Bucket List Addition: I want to buy a black teacup pig and a little bunny. They’ll play together all day while I’m at work and then I’ll take care of them at night. My life would be complete.
It was one afternoon a couple of weeks ago that I found myself sitting on a couch in a grocery store. It was a Saturday and I was killing time between work and seeing a ballet performance. The couch was against the wall facing the rest of the store, and in the past I had used it as an appropriate place for casual people-watching with friends. However, as I was sitting there, I stopped seeing the people and instead took note of the flower display section across the way. In an instant, I knew that Jesus had specially arranged them and made sure that they were in the grocery store just for my eyes. He didn’t just hand me a bouquet, He presented me with almost a roomful of every color of flower. I liked the pink tulips and white roses and the webbed veins of purple orchids. I felt so joyful and my heart started beating hard because I felt so flattered by the Lord.
Now, when I am walking my dog or driving or going to Home Depot, I feel so special because Jesus sends me flowers every time.
"Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence, excellence, dignity and grace was not arrayed like one of these."
- Matthew 6:28-29
There were two trees in the garden of Eden: the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the tree of Life. The tree of Life is just a picture of Christ - God’s desire was for man to “eat” of His life so that He could be one with His beloved children.
However, Adam preferred the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When Satan questioned him, “Did God really tell you not to eat of this fruit?” Adam began to doubt that God had the best intentions for him (the fruit looked healthy and good!), and so he ate.
What I really enjoy is that God not only wanted Adam to reject the “evil,” but also the “good.” The Father didn’t want His child to be concerned about morality and to be focused on self-evaluation. The Lord was just concerned about whether or not Adam had His LIFE - from the right tree, Christ!
After Adam fell, God didn’t ask Adam, “Adam, what did you do?” God asked, “Adam, where are you?” Jesus wasn’t so much concerned about sin as He was about the separation He sensed between Him and His beloved.
We spend so much time thinking that life is a battle between good and evil - like super heroes and stuff like that; but actually, the battle is between us and the Lord…to be close to Him or not :)
Yay for being close to Jesus!
The hardest part about freshman year at UT was to truly realize that there is no person I can fully trust and rely on besides Jesus. It was quite a revelation, and one that made me feel lonlier than ever. I hate feeling like I am always around people, ALWAYS, but the chance is that they’re all temporary. Who is my best friend? I feel insignificant and weak. I feel like nobody will ever really know me deeply. I have become a selective cryer this past year, strategically having to break down while in the shower so that nobody can hear me.
BUT. I have grown so much this year, and I don’t even feel like the same person that I was before embarking on this journey. Jesus has stolen my heart and He is my one and only foundation. My feet shall not stumble, and I will fly like on the wings of eagles. I am so blessed with having a family of sisters and brothers in Austin. I am blessed to be in a place where I am able to follow my dreams. I am not going to be able to move through life without acquiring hefty scars on my heart, but my consolation is this: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4
- "D’you know? You know I love you so, you know I love you so…Do you know? For you I bleed myself dry, for you I bleed myself dry." - Yellow
- "The sign that I couldn’t read, or a light that I couldn’t see / Some things you have to believe but others are puzzles puzzling me." - Speed of Sound
- "In your tears and in your flood, in your fires and in your blood / I hear you laugh, I hear you sing, ‘I wouldn’t change a single thing.’" - Til Kingdom Come
- "Come out upon my seas, cursed missed opportunities / Am I a part of the cure? Or am I a part of the disease?" - Clocks
- "I was just guessing at numbers and figures, pulling the puzzles apart / Questions of science, science in progress could not speak as loud as my heart." - The Scientist
- "And I know I’m dead on the surface but I am screaming underneath…You can say what you mean but it won’t change a thing / Sick of the secrets / Stood on the edge, tied to the noose / But you came along and you cut me loose." - Amsterdam
- "A warning sign, it came back to haunt me and I realized / That you were an island and I passed you by, you were an island to discover." - Warning Sign
- "They are turning my head out to see what I’m all about / Keeping my head down to see what it feels like now / But I have no doubt, one day, we are gonna get out." - Lovers in Japan
- "And my scarecrow dreams / When they smashed my heart into smithereens, be a bright red rose come busting the concrete." - Charlie Brown
- "Written in grafitti on a bridge in a park, ‘Do you ever get the feeling that you’re missing the mark?’" - Hurts Like Heaven
- "Might have to go where they don’t know my name / Float all over the world just to see hear again / And I won’t show or fear any pain / Even though all my armor might rust in the rain…A simple plot, but I know one day good things are coming our way." - Up With the Birds
There are two things on my mind today: Elephants, and Lizzie Valesquez. I think these two things relate, in some abstract way that I am not quite sure how to put into words.
Elephants are my favorite animals. I think that Jesus made them specially to inspire and arouse the soft and tender things in our hearts. The fact is that elephants have been found to possess a psychology that closely resembles that of people.
This “animal” is capable of creating art, with its keen observation skills and dexterous trunk. Elephants are also commonly seen to express joy and happiness; when a calf is born, family and friends trumpet loudly, expressing jubilee. Such celebratory behavior is not necessary for survival…therefore it must be an indication of strong emotion. When elephants are meeting after a significant time apart and see each other from a distance, they run to each other and hold trunks, while flapping their ears.
