Somehow The Words Flow Freely Now

God, how am I supposed to act?
What am I supposed to be?
Do I force myself to change?
Or should I do what comes naturally?

You teach me about morals and love
What about my personality?
Am I supposed to adapt and adjust?
Or revel in my idiosyncrasies?

Should I be vulnerable?
Or should I guard my heart?
Show me the line between showing love
And needlessly tearing myself apart.

How am I supposed to learn from my past
If I’m being told otherwise.
What if these lessons I thought I had learned
Are making me foolish instead of wise?

I’m all worried about implications and results
But not thinking about what I’m doing now
I’m worried about doing the wrong thing
I’m worried I’ll break my internal vows.

Everything in my life has taught me one thing
But now I need another way?
Can I make the choice to do what’s not safe?
Will I just be thrown away?

I can endure and fight through what is thrown at me
But do I dare start the fight myself?
God, I have no idea how to handle this all
Don’t keep the answer to yourself.

I’m scared.  I’m scared out of my mind.
I’d do anything to not go back to that place
And yet the only way for this to work out
Is taking the same steps I tried to erase?

My methods of coping and prevention
Are causing nothing but pain.
Show me God.  Just show me the way.
But don’t let me go there again.

You’re the one who guides my heart.
You’re the one who will will never forsake me.
Let me be open and obedient to you.
God, let me be free.

“You Wronged Me… And I’m Okay With That”

Think about that person… You know who I’m talking about.  The one you love to hate.  The best friend who back-stabbed you.  The girl who cheated on you.  The guy who didn’t care that you said “stop.”  The father who was never there for you.  The mother who would rather perfect you than love you.  Go ahead.  Think about how much it hurt.  Think about how angry it makes you.  And think about forgiving them.

Yeah, I’m going there.  Forgiving that person you can’t forgive.  Um, hello.  Welcome to my life.   This is something I’ve struggled with FOR YEARS and now I’m talking about it.

I thought about it.  I thought about all the terrible things that people have done to me.  And I realized that a lot of those people are Christians.  And those sins that were done against me, are covered by Christ’s blood and God’s grace.  Those who aren’t Christians… They could be my brothers and sisters in Christ one day and the same rule applies to them.

The worst wrongs ever done to me.  God says to them “I forgive you.  I do not hold this against you.” So why can’t I say that?  I hated thinking this.  I knew I didn’t forgive these people and yet God could.

But then I thought… I’m no saint and I’m sure anyone who has known me well enough could agree with that.  You know those people that get up in front of church/chapel/small group/etc and say “I am a sinner.  I am not perfect.” and the crowd nods and murmurs “amen” while they think about how they themselves are not perfect?   Yeah, well I’m the person that gets up, says “I am a sinner.  I am not perfect.” and every person in the crowd that knows me laughs and says “I know that’s right!”

I know I have hurt people.  I know I have wronged people.  But I also know that God has forgiven me for that, and that grace?  That undeserved gift?  That mercy?  I didn’t do anything special to earn it… and neither did those people that have wronged me.  It is completely WRONG that I should receive the gift that Christ’s death has given me, but you know what else is wrong?  The fact that I accept it for myself but don’t think it should apply to those people.

God is good, merciful, and forgiving.  Maybe I think those people shouldn’t be forgiven, but hey, neither should I.  And you know what else?  This world does not matter.  It is not what is important.  I am waiting for the better days of life to come in heaven.  And one day all the mess and crap of this world will be gone. One day, it will not matter that you hurt me and I think that is a beautiful prospect.   I cannot wait for the day that this world passes and it’s just God and His kingdom.

To all the people I’ve held grudges against… to those who apologized and never hear me utter these words… I am sorry and I forgive you.  I understand that what you did was wrong and yeah, you hurt me.  But God is greater than my pain and my hope is in Him.  I hope you have found your freedom in Him as well and that I can one day stand side by side with you and we can praise Him together.

Thinking like this has really helped me understand the cross more… It’s one thing to feel the weight of my sin and guilt, but it is a whole ‘nother thing to think that through the cross that person that wronged me the most can be made my brother/sister in Christ – that we can be reconciled together as forgiven creations of God.  Like seriously, holy cow God is good.  I would love nothing more to be able to look that person in the eye and not only be able to say “I forgive you” but also be able to rejoice with them in the fact that Christ has forgiven them as well.   God is good ALL THE TIME and I’m glad He does not turn people away who ask for His forgiveness like I have.

You know, I once thought “There’s no way I could ever forgive them for what they did to me…” but silly me I forgot that “I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.”

It’s Been Another Year

November the 7th.  Back again.  I was hoping that this year I wouldn’t think about it, and that one day I’d be like “Oh… isn’t that day coming up?”  Only to discover it had passed several days ago.

Only it didn’t.

