and hide in one another. We don’t always consider what’s it like to be who I am, and what does that have to do with being connected to this person here, who I am in a relationship with. Instead we’re hiding in feelings, schedules, raising a family, making then spending money, plans for the future …and we take very, very little time to consider our soul or the one whom we love, their soul. We just keep passing the days, and we do fine.

I don’t want fine. I don’t want a good life. I don’t want average. …and I don’t want that for my man.  He’s more than that, I know. I’m not sure he knows. Despite my struggles of worth & importance, my spirit knows that my life was made for adventures. I know I could be something that helps others cue into their importance, and I know that it could be world changing. But I have to be able to touch something that’s alive. I have to have life within myself that I believe is unique and intentional for my surroundings.

For me I have to believe in God who believes in me. A God who created be to be some specific in this time and in this generation. For me this is my bases for being able to relate to other people despite any internal struggles, or even because I have those specific internal struggles.  I know I’m not the only one who struggles, and reality has allowed me to connect to something gives me strength to bear the load and shuck the shame.

Relationships were meant to have more relating in them, than what we give credit to them in our modern society. To be able to relate is world changing, life-touching, and life giving. Consider… what does relating have to do with (my) relationships?

Notes on Servants

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; … Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. Because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood … so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours; … life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.

When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
And the Lord said, “Call his name Not my people, for you are not my people and I am not your God.”  Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Sons of the living God.”
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
    for it is time to favor it;
    the appointed time has come.
 For your servants hold its stones dear,
    and have pity on its dust.

Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me. Say to your brother, “My people,” and to your sister,“She has obtained pity.” I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness … so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord God.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Deu 29:29; 1 Cor 2:16; 1 Cor 4:1 & 14-16; 2 Cor 4:16-18; Gal 4:3; Gal 5:16; Eph 4:13-14; 1 Cor 3:18-23; Eph 6:12; Gal 5:17-18; Eph 3:4-6; Rom 11:25-26;Hosea 1:9-10; Ps 102:13-14; Mtw 28:10; Hosea2:1; Ezk 20:35-36;Deu 29:29;2 Cor 4:18; 1 Cor 4:1


Sitting With The Silent God

There I was well adjust to my thirties…far from high school, and yet…feeling exactly like I was in middle school again. In the middle of the camp dining room, a room full of adults, just moments ago talking to friends, but the dinner bell rang (so to speak) and everyone literally turned away from where I was sitting to sit with someone else.  It was just my husband and I sitting in the middle of the room…alone.

We both felt the sudden turn. What happened? We looked at one another. That was odd. We were just talking with people, and now that it was lunch time, everyone wanted someone else to talk to? No one else came to sit with us. It was too coincidental. Was God portraying something with our lives?

It was fine. My husband was still there. We had each other. I was fine with that. …And then… my husband decided he need to take a walk. I didn’t know it then, but he told me later that the pressure and the obviousness of the situation was too much for him. He felt it too.

So there I was. A living monument in the middle of the lunch room, and no one saw me. No one ate with me. I tried to calmly tell myself not to shove my tiny meal down and runoff like an awkward middle-schooler. I could do this. I could deal with sitting alone in the middle of the room where two minutes ago we had friends to talk to and now… suddenly…nothing. I could stand tall, or rather, sit like a normal person. No problem.

Quietly I was talking to God. It was too coincidental to miss. “What happening here, God? No one’s sitting with us? What is this?
And then to hear in my spirit, “I know. How do you think I feel?
It was heart-breaking. I continued to calmly eat my food and sit there ever-so politely, while fighting tears from these impactful words of God. Then came the unforgettable words: “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.

My heart broke. The Silent God, of course!

I finished part of my tiny meal, and threw the rest out. It was too much to ingest. I looked around the room more than once, and I didn’t catch any eye, not once. I was there in the middle of it all, and no one saw me. But to think…that I might have merely been a symbol of a God whom they didn’t want to endure, that…that was crushing.

Some months ago, I had posted about how I was currently learning about the Silent God (a side of God we don’t tend to like or believe in), and it was impacting then…but this! Hearing this: “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.”  was devastating… devastatingly beautiful. In that moment of hearing those words, I couldn’t believe that other people would miss this. I couldn’t believe that I was privy to hear the words and heart from the Silent God.
It was beautiful. It was honest. It was straight from a broken heart.
It was one of those moments that best friends share together.

