Thursday, November 1, 2012

And the Warmth Rang True Inside These Bones.

There are times in our lives when true inspiration hits. It tingles through our bones, our minds begin to run a million miles a minute, and our hearts pump blood through every part of our bodies faster and faster. It's in these times of inspiration that I am reminded of the depth that life runs. Isn't it crazy how many stories you can have accumulated in one room when you have any number of people together? Isn't it crazy that you can walk underneath the stars, take in a deep breath, and just be happy to be alive? Isn't it crazy that you can be you?

Inspiration is so often what reminds me to keep striving, it's what reminds me to keep dreaming, to keep pursuing the Lord, and to discover the stories of the people around me. 

Inspiration: it's discovering new lyrics, realizing a new Truth, dreaming in spite of fear and failure. It's contagious, passionate, and empowering.  It is seeing something that is a much greater good than anything we are capable of on our own and responding to it. It's something that pulls us out of our selfish pursuit of success and happiness and into the world that desparately needs love, vulnerability, sincerity, and acceptance. It's what calls us to be advocates and warriors and to lose sight of ourselves for once. Inspiration is every general's battle cry, every mothers whispered "good night", every stand for what's right, and every late night conversation about life. One is inspired by greatness, sure, but I believe that one is inspired to greatness as well. We act on our inspiration and we are reminded of the complexity of emotion, of spirit, of mind and of soul. Inspiration is what makes us stand out from anything else on this planet. We as humans are characterized by our inspiration. And who better to inspire than the Creator of the Universe, the one who formed inspiration and breathed it into our souls. It all points towards Him.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Field

On my way to work today I ran into a piece of sidewalk. That seems like a weird sentence, but honestly that's the best way I could describe it. I was walking across a grassy field one second and the next, my bare little foot was slamming into a piece of concrete better known as sidewalk. It came out of no where like the monster in the black lagoon. I mean, in seriousness, this piece of sidewalk literally led to nowhere. It spit you out in a grassy field. So, like every human being I took a picture from an artsy angle and kept walking.

As I was walking I kept thinking about that piece of sidewalk and how perfectly it described my life right now. This year wasn't exactly what I was expecting it to be. My plans and visions for my life is not the reality of what my life really is. I feel like I had this concrete plan, this paved path that I knew my life was going to be and as I was strolling along, something happened and it just disappeared. And now I am standing in a grassy field in complete confusion and seeming chaos. I see myself rooted in place, looking in the distance not knowing what to expect anymore, not knowing where to go from here, and not knowing exactly what God is up to. So many of us are standing in so much confusion, standing in so much uncharted terrain, standing in so much unknown and are so scared. What do I do next? What direction is my life really heading? What do I even want?

And it's in these times that we feel God grows silent. We feel like God takes our sidewalk out from underneath us and then stops talking. It's almost like the more desperate we are, the more God pulls back. Can I make an observation? Have you ever noticed that when something unexpected happens to you, you react? Well, duh, but think about it, you react with whatever you know and are experienced with, which is why I will never surprise a black belt. But, why would it be different emotionally? What if when we are surprised with something we weren't expecting emotionally, we react with what we know? When we are cast into troubled times we hadn't planned out, then we default to finding happiness in whatever way we can. And all too often, that means going away from God and trying to find it on our own. The more we search for satisfaction and completeness away from God, the harder it is to discern His Voice calling us back.

If you're standing in a field right now, looking back at the sidewalk that just ended, then know I am right there with you. If you are watching as expectations you had crumble and are left unmet, then I am right there with you. And if you are feeling like God's voice is much quieter then it's been before then I understand where you are coming from. I want to challenge us to stop searching for the answers and start searching for the questions. How can I still serve You? How can I find happiness and rest in You when everything around me is chaos? How do I let go of my control and expectations? These are just some of the questions that I've had to learn to even ask.

That is my prayer. That we will learn how to ask questions, that we will be patient, let go of control, grow in trust, and become okay with the unknown and uncharted. It is when we step off of our paved walkway, that we find the freedom of a field to run and play in. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tales of a Simple Song

A single guitar sounds through the noise. It strums a simple beat over and over again. It plays so long that it is no longer heard, but credited to the rest of the noise around, tuned out and labeled white noise.

A drum beats, slow at first and quiet. It finds its voice and grows louder, beginning to synchronize with the long-lasting guitar beat. Together they continue, complimenting each other in a simple rythym.

As the two go on, a foot in the crowd taps, up and down, up and down. One soul touched, one ear pleased with the efforts of a drum and a guitar.

A bass chimes in, occasionally and meaningfully. It emphasizes certain notes, it contrasts the guitar in its light air and builds depth to the beat that has lasted so long.

