Up l8

So many drafts left unfinished, so many thoughts forgotten, unwritten. Endless dreams streaming through the mind, is it the brain or the heart that fuels them? How many more wishes untrue can we handle in this merciless, war-torn, loveless world? Who hopes these days anyway? Who actually believes? That a bluebird will still sing, that the firework will still pop a display of bright light when night is the only thing we know comes for sure. Not the moon or the stars but the dark.

tip tap tap top tap, rain drops on the window miles high in the sky; I wonder how long does it takes for them to hit the ground… when the clouds let go and give up… hello late musings, dry eyes, tired of the fight ’til 5, praying that this road is right, knowing no one else but Christ.

21-Day Daniel Fast

It has been a while since I’ve been able to post anything on this blog and I haven’t really been writing either. My last journal entry was in April of this year and when I realized that something I used to use to describe, or even somewhat define, me (writing) wasn’t a priority anymore, it made me question what was. Recently I’ve been immersed with watching old episodes of Law and Order: SVU, reading (The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas and The Keys by DJ Khaled), and figuring out where to steer my life toward so writing, typing, or recording thoughts hasn’t come as naturally to me as it used to. I feel like being in school encouraged me to write because I was always supposed to be writing something else (a paper, newsletter or application form) and when I procrastinated, I veered toward writing about myself (for private consumption) or inadvertently writing about faith (which this blog became mostly about). It’s never been intentional; I always imagined by blog turning into a lifestyle resource where people could scroll through for tips on any and every thing like every other blog in this oversaturated influence-sphere. I thought I’d start posting YouTube videos and up my Instagram game and it would all flow into this seamless online business that birthed a community and carried me through my twenties and into my future. Needless to say, a girl has fallen off the social media wagon in the sense that nothing I do online is as intentional as it used to be. My Snapchat used to be my space to be free and rant and make people laugh with my ridiculous antics, my Instagram was where I’d get deep and try to get featured on the Discovery page and my blog would serve as the place where young millennials walking with Christ and trying to live by faith could follow and relate to my issues regarding living with one foot in the world and one foot in the Word (something I discourage strongly – both feet should always be in the Word and jumping deeper into the love, grace and mercy of God). That said, I’ve come to see faith as a very personal thing, something that shouldn’t be shoved down anyone’s throat and something I, personally, should guard dearly. I believe in being bold for the sake of Christ but I’ve also learned that this Christian journey is different for everybody. I don’t always like that fact because I wish all Christians agreed on certain things and fought against other things together, I wish some Christians weren’t racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted or just downright mean. I wish some Christians weren’t more concerned with having a large congregation or tax breaks than preaching the truth as we read it in the Bible, and I wish holiness and righteousness was just as important as blessing and healing to us all. I wish many things for the church, my fellow believers and even myself and most of all, I wish I hadn’t starved my spirit and fed my flesh because that opened the door to so many things I have to work through internally and externally. The desire to live in God’s will, in His time, on His terms began to outweigh figuring out what makes me happy or how I should be living my life and as that desire got heavier, the need to fast became so apparent.
I just completed a 21 Day Daniel Fast and I’m still basking in this feat. First of all, I love food. I am a true foodie who will try anything and go anywhere just to taste and experience flavor and culture. Second of all, I am one of the least disciplined people I know. I procrastinate like it’s a habit, I love watching TV/YouTube/the internets – you name it, I watch it – and I have too many interests, to the point where I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I love doing, so I pick the easiest thing (binging on Netflix and Hulu) and just do it forever. Lastly, my relationship with God has been in an “it’s complicated” stage for a couple of months – at least on my end. There was no real reason behind it; I think starting a 9-5 for the first time, living in a real apartment building for the first time, and paying bills for the first time just drew me away from what I used to know as the joys of life: a flexible schedule, learning what you love, exploring with friends on a regular basis and basically just being a big kid in an adult’s body. On top of that, I started dancing again so any time I did have, I used to attend fun, sweaty hip hop classes that continue to make me so happy. All in all, I was doing alright and I became one of those “I’ll call you when I need you” type of Christians, which I’m very embarrassed to admit. I fell off the praying, worshipping, and formal fellowshipping and as if that isn’t enough, I started to question the point of church as an organization (Low key: I still do, but that’s a post for