Friday, October 9, 2015

Joy in the Morning


May you always be my first love. That my heart would be in tune with yours.


Five days a week for four years now I've woken up each morning to my alarm at five am, but I don't actually get out of bed until 5:24. In that time I've hit snooze three times, and attempted to turn my grumbles into prayers. The prayers are usually only a few desperate words asking for the strength to simply pull myself up and out of the mess of blankets, pillows and warmth.

I've never been a morning person, the fog in my brain is so thick that it usually takes a couple hours (and a few cups of coffee) for it to break enough to form full sentences and process information at normal human speeds. Lately the mornings have become more like a burden, they've become a reason to rage and complain. The morning, the hope of a new day and new mercies, has become tiresome.

Over the last few months, I have felt a deeper weariness and restlessness in my bones. A deeper burden, and a heavier heart. I've sat in my cubicle surrounded by mostly silence with only the occasional chuckle, cough or hushed conversation between co-workers and I've just cried. Cried over the lives of wandering refugees, cried over the loss of my 17 week old unborn cousin. Joyful tears over marriages and pregnancies. I've cried over broken relationships, as well as restored ones. My heart has been rung out for the unborn, and the desperation of their mothers, for orphans and abandoned children. And the more I see of the sorrow and hopelessness of the least of these, the more my heart grows in love for them. In my cubicle, I feel helpless.

I sit in a chair in front of two computer screens five days a week filing contracts, answering phone calls and participating in office banter and chatter. And I question whether this is really where the Lord desires me to be. I challenge Him with questions about whether He really knows what He's doing. Why, Lord, would you plant a deep rooted burden and heartache for the motherless in my heart, yet not use me to care for them? I throw up my hands and tell the Lord I've had enough that the heartache is too great. I've questioned why the Lord gives me desires, vision and compassion for the hopeless just to let it sit in my heart and grow to the point of seemingly splitting me apart?

So I get out bed at 5:24 discontent and grumbling about being awake, faced with the reality of spending nine hours in that chair. I've realized that my perspective is skewed, my pride takes me to a place where I convince myself that I know better than my Creator. I see a desk, post it notes, a pile of emails, and office chatter as pointless, void of purpose and ineffective for the Kingdom. When really Jesus has and is growing great purpose in all seasons of my life. Jesus has not left me without purpose. He has given me a heart for the motherless and the love I have for them will not be wasted. Even at this desk Jesus is doing a work for the Kingdom. He has called me to faithfulness, to obedience, to gospel centered service to everyone I meet within these office walls, as well as outside of them. My heart beat shouldn't be anything other than that of Christ. To hear his voice, and to act in obedience to the call He puts on my life. He's not interested in fulfilling the daydream of a glamorously sacrificial life of service to orphans and widows in third world countries. He desires faithful and obedient disciples, and if by obedience He leads me to a third world country I will go, but that's not the goal or the prize. 

For years my Mum has quoted Tommy Nelson, encouraging me and my sisters often. He says, "bloom where you are planted." These office walls are where I've been planted for the last four years, and I will be here until He calls me out. This is my mission field and I want to be a willing and joyful laborer in the harvest. I want to plow the fields and work hard and faithfully unto the Lord.

I pray for a heart that welcomes the mornings with deep joy and I pray for days filled with it until I lay my head down to rest so I can do it all again the next day. Within the sunrise and sunset of each day there are new mercies. I have the opportunity and the honor to praise the name of Jesus and to love and serve His people well. To die to self and to know my Savior more intimately than the day before. The morning is not a burden, but a great joy and a gift. 

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, 
for He who promised is faithful..."
Hebrews 10:23



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LA Mission | June 2015

This summer I've done a bunch of traveling. I spent a long weekend in Seattle (All the heart eyes for that place), a week traveling in and around the Los Angeles area and then a long weekend in Colorado. Traveling to photograph new places and different landscapes sets my heart on fire. I'm already planning and scheming for a trip to Nashville in October.

My trip to LA was spent serving as a leader for a group of fresh faced high school graduations + one lonely entering senior (He was baptized in the Pacific at the end of the week, I felt honored to witness it). He took being the baby of the group really well. Our mission trip was led by an amazing, good looking and humble staff from Next Step Ministries, we left San Antonio on June 14th and came back on June 21st and the days in between were life giving and purposeful. Jesus is always present, the Holy Spirit never stops moving no matter our circumstances, to convict and comfort and the Father is always faithful. 
I was surrounded all week by confirmation and proof of these things. We met people experiencing homelessness living on the streets and some living at Union Rescue Mission. We got to serve an inner city school and plant a garden with EnrichLA. We met single mothers trying to make a new life for themselves and their babies at a beautiful 77 acre facility near the Angeles National Forest. The contrast of my life with some of the people we met was as stark and bright as a neon sign cutting the darkness. Our circumstances are different, our choices and the consequences for those choices are different, our experiences are different, our environments are different. I wanted to see beyond the circumstances and see a person's value as no less than my own because we've all been made in the image of a good good Father. All week I kept feeling so thankful that Jesus lowered himself for my sake, as well as their sake. Jesus died the same death to save the souls and make new the hearts of the richest people, as well as the men and woman living under a tarp on Skid Row. Getting up from the church pew to walk alongside a struggling addict, a single mother, or one of my students to offer love, speak truth and give support gave me so much joy, it renewed my soul. However, I'm pretty confident the students I served with and the people I met had a far greater impact on me than I had on them. I don't think they probably realize the ways they helped me and continue to help me love Jesus more and to be obedient to Him.

My heart beat during that week was to love each person I met, including the staff leading the trip, the group that served with us from Arizona, the single mothers and their children, the old woman walking around the mission mumbling to herself in gibberish, and my students I was blessed to serve with. Each one with a soul that has no less value in Jesus' eyes than the next. I pray that I've been able to bring all this home with me, to see people not for the labels society gives them or the label they give themselves, but to see them for who Jesus created them to be. We are image bearers, a reflection of God. My heart's desire is for people to meet Jesus and find their identity in Him and nothing else.






*all photos edited with VSCO Film.