2014

A poem on the year 2014. 

Homeless; not hopeless.
It’s under control
Unemployed;  not destroyed.
You cannot take my soul
A penny for my thoughts
A penny never sought.
Endless words. “You ought”

Think back on all I learned
The lessons that I spurned
No. Not ready to be taught
Let me think of something else
Something other than myself
Or him. Definitely not him.

The good memories are the worst
They carry away my hope in a hearse
So sweet. He swept me off my feet
And my brain took a vacation.
But I remained to romanticize the pain.

Thank God it is over
and I left to gather clover
With children who keep getting older.
Babies of my sisters and brother.

And without knowing anything else,
they taught me the joy of innocence
in the little moments they would forget
But I would hold forever.

Fyodor

I want to say to you, about myself, that I am a child of this age, a child of unfaith and scepticism, and probably (indeed I know it) shall remain so to the end of my life. How dreadfully has it tormented me (and torments me even now) this longing for faith, which is all the stronger for the proofs I have against it. And yet God gives me sometimes moments of perfect peace; in such moments I love and believe that I am loved; in such moments I have formulated my creed, wherein all is clear and holy to me. This creed is extremely simple; here it is: I believe that there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, more rational, more manly, and more perfect than the Saviour; I say to myself with jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but that there could be no one. I would even say more: If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.

Letter To Mme. N. D. Fonvisin (1854), as published in Letters of Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky to his Family and Friends (1914), translated by Ethel Golburn Mayne, Letter XXI, p. 71

Sound Health with Julian Treasure

When I first stumbled upon Julian Treasure’s TED Talks, I was so excited. I thought, “This is it. This is my cure.” And when you’ve been plagued with the “hatred of sound” for nearly 20 years, a cure is nothing short of miraculous. Thinking about sound and listening in a new way, as well as creating healthy “soundscapes,” was wonderfully therapeutic.

Well, it was helpful, but not necessarily a cure. Misophonia is such a moody beast. Even when something really helps, it’s benefit for me often has an unanticipated expiration date. But, unlike whatever I may find growing in my fridge, it’s expiration is not final. And it’s been a while, so it might be beneficial to revisit.

He never mentions Misophonia, and his talks are more geared toward the general public, so this is good for most anyone. 

Now, I need to find a TED talk on how to survive the awful music my workplace insists on. 😉

-Peace

Stay Awake & Become

This has been my lifelong struggle – simply getting out of bed in the morning. It should be simple, right? I’m not talking about difficulty with waking, but more so staying awake and physically moving my limbs towards activity.

I was almost successful this morning! I woke up and got out of bed when my alarm went off, stayed out of bed… grabbed a pillow and blanket and laid down on the floor. This is progress, people! Haha. You’ve got to laugh at yourself every once in a while.

There is this “5 Second Rule” authored by the brilliant Mel Robbins, that I have been attempting.

So here’s the one-liner definition of the 5 second rule:

If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.

She recommends, when your alarm goes off, count down – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – and act! Which is a great idea, and I am going to try it again. Clearly, I haven’t perfected the method, given the example from this morning. If only my self-sabotaging instincts weren’t so strong! My brain tries to talk me out of action while I am counting. I think the trick is to only think about counting and move – not to give space to the voice in your head talking you out of a good thing.

Becoming 

On a tangent (which is essentially related, but you’ll have to read on to find out how), I rented “Becoming Jane” from the library, and it’s a heartbreaking story of the life of Jane Austen – who, though she wrote extensively of love and marriage, never married. I knew there wasn’t going to be a happy ending – but it rattled me a bit anyway. As realistic as I tend to be, I do like a happy ending. (Though, of course, not marrying is not the worst thing that could happen, by a long shot.)

But it reminded me of a simple fact – no matter whether or not I ever marry, there is one person I will have to spend the rest of my life with… myself.

I share this to say that there is value in becoming someone you would like to be around. And I would like to become someone who can get out of bed in the morning… And someone who gets outside and talks to people. Someone who loves without fear.

So I’ll try the 5 Second Rule Again.

For the love of the God Man who first loved me; for the praise of Him in His glory.

1 John 49-10 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 

On a Positive Note: Questions on Authentic Happiness

Coping with mental health can be draining. Sometimes certain strategies (non-prescription, non-medical) work for a few months, and then they don’t work anymore. At least, that has been my experience.

I wanted to be a tad bit vulnerable here without over-sharing. Honestly, I would rather not go into details about the can of worms that is my mental health (focusing on the problem). Instead, I would like to share coping strategies – as they come, and as they go.

Hopefully, documenting them here will provide a convenient place I can come back to if I want to recycle a strategy to see if it might work again. And maybe someone else can find this helpful too.

