September

Helper

I have been viewing losses as fail
And effort like breaking out of jail.

I’ve looked and said: “please, help!
I’m searching & there’s no hope I’ve felt.”

Yet, you’re always guiding, turning
Me and answering my yearning

Telling me: “Daughter, it’s going to be okay!”

Since his will is perfect & good
And his love is more than it should.

And even if I lose every single thing
To him, my heart, I will still cling.

At the gates he’ll yell: “what did I say!”

And every single thing will be okay.

That Hideous Strength

Here’s a little excited update on what I’ve been reading! A fiction book! AHH – it’s been so fun. Here are my passion-filled thoughts:

Those who know me know my love for fantasy – I’d call it extreme fantasy. Like, I would like to be transported into another world without any trouble getting there, smooth ride with no connecting flights. So, naturally, The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) has been an all-time favorite since I can remember. However, during my college years, I started falling in love with C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy. Well, that changed my mind. As beautiful and explosive as LOTR is, it took precedent.

The Space Trilogy set the bar for books from then on. However, I only read Out of the Silent Planet (the first book) and Perelandra (the second book). I tried reading the third in the series, That Hideous Strength, which sounded so captivating, but could not finish. Those who have read it understand that the first chunk is pretty painful for those of us who aren’t scholars! It’s set in a university – with the a bunch of lofty dialog, theories, and college politics to start. You have to wonder – what is Lewis getting at? Dispersed between these (droning and draining) conversations and people, you meet a more interesting character. She is the wife of one of these sociology professors, Mark, and isn’t apart of the college politics. (Although, she is getting her PhD from the college – Bracton if I haven’t mentioned the name yet.) Her name is Jane. She is young and forward for the time, meaning, she is independent and isn’t all about the structure of lady-hood nor marriage. She seems to tip toward feminism and is definitely a logical thinker – she prides herself in this. I believe you are supposed to think at first highly of Mark Studdock – he seems like a smart, legit, but human person. We quickly know of his downfall, though, as he enters an undefined position with an unseemly organization and becomes obsessed with getting to the top of said organization without really caring what the organization is actually about… which isn’t admirable at all.

During the time Mark is checking out this job – and starting it – with this mysterious organization (ironically named N.I.C.E.) his wife discovers that she is mentally ill – or what she thinks is mental illness. She has reoccurring terrible dreams that feel so real. After telling a friend about these dreams, the friend refers her to a sketchy place – not the therapist she thought she was going to meet. This introduces a new side, the other side, in this story. We have the N.I.C.E. and we have the party at St. Anne’s. (I won’t mention their title for it is more fun to figure it out!) Eventually, without spoiling the details, Jane finds herself at St. Anne’s again to discover deeper secrets of the party assembled there all the while Mark slowly becomes deeply acquainted with the secrets underlying the N.I.C.E. or “the Institute”.

This story is a fantasy, yet too real to be so. The other books in this timeline take you to wild worlds I could never begin to imagine. But this one keeps you on earth – both literally and metaphorically. The reason for writing this little piece is this: the things Lewis describes happening in this fantasy war are things that could happen here, today! (Well, not all the time. Much of it is magic and mystery and history all combined, but the ideas behind it are very, very timely.)

Here are some extremely shocking and thought-provoking points Lewis makes in That Hideous Strength: (Mind you, this book was published in 1945…)

  1. In this time period, people are beginning to believe whatever they read if it sounds legitimate. This becomes a tool for the bad guys to use to gain their agenda with the masses to the point where they have so much sway and influence, people listen to what they say without even questioning it… Sounds familiar, eh? The bad side uses this naivety through the media. They write persuasive articles full of untrue facts about certain things that cause riots in the streets – over what? They don’t exactly know! We have some details about what they include, but the enemy is vague in the articles and people are without reason for their rioting… Interesting. Shooting at an enemy that you can’t really put into words…
  2. The prideful view of higher power. Jane finds herself resistant to any ideas of a godly realm. She’s always known that, but even as she becomes face to face with it, she digs her heels in. It isn’t until the Director of the party she becomes affiliated with pushes back on her ideas does she admit WHY this is. The why is this: her pride. He points out that in every area of her life, she is in control and never wrong. He points out how evil this is, with a vision to help make the point. She digs her heals in even further, but it gets her thinking… Is this really who I am? Someone so evil?
  3. The lack of Christians actually sold out to Christ. At one point, an interesting character (too good to name!) appears into the story. The Director of the previous book catches him up on (some) history he has missed. The story is central around Christians – those who are and those who aren’t. Everyone seems to identify those who are by the name, but then if they were raised that way versus actually devoted to it. At one point the interesting character asks the Director, in Elli’s paraphrasing, “Can’t we seek help from the surrounding Christian nations?” And the director replies: “There are none.” The character responds: “None? What about these values, have they spread East? Can’t we find some around the globe?” The Director replies: “You can go as far East to end up back here in the West, and you will find none.” Character: “Are there no dedicated Christians that are not leaders? Just normal people?” “No, the few that are remain in this house.” To that the character replies: “Is this then the end?” The Director agrees: “This Hideous Strength has the earth in its fist to squeeze as it wishes.”
    1. Interestingly accurate, is it not? I believe this is set to be nearing to the end times, or at least a picture of what it will look like. Lewis is saying that it already has begun, that Christians who identify as such aren’t really. They don’t know anything about their faith and are quick to abandon it to what the world says. SO INTERESTING!!

