Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Through Samaria

About a week ago, I wrote a blog about how important it is to remember what God has done in your life. I shared some memories that had been swimming around in my head of times when God did amazing, miraculous things. When I was writing it, the truth of what had happened would hit me all over again and I was undone. Like…seriously, a canister of oil was supernaturally transported to my friend’s pocket?! And…wait…I met an ANGEL?!? And…whoa…WHOA…hold the phone…I saw a paralyzed woman WALK?!? That’s CRAZY!! Jesus is so, so, so good!! “God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good!”
                He’s good all the time. And we forget that. I forget that. I think if we really had an understanding/revelation that He really is good ALL THE TIME…we wouldn’t be so prone to push away the painful memories. The times hurtful things happened to us and all of a sudden, we felt like orphans because our circumstances blocked the sight of our Father. But if He really is good ALL THE TIME…that means remembering times when we didn’t feel (and…to be completely honest…still may not feel) like He was there, much less that He was good.  
                I would love to only remember the good stuff. The stuff that I clearly see on the surface, “Oh yeah! That was good!” Well, yeah, it’s easy to recognize the good in memories like seeing an angel and a paralyzed woman get healed. But what about the times when my siblings, mom and I were either down in the basement or downstairs at church& someone would come downstairs, talk to my mom and after she quickly disappeared I was calmly told that my Dad was having another seizure? What about the multiple sobbing sessions because of hurts, grief, stress, anxiety, or confusion that I’ve had just in this past academic year? Who wants to remember that?? I don’t. It comes to mind and my heart aches and I zone out. It’s not fun.
                The other day though, I was remembering a (not as) painful moment from last semester. I was remembering driving to church by myself. I was so lonely. It made me sad to remember how alone I used to be. Then I thought of how just that very morning I had driven to church with my friend Heather and how this had become a regular thing. All of a sudden, that memory wasn’t as painful anymore! He was there! He saw! He had a plan the whole time! That’s when I realized that…as much as I don’t want to…I need to remember the painful things too.
                 I don’t think it is a unique claim to say that I don’t want to remember painful moments in my life. I don’t think anybody truly wants to remember the moments where we felt pain. But we have to. Because, the thing that I realized is, is that someday…we’ll get it. Someday we’ll see the outline of God in that situation, we’ll see what He was doing, we’ll see that He was THERE. We’ll see. And in the time when we have to remember and it still doesn’t make sense, it teaches us to believe that God is good no matter what. When new hard moments come our way, it teaches us to say, “Well…I know that thing in my past was painful…and though I don’t know what He was doing, I know God was still there and that He was good. So He must be here and He must be good now.” Remembering past pain and believing that God was there and was good in what He was doing even when we don’t see it develops faith and perseverance (1 Peter 1:6-7).
 Also…it’s important to remember, because Jesus remembers.
                In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well. Before the story unfolds, John tells us that “Now He had to go through Samaria.” Um. No He didn’t. From what I recently learned in my New Testament class, was that Jews in their travels from Galilee to Jerusalem and vice versa took a longer round-a-bout way to avoid going through Samaria(due to their deep prejudice for Samaritans). Jesus didn’t HAVE to go through Samaria. But He did. He goes through Samaria and He meets her where she is and calls out all her pain, all her sin, and still loves her. I think the Holy Spirit is painting a picture here of what Jesus does with us and our pain. Unbeknownst to us, He walks through our own Samaria. He walks through the own moments and memories and events in our life that cause us pain, hurt and rejection. He COMES TO US and meets us WHERE WE ARE. He comes to us in the midst of our Samaria. We don’t know that He’s walked through it, which is why we’re so shocked when He calls out our crap. And then…possibly even more shocked, when He doesn’t send us away. When He humors our attempted diversions from the subject matter. When He brings us back to the truth, which is that He is the Messiah and He knows us…and He loves us. There’s a reason why the woman at the well ran into town and essentially said, “Come see this guy who knows every single secret about me!” She could trust Him. She had faith in Him. She knew He was there. She knew He was good. She had healing.
                One of my favorite Jason Upton songs is, “Trust Once More”. Every single time I listen to it, it touches the sore places of my heart. But it’s so beautiful. One of the last lines really sums up to me why we must remember…even if it’s painful.
I don’t know where you come from.
I don’t know where you’re going.
I only know the healing starts
When we all stop running.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Remember when...?

