Monday, September 23, 2013

Love Languages

A few months ago when I was at the Vineyard Church National Conference, I attended a worship workshop lead by Dan Wilt. He is a phenomenal musician and worship leader. To start off the session, he had us campfire style the room, i.e., get in a big round circle. There were about 150-200 worship leaders in the room from all over the country. It was a bit awkward with all the chairs set up for a lecture, but we made it work. Then Dan stood in the middle and lead us in a very old, very simple worship song. The kind of song that EVERYBODY knows, with really simple words and a basic melody. And then it happened. Everyone started singing in harmony. Everyone started singing in unity. And Everyone could feel a shift in the atmosphere. Like Heaven was not only listening but joining in. It was the kind of moment where all the little hairs on the back of your head stand on end and there's a vibrant electricity in the room that makes you want to cry and pause time so that it lasts forever. 

It was in that moment that I heard the Lord speak. Do you know what the love languages are? I felt him nudge. Yes. Of course. As most of you have probably heard of them, there are 5 "love languages", or ways that we receive and give love. Quality time, acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch. while we as humans typically like to give and receive love through 1 or 2 of the 5 love languages, God "speaks" all 5 languages all the time. When we as true worshipers gather to worship in spirit and in truth, that type of worship actually represents all 5 languages at once. We give Him the words of affirmation He deserves through the lyrics we chose to sing. They tell of his attributes and remind him of what he's done for us. We are spending the best quality time with Him. We set aside all other tasks and chores to just gather together and focus our hearts and our minds on him. We are having the act of service of the sacrifice of praise. We give Him the gift of ourselves, completely and totally, our minds, bodies, souls, and spirits. And by its very nature, worship at its roots means to kiss, so our worship itself acts to physically touch God in the most intimate of ways.

So the next time you're in worship at church and you feel your mind start to wander about the list of things to do later, just remember that what you're doing is speaking directly to all of God's love languages. 

Divine Appointments

Yesterday I had the most delightful time dress shopping with one of my best friends in the world, Sarah. We were on the hunt for the perfect gown for the Justice Ball that we'll be going to on Tuesday. While usually I love to leisurely peruse the racks and try on everything in sight, we only had an hour and a half due to some other commitments later that afternoon. So we were on a mission: I've never seen two girls cross the mall so far (and in heels!). Dresses flying, racks tumbling over in the quest, baby carriages pushed out of the way, Cinnabons flying through the air as we dashed about!! (Ok, that's a major exaggeration, but it makes for good story telling). We finally found the most stunning gown in the world!! (At the opposite end of the mall from where we parked, of course). And we were late. We flew back through the department stores only to realize the escalator down to the parking garage was broken. Where are the stairs? Those are never convenient in the mall. It's like they're afraid you won't see their merchandise if you're not slowly moving through the middle of the store at a pace that makes you look around at all the wonders that beckon to find a new home. Fine, the elevator will do just fine and it's right behind the escaltors.

We get on only to have it go, that's right, up instead of down. Sheesh. Can't the elves hoisting this tin can up and down see that we're running later? Who pushed the up button?? We go up. And about a dozen people get on, including 2 elderly women speaking what sounded like Russian hurriedly try to shove on an ancient woman with a walker into the cramped elevator. As the doors shut leaving us very little wiggle room, I find myself toe to toe with the petite babushka. And the elevator decides to go up again. I look down, waaaaaay down, into her scarf-framed, angelic face and she looks us at me and she does something unexpected in a crowded elevator. She grabs my hand. She grabs my hand in her weathered, frail hand and, with eyes full of great-grandmotherly twinkle,  starts speaking, knowing  that I will probably have no idea what she's saying. But what was lacking in intelligible words was abundantly clear in feeling and tone. It was as if she was blessing me. So I did the only sensible thing one can do in a crammed elevator with no place to go and no where to be. I placed my hand on top of the one holding my other one and started blessing her back, knowing full well she would probably have no idea what I was saying. Knowing that what I wouldn't be able to communicate in intelligible word would be felt through the eyes and tone of love.

When the elevator doors opened, we were not only in a different place, but so was I. I was no longer hurried. Something changed when she grabbed my hand. It reminded me that no matter how busy we get, we should never be too busy to stop and love the one in front of us. Even if it is only for the three minute ride in a crammed elevator.

Who is right in front of you today? Who will you love well in the little moments?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Birthdays, dreams, and truth.

Friday night I had a dream about snakes. Six snakes, to be exact. In a sewer where I was searching for diamonds. Actually, I only saw one snake as it came down the drain pipe, but I knew there were a total of six in the murky, swampy water that pooled at the bottom of the cave where I was mining. It was one of those dreams where you wake up and you aren't afraid, but you are curious. It was one of those dreams that leaves you pondering for days about the meaning.

Tonight is Monday. Well, only for a few more minutes. Tonight is also one of my dearest friend, Sarah's, birthday. So in true LA style, several of us got on our hottest dresses, our highest heels, and hit the town to celebrate our lovely Princess!! We went to this amazing cocktail lounge on the 35th floor that has the most spectacular view, because it is constantly changing. The entire lounge actually slowly, almost not perceptively rotates, so if you stay there long enough you get a 365 degree view of downtown LA. AMAZING!!!
A partial view of the lounge

While we were there, one of the girls brought up a dream that she had a recently. We love sharing and figuring out what our dreams mean together. It's fascinating what goes on in our minds in the night. So she shared her dream and another friend told her what she thought it meant. Then I shared my dream about the snakes. Lies. Snake in dreams usually represent lies. Lies while searching for truth that shine like diamonds in the dark places. Yup. Sounds about right.

