Lose myself

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I was reminded of the song "lose myself by Lauryn Hill" as I read Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted (The expanded version is coming out soon. Get it. You won't be sorry). In cooperate America, its very clear that in order to gain "success" you have to climb your way to the top. One of the higher up's in my department put it this way," You have to play the game." I left that conversation even more confident that I was not made for the game nor did I want to play it. If playing the game was just for money, a title, pomp and circumstance; then I would not "succeed" in corporate America. I attended a meeting with someone and I left in tears. I was completely wrecked because everything I've been told to fight for in my career is not what I am passionate about. Trust me, I have tried to picture myself at a big desk at a great company climbing the ladder and after a few months, I am once again convinced, that is not the life for me; however, it is the life for some people and if you are that person, by all means please run in your lane, and succeed. As much as I detest this concept of fighting your way to the top it is not just in corporate America; I've seen this "race to the top" in church and even Christian organizations.

Fighting your way to the top in church may be guised with a seemingly well meaning intention but we all know the truth. Working your way to the "top" of the church world may equate to joining the "ranks" of: Priscila Shrier, Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Robert Madu, Chad Veach, Bob Goff, etc. The list could go on. We've all had our moments of admiration and awe that turn into a selfish desire to solely and maybe subconsciously pursue that platform. Those people are in their God-given lane and we can't mimic that. In church we see a pattern: you work the system of who you know -->Gain a position-->Get recognition-Its a tiring game. Luke talks about this is Chapter 14 verse 11 "If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” The Amplified Bible states it this way, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank)." Even still, Jesus is not saying, try to be seemingly "humble" so you will be elevated. If that is what we think he is saying, we (I) have missed the point.

I think Jen describes it best:

"I hate the top. I hate who I have to be to live there. I hate the biblical two step I have to perform to justify top-dwelling. I hate the posturing up there...I detest the fear that haunts every decision. It's a ridiculous game where everyone is either scratching your back or stabbing you in the back. Depending on whether your rung is above or below theirs. The self-congratulatory blustering up there is abhorrent. I'm so over it.Okay maybe it would be more true to say I want to be so over it. I'm trying to be over it."

When, I read these words, it was like someone articulated my feelings over the past few years. You don't want to play the game, in fact you are trying to get over it, because you are so done. Desperately done. The fact still remains that we are human and have a flesh. I have realized that I need to be "done" daily. I am so susceptible to the game. I've even found myself playing at times. Only to be reminded of who I am and how far I've allowed myself to drift from the truth. The line Jen stated that brings it all home is this: "In order for God's kingdom to come, my kingdom had to go." I can't tell you how many times I have prayed anxious prayers to the Lord crying out for "more of Him and less of me" and I've spent years earnestly soaking in more of me. Can I tell you, people, "I'm trying to be over it." So today I chose to be done and tomorrow I will do the same and so forth. Even when I chose the right mindset, I may slip and I may fall but I am starting somewhere.

I've spent a lot of time missing the main point. I don't have time to miss the point anymore. I want to keep the main thing the main thing. My scripture for this year has been Micah 6:8. It is hanging on my cork board at work. The minute I feel myself wandering from that and seeking success or fame and a following, I am missing it. I must draw myself back to square one: this is all about His kingdom.  I just get to be apart of it. How wonderful that he let's me be apart. Literally he is letting me in on what he is doing.

God gave me this dream to have a non-profit for teen mothers. I have labored and prayed over this dream for years and I continue to pray over it. One thing I have to check myself on, am I missing the point? Am I missing it? God don't let me miss the point of all of this. Truth is, I have a desire to help one momma at a time. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of doing something and wanting it to be big. When I find myself heading in that direction, I have to hit the breaks. The main thing is loving people, God's people. It's not about me. The dream was never about me. It was about God entrusting me to carry it. To love his people. To serve his people. Do I know what all of this will evolve into? No, I don't. I do know, it's not about a good social media campaign, marketing, or position. I so desperately want to get that concept with all I am. I want to dwell where Jesus is choose to and make my home there.

This weekend a Bishop Matthew, talked about home. How many people are trying to find "home" and a place to belong. Truth is, as Christians, we will never feel fully at home here. More importantly, "God's love is inside of us and his home is in us." So no matter where you go or where God sends you, his home is in us. "I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you (John 14:18-20)."

So instead of me trying to clammer to the top at church, work, or with HHope. I am humbly seeking Christ daily, to learn how to let his love flow through me and draw people home- to Christ. This peace, joy, and love wasn't meant for me to keep it to myself. It was mean to be shared.