I was sitting in class.  I wrote down the date on my notes and was tracing over it with my pen… and it hit me.  11/7.  So much for paying attention in class?  I couldn’t focus.  My mind was consumed.  I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone.  I wanted to get away and get alone as soon as possible.

But I really couldn’t.  There was a snow storm today so I couldn’t be outside, my roommates were all in the apartment, and there was no way I was going to hash out these issues in the silent library.   There was just no where to be alone.

So I distracted myself.  I stuck with someone who helped me keep my mind off of it for most of the evening.  And I was blessed by friends with kind words of encouragement and a wonderful, perfectly-timed cup of hot chocolate.  (I’m really beginning to think that my love language is, in fact, food.)

Yeah, there have been times today that I’ve questioned whether or not to take a second shower because I needed to cry… (and I HATE crying)  There have been moments that I have gone into other worlds, consumed in thought about it all.  There have been moments that I’ve muttered strings of four-lettered-words under my breath in bitterness because not only did something happen that I didn’t ask for and that I tried to stop… but it is also still a part of my life today.   “Hey cool… You weren’t invited. Oh, even better!  You’re not leaving.” (more four-lettered words…Lime, Ruby, Sand, Work… )

But today… as crappy as it has been mentally and emotionally… today was better than last year.   Last year I was in the fetal position on the floor of my apartment doing the ugly cry after I had written out everything I was thinking and feeling on paper.

It’s been two years.  I wrote this post last year at this time and while I do experience a lot of that from time to time… I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made.

I’m not as sour at people for being sympathetic or trying to be encouraging… I really appreciate it.

I feel more comfortable with talking about it, which I needed.

I’ve been having fewer panic attacks… thank GOD!

And I really feel like I’m healing.

But the two most important things?  I’ve found myself again and I’ve found peace with God.

I don’t know why bad things happen… why there’s evil… why God allows it to exist.  But I do know that God loves me and wants what’s best for me.  And what would be better for me?  To have a perfect/harmless life?  Or to wrestle with God in order to understand and know Him more?  I think I’m better off with Him than I am with this earthly life.

And myself.  I’m so glad to be back.  I’m glad to feel stable again.. to feel like I can freely give out hugs without fear again.. to feel confidence, joy, and beauty in myself again… to be making decisions in prayer and thorough examination and not just fear anymore..  I love it.

Today sucks.  The world sucks.  Sin sucks.  Evil sucks.  November the 7th sucks.

But my God is good and He’s making His face shine down upon me today and I cannot thank or praise Him enough for that and the progress I’ve made.  Hallelujah

It’s Just Been One of Those Days…

Let me note, that I have a powerpoint I need to make, a 30 page worksheet thing to finish, two papers to write, and worship team practice that all have to get done by tonight… These are not the things I SHOULD be getting done as well.  But I have to write.  I have to get this out.  It’s too much for a tweet or even one of my lengthy facebook statuses.  So alas, if you plan on reading this, you are planning on listening to me vent.

I have so much going on right now.  I can’t think straight.  I feel like I’m behind everywhere although I’m not.  These past couple of weeks have been really taxing.  And I’ve slipped into the classic Kelsey mode of “I can handle it.”  I can DO it with God’s help, but right now, I can’t “handle” it.

I lost my car this week to a lot of unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances.  That’s really tough.  I can’t get a second job off campus like I had wanted.  So now I have to get a job on campus.  I need a minimum of 20 hours a week to make my tuition payments and everywhere on campus pays minimum wage and has really crappy hours.  So, I’m stressing about that.  Plus, being out a car… it’s a huge difference.  I have to ask a friend for a ride if I want to go to target for prescriptions, razors, pantyhose… I can’t drive my friend to the hospital when they break their finger in the intramural football game… I can’t say to my friends “Hey, let’s go to applebees for half price apps tonight!”… I hate that.  I hate this.  I miss my car and to be honest I was really attached to it.  I had a lot of memories in that car.  It’s a serious blow.

The job I do have right now is great.  I love it.  I get to be apart of the major event planning on campus.  Wouldn’t trade it at all.  But it takes unforeseen time out of my schedule.  I’m used to working a for a few hours on two or three specific days of the week.  But with the nature of the events we’re working on right now, I’m finding myself handling work business outside of my work hours.  Welcome to the real world huh?  I just don’t have a lot of schedule consistency right now and I really am not a fan.  It will get better in a week or so.

My worship team is playing an all worship chapel on Friday.  So we have about 9 songs we’ve been preparing, but we’re not quite there yet.  And that’s stressing me out.

Sleep.  I’m not getting enough sleep and my sleep schedule is so whack.  Welcome to the life of a college kid.  I haven’t gone to bed before midnight in I don’t know how long… last night I finally got to sleep around 4am.  It’s like my first semester of college all over again.