            So, in case you don’t know, I’ve been in a really weird place spiritually lately. I’m working through a lot of stuff and it’s not easy. Recently, thanks to my friend Rebecca, I listened to a sermon by Bill Johnson entitled, “Developing Heart Strength” “ (http://www.ibethel.org/podcast/2012/03/13/developing-heart-strength). At one point in the sermon, he made the point that testimonies are meant to strengthen the believer&one of the best things you can do when you are feeling disheartened is to remember moments when God did amazing things in your life. All of a sudden, I realized why my mind had been taking a stroll down memory lane lately. God has been trying to encourage me! Wow. So…here are some of the things I have been remembering that have strengthened me and maybe it will strengthen you too:
·         I remember when a 2 year old girl at my daycare dropped out b/c she had started having seizures. She was consistently in my prayers. At a prayer night with my friends we spent some time lifting her up in prayer. The next day was Sunday. While casually glancing around the sanctuary I saw the little girl and her mother. After the service, I grabbed Rebecca and we went upstairs to meet the mother to pray over them. When the girl saw me she ran to me and gave me a hug(which is not typical of daycare students when they see their teachers outside class or when they are with their parents). We talked to the mom and she gave us permission to pray over her daughter and put oil on her forehead. We also prayed for the mother. I could not have imagined that would happen.
·         I remember when I got to sing at Resting Place and the place exploded with joy and praise. Later that night, I met Kristen.
·         I remember going home from a retreat visiting Sarah and we experienced Jesus in a way we never have before. He was so tangible, so real. It left us with the reality that He IS so tangible and IS so real. That’s all I can really say about that experience because it’s so difficult to explain. It was just insane in a way I have never experience.
·         I remember going to a Genesis prayer night. Devin said to me, “Alicia. I have a story to tell you. And you’re gonna flip out.” I laughed, “OK, what is it?”. He took out his small canister of anointing oil out of his pocket. “You see this?” “Yeah.” “I was praying over George and I found this in my pocket.” “Cool” “Alicia, I didn’t put this in my pocket before I left home. And I’ve been drumming all night. I know what’s been in my pockets. This hasn’t been in my pocket all night.” All I could do was laugh for joy.
·         I remember going to a Relay for Life with (Mama) Mimi, her son Ethan and Kristen. It was a really fun, blessed time with fellow believers who had each had had their dealings with cancer in some way(Mimi was a breast cancer survivor, my dad passed away of brain cancer&Kristen had some relationships that were effected by cancer). As we left the event, it was suggested that Mimi and Ethan be driven up the hill in a golfcart because there were “stones in the road.” Kristen&I met Mimi&Ethan at the top of the hill with her wheelchair. We all kinda got this feeling that there was just something interesting about the driver. After the events were actually discussed the next day, we realized that the driver, named Andrew…was actually an angel.(http://kristendoeslife.blogspot.com/2011/06/angels-in-golfcarts.html)
·         The day after we met Andrew the angel, Rebecca, Kristen, (Mama) Mimi and I went to Resting Place to share all the crazy things God had been doing. Rebecca, Kristen&I talked with our Resting Place family what God had been up to and it was insanely encouraging while Mimi stayed out in the prayer room to worship. We walked out the room to find a couple praying over Mimi, contending for her healing. Long story short, after 3 hours of prayers&craziness…her son Ethan had to carry her wheelchair out of Resting Place because she didn’t need it anymore. She was walking. (And is STILL walking) (http://rebeccawells.theworldrace.org/?filename=mommy-walked)
·         I remember walking to my house from DD with Kristen, talking about how we wished Devin&Rebecca would get back together and eventually get married. They’re getting married in December.
·         I remember watching the documentary Finger of God at Sarah’s house. In the documentary, they talked about gold dust as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I casually said how I would like to see that. In October at VOA, during one of the sessions, Kristen rapidly tapped my arm. She pointed to her hand, “Look!” I looked at her hand. I didn’t see anything. “What?” I said. “LOOK!” “Your bones?” “No! Look! Sparkles!” “Where?” “There!” She tilted her hand and sure enough, her hand was sparkling“…oh my gosh.” “It’s gold dust!” “Wow.” “You got some too! Look!” She grabbed my hand and I looked at my hand with her but I could not see anything.“…where?” “There! Don’t you see that?” She tilted my hand and sure enough…my hand was sparkling. I was speechless. “…wow…yeah…what?” “It’s on your skin!” I didn’t know if I could believe it.“Was that there before?” “No, you’ve got gold dust Leesh.”   As time went on, gold dust has become a common occurrence in my life.

