Saturday, September 22, 2012

New Seasons

Happy autumn, to you. In general, I am indifferent to the changing of seasons. Sure I miss the old one, but I’m always ready for the new one. However, I have never been so ready for a new season, than this autumn.


(mi familia, hermanas, hermano, dada, mama)

Summer brought about more than just its fair share of trials, frustrations, transitions and changes. It has been the roughest season, by far. And as a result of this season, I find myself feeling distant from God, stuck in this place of frustration and at a loss for most of the things going on.

(a re-kindled friendship, when I needed it the most)
But with the help of dear friends, a devotional book and some prayer, I came to discover that my feeling of distance from the Lord is a lie. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

(a work of the Lord celebrated)

He is the one that endure the most painful suffering of all, on our behalf, on my behalf. Jesus is no stranger to separation from the Father because He was separated so we wouldn’t have to be.
(flowers that celebrate & ease the pain)

In his darkest hour, Jesus, cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” One, so that we would always be connected to the Father and two, because those words give us grace, even in the darkest hours. The confusion of what the Lord is doing, in these words, turn into hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dim it may be.

(sisters reunited when we needed each other)

Harvest season is a time to enjoy the fruit produced from a previous season’s patience, care and perseverance. But it is also a time, when the crops are stripped bare for fresh fruit in the season to come. I feel that I am the stripped branch, completely bare and waiting for new fruit to bud.

(a friend & sister taken, but not forgotten)

While I may be stuck in this cold, barren, confusing, frustrating place, I look to the future when I will see what the Lord was doing during this time. When I will see His perfect plan in all of it. When beautiful flowers will bloom because of the pruning of my heart. When this world will be shed of pain and suffering because of sin. When He will wipe away every tear and there will be no more crying.

(the reward of a day's perseverance & suffering) 

I long for the place that is my eternal home, but know that there is purpose in the suffering and pain that we experience while we are in our temporary homes.

*pictures in this blog are some of the things (& people) that have given me hope and other things (& people) that bring an ear-to-ear smile, sometimes with tears streaming my face... 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pinned It, Then Did It

Well, I sort of did it...

My very first project. Given to my Dada as a gift for Christmas

I am going to assume that most of you are familiar with Pinterest. If not let me put it to you this way, its like a giant bulletin board. A digital catalogue of really good ideas for the next season, recipes, weddings, photography shoots, fashion must-haves, workouts and home decor. See for yourself here.

Browsing through thousands of pictures all in one place is somehow addicting. My best guess is that it has become a modern, grown up fantasyland- a place where mostly females go to dream up her perfect closet, her perfect mate, her perfect wedding, her perfect home, and her perfect life. Pinterest has become an object that helps us to escape our current reality into this illusionary life full of perfects. 

My not-so-perfect attempt at painting a pallet 

Well, I have had enough. No more fantasy. When my heart was convicted that I might be spending too much time in this fantasyland, I told myself that in order to keep on pinning there had to be a compromise. There had to be some justification to keep on visiting this site. So I got to work...

Date Night in a Jar- great gift for a Bachelorette!

The funny thing is that over the last few weeks, while creating some of these projects, I was reminded of the Ultimate Creator. The One that created everything out of nothing. The One that makes beautiful, new things out of ugly, old things. Creating some of these things has brought me closer to the heart of The Love that holds me, holds the world, holds eternity in His hands. 

I think that like most things, Pinterest was created for a good purpose. God himself created, so us creating (to me) seems like a pretty good idea. But unfortunately, our society has turned the contents of Pinterest into another idol. If only I could look like the girl in this picture. If only I could create the perfect meal for my family. If only I could find the perfect soul mate with my perfect wardrobe. 

A fresh perspective. Pinterest is to be used for a place to be inspired, to borrow some really good ideas offered up by others, not a place to dream up a perfect, fantasy life. A place that when inspired, it moves you to action to create something, to push you into the love of the Creator Himself. 

