Church.

“How did we come to this?”

“How did we end up here?”

How do you begin a letter to someone you love, but who is also a source of pain, grief, and hurt?

The whole of creation is groaning.

My own heart is angry, full of sorrow, and so desperate for my loved ones to hear my cries.
The cries of so many.

The blood of our brothers and sisters are crying out from the ground for justice and revenge.
Just like Abel.

The blood of Christ is calling out for repentance, reconciliation, and restoration.
Just like MLK.

But in order for you to understand the depth of my pain, you must first know why I love my church family.

I love my church family because they showed up when others stepped out of my life.
They have showed up for the last twenty years of my life.
I love my church family because they created space for a hurt, angry, confused, and curious little teenager to work through a lot of deep wounds and misguided perceptions.
I love my church family because they genuinley sought to bring comfort to the hurting, offer guidance to the lost, rest for the weary, and honored and fought for the dignity of each human life.
I love my church family because it was here that I was introduced to the powerful testimony of Christ on the cross for my sins and the radical love of God to bestow upon me new life through His Son’s death.
I love my church family, because they pointed me to Christ.

And that is why this pain, anger, hurt, confusion, and fear is so maddening. My heart keeps breaking for you. Because I can’t make sense of what is happening between the silence of my church family who has taught me so much of the Good News of Christ, and the groanings of a deeply broken and hurting world that needs to hear and see Christ more than ever. Have we chosen the path of the Levi and the priest, instead of the Good Samaritan?

And I find myself pleading for my church family to be just that: the church.
The silence is deafening.
The inaction feels like betrayal.
I don’t want to step away from you. But I feel like I may no longer have a choice. 

I must follow Jesus.
And that might mean following Him away from you, my church family whom I love.

I have been wrestling with this choice for sometime now.
Even before all that has been occurring in the world the last 3 months, the last 3 weeks, the last 3 days.
I could barely step into our family home last year. I felt like an imposter.
Acting one way on the outside, but feeling so many conflicting things on the inside.
So I just stayed away.
Some people asked why I didn’t just leave.
And my response has always been, because God did not release me from my assignment here.

But, the last few months have been a season of listening, praying, and discerning. Seeking to be obedient and not fearful.

“I don’t want to miss a word you are speaking, because everything you say is life to me.
I don’t want to miss one word, quiet my heart, I’m listening.”

And last Monday, the Lord gave me this word for us, His church and offered me release:

“But alas my faithful and brave warriors, my ambassadors of peace, whom I have called for a purpose, let these injustices anger you, but do not let anger consume you, for that is what the evil one would have you do. Judgement will be mine. The evil one will distract you from the DIVIDING WALLS that are on the brink of being torn down. And now more than ever the world must see us preach in word and deed the Gospel!!

I AM is on the move, the SPIRIT is on the move. We are living in a moment that is ‘just a time as this.’ And therefore I will no longer be shaken or distracted from the glorious assignment I have be given—and that is to share the truth of Jesus Christ and preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, help release from darkness the prisoners, comfort the mourning, and to help bestow upon God’s people and creation a crown of beauty instead of ashes. He is making all things new.” (Isaiah 61: 1,3 & Revelations 21:5)

I feel released, for this moment, from the need to engage those in my church family who chose to close their ears, harden their hearts, and remain blind and will not place my energy there, for God is expanding my assignment! I am resolute, and my eyes remain on Christ Jesus and on the mountain top of Calvary! There is no turning back.

Citizenship.

reconciliation-statue
“Reconciliation” by Josefina de Vasconcellos

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what it means to be an American–especially today on American Independence Day. As an immigrant and someone who is still in the process of applying for my US Citizenship, I think deeply of what it means to become a citizen of the United States of America: what responsibilities, rights, freedoms, and national ideals are connected with this change of national citizenship and how I would live up to these responsibilities.

But what does it mean if someone is a citizen of a nation, yet does not get to experience, in the same way as other citizens, the same rights, privileges, and even freedoms promised to them, merely because of the physical attributes they possess or their birth place of origin. To deny someone, as Philosopher John Locke wrote their “inalienable” natural rights that have been given to them by their Creator and that can never be taken or even given away, among these are: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” seems like it would be un-American, if we simply read the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. If I was a citizen of a nation, and become aware that my neighbor has been denied such inalienable rights with no just cause, would I remain silent, or would I use my voice and my responsibility as a fellow citizen to address such an injustice to my neighbor. This then caused me to think of the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

And when I think about this, I think about my identity as a Jesus Follower, and Paul’s reminder in Philippians 3:20, that as a believer my ultimate citizenship is in heaven. I’ve been reflecting on one’s citizenship, in connection to their allegiance to certain values and ideals, and I am again brought to remember that as a Jesus Follower, who’s ultimate citizenship is in Heaven, that I have then been called to be Christ’s ambassador (2 Corinth. 5:20), someone who brings God’s message of reconciliation, first to Himself and then to each other, and this message is to be shared with everyone I meet this side of heaven. And then to think of the commands that come with this citizenship: To love God and to love my neighbor (Matt. 22: 37-38), to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives (Isa. 61:3), and to work towards “learn[ing] to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isa. 1:17).

