you live at the hinge

You brood in the night in its fearfulness,

You dawn the day in its energy,

You move at the edge of night into the margin of day.

You live at the hinge between fear and energy.

You take the feeble night and give us strong day,

You take out fatigue and bestow courage,

You take our drowsy reluctance and fashion full-blooded zeal.

What shall we say?

You, only you, you

You at the hinge-and then the day.

You-and then us,

from your faithfulness,

us for the day,

us in the freedom and courage and energy,

and then back to you– in trust and gratitude.

 

–Prayers of Walter Brueggeman.

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I need this encouragement.

guatemala

GUATEMALA.

I am here. It’s crazy to think that I will be here for 10 months.

I made it just fine through the airports and bus rides. All my luggage got here super easily too– which is a real blessing. And now I’ve spent the last 4 days in training. My brain is exhausted and I am too. Haha. But it’s been great.

Our apartment is super cute & I have two great roommates/bunkmates: Andrew & Jazz. They are a lot of fun. I’ve also spent the last 4 days making dinner for our team. We do family dinners each night and my team of Elise & Judy (two other teachers) has been great to work with.

I’m teaching the Parvulos (Pre-K) and the Kinders (Kindergarden), and already I’ve had a ton of fun playing with my kids at the orphanage. They’re hilarious and a huge ball of energy. I’m also trying to improv my spanish– haha so we’ll see how that goes.

Overall it’s been really good. It’s really hard to not be home and to be missing all my friends and family… especially over the holidays. I miss being able to just curl up in a blanket and watch TV with my roommates. But it has been really good here. So far I’ve seen cockroaches, massive mosquito hunters, and baby tarantulas… these have not been fun. *shivers* AND our toilet never works and our showers are rarely hot… plus there’s this insane rooster that crows every five minutes near my bedroom window…. haha sooooooo it’s been an adventure. But, I know i’m supposed to be here, and already I’ve developed some good friendships with these people here.

We have an awesome roof at our apartment where you can see everything and just hang out up there and relax– it’s been wonderful. Also, I’ve felt a ton of support and encouragement from my friends back home, especially Morgan, Jordan, Andy, & Crystal. I miss them all a ton and hope to be able to Skype and FaceTime as much as possible. ;]

Right now my housemates are playing guitars, sharing break-up stories, and and playing hacky-sack. It’s definitely a fun group to be with….

—–

Here is the School!!!

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performing vyrosla

So… it’s nearly three hours before our preview/final tech of Vyrosla, and I’m unable to do anything else other than write. I think it’s because it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, that all my words feel rusty and tired in my head. Vyrosla  is a musical that my dear friends Morgan & Jordan wrote this year. They wrote it for Moody Bible Institute’s (MBI) annual Missions Conference. This is exciting on three levels: 1) Moody has never had a required, general, evening session of the conference be a musical. 2) The show is completely original, and 3) I have had the privilege of being a part of the cast and choreographing the show. The musical is about a prostitute in Russia, who upon meeting a missionary couple, struggles to find freedom and hope. But the story doesn’t stop there: intwined into her life are the lives of these missionaries, other abused women, and a young med student on an internship. The story is incredibly beautiful and real, and the stage breathes life and meaning into it.

This show is also really challenging. It comes with a lot of trigger warnings. And it should. As I told Morgan the other day: there should be nothing palatable about what we’re portraying. Personally, I’ve felt as a choreographer, the pressure of portraying something real and honest and awful, but also not abusing my audience, specifically the audience of students who have histories and stories, of which I know nothing. How does one portray prostitution tastefully? I don’t think it’s possible… But, I have come to a few conclusions: Stories matter. People matter. And art matters. I have realized that although I may not know your story, I can portray this one truthfully. And I may not be able to feel your pain, but I refuse to trivialize it by sugar-coating the pain here. I will not make prostitution, abuse, and woundings G-rated so that some may feel comfortable. You should feel pained when watching this. You should experience the story with the characters, and allow yourself to be moved by it. People matter. Stories matter. And those feelings are healthy– embrace them. This story should move you.

