Tag Archives: prayer

Sacred ground

Holy Ground

Sometimes the problems of this world weigh heavily on my heart, and this, prayer, is the only place that makes any sense. The darkness can seem overwhelming, and the devil likes to whisper in our ears that nothing we do matters, and that we’re fighting a losing battle. But he’s the father of lies, and we know who wins the war. There’s hope because He’s not done yet. He’s the God of this city and He loves these people than we ever will. Skylines are Chicago and Honolulu (Diamond Head).

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Day 2 of the 5 Day Challenge: Feeling Ill and Picky Eaters

The truth is that 25,000 people will die today of hunger, and 1 billion will go to bed hungry tonight.

“The problem [hunger] was so immense that it was like background noise, like the wallpaper of Africa.  What good is education, or medicine if the children and people are hungry?  Our best laid lesson plans go to waste if our children are so hungry or weak that they can’t pay attention.  The medicine to combat AIDS or HIV–it advises us to take it with food, or with a full glass of water.” –Roger Thurow, former journalist for the Wall Street Journal who was so impacted by what he saw that he left his job and now works to end world hunger

Today is Day 2 of Willow Creek’s challenge to eat like the Bottom Billion: on $1 or 2.5 cups of food a day.  Since the point of this blog is for me to tell the truth about what I’m going through and thinking, I will not try to make my thoughts sound better than they are, though they do sound terribly selfish.  (Which they are.)

Yesterday was not as terrible as I expected.  Obviously I ate far tastier, nutritious food than just the white rice and beans, since I had Mexican rice (white rice, chicken stock, spices, some veggies), refried beans, and black beans.  The hunger pains came only an hour after I’d eaten, but they quietly subsided when the growls weren’t addressed.  At dinner, it took a lot of self restraint for me to finish my rice and beans and not reach for more, or reach for the rice pilaf and shrimp that my mom had made.  I tried to eat the latest dinner that I could so that I wouldn’t have to go to bed hungry.  But after I ate dinner, those hunger pains reared their ugly heads and were reawakened.   I was hungrier than I had been before dinner.  But again, after a series of angry roars, they slipped back into the shadows.  And so I went to bed not hungry, but not satisfied.

This morning, I woke up, ate my oatmeal before going to work.  The jobs I do are physical in nature.  Since I ate my oatmeal, I have been hungry.  I slip into the back office to take a spoonful of rice and beans.    The taste is fine, I actually like eating my black beans and rice.  To me, it tastes good.  But I see now that it’s the portion that really gets to you.  I knew it in my head, 2 cups of food a day (mindful that’s a generous portion) is not a lot.  Especially after I measured it out yesterday.  But today, I keep looking at my bowl of white rice and black beans, again, measured out one cup of each into the bowl that I’ll be eating from all day.  And every time I sneak into the back room to steal my spoonful of food, I wonder how I’m going to make this last all day.

I couldn’t do it.  By noon a pervasive throbbing headache had begun and by around 3pm I was alternating between feeling hungry and nauseous at the same time.  After an hour of suffering through it, I asked my boss for a Tylenol, and even with that I left about half an hour early.  It just occurs to me now, over a day later as I write this retroactively, that I wouldn’t have had access to Tylenol if I was really living like the bottom billions.  And again…how even on this challenge everything about my life is so vastly different than theirs.  What I’m doing doesn’t even begin to compare to what they go through every day.  And I still don’t know what to do about it.

I seriously considered not eating dinner, just because I didn’t want to spend the night clutching a bucket.  That’s when I realized that again, if I really lived like my brothers and sisters, would I really have the choice to not eat?  Would I know when my next meal would come?

I was so grateful that I arrived home in one piece that day.  I had to lie down after work, and then this is where I broke down.  On Day 2!!! 😦  We’re allowed to add a little veggies and a chicken nugget sized piece of meat to our meals, and I hadn’t intended to use that idea at all.  But while I was sitting down to dinner, my mom was worried about me.  She’s been trying to get me to eat more the past couple of days–veggies, rice pilaf, meat, just because she’s worried about what I’m doing to myself–how weak I’ll feel etc.  So that evening I added a sixth of a  cup of stewed/boiled carrots, onions, and lentils to my bowl, along with a chicken nugget sized piece of chicken breast.  I couldn’t even last 2 days.  And all I really wanted was some chicken noodle soup to ease my churning stomach.

A chicken nugget and veggies are a luxury.  And here we live in a country where (Man vs. Food) one person can eat 5+ pounds of food in one meal.  When that much food could literally feed a family.  I kid you not he took on this one and ate all but one slider in half an hour!