Food.  My diet here is a joke.  I live off of starch and fat.   The fruit is always rotten.  The only vegetable that is consistently fresh and actually tasty is the spinach.  I honestly eat mostly rice and beans.   My friends notice it too and like to poke fun at how nasty it looks.  Plus I eat everything with gallons of hot sauce to either mask the weird flavor or make up for the flavor its lacking.  I really don’t know what else to eat.  My cafeteria is NOT vegetarian friendly.  They put meat in everything.  Burrito?  BEEF burrito.  Enchiladas?  CHICKEN enchiladas.  Grilled cheese?  Grilled HAM and cheese.  Pasta bake?  SAUSAGE pasta bake.  Every now and then they have a “vegetarian bar” that has limp celery, carrot sticks, sunflower seeds, beans, and hard boiled eggs that have turned green.   I’m sorry, what?  That’s what vegetarians eat for dinner?  I’ve been a vegetarian almost two years now and that’s not what I eat for a meal.  I don’t want to just fill up on french fries, mac n cheese, and cheese pizza… but sometimes when I’m tired of rice and beans, that’s all there is.  Cereal.  There’s lots of cereal.  But my body is so hungry.  It needs vitamins and minerals and protein.  GIVE ME PROTEIN!  The only protein sources I have here are eggs (when they have them), peanut butter, beans, and cheese.  And cheese does not count as protein.  Thank goodness I have quinoa and chobani in my apartment.

My schedule.  Agh.  Mondays and Tuesdays are horrors for me and Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays are spent catching up with what was put off because of the busy Mon/Tues.   I feel like I’m running like a chicken with its head cut off.

Church.  I miss being at Passion City Church.  I felt like my soul was REALLY fed there and I’m getting a little hungry.

Minnesota.  Gall I miss home.  So many sites my eyes wish to see.  So many places I want to be.  I want to go to Ritter Farm Park, and Indigo tea, and the Mall of America, and to the sculpture garden, and to the top of Buck Hill late at night, and to my back yard.   And the culture.  I miss Minnesota nice.

My friends.  I miss deep friendship.   I have a couple really close friends here, but I’m so busy!  I haven’t seen my best friend since June.  Heck, I haven’t seen most of my closest friends since my family moved from Minnesota.  That’s really taken a toll on me.  I miss feeling like someone was invested in me and I in them.

My family.  I miss my family.  I miss Zach’s sweet affection.  I miss being astounded by Philip’s brilliance.  I miss goofing around with Ruth and hearing her singing in her room.  I miss being a part of Joseph’s life.  I feel like he’s changing and learning so much and I’m not there for it.  I miss I miss having my mom as my friend.  Being the only ones we really knew in the state of Georgia really gave us time together and I miss that.  I miss my dad’s wisdom and peace.  He’s a place of stability for me and I’m really lacking that right now.  and heck, I miss my dog.  That old, fat, ugly thing.  I miss Lewis a lot.

EDIT:  I do not want to make it seem like I do not miss Haley, Cody, or Megan too.  I was listing off my family at home.  My sisters and brother in law are dear to me.  It just didn’t come naturally to list them when I was thinking about stuff I miss from home since they haven’t lived at home in many many years.

Today’s been rough for many reasons.  The lack of sleep certainly doesn’t help.  Oversleeping and missing chapel definitely didn’t help either.  My lunch of white rice, cheese pizza, and fruit loops DEFINITELY is not helping.   The overwhelming work load isn’t so great either, but what’s worse is that it feels really accomplishable, so I feel guilty for not being able to pound it out like I want to.  I also had time to be faced with the reality of one of my friends here leaving, and I don’t like it at all.  Don’t get me wrong  I really think they should go based on the circumstances.  But the selfish side of me doesn’t want to say goodbye.   BUT the big kicker of the day was class.

In one of my classes we’ve been asked to share our testimonies, our life stories, our spiritual journeys thus far.  I haven’t given my testimony in front of a group of more than 2 people in 3 years.  And even then, the big stuff of my testimony has happened in these past 3 years from the last time I shared it.  So, really.  I’ve never shared this part of my life with a large group of people.  God’s really been working on me to open up about my testimony, and I was all “yeah, cool God.  We’ll get to that.”  and God was like “Yes we will, we’ll get to that now.  Here’s your homework for this class!”  Holy buckets.   I am honestly so freaked about sharing my life story.  There’s parts of my story that I’ve only shared with a small handful of people.  There’s even parts that I haven’t talked with my siblings about.   Sharing this takes a huge leap of faith and a huge piece of vulnerability for me and I’m scared.  Every day we get to class and about 2 or 3 people share theirs per class at random.  I’m always freaking out about when it’s going to be my turn.  “Should I share today?”  “Should I go after he’s done?”