Yesterday’s find: Positive Psychology. I watched this TED Talk by Martin Seligman.
In this talk, he sites his website www.authentichappiness.org. I went to the website and took literally all of the questionnaires that were applicable to me. And I felt better. Just answering the questions help me re-frame my mindset – particularly the Engagement Questionnaires.

For example, the Gratitude Survey provides sentences & you rate how much you agree or disagree. I love this format. You might know that being grateful is a key to being happy, but the prompt to “count your blessings” can come across as a bit condescending (don’t ask me why, but it feels that way sometimes). Instead, here, you’re given a sentence – “I have so much in life to be thankful for,” and now you can step outside of your thought life and emotions and answer objectively, without fear of judgment. Realistically, yeah, I do have a lot in life to be thankful for. And sometimes it takes framing the question a different way for me to see it.

I might just write down those “questions” in my journal to look back on. (And keeping a journal has been one of the most consistently helpful tools. Writing helps me to pray, and Jesus calms my soul.)

Peace ❤

Sunrise

It was a beautiful morning drive,
And I saw the sunrise with cynical eyes.
The seven wonders of the world could not amaze,
These eyes fixed with a judgmental gaze.
In this fog, I could see nothing of God.
Not the colors in the clouds in their complexity,
Nor the souls that inhabited bodies next to me.

And next to me there sat infinite mysteries,
the glory of God in finite earthly bodies.
Brilliant yellow light touched the tops of trees.
Pictures of beauty that could not unclog me.

This critical and angry temper,
cannot be touched by words spoken,
though true. I’ll only get better
if my heart is turned toward You.

The Quotable Oswald Chambers

Conformed to His Image
“If it cost God Calvary to deal with sin, we have no business to make light of it.”

“Sin is not wrong-doing, it is wrong-being – deliberate and emphatic independence of God.”

“The essence of sin is my claim to my right to myself; it goes deeper than all the sins that were ever committed… The point is, am I prepared deliberately to give up my right to myself to Jesus Christ?”

“I become a ‘Bethlehem’ for the life of the Son of God.”

“Am I willing for my human nature to be sacrificed in order that the life of the Son of God is nourished in me, or do I only want Him to see me through certain difficulties?”

“…as long as man is sufficient for himself, God can do nothing for him.”

“The essence of repentance is that it destroys the lust of self-vindication; where that lust resides, that repentance is not true.”

Reading Wishlist and Favorites

In no particular order…


Books I would like to read:
Jesus for President – Shane Claiborne
The Justice God is Seeking – David Ruis
Changing the World Through Kindness – Steve Sjogren
Everybody Wants to Change the World – Tony Campolo
sub-merge  – John B. Hayes
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Loving People – Dr. John Townsend
The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis
A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
The Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis
George MacDonald: An Anthology – C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Psalms – C.S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis
The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
Autobiography of George Muller
Beren and Lúthien – JRR Tolkien
The Silmarillion – JRR Tolkien
The Healing Presence – Leanne Payne
The Broken image – Leanne Payne
Discipline: The Glad Surrender – Elisabeth Elliot
The Path of Loneliness -Elisabeth Elliot
Be Still My Soul – Elisabeth Elliot
Keep a Quiet Heart – Elisabeth Elliot
..for real, I want to read everything Elisabeth Elliot and C.S. Lewis has written

Some of my favorite books:
*The Holy Bible
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
When Heaven Weeps – Ted Dekker
Godiva – David Rose
These Strange Ashes – Elisabeth Elliot
Let Me Be a Woman – Elisabeth Elliot
One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
When Helping Hurts – Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
The Circle Trilogy – Ted Dekker
Blessed Child – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Man Called Blessed – Ted Dekker & Bill Bright
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Passion & Purity – Elisabeth Elliot
Quest for Love – Elisabeth Elliot
From Brokenness to Community – Jean Vanier
Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life – Robert Lupton
Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers
Restoring the Christian Soul – Leanne Payne
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien
The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis
Boundaries – Henry Cloud, John Townsend
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero
*Conformed to His Image – Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Transitions – William Bridges
Across the Spectrum -Greg Boyd, Paul Eddy
The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God – John Piper
Life as a Vapor – John Piper
Revolution in World Missions – K P  Yohannan

*currently reading

 

Don’t Let Your Spirit Die Before Your Body Does

It was for my 26th birthday. We had been planning on getting tattoos together for years, and finally we scheduled an appointment and saved up the money.

I got this tattoo for many reasons. The most obvious one is that I am a Jon Foreman fan, and these are lyrics from his song Terminal.