another day). I just saw huge churches as another business, not necessarily trying to get rich but definitely concerned with making a profit in some way, shape or form and the hierarchies and cliques that form at large churches just irked the life out of me. If I did make it to church, I’d slip in near the end of worship, grab my phone when it’s time to say hi to someone new, and slip out right before the last prayer (High key: I still do that, but again – another post for another day). All of this didn’t necessarily pull me away from God but I guess we just spoke less and spent less time together. I knew He was there, I knew I needed Him daily but because I wasn’t at rock bottom, I didn’t think I had any reason to lay on my face before the Lord (RED FLAG: Any time you think you don’t need to lay on your face before the Lord, STOP. DO NOT PASS BEGIN. DO NOT COLLECT 2000) When I found myself at the edge of a familiar cliff, I had to reset. I knew I needed God but it was at this specific moment, about to fall into old habits I’d worked hard to quit, that I realized I need Him always, completely, and constantly, whether life is all over the place or not. I didn’t need a blessing or a breakthrough, no healing or revelation – I literally just needed Him. I needed God, I needed the Holy Spirit’s help and so I dragged a friend along with me into the Daniel Fast.
Now, was it easy? No.
Did I like it? No.
Did I hear God’s voice? No.
Did I gain a new revelation, a sign, a message, anything??? No.
Nothing spectacular happened. Seriously, no big fireworks, no light, no dream telling me anything special, nothing. However, on this day, knowing that I did something I never thought was possible – FAST – and an intense fast at that: No meat or animal product of any kind, no sugars or sweeteners of any kind, no yeast (So no bread…) no alcohol, no drink of any kind other than water, not even green or herbal tea, no coffee, no soda… I mean NADA. This was no joke! This was a proper fast, my first!
Now… did I slip up? Yes (I had whole wheat bread and a vegan dessert twice)
BUT did I lose weight? Yes (9.6 lbs to be exact and I pray I don’t gain it all back *fingers crossed*)
Did I feel good? Yes! (I felt incredible! My skin even cleared up – even around that time of the month, which is so rare for me, you don’t even understand!)
Did I get closer to God? Yes (He strengthened me throughout this entire fast – if it weren’t for His help, I definitely would have either quit this altogether or stumbled a lot more)
And did I grow in prayer? Yes (the whole point of this fast was to be steadfast in prayer and having the 21-day devotional to help me along was a great way to stick to praying and get back to my roots, hence me cracking open my journal and sitting down to write this post)
Now, I said I didn’t hear God’s voice but He spoke to me the entire time, through people I love, through sermons, through the devotionals, during my quiet time, through music. God really came through for me, even when I wasn’t interested, and there were times I was NOT interested. I had grumpy days, days when I was ready to quit, days when I was actually angry I was fasting. There were meals that sucked, events I didn’t enjoy because I couldn’t join in on the festivities fully BUT for every dish I tried that I hated, there were so many more things I tried and loved. NEWSFLASH: WE DON’T NEED MEAT! Don’t worry I’m not converted, I already celebrated getting through this fast with a nice boil style seafood feast (which is not recommended – this fast is truly taxing on the body, especially if you had unhealthy eating habits before so if you’re thinking of doing it, read a lot about it first and when you come out of it, ease back into your regular eating if you wish to go back to your regular eating habits; I’m just being a rebel). During this fast (mostly to keep myself from wanting to stumble and eat meat) I watched a lot of pro-plant-based diet videos and documentaries including the new craze on Netflix, What the Health. I must say, it was phenomenal and it made me question not only how much meat I eat but why I eat meat to begin with. It brought me back to what Jesus would want me to do in terms of food but I don’t feel a real conviction over the issue just yet (but I feel it coming so we’ll see). All in all, being on this fast forced me to explore and learn A LOT about myself, my relationship with food and what it takes to honor God with my decisions, including what I choose to ingest, when, where and how much of it. I tried vegan restaurants and recipes and enjoyed a lot of the different alternatives to animal products. I cleansed my body of a lot of the junk I’d been filling it with and 21 days later, I feel cleaner, lighter and more energetic than I’ve felt in a long, long time. I think God led me to this fast for many spiritual, relational and physical reasons and I’m thankful I made it through, not by my might but by His mighty power.
I recommend anyone at a standstill or roadblock, anyone lost or just wandering, anyone who’s at a “complicated” or unknown stage in their relationship with God (or self tbh), anyone who just feels meh or bleh about life, to take a chance, a 21 day chance (or 10 if you’re beginning or 40 if you’re an intermediate faster – I wish I’d started with the 10 btw). This fast, if nothing else, will clear your mind and set you on a healthier path, in my opinion. I’m glad I did it, and I’m a better me because of it. Above all else, I’m grateful for God’s faithfulness and the clarity, peace, and discipline I’m walking out of this fast with.

