jesus

I believe in Jesus

I believe in Jesus. His is the name I use to describe the loving, present, meaningful Presence of God here with us.
Let’s just get that out of the way.
I believe that the purpose we all look for is found in Him.
I believe that the freedom from shame that we look for is found in Him.
I believe that the meaning behind all of life is found in Him.
I believe that the Oneness with the universe we want is found in Him.
I believe that the order and mind behind science is found in Him.
I believe that the love we seek is found in Him.
I believe Jesus is NOT what anyone tells you He is… He is not what I tell you he is. I know what Jesus is to me today, right now. And tomorrow, that will grow, expand, soften, harden, change shade and nuance, blow up and cover me.
Jesus is beyond definition. It is why the Bible is so infuriating and invigorating.
But there are a few things about Jesus that I can hand you to hold so you can try out the fit in your palm and the weight of His glory in your life… things that tie to real life so that as we learn about Jesus, our lives change and as we live our lives God makes more sense.
Jesus’ power and spirit are constantly available everywhere and at all times to anyone who wants access. Access feels like peace, hope, love.

Jesus uses His power to remove shame, standards of perfection, guilt, and contempt.
Jesus loves you unconditionally and the best way to experience Jesus’ love is to love yourself the way He does.
Jesus’ story involves the goodness of the soul and the body, both.
Jesus […]

God is here

God, when I sit in this room, I can feel both alone and the opposite of alone.
I can be aware of the table and my coffee. I can feel the air moving in and out to my nose. There is a chair beneath me and a black cat walking back and forth around it all.
I can choose to be aware of You, too: The I Am, The Presence. The One who is always here. I can choose to feel you in that air and in my bones.
God, when I sit in this room, I can feel both alone and the opposite of alone.
I can choose to see you as separate from me. In this way, you are here and yet different from the Me I consciously know. You are a loving relationship that requires space between us. I pray and you come. I request and you give.
I can also choose to see you as essentially in me. In this way, you are here as surely as I am here. You are a loving Presence in my cells that requires a connection with my own mind and body. Here, to love myself is to be loved by you. Here, to accept the body I am in, is to accept that this body is Us. Here, to pray for peace is to know that the peace is here waiting to be accepted already in my guts. To ask you to be with me would be like asking myself to go hang out sometime.
You are here. You are more here in and with me and available to me than my own thoughts and emotions and needs. You are the beautiful, quiet option that I don’t always know […]

Never Been Kissed

Advent. We wait. We wait for God to come down here and be with us. Just hurry up and be with us.
Yesterday, I felt it, that dull discomfort of waiting for things to be RIGHT – To feel God with me and to feel Him making all things comes together for Good.  I wanted it, bad.  
This incredible waiting that is called LIFE drives some of us mad.  We get short burst of fun, joy, beauty, and meaning and then we wait again. This incredible waiting, like watching intermittent shooting stars when what we really need is dawn.
We wait for heaven and the Light of the World to come.  Heaven will not just be for our souls. Heaven involves our bodies too.  This is the gift of making love.  
God, your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven – not just in our hearts but in our bodies too.
In honor of Advent and Love and Making It coming together this week, today we have the gift of reading a personal essay from a woman who has never been kissed and is beginning to let herself feel the desire and hope of what will come someday.  May all our waiting and longing be this vulnerable and brave.
-Nicole
****
 
I dreamed a few months ago that I had my first kiss.
Yes, I’m 25 and I’ve never been kissed – or even been on an official date. I was a little too “mature” (and obnoxious) in high school to stoop to “chasing boys,” and I was a little too driven in college to take time out for life. Which is strange, really. I’ve always wanted the support of a relationship and the chance to build a life with […]

