Tiny Green Thread

I find myself on Sunday evenings with a few teenager girls in my living room talking. We discuss things like how to make time to be with the Lord every day, boys, honoring parents/authority & I am realizing that though the life I lived at 16 is light years different than the life that they live,  some of the battles they face are the exact same ones I fight day to day. Relevance, Spirituality, Humility, Gratefulness, Peace, Honor & Dreams. We wage the same wars. This last week we read together out of John 3 about the pain that John the Baptist fought to express to his disciples as Jesus came to John’s side of the river, taking His rightful place…..right out of the hands of His friend.

“He must increase, and I must decrease”. And anyone who’s experienced the reality of those words knows how painful & how confusing they are. When that is the only thing that you can say as a dream dies, as something you planned for goes terribly different, when all you can do is open your hands & let Him take what you so want to fight to keep. When looking up from the broken pieces of misunderstanding & having no clue what comes next….. you can choose to let His voice be your joy. 

The Friend of the Bridegroom rejoices when he hears His voice, knowing that his task is now complete. We can rejoice in His voice when we don’t know where He leads. We can rejoice in His voice when He steps in & takes all we’ve worked for. We can rejoice …….. or we can not. It’s basically that simple. We can choose to trust God when God looks the most untrustworthy, or we can not. As I spoke I watched sadness, sobriety & even fear play upon the faces of these girls who I love & I know their confusion & I know their fear. I know their hope that God would never allow their plans to go any other route than the one they are carefully dreaming. But I know my story. It’s a mess, a chaotic mess, but I believe that God still makes beauty from ashes. If there is anything I have to offer young people it is the lessons I’m slowly learning as I walk through this crazy, beautiful, ashy mess about how to put my trust in Jesus, how to believe He is good in the taking, in the breaking of dreams, in the “killing of churches” as Randy Bohlender put it (Seriously, do yourself a favor and read his book ‘Jesus killed my Church‘).

So I shared with them this story:

Last week was what looks to be, the last week of hot weather that Kansas City will be seeing in 2013. I’ve been trying to dress the girls in their cutest summer clothes knowing that the warmth was running out & that they won’t fit in these close when it’s warm again. Friday I put them in these outrageously girly white dresses, complete with layers of ruffled, sequined green detail with on giant green, sparkly flower on the shoulder. As I pulled the outfits from the closet I considered that I may spend the entire day trying to keep the sequins out of their mouths, but it’s the most impractical baby clothes that are too cute to resist.

Hours later after a day of fusses, fits, multiple time outs & a refused nap I tiredly paced the living room with Baby 2 in my aching arms. She hits a point of frustration that only quiets if you hold her & responds with LOUD outrage when put down, which at that point, I did. I too was tired, frustrated & cranky. Out of desperation I collapsed on the couch, setting her at my feet to which she responded with heartfelt wailing. 

I buried my face in my hands, prepping for some minutes of loud protesting which began & instantly stopped. I quickly looked up to make sure she wasn’t hurt. She sat peering intently at the layers of ruffle & sequin piled around her. For some time she sat still,  until slowly with one finger she reached down towards the bottom of her dress. Somewhere among the multiple layers of cloth, on one single hemline, almost completely hidden by a bajillion sparkles there was one tiny piece of thread poking off the dress.

By tiny I mean less than a quarter of an inch. It was the exact same color as the rest green on the dress. It was IMPOSSIBLE for the baby to have seen it, but she did. With wonder she lightly touched it over & over with the tip of one finger. I released my pent up emotions in a long sigh and said “Baby, you pay such attention to detail.”

And in my spirit I heard the Lord say “I pay attention to the details.”

It’s funny how quickly you can find yourself in tears. Ok maybe not you, and maybe it’s not even funny because everyone knows I’m a deeply emotional little creature, but it was just like that. From frustrated & hard to Instantly tender heart, instantly teary eyes, instant affirmation that I am SEEN & KNOWN & so cared for. For the next few days I heard it like a gentle echo inside ” I pay attention to the details”, as the moments of my day slipped by. Moments that I didn’t think mattered, choices that I didn’t think matter, responses that I didn’t think mattered just suddenly did. You’re much more aware when you know that you are seen. 

The problems aren’t solved, the questions aren’t necessarily answered but there is real comfort in trusting God enough to let go and give Him what matters when you know that He see’s. 

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Every New Day Seems So New

The hope of every believer in Jesus Christ lies in the Resurrection. That there was a man, that he died completely and was buried, and three day’s later his dead lungs filled and he lived. He Lives.  And we are those who have died and been made new, we are those who will never die, those who will live again.