10 things I learnt during Lent

  1. Fasting should be private. I wasn’t particularly great at keeping Lent this year. Initially I gave up A LOT: pork, shellfish, all drink except water and nut-milk, cheese, bread, pasta, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, burgers and milkshakes, Rita’s water ice and last but not least negative speech or unnecessary banter. I had this huge picture in my mind: I’d come out of lent clean, holy, in step with God, healing people, praying fire, lean and energized, organized, disciplined and focused. Such was not the case. All I could proudly say I’d remained committed to staying away from was soda (except ginger ale) burgers, milkshakes and social media. And therein lies the problem; my pride was in not completely failing dismally at everything. I told my family, friends, and even random people I’d bump into that I was on Lent, that I’d given up all these foods and habits and drink and as I slowly but sure faltered, I felt shame, guilt and downright embarrassment. What would this person think if they saw me eating this? What would that person say if they caught me drinking that? I felt like I was observing Lent to achieve something, rather than for a closer understanding of and relationship with Jesus. It was like a race I was desperately trying to speed up with each passing moment. I didn’t get anymore spiritual fulfillment than I would during a regular week when I make prayer and reflection a priority and I even got to the point where I started to wonder what Lent even is in the first place, but that I will address later.
  2. Social media may be the only thing keeping dead relationships alive. You know I actually forgot a lot of people exist? Like I would meet up with a friend and they’d tell me so and so broke their leg or that person got a promotion and I’d have to jerk my mind to tie a face to the name. Usually I’d see a lot of people I’ve once known at least once a week through a Facebook status, Instagram post or quick Snapchat. I knew where people were and what they were going through on a day to day basis, and I would reply to stories and engage in short conversations with people, telling them I loved and missed them, etc. yet I probably only spoke to 5% of the people I actually followed or remained virtual friends with. It’s actually pretty ridiculous how much space there was in my thoughts without hundreds of people’s daily lives floating around my feed or screen. And what I took away from that time is that no one really cares, including myself, other than the core group of people who actually use your saved number in their phone and hit you up. 
  3. Every Christian is different. There are a lot of variations of beliefs and customs, values and convictions amongst us as Christians, and I don’t think I like it. I don’t think I like the hype that comes with fast and loud concert like Christianity that never really digs deep and keeps sermons and messages to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. That said, I don’t think I like the severity of the rigid and rule-focused, almost self-righteous take on the Bible and what it should mean to us today either. I wish we all could agree as ones who come together and claim to believe in love and follow the same Savior, and I wish we stayed to true to what the Word we say we trust actually says and walk what we talk. I say we because I’m part of the problem but I don’t have any solutions. However, I do think that more learning based ministries and less watered down entertainment to hold down all courts is a necessity, and this feeling was brought about by my next point.
  4. A lot of young modern Christians don’t even know what lent is or what it signifies and I think that is a huge problem. I mean point out a Muslim who doesn’t know what Ramadan is. Don’t worry I’ll wait. It was actually a little discouraging finding out all these people I’ve met and prayed with through church didn’t know what Lent or Ash Wednesday was. Maybe it’s the American way of thinking Catholicism is different thing to Christianity, which is not how most of the world views it. Catholicism is just another denomination of Christianity, and I don’t think things should be so separated and divided such that when you ask someone why they don’t do Lent, they say, “Oh, I’m not Catholic.” It’s just kind of weird to me.
  5. I don’t know why Jesus actually went into the dessert for 40 days and 40 nights. This actually showed me how little I do know about why I do what I do when it comes to faith sometimes. I seriously need to go back and figure this out because I think not knowing this made it that much easier for me to slowly fail at ‘keeping my Lenten vows’.
  6. The more into the world you are, the harder it is to focus on God and stay committed. I think with fasting, or observing Lent, there needs to be more prayer and meditation. I think that’s the whole point, that at the points where you feel weak, you pray for strength to stay committed to the fast but I tried to just be normal about everything… too normal. I still went out, met up with friends who are particularly Christ-centered, and just generally did not set myself up for success. I didn’t even know anyone else doing Lent so I didn’t have an accountability partner, which again, made it very hard to focus and be disciplined about the Lenten season.
  7. My flesh is very weak and my mind isn’t too far behind. 
  8. The spiritual is constantly at odds with the physical. The soul, and the world just don’t get along. At least my soul doesn’t. I know that the Word tells us our fight is against the spiritual, but living in such a materialistic and superficial world makes that really hard to believe, even if I do. I do believe that we are constantly fighting against spiritual forces but at the same time, our human actions or lack of action is why the world is way it is today. It’s why there are wars and famine, depression and sickness. It’s not God and sometimes it’s not even the devil, it’s us… fighting, being selfish, talking harshly and not taking care of ourselves and each other.
  9. It is God’s strength that we should glorify, not our own. Where I found the power to do good, I know it was not from deep within, it was and is always straight from above. God is literally the only reason I can stay committed to anything because I’m naturally just not a disciplined person. It’s hard for me to admit but whether it is studying or eating healthy, or keeping Lent, it’s always God’s strength I can credit with helping me, not this deep inner pool of ability and perseverance. That makes me happy, knowing my source is an eternal, everlasting, almighty God. That’s lit.
  10. Sometimes nothing drastic will happen. I’ll say it again – this Lenten season did not go as planned. I not only stumbled, I fell, quick and hard. Maybe that’s why nothing drastic happened for me. Maybe if I’d stuck to it, something would have happened someway some how but to be honest, life with God may be peace-filled and joyful but I don’t think He ever promised it would be exciting and I’m okay with that.