I remember when I was kid, I always wanted my friends to be the kind of people who could sit with me, even if I was having a silent day or silent meal. Because best friends share stories, conversations, and share their hearts & lives even if words aren’t being spoken between them. Even in silence, the best of friends are still connected.

Yet we live in culture that promotes silence as being awkward. Silence in the ruin-er of moods. Silence is the killer of connection. Silence…silence isn’t as bad as we make it out to be. Not always.

I haven’t recovered.
I haven’t gotten over a God who would say to me, “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.
I haven’t stopped tearing up every time I think of it.

How close do you have to be to share a broken heart with someone? To feel their pain as they express it. To cry when they cry. To sit with them in that time and not try to change it, but just to share in it?
How quiet do we have to still ourselves before God shares his broken heart with us?

One of my favorite Bible verses say, “He who is faithful with little, will be faithful with much. And he who is dishonest with little, will be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
God is seeking those who are faithful with little. The problem is, we have heard so much from a culture that says God wants to give us much …and that entices us.

The problem is we live in culture were dating is the same thing as having sex together. We live in culture where you can watch movies instantly and any part of the movie only takes two clicks to get to it or maybe just a spoken word (long gone are VHS and cassettes!). We live in culture where my husband’s coworkers ask him where he got his lunch, and they’re surprised when he frequently says we made it at home. We live in culture where we play little computer games during our dead time, but then we pay real money for unreal power-ups & instant-builds (and so on) in said game.

We live in culture that wants a form of greatness, but we want it now, and we’re willing to sacrifice some of our greatness in order to gain some instant-ness. We want to skip ahead to our favorite parts.

The problem is we apply this mentality to our spiritual lives, because it’s our everyday mindset. We don’t have time for menial task. The reality is relationships (including spirituality) are built on things that might otherwise be considered menial. Have we forgotten that in our modern world?

We need to practice being faithful with little in our everyday lives. Everyday we have choices to make. Just for today will we pick something that guides to healthier or more holistic living? Maybe tomorrow we fail. Maybe yesterday didn’t work out. But today? Today we could choose to be faithful with little. Today we could build a menial piece in our relationships. Today we could be a little more honest with ourselves.  Today could be great, or it could be nothing of consequence. And that’s okay. It’s only a little thing.

When greatness does come we will not know it, unless we are faithful in the little things.

It maybe a long, long wait, but… don’t be afraid of a Silent God.
Unimaginably beautiful awaits those who persevere faithfully.


Fools On Display

“Sometimes I think God has put us apostles at the very end of the line, like prisoners soon to be killed, put on display at the end of a victor’s parade, to be stared at by men and angels alike.”
– St Paul

Strangely, I get the impression this isn’t one of the first five things anyone thinks of when they think of the Christian Life or walking by faith. …and I wonder what it’s like to be that person who walks along without this weight. I wonder what it’s like to think of Christianity in terms of things done in or pertaining to a “church” building.
I imagine it’s terrible and boring.

1st Corinthians chapter 4 is very powerful in a humbling way. It’s like reading a story of how my ancestors got to America and got established into our modest life. It’s a reminder that we aren’t just trusting God for our day to day life, but we’re part of something greater. It’s a reminder that it isn’t just about what’s happening now, but our “now” is part of greater chorus which has been sung out in faith. We join those who have believed before us. We join those who believe now, and we join those who struggle to believe but keeping living for one more day, searching for truth…if there be any left in this world.

This is a challenge. This is a weight.

Later on, in 2nd Corinthians, Paul uses the phrase “eternal weight of glory”. A small phrase that has baffled many. What could it mean?
I think it means, when we get connected into the roots of our faith, and into the forefathers of faith, and we start wanting to be a part of their faith, knowing their God, and living that faith…then we’ve connected to something that eternal. Something that’s glorious. And there’s a weight to it all. “the eternal weight of glory”

When we think of the long lineage of history that has processed our stories and brought message of a living God down throughout history, we look small. Yet…in our “now” state of being, we feel so worthless, so insignificant, and sometimes so forgotten by God.  We feel like God puts us on display in the worst way. We feel foolish. We like stoning up our hearts, instead of opening them up. We feel like we have no faith at all. We feel insane. …but we keep going.

There is no alternative.  There is no following the system into a happily-ever-after. There is no daydreaming and one day  it’ll come true. …not without an attempt. Not without skidding through some failure, bristling through some doubt, drowning in stares of people who “admire” your “cute faith” but they sure don’t want to be you or live their own faith in the same “admirable” way.