Some will not understand why we chose to portray this. And that’s ok. Some will not see the point of this at an MBI conference. Some will take issue with the subject matter, the costumes, the choreography, the lines, the lyrics… the list could go on. But that is ok. This story is art. It is vulnerable and young and new, so it will receive criticism. The good news is, that is all ok, because this is the story God has called us tell. And this art matters. The Lord is the great Healer, Comforter, and Redeemer. He is redeeming your story, your very person, as we speak. He has redeemed, healed, and comforted you, and he will continue to do so. As believers, we can allow ourselves to be touched, wounded and affected, so that we might grieve with those who hurt and trust the Lord for healing.

Trust is scary. There is much in my life in which I have yet to feel the Lord’s healing. Some days I don’t feel his comfort at all. But I know that the Lord is before all things and in him all things hold together (Col. 1). And when I cannot feel his love, I can grieve that comfort, but I cannot doubt his faithfulness. I believe that God will come through and rescue the children he so desperately loves. I believe that he binds up the brokenhearted. I believe that he will heal all wounds, if not now, then on the other side of eternity. And these beliefs keep me going, despite the overwhelming brokenness and pain I feel. Because of this– this show must go on. Vyrosla is a story that must be told for all it’s beauty and pain, for God is near to us.

I would like to share with you something I wrote several years ago for another project/performance… that has been ever-present on my mind since the show started. I know that brokenness is a scary thing and sometimes grief feels so pointless, but as one who firmly believes in the power of God to heal: I can ache, and I can hope.

I want to say this to my fellow cast mates: Thank you. I love you guys. Thank you for bearing with me drilling through your choreography and correcting you in front of your peers. Thank you for letting my choreographer’s vision become a reality. Thank you for being here, present in this cast. Thank you for giving yourself. Thank you for being vulnerable, and honestly portraying this story with me. Thank you for laughing backstage and asking me how my day was. Thank you for being here for each other. Thank you for being here for me. Thank you for being a community that encourages one another. Thank you loving each other… and me. Thank you for giving me this beautiful memory before I go overseas. Thank you for being you, here, in this moment. I am so thankful that I get to work with you. I praise the Lord for this cast and this show. As we approach our performance, I remember you all in prayer and ask that you remember that God is near to us and that in him all of this holds together. Let us be diligent in prayer, as we have been doing, for this show and for our audience over the next few days. I love you guys. I honestly feel like you guys are my brothers & sisters, especially all of you who I’ve choreographed… we’ve had a lot of time together and I will always remember these moments with you.

To my audience: Know that you are prayed for and loved. We have considered you deeply and hope that the Lord will minister to you in this show–that he will heal and comfort you through this story. If you are not coming to the performance on campus, you can see it here live, beginning at 7:30 PM CT: http://www.moody.edu/missions-conference/video/

Thank you for reading.

and so I ache

This was written several years ago… but it remains honest and truthful to this day:

AND SO I ACHE

Fallen petals off the trees;
The dreams of missing childhoods float by on the unkind winds.
What-could-have-beens fly freely and fall down past the earthen ground to hopelessness.
And so I ache for the lost childhood.

Tossed aside and black and blue,
Young hearts broken.
What-could-have-beens turned into ugly, violent fists.
Hidden massacres among the common. Faces aching, longing for the love that should have come and rescued them.
And so I ache for the bleeding.

Loved.
Treasured.
Trusting.
Manipulated by thieves and innocent no more. What-could-have-beens exchanged for temporal pleasures.
For stolen naivety brings sleepless nights and hurts so deep the stitches cannot heal them.
And so I ache for the un-grieved sorrows.

The wounds of dozens,
No, hundreds of thousands
Atrocities that should have never been.
What do you tell them?
Those whose innocence was ripped away.
Those who have suffered irreconcilable sorrows. What do you tell them?

Emptiness that cannot be filled,
Broken, hurting hearts and tearstained cheeks. Watch their eyelashes grow wet with unshed tears.
And so I ache.

The hopeless and the hurting,
They are here.
What do I tell them?
Orphaned, misunderstood, crushed by a weight that should have never been theirs.

How can my words make a difference? And so I ache.

Nothing.
There is nothing.

And so I love.
I love with ardent fervor and burning passion. Tightly I hold on, afraid to let them go.
Afraid to let them be blown by the unkind winds.
If only my love could make a difference.

How can anything make a difference? Victimized. Terrified.
Nothing changes.
Her pain.
His loss.
Their sorrow.

And so I love.

There must be hope.
There must.
Somewhere there must be understanding.
Comprehension is not enough to quell the shaking heart, for something precious has been lost.
And what-could-have-beens were stolen.