Today was awful.  I decided I needed to share mine today.  I was going to do it.  It was time.  I couldn’t keep going through class every MWF feeling so anxious.  I spent the entire class wringing my hands, shaking, breathing fast (which.. actually.. I always do anyways), and having to wipe my hands because my palms were so sweaty, just waiting for my chance to share.  My friend next to me was chuckling because of how nervous I was, and laughter helped… but I was still really anxious about my moment to share . Only guess what.  That moment never showed up.   So I headed back to my apartment frustrated with sweaty palms, a shaking body, a dizzy head, and a stomach ache like no other.  Anxiety blows.   It’s been over an hour since I got back from class and I’m still shaky and sweaty, despite the fact that I’ve just been sitting here doing nothing but drinking my tea.

I have a good life.  I have a good job, a good school, good friends, a good God.  Life is good and pleasant.  But I just feel like crying.  And I don’t mean like the sniffles and tearing up thing I’ve been doing while I’ve written this post.   I mean like a good, long, hard cry.  I feel like sobbing.  But I have no where to go.  Honestly, if I had my car.  I would grab some mascara and cover-up (for the aftermath), get in my car, drive to a park, and have at it.   But right now.  I’ve got no where.  There’s no place that I can go where there isn’t people around.  It’s tiresome keeping it together 24/7.  “But Kelsey, isn’t there someone you can go to?”  Yeah, there are lots of people I can go to, but I don’t want to.  I just want this emotional side of it all to be between me and God right now.  I hate showing emotions like this around people.   Ugh, I should probably be going back to Oasis (the counseling center here on campus).

I’ve spent an hour and a half writing this post that maybe 35 people will read according to my stats for most posts like this.   But whatever.  I needed to get all of this out.  I needed to vent.  And honestly, I do feel a little better now.   Moral of the story, life’s good but life sucks.  and it’s just one of those times when things are really stressful.  Really, I’ve never been so much at peace with where I am at with God, and I’ve never had as much self-esteem as I do now.  Two of the big things that usually eat at me couldn’t be better.  It’s just been a build up of unfortunate circumstances and I needed to get it out.

What If It Really Isn’t Well With My Soul?

Do you ever feel like God’s promises are true for everyone but you?
That somehow you can reason your way through the tales of His goodness
With the guilt trip that you shouldn’t have a good life as a Christian,
Or that you reap what you sew no matter how merciful He is?
He is just too.  What’s to say He’s not justly punishing you?
What’s the difference between a consequence and a punishment?
Is there a difference?
Then you tell yourself it’s all about perspective,
That God’s goodness in the joy He gives you and that He will sustain you.
And everyone else tells you that “God never gives you more than you can handle.”
Then you think… maybe God’s goodness was already shown on the cross
And will be shown in heaven
And how dare you complain about now when He already has and will do so much.
Then someone so graciously reminds you
“Now… now… our treasures should be in heaven and not earth.”
They walk away feeling good about themselves
You wonder if their pious little butt really doesn’t care about their earthly life.
Then someone who is not a Christian questions
“If God is really good, why do bad things happen to good people?”
And all your Sunday school training says “No one is good.  We’re all born into sin.”
But you question the same thing.
You post those statuses and tweets of truths you struggle to believe
Hoping that if you say it publicly, you’ll take it to heart
Then you see that other person online who raves about their love for Jesus
And you want to puke because of how fake it seems to you,
Because you know how they live their life off of social media.
But then you scold yourself for not being able to see them as Christ sees them,
Which then reminds you of all the people in your life who,
No matter how hard you try to get that log of a grudge out of your eye,
You struggle to love or even see them as brothers and sisters in Christ
Or if not that, just simply a beautiful design from the Creator.
It also shows that no matter how long you’ve worked, prayed, tried, and fought.
You still struggle with the same things you have for years.
Because two and a half years ago you were writing this already.
In poem after poem.
Only now your heart has grown more cynical and has only been broken more.
The gospel clicks for you and then again it doesn’t.
Some days it puts you in tears.
Some days you’re enraptured by it.
Then back to tears…
Then it makes you boil,
and then back to tears.
How is it ok to have someone sinless cover it all for you?
And if He could forgive, why can’t you?
But then you cycle and cycle and cycle.
Nothing ever stays the same.
Nothing gold can stay.
You want to be climbing up the mountain of faith
But it feels like you’re just circling around the same level,
Running into the same trees in different seasons.
His ways are higher than our own.
So sit down, shut up, and stop crying about it,
Because you’re just too human to get a satisfying answer.
You can’t tell what’s more messed up.
What’s He’s done and is doing,
Or the fact that you think it’s messed up in the first place.
But the gospel is messed up right?
It’s just. not. right.
Beautifully, tragically messed up.
Could you be beautifully messed up too?
Ah, it’s not quite the same thing…

Lord, I believe… but help my unbelief.