People turn as they walk by, they slow, they listen to a few notes that play. They have noticed that the notes, the beat, the song being composed is not for them. The song is played because it has to. The instruments play together because that is what they were made for. They were molded for this reason and with every last effort in their bodies, they will play.

A violin begins to speak, telling a story surrounded in melancholy and hope. It plays on its own, yet somehow is exactly what the song needed. As it speaks, the notes are traced like a scarf flowing in the wind, whipping to and fro and yet beautiful in its graceful moves.

Another guitar joins and its strings are picked carefully. Sounds come from the guitar that are chosen with purpose from unlikely places and fits in unlikely ways into the song, into the ever-growing story.

And now the crowd stands enthralled by the song that has been built into this glorious beauty. They feel like they are seeing something private, yet somehow addressed directly and specifically to them. As they listen they become invested in the crescendos and in the decrescendos. They must hear more, they must listen further into this story that is pulling on them. The song, it becomes a call to live, to be more, to see deeper and to be braver then they would have dared before.

And then a voice speaks for the first time in the song and it says, "Welcome to church."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"I Wish" to Complete

"I wish"'s. Oh boy oh boy how they throw massive wrenches into relationships in the family, in our friendships, and with God.

I feel like so often we look at a relationship and we say, "I wish it was like ____." and we then go about our best efforts to make it look like that. Or we expect something to go a certain way, we don't leave room for it not turning out the way we have it and we plow anyone over who would want to do it a certain other way. It's the terror of only self-sight.

Have we noticed yet that when we want a relationship to look a certain way often times it's because we don't feel complete in it? This person doesn't text back quick enough. This person doesn't make plans well enough. This person doesn't say "I love you" enough or express appreciation in the way I feel it. This person isn't romantic enough. This person isn't spontaneous enough. This person... Well, the truth is, relationships here on Earth, won't complete you. The "I wish" train of thought can go on our entire lives and often times it does.

I'll tell you my "I wish"'s in life. I wish I had an abundant amount of friends at all times who always wanted me around even if I couldn't be there. I wish I had a family who truly wanted to know me. I wish I had a best friend who doted on me and made me feel loved. I wish I had all the time in the world to do all the things I love. I wish I had someone to tell me I was important and worth the world to them. I wish I was able to adventure better than my heart could ever desire. Now let me tell you what I'm actually saying in those statements. I wish I was always wanted. I wish I was always loved. I wish I was always content. I wish I was valuable. I wish I had joy. I wish I was known. I'll tell you the cool thing. I can have those "I wish's" and it's all in ONE relationship. God, the Savior of the World, the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, the One that has reigned forever, HE always loves us, Romans 5:8. HE always wants us, Luke 15, HE gives contentment and joy, Hebrews 13:5 and Psalm 16:7-11, HE says we are valuable, Isaiah 43:1, oh and HE knows you, Psalm 139:1-6.

When we believe in that we are free to take relationships as they are, with flaws and all. Because now, we do not need them to be complete. We are complete in God.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Dream Remembered

At my work, I sit at a makeshift desk in the middle of everyones way. It's great when I want to get distracted and awkward when I keep making eye-contact with that person who walks by three times in one minute. Regardless, it puts me in the eyesight of all of my bosses for any random job they have on their mind at that second, well this time it was actually a random conversation that my boss wanted to have. So, he calls me into his office and sits me down, "What are your goals? What do you want to do with your life? Here's how to be a leader." That was the consistency of the conversation we had. And the whole rest of the day I kept trying to figure out why it felt so weird. Especially as I was walking back to my desk to go back to my stacks and stacks of paperwork.

I have grown very comfortable in this routine. I go to work long enough for my mind to go numb and then come home to play to make my mind wake up again. I do that 5 days a week and then for 2 days I play as hard as I can in shorts and bathing suits out in the sun and waves. I have two friends I stay in touch with and I play with my family the rest of the time. I go to bed at 11pm and I wake up at 6:40am. I pack my lunch, eat my breakfast, and brew my coffee. It's the same every morning.

Well, there I sat in the office where the peak of my routine was in progress and my boss asks me to dream again for the sake of conversation. That was it, that was what was weird. In the place of routine, comfort, schedule, check lists, and money making, I was remembering what I imagined in my future, what I smiled about at night as I drifted off to sleep, what I believed God could do with my life and I had forgotten all about it. I was in danger of settling, of being comfortable in thinking about how much money I was making, what check lists I was achieving, what new adventure fix I could get, of forgetting that there are lives hurting and in need of love. And I began to wonder how many lives had been fooled down that path. How many lives had been enticed by money, by comfort, by routine and security to forfeit their dreams and their aspirations, their desires of their hearts.

