Friday, January 27, 2012

Zoe(which means "life")

In case you didn't know, I'm a creative writer. It's not something I do consistently, but that I have recently been doing more often. God graciously gave me revelation on Mark 7:24-30,&this is a Biblical fiction piece based on those revelations. This is a picture of intercession. I hope it blesses sure blessed me!

Hot tears streamed down my face. I could hear her screaming in the next room.
                              Breathe. Breathe.
The harder I pressed the damp rag against my arm, the more it was stained crimson. She had scratched me deeply this time. Her demonic fits seemed to get worse every day. At first I thought it was just a strange reaction to a nightmare. But now they happened even when she was awake. She would convulse, scream, and yell out phrases in a language my human ears did not understand but made my heart shudder. She was only 5!
    Suddenly, in a high pitched voice that I KNEW did not belong to Zoe, she screamed,
My heart pounded within my chest.
                          There’s someone that is a threat to this thing?
She…or more accurately it continued screaming
Inwardly I begged,
                           Who?! Who is here that can send this thing away!?
I turned to my head servant, who was assisting in aiding my wounds. She looked at me with both fear and hope in her eyes. She knew.
She almost inaudibly whispered,
      “There’s a rumor that the famous prophet Jesus of Nazareth is staying at the house of Bar.”
My mouth went slightly agape.
     “Doesn’t He…?”
     “I heard that once…He casted 2000 demons out of a man.”
That had to be it. Without even thinking I dropped the rag, and ran out of the house. I ran so fast that the wind blowing in my face dried up my tears almost instantly. I was remembering other things about this man. He casted out demons. He healed the blind, the mute, the deaf! He loved children. He was compassionate. He was authoritative. He was my only hope.
    I arrived at the house of Bar in 10 minutes. Out of breath, arm still bleeding, sweating profusely and hair clinging to my face I furiously banged on the door.
                            Come on, come on, COME ON!
   The head servant opened the door. Instantly I grabbed his chest, thrust him to the side and ran past him into the house. It didn’t once cross my mind that I could be wrong and utterly disgraced by doing something so outrageous. Nothing seemed too outrageous to get to Him.
    I heard conversation in the other room.
                            He must be there.
   I bolted into the room. They were all sitting and lounging around talking…well, they were talking until I came in. Then the conversation halted abruptly. One man stood up in response. It wasn’t Bar. Bar was staring at me bewildered not only at my entrance, but at my unsightly appearance. The other men were either staring at me…or staring at the man standing. Some seemed to know that how He responded to me was more important than how I appeared. Between that and the calm, accepting look in his eyes, I knew.
                         That’s Him. That’s Jesus.
    Before, I had wondered at how I should greet Him. After identifying Him, and meeting His gaze, I knew. There was no other option other than to cry out,
   I ran to Him and fell at His feet. Something about being in His presence broke me and I began sobbing. The conversation started up again but in hushed whispers.
     “I’m sorry, I tried to keep your presence a secret.”
    “What now?”
    “This again?”
    “Where in the world did she come from?”
    “How long is she going to keep crying like that?”
    The conversations were all judgments of me. But I didn’t care. I knew He allowed me to be at His feet, and that’s all that mattered. But this wasn’t about me right here, right now. This was about Zoe. I sobbed even harder at the thought of Zoe. Between choking sobs, I explained myself,
    “Lord…please…my daughter…she is suffering. She is…tortured…by a demon. You are…the only one…who can save her…please…please…please just heal my daughter.”
   There was utter and complete silence. I looked up at Him. His face was thoroughly compassionate. He had tears in His eyes. He opened His mouth, and then shut it again. A puzzled look came across His face…like He had remembered something. He pondered something. He took a deep breath and slightly hung his head. Squeezing His eyes shut He said softly, painfully and with a hint of bitterness,
    “First let the children eat all they want….For it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
    I stared at Him. There had to be more. There had to be! I waited for more. When He opened His eyes a tear trickled down His face. My heart stopped. I hung my head in shock and despair.
                         No….NO! No, this CAN’T be the answer! This can’t be true!
    I looked up at Him again. This was the healer? The one who loved children? The wise teacher?! As much as doubt was hovering over my heart, as I gazed into His eyes, I knew that indeed…He was the healer. He was loving. He was compassionate. He was wise. I was faced with a choice. Was I going to believe my understanding of what He was saying to me, or was I going to believe in who He was? His gaze burrowed into my soul. He had the best in mind for me. He wasn’t out to harm me or my family. Swallowing my pride, I took a deep breath and took a stab at my request one last time,
     ““Lord…even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
    He raised His eyebrows at me. More whispers went among the men.