A Great Romance

There is a man who loves me.
Cherishes me.  Pursues me.
I haven’t always appreciated him.
And still he fights for me.
I was disgraced.  Justice burned in his heart.
I was rebellious.  Sadness welled in his eyes.
I was broken.  Determination set on his face.
He rose up.  Left everything behind.
Disregarding expectations.
He gave up all life had for him.
And he chose to stand by my side.
He romanced me.  Spoke of the life we could have together.
He promised all he had for me.
He told me stories of his home and his dad.
Said he couldn’t wait to take me there.
He was beautiful. He loved without bound.
But there was something wrong.
He knew I wasn’t ready.  He knew I needed help.
I could not just give my heart over in the state it was in.
I was not ready to go home with him.
I was not prepared for his intimate love.
I was not prepared for his father to see me.
He knew what stood in my way.
My enemies.  My past.
And he said “I can handle it.”
I was ready to just give up,
But he knew he could take it on.
He pursued me beyond what any love had done before.
My heart sealed away in chains,
He entered the great romance.
And every assailant attacking me took it out on him.
He beared the pain, the weight, the grief.
His father turned away.
He said, “Give it all to me.” And took it to his death.
And with his blood, my heart flew free.
He stands against every attack on me, his bride to be.
He is the greatest lover who cherishes and delights in me.
He makes me beautiful in my disgrace.
He pursues me to any end.
He is the love of my life.
He wrote our ultimate love story.
He is my comfort, my life, my groom.
He is the King of kings.

Prayer in the Night

Father give me eyes to see, because I no longer know what I’m doing.
What once was lost, I want to find again, but I don’t know how to pursue it.
So many prayers, tears, dreams.  They all seem to be in vain.
It’s restless nights like these that just leave me feeling drained.
Why did I have to remember?  Why did I have to see?
Why did I have to be reminded of how much it broke me?
I promised  “You ask I will answer.” If I ask, will You do the same?
Guide me Lord to do what’s right.  I don’t want to live in shame.
As much as this is uncomfortable, I’d be a fool to abandon it.
Now open my eyes.  Give me new life.  To Your path I will commit.

Lockdown

I saw a blog the other day that was just pictures and small captions of how the picture represented how the blogger was feeling.  So I thought to myself, what would I be if I was a picture?  But that’s about as far as I got with that thought.

However, with a lot of  new things in my life lately, I’ve been analyzing how I feel and trying to figure out why I feel that way.   I’ve been confusing myself A LOT lately, I can feel great about something one minute… but then apprehensive about it the next and with no reason to feel that way.  I’ve been finding myself worried about things that make me happy.

That’s when my picture popped in my head… only I couldn’t actually take a picture of it… so I drew it.


That’s me.  Steel plated, chained, and locked.   And I like it that way.   Why?  Because it’s safer.   I’ve got Jesus in here with me.  My family has a natural ability to loosen the chains and melt the steel.  I have a friend or two that I unlock it for on occasion.  But someone new?  I don’t think I can let in anyone new.

If there’s anything life has shown me in the past two years, it’s that appearances can be deceiving.  I have too many people in my life who seem to have good intentions that end up being fickle or manipulative.  People I think I can trust, prove themselves otherwise.

I trust people that I’ve known for years, but letting someone new in is just too risky.  I mean yes there are people I feel like I can learn to trust, but they are rare, few and far between, and it will be a long time before that can happen.  I just get this feeling about them.. this feeling that I can trust them.  Like the feeling I got about my friend in my last post.  The problem is, I barely ever meet people I feel like I can trust.

I have made the mistake of trusting people that I haven’t had that feeling about and it hasn’t turned out well.  So until I have a better grasp of how to determine who I can let in, I’m on lock down. God’s got a lot of work to do here…. these are things I should talk about at oasis….

The point being, this hurts me and it hurts those around me.  Because there are people in my life that feel promising, but I just haven’t gotten that “ya, they’re good.”  Connect with them yet.  No confirmation.  I can act like we’ve got that connect, but I can’t actually let the openess and vulnerability happen.  I’m afraid of hurting people, because the longer I’m on this fence of “can I trust them or not?” the closer I get to shut down mode.  I become hypersensitive to their every action, and if they do one little thing to worry me, my mind blows it up out of proportion and I hide from them.

I’ve been in this “I can’t let myself get hurt” mindset for a while now, and was actually getting better at bringing my walls down.  But wouldn’t you know just when I think I can let loose, things just blow up in my face again.  The walls are back up people.

So ya, I may be transparent on here, but I’m not telling you guys everything.  And yes, I can be good friends with people, but there’s a level of comfort and openness missing from a lot of relationships for me on the inside.

People can’t be trusted.  That is a fact.   I’m not naive to think there are people that are ALWAYS trustworthy.  But frankly, I’m only interested in risking that trust on people that I know are important enough in my life to get past the times they let me down.  And I specifically use the phrase “let me down.”  I know my family will let me down, but they will never betray me.  I know my best friends will let me down, but they will never carelessly hurt me.  I trust those who I know want to treat me in love, even in their mistakes.  And if I don’t know whether or not you will betray me or carelessly hurt me, chances are you’re not going to be trusted with very much.

