Road Signs

If I may stop along the journey to reflect on the ways I've come...

    Do you know those moments? Those moments where you stop in wonder at where you've just come from, what has just happened... those moments where you realize and suddenly your breath is stolen away? Inspiration builds up in your chest, your heart beats a little faster... and you just wish you could write it all down, but there are not enough words; paint it out, but there are not enough colors; sing it in a melody, but your voice cannot reach all the notes?
    Ah! What a journey it's been! My fingers are far too clumsy to paint the picture with a song or a brush, even the stroke of a pen. Too much to tell! And do you know? It's not that my life is so much more extravagant or incredible. At least, not in the way you might expect at such a display. But I'm not overreacting. My God is so faithful!

    Road signs.
    A chief complaint of mine in this past year would most likely be, "I'm lost!" Anybody else relate? Not as in, I got in the car and I took a wrong turn. No, that's a perpetual state (it seems) that I've grown accustomed to. I'm talking about my spiritual walk. I'm talking about that feeling that everyone else around you seems to be going somewhere with confidence and direction, and they're all looking at you like you should be doing the same. Especially since it's you, you know. Of course, why not? It's you. But then you kind of look around like, "Uhm, what? Me? I--uh,... Did I miss something here?" So you kind of gather up your courage and stumble along, hoping to God you're going the right way.
    Can't relate? Oh. Well... Anyway, this year has been packed with lessons. Good grief! I remember talking to a friend who mentioned something that happened this past summer and I had to step back and think for a minute. It felt like it had happened three years ago. So much has happened this year. I have 200+ pages in my journal to prove it. That's not even counting a full little journal used only in Israel. And God has told me and promised me so many things. He is never late. I can see that now. I knew it, but now I can see it.

    Road signs.
    If you had asked me two months ago, I would have said I haven't had any recently. But it seems so impossible to say now. Even when I felt like I didn't have exact coordinates, He led me right where I needed to be. How? Surely by His grace, because it was certainly nothing I have done.
    Listen: Never let hope die, okay? Even when it seems impossible. God is in the business of doing the impossible. Did you know that an event that happens to but one in a billion people occurs six times a day? 2,000 times a year! You read that right. 1 in 1,000,000,000. NEVER give up hope. Especially in the things God has promised you. It's really not so impossible as it seems.
    But I would advise you in this: the Lord works in mysterious ways, yes? So who knows how or what will exactly come about in those things He has told you. He knows. Just know that if He told you, He will do it. Whatever that means. (Starting to see why I felt a little clueless this year? But suddenly, that's the "magic" of it! Suddenly, somehow, He's teaching me to read those road signs that, apparently, have been there all along.)

June 4, 2010 -
    "If I'm still breathing, I still have a mission.
It could be daring and adventurous in a thrilling, life-threatening way. Or it could be the noble and daring call of steadfast love towards a lost loved one.
Tomorrow (though non-existent as of yet) is another day."

March 21, 2010 -
    "What does the veil mean in a wedding?
Is it to hide the bride or to hide the groom?
The bride doesn't change, but her view of the groom becomes more clear. Perhaps so it is with Christ and the Church. One day, at the right time, just before Christ and His Bride are perfectly united, there will be an unveiling, and the Church will see the face of God more clearly than ever."

May 8, 2010 -
    Yet wonderful.
My God is faithful. When I feel alone and sad, He reminds me He is near. He will never leave me nor forsake me. Even when I feel like I'm going crazy, when I just don't understand, my God is with me still. He never let's me go; never forsaking me, He remains my constant."

June 9, 2010 -
    "The sunrise was absolutely marvelous this morning.
Brightest pink I've ever seen from 30,000 feet."

August 21, 2010 -
    "The girl who writes on the next page might not be the same girl who wrote on this one...
or perhaps a more realized version of her...
or a renewed and transformed one.
Tomorrow in Jerusalem!!"

November 13, 2010 - 
    "I believe I have just discovered a secret.
I was pondering. Pondering the idea of will in salvation. Salvation is obviously an act of God. He is the Saviour. I am the "saviee", so to speak. Anyway, the idea of joy and duty and love crossed my mind.
It is not a joy to carry your cross daily? 
It is a joy because His yoke is easy. His burden is light.
What a trick! The world has made it everything you don't want. The hardest thing. Foolishness. Suffering.
But all of that is fallacy.
It's life. It's freedom. It is the easiest burden.
Love. Joy. Forgiveness. Renewal. Transformation..."

December 7, 2010 -
    "Why shall I not be in want? Because the Lord is my Shepherd."

December 17, 2010 -
    "Rest. Trust. Lean. Wait."

Flipping through some of the pages and reflecting on these last few months... I have only just now realized what a special time of rest this has been.
Time away.
Time alone in quiet.
Solitude & silence.
I'll cherish the last bits of it. I am thankful.