     “Who does she think she is?”
     “He said no!”
     “It’s this sort of pride that makes Him give such an answer.”
     “Where do you think her daughter got the demons from?”
     “This needs to stop.”
As much as I wanted to crawl away at the possibility of His rejection, I stared at Him. I waited for an answer. I would wait. He knelt down. I began to tremble.
                                  What have I done?
Now…I can’t be sure…but as I looked at Him, for a second…just for a second…I think I saw a spark in His eyes. And an authoritative look briefly crossed His face like I have never seen before. It was only for a second…but I had never been so terrified in my life. However…His wrath wasn’t being aimed at me…but rather to someone…or something that was not in our physical presence. As quickly as I saw it, just as quickly it was gone. His eyes locked with mine. My stomach clenched. He smiled at me mischievously and said,
      “For this statement you may go your way.”
Now I was the one who had a puzzled look come across my face. He winked at me and continued,
    “The demon has left your daughter.”
Tears began streaming down my face. Without even seeing it with my own eyes, I knew she was healed. Zoe…Zoe had been healed. It seemed too good to be true, but I knew it was! He had given me life. He had given Zoe life. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Beauty of the Now

      Despite the peaceful, calm hush in the room, as I slowly approached the stage in McInnis auditorium for Actors Lab, everything was moving so fast. My heart was pounding after quickly walking from my previous class to Actor’s lab. My mind was racing with what I had to do later that night. I was tackling my fears and joys simultaneously but furiously. The task list of my assignments and workload for the semester were processing rapidly. Prayers were swiftly ascending to God. I was self-reflecting, but at the same speed as everything else that I was doing/thinking/feeling. Even though I moved at a casual pace, I was still moving so fast. I found a spot on stage and sat down. I was intending to lie down casually, but I (surprisingly to me) wound up collapsing with a heavy, exhausted, releasing, beautiful, loud sigh of relief. The flood of fears, thoughts, processes of the coming semester, reflections, and speculating vanished. I was in the moment. I was in the now. I was in the present. Praise God. Thank you Jesus! What a relief!
      I had (&have been) thinking a lot about how I’ve changed since I came to Eastern. I had been thinking about how much I’ve grown. It required (and is still requiring) a lot of breaking (because I’m still growing). I’m confident. I’m now aware that I don’t NEED to explain myself to people. I am who I am and that’s OK. I have been thinking about the different people I’ve met, how much I love them and what an amazing impact they’ve had on my life in such a short amount of time. I’ve been thinking about how the theatre program has significantly contributed to my growth spiritually and emotionally. I thought about the fact that I only have a year and half left here and that a lot of my friends here are seniors. It makes me wish I had more time. The only way that could have been possible would be if I came here my freshman year. And then all of a sudden I realized something. Something so obvious and so simplistic yet so releasing and joyous. Who I am now would not have been who I’ve turned out to be if I came here my freshman year…because I was a different person. How something affects you depends on where you are in that moment. There’s a reason why Aslan says, “No one is ever told what would have happened.”(C.S. Lewis)  Because it doesn’t matter.
    Now, I’m not saying to not learn from your past mistakes, or to not be thankful for your past experiences, or to not plan ahead and be responsible. But I feel like SO often we get wrapped up in the shame(or glory) of our past and the fearful(or exciting)possibilities of the future, and we let it affect us in the present so much that we’re not even living in the present anymore. We definitely can’t go backwards and moving forward is dangerous if you’re blind to where you are. Why do the past and future have value? Because the past shapes who you are now and the future will eventually be your reality. Like I’ve said, I’m not saying that the past is not unimportant or that you shouldn’t plan for your future…but start thinking about why.
     Christ says that the winter has passed (Song of Songs 2:8), and He also says to not be anxious about your life(Matthew 6:25). He says "Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest."(Matthew 11:28) Be in the moment. Be who you are. Move with the work that Jesus is doing in your heart right now. He’s big enough to handle your past and He has plans to give you a hope and a future. You and Jesus is what matters right now. Previous chances to get to know Jesus have past and though He will wait for you, He is currently standing at the door of your heart, knocking. He wants you. He wants to love on you. And He wants to love on you now. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Always Learning

   You would think that spending four months living on campus would entirely prepare you for the next four months. Well, it's not true.