Sunday recap #7

Things to work on:

  • Thinking beyond the lines of personal livelihood
  • Loving self and others whether such love is deserved or not
  • Singing when my heart is hooked on a melody and dancing when the energy encourages a praise
  • Less oral more verbal
  • Time management and organization
  • Owing less and giving more
  • Gratitude and contentment
  • Obeying God’s commandments and living boldly
  • Demanding light and being life
  • Laughing even if no one else gets the joke

Sunday Recap #6 – Reset

Have you ever just wanted to press reset on your life? I constantly do. I’ve been thinking as I approach another big shift in my life that it would be so nice to enter into upcoming chapters completely where I believe I should be. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready for the game. Beautiful, strong, and capable enough to perform, like life is some stage play that we get to rehearse over and over again. Even though each new day is an opportunity to press reset, it’s also another day. We’re always moving forward but the flip side of that coin is everyday that is spent in maybes and regret is gone. We can’t get those days back, so we can reset all we want but at the end of the day, it’s to our advantage as people to literally make the best of each moment we’re gifted with.

That’s all I have for now. To reset or not to reset… zzzat is ze question.

Sunday recap #5 – Just Drive

Don’t you wish God Himself would sit right next to us as we drive the car that is our life and tell us exactly where to go? Sometimes I wish I could literally get in a car and find Him casually sitting there and ask Him, “where are we headed Lord?” From the little I know of my Holy Father though, He’d probably say something like, “Just Drive.”

Oh how I wish He would say turn left at the first stop sign, right at the light and keep straight until you see the Holy Exit. Get in that lane and follow the road ’til we get to Interstate 100 and just keep driving. You’ll get there in x amount of hours and then you’ve arrived. We can chill, walk on water, fly, taste manna, break bread – I mean we can do whatever we want. I think it would be so easy. I feel like I struggle with making the right calls. People always say pray, pray specifically and God will show you. Others say I asked God and He told me… and I’m like uhh Lord I know You can hear me, I know You care and I know You have answers so what a gwan?