Advent Stories: Hookers, Heathens, and Me

One week til Christmas. One week til we celebrate God being with us.  
For some people, their lives are so full of family and friends, hot chocolate and Christmas Lights, that the darkness is just a shadow in the corner or a fading streetlight down the road.  For others, this is a time where the darkness threatens to swallow them whole.
Light flaunts its warm power in the life of one and barely flicks the skin of another covered instead in cold, dark loneliness. 
Advent is the waiting. The waiting 100s of years for God to come and make things right. Waiting generations for triumph and light and love to flood the world.  Waiting for God to be with us – really with us. We need God with us.  God, who says He is Light and Love, and yet seems to leave us lonely and scared in dark places. 
God, are you avoiding me?
    Where are you when I need you? Psalm 10:1-2
 
Advent is the waiting. We have no choice. Reminded of our powerlessness against the speed of time, we wait.  We cannot save ourselves or our friends from the pain of waiting on God to BE WITH US. 
With Christmas comes the promise of a future where we are whole and full. Christmas is the promise that while the pain is still here, God is doing a new thing. He came down to sit in the dark with us.  
And this is what He also asked us to do for each other too. While we wait, we wait together.  I will wait with you. 
The light breaks through dark’s hard shell at the exact points we meet each other.  At the loving touch of a friend, a spark […]

I am a wife and I am a Jesus Feminist

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
 
I am a wife and I am a Jesus feminist.

In the game we were taught, we had assigned roles.
I am a woman. I am the church.
You are a man. You are Jesus. ???

You get to be Jesus in this story?!

Have you ever played an imaginary game with your kids? Or did you play as different characters when you were a kid? What did you love to play? Were you the hero? Were you the parent in charge of it all? Wasn’t there always one kid who took the best role, the best character, and demanded you be like … the pet… or the baby… or Robin to their Batman?? That just sucked, didn’t it?

If you are a younger sibling, this was probably your life-story for a time. 🙂 Well…

Imagine being a woman in the church.
Imagine being told, from the day you started to form a true identity, that your role is to be the sidekick. Even when you were on fire, you were never the hero. To fulfill someone else’s vision, someone else’s hopes and dreams, someone else’s ambitions… this was your life’s work; not as a choice or a calling, but as an assigned character to play in someone else’s game.
People with a desire to lead need followers. Kingdom builders need servants. If men […]

By |November 11th, 2013|Free Flying Faith|2 Comments|

Beautiful Scars

All beautiful you are my darling, there is no flaw in you.
Song of Songs 4:7
It seems pretty absurd to believe we are without flaw, doesn’t it?
Massive cultural and financial structures are built on us believing there is something wrong with us; that we must destroy and annihilate all these “flaws” on our bodies through surgery and chemicals and anything else we can buy. We are told by 1,000s of songs, commercials, movies, magazines, and actual people, how we “should” be and how we are definitely NOT.  We are all aware of every possible physical flaw.
To hear a message that we are already all beautiful is so foreign a concept that it feels false and trite and rather stupid. Ask anyone at anytime today and they can tell you one thing about themselves that is decidedly ugly. If you’re silly enough, you can ask and they’ll tell you something about you too.
And if you are like me, you still remember the things people said were wrong with your body years and years ago.
Because of all this, even starting this conversation feels like a waste of time. No matter how much I tell you that you are beautiful and formed perfectly, all it takes is one magazine cover or a boyfriend’s inattention or callous comment and you could be lost again. I know. I know. 
I want to undo my brainwashing (more on brainwashing tomorrow).  So, I am starting with one item at a time and relearning the truth about myself. 
If I am brutally honest, my biggest struggle recently is that most days I see my stretch marks as a failure. I am an embarrassment. Some mothers have abs of steel but I do not. We applaud and […]

When We Were On Fire

If you’ve read this blog since it’s inception, you know I am a woman of open and hopeful and thrashing faith. I believe in a big God who loves each individual… but that belief is a wrestling I do fresh every day. Like Jacob in Genesis, I wrestle and prevail, and like Jacob, I am constantly finding God in new places – finding Him Even Here.  I met Jesus by name in a youth group when I was 14.  This entry is a poetic remembering of that time as part of Addie Zierman’s synchroblog in honor of her beautiful new book:
When We Were On Fire.
 