At my job on Monday, we serviced a fish tank in a wealthy family’s home.  And this little girl is the wealthiest little girl that I actually know.  She’s an only child, and her live in nanny was telling me that when she (the nanny) first started taking care of her, the little girl only ate 5 things.  She would refuse any other food that was put in front of her.  Since then, she’s opened up to other foods, but this is what she had for breakfast and lunch that day:

Cocoa Puffs for breakfast

Chocolate cake for morning snack

Pizza and cucumbers for lunch

Balanced diet it is not.  lol  But this is the picture of a little girl (she’s thin) who can indulge herself in only a select number of foods that she actually enjoys because her parents can afford it.   Picky eaters is a common syndrome amongst American children.  I was probably one of them.  And most of our parents (not all, even in a nation as wealthy as America) can afford to continue to buy foods that we’ll eat, or continue to buy new and different food to get us to try new things.  We live in a country where people risk their lives on extremely dangerous fishing boats in order to bring us crab meat and lobster that we don’t really need, we just want.

We can afford variety.  We can afford 5 food groups.  We talk so much about trying to make sure our kids get a healthy, balanced, diet of everything they need, and we feed them formula because breastfeeding is too inconvenient, or too uncomfortable.  We feed them Pediasure in 5 different flavors to make sure that our kids will like at least one of them and get the vitamins they need since they don’t eat their veggies.  We hide servings of vegetables in canned Chef Boyardee, in spaghetti sauce, in V8, and in apple juice, because our kids (and even our adults) don’t get enough veggies.  What does that even mean, “we don’t get enough veggies” when people around the world rarely have any??

A daily menu of rice and beans it is not.

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a dream is a wish your heart makes.

For the past week or so, every night I’ve been having a dream that I’m at an InterVarsity conference.  what??  I don’t know if I just miss the community, or if God is trying to remind me of something, but it’s the strangest thing ever.  I don’t even dwell on IV during the day, I’m just going about living my life as normal, and yet every night it’s either a random conference that doesn’t reflect something in real life but I know it’s for IV, or, like last night, it’s the real deal.  Last night I dreamt that I was at Cedar, and my friends Esther and Lyn were leading the vision team through planning and training for the next year.  And this time they were teaching on prayer.  I’m not saying that I endorse these ideas or anything, this is just what was in my dream.   It was something like through prayer you grow closer to God, and there’s two ways of doing it–one is on your own, when you take the initiative to speak to God and almost force yourself to grow closer through your own efforts, and the second way was (there was a big scholarly word for it) when the Holy Spirit just comes upon you and inspires it, and you commune with God.

I didn’t think too much of it, except to say that I really miss God.  I know he’s close at hand, but my spiritual life has just been lackluster in some ways this past month and a half.  And a lot of it is my fault, I know.  I was telling Maya yesterday that I (and she feels the same) miss having people to pour into.  For so long there’s always been younger people to invest in, to help grow their walks with God, and I feel stoppered up.  Like there’s a dam.  And yet God continues to shower me with blessings that I don’t deserve.  Grace.

And as I finish up Ezekiel (taken me long enough) the idea of today’s chapters is that the temple is being rebuilt so that God can dwell with his people.  Because he wants to live among us, he longs for a close relationship with us.  And it’s our sin, idolatry, and rebellion that prevents that.  I know it’s my fault that I miss God, that I miss the close relationship we had.

One of my friends (aquaintances?) on facebook posted this:

“Self-will and prayer are both ways of getting things done. At the center of self-will is me, carving a world in my image, but at the center of prayer is God, carving me in his Son’s image.” – Paul E. Miller in A Praying Life.

I dont’ want to draw close to God on sheer will and force.  I want a relationship, I want to commune.  “it’s gotta be more like falling in love, than something to believe in.”

And this morning in my devotional there was a quote that I loved that just spoke to what was going on at church.

“We are not meant to be seen as God’s perfect, bright-shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of His grace.”
–Oswald Chambers

it’s been a good morning.

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i’m realizing more and more how deep and meaningful it is to have the body of Christ, including all its nuances.  These days it’s hard without InterVarsity, it’s the first time I’ve been without it since my freshman year!  And my church is just going through some terribly sad things right now, churches splitting and ugliness ensues.  