Empathetic and conscientious, elephants frequently lend their companions a helping hand when food is scarce or difficult to access. When times are hard, the creatures have been known to become dejected and refuse to eat or move - most especially when a loved one has passed on. They will hold vigil over the lifeless body of an old friend, as if they refuse to accept stark reality. Elephants physically shed tears when they are overcome by what can only be grief.
Following the outset of World War II, disaster hit the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. It had been dictated that all the animals had to be put down so that, in case artillery hit the zoo, the animals wouldn’t escape into the city. The three performing elephants, John, Tonky, and Wanly had skin that was too thick to pierce with needles, and so they awaited death by starvation; until they couldn’t move anymore, the animals continued to perform for their zookeepers, hoping to please them and be fed.
I admire that though elephants display human emotions, they only express the loveliness that people are capable of; they are not ruled by jealousy or hatred. Perhaps the Lord has poured His gentleness into these creatures so that we might have a taste of how He feels towards us.
Lizzie. Lizzie Velasquez is a person whom I deeply admire. She exudes all of the Lord’s loveliness as well. She has a disease that only three people in the world are known to possess. There is so little known about her syndrome that to this day, Lizzie is still undiagnosed. She is not capable of gaining weight, and she is zero percent body fat. She is 23 years old, and weighs only 60 pounds. In her high school years, she was declared to be the ugliest woman in the world, but she has changed all those opinions, and I think that she is one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Lizzie travels and writes; she is a motivational speaker and author. She reaches out to people who are suffering from a low self-esteem, and she tells the people she meets that they are a beautiful gift from the Lord. She inspires women to not strive to be “pretty,” but to realize that they are BEAUTIFUL. Lizzie believes in achieving your dreams, in spite of the people who tell you that it is impossible! I would like to be more like her :)
My parents recently gave me a book of poems…Robert Frost seems appropriate for the new year…
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Through as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Explode in me this year, Jesus! I trust that good things are coming and are well on their way!
- froth on the top of coffee
- a cat in my lap
- flower displays at the grocery store
- a worn book
- learning a new piano piece
- a windy day
- a phone call from an old friend
- spontaneous get-togethers
- thrift stores
- smiles from a stranger
- a familiar song
- long car rides
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for widows and orphans in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
I used to have a very black and white definition of “widow” and “orphan.” I thought that a widow was a woman with a deceased husband, and an orphan was a young child whose parents had passed away. But here in Austin, TX, the people have redefined my ideas about who exactly James was talking about when he wrote these words. How about a person who FEELS like a widow or an orphan? Doesn’t that as good as make them one?
I would imagine that a widow would be lonely, and feel like there was nobody in the world left who would love her deeply. An orphan would feel abandoned and homeless - a wanderer in a foreign land. I see it every day, from my homeless friends who sit quietly on the sidewalks of Guadalupe St., to the kids I go to class with during the week. Such heavy hearts.
When it comes down to it, every single person fits into one of these two categories - widow or orphan. Luckily, there is a Christ who loves His bride, the church, and a Father who loves his little children. And so to care for the widow and the orphan, we simply make it known how ATTAINABLE that love is :)
“A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.” – Hosea 4:12. I commit adultery against the One to whom I belong. I seek after empty, futile things that I convince myself will make me feel full. I sell myself in exchange for mock-love and imitation-ardor.
“’In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master.”’” – 2:16. But the Lord has dreams for how He and I will be. When He drags me back home to Him after I run away, He doesn’t desire for me to work to death to try to please Him and to pay him back. He just wants my love.
“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” – 2:19-20. No matter what I’ve done against my Husband, He always reminds me of the vows He made on the cross. He’d marry me again and again if He had to do it over.
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.” – 6:6. Jesus just wants to hear me say His name. He doesn’t want me to carry around guilt like so much baggage.
“Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like something no one wants.” – 8:8. As a sinner, and a needy one at that, whenever life presents its challenges, it can become so tempting to be led by that spirit of prostitution. There will be times that I will give into it, and walk into my self-designed trap. I will start to feel abandoned and alone and unwanted, because I will have left my Lord’s side.
“But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.” 11:2. Jesus will seek me out and call my name again. I will keep running, because I know that God will knock down my walls and touch my heart where it hurts. He will address what my real problems are.
“How can I give you up?…My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” 12:8. But Jesus is so emotive. He feels so much for me. I tug on His heart without even trying, and so He finally gives me a choice: To return to Him, or not. He will not force me any which way.
“I will be like the dew to her; she will blossom like the lily.” – 14:5. I realize that I am beloved of the Lord. I slowly realize that I cannot live without my God, and that to my surprise, I love Him back. I remember the life He wants to give me, and that He’s promised me. I make my choice – to stay with Him.
“Take words with you, and return to the Lord.” – 14:2.
Thank you for pursuing me. Thank you for loving me and for always being so good to me. You are the lover of my soul, and I desire none but You, O Lord. Jesus, wed my faltering heart to Yours, and grow me. Let me bloom where you’ve planted me. Lord Jesus, every ounce of me is Yours to leave Your fingerprint on!