    It's not that I know NOTHING about this coming semester. I know the fastest routes to get to my classes. I know how the dining commons works. I know how to get to church, Starbucks, the Gryphon, WaWa, Kmart, King of Prussia know, places that matter(:P). I know that there is chapel on Wednesdays&Windows of the World on Fridays. I know which door leads to the Student Aids office and which one leads to the Student Accounts office(does anyone understand anything past that point?). I know that an entire tray of Sodexo cookies can easily become empty in 5 minutes or less. I know that looking for parking in Hainer/KeaGuffin is normally a waste of time. I know to come to the auditorium for Actor's Lab(at which all expectations of Actor's Lab activities must be left at the door). I know that taking showers requires wearing flip-flops. I know (what seems like) a lot about Spring 2012.
     With all that knowledge, you think I would be pretty calm about going back to school. I mean, after all, I know so much, right? Hhhhhmmmmmmm....NOPE.
     Turns out there's a lot about this semester that I don't know. I don't know what being a Stage Manager for a musical is like. I don't know if I'm going to be completely in love with or totally sick of my major after taking four communication classes in one semester(I'm praying its the first). I don't know what it's like to be part of a class with 159 other students. I don't know how I'm going to manage to not accidently cut myself on a tomato slicer when assigned to wash dishes at the Breezeway. I don't know how to attain the time management skills that I failed to attain this past semester. I don't know how I'm not going to go insane eating to-go meals every Thursday night when I have my night class(somebody PLEASE tell me there's another cheap option!). I don't know how I'm going to muster up any initiative to go to the gym and stay in shape. I don't know how Eastern expects me to get a good grade in research methods when their database is so terrible. I know (what seems like) nothing about Spring 2012.
      On one hand, I find this incredibly intimidating. Because, let's be honest, I've only skimmed the surface of what I know and don't know about Spring 2012.
      On the other hand, I find this incredibly encouraging. Because, let's be honest, if I knew everything, I wouldn't be going to school in the first place.
      Out of everything I know and don't know about Spring 2012, I do know that Jesus will be with me every step of the way. I know He gets it. Have you ever thought about that? He gets it. The great teacher made Himself a student every single day. He was always learning about us.
     I wonder what His first word was. I wonder how He reacted when He got His first splinter. I wonder what He was thinking when He saw His first sibling. I wonder how He dealt with His first encounter with death. I wonder how hard He laughed when He heard Joseph tell a joke. I wonder what He did when other kids wouldn't play with Him. I wonder what kind of games He made up. I wonder if He had a hard time staying awake when studying. I wonder what food He liked and what food He didn't like. I could go on and on, wondering and wondering. He knew everything, yet humbled Himself so that He knew nothing.
     This is my beloved...this is my friend.
     As a student who is going back to school in 5 days, I'm incredibly thankful that my best friend is not only my savior, but a teacher who gets being a student.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jesus Loves Me This I Know...

    Jesus loves me this I know
    For the Bible tells me so
    Little ones to Him belong
    They are weak but He is strong
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    The Bible tells me so
    There's nothing like the revelation that Jesus loves you WAAAAAAY more than you thought He did. That's what I've been receiving this break(&there's a little over a week left for more!) and it's been better than I could imagine.
     This past semester was really hard for me. Though much of my semester was WONDERFUL&I'm MAJORLY thankful&happy about it, there was A LOT that hurt. God opened up a lot of wounds that had to be healed that I wasn't even aware I had. There was one night where I felt like I had been rejected by God....hence, I didn't feel loved by God. I sobbed so hard that night(thank the Lord for friends who are willing to sit on the phone w/you from 10pm-12am telling you how God is moving).
      Fast forward 3&1/2 weeks later. I had seen how God was moving in my life, how He cared about my heart, how beautiful my minas were, and much, much more. It was so beautiful and so joyful. But I still had a hard time relating to Him as a good Father when I would encounter things that I didn't understand, or confused me, or touched on those wounds. In those moments, when I asked things of the Lord for myself, all I could articulate was "Please show me how much you love me. Show me you love me."
     On New Years Day, the experience of His love began to break through. I had texted my friend Kristen, requesting prayer about some fears I was facing. One thing I love about my friends is that we "Text Pray" for each other. Kristen sent me a "Text Prayer". Normally I'm used to a 2 text-long prayer. This one was 5. After I got past the surprise of a 5 text response, I really read the texts. The first sentence said, "Jesus, I ask You right now would you open up Alicia's mind and heart to receive revelation about Your love for her." My heart started burning. After I got past the confusion of "My heart is burning after reading a text" I turned my focus on attention to Jesus, not the fears I was grappling with. I listened to Justin Rizzo's song, "Found Faithful." To my surprise, as I listened to the chorus, "I want to be found faithful. I want to be found steady. I want to be found faithful until the end", tears started swelling in my eyes. I had no clue why. I took a deep breath and thought to myself, "Resting Place tomorrow night is going to be one of those nights." As I talked with God, He said to me, "I am going to show my love to you in a way so that you will not doubt that I love you ever again. You may still have moments where you do not understand, but you will  not doubt who I am and that I love you." Something big was coming for me.