At this point, I’m rambling.  So ya… I’m trying to remember that loving someone does not mean you trust them.  I’m trying to learn who I can let in.  I’m trying to figure out why I’m so apprehensive about things that make me happy and only seem to be good.  I’m trying to be careful while at the same time not hurting people.  And I’m trying to protect myself.   “Above all else guard your heart” (what exactly does that mean????)  I know Satan does a good job of snaring me in anger and holding grudges.  So I’m protecting myself even more than normal, because, yes I don’t want to be hurt, but even more so… I don’t want to get caught up in anymore anger than I have been already.

Ugh… where am I going with this?

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you… the world’s worst ending to a blog post….. pineapples.

Passion 2012: My Recap

Day 1 (January 2nd)

Today was weird… I was pumped and excited for the conference, then I walked into the 1st main session this evening and was struck by how numb I felt and how distracted I was.  I knew when to clap, when to say amen, which lines in the songs people would raise their hands to.  It was all a formula in the worship session, but I wasn’t connecting.  My mind was racing.

“I wonder where they got that new female singer… is she singing harmony or melody?  Christy usually sings harmony, but maybe they brought the new woman in so Christy could sing melody… or maybe she was brought in to sing melody.  Wow, the entire choir is all fashionable… but they aren’t wearing bright colors… they’re all muted colors like brown, tan, gray, black, navy, white…. They probably told them all to do that.  That’s such an interesting color scheme, but you can totally pick out who’s part of the band by the colors they’re wearing…  Wait… did they just say that God’s name should be the highest on our “alter of praise”?  Shouldn’t His name be the only name on our altar of praise?  And “The cross was enough”??? I think it’s more like “The cross was more than enough.”  Well, unless you’re thinking legalistically… then it’s a good way to reason with someone who is trying to justify themselves by works…”

It was like that the whole time.  I kept wondering what my problem was… thinking I should lift up my hands at least once to not look like an uninterested person forced to be here, but I didn’t want to fake worship.  Then Louie Giglio got up and talked about Jesus resurrecting the widow’s son who was on his way to be buried.   Louie asked us if any of us were on our funeral processions needing Christ to reach out and touch our coffins and say “Hold up.  Arise!”  I kept thinking “Yeah…. Yeah… that’s how I feel, but why?”  Then he touched it.  Louie hit that chord.  He was going through the “maybe you’re…s” and got to “Maybe you’ve been hurt.  You have a failure, a disappointment, a wrong done to you and you can’t let go of that bitterness, that hatred, that pain, that brokenness.”  Oh hai, ya um… that’s me!  You don’t just get PTSD out of the blue.   You get it after (hence the “post”) something big and not so fun (hence the “traumatic”) happens in your life. And in my life, it left me in a place of bitterness, hatred, pain, and brokenness, feeling disappointed, wronged, and like a failure.

With the PTSD symptoms flaring up more nowadays and with that having constant reminders of the event that occurred, my walk with God has become… numb.  Too much knowing… no feeling.  I guess taking Bible classes at my college and having scriptures turned into academics has added to that.  And it’s difficult.  I don’t want to beat myself up while I’m trying to heal, but at the same time I don’t want to give myself excuses.  God is understanding, but God deserves my everything.   I say and believe that God is good… but it feels like “God HAS BEEN good in these areas of your life, so you can’t complain about the other stuff.”

It’s funny… growing up, I always wondered if something terrible would happen to me.  It was like my mind was constantly circling the bad events that could happen in my life.  I would think about how it probably wouldn’t happen to me, how if it did I would be fine, and how afterwards I would recover quickly.   But this… this isn’t what I expected.  I didn’t expect to be upset with God.  I didn’t expect to blame myself for something that should not have been my fault.

So, on to another day, to see what I’ll learn, to see what God has for me… God, what DO you have for me?

Day 2 (January 3rd)

Started out the morning with community group/family groups working through Ephesians 2.    I was really disappointed in my family group.  All of their answers felt so… Sunday school.  Basic.  Textbook.  Flat.  Bumper sticker Christianese.  And one girl in the group would only talk about herself.  Every other person, she would interject about her life.  It was really hard for me to be patient, loving, and had a good attitude towards her when she was taking all the time to focus on herself and not pouring into others, like the other members of the group were doing.  I was mostly silent the entire time, trying to choose my words carefully and prayerfully address my thoughts in regards to my group.

The first session had worship led by Matt Redman.  My sister, brother-in-law, and I had a discussion before the session on the worship last night.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one having problems with the lyrics.  My sister also brought up how almost all of the worship was “pump up” music, and we wanted to sing WORSHIP and PRAISE.  So, seeing Matt Redman I was very excited because he usually sticks to a God centered worship… and I was so disappointed.  One song they sang, all but 3 lines had something about “I” “Me” “My” etc.  I didn’t want to sing about myself, even if it was my response to God’s work in my life.  I wanted to sing about God.  I left worship that session very dismayed.