I love tales that hit home themes and ideas that are culturally relevant – as well as themes that deal with spiritual issues and faith. (This is one of the reasons I love LOTR.) This book made me think a lot about how we see these issues here and now.

I’d love to hear from other readers… I’ve been reading threads of analyses from people around the world and throughout time, old and new opinions and it is fascinating. But it’s a wonderful thing to have the best of both worlds – aka: get my fill of fantasy, but also be able to emerge with a greater understanding of reality. That’s why I wrote this little report on what I’ve been reading – to appreciate the just about prophetic analysis Lewis has on humanity and also to show what amazing things we can take out of novels that shed light into humanity.

August

To death!

 

I wonder what it’s like knowing not of death –

Breathing in freely, each being a long, lasting breath.

Not fighting, but staring up, up at the sky!

Enjoying, refreshing, knowing I will never die.

 

Much of my life I’ve thought of death –

I’ve thought about how this could be the last breath.

I’ve looked up and shouted, “take me in, sky!”

Hoping, wishing, waiting, pleading to die.

 

Then, others fear the end as final – death-

They charish every single, little, frail breath.

They shout, “Please! Don’t every take me, sky!”

And wonder why, oh why, do I have to die?

 

Either way, I know – I do not fear death –

Able to be grateful, but not cling to every breath.

We eternal can go fly up, up to the sky!

And know my Father did not create me to die.

July

To Be Found

Who is lost?
Not I! I am found.
So up high, away from the ground
I can’t even see
any near me
I am so found
I can’t hear a sound!

Yet I am alone
with no one, nor home
I have to fight
just to see a light
I think I can go
But I just sink below
I am lost. I need found

But he has come, to gather me up
To give me love, when I can’t get up
To love me (even when no one else does) [bad, elli]
And give me a home no matter what.
Oh, how I long to be found – again, and again, so close to your sound
It picks me up, as I drop down.
Oh Father, don’t ever put me down!

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what is lost.” – Luke 19:10

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

June

Never Good

Frustration isn’t kindled, it’s explosive
That consumes heatedly emotive

Set off by expectations wildly high
That I myself set, but cannot get by

My heart crumbles when I get to see
How terrible I must really be

I struggle and fight and work so hard
Just to be good enough, but I’m barred

I try and try and try without hope
Oh, will good ever be in my scope?

No, it won’t. I never will.
I’ll always, always, always be ill.

May

Some Faith

Sometimes I slip,
Or someone slips,
Or life slips,
All the ways –
I end up on the ground.

Maybe not too bad,
Maybe pretty bad,
But to me it seems
I’m stuck on the ground.

And I try everything –
Over & over –
But nothing seems to work.

I’m stuck right here with no help,
Or so it seems to work.

Yet He calls me to listen,
Even from my lowly position

Calling me to look up.

 

“rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.”

Dinner with Prati

Prati walked up to the porch looking like a queen – her golden sari shining. I never imagined I would see her in the USA – let alone in my childhood home!

She hugged each one of us and remembered details about our lives. Oh, how could she? As the wife of the president of a large ministry in India, they have teams from the US over there all the time, but she remembered. 

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There are some people that you connect with, but then there are those that change your life. (I know, I can be pretty overdramatic, but this is true!*) She is one of them. Prati is married to Sam Stephens, president of a flourishing ministry in India that works in rural villages. They reach some people who have literally never heard about God before or never heard the name Jesus. And then they get to see God transform their lives, person by person, ignited with new life. And Prati is God’s vessel for ignition. She heads up “Women With a Mission,” a ministry that serves women in India by giving them the ability to spread the Gospel through training and discipleship. This is TOTALLY revolutionary – women in rural Indian villages most of the time have no purpose.

Prati’s mission is to preach the reality of the new life in Christ. Her ministry is with women who have been told they are nothing their whole lives. They are viewed as objects or inconveniences to those around them, they have no confidence. So, Prati LOVES telling them about their new life in Christ. When they ask God to come into their lives and take away their sin, everything changes. They can put off completely their old identity of nothing and take on this new identity of being everything. She says, “These women need to know that they mean everything to Jesus.” 