Somewhere there must be peace. The trapped must be freed.
My yearning love is not enough. And yet…

Buds return to trees.
Caged birds fly free.
And, children run and laugh. And so I hope.

sunday encouragement

I almost wrote a really long blog post as to why I was going to post these two quotes… but I realized the reasons don’t actually matter all that much. Honestly, it’s far too vulnerable and raw anyways right now for me to post here. But these are two things I’ve read this morning which were very encouraging:

Psalm 91:14-16– Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

Oswald Chambers: We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end. What is my dream of God’s purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now…God is not working toward a particular finish; His end is the process– that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God…God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now.

I can’t explain why this is so encouraging right now, but it is.

summer book review #1

So, this summer I’ve got a reading list of books. My goal is one book/week– so we’ll see how that goes.

This week I read Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. I know, I know… I should have read it by now, but this book actually came at a really good time for me to be reading it. To start with, I really really liked it. Maybe even loved it. I feel very similar to Don Miller. I think if we met we would be friends. I just mean that the way he describes himself, and his thoughts/feelings is very similar to how I view myself and often describe things. The best part of it all was the end. He has three chapters where he talks about: worship, love, and Jesus. It got me fired up, because Miller loves people, like he really does, and he loves Jesus. At the end of the book, he talks about how his goal is for others to encounter Jesus. He talks about what it feels like to know, feel, and understand the love of God– and that was something that hit me really hard. Love isn’t conditional. Often, we as Christians treat love like we do money, or some other commodity, and we withhold it when it isn’t deserved. We love people more or less based on their actions. And that’s bullish*t. God’s love for us is unconditional. It is completely and utterly based on his capacity to give love and our capacity to receive that love. It has nothing to do with our actions, choices, and sins. He LOVES us. Really, truly does. And we ought to be loving others with the same mentality. That knowledge, realization, and feeling really broke me when I read it. To know Jesus, to love him, and feel his love with the kind of knowledge that brings tears to your eyes, is incredible.

So go read Blue Like Jazz. It’s not chronological and really is as the subtitle describes it: Non-religious thoughts on Christian Spirituality. But it’s good, and it will make you think, and it will make you want to love Jesus and others more.

a confession

Sometimes you write an entire blog entry and then pitch it, because the words held no meaning outside of their given definitions.

Surrender. Sacrifice. Serve. …. All s-words of another nature. The practical outpouring behind these words is often too much to fathom. The obedience attached is frustrating. The selflessness is maddening.

I just want to live my life. My way.…. Words I’ve said so many times they’ve almost lost their meaning.

I just can’t do that. Be that. Help her. Think highly of him…. now…. I will when I’m more stable, able, healthy, happy, less….. me. 

How many times have I made excuses, pointless, utterly absurd, excuses for myself at the foot of the cross? Sometimes I catch myself like Lindsey Lohan in Mean Girls: watching the word vomit come up, unwilling or unable to do anything to stop it. And the vomit of my selfish, decaying heart wafts up to the nostrils of the crucified one, as I stand there offering my self-drenched excuses as a “clean up rag”. Maybe if I spruce up my selfishness with excuses He won’t really tell. As if a rag could cover the stench of vomit.

It’s despicable. It’s embarrassing. Because I do want to serve. I want to sacrifice. I want to surrender…. in theory. I do desire the joy that comes with obedience, and selflessness. I want to give my entire heart to someone, to something that is worth it, and worthy of it. And the thing is I can. But when it really comes down to it, and He whispers: THIS. Here. This is where I want you. And this is what I want you to leave. Just unclench your fists and let Me breathe life, a fuller life than you can imagine into these hopes. When He really does that, and I know He’s doing that… part of me remains that is still so reluctant and selfish that I word vomit up every self-serving desire and attempt to mop it up with cheap excuses.

It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating. It’s sickening to look in the face of my own greedy, egotistic heart: to know that behind all those half-assed excuses lies this putrid thing that I am. Who am I fooling? No one. No one that matters anyway.

Praise God that He’s not done with me, that He is patient and loving enough to wait for my heart to fully surrender in actuality, and not just in theory. Because the selfishness has to die. It must be crucified on the cross of self-righteousness and self-worship. This foul-smelling, greedy beast inside of me must be put to death if I am ever to declare my life an ardent surrender.