Maybe I'm just being young, maybe I'm just being a head-in-the-clouds college student who thinks they can change the world, maybe I'm just speaking to the hearts who are adventurous. I don't know, I'm too young to make that call ;], but I do know that the empty feeling of settling for a life that is safe instead of risking something to continue to follow the desires that God plants in our hearts results in an empty feeling of wanting more. We can mask it and say that we have everything that we ever wanted, try to convince ourselves that we're at peace, but the reality is that we are MEANT for something more. We are meant to be the hand that reaches out to the homeless man, we are meant for the encouraging words we speak to the crying soul, we are meant for the smiles we share with the people around us. We are meant for the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Whole, the Kingdom of Seen and Vulnerable People. This Kingdom doesn't exist in our world of false comfort and silenced dreams. It doesn't exist in our world of finding happiness at all costs and hiding the insecurities that we feel and believe on a daily basis. Our God holds a future of More for us. Dude, let's do this together, let's take this risk together to live a life of vulnerability, potentially instability, and definitely sacrifice, because the result is a heart that knows why it was made, and who it was meant to live for.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I have so many ideas and threads just sort of flying around in my head: lack of imagination, grown child, childish adult, lonely riches, exhausting mundane, and eventful joy. And ultimately I think that they all tie into this concept of taking life too seriously.

"It was never meant to be taken seriously." - Playwright
"The critics, they made it important." - Producer
- Finding Neverland

I think that a lot of people including me underestimate the power of laughter and the joy that it spreads. There are a few good friends, that are known for their unique laughter, given away plentifully and abundantly . My mom is one of those women. When she starts laughing people naturally join right in, simply from the deepness that it's rooted. Her laughter has been known to dissipate my frustration with someone over something absurd, my desire to gossip about something stupid someone did, or to give a little more patience in the times when my little brother is going bonkers. Laughter reminds us that life doesn't need to be taken so seriously, and for me that equates to being able to live like a child, "we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy." - Psalm 126: 1-2.

There is so much stress in this world. Having enough money for all that we want and need, getting the right grades to meet a certain standard, making sure that we put out the right image. It seems to me that a lot of the things that cause us stress is a result of trying to fill the emptiness with a plug that doesn't fit. We try to convince ourselves that having money will create security and contentment. We try to convince ourselves that if we are good enough than we will succeed and we will finally believe we are important and worth something. We try to convince ourselves that if we put on the right image no one will reject us and walk away and we will finally feel the love and acceptance we need. And when we don't get those things right, life cannot be lived joyfully. Those are situations that for me scream out stress. And stress is the mass killer of laughter. People spend so much time stressing and trying to be grown up that they forget about laughter and they forget that life wasn't meant to be taken so incredibly serious.

The critics of living they made this life so incredibly important, so stressful, so grave. They turned a joyful play into the depth of having to find false purpose and identity, misplaced love and unknown grace. This world was never meant to be the place where we truly rooted ourselves and truly found our full contentment. We don't need to search for it so hard in our surroundings, we don't need to stress about it and take this life so seriously, God has already given it all to us and it lies in our relationship with Him. We don't need to carry that weight of defining our own importance. Whew, thank goodness, because I don't know about anyone else, but I would have not only screwed that up, but probably would've been squashed under the weight of it all!

After Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was like a billion years old she says, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me...who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?" - Genesis 21:6-7. She could have easily fallen to her knees and screamed out "I'm not worthy", and that would have been an appropriate response as well, but instead she appreciated what God gave her through laughter. Prayers are full of holier than thou's and woe is me and they completely miss the part where we laugh with God, where we experience relationship with Him in joy and being carefree. To take everything and turn it into a somber, serious, "I'm very important" atmosphere, is to take away the part of life where God reminds us to breathe, love the moment we're in, and the people we're with. To just live.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Reminders in the Waves

I stood on the jetty last night and watched as the ocean waves came crashing against the rocks in front of me and to the sides of me. I pointed my toes out to sea and pretended like I was on a boat where adventures were a daily commodity and I let the wind slap my clothes against my body. It seemed to me that every rock around me was being drenched by the dark waves except my rock, my safe haven. And as I was breathing in the salty air and listening to the tune of the waves I reflected on a full year since I had stood in that position last. The last time I stood on those rocks I barely knew what an adventure encompassed in all of its entirety. The last time I stood on those rocks I barely knew what it meant to firmly believe in truth and not just know it. The last time I stood on those rocks I was one year younger, and as a good friend of mine always puts it, "I wasn't older then, but I'm older now." I have learned so much in one year and yet as I stood on those rocks I had to remind myself that it was all real.