This is profound to me. In the USA, whether we try to or not, we’re all about works and success. Even those who have a relationship with God for years can get crushed when we look around and see we don’t have any ministry or that we aren’t highly esteemed by our peers. That’s what we want: recognition, pride, confidence – in what we’ve accomplished. 

So, I think what Prati says to those women in India is very humbling to a woman in the US to hear – instead of trying and striving and shame in failure, the only thing that should have that much impact on my life is Christ in me. The only thing that matters is how He views me. It doesn’t matter what I think of myself, or how I view my weaknesses, I should celebrate Christ in me. He’s the only thing about me that matters… He makes me EVERYTHING to God, and that changes EVERYTHING. 

This is what I want to preach to those around me, too. So many are broken, defeated and left with no hope. I’m seeing it younger & younger as I get to work with high schoolers – they feel they are nothing since they are treated as such and they look for significance from anything. It causes much more hurt when they do this. (When I do it, too!) I don’t think I do this enough: preach new identity in Christ. I want to! Just having this reminder has pushed me to pursue God on another level – it connects the gap between us because there is no gap! He is in me! I want to pursue who is my heavenly Father and what he wants to do through me! It’s Ephesians 1:1-14 – all of those blessings, all of those truths about Christ and what he’s given to us. It is a powerful fact that changes entire lives. 

—> The time with her was warm and honest. Were we back in India, again? We ate, laughed, caught up a little and then she told us about how the Lord is moving in India. She spoke of four new regions of India that God has allowed India Gospel League – and specifically her ministry, Women With A Mission – to enter to spread the Gospel of Jesus. She spoke of amazing things such as women never knowing that they could have a purposeful relationship with the Lord, never knowing of their significance to Him, and women’s prayers answered left and right. She spoke of God giving her the ability to preach in a language she only studied in school 40 years ago! 

Someone should write a book about this lady. This was the second time I have met her, but the more I learn about her walk with the Lord, the more profound my view of Him becomes. She is so faithful to God because she has a very deep, emotional, close relationship with Him. She is human – she has been through many struggles! She has encountered many sins! But she always seems to go to God first. She’s been through much hurt, too. The way she speaks to the heart of the insecure makes so much sense. She’s seen her lot of hardships. But she also knows how diligent the Lord is to come through on his promises. 

—> She shared with us what she has been learning about prayer. She is always learning something as she walks with God! She realized that every time she prayed, it’s as if she swiped her credit card – “God, I need this. Please & thank you.” But as she studied Luke 11:1 and Matthew 6, it became more apparent that what God wants from us in prayer is constant, honest, reliant communication spurred from a close, intimate relationship with him. Not only asking for our daily needs, which are SO hard to see past! But for the greater things! Because if we really knew him, we would be ABLE to SEE that HE is ABLE to accomplish MUCH more than just: “Please, help me pass this test, provide me a job, etc.” He is able to change eternities. 

And then, we got to pray with her. Her prayers are deep, emotional, hopeful, and encouraging. She knows God so deeply. She prayed for so many things I never thought to pray for. But she had such confidence God heard her and already had a solution because that is how much he cares for us. 

My goal is to be like Prati. I want to know God this closely – close enough to pray to Him like she does. Close enough to want his glory more than my own. Close enough to kneel before him in reliance. Close enough to have joy in EVERY circumstance. Close enough to praise him for every good thing…

Close enough to be able to look a woman in the eye, as she did to me, and tell her: “You are significant and important. You are right, not because of who you are, but because you have a Father that invested into you. You are here for a very great purpose – DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?” 

*Prati changed my life in a few ways, no lie. But the largest way is this: while we were in India, she had all the women at the conferences pray that I find a good husband and get married. At the time, Zak & I had been broken up and going through much breaking. She told me this later, but she knew Zak from his time in India and prayed we could be together, if in God’s will. So, I owe this lady a LOT! – Isn’t that cool?! 

Getting caught

Voices shoot past, incomprehensible.

Screams, laughs; flying by so fast.

Some faces you catch, others keep going

Always moving, never slowing.

 

Lives, just ending. Running into darkness.

No one can stop us, no one can save us.

Here we go, into the dark.

To death we race, our lives we pace.

 

But I got caught.

Before the pit, was a net

And it caught me in its soft threads

Before I hit that endless pit.

 

I landed and there were others

All around me! Looking around, free.

We laughed, we leaned, we breathed

It was so good, so good we could.

 

Suddenly, I remembered again:

The fast faces, missing the graces!

Others thought, too. They reached, grabbing

Hoping for some to just grab and come.

 

Few did, more didn’t.

It was hope making, and heartbreaking.

Some rejected, but some grabbed hold,

Happy to stop, happy not to drop.

 

And so we are, safe, but sad.

Reaching for those who reject,

Hoping they wake up,

And stop soaring to death.