            He’s faithful. I remember…He’s faithful.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Yesterday, Christians all over were singing praise songs to Jesus, reading John 20, and thanking Jesus for the work He did on the cross and through His resurrection. Christians all over are singing about His undying, beautiful, passionate love for us. Christians all over are talking about how He loves us unconditionally and nothing we do will ever separate from the love of God. Christians all over are focusing on the love that Christ has for us.
            I think if we are we really honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that sometimes this kind of love makes us want to run and hide. I know it makes me want to run and hide sometimes. Though I’ve had the revelation for awhile that Jesus loves me unconditionally, it still makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I realized that…
When I accused Him of being cruel and inconsiderate, He wasn’t offended.
When I arrogantly and flippantly demanded things from Him, He gave them to me.
When I angrily dismissed events in my life, He just smiled.
When my faith was weak, He said it was more than enough.
When I made Him the second choice, He was overjoyed to get any glance from me.
            No matter what I’ve said or done, He hasn’t left. He’s not fazed. He’s not angry. He hasn’t stopped singing over me. He hasn’t stopped speaking tenderly to me. His love for me has not lessened in the least.
            It’s one thing to receive the revelation that He loves unconditionally when you’re coming out of a bad place. It’s another when you’re walking in a rough season and you realize the revelation continues to be reality. It’s TERRIFYING. When I realized how much of a reality this was, I literally wanted to stop talking to God for awhile and just cry. That kind of love is so beautiful, but don’t pretend it’s not terrifying at times.
            Though it makes me squirm sometimes and it brings out hidden insecurities, it’s a beautiful, wonderful reality. It’s a reality that I can’t quite explain, but one that I’m thankful for. While it continues to break me, it also continues to bless me. He loves me SO much. He loves me unconditionally. He showers me with grace over and over and over again. He gave me the right to become a child of God. I don’t have to be afraid. Thank you Jesus.
“So we are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If grace, is an ocean we’re all sinking. So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us….oh how He loves us…”-How He Loves, John Mark McMillian

                                                                 Skit Guys - Grace

               ^This video is one of my favorite skits and really captures the beauty and struggle with grace.^