So what does it mean to be American?
Who is free? What is freedom?
What does it mean to celebrate one’s freedom, knowing others do not?
How do we pursue justice for each other?
What does it mean to be Filipino?
What does it mean to be Filipino-American?
What does it mean to be a Christian?
How do we reconcile these sometimes opposing identities?
How should my core identity as a Christ Follower inform, shape, and influence my other social identities?

Well…if you wanted a window into how i’m spending my 4th of July–here you go.
What are you thinking about today?

Choice.*

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“You cannot cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water.”
-Rabindranath Tagore

On most days and weeks the question “how are you doing?” is invited and harmless.

But this week that question has felt
overwhelming,
heavy
and loaded.

That question does not usually illicit such a response in me,
this week it has.

This week, my community experienced a hate incident.
The symbol of a swastika
was drawn over the room of two of my students
who live in the residence hall that I reside in and supervise.
It was drawn over the room of two students,
One African American.
One Caucasian.
And our whole community has been impacted.

The spectrum of emotions and feelings being felt have been and are…
anger
pain
frustration
sadness
fear
disbelief
apathy
dejected
tired
sick
shame
guilt
remorse
confusion
indifference
hopelessness
hopefulness.

The actions of this week and the reactions connected to them,
reminds me that this is not merely an incident, but it is a cry from within our community that requires all of us to pay attention and acknowledge that we have a choice before us to make…….
…………….and to continue making.

Our choices as individuals and as a community can lead us to either
more….
apathy
division
anger
blaming
confusion
indifference
pain
injustice
bitterness
defeat
and hate.

OR

it can lead us to
healing
understanding
empathy
ownership
compassion
justice
repentance
reconciliation
and love.

But the reality is, we must enter the chaos that is upon us and not run from the things we cannot control, but instead choose to have the courage to:

Stay when we want to leave
Listen when we want to speak
Speak when we want to remain silent
Seek to understand when we want to blame another
Love

And love again.

As a person of color at Biola, I personally have had many deep and rich moments of joy, support, positive challenge, growth, and interactions of love and understanding while both a student and staff member.

I love this place.

And it is because I love this place and what it can be, that I know we cannot remain silent and indifferent to the stories within our community that honestly cannot share in the same affections I have for this community.

This breaks my heart and I want something different for the future of this place that means so much to me.

I also think about my student who did this.
The weight this student may now be feeling,
Is a weight I too feel.
I think of them as I think of what we can do to move forward.

The events of this past week and the emotions and feelings being experienced by our community is a reminder that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is
GOOD work.
It won’t be easy, it may be tiring, at times confusing even chaotic, and painful–but sometimes you have to re-break a bone that has not healed correctly so that it can have the chance to heal again to wholeness.

I have been awaken anew to the journey ahead of us, to the choices I, that we, have to make that will take…
courage
conviction
humility
compassion
action
and love.

It does not come from us, but from Christ and His redemptive work on the cross that gives us the hope that we too can be reconciled first to God,
then to each other.

I’m done staring at the water.
I want to cross the sea.

*Opinions expressed here are solely that of the blogger and do not express the views or opinions of Biola University. 

 

 

 

 

Unafraid.

IMG_3539
Question: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Today, I’ll be joining a group of women to discuss the first few chapters of the book: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. In the first few chapters, the author poses the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  Within the context of the first few chapters, this question is a reminder to the reader to reflect upon the areas of our lives in which our fear has taken the front seat, and our internalized insecurities have become our own self-fulling prophecies. This book catches me at a crossroad.

To be honest, its a crossroad I didn’t even consider needing to cross until now.

This book has me thinking about the future.

PLANNING. Planning for the future is such an interesting concept when you take the time to think about it. I have found myself asking what is the balance, if there is such a thing, to being present in the moment and planning for what may lie ahead.

Again, I find myself at a crossroad (I’m not actually sure if this is the right word to encompass where I find myself, but it’s the word that has crept into the foreground of my reflections). So much potential and possibility towards what tomorrow can bring, while at the same time acknowledging that at the blink of an eye life can change: illness, death, an accident, closing of a door that you believed was open, a new relationship, and the list goes on. The unknown, I believe, should not leave one feeling anxious or paralyzed about the “what ifs” in life, but quite opposite–it should cause us to not take today for granted.

