Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dreary Days & PJ's

Well, two days until my dear Brenton returns. This has, for some reason, been what feels like one of the longest weeks of my entire life. I thought surely it would pass quickly and he would be gone and back before I knew it; but man it feels as if I've been awaiting his return for an eternity.

This eternal week, however, has been a thought provoking and heart changing week. Yesterday was amazing. I opened my sleepy eyes to a dark and dreary morning. Buried under my warm, fluffy comforter and nestled into my pillows, the pitter patter of rain hitting my window seemed to lull my sleepy thoughts. For once my heart finally felt as if it rested in a bed of peace. Consumed by beautiful thoughts of my sweet Jesus, I found security once again. Somewhere between the shores of Gulf Breeze and Ft Lauderdale, all peace and security had been strung along the highways, beaches and marshlands. And yet, here I lay (finally) with all restlessness at ease and fear subsided, confusion silenced and strength restored. Not moving a muscle, I stayed buried under my sheets, my body like lead at the bottom of a deep ocean, just basking in this easy feeling--soaking it in for as long as I possibly could. Some time later, my tummy snarled at me, breaking my reverie and informing me that it had been neglected. I stepped out onto the cold wood floor and made my way to the kitchen. I looked out the window, gazing at the foggy haze hovering over the sea and at that moment decided, today was going to be a day of rest; a day of shutting out the world and all it's annoying tendencies and allowing my thoughts to escape and my heart to be silenced. I put a pot of coffee on and engaged in breakfast with my family. After visiting with family, I made my way to back to my cozy room, coffee in hand (mmm, something about the smell of fresh coffee on a cold, wet morning is just so comforting) and journal out, I began to write. Filling page after page with more thoughts and emotions than I knew I could humanly contain--what a release. As I wrote, a friend's name continuously came to mind. Exchanging my pen for my phone, I said, "Okay Lord. What's up with this? I haven't talked to this girl in, what seems like, forever and now all of the sudden I feel compelled to call her? Should you have something in this conversation for me, please let her pick up (for she lives in Hawaii and the time difference always seems to be a problem. Not to mention she's also a traveling missionary AND a newlywed, how the heck was I supposed to get in touch with such a busy girl?)." I dialed her number, one ring later I hear a voice on the other end..."Jenna?!" I stuttered, somewhat shocked she had picked up and so quickly at that. What I had intended to be possibly a 15 minute conversation, ended up being over an hour long conversation catching each other up on our lives and what I can't help but believe was divine encouragement. I LOVE those moments. You know...the ones where God seems to gently and lovingly meet your heart just where it is, whether it be through a friend or a family member or situation of some sort, He never fails. I am not deserving. Anywho, an hour and then some later, I hung up the phone with my heart completely calmed and my thoughts settled--I may not know where I'm going, but I do know that wherever this life is headed, He is in complete control. And there is where my heart finds rest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

3 months, 2008, Nicaragua, and Human Trafficking...