A beautiful year. Stunning. I have learned so much. And still I learn... And all I can think is that these things are but a shadow of the things to come.
Oh! How great is our God!


"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, 
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying: 
'This is the way; walk in it.' 
-[Isaiah 30:21]



[Jessica Whitaker]

There are occasions in which comments come with perfect timing. Those times when you very least expect to hear them. When you weren't looking for them. When they come almost as if asking a question. "Did you know...?" Out of the blue.

Someone says it and suddenly the questions in your mind are stilled. The anxiety and doubt you didn't even know were boiling beneath the surface are revealed and dispelled in a moment. You are encouraged. You are reminded.

You are humbled.

And did you know it was so simple? Did you know it would be so easy? So paradoxically uncomplicated. [(I love speaking in riddles.)] Beautifully constructed. Methodically orchestrated. With purpose and intent. Did you know it would be so simple as this? Just remember: Even closer.

It's all hinged on this.
Not me. Him.

Praise God for His faithfulness.
Praise Him for His patience and unending mercy.
And glory to God, this unconditional love!

And I realize that I am still learning. Still growing. Still making mistakes. Still knowing. And it is in the stillness, when I let the waters quiet and become like a mirror, His reflection shows and I learn to move like He moves.


The Coming of the Northern Winds...

    A "skill" I've come to acquire during my time in the Dominican Republic is an acute sensitivity to the weather. Alright, so that's a little be exaggerated, but truly, I notice things that I never did before. Like what the winds are telling you.
     You can tell a storm is coming when the wind gets moody and anxious. It kind of rolls like waves on a seashore. The other day while I was out with my little brother he mentioned the trees. "Listen! Listen to them sway." And, indeed, the wind was making the trees bend and whisper together. But this wind was not like other winds. I feel like Autumn is approaching.
    Now, you must understand something. There is no Autumn here. There's no Fall or Winter seasons. We are much too close to the equator for any of that. However, there is a period of what we will call Relent. For about three months (or four, if you're lucky) of the year, there is a time when the winds change and it grows cooler. Cooler, not cold... especially not by any American standards of the word. But it is pleasant.
    Even now, a cool breeze comes in my room, breathing in the morning...

    Just after I got back from Israel I stayed at my grandfather's house and went on walks through his lovely neighborhood. I often prayed on these walks alone. It was during one of these that God revealed another little piece of Himself to me.
    I cannot tell you what I was thinking right at the moment that it all occurred to me. It wasn't by process of personal theological argument or rationalism that I came to this conclusion. I suppose there is a time and a place for those things. I am not condemning them. But I want to make the point that it wasn't because of anything I did that allows me to know Him. He makes Himself known. I just -- well, I happen to be there.
    While walking and thinking back on my experiences in Israel... somehow I come around to the topic of adventures. I love adventures. They are a sort of personal challenge on my courage and fortitude. (It's interesting to note that those things imply a mental or spiritual strength.) Anyway, it's also just plain fun.
    Like cave diving. What is it called? Spelunking? It's great!
    Or... like exploring a new city. Or taking on a problem as it comes at you. How do you react? Which way do you go? I know a lot of people don't like to get lost. However, I perpetually live in this state, it seems. For example, I was with a friend on their college campus. I knew I was in the United States, in a particular state, in a particular city, on that particular campus. Sure. I even knew where it was in relation to other cities. But could I get you back to where I just came from? No way. I could guess. I have a pretty good sense of direction. Maybe I just don't pay attention enough... But here's the thing: I don't get flustered when I get lost. It's kind of like, "Okay, there has to be another way. Now it's just finding it." An adventure.

    Time out: Let's not get crazy. If it was my wedding day and the driver can't find the church or something like that and I'm already late because - after growing up in an event-oriented instead of time-oriented latin culture - my hair appointment went over time, so I know everyone's waiting on me and I can't help the driver because I don't know where I am...? I'd be a little frustrated. That's when I'd pray and ask for directions. God forbid that ever happens. :)
    Moving on...

    I have a love for adventure.
    A love for the newness of things.
    The unexplored.
    And I remember on my walk being disappointed all of the sudden. I can't remember exactly why. Perhaps the idea of "nothing new under the sun" came to mind. Maybe a cynical, dreary thought crossed my consciousness: Those are special cases. Cave diving. Visiting new lands... That's not what your life will actually look like. Maybe it was the idea that everything or everyone could eventually be known and the mystery would be gone. I don't know what it was. But a sad feeling came over me.
    Suddenly, I looked up. Did I hear that right? Can it be true?

I Am your Adventure.

    My heart began to flutter and my mind swirled with the thought.
    No matter how long I may search God or know Him, no matter how deep I go, I can still and forever go deeper. "We are tiny grains of sand on an eternal shore, the waves of the infinite ocean are falling, rushing towards, meeting us with the slightest kiss, then rushing back out to the unsearchable depths, begging us to be swept in and away. And a thousand miles in, we've only just begun to know..." -B.W. Murray

He is my constant.
And He is my adventure.