We ran through fields and over chain-linked fences to escape the hands of the enemy, in practice for the rapture. Dropped off in the middle of the hills and left to find our way back to the school auditorium, we feared Jesus would someday leave us behind because we didn’t truly believe.
*
We sang at the top of our lungs with Joel Weldon at Hume Lake. We sang of love and hope and a Jesus who was everything. We knelt and sang quietly, trying to find the perfect pitch so Jesus would know we were worth loving… and so the boys next to us would too.
*
We piled in vans and went to outdoor festivals to rock for God. When we were on fire, we could do anything for God! We moshed for God. We bought tshirts for God. We floated on crowds who lifted us up on their hands – 1000s of hands lifting us up so we could be closer to God, voices of love and cheering and camaraderie.
*
We held hands and vowed to give our very bodies to God […]

Stop Hitting Yourself

Walking around the world, feeling disappointed in yourself, is never fun.  It sucks, actually. And, I fully realize that many of you are just fine with your fine selves, but I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us are not…  Still not, even after looking through 100’s of motivational pins on Pinterest.
(it’s like dieting. i am not dieting when i read about diets. … and i am not actually feeling better about myself when I read how i should feel better about myself… you don’t lose weight by reading about losing weight…)
 

It feels impossible to hit the target in life – to reach that sweet moment of pure joyful success – when all you do is practice hitting yourself.

You learn to hit the target you aim at.
**********

“What’s wrong with me?”
“I wish I was different…”
“Why did I say that?”

**********
I know it’s the same for me as it is for some of you – The voices inside my head can be loud, demeaning, demanding.  All I can see is how I don’t measure up and I wish I did.  I’m guilty under the law.  So, I throw stones

………….. at myself.
Stoning: Execute (someone) by throwing stones at them.
We stone ourselves. Without a proper trial, we sentence ourselves to a painful execution.  Each nasty thought, a stone.  Each critique without care, a stone.

I pick up each rough, dirty stone – each rough, dirty thought – aim and throw.  Pick, aim, throw. Pick, aim, throw. Pick, aim, throw.

But, in the black-comedy turns of life, we are too close to ourselves to properly execute the guilty. I chuck a stone at my own head and it bounces off – painful but not deadly. Another. Another. Bruises form. Wounds appear […]

Let’s Celebrate Life

When you go to Disneyland, you can ask for a big button to wear all day. It will say “It’s My Birthday!” or “Let’s Celebrate!”  And you can fill in your name underneath or write what you are celebrating: “Anniversary” or “Graduation”. Then everyone who works at Disneyland will see your button and comment and welcome you.

“Happy Birthday, Princess!”

“Happy Anniversary!”

We live near Disneyland and go often.  The other day my little girls and I were walking through the huge plaza full of people as another woman walking towards us caught my eye.  She wore a “Let’s Celebrate” pin, crew-neck t-shirt, big white sneakers and high-waisted shorts;  Typical, comfy, I’m on vacation from rural (fill in a state) attire.  I always think about the people at Disneyland as they walk past us. Is this their first time?  Are they spending 3 years’ savings to make these memories with their families at Disneyland?  What’s her story?

Then, as this particular woman moved nearer to us, I looked closely at her button and saw that it said “Let’s Celebrate… LIFE.” Instantly, all the details I had subconsciously noticed about her came into focus:  Comfy clothes. Thin, short, newly-grown-in gray hair. Pale and slightly puffy face…  New cancer survivor. Laughing with her friends. Walking through the Disneyland plaza. Celebrating LIFE.  Smiling at me as she passed.  She’s on a LIFE.

 

Life.  I want to be on a LIFE. Let’s celebrate… LIFE.

“Happy LIFE, Princess!”

 

So, step one of going on a LIFE – what that woman in big, white sneakers and high-waisted shorts wore all over her gorgeous face: Gratitude. For Everything. For Life Itself.

(pause.)

Gratitude.  It only happens in this exact moment.

 

What makes a LIFE? How does a person permanently change, ditch […]