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An Apology to the Church

To the Christian Church:

I am one of the most critical members of your Body.  It is with laziness that I sometimes sit to criticize the strides others try to make.  A deep chuckle is asserted as the new ones try to stretch their gifts and fall in defeat.  With crossed arms, I have mocked with the bitter others watching outsiders throw stones at you so freely.  I argued with myself that we deserved it anyways.  I somehow forgotten that my need for complete worldly relevance made me almost obsolete in sharing or showing Christ’s love and peace.  Maybe, just maybe someone heard His name to ask who He was later.

In stubbornness, I often complained of the lack of hospitality when I am the one pushing any type of warmth away.  A martial status or not does not constitute a reasoning to hide away despite the American self-sufficient homes even I have come to create.

The expectation I placed on you to be perfect was in return an expectation I placed on myself too.  A perfection never to be fully achieved in this lifetime.  As a result, we keep failing each other and I was the one to let a wall to be placed in between us.  To that, I am sorry.

I could hear on the other side of the great things you have been doing.  The physical, emotional and, more importantly, the spiritual healings taking place.  It is jealousy I wallowed in questioning whether or not I could be a part of the Kingdom Come actions the true Church is doing.  You never asked me to be perfect because you yourself are not.  You asked me because Jesus asks of me to just come and be a part.  As a Church, we are to learn together and take great strides to be like our King Jesus – the perfect one.

I apologize for being a part of the problem.  A person who slowed you down because of my hidden self-doubt and insecurities.  I would like to become a Barnabas the encourager, the first century Church who knew how to heal the sick, blind and deaf, and like Paul or Peter, who ran across the regions to share about the King.

This is my proclamation.

Sincerely,

A Stubborn One

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Her Journey in the Valley

The words from her mouth matched the exhaustion on her face.  Each word spoke of the desert place she had been and the forward journey she has been struggling to keep pressing through.  It was the first time I have met her as I listened to the pain from her voice’s tone.  She did not speak any specific frustrations.  It isn’t my right to know.  But I could only pray and this is for you.

I could smell the floral amora and see the valley you have entered in on.  The valley is such a mysterious place.  It is situated near the mountains you will soon climb and the focal point Jesus is leading you too.  A beautiful sight only the soldier could understand.  The valley’s climate has a strange harshness.  The sweet, sweet smells of the flowers that lighten the day’s mood can quickly within the time of the deep breathe of fresh air you took.  You watched the clouds sweep in from a distance.  A blackness filling the land as the rain pours as you walk by the flower’s fallen petals.  It is a strange agony… sadness… depression you wrestle in.  How can the morning’s sun turn into an afternoon storm?  How can the gentle skies turn the grass into a swampy mess?  You say “What did I get myself into?  I only wanted the lilies that grew and each new day’s sunrises.”

So to you, the woman whose name I have already forgotten…

Remember the sweet, sweet smells of the morning’s flowers.   The dancing of the grass from the gentle winds before the storms.  It is only a temporary place you are now in.  Push into the night and stay steady into the morning’s light.  The songs you sing will echo through the valley as you walk toward the climb.  The valley’s low is only for a time.

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Unrelenting Prayers

Are the daily prayers said worth the time?

Are the moments hidden away by the bedside, the driver’s seat or kitchen table worth the trouble?

Is He really going to do anything about the words I cry, shout or sing to Him?

These questions are too often the questions that I ask as my prayer time starts.  I long for an immediate answer.  And I only kept hearing the phrase, “Be Faithful.”  And so, as I struggled, I learned to be faithful…. whatever faithfulness means within my humanity – the few words of praise, pleading or petition.

I sat and waited to see if His Spirit would respond to my question again.

Were these prayer moments worth it?

I saw a vision of a long, white candle being burned – like the ones used for a lighting ceremony.  The wax began to drip off slowly and then quicker after.  I watched in agony knowing the candle felt like my ability to be faithful.  Unconfidence grew as if the consistent prayers were not worth it slowing burning downward.  Questions arose of what could happen when the candle was depleted and the light was out.