    God has forever been the same, but we are just knowing Who He is. That's the adventure. Our whole lives can be spent getting to know just parts of Him. Small parts. Each experience is an opportunity to learn something new. What is He trying to tell us? Not about us or for our own sakes. What is He trying to tell us about Himself? 
    And do you know? That's what is so amazing about fellowship. When you get together with other people and begin to know them, they share some of those other revelations of God with you. They have other pieces to the puzzle. Time spent in fellowship with other believers buried in the Scriptures is as sweet to the soul as honey is to the tongue.
    We seek and we find. 

    If I'm right, the season of Relent is coming. Perhaps in more ways than one... Who knows? God knows. All I know is: wherever He may be, I want to be there. No matter where that is. Why? Well... it's sure to be an adventure.


Heroic Ages and Hundreds of Pages to Go...

Has it already been almost a month since I've been back from Israel? Really?

As of late, I've been doing more reading than writing. I have random bouts of that it seems.
I recently went to a yard sale and bought, oh, probably 8 books or so. A couple of novels, some philosophy, a history book or two. My biggest challenge is my Humanities textbook. Oh it's interesting... that's the problem. 599 pages bigger than my head, and I'll want to read and psychoanalyze every single one. As fascinated as I am with all of this faddle on the Heroic Age of ancient Greece... there's just no time for it. I have work to do. So much to do!
But a wise friend once told me: "You don't have any more work than He has for you." And He has never given me anything I couldn't handle before... (Oh no, we're not getting into that whole lesson of time management again, are we?)

I should write with purpose if I'm going to write at all. So why am I writing all of this? I never meant for this blog to be a sort of journal. Perhaps a collaboration of thoughts... Perhaps hints of inspiration. Certainly something that will at least get you thinking for a little while. Maybe all of this jumping around is due to my lack of writing as of late.

I've also been reading an old blog of mine from a few years ago. I like to go through things like that from time to time. It's almost like visiting an old friend. Some of the things I wrote, the truths I understood and related with such conviction... is it possible to forget such things? My hope is that when those moments of understanding take place and then flutter away, that somehow they took root in my soul though they've left my present and immediate consciousness. That they are tucked away deep in my heart. Written. Carved into my very being.

My last journal entry before I left for Israel says, "The girl who writes on the next page might not be the same girl who wrote on this one... or perhaps a more realized version of her... or a renewed and transformed one."
I'm only hoping that happened. That something took root. Maybe I just have to water it (or let it be watered), and it will soon bloom into something.
I don't feel any different, but it's not about feelings anyway, is it? I have never felt different. As years have gone by I have been me, though my understanding deepens and my knowledge grows. My essence remains.

I am beginning to feel like Israel wasn't the beginning or ending of anything. Though the sun set in the picture above, my last snapshot of the Holy Land, it hasn't set on this season. (Though this season is beginning to feel like a winter in the Arctic Circle. Or is it summer?) What I mean is, it seems to be a transition... or something. A shift of sorts. A realignment, maybe. I don't know yet. I'm still trying to figure it out.
Because it's been a different kind of challenge. Not a struggle, not a breeze. It's like a meandering twist of unexpected turns rather than a horizontal movement. And I'm wondering how many pages I have to go in this chapter until it starts making sense.
But oh, the paradox of me! How I love a mystery.