You are the Great Creator. You are the Master Artist.
You are the One that created and called it good.
You created man and called it very good.
Thank you that you have given us the ability to create 
meals, art, photography, homes, & families.
Thank you that you are still creating- your work is not yet done.
Thank you that you are making my heart of stone into
a heart of flesh, that worships and draws near to you.
Jesus, thank you that you created a way for us to know the Father-
 while you hung upon a cross, paying for my debts, 
you were building an unshakeable bridge to eternity. 
God, thank you for Pinterest. 
I'm sorry that it has turned into a battlefield of 
conflicting motives and destructive idols.
God I pray for the users of Pinterest. 
I pray that they would see you. 
I pray that they would move into action to create something.
I pray that in the movement of creating with their hands, 
they would sense your presence. 
Thank you that you are good and that I can trust you. 
In Jesus' name,

Get ready: MnM's, yogurt, banana bread. 
aka Party-in-my-mouth

The projects you've seen in this post were inspired by things that I saw on Pinterest. And with a little blood, sweat and a few extra dollars they came to be. 

Most of these were created while listening to music. I recommend the Gungor station on Pandora. Matt Wertz's 23 Places album. Phil Wickham. Bon Iver. And of course Coldplay. 

Happy Creating :) 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Story for His Glory

This has been a whirlwind of a week. Preparing to attend a wedding is no easy task, especially when one has the honor of standing beside the bride as she says her “I do” to the one she loves. I’ve included some photos just for fun; feel free to enjoy them :)

Me (in my 5-inch heels), Dano & Sam 

Aside from practicing walking in my 5-inch heels that I was planning on wearing for a 45-minute ceremony and the last minute shopping for gifts for the Bride-to-be and the Newlyweds, I think the Lord was very much preparing my heart for celebrating His Work.

Mr & Mrs Tindall cutting the cake
(that was incredibly delicious)

I think one of my favorite parts about going to a wedding… correction: My favorite part of a wedding, is not the first time the groom sees the bride, or when the bride walks down the aisle, or their first kiss as man & wife, or even the party afterwards (don’t get me wrong I love these parts of a wedding) but hands down my favorite part is the journey of love that the couple has been on, tying the knot and beginning a new chapter to their life. My favorite part is the part that has already happened and the part that has yet to come. Weird and a little cheesy. I know. but it’s my favorite because the story doesn’t belong to the couple, but to the LORD- the Master Storyteller.

Natasha, my new friend, who witnessed the very beginnings 
of Corey & Hannah's relationship

The Lord gave me an incredible insight to the story & relationship of the couple that wedded on Saturday. Rewind to two years ago, I had the blessing of sitting by a dear friend and roommate listening to the work that God was doing. Most of the time, this occurred in our kitchen and involved lots of Oreo’s and peanut butter- a vital part to any story telling.

I watched & listened as the Lord provided courage, patience, grace, truth, love, provision, hope, plans, satisfaction and glory for Himself through my friend and her now hubby. Isn’t that the goal anyways- glory to God via His servants that are surrendered to Him? Corey & Hannah have surely surrendered to the Lord and sought Him in all their plans- something I am certain will be a characteristic of their marriage together.

“delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart”
-proverbs 37:4

may, or may not have over delighted in these beauties

I can’t help but think back to some of those kitchen conversations (remember the ones with Oreo’s and peanut butter?) and see God at work. He had a plan all along and all we had to do was be patient long enough to see it unfold. If this were a page in my journal, it would have tears all over it! The One who said we would be safe in the shadow of His wings, that is working for our good, that knows our hearts and directs our steps, kept His promises! How reassuring that God is not stagnant- He is moving, working, active, and responding to us, for us. He is not stagnant, He is living, breathing, moving.

“but the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.”
-jeremiah 10:10

This seems to be a theme in my life this last week (back to square one). All of the running around, working, business, frustrations, tears of failure and of joy, God is still working. Phew, some how breathing is easier with that fact.