As the candle burned, I noticed the used wax being collected into a straight, long glass jar.  It was similar to the first candle’s shape.  As the candle was burned, the wax continued to be collected.  Not a single drop was lost.  As the first candle was depleted – a wick poked through the wax of the second candle.  The second candle began to burn.

A relief and comforting feeling surrounded me.  He spoke to me saying “You are faithful.  I see that.  And in return, I am faithful.  Your prayers are not unheard.  Your faithfulness is not unseen.”  I was reminded His faithfulness is beyond my ability to be faithful.  The daily candles I chose to burn were worth the time.  The prayers were heard.  I may not hear from Him in every waking moment.  But He is listening, watching, waiting and moving faithfully into my life.

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Returning the Bricks

“Guarded” has not been a word I would use to describe myself.  It is also not a word I have heard from other people to describe me….

Until a few months ago.

“You’re a private person, Nate,” was the gentle comment I heard.  I could only nod in knowing how any secrets or thoughts are best kept close by.  Half-hearted answers or small talk was something I tended to stray away from.  Exposing the spiritual side of myself was an area I stayed further from.  And so, I stayed away from describing the spiritual issues I was wrestling with or even learning about.

This guarding was a small learned behavior from multiple small, yet poignant altercations with leadership.  Silent disappointments, each adding one brick at a time to build a wall around an openness of sharing ideas.  For me, asking questions is easier than giving a sole opinion on something.  But even certain questions being pronounced is done with a reluctant spirit.

In prayer, I asked Jesus what He wanted to show me.  And so, rightfully so, blackness stood in front of me dropping its cloth to reveal a brick wall.  Each brick placed with discipline and technique to block anything from coming or going.  There was no entrance or window.  There was no climbing rope to jump to the other side.  It was merely a brick wall creating a sense of isolation and loneliness within myself from the dangers of being struck down by another party.

As I continued to pray I could see an isolated memory through the wall itself and heard the words “One brick.”  It was obvious what I needed to do.  My hand gripped one of the bricks and placed it in the scene on the other side and I let out a small word of forgiveness.

Soon another memory with the phrase “one brick.”  Another piece torn down, a letting go within the memory and a small utterance of forgiveness.  The number of bricks placed matched the depth of the memory’s pain.

Memory.  “Three bricks.”  Offering of forgiveness.  Memory.  “Two bricks.”  Offering of forgiveness.  Memory.  “Five bricks.”  Offering of forgiveness.  Memory.  “One brick.”  Offering of forgiveness.

The wall itself was met to be a protective piece, but instead it made a place of isolation.  Apologies from the other side.  The screams I could have yelled to the other side of the wall of wanting their explanation would never come.  It was I who needed to let go.

And so, I returned the bricks – one by one until I could see past the wall and move beyond it myself.  The art of forgiveness is sometimes for the benefit of the forgiver than the receiver.  It was the case for me.

Where I’m From

I am from ocean waves lapping and
children’s laugher –
From beach toys to sand castles
with saltwater moats.
I am from military bases, ocean towns
and suburbia settle-me-downs.

I am from the “What would Jesus do?”s
to the “be careful’s”.
From the line of pastors, teachers
and brave military men.
With a traditional orthodoxy,
where certain questions are out of bounds.

I am from moving trucks and potlucks –
graced with too much sweet tea.
From introductions
and the too-soon-good-byes.
A box of hand-scribed letters
and unreplied cherished e-mails.

I am from postcard collections, photographs
and stamped passports.
An unsettled living,
dreaming of the not-yet discovered spaces.

The original “Where I’m From” poem is penned by George Ella Lyons.  I wrote this for an assignment of a writers’ group I am a part of.

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Imparting New, Fresh Life

January 1st stirs a strange excitement with a hopeful release of negative emotions.