I miss the consistancy of one faith community, or at least, primarily one.  Nowadays there’s a handful of people I can turn to, people that i can count on to walk along side me in this journey of wandering in the brambles of the straight and narrow.  And I am so thankful for them.  But I miss joining together, serving together, worshipping and going deep and discussing matters of faith and the heart together.  Walking through life every day, or at least regularly.  

I realize I’ve become more cynical…more jaded…I’ve lost a lot of faith in people over the past year, and especially over the past couple months.  It’s easy to do when you see the people who raised you in the church, and you see the brokenness that has resulted in their service.  (I certainly don’t blame individuals…and I have to trust that they tried their best to reconcile and to look for God’s will in everything.)  

And I realize that brothers and sisters to encourage and lift you up–to remind you of the goodness of God, to remind you of the possibilities that are only possible in his hands, to share stories of changed lives and of healed hearts–this is what I really yearn for right now.

And so I pray.  I wait, and I pray.  I don’t know if God will restore my youthful (naive?) optimism, and to be honest, I’m not even sure if that’s the best outcome in the end.  But regardless of what I’ve seen and experienced in this world, I’m just more and more convinced that there is no hope in this world without God, without Jesus, without the Holy Spirit.  And so we pray in defiance of what is for what we know our God can do.  To bring into being what is only possible with a God of the impossible.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.

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Too Busy Not to Pray

So lately I’ve been reading that book, by Bill Hybels.
And I think he’s right.  A lot of times, when I pray, I really don’t believe that God who was (is) almighty in the OT, the God who parted the Red Sea, who fed 5000, who rose up people from the dead, who walked with the Israelites as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day…I don’t believe that he can truly change my circumstances.  I think I fall into the trap that Barney was talking about–that sometimes…I think that the power is in my hands, and that if I procrastinated, it’s my own fault and so I shouldn’t seek out God’s help.  It goes beyond procrastinating too, although procrastinating hits many areas of my life.  Including what I’m going to do with my future.  But it’s simply not true.  If I can say in that last entry that God cares about matters of the heart, about things as (perhaps) insignificant as Craisin, then obviously he cares about the big things….the MEIV things, the friend things, the future things, the family things, the school things, etc.

And the Devil is so good at turning our prayers into fluffy, artistic, shakespearean professions of whatever…of nonsense sometimes.  Using repetitive phrases that sound so flowery and so good…but at their heart, they’re simply empty words.  Like Bill Hybels was saying–we pray that “God will be with us”.  God is always with us, he always was with us, he always WILL be with us.  We don’t need to pray things like that–that’s like assuming that he’s not usually with us, and he’s only there when we ask him.  And that, my friends, is (as Stephen Colbert said…) bull-gogi.  That’s right, I went there.  That’s almost like an insult–like asking a friend if they’re going to realllly meet you for lunch even though you made plans with them just yesterday.  That’s like saying–promise me you won’t tell anyone my secrets?  To your best friend.  The assumptions behind what you’re saying…though they’re not readily apparent, prove that you don’t truly have faith in God and in the promises that he tells us.

He promises us that he’ll be there, he’ll never forsake us.
He promises us that everything we go through only serves to make us complete.
He promises us that he loves us.
He promises us that if we ask for forgiveness, we’ll receive it and it’ll be as far from him as the east is from the west.
He promises us that he wants to shower us with blessings.
He promises us that he listens to our prayers.
He promises us that he’ll be our comfort in times of sorrow or need.
He promises us that he’ll never change.
He promises us that he will always be strong, and that he’ll lift us us on wings like eagles.
He promises us that he made us just the way we are, that he knit us together in our mother’s womb, we were hand picked, custom made.
He promises us that we can do all things through him who gives us strength.
He promises us that whenever 2 or 3 gather in his name, he’s there.

Do I believe all of these?  Do I truly believe that the God of the Old Testament is still my God who can work miracles if I truly believe??  in a world today where so many things happen by the flip of a switch, or the click of a button, do I still rely on God?  If I can believe without a doubt that when I flip the switch, the light turns on, then why can’t I believe that God will miraculously intervene in whatever situation I really need him in?  not even that…but that his promises hold true simply because he is God…God of the universe?

and it’s true about journalling—thinking, praying in your head, contemplating in your mind…you can get distracted so easily. But journalling–writing sentences, watching words come out, you can’t lose your place.  You can’t forget what you were talking about or follow up on the song on the ipod, etc.  You’ve got it right down before you, and that’s why journalling is such a blessing.  not only that, but weeks, months, years later you can look back and see how God has met you, changed you, stretched you, and grown you through every circumstance.

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