Yet not everyone can.
Someone has to be at the base. Someone has to discover that old path that now seems overgrown and hidden. If it ever was here, then it’s still here. But my God, it isn’t easy to find, and to keep, and follow. …Yet if that’s all we had to do, it’d be easier than this. Yet we know, behind us will come those who are looking for this same path, and we need to put signs out for them. We need to clear some of the brush. But we need to make sure, it is the right path at the same time.

To say it’s hard is an inadequate understatement.

We are on display, and this display makes us seem like fools. We know. Yet we must. It’s not just for our sake anymore. When we enter into an ancient and eternal faith, then we become part of legacy. One that must be preserved. One that must be given to the next generation. And I just don’t have the faith to believe that our “church” systems are going to be the ones to pass on a living faith with a Living God, where even the words of God are still alive to us today.

To be eternal means there is no “Old Testament” God vs “New Testament” happy-go-lucky Jesus. Just one triune God working throughout all of history. Including now.

There is an eternal weight of glory, and it’s exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. We preserve, because if we quit, we will never know what the saints of ol’ saw. We’ll never know why the cloud of witness is cheering us on. We preserve because there’s other children coming after us, and if we were kicked out of the church for seeking deeper truth in our perilous times, then what will happen to them?

This is why we are part of a faith that is on display before men and angels. Because God has a plan. …and that’s something that I want to be part of.  So here’s to one more try…


Faceless in a Selfie World

Sometimes when I scroll through my more recent pictures to see what I’ve essential recorded in history. Sometime while I’m looking I think to myself: where am I?  I’m just like everybody else in this modern age, I’ll take a photo of myself (now called selfies, used be called polaroids -just saying-), because I want be recorded, remember, or sometimes…just seen.

Pictures are amazing; photography (believe or not) is still an art. A beautiful, expressive art. I don’t just want my face or a place where I was recorded. I want some sort of beauty, isolation, joy, jest, contentment, some amount of invisibility recorded. I want someone to know what it’s like to be me. …but not so much for my own sake, anymore. But because I understand my life is so similar to so many.

If I feel this way, then I am not alone.

Sometimes I do feel like a picture is a way to relate. It’s not just about me, where I’ve been, or something incredible. Selfies aren’t always about vanity, peer pressure, or feeding the social media machine, but sometimes they can still capture something more. Sometimes they capture a light, or a missing light, within someone’s eyes. Sometimes the person is saying “I’m strong and confident” but I can see the loneliness of wanting to be seen, or wanting to be treasured, or wanting to share this life with other loved ones, or missing the actual nearness.

Our whole lives we create memories. Only a few are captured by pictures. Social media has allowed us to project an image of ourselves. Photo editors have allowed us to remold that image of ourselves. Likes, hearts, comments, and shares have allowed us to assume some companionship in a single moment that we didn’t actually share with all who participate in the this post-moment posting & commentation.

It’s like we can still attempt communal. Even when communal is just as lonely as it has always been …on our own.

In my own collection of pictures, I see that I get lost. I see once in a while my husband likes to tease me with a photo he snaps where I’m glaring or being goofy. …Then he post it for the rest of the world. I can’t convince him that no one else in the world thinks that I’m cute or beautiful in the way that he sees me. It’s unfathomable to him. Yet the when my face receives significantly less “likes” then a sunset picture or a goofy joke, what is one to think, but that I must be right? That I am more faded in the world of our “friends”.

Yet even with this… my pictures make me wonder how much am I participating in life? Or how much am I just a side observer myself?

In our modern age, we can connect to people miles away, but we can’t always stay connected to those who are geographically close to us. Old friends who aren’t social media savvy can fade, and new friends who socially stalk in-friendly-terms can seem better antiquated than what’s truthfully there. Yet it’s not just social media.

I can spend multiple days a week at my parents house, and barely know more than seeing my brother a few times a month or my other brother a few times a year. I can live an hour away from friends, and not see them for years, but make a special effort to see friends who live multiple hours away from us.

Community doesn’t just happen. We choose it. Capturing moments in life isn’t just the luck of being there, it’s being aware of the moment your in already. Cherishing what’s already in front of us.
Memories are made all the time, but we don’t always put them to mind. I am always here, but I can still feel as if I don’t exist without some acknowledgement of my existence.