Over the Edge

    She began hiking up the rocky hill. Although it had been chilly that morning in Jerusalem, it had suddenly gotten hot and dry. After all, she had descended to nearly the lowest point on the planet. The group was scheduled to repel down the mountains of Qumran within view of the Dead Sea. She had already been to Qumran once, when they came to see (from afar) the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Now she found herself climbing along those same hills. And, already, she was clinging to the rock wall side of the trail and not looking down. A little high.
     She's not afraid of heights. No, no. She simply respects them. After all, it's not the fall that kills you. It's the ground. It would be silly to be afraid of the ground, right? So she respects heights. They offer a great view. Too good a view to pass up.
    She was actually perfectly fine... that is until the guy started going over safety rules. Weird, huh? She pulled on the harness, a little nervous about its fitting, as she paid close attention to the instructions. Wait a second, we are doing it one-handed? Friction? How does that even work? He made it look so easy, but he was leaning at a 45 degree angle off a rock.
    The real fear started to come when she got close to the edge. It was a 130ft sheer drop to the unmerciful rocks below. "It's a 200% system. You have the harness and a safety rope. Nothing can happen to you." For some reason, this was not comforting as she thought about falling backwards over the edge... or, God forbid, slipping before any ropes were attached at all. During the rainy season, floods wash through Qumran, making the rocks smooth and even slippery.
    Her heart beat rapidly in her chest. It was her first time ever doing anything like this. Sure, she'd jumped off of like, maybe a 15ft cliff into water a couple of times. But this was so much higher. There seemed no room for error - even though they kept telling her she would be safe. She kept all of these things to herself. However, others voiced their opinion openly. They were scared. She admitted she was nervous too. The fear of the others was practically contagious... yet the reassurance of the more courageous were like a balm.
    I can do this. A strange peace settled over her as she encouraged a friend it was possible. They prayed for safety and steady feet. It's going to be okay. She certainly didn't want to leave the place not having tried.
    Her turn came. One of the leaders secured her line and told her to back toward the edge as he was on the phone. Up to this point, they were coaching people off the edge. "Spread your legs. Lean back. One step at a time. There you go. Good job. Straighten your knees." But now? Nothing. They were both on the phone. The phone! And she was about to lean over this cliff backwards?
    "Uhm... hey, is this right? Are my legs wide enough?" The man nodded quickly and waved his hand as a signal to continue. She took a few steps back. "Like this?" She leaned back, keeping a tight grip on the rope with her right hand, trying to get the feel of the weight and push-release effect. "Yeah, yeah, spread your legs a little wider. Go ahead."
    Slightly reassured, she worked her way down. Concentrate. Get the feel of the rope. Trust it. Lean back. That's key. Her lips trembled, but she began to enjoy herself. She even thought of jumping a bit, but was afraid to let the rope go too much and plummet too fast.. then panic. So she hopped a bit. Encouragement rang from below, "Yeah! Jump, Brittany!" She tried again and dropped a tiny bit. "I don't know how!" she laughed. Okay, grab back further on the rope and push off. Perfect! "Oh my gosh! This is the best!" She grew bolder and let the rope carry her down. The rush! More encouragement! Fear faded away in face of the sheer enjoyment and newness and victory. She could do this!

    When she reached the bottom, she looked back up the cliff she just conquered. She could hardly believe it. She had come down that? What a beautiful picture it painted of faith and trust, courage versus fear...

    All that fear mounted up right before going over the edge. All of the unnecessary fear because, in reality, I was always going to be okay. I had nothing to worry about. Not only was the lifeline secure, I also had a safety rope. I just had to trust the rope and harness to do their work.
    Sometimes I let the task before me scare me. I let it make me nervous and I doubt my ability and the tools God has provided for me. Then I look around at other people's reactions and I feed off of them. I fed off the fear, and it seemed rational. Wasn't dangerous? I embraced the fear and fostered it. But then I remembered who my God was. I remembered that He cares for me. The guides were in place and the proper tools provided. I just had to trust the rope and go over the edge.
    Courage - action despite fear. Perception had altered my view of reality. I thought the task dangerous, impossible... too big for me. Too high. I had never done anything like it before. And yet when I went over the edge, I found out that it really wasn't so bad at all. In fact, it was fun! And I had a whole crowd cheering for me, believing in me.

    I know it might not really be that huge of a revelation for some. It was just repelling down a mountain. But for me, I think I learned a great lesson that can be relearned again and again. I know this entry was a bit long, but there's something important to understand here.
    God is certainly going to ask us to do crazy things. Scary things. Irrational things. Things that tempt us to fear...and even those around us make us think we should fear. It's only reasonable to fear. But He always provides the tools necessary. He never gives you something you can't handle. So trust Him and step over the edge. You might find it to be the time of your life! And the view is fantastic.


Yad Vashem - Holocaust Memorial

Let not mine heart be hardened,
    nor my compassion stilled.
Yet I fear the knowing,
    my understanding filled.
To let the pain seep so deep
    would rid me of my joy.
Ripping raw my heartstrings,
    my peace it would destroy.
But no!
    Horror fills my lungs,
    Grief rips at my breast,
    Lament fills my throat,
    Saddness heavy on my chest.
There is healing in this mourning,
My whole heart aches to know,
And as my eyes fill with tears
My love begins to grow.
    My heart yearns their understanding,
       for eyes still blind to see.
    My soul burns to share the knowledge
       of Light and Hope in me.


Slow down for a moment and try to imagine.
"We do not mourn as those who have no hope..." [1 Thess. 4:13]
Yet still, we mourn.
Do not forget.


Shana Tovah!

    Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year! They are beginning (counting from creation) the year 5771. Rosh Hashanah is all about reconciliation with your neighbor to start the year off right. If someone feels they have wronged their brother or friend, the will go repair the relationship. It's the first of the High Holidays - a ten day repentance period also known as the "Days of Awe" - that ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah is also noted for its memorial by shofar blowing.
     Everyone dresses up for dinner, and usually they wear white. I will be experiencing my first Rosh Hashanah dinner tonight. One thing on the menu will be apples and honey, symbolizing a sweet and fruitful new year. The pomegranate is also an important fruit here in Israel. It's made up of hundreds of seeds. The tradition is that it has as many seeds as laws in the Torah.