There are some who question whether yesteryear was worth our efforts as we struggled to get through the 365 calendar days.  With a hesitate hope that the next 365 will be a tad bit better.  For others, it is the ending of the greatest year yet with the welcoming of more to come.

Contemplation, well, over-contemplation is a part of my DNA.  A year’s end allows for this over evaluation.

Did life progress or regress…

Any goals accomplished or left unfinished…

Was anything left unsaid or words I wish away…

But this year’s end.  The busyness of a career plus the holiday season plus moving in the midst of holiday travels has not allowed for contemplation on what was 2014.  I’m not even certain what happened!

Two days has already sped away from me in 2015.  And I asked Jesus the smallest question, “What is the word for this year?”  A habit I started doing the past several years.

RECREATE

It sounds painful, yet wonderful all at the same time.

A redoing.  A remaking.  Imparting new, fresh life.
Restore.  Repair.  Revive.  Rejuvenate.  

Several weeks ago, I moved from a 19th century building, which was consistently being remodeled.  It was great living in the third floor turret overseeing the north side of Lexington.  But at times, the never ending repairs of saws cutting wood or the banging of nails was a bit much at the end of a long day of work and especially on a sick day.  However, over the year of living there the changes are quite noticeable.

Perspective is everything.

Hindsight gives the perspective of what progression has been made.  The difficulties that were overcome to make things a new.  Foresight is our ability to see where we could go and knowing what steps to get there.

In the moment, our efforts in reviving something may not seem worth it – especially when it is not tangible.

It’s a difficult task to impart new life in struggling areas of our lives.  It requires discipline, courage and the ability to get up again.  Naturally, we want to ignore the unruly parts of us.

But to 2015.  I promise (most of the time) not to ignore areas I need to revive and repair.

2015 will be about imparting new life.  Bringing newness to areas that look like they should be thrown away.  A reshining of old habits left unused.  A throwing out of the waste and dust that collected over the past year.

An excitement that parallels with the restoration of all good things.

This is what I will hold on to.

RECREATE

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Accidental Writings

These accidental writings started back in 2010.  This only meant to be an outlet in order to process the depression-psychotic episodes, which carried on (publicly) for three or four years post a psychological breakdown.

Then something happened.

A couple of articles were posted to different blogs and as a result more people started reading this than intended.  Soon after and more importantly, a strange mental freedom found through Christ’s grace happened.  And an unexpected new journey started to occur.

I never wanted to be a “Christian” blogger.  What did that mean anyway?  But I (almost) never regretted the outcome of openly discussing my spiritual journey.  It has been amazing the conversations that took place in person, through e-mails, Skype and social media.

Life became a bit overwhelming with finishing up the tiresome requirements for my licensure as a mental health therapist.  I also began searching where Jesus is leading me.  In Fall 2014, the number of blogs posts subsided and I began to withdraw from social media.  Safari was deleted off of my phone and locked from all access.  A passcode to restore it is still in the hands of a close friend.  It was time to step back and rest/discover/be in something other than the internet social life.

Are all my questions answered?  No.

Will everything ever be figure out?  No, where is the adventure in that?

Do I feel like I am restored?  Yes and continuing to be.

A previous roommate challenged me with writing about what has affected me the most – the visions I have had.  An area where I started to become the most guarded.  An open spiritual journey is difficult because it can be “discredited” so easily – at least to the disbelieving.  As a result, is it even worth it?  It is.

I hope and pray that the posts from 2015 and onward bring a sense of joy, hope, wonderment and questioning – Because I am usually in all of those places.  The page “From There Til Now” will help bring you up to speed on how it’s taken place.

Soon.

I have taken WordPress off of my phone along with all social media and an internet browser.  Yes, it is possible.

I’m rethinking about the layout of the blog and how to refocus to have a constructive outlet.

Close friends have asked about a book.

A rough, rough, rough first draft was completed over the summer.  I am in the middle of the first edit of many.

It takes time with a full time and part time job.

2015.  The blogging will have a new genesis.

Until then, Happy Christmas and New Years.