I'm gonna take a stab in the dark and say that God knew
what He was doing when we decided to be roommates. 

God, Thank you that you are not done creating.
Thank you that you are still writing many stories for us to be a part of, 
to retell and to listen to.
Thank you that in times of chaos, you are my Rock.
Thank you that you are present.
Thank you for your grace that covers my failures.
Thank you for mine & Hannah's wonderful friendship, rooted in you. 
Thank you for Hannah & Corey and their love & new marriage.
I pray that you would continue to grow in them hearts of worship that glorify you.
I pray that you would teach them what it means to be one.
I pray that they would draw near to you in times of need.
I pray that you would teach me patience, love, truth and grace.
Jesus, to you be the glory for ever- 
through Corey & Hannah’s marriage, through my life 
& through all things you’ve created.

Monday, July 30, 2012

100,000 Miles

In my mind, a long time ago, someone, somewhere, decided that they would set up a monument to remember, celebrate and evaluate the journey that had just come to pass and decided to call it a milestone. Much like in Joshua 8, when the people of Israel built an altar for the LORD, celebrating the promises that He had kept.

Here’s my most recent milestone:

I drove the 100,000th mile in my car!

Very insignificant I know, when you break it down, but for me I got to relive many hours and miles spent in that car. Here’s a history of my car for you and an understanding of why I have come to love and appreciate it deeply…

My car was given to me as a gift from my Dad and my Mom on March 17, 2005 (5 days before my 16th birthday, before my driver’s training test).
I passed my driver’s training test while it was raining :)
Jewels (aka my car) has survived numerous car accidents- that were not all my fault!
She helped me make the move to college, got me to the beach, took me to the mountains and has been my escape when I needed a break from my reality.
She has witnessed many hours of awful singing, and hours and hours of conversions about the love, grace and mercy of my Savior Jesus.
She has been the vessel that carries students and friends to and from Church and retreats, where they learned and grew and trusted with Jesus with their lives.

Yes, she is just a car… It is just a car. But I am so thankful for the journey that she has taken me on, that she has played such a huge role in. Thanks Mom & Dad for giving me such an incredible gift. Thank you Lord, for taking such an insignificant item in your eyes and using it to glorify Yourself. You continue to amaze me on this journey You call life- full of bumps in the road and breathtaking views.

Couldn’t help but think of this song while writing this blog

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Time to Mourn

“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:4

The last few weeks have felt like a roller coaster- including lots of weeping, lots of laughing, lots of mourning, and even some dancing.

Most of my weeping has been a result of watching a movie, or reading a book, but some of it was an effect of saying bye to my family, not knowing when we will all be together again. Sometimes I feel like a big baby, with sensitive floodgates.

Me, Joanne (Sissy), Candace, Joseph
Spending time celebrating Candace's Graduation, 
not knowing when we will be together again. 
Floodgates are now opened.

On rarer occasions, the weeping has been a result of laughing so hard I cry. I’m thankful for the people in my life that can me laugh so hard that my entire body aches from laughing so hard. They have a true gift.

Weeping and laughing are some of the very few things that I think I do well. I almost pride myself on my ability to cry like a baby, or laugh until it feels like I have a six-pack going on, purely from laughter.

Roommates: Rae, Jill, Margo, Me
at a Coldplay concert, you better believe we danced our booties off!

Mourning, however, is something that I am learning to experience, learning to process and learning to live in. The last few weeks have been a season of mourning. Mourning the end of an incredible internship. Mourning the end of season of learning at UCI. Mourning the end of a community that can only be explained by experiencing it. Mourning the end of working with incredible people that have laughed with me, cried with me, g-chatted with me, spoken words of wisdom to me, and extended grace to me.

Mourning has a way of making us look behind us, to the past, to the things that have been so good, to the things that have made us who we are today, in this moment. But as I mourn the things of the past, and knowing that some of them will never be again, or will forever be changed, I am confident of the new season of life I am about to step into, no matter how foggy it may seem.