Can I deal with less selfies, so that I can take more pictures of sunsets, long drives, quirkiness of nature, and a moment I lived but yet it didn’t involve me?  Can I deal with people saying “wow” “That’s beautiful” “awesome”  to those moments, when those same people don’t say “I miss you” “you’re beautiful” “I love my friend”?

It’s not a modern problem. It’s only a more instant problem in our modern age.

I think I can do this. I think I can acknowledge that I am here, even if I am unseen. I think I stand, even if it’s awkwardly, in a room in a moment in the isolation of the crowd. I think I can make through this day whether or not anyone else cares that I am here. I think that okay for today.
I’m not going to think about if I’ll have strength for silence tomorrow. Just today.  And if I need cheap friendship, I can always repost a meme.

But I want to be strong even if the world is silent towards me. Maybe just today…I can. This will be a memory: I made it.


Not Superheroes, Just Friends

About a month and half ago, a friend of ours confessed he need to turn himself in for DUI. We prayed with him and have prayed for him since then.  A few weeks after that, another friend told us about his agonizing relapse, we listened, and he asked us to pray he’d get into detox. Maybe a month later, a different friend of ours found out his wife was cheating on him and planning to leave him. We were able to be with him that day, and spent the night keeping him company and being available.

We’re not miracle workers. We don’t change the world with our prayers. But we believe this is who we are meant to be. We believe this is what resurrection life looks like. We are thankful for those who will let us know when their life isn’t perfect and they need some support. Not everyone will tell us, not everyone will let us help or pray or sit with them and listen. Not everyone can trust, hope, or call out for help. We are thankful that God has made these friends strong enough to include us.

Somehow, I don’t think people imagine this as the good Christian life. We don’t evangelize (as its known to be), we don’t seal them with cliches, we don’t tell them everything will be okay. We just try to be available, try to pray, try to believe with them.
…and personally I can’t imagine much else to be the “Christian thing to do”.

We’ve never once stopped to think or accuse the devil. We’ve not yet become overwhelmed. Instead we thank God that these fine people have entrusted us with their tough situations. We thank God that we’ve been able to look into their faces, and hear it from them. We’ve thanked God that we are able to pray with/for them, and fully believe God will strength the weak hands and feeble knees. We know they need the prayers. We all do.

My husband and I are searching for a new place to live, and it’s frustrating. We haven’t found an open door, and we start to get a little put out with God. What does he want from us anyway? We’re trying! Then something happens… not to us but to whom we love …and we get quiet. We remember to be thankful. Although our current residence is limiting, and we’re ready to move forward, we are still a part of life. Life is not out there, somewhere, someday, instead…it is today. With all the bad and good and waiting, it still counts as life.

If I have to take a moment to remember this, to think about it, and to let the gratitude sink in, then I’m sure I’m not the only one.

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, addictions and cheaters, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

And this is why we believe that we are already part of the resurrection life. In life we feel pain, we share heartbreak, we hope in unseen circumstances, we fall and get up again, we sorrow, we rejoice, we try. WE do this together. We include one another in these adventures -which at times seem to lead nowhere- and we pray. We include God.

When saints pray for a common hope, I believe it’s like going to a concert with a beloved band on stage. It feels like everyone is singing along, the crowd is pressing forward, strangers become friends, there is strength in numbers. There’s also that one weird person who has to yell something like “marry me” or “I love you” to one of the band members…but that’s easily ignore or laughed away.
In a concert like this, people are sweaty, smelly, sometimes pushy, close and pressing closer. Some yell the whole song, some sing, yet we all seem to lose our voice by the end of the night. And we love it! It’s like a sign of hardwork well accomplished. Not only did the band get on stage and perform, but we were all a part of the concert tonight…and it was beautiful.

If you’ve never been to a concert like that, you’re missing out. If you’ve never lived a faith like that, then you’re missing it…missing everything.

One or two of these friends (from the previously stated stories), said to us something along the lines of, “I don’t deserve friends like you” to which my husband perfectly replied, “Everyone deserves friends like us.”

We’re not superheroes. But in real life, we are friends to real people. We love our friends. We are proud of our friends.Our prayers for them pour out more regularly than prayers for ourselves. We are thankful for those who have allowed us to journey with them. We know these aren’t just bad times, but these are times where God is working.  We press on, carrying the burdens of our friends. Hoping. Rising…one more time. We will try. Together we will walk through today.

If this isn’t what faith is suppose to look like, then God help us. It’s the best we’ve got thus far.