Wow, I feel so rusty and out of touch with the online blogging world.  It's been far too long since I've even tried to write anything worth saying via keys and mouse.  What's up with me?  Well, maybe it would be best asked, what's not up with me?  So much as changed in my life and more importantly in my heart over the past few months.  As most know, I've moved back home to good ol' Gulf Breeze, FL and I've got a few things that may open up this week, but I so desperately need something consistent ASAP), I've been leading worship here and there at various events and venues, I've been writing and last but not least, I've been working on my guitar/piano/vocal skills in the privacy of my favorite place in the whole wide world (my bedroom).    The past three months home have been so different than I imagined them being. Very good, but very different. I don't know why (I mean it is Gulf Breeze we're talking about) but I imagined my time home very busy and very short. I imagined coming home and knowing instantly what it is that I'm supposed to do and where I'm supposed to be for the next so-called "season" of my life, yet somehow I've had more down time in three months than I did for an entire year while living in Ft Lauderdale and still have NO clue as to what it is I'm supposed to be doing with my time. Weird how that works, huh? However, that down time has been spent exploring and dabbling in other gifts (aside from music), making up for lost time with my family and close friends, and more importantly, basking in the presence of my sweet Jesus (sadly, the quality of my personal "God-time" always seems to be sacrificed when I'm terribly busy-that's certainly something I need to learn how to balance). For the past three months I've been telling myself (maybe "lying to myself" would be the more appropriate and honest phrasing) that I would know after the holidays as to what God has for me, but here it is 12:30 AM on Saturday, January 12, 2008 and I'm just as clueless and confused as I was the day I walked out of the official "I love you guys, but I'm leaving" meeting in Lauderdale. 12 days and 30 minutes late...God, you're 12 days and 30 minutes late. And then it hits me...what am I but dust and breath that He so graciously continues to breathe into me? The moment He feels I've fulfilled my purpose is the moment He stops supplying that breath; it doesn't matter if I'm satisfied with what I've accomplished here, what matters is that I faithfully loved and served him right up until that very last breath. So here I sit, clueless and well, human and facing a brand spanking new year -- two-thousand and eight (it has a nice ring to it doesn't it? well, you don't have to agree, but I like to think it does). I'm twenty years old and I know I won't be it forever, yet somehow the world seems a daunting place. An intimidating and yet exciting place. So with that, I've decided that this year, 2008, will be the year of complete new beginnings, the year of truly finding my place in this world, not by searching, but by serving (it's easy to say that now, but I know it's going to be hard work considering how rotten and selfish I naturally tend to be). There hasn't been a day this year so far that I haven't found the song, "Lead Me To The Cross" on my lips or in my heart and I'm making that my prayer each morning, "Father, lead me to the cross today. Lead my feet to Your cross and Your cross to my heart. Lead me. Because I simply cannot lead myself." This I pray will also be the year of the Lord's favor. On Wednesday evenings, Pastor John Spencer has been going through a series of the vision for our church and last week his message was centered around two verse, one which stuck with me: Luke 4:18-19. It says this, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." This year I hope to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor in my life. I hope and pray that He will be the hand leading and guiding my heart's deepest desires, leading and guiding my every physical step, and leading and guiding the beginnings of my future. I hope and pray to be the vessel He chooses to use, and I hope and pray to be one of many voices used to harvest the field. Matthew 9:36-38 "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" If you're reading this and you feel your heart even in the slightest way agreeing with what I'm feeling, let me encourage you to make 2008 your year of new beginnings, your year of the Lord's favor as well. I can't help but think that our time here is running short and we're being called now, more than ever, to be His disciples, to be sanctified and truly set apart, to be vibrant and creative, to be loving and yet honest. Each has a gift so unique to him or her, so please, let me encourage you to USE those gifts to further His Kingdom, to serve the sweet Jesus that gives us a beautiful new sunrise each morning and a breath-taking sunset each evening. He is so very faithful. (Okay, done with my soap-box speeches...I have no idea how these blogs turn into all that.)

On a different note, a few random thoughts:

As of last night I'm praying about going to Nicaragua this March. I've been itching to travel, and dying to go on a mission trip. God seemed to divinely place me in the presence of a woman who runs an orphanage in Nicaragua and needs much help and prayers for the children she cares for each day. So prayers for a consistent job sometime in the next week or two are very much coveted.

I'm still working on putting together a bi-monthly newsletter (it will be out before the end of this month), so if you're interested in receiving it send me a message with your e-mail address and I would be happy to send one your way. :)

Okay, one very important last thing and then I'm off to bed for the evening. I came across a disturbing e-mail this morning that left my stomach churning. Here's what it said:
The Internet has become a major platform for facilitating human trafficking, prostitution and sexual exploitation of children. Currently, approximately 4000,000 women and children are being prostituted in the U.S. annually. Surprisingly only 10--20% of prostitution is street-based. Behind closed doors, hidden by the anonymity of the Internet the exploitation of children is surging.
Craigslist, an Internet company well known for enabling users to conveniently advertise everything from jobs to housing, has now become a popular marketplace for the sale of human- beings. With its free postings and relative anonymity for its users, Craigslist's "Erotic Services" site has become a vehicle for the trafficking and exploitation of women and children. There have been numerous reportings of children falling prey to traffickers advertising on Craigslist and victims as young as four years old have been sold on the Erotic Services site.

So, I'm sharing this because YOU can help. Copy and paste this into your browser: and to your left will be a link titled "get involved" check out their solutions and please please please, if this makes you as sick as it makes me, do something about it. I'm going to personally mail a letter to Jim Buckmaster (CEO of Craigslist) and I'm going to encourage my friends and family to do so (they have templates already made up, all you have to do is print, date, sign and send---I'll even address and stamp the envelope for ya if you're too lazy to do so). I, like the person who originally sent me the email this morning, don't care to petition against things, but this, however, is a worthy cause.

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I believe these women and children fall into this category that James is talking about, so let me encourage you to live out your faith and stand up for those who cannot defend themselves.

Thanks for taking the time to read through all this. I hope and pray that this be the year God pours Himself richly and mightily into you and your life. Be blessed and be encouraged. Greater is He that is in you, than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Love you guys so much.

Many blessings,