Speaking of being foggy, I was reminded of a time in my life, when I would drive about 40 minutes to and from my dad’s house to school or vice versa, sometimes making the long drive to the boonies late at night. Sometimes at night, the fog would be so thick you could barely see the road, sometimes just the solid yellow line to the left and the solid white line to your right, just feet in front of the car. I think that’s how I would describe my life. There is a fog so thick in front of me, I am almost driving blind, but I cling to the painted lines on the road to guide me, to direct me. As long as I continue to follow the painted lines that God has given to me, I know that I will make it home safely.

Thank you Lord, for the painted lines in life.
Thank you that you have not abandoned me, left me, or let go of me.
Thank you for the moments of laughter and weeping, 
and for the seasons of mourning and dancing.
Thank you for my family, my crazy, sometime complicated family.
Thank you that you bring us together long enough to remember that we are family, 
but not too long to drive us all insane.
Thank you that you are eternally, constant, unchanging, and loving.

Here is a collection of pictures from the past few weeks that have greatly been a part of this season of life.

The Farley's: Brother, Sissy, Candace, Me, Dada, Grandma

Mama, Sissy, Candace, Brother, Mimi, Auntie, Me, Cousin Breanne, 
Nat up front
These are some of the people I learned to laugh from.
Laugh with your mouth wide open.
Can you spot the "Mode Mouth"? 

This is an older picture, but still the same Staff Team (missing Jodi)
Me, Ash, Rae, Leo, Jon. You guys are seriously the best!

Wise women in my life... teaching me the ways of the Lord, and of the pizookie!
Me, Jodi, Ash dishes up the pizookies!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Time to Embrace

Port Elizabeth. Friends reunited. Relationships started. Relationships deepened. Laughter. Doing work for the King. Filling of the Holy Spirit. Safaris. Lions. Rhinos. Giraffes. Zebras. New Life. Samosas. Bananagrams. Perfect weather. Indian Ocean. Beach. South Africa. SO good.

first day back in Port Elizabeth

I honestly don’t think there are words that encapsulates just how great last week was. I am literally speechless. I just get a warm fuzzy feeling inside that makes me smile, and cry a little, happy tears, of course.  This, of course, can only mean one thing: that God, Himself, designed this trip to be absolutely perfect in every way. 

oh hey, Indian Ocean

Port Elizabeth greeted my team and I with beautiful weather and wonderful friends, both old and new. We spent the next four days learning, or re-learning, about South African culture of college students and initiating conversations and sharing the Gospel with them. As I was talking with various students on campus, the Lord grew in me a heart of love and compassion and hope for these students.

Aubrey, Me, Sibu (I met her in 2010!), Rae, Jessica

Not only did the Lord deepen my love for the lost, but he also increased my love for my brother and sisters. These six traveled with me for the entire week: Jon, Matt, Ian, Rae, Jessica and Aubrey.  These seven welcomed us and cared for us deeply while in PE: Keith, Desyre, Katy, Annie, Shannon, Karissa, and Nick. To the 13 of you, if you’re reading, thank you from the bottom of my heart for experiencing South Africa with me, looking out for me, laughing with me, caring for me and asking me tough questions. Please know that the Lord used each of you in my life, in amazing ways, in just one short week.

(left to right): Jessica, Ian, Me, Jon, Matt, Aubrey, Rae
on our super sweet safari!

So now what?
Port Elizabeth has surely become one of my favorite places, a place where God is clearly moving, complete with beautiful weather and wonderful people. Why not go to South Africa? That has been one of the toughest questions I’ve had to ask myself, and the Lord, over and over again. And over and over again I hear not now, not now.

pondering what the Lord has in store for me

As much as I love South Africa and as much as I desire to be there I know that there is a purpose to not going. I hear Jesus calling me to lean into him, abide in him, remain in him, and to trust him. Trust him that there is purpose in his timing, in his will, and that he will continue to work out things for my good.