Beth Moore had a great message though.  She talked about the woman with the issue of blood in the gospels, and how her story is just written smack dab in the middle of the story of Jairus’ daughter dying and Jesus raising her up from the dead.  Beth was talking about how this man’s daughter was dying, Jesus was teaching his disciples, the crowds were pressing in around Him, and yet God allowed for this woman to be ministered to in the midst of this chaos and healed.  She was trying to communicate that often times we see all of the big issues in the world, and we don’t think God has enough provision or that it’s right for us to ask for healing for our own issues.  I was definitely appreciative of that message.  I felt like I was hearing God say “Yes Kelsey, I have a big work I am doing globally… but I haven’t forgotten about you.  Healing may take time (the woman had her blood problem for 12 years!), but don’t be idle while you wait.  Keep at my purposes.  I will be ministering to you throughout your work.”  Definitely needed.  It kind of addressed that area of “yes I believe God is good, but I feel like that means I can’t complain when things don’t feel so good.”  God is good.  I can say He is good when I am at my lows, not just because He already did good things and so I am obligated to be thankful, but because He is going to do great things yet to come in my life.  Christians should be living a life of hope, and right now for me that means praising God for His goodness yet to come because He promises to watch over me.

Kristian Stanfill led worship for the main session after lunch.  It finally started to feel like it was shifting into worship and not pump up music.  He played a new song that I really liked and would post here… but being that it’s new it’s not published, recorded, or available for a lyric search anywhere.  Darn.  Anyways, after worship, Christy Cain spoke about human trafficking and slavery.  She brought the reality of it all down from the statistics and to our hearts.

After dinner, my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and I all sat down together in the Dome.  The evening (final session) was getting ready to start, and I saw Chris Tomlin and the Passion band getting on stage.  I felt my heart sink a little thinking it would be more pump up music.  The lights all went out and suddenly tons of bright lights shot out from the back of the stage into the crowd as the Passion band sang one word “Yahweh.”  It was then that I knew that this evening was going to be good.  It finally felt like things were back in focus.  They led worship for awhile, then Chris invited a few artists on the stage to join him… from Jakarta, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia.  They all took turns sang How Great Is Our God together in their different languages, then Watoto Children’s Choir came on stage midway through the song and joined them for the Chorus.  Everyone of them all sang at once in their own language and I was absolutely overwhelmed.  It was just a glimpse of the heart of the global church and it was astounding.  North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia… all gathered together for the same purpose: to worship the King.  Astounding.  It’s safe to say I was in awe.  Crying and frozen all at the same time.  Charlie Hall came up and led worship for a while and it was so refreshing, authentic, and Christ focused.  So thankful.  So blessed.

Following worship, Francis Chan spoke about knowing God for ourselves and loving the scripture.  He talked about how we shouldn’t take anyone’s interpretations for absolute truth until we study the scriptures ourselves and how we should compare the lives of those we are taught the word by to Jesus… of course the only way to know that is to know Jesus.  And you can’t know Jesus if you’re not in the word.  Francis Chan was such a great practical speaker full of passion and love.  Really great to hear him speak.  It was like having a heart to heart with him… only there were 44,000 other people in on the conversation with me.

Following his message, the passion band came back on stage and we sang starting with the simple phrase “I will follow you.”  It was hard for me at first.   I wanted to slip back into that distracted place, or that numb place… I felt moved by the wondrous view of God I had gotten at the beginning of worship, but was not moved personally.  Then I just forced myself so sing.  I found myself telling God “I don’t want to make promises to you, because I want to sin.  I want to break them.  I feel like they won’t last.  I can’t even offer you 30 seconds of focused worship, and here I am supposed to be singing about how much I love you and will do for you.  God, I don’t want to say what the lyrics on the screen say, my heart doesn’t feel it, but I have no doubt in my mind that that is precisely what you deserve.   So I’m asking you to give me the desire and the strength to want it and to work for it.”  It was so different having a moment of worship not emotionally, but mentally.  Admitting to God that it was connecting up in my mind, but my sin was keeping it from my heart.  Asking God to remove that barrier.  Who knows what will come of that in the days ahead at passion and in my life?

Family groups after the last main session of the night were interesting.  I got to hear more personal answers.  The talkative girl in my group still only talked about herself.  She specifically brought up a certain aspect of her life she was having trouble with, and I found myself immediately thinking of something encouraging I could tell her… but someone else was already talking, and I could find my disgruntled spirit not wanted to open up the floor to her to speak again.  Then I felt the twinge of conviction: God saying – If you are wanting her to pour into other members of the group, show her what it’s like to have other members pour into her.  So I told her what I had to say, and other members added on.  She sat there blinking with a smile on her face and thanked us for the new perspective on her problem.  Being that this was at the end of the night, there really was not any impact I could see on her aside from that… and that may be all that there is out of it, but at least God taught me how to love those I’m not so naturally inclined to love.