So I have always been in love with stories and songs of new life. As a teenager my favorite band was…..wait for it…..waaaait for it……Five Iron Frenzy. They had amazing music (hold your sarcasm!) and hands down the best song that they ever wrote was  Every New Day.

When I was young the smallest trick of light would catch my eye and life was new and every new day I thought that I could fly. I believed in what I hoped for, and I hoped in things unseen. I had wings and dreams could soar, I just don’t feel like flying anymore (skip to the end) Jesus Christ, light of the world burning bright within our hearts forever. Freedom means love without condition, without a beginning or an end. Here’s my heart, let it be forever Yours, only You can make every new day seem so new

I literally have listened to that song hundreds of times. Literal hours on repeat, singing and dancing to the trumpet filled tunes of a life made new, made young, made magical by the unconditional love of Christ that breaks the bonds and sets the prisoner free.

When I was 20 my brother Nate made me watch the movie Equilibrium with him and I sobbed at the brilliant display of a man coming to life for the first time. Seriously, people ranted and raved about the portrayal of emotions in the cinematography of the new Pride and Prejudice, but that movie held NOTHING on the raw emotion portrayed in Equilibrium. I know that to the pure all things are pure, and maybe it’s simply that a heart that beats out of love for Jesus will find His story, and their own, wrapped inside of any similar portrayal. Maybe I had less conviction when I saw it, I do remember it was a little violent, but I loved Jesus more that night after watching, and this night as I remember.

*Disclaimer: I do not subscribe to the idea that entertainment is fine and we find Jesus in every movie we see. And I hate that I just put this disclaimer on my blog*

A few years ago someone gave me a copy of Calvin Miller’s The Singer and I still cry every single time I read the tale of the individual lives being completely made new due to the sudden introduction of one Man.

But tonight, the reason for all of this mad chain of thoughts is that I have been reading to Katrina The Giver. Lois Lowry did not write a book about salvation, but there are powerful lessons in the pages about the power of choice and a beautiful (though slightly juvenile) tale of a soul coming to life. We’ve cried more than once through the reading, both happy and sad tears. And this has led to my introducing a new category of post: Every New Day. Dedicated to FIF this will include moments that remind us to enjoy the gifts that God has given to us. Simple excerpts of things that run through my brain, cause my soul to pause in the caos and love Jesus and living a little more. Like this:

How could you describe a sled without describing a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?

Even trained for years as they all had been in the precision of language, what words could you use which would give another the experience, of sunshine.

The Giver, Lois Lowry

Songwriting

I live in a world of music.

As a young child my mom used to take all 4 of us children into the living room and handing us each a small instrument she would turn on a worship tape and say “We’re going to worship God!” With Tambourines, maraca’s and lap drums, we would sing and dance before the Lord.

She has been singing her whole life, and our childhood was filled with song. She had songs to wake us up in the morning, songs to help us memorize our address & phone number, songs about God, songs about ice cream cones and goats, and songs that drew us to Jesus. I was tormented by horrific nightmares as a child and my mother put me to bed listening to cassette tapes of Dennis Jernigan singing about the tender longing of our Father, and the faithfulness of the Good Shepherd.

And a strange thing happened: I began to wake up to song. With the exception of a few different seasons and a random day here and there, every morning I wake to a tune, melody, or song floating through my consciousness. Often it is a song that I know and typically it will set the tone of my heart for the day (well, for at least the morning) and almost always the song that I wake to will somehow tie into the prayers on my heart or the dreams that I dreamt right before waking.  It is truly strange, but I think it is the Lord of all Creation singing over me right before I hit the brink of awareness, calling for me to remember Him.

The summer after graduating high school was rather tumultuous as it is for everyone, except that when all of my friends were setting off on the roads before them…..all of my plans were falling through, and Christina the Dreamer found herself NOT walking out ANY of the things I had so painstakingly planned. Right in the middle of the most confusing time of my life, when God seemed so far and so silent, my brother Jeremy abandoned me.

Not really, but he did move to Kansas City to join some ministry that I totally didn’t understand where he stayed up all night long. About three times a week he would get a tearful phone call from me when I got off work at noon. Which happened to be about 3 hours BEFORE he woke up. But praise the Lord he always took my emotional phone calls! J spoke to me about God in a way that I had NEVER heard anyone speak about Him, but in a way that I always wanted to know Him in, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to what was going on in the life of my brother. It was the middle of his internship when he gave me a copy of the International House of Prayer’s “Prophetic History” (whatever that meant). All I knew was it was a bunch of cd’s that had the same title written on the top “Encountering Jesus”.

