A Glimpse of Mi Vida...

It started with a missions trip to Camden, where my life and perspective were changed and where this blog began. Life has been a roller coaster filled with its ups and downs and I'm excited for the adventure and discovering what God has in store, even though I really dislike roller coasters... I am a Lady in Waiting...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Four F Words At The Cross

The Four F Words At the Cross

There He hung upon the Cross, nailed there, stretched out and in pain and he whispered these four “f-words”.


“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” –Luke 23:24

1) In the midst of pain and suffering, Jesus didn’t point towards someone else in blame. He asked for forgiveness.
How often do we point to someone else in forgiveness and love. Growing up, as the eldest, I remember whenever I got in trouble that I would immediately find a reason to point things back to my younger brother. If it was, “Jennifer why didn’t you clean you room”… it was, well… John (my brother) did this, this, and that. Twenty years later and I continue to still point towards my brother and he isn’t living on this same continent currently. Last week I showed my dad my two new Christian tattoos and he was surprised and gave me a slight lecture. What did I do? Immediately throw my brother under the bus and tell my dad how the tattoo my brother wants to get is so much worse. Sad but true. My parents always told me that for every finger that I point, that there were three more pointing back at me. Yet amidst pressure, pain and extreme circumstances, Christ points towards others in forgiveness rather than in blame.
He was suffering and thought outwardly of others in forgiveness. This is so not our generation; we tend to be the generation of me and I. As He bleeds out, lashing wounds with clotted blood from our mistakes, betrayal and dishonesty, He wants us forgiven by God. I pray I can learn to offer forgiveness to others amidst extreme pain and sorrow. I pray I can take responsibility and stop placing blame.

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” -John 19:26-27

2) Jesus had Family on His mind before He left us. He calls us to be brothers and sisters, but also to take care of one another. It doesn’t matter what your family is like. You might be thinking, “well, you don’t know my family.” Well, it doesn’t matter. Christ died so that we can offer grace and kindness to all people, including our family.
It reminds me of the newest song by NeedToBreathe: “Brother, let me be your shelter, never leave you all alone. I can be the one you call. Brother let me be your fortress .”
His grace is so wide that His love wasn’t just for the orphan or for the widow, but for family. When I was going through therapy I came to the realized that I was praising my Father, while forsaking and not offering love and grace to my own earthly family, despite the hurt, pain, and past. God’s grace is so sufficient that if it can accept me, then certainly it can help me to find ways to show my family love and grace.

“And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" –Mark 15:34
3) Jesus saw betrayal at the Cross, not simply by the Jews but He was forsaken by His own Father. He was abandon by His own Father for you and for me. God gave up His one and only Son for me and for my betterment. Jesus was fully human, as much as He was God. He experienced the physical and emotional pain of being rejected, abandoned… He felt forsaken. That feeling of abandonment hits home for me because for so many years I felt forsaken by my family as I was the odd person out, as I was twas emotionally and verbally abused. I was so disconnected from my family, especially as I clung to my relationship with God. The closer I grew to God, the further I grew to away from my family as I tried to align my life with God’s will. However, through me clinging to God and moving further from my family it allowed me to offer grace and kindness like never before.
Also think of that sacrificial love (hesed: loving-kindness in Hebrew) that was displayed from God’s perspective. A few weeks ago I went to a baby’s funeral whom had moved onto life with Jesus after such a short time on this Earth. I am not yet a mother, but I felt the depth of loss of the child, but even more so for my friends as they grieved. I have waited so long to be married, and then hope to eventually children… the thought of losing my only child pains my heart deeply. That child, no matter how old is still half of you. There is beauty in the birth of child and then such sorrow and yet peace as they reunite with God as His forever child.
It reminds me that Christ went through anything and everything that I could ever experience. I believe it is our human and sinful nature that at some point we fill loneliness. Those moments when we are sitting along in a room, after a breakup or in the moments where we can barely find the energy to get ourselves off the floor, He had to lift His weary head up to heaven and see that His Father forsake Him. He experience true loneliness and abandonment.

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” –John 19:30

4) It is Finished.
If it is finished, why are we still fighting like He didn’t complete it? We live life as if what Christ did wasn’t enough. How often do we find ourselves looking for another way to Him or to Christianity? There was only one way to God and that was through His Son.  How funny is our human nature, that we should know that there is only way… yet we are still searching for another way. Let’s say that we even had two ways to God, I am sure we’d ask for a third option. We are restless, yet it is finished.
His Spirit commended to the heavens and three days later He rose again. But although He said it is finished, there is responsibility on our part. We have to accept Christ and ask for His Spirit so that the work will indeed be done and finished through Him. We need to jump in to experience the fountain of Christ’s love and redemption. Even after it is finished, we still need to do our part. We need to surrender our lives, so that His will can be done and His Kingdom come. We cannot rest in Christ, until we submit to His finished work.
We deserve to be guilty, forsaken and abandon, but His grace is sufficient to cover all of our sin.
“It is finished” was the final word to human kind in committing His Spirit back to God but also in redemption for us and for our souls and salvation.

I pray that you reflect on these final words and the ways in which Christ offered His love to us. I pray that even though another Easter has come and gone, that we would keep these words and the things that Jesus did for us. I pray that we remember God’s ultimate love and sacrifice and forgiveness. We are redeemed and we are His beloved.

Monday, March 30, 2015

My New Tattoo: Hesed

The second of my new tattoos is hesed in Hebrew.