I have been mulling over the idea that, though it is true that we do not know what tomorrow will bring, this place of mystery is actually an invitation to LIVE.

To LIVE and…..
….make mistakes…
…fail….succeed…..
..be disappointed…
…to be surprised….
…to experience heart break….
…and to have courage to love again….

I want to LIVE and not merely exist.
I want to LIVE because I have been given life.

So, I’m asking myself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid?:

1: I’d keep going back to that book store, just for the chance to ask that guy behind the counter out for a date.
2: I’d finally take my GRE exams and not simply begin the process of applying for the doctorate program I’ve been considering for the last 3 years, but SUBMIT my application.
3: I’d finally sign-up for my church’s financial peace class and face my reality head-on.
4: I’d finally send that letter to my dad.
5: I’d finally put something up on my blog….

So, here’s to practicing life.
To choosing to not be afraid of the unknowns and instead to welcome the unknown with both a humble and courageous spirit.

How would you answer this question…..? 

 

 

Routine.

It’s been one week on the farm.
So many new experiences have presented itself:
Picking wild blueberries.
Making homemade strawberry rhubarb jam.
Mucking the horse’s stall.
Holding baby goats.
Herding goats.
Picking fresh eggs from the hen house.
Loading 100+ barrels of hay.
Learning to make homemade goat’s milk.
Getting shocked by the farm’s electrical fence.
And the list can go on and I know will only continue to grow.

Each day brings something new,
and yet also carries an air of the familiar.
For Kathy, the amazing woman who own’s Spiritwind Farm,
all these “new” experiences for me are but
daily life for her.
It has been and continues to be a joy to be invited into her life.
She welcomes our questions
because she loves this farm, her animals, and wants to share this love with others.

Though each day may present something new,
there is also the gift of:
Routine.

The beauty of routine on a farm is that you must always be flexible.
One cannot always control if it will rain or not and change your plans for the garden.
Or if the chickens will produce the same amount of eggs as the day prior.
But, each morning, everyone on the farm must awake from their slumbers,
and set out on their daily morning chores.

So let me give you a glimpse of our daily morning feeding and cleaning routine through the form of pictures: (this is all done before we even sit down to eat breakfast) 🙂

Each day starts off with lots of hay. It is used to feed most of the animals.

Each day starts off with lots of hay. It is used to feed most of the animals.

Extra yummy food for the goats :)

Extra yummy food for the goats 🙂

First thing we do is feed all the animals while in the barn. Here are the goats.

First thing we do is feed all the animals while in the barn. Here are the goats.

Don't worry they are not attacking me :)

Don’t worry they are not attacking me 🙂

Once fed, all the animals are taken out of the barn to roam around the pasture for the day. This is me preparing to take Abby out of her stall.

Once fed, all the animals are taken out of the barn to roam around the pasture for the day. This is me preparing to take Abby out of her stall.

Here's Lainey taken Lucy out of her stall. :)

Here’s Lainey taking Lucy out of her stall. 🙂

Here's Abby enjoying being out of the barn!

Here’s Abby enjoying being out of the barn!

Then the goats are let out to graze the farm grass as well. :)

Then the goats are let out to graze the farm grass as well. 🙂

Once the horse are out, it's time to muck the stalls. :)

Once the horse’s are out, it’s time to muck the stalls. 🙂

For those who don't know what mucking is, here's a picture to give you an idea.... ;)

For those who don’t know what mucking is, here’s a picture to give you an idea…. 😉

Mucking = Removing all the horse's poop from the  night :)

Mucking = Removing all the horse’s poop from the night 🙂

Then all the horse crap gets taken to the forest or garden....

Then all the horse crap gets taken to the forest or garden….

....where it becomes great fertilizer!!!

….where it becomes great fertilizer!!!

Then we head back to the barn to clean up all the left over hay.

Then we head back to the barn to clean up all the left over hay.

After the barn, we head to  the hen house to feed all the chickens :)

After the barn, we head to the hen house to feed all the chickens 🙂

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Here's Lainey with the chickens outside the hen house.

Here’s Lainey with the chickens outside the hen house.

 

Spiritwind.

Day 1: Done.
When I say done, what I am really saying is the adventure is just beginning.
The beginning of things usually involve introductions,
so let me introduce you to my home away from home for the next few weeks: Spiritwind Farm.
Spiritwind Farm is nestled in the lush hills of the quaint little town of Lebanon, Maine.
It’s full of life, laughter, and love.