And that is what I wanted. So I put the first cd in and listened to it the whole way through. Then I played it again. And again. And again. And somewhere in the repeat for no reason at all I picked up my beat up guitar and began to strum while I listened.  This went on for weeks, literally.  I listened to those cd’s for WEEKS on repeat, strumming the three chords I knew (the only three chords that I STILL know) bawling as a man I’d never met gave me hope that God was real, and He had really big plans.

The first time I visited the Heartland House of Prayer, the woman leading worship grinned at me and stuck me on a microphone and that night my whole life changed. For the next year my world revolved around those prayer meetings in that empty room, singing straight to the heart of Jesus and I knew more than anything I’d ever known before that I was made to be a Songbird in the house of the Lord.

Fast forward: here I am in Kansas City doing an internship at the international house of prayer, I have auditioned to sing on a worship team, been approved and asked to sing with a worship leader named Dan Rickett’s. The first night I stepped up onto that stage I just knew: I had been TOTALLY WRONG. Something about that platform broke my confidence, my pride and everything I’d come to believe about my calling and destiny. And yes it was really that dramatic. Over the next 2 years there were many, many, many lessons that I learned while pouring out my soul on that stage.

From Dan to Sarah Edwards to Jill Marsh, I sang and cried and cried and sang. Literally. Most sets ended with me in tears with a handful of tissues: because of my barren soul, because of my pride, or because the heart of the Lord was laid bare through the song of 20 year olds in the middle of the night.

I quit singing when I began working with TheCall, and it has been over a year and a half since I have formally been on a worship team. I still wake with songs in my mind, I still sing to the Lord in my bedroom with my beat up blue guitar, but my SOUL is longing to sing again.

Where am I going with this? I live in a world of music. The Song never stops here, most of the people I know are singers or musicians and some of them are incredible songwriters. Joanna Reyburn, John Scott Young & Mason Gentry, Jill Marsh, Cassie Campbell, Austin Roberts, Ashley Prior, Tim Cone, Jonathan Mills, to name a few and that’s not including our “Big Name” worship leaders like Misty, Jon Thurlow, Luke Wood, Ryan Kondo , Cory and Matt and so many more.

I won’t pretend to align myself with such talented artists as I have listed above, but living in this environment that is so lyrically charged, it makes sense that I would write songs. Unfortunately I don’t. But I do seem to write ditties! Mini-songs, more like children’s songs if you will. Maybe it’s simply because I am untrained that I can’t seem to produce anything “complete” or maybe the Lord just speaks to me simply, but I have a stack of catchy little songs that I sing to my soul to remind me to love and to trust God.

But lately I WANT to write music. Stuart Greaves, the director of the Nightwatch once told us that if we were going to write songs to be sung to the Lord, then  “write me songs that will keep my soul alive in  prison. Not just catchy words to a good tune”. A couple of years ago a young girl from my church back home looked at me shyly and said “Ms. Chris when you record a cd can I have the first copy, and will you sign it for me?”

These two things bring me to my point: I don’t just want to be counted with all of the good singers and musicians at IHOP. I want to write music that causes the generation watching me to RUN into the heart of God and never turn back. To throw their lives into breathing Love and living like the Burning Man, Jesus. Which really means 3 things: 1)I need to actually learn how to play the guitar. 2)I need to learn the art of song writing and 3)I need to spend more time reading the Word of God, which is the only fountain that such music can spring from.

a heart exposed

2.11 pm – I am sitting at J.Mills desk, his daughter Bella is sleeping in the play pen in front of me and he is next door at the recording studio. Currently I am transcribing video’s for Omega and finishing a late lunch. Lunch, is somewhat of a phenomenon in my life.

The room is dark and silent but for the fan blowing to drown the noise for the sleeping babe, and the muffled tipping of my fingers on the keys. The major thought on my heart today: I long to see a generation set free from sexual perversion. Yesterday afternoon on a phone call with my father, I told him that my heart is most burdened right now by one prophetic word over the prayer movement in kansas city, “Daddy, there still is not a prayer meeting in town where a young man can find delieverance.”

Now I know that it happens, even know a few who it has happened to: they came into the meetings and literally felt things breaking off of their soul and they were set free.  But so rarely.