     Since Rosh Hashanah is observed as a day of rest, most shops closed up around 2pm today. There were tons of deals when my friends went out earlier as the shops are all having their "end of the year" sales. Though anticipation is in the air and everyone is greeting well wishes of a good year ("Shana Tovah"), there is a solemness about this holiday. It is more serious than festive, which really makes you think. It is amazing how reverent the people here are. Sabbath really is quiet, a true day of rest. The holidays are similar. Though, the Feast of Tabernacles is up and coming, a time of celebration. Perhaps I'll yet see dancing in the streets of Jerusalem...


O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...

    Her fingers lightly brush across a column, unearthed nearly 2,000 years ago...
    The surroundings are not impressive. The space is about six feet wide, twenty feet long. There are large stones in the ground that serve as the road. She finds herself nearly twenty feet below "normal ground"... at least, that's as much as she can judge. The idea that ancient Israel is literally beneath her feet is a hard concept to grasp. Modern Israel is somewhere above her, though she's not underground. It's dank and smells a bit musty, but this is the City of David, on what used to be the main road leading to the "new" Jerusalem, near the pool of Shiloach. A pool, which, unfortunately, cannot be fully uncovered due to the property it is located under. There is a large mural on the wall which depicts what it could have looked like back in the first century AD. The tour guide, Hannah, explains a few details before they go see the real thing.
    As the smooth texture hits her fingers, her mind suddenly flashes back. An idea, a daydream of a possibility allows a smile to play on her lips. It is possible, after all, that He did think of me here... knowing I would come one day and think of Him.
    They turn the corner and a wide excavation opens up before them, its characteristic stones baking in the hot middle eastern sun. It was here. This is where Jesus sent the blind man after He put mud on the man's eyes. An empty place only 1/4 excavated. No water, just debris. An earthen wall rising up where the Arabic garden stood in opposition, fencing off her view. What must it have been like? Stretching out, a smooth pool cool and refreshing. The wide steps lead down as she tried to picture the scene before her. Tried to imagine what the man must have felt like... dipping down in darkness and coming up to the light. What did he see first? The water? The people? The walls and the hills of Judea? The pillars? The sun?

Did the very sight of sight steal his breath away?


    There is no possible way to describe to you what it is like here.
    The streets are not lined with gold, though they are sought after unto death nonetheless. The old walls are rough and rich with history. The country is indeed beautiful, but you would be surprised to know that those Judean hills were completely desolate just a century ago. Millions of trees have been planted since 1948.
It's not that it's magnificent or larger than life. It's just life.
    Yet there is mystery here. There is something that draws all the world to turn their heads towards this little strip of land called Israel. It's been said that the center of the world is Israel. And indeed, in ancient times, it literally/geographically was the center of the world. And at its center was Jerusalem. At its center stood the Temple, and the center of the Temple was the Holy of Holies where God sat on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant as Shekinah Glory. In the west they write from left to right. In the east they write from right to left. Something keeps pointing back to His land.
    There is no way to describe it to you. There's no way to explain its diversity, its complexity and its paradoxical simplicity. It's the ancient world wrapped inside the modern world. Somehow, here, they have managed to coexist - accomplishing the impossible.

This is the place that it all took place.
How can I not stand here and be amazed?


Here and Back Again

It's 11:11pm, my last night in Santo Domingo for a little while. My mom helped me pack my things and I'm bound for something incredible, extraordinary... unbelievable.

I'm on my way to Israel.
Can you imagine? I'm left speechless. I'm left in awe. I don't know how to feel, how to react. All I can do is think, ponder and wonder what it will be like. What will that feel like? What will this look like?
I owe much gratitude to the friends who have helped me prepare for this journey and provided for me where I needed it. Whether financially or prayerfully. I needed both, and still appreciate the latter.

What can I say?
I'm shocked that summer is already over. Where has the time gone? And yet I was so thankful to be home. So thankful for the rest. So grateful for the lessons learned. The support of my family and friends... 

What shall I do?
My heart is ready to burst with expectation, my tears are ready to cascade over my cheeks in tiny bittersweet streams... who am I to deserve such grace and favor? The honor of a call aligned with passion. I've much work to do yet. But the perspective change is finding joy in the hard work of a job well done. The work itself, not just the outcome, must become the joy, the drive.

Am I actually going? Really...?
It still doesn't seem real yet.

This summer was great. Three missions teams, youth camp, dog-sitting, babysitting, dancing in the rain, visits from old friends and a surprise visit from a friend who traveled across the planet for just 2 weeks home. I've laughed, delighted in stargazing, chased a giant crab out of the laundry room, been interviewed for a t.v. special, lost to my littlest brother in Scrabble - twice, finally had a Dominican fiesta with my youth group, dyed my hair auburn as a last minute model stand-in... gone to the movies, read, journaled, and been enlightened by God in so many ways.
[It's all part of that secret journey.]
What's next?

בְּטַח אֶל־יְהוָה בְּכָל־לִבֶּךָ וְאֶל־בִּֽינָתְךָ אַל־תִּשָּׁעֵֽן׃
בְּכָל־דְּרָכֶיךָ דָעֵהוּ וְהוּא יְיַשֵּׁר אֹֽרְחֹתֶֽיךָ׃
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.