It has life found in:
humans, (caretakers of the land and animals)
woman’s best friend (a German shepherd name Rue),
critters (our non-domestic residents…)
horses (beautiful English Shires)
goats (mommas, “teenager” goats and two week old babies)
chickens (eggs for days!)
plants, trees, and land (lots and lots of land).

Laughter  is shared around the table, the barn, the kitchen island, the side porch, and
all through out the day as the task of completing the daily farm chores is had by all.

Love for this place exudes out of the kind-hearted yet strong, vibrant and hard-working
Kathy, who sees her farm as a true labor of love.
Let me show you what I mean:

This picture doesn't even begin to capture Kathy's love.

This picture doesn’t even begin to capture Kathy’s love.

 

 

I’ve only been here for a little less than 48 hours and I feel like it will be
an experience of a life time.

For now, the sun is setting and an early morning awaits me,
so I’ll leave you with some views from my own eyes of this lovely place:

Let me show you what idyllic looks like...

Let me show you what idyllic looks like…

 

Why yes, yes that is a red barn.

Why yes, yes that is a red barn.

Can you believe this was hand made by one man!?!?!

Can you believe this was hand made by one man!?!?!

Our beautiful 100+ Maple Tree (and Rue).

Our beautiful 100+ Maple Tree (and Rue).

The ending of a lovely day on the farm.

The ending of a lovely day on the farm.

 

 

Rocks.

For each one holds a story, a memory, and reminder of life lived.

For each one holds a story, a memory, a reminder of a life lived.

I’m a bit of a collector.
Books.
Quotes.
Letters.
Leaves.
Pictures—especially old ragged and torn ones.

I think much of what I collect is connected to memories,
it could be my memories,
it could also be the memories of others.
But something about connecting the present to the past
and bringing the past into the present captures my curiosity
and my heart.

As I thought about this summer and what I could collect I considered many possibilities:
Mugs
Pens
Pins
Patches
Postcards
and the list developed within my head.
But, in the end, I knew what would be the perfect companion to my travel adventures:
Rocks.

 

Rocks, bid me to remember where they came from
knowing that even there, where I found them, was not where they started.
Rocks,
can be painful
can be beautiful
can be hidden
can be in plain view
can present an obstacle
or be used to overcome an obstacle.
Such can be true of our memories.

So, as I gallivant around the country
i’ll have my eyes set on the rocks beneath my feet
looking to see which one might beautifully represent
the specific leg of the journey I may find myself in.

And maybe, if we find ourselves sitting across the table from each other
with my mason jar full of rocks between us,
we could take our time and listen to the stories they have to share: together.

The journey is better taken together.

The journey is better taken together.

 

And I bet you, amidst the stories they tell,
they’ll also point to Him, who is the ultimate storyteller.
The Rock of Ages.
(Enjoy the beautiful hymn below)

Recounting.

Home is where our stories begin.

Home is where our stories begin. #LoveHome

2 weeks….
Until the next leg of adventure beckons me away.

Though my last post spoke of the tension of being
behind and yet moving forward,
I see these next two weeks as a gift to recount: to look back and remember.
Remember:
Moments
Conversations
Places
Faces
Lessons
Memories.

As someone who appreciates the chronological order of things,
I find myself wanting to remember things “out-of-order.”
No real reason.
Just a desire to not do things as “normally planned,”
because this whole summer is an invitation to welcome
different.
Maybe not your different.
But, certainly my different.

So, as I reflect upon and  look through pictures, journal entries, napkin scribblings,
items in pockets and containers from this past month of adventure,
I invite you to find a comfortable place to sit,
with a delightful view,
and a cup of your favorite drink,
and experience with me the practice of
recounting.

Sometimes we just need to stop. Break our plan. And take a picture of something delightful.

Sometimes we just need to stop. Pause from our scheduled plan. And take a picture of something pretty.

 

Behind.

Someone once said: The Skies the limit...

Someone once said: The skies the limit…

So, it’s safe to say I’m a bit behind.

Behind on life: no.
Behind on blogging: yes.

Since beginning this blogging venture I have:
….been in 12 states
….traveled by car, plane, boat, water  taxi, regular taxi, and train
….celebrated a wedding
….observed a funeral procession
….experienced rain
………………………and sunshine
….embraced dear friends
….made new friends
….cried
….laughed
….Jumped…A Lot

One says jump, I ask: How high?!?

One says jump, I ask: How high?!?

So it’s safe to say, though I have done a slew of things these past 2 weeks
there is definitely one thing I have not done: Blog.

But, sometimes you just have to stay in the moment and keep going
with the knowledge that all that needs to be said and shared
will be.

Behind.
I say, we’re moving forward…the skies the limit 🙂

Frank said it best: Come Fly With Me