He sighed and with frusteration and even a little helplessness said that he dind’t know why and what we have to do for it to happen and the only thing I knew to say was “Maybe it’s becuase we still don’t know how to love?”Paul spoke of great gifts in 1 Corinthians 13, things that we all long to have in our lives, but Love, he said, was the greatest. During a devotional prayer meeting on friday, the singer began to sing of how we know what love is

Arms wide open, a heart exposed, sometimes bleeding.

It’s like Laura sings, He’s looking like a fool with His heart on the line, hanging on a tree with His heart on the line.

This is so different than the way that we love, we were taught about that word so differently. Cover your mouth, cover your heart, close your eyes! Don’t let anyone know what you’re thinking, what you are feeling. Whatever you do don’t make eye contact, don’t feel, because surely if they know they will want something, and you only have so much to give so choose wisely. They’ve taught us to keep our words inside our chests, don’t wear your heart out on your sleeve, don’t feel! Once they know what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling they will only use it against you and leave you broken. And it’s no wonder we can not believe Your love, or receive it.

When we found You, You were not the collected, respected, kingly man we expected. We found you with children on your knees, thieves and whores were at your feet. And how could such as we be expected to be friends with ones like these? The Lord of all creation, adored by all those angels hanging on a tree, without rage and disdain, no hint of revenge was in your eyes, but you had your heart out on the line. And what did we find inside of such a heart laid bare – no darkness or lust or selfish desire. But tender compassion and the purest of fire. You were holy in the deepest depths of Your heart.

And this is strength? This is power? This is love, in it’s truest form? Then You mean that love is not diamonds and roses, and love is not sonnets and poems? Not a Romeo singing into a starfilled sky, gazing with desire up into Juliet’s eyes? But love is found in a man, kneeling in the dirt to take the hand of a begger, love is found in the woman, starving herself just to feed her family. And love is found in the heart of the one on a street corner, calling to those passing by to repent and to finally become found, wiping spit from his eye, and blood from his mouth as they mock him while they pass by.

Then isn’t love found in doing the dishes and the laundry? And isn’t love found in the simple, little things that choose others, and then yourself. I always spoke to Jesus as the “friend who always chooses me first”, but have I learned to choose anyone else before me? How can you pour out your spirit to the selfish and the proud?

Last night Benji Nolot spoke with deep tenderness about Human trafficking and what our response must be to it. I am encouraging everyone I know to listen to the message and to read his notes. It was so timely for me as I was feeling the weight of so many, SO MANY, caught in cycles of sexual perversion with all of the destruction that it brings to them personally and to so many others. And I know that my God FEELS, both for the lost stuck in sin, and for each victim.

“And this is how we know what love is, the Son of Man the Son of God bleeding, on a tree.” Surely loving you is loving man, those few around us, and those far away.

I have so many more thoughts, but alas, there is still work to do and it is the middle of my work day and the beginning of these never ending weeks! Give us grace to love You through our labors.

On our Side

The orphan clings to Your hand, singing a song of how he was found. The widow rejoices for her oppressors are silenced now.

You sit at the table with the wounded and the poor;  you laugh and tell stories with the thief and the whore. When you could just be silent and leave us here to die, still you sent your son for us. You are on our side.

change like the weather

Kansas City weather is incredibly unpredictable.

At 10am it was blazing as I walked the dog. All day I was outside in the scorching sun, then suddenly, dark clouds bullied there way across the sky and at 7pm we found ourselves in a torrential downpour. This cleared up in less than two hours and left a gorgeous summer evening in it’s wake.

At 2am we left an empty soccer field were we’d been lighting fireworks and laughing for two hours.  Today was a fantastic summer Saturday, lovely, sun drenched, full of laughter and friends. And tonight while driving around, just doing our thing, dropping people off, You broke through my atmosphere and into my world.

You love suddenly. It’s the surprise, the catching off guard and knowing that You have my full attention. Like a man in the middle of a crowd of people trying to capture the heart of that one girl, knowing the tone of voice or carefully chosen words will catch her eye, and then he holds it, holding her attention, ALL of it, above every other person standing in between. It’s funny how You love that dance, the game of pursuit, of wooing. I will never cease to be anything less than astounded, that the God of all creation is so intentional with little me.

3am, I swear I can almost smell You in this delicious, enticing wind.  Do I ever tell You how I love the way you slip up unnoticed, then suddenly declare Yourself? Leaving me knowing You are close enough to feel with me, to taste, touch, see, smell, hear, and think with me. They say You’re not enough to statisfy, but I am one of those that has seen, has known the way You redeem, just how intimately You work when you make one new. I love You for finding me.