He will not miss a step. Love always trusts. I'll take hold of His hand and let Him lead step by step. I know the tune, I can follow the melody. I have the musicality. I love to dance. Now all I must do is draw close, hold fast to Him, and let Him lead.

καὶ νῦν ἰδού, ἐγὼ δεδεμένος τῷ πνεύματι πορεύομαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ συναντήσοντά μοι μὴ εἰδώς 
-Acts 20:22

And now, compelled by the Spirit,
I am going to Jerusalem,
not knowing what will happen to me there.

Baruch atem ba'Shem Yeshua Ha'Mashiach!
This year in Jerusalem!!



You know, sometimes our victories do not seem very significant to onlookers. Do not let that deter your own joy. Nor let it stop you from rejoicing in the victories won by others, no matter how small.

Some victories are those things we have done for the very first time. After all, you only have a First once in your life.

Oh how I long to write, yet I cannot find the words to say. How I long to tell about what God is doing, yet I am reluctant to share the passings of my secret journey. I have learned, it seems, so much - yet to others it may appear to be very trivial. And you know, it might even seem obvious to some.

Peace is not the eradication of uncertainty. Faith and peace coexist. Faith insinuates that there is still something to be hoped for because it has yet to happen. Yet peace is a stillness of the soul in the midst of storming circumstances.

And oh! How I long to read. Yet, somehow the time escapes me. Time, time. Ever-present; ever-moving. We experience only a sliver of time while imagining the whole as past and future. We are promised nothing. God engulfs the whole of it and works outside of it and within it. He is not constrained, but is living and active.

Complexity. Paradox. Mystery.
Oh what a mighty God we serve.
It is like Michelangelo said, "I am still learning."
אני לומדת
And ever will I be.

Did you know a seed must be buried and die before new life can breakthrough the surface of the soil?

I planted those flowers with my Aunt Meg. I very much enjoyed getting my hands dirty with fertile earth. I do not need that plant, but it will not survive without water and sunshine and soil. If it is not taken care of it cannot grow. And the one thing it can accomplish is not much compared with what things much greater than it has done. Yet it serves best by being exactly what it was meant to be...and nothing more is expected of it. It must only be a flower. I did not mind reaching down and getting my hands dirty for that.

I'd never seen so many singing colors at once before...
Only in a rainbow. Only in a promise.

But first, there was a breakthrough from darkness into the light.


Summery Thoughts and Vanilla Green Tea

Summer has begun and I am quite enjoying the leisure time. It started off in the home of some family friends. I read four books in three days. It was great. Nothing was required of me, yet I still managed to finished what needed to be done. Amazing, no?

Then I took a flight. Or more correctly, the plane was delayed for six hours...
and then I took a flight.

And during this flight I met a few people. (Of course, what else do you do with six hours when you are stuck in a terminal with dozens of people stuck with you?) And, obviously, one of the topics was the delay. We all shared our opinions, most were quite upset about the delay. I don't exactly remember where the conversation led, but I do know I shared a certain idea and wondered why it wasn't implemented. A new friend said, "Well, some people don't think as logically as you do."

I thought that was a funny comment.
I don't really think of myself as logical.

Math is logic, right? I'm not terrible at math, but the way it functions really disagrees with me. I thought the word "cold" might fit, but that seems unfair. I have a great respect for those who can master the discipline of math. For me, it's seems I have a touch of C.S. Lewis' problem. When it comes to math, I can just as well as anybody add, subtract and multiply. I can set up an equation for you and understand the concepts... but for some odd reason I don't get the right answer. But it's logical.

Sometimes when one of us kids would do something wrong or dangerous, etc., my dad sat us down and would ask why in the world we did what we did. It didn't make sense. It wasn't logical. Apparently by the age of seven, we develop the ability to "think logically". Whatever the heck that exactly means. Honestly, this stuff we call "knowledge" can be so terribly vague sometimes.

I wonder if there is a certain distinction between being logical and being sensible. I might be more sensible than logical. Correct me if I'm wrong, are not logical decisions more based on what will end up being most efficient or something of the sort? Because being efficient makes the most sense...

Okay, so who made up that rule?

I understand that we must be good stewards of what is given us. But since when does that mean efficiency. Or, to be more specific, efficiency in the sense it is thought of it today. "Make the most of your money" and all that. Now, I hope you're not thinking what I'm trying to say is "Blow all your money! Who cares??" ((People have a tendency to believe that if you don't think or agree with one idea, you must think or agree with the complete opposite. For example, if a person says they don't agree with such and such republican candidate's ideas about this and that issue, people automatically assume this person is a democrat.)) My point is: I do think we should be good stewards (because eventually we'll have to give an account), but perhaps the idea of efficiency has been skewed.