He makes me lie down in green pastures

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to break down and a time to build up
a time to weep and a time to laugh
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to cast away stone, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time sew;
a time to keep silence and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

view from our back porch

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for South Africa, for creating such a place that is filled with your beauty 
and people that you care for so deeply. 
Thank you for allowing me to go back to Port Elizabeth.
Thank you for the people that went with me and for the STINT team there.
Thank you for the ways you are still clearly moving at NMMU.
Thank you for the heart you have given me, that enables me to have compassion 
for so many people and love them deeply.
Jesus, help me to trust you, that your plan is greater than my own, 
that you have a good future for me ahead.
Lord, please continue to strengthen 
Keith, Desyre, Katy, Shannon, Annie, Karissa and Nick, 
strength to continue to do the work that you have set before them. 
Thank you for their work that they have done to further the Kingdom. 
Please continue to bless them. 
Lord I pray that the friendships that I have, or have just begun, 
would continue to grow and that they would be rooted in you. 
In Jesus' name. Amen 

clouds like these make me happy, the zebras are a plus

*photo credits: Matt Ward & Rachel Gordon 
Thanks! :) 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Interrupting Joy

I didn't know that my next blog would come so soon. But I guess that's how God works... 

I have a couple of fears that you may not be aware of. First, I don't like to be alone. I am (according to Myers-Briggs) a born extravert. Secondly, I don't like to sing, let alone sing in front of people, let alone listen to myself sing. But somehow, tonight, both of those fears were destroyed, or I'm one step closer to destroying them. 

At 3rd Wednesday at RockHARBOR (a prayer and worship night at the church I attend) I had planned on sitting with people that I knew and to make a long story short that didn't happen. Instead I was forced to sit there and focus on the Lord solely. Not only did I experience the Lord's presence but I also got to pray with and for people that I wouldn't have been able to had I been sitting with my friends! What a blessing it is to bless others!

Before we sang the last worship song of the night, we were reminded as a group, that God calls us His children and to have faith like children. We were challenged as a body to return to the joy of God's great news- that His Son, Jesus, sacrificed His life for us. Challenge accepted. Returning to the joy and hope that is restored in Jesus washed over me like pouring down rain in a drought. 

In the spirit of returning to joy and in the Spirit of God I was singing my heart out, like no one else was there but God Himself. I know this is how we're to worship every time, but I must confess that I am not a regular partaker in the solely singing to God action. 

But wait, it gets better! Remember how I told you that I didn't like the sound of my own singing voice? Well enter me. By myself. In my car. Radio off. Completely overcome with joy. And I cannot stop singing. I literally was shouting at the top of my lungs singing to God and laughing hysterically at the thought that God finds great joy and pleasure in this Himself, which made me sing even more. 

I've posted a link to the song that I was singing here. This, I believe, will be the song that I sing the entire way to South Africa, literally "filling up the skies with endless praise". 

My challenge for you... allow God to move in your heart, to return to the joy of knowing Him and having a relationship with Him, return to the child like faith that so many of us miss, return to Jesus- the One that makes everything whole, and out of this joy sing it out- at the top of your lungs, by yourself, and let the Spirit move you closer to Himself.

Father in Heaven, 
I pray for my brothers and sisters that read this.
I pray that you would draw near to them, 
that you would allow them to throw off every barrier that 
prevents them from knowing and experiencing your joy.
I pray that you will give them their own song, 
a new song that sings of your praises, 
of your love and of your unending grace.
Thank you that you specifically created each of our voices, 
and that you find pleasure in them, 
no matter how off-tone, off-pitch or off-beat they are.
Thank you that you have given life and that 
you have freely given it. 
May the songs in our hearts, that glorify and honor you,
forever be music to your ears.
May you find pleasure in hearing each one play.
In Jesus' name, Amen.