I can't ignore the hurting, broken, those in poverty, and the extreme needs all around the world. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (James 1:27). I refuse to befriend apathy and pride. I can't do it anymore. I must make more of an effort to lay "Faitth and all of her agendas" down daily. 

I want to lose myself so I can wake up, be present, and fully engaged in God's kingdom, not my own.

All Son's and Daughters sum up my heart beat:

"Wake up, wake up, wake upwake up all you sleepersStand up, stand upStand up all you dreamersHands up, hands upHands up all believersTake up your cross, carry it on"

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I love orphans.

orphansI was a case manager for a year and a half and I got to to work with children in foster care. Before earning a degree in social work, I was very ignorant about the foster care system. I did not know if orphanages still existed in the US or if children were just in foster homes-until I started my job and I met some of the faces that make up "foster care."

Children in foster care are judged before anyone even meets them. They are probably "bad" or have a lot of "issues." Potential adoptive parents want young children to complete their family. If you are 7 years old you better pray hard because most likely you will be passed over for a baby because you are far too old to "mold" and "shape". Thus they are left in the system, growing more emotionally closed and starting to question everyone and everything. They are used to being let down and people giving promises they cannot keep. They shuffle from home to home- trying to learn new rules each time. Have you ever been to a sleepover as a child but you couldn't sleep well because you were out of your home environment? Children in foster care have to adjust to new homes and wonder if they will be safe. They may not sleep well. They may wet the bed, make failing grades, or be disrespectful.

I was really apathetic towards children in foster care until I saw their faces and learned their names. 

Every time a child ran up to me for a hug or refused to let me leave, my heart melted each time. These children are worthy of love and belonging. Unfortunately the older they are the longer they will permanently bounce from home to home in the foster care system until they age out at 18. By that time many of them are homeless, pregnant, or facing jail time. I can only imagine how they would have turned out if someone took a chance to love them. Loving foster children is risky, especially the older ones, but I believe it is worth it. Did you know that girls in foster care are more likely to become teen mothers or pregnant before age 25?

The teen who taught me the most was one of my greatest challenges at first. She would not talk to me much. She kind of mumbled as she talked. I tried not to pry since they have to talk to several adults about their feelings and it can be overwhelming. So I tried building a rapport with her. I did not see the results of this rapport until a year later. She finally opened up to me. I knew there was something special about her and I wanted to remain involved in her life regardless of where my career led me. She had endured a lot of pain and hurt. She had trouble opening up to people and connecting with adults because one minute they would want her forever and the next they were done. She has a lot of fears and hesitations about being loved. She doesn't understand true self-sacrificing, unconditional, and selfless love, yet. I am hoping she will be able to see past all of her hurt and pain to see how much love is really surrounding her.

In spite of all this, she has marked my life forever. I think of her all the time. Just thinking about her hurt, pain, and life brings tears to my eyes. There is nothing I can say or do to take away her pain. She is just one of many. She is not a number. She has a name and real life.

Watching a family adopt their 16year old son was so powerful. He was so excited to belong to a family legally but to them he was already family and this just made it official. The concept of leaving the old behind and changing your name is so symbolic to me. National adoption day is my favorite. These adoption moments bring me to tears because these kids are so worthy of love and having a family.

There are well over 6000+ children/teens waiting for good homes. These children are not in an orphanage, they are in foster homes in your own backyard- longing for permanency. You would be surprised how fast some parents relinquish their rights and decide to leave their child in foster care. It's heartbreaking.

The most fulfilling work I've ever done was serve these legends. Remember for every number there is a name and a face-these are precious little lives. I hope your heart can be opened to adoption. It's a beautiful, tough, rewarding, and life-changing journey.

Get out there people. Open your homes. Love a child or teen.

If you are scared of being in it alone, you won't be! There are so many support groups that meet in person and online. You will have support.

You will not regret it.

If you don't feel called to adopt then help someone else financially.

Do your part.

You can learn more about adoption through All In Orphan Care and Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

XOXO

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Taking My Shoes Off

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As a young professionals, we have days where we wake up and think, yes I am looking good. That was me today, pencil skirt to my knees nice black shirt. I was looking right. Until I finished my 10 minute walk from my parking garage to my building and realized that my skirt had completely turned and the split was now on the side of my thigh instead of behind me (like it started). So imagine me trying to fix my skirt in horror and hope that no one is in the stair well so I can fix it, only to have a man graciously come out of the stairwell as I am entering it in utter distress. He leaves; I attempt to straighten my skirt. Then I think “okay I will fix the rest when I get to my office.” As I am walking to my office I see my reflection in the windows and realized the 10 minute walk also destroyed my hair and of course, humidity has permission to take hold of any hairdo and mess it up.