It’s been a long day full of confusion and heavy thinking.  I am ready to get into tomorrow to hear some John Piper, and Lecrae, and focus on the true heart of worship.  What’s next God?

Day 3 (January 4th)

I want to give a full recap of today like I have done for the other days… but honestly this morning is kind of a blurr.  The morning session we sang worship led by David Crowder and his guys.  Truly a blessing to be there for the last time they lead worship together.   Then Louie invited us students to remain standing for the whole session, saying “It’s funny how we stand for the singing part of the worship, but we sit for the speaking part of worship.  It’s all worship.” So, Lecrae, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, and John Piper got up on the stage and read through the book of Ephesians, stopping after every chapter and inviting us to pause, be still, reflect, and ask God to speak to us.  No preaching.  No teaching.  No exegesis or eisegesis interpretations.  Just the word of God.  It made me sad that about half of the stadium sat down despite Louie’s request for us to stand, especially since it was a reading of THE WORD OF THE LORD. (Give yourself a high five if your mind said “thanks be to God” after you read that).  Oh, might I just add.  I was amazed at how powerful Lecrae’s reading of the word was.  It’s incredible how much his knowledge of the scriptures and his gift with words and rhythm have affected his articulation of the word.  And as I was standing thinking that, I wondered what it was that made me think Lecrae reading it had so much more impact than me reading it for myself.  It is the same scripture, and these are the same ears it falls on… so why was I swooning in amazement from the power of the words when it was big name Christians reading it?  Idolizing people?  Not allowing myself to pause and reflect?

The afternoon session was Louie interviewing many leaders from organizations that work against human trafficking.   After the interviews, he informed us that we had raised over 1 million dollars for freedom.  $1million against human trafficking, slavery, prostitution, child abduction, abuse, and more.  Very cool.  After this session the line for the Do Something Now booths snaked back and forth and stretched down the road.  It was crazy.   I can’t wait to hear the numbers tomorrow.

Then tonight Chris and the Passion band led worship.   One of the very first songs they sang was one that had been grating on my nerves all weekend.  It’s getting harder and harder.  Everyone is jumping up and down, hands raised, voices singing at the top of their lungs… and what are they singing about?  Us.  Yes, it’s our response to Christ.  Yes, I know the point the artists was trying to get across… but it’s not settling with me right.  I keep thinking “Kelsey let it go.  Just worship!”  but it’s really getting to me.  I can’t even sing the song.  It was good singing songs like “Our God.”  Straight up all about God.  I guess what I should say is, I could sing the song as just an awesome Christian song because that’s what it is: a Christian song.  And a really good one at that.  But it wasn’t something I considered praise to God.  I don’t know… I think I’m just complaining now.

John Piper spoke tonight.  Felt so sweet hearing a voice that feels like “home” to me.   He started giving us his outline and said that one of the 4 points was “the supremacy of Christ.”  I nearly fell over when I heard that.  John Piper.  40 min to speak.   And he has the supremacy of Christ as one of FOUR points?  There’s no way… Sure enough he ended up having to do the last two points in like 7 minutes.  Oh Jonny… Either way, his sermon was very thought provoking.  At one point he said “You can’t just choose to see something you’re blind to, to savor something that sickens you, to desire something that bores you.”  How many times do I hear myself and others say “I need to read my Bible more.  I need to make time for God.  I need to pray more.”  Why aren’t we reading, praying, making time for God?  Because we don’t desire it, see it, savor it?  Scary thought… very scary.  I felt a holy weight on me when sitting in that session.  Like my heart was coated in lead and being pulled right out of my chest.  God saying “This is serious.  I am serious.  So take me seriously.”

The community group following was very good.  It started out as the bumper sticker stuff I had mentioned before, then I just though “enough of this” and opened up about the personal implications of some very serious stuff that was going through my mind.  Following that, other’s in my group opened up as well.  Chain reaction.  Deep conversation.  And all it took was for me to get over my fear and speak up.  Hmmm… God you seem to be showing that to me a lot lately.  Just open up.  Just say it.  How much?  How far?  How long?

Here’s where my journaling for the conference ended.  In the end, Passion 2012 raised 3.2 million dollars against human trafficking.  It’s been good just obeying God and taking small leaps of faith he has pushed me towards in the days since the conference.  I want to believe that things will be different when I go back to school.  I want to be a light for him.  I want my school to be a place where I am filled up to be poured out.  I want my days ahead to be marked with my humility in walking in His will.  I want people to see the hope I have despite my past, my emotions, my PTSD, my stress, my pride, and more.   Hope in Christ.   God move in me this year.  Lead me and push me to where you want me to go.  Lift me up through my struggles and humble me in my triumphs.  Let the mystery of your grace permeate my life.