Is one efficient when they are able to gain more than they gave? Like, investing in stock and getting more money back. Or developing interest off your money. (How did this turn into a money issue anyway?) What I am really getting at is perhaps there are different ways to be efficient, if that's the key.

Or maybe it's more about the experience. Maybe it's more about the journey than the destination. Maybe the journey is the destination. . .

- The writer then drifted off into a pondering mood...


The 'Thin Places'

What if the Truth is there...
Right there in front of our faces...
just waiting to be known?

Genesis 1:6-8
וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתֹוךְ הַמָּיִם וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל בֵּין מַיִם לָמָֽיִם׃
וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָרָקִיעַ וַיַּבְדֵּל בֵּין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מִתַּחַת לָרָקִיעַ וּבֵין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מֵעַל לָרָקִיעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָֽרָקִיעַ שָׁמָיִם וַֽיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹקֶר יֹום שֵׁנִֽי׃ פ

"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

מַיִם - (mayim) dual of an unused singual - water
שָׁמָיִם - (shamayim) dual of an unused singual - no definition; correponds to שָׁמָיִן (shamayin) meaning heaven; also, (shawmeh) from an unused root meaning to be lofty; the sky (as aloft). The dual (shamayim) perhaps alluding to the visible arch in with the clouds move, as well as to the higher either where the celestial bodies revolve: -air, heaven.
לָרָקִיעַ - (rawkeeah) from (raw-kah') a primitive root; to pound the earth (as a sign of passion); by analogy to expand (by hammering); by implication, to overlay (with thin sheets of metal):--beat, make broad, spread abroad (forth, over, out, into plates), stamp, stretch. - properly, an expanse, i.e. the firmament or (apparently) visible arch of the sky:--firmament.
firmament - the vault of heaven; sky. origin: 1250–1300; ME <>to strengthen, support ( see firm2 ) + -mentum -ment

(*definitions found from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance that I found today in an old Methodist Church thrift shop and dictionary.com)

Okay, so you may be thinking "Uhm, that's all a bunch of gobbledygook to me... what does it mean?" First of all, I can't take credit for the spark of this inspiration. All credit goes to my Hebrew professor, Dr. Zieman, who mentioned the relation of water to heaven in my lesson last Thursday during our overview of the new vocabulary.

Okay, so the initial thoughts before the Genesis reference, what am I saying?
I'm saying that there's a pretty good chance that we are missing some key information about heaven. And I'm also saying that I don't understand it all myself yet. The words water and heaven are very similar. And it is an expanse derived from a word that means to pound as a sign of passion? "The Spirit hovered over the waters..." Does that mean that at one point in creation, the makings of heaven and earth were combined? And He divided "the waters". I always thought this was sky and sea. Atmosphere and ocean. But heaven is the expanse between these two? What does that mean? Where is it? Is it still connected?

I find all of this so fascinating. I don't want to over-read the text. I simply want to take a fresh look at something that may have been overlooked many a time by myself and perhaps many others. Or if not overlooked, then misunderstood.

Though I could be wrong.
It wouldn't be the first time.

But it's okay to be wrong. You learn from that... most of the time. And I think it's okay to wonder. It's okay to wonder if maybe there's more to it... or less to it. And it's good to wonder what implications there might be...


I have learned from a very good professor that sometimes there is more to be taught by not giving an answer, but leaving the thinking and wondering to the audience. For those who truly wish to learn, motivation will spark a desire and willingness to research the idea for deeper understanding. And time is not lost on those who do not care for it.


"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware..."

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Aurora Leigh"


Reflections of...

...a soul learning to fly.

Just another peek into what goes on inside of me.
Because it's been awhile since I've sat down to write a blog on whatever may come to mind.
Something unedited and unapologetic.

Growing up is not easy, but you can't expect to be spoon fed for the rest of your life. No one wants to live that way. Or if they do, I don't see how they could ever be content with that.

I should probably, at this point, go ahead and warn you that this is not going to flow in a well-written, organized manner. If you don't see some sort of connection between one thought and the next, that's okay. It's probably because there isn't one. Or if there is, it was by distance relation to other ideas in between that went by too quickly to catch and put down in words. I wouldn't expect to get anything theologically profound in the next few sentences or paragraphs or phrases... whatever this may turn out to be. This is just a little therapy for me.

This is a Tree Swallow, from my understanding. Isn't it gorgeous? Look at that blue! That is the most marvelous blue... I saw about two dozen of them today while I was standing out on the dock before lunch. They were all sitting along the railing facing me, against the wind. I didn't want to disturb them. Well, that's alright because the wind started getting rough (nearly knocking me over) and so they took to flight. They dipped and swooped and spun, ascended and dove and glided... it was beautiful. Carefree. Skilled. I just loved watching them. They would get so close to the water they nearly touched it, yet they left enough room to flap their wings to rise higher again. Lovely. And there were so many! Not once did they collide, though they moved swiftly in what seemed zigzag, undetermined motions. Perhaps there's a dance to it...