Monday, April 2, 2012

13 Reflections

This semester I had the privilege of being asked to be the Stage Manager for the spring musical,, “13”. I learned a lot about myself, the people around me, theatre, Jesus, plus so much more! Anyway, I thought I would share 13 reflections about “13”:
1.      I’ve learned that I second guess myself all the time. I’ve known for a long time that I second guess myself, but I never realized how bad it was until I started Stage Managing. Thankfully God gave me an amazing cast and production team, and whenever I got overwhelmed, stressed&started second guessing my ability to do this job, someone would “happen” to cross my path and reassure me that I was doing a good job&were supporting me.
2.      I’ve learned that a 1 minute scene could result in the most complicated blocking notes of the entire play.(Kendra Dream Sequence)
3.      Cues seem scary, but they are actually really fun to call once you get the hang of it. (You say “Light cue blah blah blah, go!” and they GO!!)
4.      Encouragement is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing.
5.      Though I say all the time that Jesus cares about every aspect of my life…I often forget. He SO cared about that project, and He SO cared about me.  
6.      Speaking in an accent is jolly good fun, even (& especially if) the accent doesn’t actually exist.
7.      Even a “simple” musical can get MAD complicated MAD fast.
8.      The first time I ever called “Light cue 300 warning…Light cue 300 go” was one of the most satisfying things ever and it actually almost made me cry.
9.      Sitting for too long/being too tired results in 2-3 minutes of walking with Jack Sparrow swag. (Tech weekend)
10.  The things I’ve heard and said over headset…that’s just all I’m going to say about that.
11.  This reflection is a tad more serious and lengthy, but it was one of the most beautiful things that God shared with me through “13”.
 When I was 13, my family found out that my Dad had brain cancer. He passed away when I was a few months shy of 15. Most of the memories of my adolsecnce are framed within the events involving my Dad’s sickness and death. So, sometimes, working on this musical was not easy for me, as it brought back many memories that I’m not fond of remembering. One of those times was the first time that I ever heard, “Being a Geek”. Though the song is extremely comical, the first time I actually listened to the lyrics in a musical rehearsal, it wasn’t comical for me at all. The main character sings, “But when you’re cool, you can rally when the blues attack. Every problem just rolls off your back. You can handle every slip and slide, without breaking your stride! When you’re cool, you don’t care that people disappear. You don’t care that your Dad’s not here. You don’t care that your life’s been uprooted and bent, without your consent. A geek’s afraid it’s never gonna be OK but the cool kid knows it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s the difference between being fine at 13 and the lonliest thing.” When I first heard those lines…all of a sudden, I remembered what it felt like to be a scared 13 year old who so desperately desired to have a normal life. I remembered how awful it felt when when my Dad wasn’t home due to his multiple hospital visits (and eventually his death). I remembered how my life had been “uprooted and bent” without my consent (literally) overnight. I remembered what it felt like to be afraid that it was never going to be OK. I felt like a knife had been stabbed in my gut and I was on the brink of tears. If they had rehearsed that song for much longer, I was going to have to step out of the room. Thankfully they didn’t and I was able to carry through w/my SM duties that day. From then on, it was really hit or miss whether or not “Being a Geek” bothered me, since it was supposed to be a comical number. Sometimes it did bother me. Sometimes it didn’t. During tech when we had our first dress rehearsal and saw the number to the full effect for the first time, the entire production team was DYING of laughter. When it came to the chorus, and I realized that it was actually the chorus and that it was not bothering me in the least, I said silently to Jesus, “Thank-you.” Right then, quietly&clearly I heard Him speak to me, “You see how I just redeemed that for you? I’m going to do the same thing with your actual grief.” I started laughing again, but this time it wasn’t the piece, it was because Jesus is crazy and I was SO happy about what He had just done. Who would’ve thought that Jesus would speak to me through a Motown-style song featuring haze, karaoke and dancin’, snappin’ Rabbis? (bahahahaha that song…)
12.  I have one dang memorable opening night story. We used two big rotating walls that we used as part of set changes. On opening night during a scene in Act II, I had the horror of watching the SL wall come unhinged and almost fall. Thankfully, no one got hurt and the show continued. Due to previous stress plus the scare, I wound up breaking down crying at the end of the night. Thankfully, I had my friends and director to carry me through the tears and point me to Jesus. So what initially was a terrifying experience quickly became a story that I can now laugh about as well as thank God for.
13.  In so, so, so many ways, SMing this show was a great experience for me. It gave me a chance to really bond with people at EU and form some really wonderful friendships. I learned about not relying on my own strength and letting Jesus carry me. I learned that sometimes the set actually comes close to falling down. I learned that people love me and are looking out for me here. I learned that God really can speak through anything. I could go on, and even if I did, I still wouldn’t be able to adequately describe this experience in just 13 reflections (this reflection in of itself was a bit of cheat). However…I can say that,
“I’m a little bit braver, a little broader, a little bit brighter, a little bit. “