      Indeed, Resting Place was "one of those nights". I didn't know if it was going to be one of those nights where Jesus met me at the door&said, "Hello. My  name is Jesus. I'm going to rip your heart out now." or if it was going to be one of those nights where I was intoxicated with joy or some kind of combination. It was one of those nights where Jesus poured His love, joy&healing all over me.
      I could feel the Holy Spirit moving on my heart and at one point in the beginning of the service I thought to myself, "This night is for me." I brushed the thought sounded selfish. Moments later, Kristen put her hands on my shoulders and began praying over me. One of the first things she said was,  "This night has been set apart for you..." I smiled to myself. I wasn't selfish...I just knew the sound of my Father's voice.
      It was a wonderful night. The Holy Spirit was thick in the room and embracing my heart. Joy broke out during "No One Else" and especially so for me when "Whom the son sets free is free indeed! And there ain't no chains that hinder me, Hallelujah!" was sung out(out of nowhere I just started dancing).
    Some of the most beautiful, healing moments was when Kristen received new revelation about Scripture...while praying for me."When Moses met God in the burning bush, God tells Moses to take off His shoes because the place where he was standing was Holy ground. The reason why they wore sandals was to protect their feet. And God was saying to Moses that he was safe. He was standing on holy ground. And that's what He's saying to you. He says that you are standing on holy ground. You can take down your walls of protection. You are safe here because you are in His presence."..."I break off the lie that says you don't trust God. You do trust God, because you keep taking everything to Him! You have doubt and you have fear. He says He's not mad at you. You're like the woman in Song of Solomon when she hears Him at the door and she hesitates to answer. And when she goes to the door He's not there and she thinks He's left her. And she goes out into the city looking for Him and she gets beat up...and that's like when you get sand kicked in your face(a phrase that I use to describe getting hit with something that hurts me). He's been waiting for you, He hasn't left you. He's not mad at you for going into the wilderness because He knows that you were looking for Him."  I almost start crying when I think of these words, partially because of how much they touched&began healing in my heart. The other part is because...He knows me SO WELL. Both of those words are from stories that have held a special fascination in my heart since the moment I read them. He knows what will get my attention. When I hear her excitedly tell other people about the revelation she received, I smile partly in excitement for her,&also because I feel so loved by God that He gave her those revelations...for me.
    I felt God's love through other people when MaryGrace slipped a tissue into my hand as I cried on Kristen's shoulder, when I received affirming words from spiritual parents, and while goofing off with MaryGrace and George.
    I experienced Christ's love. I hadn't had a night like that for a long, long time. I was perfectly content in His prescence and dwelling in His love. That's all I cared about. Sure,the things going on in my life are important&require attention....but His love is what my life is ABOUT.
     Kristen lent me a book called, "The Divine Romance" by Gene Edwards(I recommend it to EVERYONE) which I read the next day. No, I didn't just start reading it, I read the entire thing. I read this 63 chapter book in a day's time. Stated simply, it's a Biblical fiction novel of the story of Christ's pursuit of His bride..the church. I cant get into the entirety of the book and what it did for me(future post perhaps...?), but at the same time I have to mention it, because it gave me so much healing and so much revelation about Jesus and His love for me. I received revelation about the spiritual significance of my physical body, how Christ fights for me, His kindness, His humility, His power, His LOVE, and so much more. I laughed, trembled, gasped, yelled, worshiped, and almost cried multiple times as I flipped through the pages. He loves me. He loves me SO MUCH. I will not always understand what He does. But I know He loves me. And that makes all the difference.
    Writing this blog was interesting. Because...summed up...I'm just saying that I learned that Jesus loves me. I almost feel weird stating something so obvious&something that I have known for such a long time. But after the revelations I've's like I might as well have not known. And I'm so thankful that I know now&eagerly await the next revelation of His love for me. Ha! You think it's over now? No way. Yes, Jesus loves me, this I know. His love is everlasting, so there is ALWAYS more love for me to know.  For the rest of my life(on this earth AND in eternity!), I get to receive new revelations of deeper levels of His love for me. I'm so excited!
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me...