Needless to say I thought I looked cute until I got work and had to “get dressed” all over again.

Today with my outfit all messed up, I was reminded that life happens. Skirts get turned around and your hair gets messed up. Nothing is perfect. I have wrestled with trying to be the perfect in my relationship with God, it was tiring and stressful. I've spent a lot of time dressing up for church and "dressing" up as a Christian. All the while, I was feeling like I was in a box and had to love and serve Jesus a certain way. Recently, Romans 14:22-23 has helped me a lot in this area.

I graduated from college with bachelors in social work and an associate’s degree in Biblical Studies- and I still had questions about God. I wondered if that was allowed, but inwardly I wondered if all of the things I had been told growing up truly reflected the heart of God.

I’ll admit I have had moments of real unbalance where I was just angry with Christians and really did not want to be associated with the callus words that were brought to life through their fb status. I just did not want to be a part of showing hatred to people with different views than me. I really wondered if this was who we have become as Christians. Do we really treat people this way? Do I treat people this way?

I was wrestling with why I believed what I believed but I wasn’t talking about it.

RELIGION NEVER BECKONED ME TO TAKE MY SHOES OFF and get dirty.

I watched this TED talk with Brene Brown about vulnerability.

I realized that I was not a vulnerable person. Am I honest with people, like really honest? No. Remember I am the one trying to put myself together in the stairwell before I get to my desk. I have not been really vulnerable with anyone except my family and two friends.

I talked with my "brother" Jerome and Shonda and they gave me some life changing advice. 

They gave me the Permission to Wrestle and did not condemn me.

That changed everything.

The permission to wrestle led me through a deep season of self-evaluation.

Earlier this year in a matter of months, everything I had in place and all my plans had been stripped away. It was me and Jesus and that was when the work began.  During this time I never heard the audible voice of God but through these books 7 by Jen Hatmaker and Love Does by Bob Goff, reading my Bible, worship, and prayer I put myself in the position to ask some hard questions. How was I behaving? Was any of my behavior reflecting the heart of Jesus? How long had I been missing the main point of my whole existence on this earth- to love people and lead them to Jesus? Not lead them to believe they had to do all this STUFF to stay right with Him. I was worn out from being regimented in my faith.

I have spent more time in the past two months digging deep and addressing real issues of my heart than I have in my whole life. Granted I am young, but it’s so easy to use age as an excuse. I refuse to use age as a reason to not address my mess and my issues. Yes I said mess and issues because guess what, we all have STUFF. Everyone’s stuff looks different. For me lately is has been defining who Jesus is to me. It has been about dissecting everything I was taught and searching out the heart of God. It’s been about me truly finding him and him wrecking me and changing my view of this world.

So here is what I have found out over the past months:

  • My desire to love Jesus and please him has increased
  • My longing to love people like Jesus has caused me to be more compassionate and less judgmental
  • I used to be awful with talking about people, it was easy, now I barely do it (I am not going to lie and say I don’t do it all because that is not the truth however it’s greatly improved and I am really growing in this area.)
  • I spend less time trying to figure out why people do what they do, and more time loving them
  • I am even more passionate about justice, the orphan, and teen mothers
  • I haven’t invited someone to church since I was in junior high (because all my friends were Christians) until yesterday when I invited a co-worker who said they would think about it.
  • I have found freedom in defining my relationship with Christ and not feeling like it needs to look like someone else’s relationship.
  • I need the Bible. I tried to go without it for a while but that did not work out too well. I need to read the Bible in order to learn how to live more like Jesus. I do not have a regimented "quiet time" but I make time to read my bible and pray through out my day. No day looks the same. Sometimes I miss days reading my Bible. That is okay too. 
  • Having a body of believers to fellowship with is essential and it is great to be plugged into a church. Also, you also won’t be stoned if you don’t get to church on a Sunday morning or if you watched online. It is important to connect with people that can encourage you.
  • I’ve found that being honest with myself has allowed me to embrace who I am and to really love myself.
  • Keep Jesus Simple.

 

 It’s in the moments where I am not rushing to “fix” myself and keep it together that I can actually take my shoes off and give them away to a homeless woman with gladness. It’s in those moments where Jesus works on me the most, when I am tangibly living how he lived and not just reading it and memorizing it. 

 

XoXo,

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