(The lines before and after go like this:

“…Some folks die in offices one day at a time.
They could live a hundred years,
But their soul’s already dead.
Don’t let your spirit die before your body does.
We’re terminal…”

These lyrics could be unpacked and expounded upon. So here is what these words mean to me, especially now that they are a part of me. (Disclaimer: It has nothing to do with dying in an office.)

To begin with, let’s unpack what the spirit is. In certain instances, it could be appropriately used interchangeably with soul, or a separate but intricately connected compliment to the soul (whether the difference matters has been highly debated among theologians, but I shall leave it alone.) It could also be used in regards to consciousness, or zeal. I have heard it described as the part of the human being that is in communication with the Spirit of God and the supernatural. To which am I referring to? All of the above.

So that makes it a bit difficult to succinctly describe what this tattoo means to me, because it means many things. And within that meaning is a bit of a contradiction. You see, I do not believe that any of us are mere mortals.

The Human Spirit in Relationship with God

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” C.S. Lewis

Therefore, I would argue that the spirit does not die, but either resides in eternity with Jesus or separated from Him in hell. So, you might ask, “How do you reconcile that belief with this tattoo?” Touché, mon ami. That is a very good question.

A figurative death

The simplest explanation is that I am talking figuratively. Kind of. But then the question presents itself, “How does a person die figuratively?” Oh, so many ways, as I am sure you probably know. In our day-to-day lives we may have heard many people express a feeling like death. Here, I would like to touch on a few of my own personal examples – strong reasons for me to remember to stay alive in the spirit.

Let’s go back to the idea of our spirits communicating with the Spirit of God. If my spirit is deadened (numb), it cannot receive from the His Spirit. This could also be referred to as grieving the Holy Spirit.

 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:29-31

If I am not in constant communication with the Spirit of God, I am living by the flesh – doing whatever I feel like, giving in to harmful thought patterns and behaviors. In this state, I get very cynical and bitter. Quite literally, I hate everyone (myself included), when disconnected from and grieving the Spirit of God. Everything is awful in this frame of mind. Nothing is beautiful to me. Everything is irredeemable. Not even a majestic sunrise can touch this hardened heart. I am more likely to gossip, slander, and act out of irritation. I am simply mean and utterly depressed when living in the flesh. The author of Ephesians put it perfectly – “bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander… along with all malice.”

 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

The fruit of the Spirit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galations 5:22-23

Look at all that beautiful fruit. That is the kind of life I want to live; the kind of person I want to be. Joy. Love. Peace. With that, I can appreciate and enjoy life; the beauty in nature and mankind. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. With these, I can be a blessing instead of a curse, and receive blessing with a grateful heart. Self-control. Here’s the kicker, the hardest fruit to hold on to. To be self-controlled, not giving into the temptation to be mean or act on selfish impulse, is to save yourself and your loved ones needless heartache. Life in the Spirit is truly the recipe for abundant life. With Christ in me, I can forgive like I have been forgiven, and let go of hate.

Referring once again to Ephesians, this bounty of this fruit of the Spirit is available to us as Christians if we do not grieve the Holy Spirit, and we “let no corrupting talk come out of [our] mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Being Present, Consciousness

I am very naturally excessively analytical and live much of my life within my own head. This life in communication with the Spirit of God is not one of mere introspection. “Don’t let your spirit die before your body does.” This reminder to me yells, “Hey, you’re alive in this body. Live like it! Get out of your head, and experience the present.”

I wrote in my journal on my 26th birthday, “Every birthday is a reminder that I haven’t died yet.” This is partly a reflection on my depression and hopeful expectation to die. I know, you must think that is pretty sad. It’s true, and more often than not, it is subtle background noise to my daily life. I’ve not actively sought death, but prayed for it.

God has not granted that request, so He must have a reason for me to be here. I am guessing that reason is not to be preoccupied with my own thoughts, avoiding the lush beauty of life in the present, and avoiding the love that I can give and receive. The spirit in this body engaged with the Spirit of God is to be active through this body, actively engaging in the lives around me, forgetting about self-consciousness to live for others in each precious moment in light of eternity.

In Other Words

Don’t let your spirit die before your body does,” means to me: Stay alive to the life Christ has given to you, treasuring every moment until the last. Be the person you are in the Savior. Dead to self, alive in Jesus. — All of this is not possible without a relationship with Jesus Christ, accepting the sacrifice He made to redeem us, save us from the death we were headed to for eternity and the death we were living in separated from Him. He is our source of life in the spirit as well as in the body. The source of all life.

“16 O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.” –Isaiah 38:16-17

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10

Peace to you all. Hope this has blessed you to read as much as it has blessed me to write.