It's crazy that when you come back to the same place you grew up, things seemed to have stood still. My good 'ole buddy Ben Howard sings, "Seems everything around here stays like stone." We find ourselves tempted by the same demons, we find all of our old insecurities and fears kick in, and we feel governed by what we used to be. I think that's part of the reason why I associate God with certain places. I think that since most of my growth happened in Indiana that is where my strong relationship with God is waiting. And I come home for the summer to my California God, the one that isn't quite as strong or filling. Or for some people they found God in college and go home and it feels like He's no longer around. That tells me now that I was looking to be filled in the events and the people around me instead of by a God in relationship. I stood, watching as the dark waves turned white with froth when they smashed into the rocks. I gazed at the city lights making their own horizon, and had to remind myself of the truth as I felt the old feelings of discontentment, restlessness, and self-righteousness come creeping back.

My God is always with me, in relationship, not in event, not in places, not in circumstance. He is not a God waiting to be seen in adventures, in friendships, in church, in the corn fields of Indiana or the oceans of California. He is a God that experiences all of those things with us, pretty much the best traveling buddy we could ever want. And He reminds us of our growth, He was there when we were challenged by close friends who aren't around anymore, He was there when we experienced great triumphs, great heartaches, and great life moments. He is the Truth that we carry with us at all times and even though things feel stagnant in one place and not another, God is the one who allows life to move, all we need is to look to Him. He speaks the language of love and truth in a broken home flowing with hurtful language. He allows hearts to smile with contentment in old places where anxieties and worries are kings and queens. He gives purpose and hope in the dark tunnels and the ever enduring struggles of past reminders. He breathes life into lungs in the land where exhaustion runs rampant. In places where we have been searching, He is found. That is the reality of our God, and that is the reality of our relationship with Him.

i stood on the rocks not as the same old Amber who has gone to college and is now home, but as the Daughter of God who has experienced lasting change rooted in the Spirit and rooted in Truth. And now the reminding part of the walk begins.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Shift Button Story

I started a big kid job this week, a real 8 to 5 Monday through Friday job WITH the mindset of having to pay bills and rent. For everyone who knows me, I'm sure they are reading this with their jaws dropped. I'm writing this with my jaw dropped! I work as an aid in the financial department of a sheet metal company, pretty much the most random job that I could find. My job consists of filing papers right, checking that the papers are filed right, and occasionally entering data into the system. It felt like a lot of what I was doing was pointless and meaningless and I really had a hard time imagining myself working in this place for three months. I was getting restless and it was only day three, but I had a lot of time to think. And as I was rifling through hundreds of papers mindlessly checking for purchase order numbers and invoices I began to think about the way everything worked in that office. You see, I put together the packets that the next woman looks through to check for right pricing so that she can then put into the computer and make a check for the company. I file the invoices so that when that check is made, we can pull out the right ones staple it together real quick and send them off to get signed so that everyone gets their money and the company keeps going. All of a sudden my work and the quality of it became so much more important and my sense of purpose became a whole heck of a lot stronger in my job.

Well, so often we get stuck in the details of what our hands are directly involved in, in only what we can see. It translates into everything, including and especially our relationship with God and the identity we derive from that. We get stuck in the small story and life becomes mundane, stressful, annoying, purposeless, and draining. We worry if we are making an impact, we get bored, and we feel like something is missing. You see, we actually play a role in something SO much bigger then us and we fight for a cause that is way outside of just what we do in our lives. Stepping back and asking "what am I doing this for?", shifts the focus from living life right and trying to be happy (essentially just getting by emotionally) to building a relationship with our God and loving others like He does. It no longer is just about following rules or about punching our hours in the time clock when we wake up and punching them out when we go to sleep; it becomes about seeking Truth and falling in love with a Creator who knows the full complex Story that we play a part in. And our lives become full of purpose, full of importance, full of identity, full of foundation and strength in something that is not just us. The details, they trap us into looking at ourselves and only our story, but the big Story gives us the eyes to see others in the way God does and to see the calling that we get to respond to. The story we pursue changes in the push of the shift button to Story and that changes everything.

It's not just about filing paperwork, getting paid, living right, becoming happy, but about a Story that started in the beginning of time and tells us that we have a Truth so powerful we can hang all of our hope, purpose, and identity on. So, I'm going to wake up tomorrow at 6am to get to work, and I'm going to file papers, punch in numbers, and laugh with my coworkers knowing that I am playing a role in helping that company run however small it may be. And I'm going to wake up tomorrow knowing that I am not just another girl in this world going through another day fighting for happiness, but that I am Daughter of God's fighting for a Truth that does not depend on me to be true. And I get to play a role in furthering the Kingdom of God. And so do you.