“May we never lose our wonder, wide-eyed and mystified, may we be like a child staring at the beauty of our King… You are beautiful in all your ways” Wonder, Bethel Music

It’s funny because I imagine the intention behind these lyrics to be one of positive awe. I imagine this beautiful young woman full of love and hope writing about how she never wants to lose this feeling of admiring this unfathomable God. But sometimes I lay in bed and truly wonder how it all played out in God’s head when He created this world. The whole lost in the wilderness, desperate for a salvation we don’t even know we need is pretty weird. I mean, here we are – more than 7 billion people on this planet all made by God, the Father. Yes, we have free will but no, we’re not in control. This idea that we’re alive but don’t belong to ourselves, we have desires and passions, likes and loves, yet we’re all created for this one great commission… it all baffles me. To be honest, it exhausts me. Trying to hear God’s voice beyond the clutter of life itself, trying to be obedient, holy, merciful, forgiving, gentle – everything that the Bible tells us will set us apart… it’s not easy, not for me.

My first instinct when I’m irritated is to clap back or cut off. I don’t want to deal with anyone or anything that upsets me YET I have to because that’s how God deals with me. When I’m hurt or offended – I don’t particularly want to forgive and show love and YET I have to because that’s what God does with me. He forgives and continues to love me. As long as I’ve had a relationship with Christ, being somewhat Christ-like just hasn’t gotten easier for me. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but all I know is when I’ve had a tough day I didn’t ask for, and turn on the news and see people fighting, killing, crying, starving and then turn it off and look within and find I still struggle to be truly content, I start to lose faith. I start to prepare to lay in bed and wonder what the Lord was even thinking when He started all this – all this life and free will but then I have to catch myself and hold those thoughts captive to Christ.

“…the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NLT)

I don’t know why I’m always trying to figure something out when the Word is clear on what is required of me: In other words, “Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.” The Message version always makes it easier for me to understand. When I get stuck on the ‘whys’ and ‘how comes’, memories and personal evidence is brought to the surface to remind me that God is driving and when I let go of the steering wheel, He doesn’t lead me down wrong paths.
Image result for steven furtick quotes

“When my faith gets tired, And my hope seems lost You spin me round and round, And remind me of that song, The one You wrote for me, And we dance
And I will lock eyes, With the One who’s ransomed me, The One who gave me joy for mourning, And I will lock eyes, With the One who’s chosen me” We Dance, Bethel Music

The joy of the Lord, the joy of our Lord is our strength… Bethel worship sings this song as well and it is so filled with fire and passion that I wish I could spend all my days in the midst of a Bethel worship service. But what’s better than a worship service is the presence of the Holy Spirit and if I’m being honest with myself, when I ask for it, God never fails to provide.

Sunday recap #4 – Another Chance

The message in church today was taken out of Luke 5:1-10. Our reverend talked to us about the greatest gifts God gave us: Jesus, prayer, free will, and another chance to get it right and do better. He taught us about Simon Peter and how he was always meaning to do right but somehow seemed to continue to trip over himself and do the wrong thing, his largest pitfall being denying knowing Jesus three times before the crucifixion.

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” 

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” Luke 5:1-10

The takeaways from this scripture, according to Reverend Dion are as follows:

  • When Jesus was around, Simon Peter caught fish but when Jesus wasn’t around, he caught no fish.
  • The point: Things go better with Jesus

This whole sermon was really about encouraging the congregation to accept the second chances and new mornings that the Lord constantly gives us. Especially in regards to this new year. I personally stopped making new year’s resolutions a while ago. I just didn’t see the point because I would make grand statements like – I’m going to lose 20kg, I’m going to get all As, I’m going to stay out of trouble, I’m going to read the Bible everyday, I’m to pray constantly, etc. I mean I used to go to town with all the things I wanted to improve and then a few weeks later, I’d be over it. I didn’t make a list of resolutions this year because I was tired of adding more things to the list of things I said I would do but never got around to. Today’s message reminded me that God can take my least and make the most out of it, no matter how insignificant my efforts have been or how destructive my actions have been.

I just have to make the most of the moment because changing the season I’m in is beyond my control. That said, changing my outlook, spirit and actions are all things I can do, even though it’s easier said than done. We all can – we just have to learn to maximize the moments and fight the temptation to just go with the flow and let life dictate my destiny. Part of it is committing to my passion and believing that God will direct my steps as I lay my life before Him. At the end of the day, each day is an opportunity to capitalize on the second, third, and fourth to nth power chances that our Mighty God continues to bless us with. The rest is up to Him.