I have been spending the past five weeks studying through the book of Ruth with my small group. The book of Ruth is probably my favorite book of the Bible because I studied through it during my college single years (and even my single adulthood). The book embodies so much of the loving relationship between Ruth and God, Ruth and Naomi and then later between Boaz and Ruth.

God uses the word hesed to describe his own character. The type of characteristics that we should embody as His own.
"Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin." -Exodus 34:6

Hesed summarizes what God is like: loyal, committed, merciful, enduring, faithful, covenant-keeping love.
The act of hesed is often demonstrated from one person to a more vulnerable party.

The act of a covenant-keeping love is the key theme in the book of Ruth.

Ruth followed Naomi. She gave up everything for her, took on a new faith, and worked to provide for her mother-in-law. After Ruth's husband died, she had not obligation to Naomi. Naomi even urged her to leave, yet Ruth stuck by her side. She offered her a loving kindness unlike any other. She remained loyal to Naomi as she gleaned the fields and provided for her. Hesed requires sacrifice because it is not an emotional love (like I love chocolate cake... or anything chocolate). Hesed is an act of pure deep faithfulness and loyalty.

Hesed best embodies God's love because human commitments and good intentions often fail. However, God is the only one who can say, "I WILL NEVER leave you or forsake you."

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

As I worked through the study, I loved the way that it introduced the actions of the book as hesed. I knew then that I would get hesed as one of my next tattoos. I just didn't think that it would happen less than three weeks later. 

The greatest example of God's hesed is sacrificing His One and Only Son for our sake, for our benefit and for the fact that as a sinful being that we sometimes cannot help ourselves. 

As I dug deeper into the book of Ruth, it wasn't about this romantic book of fairy tales like its sometimes embodied, but it was about a faithfulness of a loving God. A love with character and commitment.

Thank you Lord, for your loyal love. Thank you for your loving kindness, I pray that these symbols on my arm help me to forever remember that you are faithful. May I remember that you meet my every need, even when I fail to worship you. May I never be fearful of the future, but may I remember your love to pull me through each and every circumstances. May I rest continually in your loving kindness. I pray that I continue to learn how to offer a hesed love to those I encounter. May my future husband love me with hesed. May hesed become so engrained in my character as I strive to serve you, follow you and lead for you. 

Another reason I want to do a foot washing ceremony with my husband on our wedding day because that would be the perfect example of hesed. A humbling, beautiful and outward expression of our love for Christ and our love for each other and our commitment to forever together. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Girl with the Two New Tattoos: Come Thou Fount

Come Thou Fount

Most know this as a hymn that they grew up singing, if you grew up in an older church like mine. I have always loved hymns because they hold such depth of peace, love, grace and history of the church.
Come Thou Fount has always been my song- the song that has allowed such peace to wash over me throughout my life especially when it comes to missions and life transitions. God speaks to me through this hymn in so many beautiful ways.

As a young girl in church, during a difficult time the song spoke such volumes to me. As I've gotten older, different parts of this song speak such volumes. During difficult times in my upbringing, this song always helped me to hold on and to cling closer to God.

When I was praying about going on my first ever missions trip, I would be going to Camden, New Jersey for two months. My first time away from home would be living in the poorest city in the US and in the fifth most dangerous city. I was going with APU and had been accepted on a team and had a short period of time to accept the opportunity to go. My first Sunday in church since being accepted on the team, Come Thou Fount was the first hymn we sung. A peace washed over me, Camden is where I was suppose to go.

My time in Camden broke me in the best kind of ways. I broke down walls of self-doubt, it broke down walls of racism and stereotypes and it gave me a heart for children and for missions. It was a truly beautiful. I knew that I needed to return and as I sat in the church with the choir I was, what song did we begin to sing... Come Thou Fount. I knew in that moment I would return to Camden again.

I ended up going back to Camden three times over the course of two years. During my last time back to Camden, I had just lost my job and was leading a short trip to Camden. I was sitting in a hotel room on vacation with my family and channel surfing for something to watch. I turned on this Lifetime movie, and within ten minutes there was a scene of a man being out in nature and he began to sing, Come Thou Fount. I knew in that moment that I was suppose to go back to Camden for a longer term. I fought that decision for about a week or two until God revealed again what I was supposed to be doing with my now free time and freedom.
You can read more about that from an old post.

Right after I interviewed to go on a trip to Peru, I walked into my "new" church and what song was being sung. It calmed all my nerves and I felt a peace. I ended up going to Peru for two weeks then. When I was asked to go to Haiti after leaving my job, it played again.

I was at a benefit and I saw this gorgeous chalkboard sign that read, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Tune my heart to sing thy Grace!". I knew that I wanted to get another tattoo and I saw this and I knew. I didn't win the bid for that beautiful sign that night but I began scouring the internet and found the drawing (to the left) and I knew that the design was met for me. After trying to get several designers to redesign the art for me, the opportunity presented itself last weekend.

Even now, with my newly inked wrist. As work stress rises, I can't help but look down and feel a sense of peace as I read the lyrics. I pray God continues to tune my heart to grace as I deal with difficult work situations and circumstances.

I don't know how else or when the song will continue to speak to me and how peace will wash over me, or how God will continue to use this beautiful hymn to speak to me. But I know that it will.

I do know that I plan to have this song play at my wedding... whether that be during our first communion with my husband or when I wash his feet... maybe even when I walk down the aisle. I cannot wait to share the depth of this song in my life with my future husband.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I've come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.