Do you ever wonder what people think about? Are they thinking about anything at all? Their schedule? What someone just said to them? The next thing they are going to say? Agenda? To-do list? That girl or that guy that looked their way? When they might get a chance to eat next and wondering if their favorite soup will be in today? Their current circumstances? Problems? Potential solutions? Are we always thinking about something or is it possible to not be thinking anything at all? You can still be thinking when you're not really thinking about thinking, can't you? Or perhaps it's just the brain is constantly at work. Even when we're sleeping.

Or how about what kinds of things people say throughout the day? Like when some people walk by and you catch just a snippet of the conversation their having, do you ever wonder what started that conversation or where it will lead? Or when you consciously hear that constant drum of noise in the cafeteria and you remember that, hey, those are actually people talking about things. Usually all different things. You might have heard it said that women say speak several thousands or words a day while men speak almost less than half. Heard of a statistic like that? Actually, men and women speak about the same amount.

So out of all those thousands and thousands of words that you speak a day (which just goes to show you the flexibility and creativity that is found in language that you can come up with completely new sentences everyday for the rest of your life...), out of all those spoken words plus all of those words that you think in a day... about how much of that is about God?

About how much of that is about you or your life or what you have to do? For that matter, how much do I think about me and my life and my future? Right. Something needs to be done about that.

You know, it's kind of nice that it's not all about me. Because if it's all about me, I don't know, that would almost be disappointing. Not because I'm a bad person or anything...
But I'm so small.
I would just have to wonder, isn't there more to all of this?
And if you really take a while to look around, to consider the stars and planets and galaxies that are quadrillions of times bigger than our sun... and you take a moment to get outside of your own head and remember that there are other people around you, not only those you can see right next to you, but those that are across the world that you have never met and probably never will meet... and you look at the paradox of the complexity and simplicity of life on this planet... somehow you get this shrinking feeling, this humbling knowledge that you just know it can't be all about you.

It's not.

We waste so much time. So much time.
If you get the suggested amount of sleep -- 8 hours -- every night... you sleep one third of you life away. And that's actually good for you. Really? A third of it! Gone!

Listen, I've been thinking.
You may feel like you don't have a lot of time on your hands, and you're probably right. But the good thing is, we can multitask. How about this idea: there are parts of my job that I feel like I could do blindfolded backwards while standing on my head. It's not that it's super easy, it's just tedious and repetitive. What if I used that time to pray unceasingly? I would get four hours or work and prayer in a day. That's one fourth of the 16 hours that I'm awake. I, personally, am going to try and use my "half hours" more purposefully as well. There are things I need to do and get done. Can't I do them in my "in-betweens"? If I'm going to sleep about a third of my life anyway, I might as well be good and tired when I do it, right?

Our lives are but a vapor.
A blink of an eye.

But count your life by love lavished instead of seconds spent.
It's a lot more motivating.


The Wonders of Pondering...

Have you ever read a book with someone?
I remember one of my favorite childhood memories was when my dad would read to me just before bed. I know you see that in movies and stuff, but how many dads actually do that? And how many dads--if they do that--read a fantastic book like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?

I can remember the beginning of my reading career. It was in kindergarten. My dad had come in one day and we were supposed to all be reading to our parents or something. Anyway, I was sitting in his lap and I remember faking it. I didn't want to try so hard. I didn't want to look silly in front of someone so smart, someone I admired and loved. So I would look at the pictures, make up my own words (from what I remembered of the story) and turned the page "before" he would get a chance to look at the real words.

But I admired him with reason. He was smarter than I.
"Britt," he said while turning back to the previous page, "how about reading this word to me again." He pointed at one of the various words on the page. I stared at him blankly, wondering how he had figured out my clever trick. Thus it began. Slowly, even painfully at times. Now I can't get enough. And recently, it's been with one or a couple of others.

For example, a few months ago my friends and I decided to begin reading a book together called Before You Meet Your Prince Charming. Maybe it sounds cliche, but it's really very challenging. It's neat to see reactions, hear different perspectives, clarify and delve into... We're picking it apart piece by piece, weighing it against our different experiences and what we know as Truth. We keep a journal to track our progress along the way.

And today I was reading Crazy Love with my mom. Another very challenging book, but a very good read if you're willing to apply what you learn. We'll finish tomorrow before I leave for school again. We did mani-pedi's tonight. :)

I love my family very much. I thank God for what He has blessed me with, and I look forward to seeing them again this summer (which seems to be getting busier and busier). I don't want to wish any time away, or even to ask it to move swiftly. That would be foolish. I need this time to learn some things. I don't even ask that it would be easy. Only that God would be right by my side through it all, guiding me and guarding me.

This year I will learn.
This year I will train.

It's time to get ready.
Right now is preparation for a time soon to come.
Acercate, mi Dios.
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