Then Sarah asked us to each share a single word that summed up what we were hoping this next season in our lives would bring. We each went around and shared. Rest. Transformation. Family.  And so forth. We poured out our hearts about how we were looking forward in hope to what we felt was missing in our lives. Then it hit me smack in the face. There were six of us. Six lovely women ready to break forth into the next season of their lives but feeling stuck. And in our own ways believing little lies from the enemy about our destinies and keeping us from fully hoping in the promises that we knew should be ours. So we all agreed and said enough is enough to the lies!

So what do you hope for in this next season of your life? Healing? Victory? A pay increase? A job that you actually like? Love? Peace and quiet? What lie are you believing that is causing friction with hope? That you're not worthy to be healed? That it's your cross to bear? That you're a loser? That you don't deserve any better? That's not the truth. So stop agreeing with it. It's time to walk into your destiny in Christ!!
  We were missing one in this photo op....another picture of all of us to follow....

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unlikely Mission Field

Yesterday was monumental. I didn't even realize it until about half way through the day. I went out to lunch after church with some new friends and we were sitting outside of a little restaurant talking natural health and essential oils when some one mentioned it was official September. Wow. September 1. Monumental. That marked to the date 6 months since I moved from Grand Rapids to California and one year to the day that I moved home from Costa Rica. Coincidence? I think not, yet this is not at ALL where I expected to be a year ago. In looking back through my prayer journal, my notes from my time in the "cave" in Michigan, and my blog, I honestly never thought I would actually be living just outside of LA.

Jessie and I one year ago to the day, Sept. 1, 2012. The passing of the torch.

Six months ago to the day, landing in California

When I moved back stateside, it was out of obedience to what I felt God was telling me. Rodney and Cindy had asked me to consider staying a third year, and I would have been happy to do so. But I had absolutely no peace about it. I knew in my heart it was time to move home, but to what I had no idea. So I made the faith step and moved back to Michigan. As most of you know, it was a difficult transition, but God gave me so much grace and favor in that season. I went through severe reverse culture shock. I am so thankful for the friends that surrounded me and helped me through. (Thanks, Tany for putting me to work cleaning bathrooms, Lynelle for the frequent coffee dates, and Sue Golder for the family dinners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You all have no idea how essential those moments were!!!).

During my processing time, I wrote out a list of the 4 directions I was open to trying. Number one was obviously staying in Grand Rapids, finding a job, and settling back into the life I had been living pre-Rica. This was the option I really, really, really wanted. Number two was moving to an adjoining mid-western state where I had a network of friends or family, finding a job, and settling back into life as I knew it. Number three was literally selling everything I owned and moving back on the mission field to Costa Rica. All in. No looking back. For life. I told God if He didn't give me work by Christmas that was the option I was going with by default. Number four, which was actually just an addendum tacked on the bottom to fill out the rest of the paper literally said, "Move to LA with Sarah to do ministry and go all crazy." Seriously? I still can't believe I actually wrote that, but it's there in black and white. Must have been the altitude change. Note to self, in the future when writing things out to put before the Lord, include even crazier things like, "Have rich benefactor offer to buy me a mansion to house orphans", "Allow a dealership to lend me a new sports car every month to advertise their company", and "Win the lotto, spend the money on world missions trips." Seriously. I need to start dreaming bigger with God. Still,the point was in the core of my being, I was ready to go where ever God sent me.

So I guess we all know which option was God's option. I wondered what the purpose was for me moving out here. LA is so different from Grand Rapids. Most people sojourn here hoping to realize a dream. They are desperate to make it in "The Industry". Acting, fashion, modeling, film making.  They struggle and starve to make it, to find the right connections, and break into the false reality where fame and fortune are the goals of life. And most leave shattered in less than a year after their funds run out. I am a pediatric speech therapist. I work at a child development center and spend most of my waking work hours hanging out in the ball pit with two-year-olds. What the heck am I doing here?

When I moved out here, I felt like God was bringing me into a Jeremiah 29 season. Not just verse 11, though. We get too caught up in just that verse. Have you ever read verses 1-10?  Basically God's people were taken from the promised land and exiled to Babylon, the most pagan nation, like, ever. And God told them to stay there, to build houses, set up shop, have parties, eat food, get married and have babies. To pray for the land they were inhabiting, because if it prospered, they would prosper. Because God knew the plans He had for his people. To prosper them, to give them a hope and a future. And if they prayed to God, he would hear them and listen and answer them. I totally commiserate with the Israelites. Like God was taking me from my home land and planting me squat in the middle of Babylon. Did you know that's actually what they call a major section of Hollywood? Coincidence? What do you think. I feel like God wanted the Isrealites to be a model of what Godly living looked like in the middle of the pagan nation. Like missionaries sent to model and demonstrate family, community, and upright living in a foreign country with foreign practices. Did you know that Daniel (like the whole book of Daniel) was written during this season in history? Daniel was one of those exiles taken to Babylon during the Jeremiah 29 season. He was meant to be a missional model in the royal palace of not bending to cultural norms and values. He stood out, was different, was persecuted for his faith, but ultimately had divine favor on his life and is a hero of the faith for ALL ETERNITY.

So basically what I'm saying is I am still a missionary. Instead of going to the countries of the world, the Lord has brought them to me, all in one place in one of the biggest melting pots of the globe. And it is one big mission field!! There are so many people here who are hungry for the things of God. I have also become highly involved in a church out here in Glendale called Expression 58 (based off of Isaiah 58). Starting next week I am going to be helping as a revival group leader in their new school of ministry. Check out their website at to learn more about what they're about. And what I'm going to ask for is your continued prayer support. I moved back into the country, but I haven't left the mission field. I need all of your prayer cover as I continue to model community, family, and healthy living in a part of the country whose reputation precedes it. Thank you for all your support and love!!!!