Unscripted.

I have a tendency to day dream. Meaning that I think about things to much, plan out events, conversations, flesh out goals, shade in relationships, internally organize, and attempt to administrate the details of my life into tangible moments that I can order and control. And after all of that internal effort those carefully constructed day dreams have a devastating way of crumbling around me without a single piece of the debris falling into the place that I intended.

So I eat a lot of icecream. When the dust settles and there is just not a thing you can do about it, my best response is icecream. This week has been completely outside of my control, ending with a day that I can’t even begin to describe, and at the end, leaving 3 hours after I’d planned due to a situation that I never could have forseen I decided that the only appropriate response was to stop by McDonalds for a dipped icecream cone. Sitting in silence in a borrowed car in the drive-thru and trying not to think about the day, I pulled up to the sign to order only to hear that the ice cream machine was broken.

It’s amazing, just how unscripted this life is.

Joshua has been checking in on me quite a bit during the hurricane of the last few weeks. Yesterday evening I receive a message from him asking why I’ve not been blogging. I thought for a moment before telling him that things have been too personal to write about, to which he replied “I think those may be the best kind of things to write about.”

This Tuesday it will have been 4 months since the Southern Lady passed away.

In an incredible act of love her family offered for me to stay in the house until it is sold.  An estate sale was held at the beginning of July while I was home visiting my family and as expected, I returned to a house with out furniture, decorations, or any evidence of being lived in save for my bedroom. The week of my birthday I acquired two amazing vintage rockers from Craigslist, followed by a small table as a present from my brothers family, the three of which barely scratch the surface of filling the empty space.

The emptiness of the house serves as a very practical means of magnifying the turmoil in my heart;

I am a very communal individual, loving life with MANY housemates, and for four months my little dog and I have lived alone in the empty house.

I have yet to find a replacement  “job” to supplement my missionary income.

Two weeks ago my dearly beloved rust-bucket car actually died. This happened the week of the anniversary of Miah’s death, and the week that we were hosting a regional teen conference, in which I had a large role to play.

Some days later the hard-drive on my iphone crashed leaving it in a state of being completely incapable of connecting to the wireless signal aka, rendering the phone useless. I’ve never even HEARD of that before.

The last four week I’ve been under a constant barrage of irrational, in-explainable personal/ financial/ spiritual/ relational and ministerial events that I can only describe as the craziest spiritual attack I’ve ever experienced….which culminated in the drive-thru lane at McDonalds tonight as I heard that the ice cream machine was broken.

Completely and utterly…..not what I had planned.

Depressing as this story sounds….there has been incredible breakthrough over the last seven days. My physical and spiritual family both in the mid-west and on the east coast have banded around me in prayer and support and the fruit is being manifest in my heart and life daily. And there is light ahead 🙂

A friend has indefinitely given me use of her vehicle. Someone gave me an old at&t phone to use. And just so that you can believe that God does in fact give to us ‘everything that we need for life and godliness…..’  there was half a tub of Strawberry Haagen Das icecream in my freezer when I got in tonight.

When Miah died  Bob Falkner told me to buy Ann Voskamps book ‘One Thousand Gifts’. I had no idea how the next year of my life would be ordered around the Lord’s deep commitment to teaching me about the receiving of His grace.

Tonight I shared with a friend the emotional story of the last twenty four hours.  After some long moments of quiet reflection she said ” I love you Christina, you’re just so…….raw. Do you know what I mean by that? You’re just …..raw.”

Unscripted.

Sara Groves would call it “Wide open, like a lake”

Derek Loux called it “Green and Tender”

It’s learning how to force the fist to unclench, relinquishing the death grip on what I couldn’t control anyway, opening the fingers, smoothing down the palm. You open Your hands and You satisfy (Ps. 145.16), I open my hands and receive. It’s ghastly simple, and the most un-natural position for an anxiety ridden heart like mine; to take whatever You give, to call it grace, and offer it back to You in thanks.

I cry and I pray and I stumble. I think to hard, circle round the options, fight to come up with a plan, stay up too late strumming those same guitar chords trying to soothe the same old ache in my eternal soul. I accuse God, accuse His bride, break, repent, and while aching for answers fight to keep my hands off the details, stop trying to organize, lift up my eyes to the hills and lean into His strength. I am still keeping lists, because Bob say’s that if we’re not operating in Thanksgiving than we’re operating in atheism.

And I choose to live, raw. Vulnerable. To stop fighting tooth & nail to hide the frailty of my human heart, to give God the room to come in and bring healing to the broken, weak places. I bawl in the prayer room, in the weekly meetings when suddenly the room surrounds me in prayer and cry out for break through in my life, at stop lights, and alone in the quiet house that the Lord provided for me when there were no answers to an un-solvable situation.

And as my foundations are exposed and greatly shaken, I choose to cling to the Rock that is higher than I.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter)

Missing Miah – a thought dump

9.36 on Tuesday morning. I had 4 hours of poor sleep last night. 3 hours of poorer sleep the night before. That is excuse enough for being tired & emotional, but the greater problem is that I haven’t slept in 2 weeks & have had a headache for nearly that long.

I woke up on the morning of Sunday the 31st to an inbox full of messages that my friend Miah Morris was in critical condition after suffering a heat stroke while running an intense obstacle course/marathon. That night started the sleeplessness.

I called, sent messages, raised prayer, fasted, did my best to stay up to date on the details, prayed for a speedy recovery, & never considered it truly possible that he would die. Monday evening brought the “come now” phone call. I rushed home to take care of things in the office to prepare for my being gone for some days, slept for 40 minutes and drove to the airport with little more than a backpack & not even sure what I’d thrown in it.

Walking onto my first flight the messages began to come in that after 2.5 days of intense fighting for his life, my friend had slipped into eternity. That first flight was when the headache started. But I sat down in faith, flew home in faith, met with family & friends in faith continuing to believe that he could be raised.  Because one of these days, one of us is going to be filled with power from on high, & one of these days we’re going to see the dead raised. I  earnestly asked that it would be my friend & I couldn’t think of life without Miah.

Most of the time we do not stop to think of how someone is affecting our day-to-day life until they are suddenly taken from it. But Miah was one of those friends that left you always aware of just how much he affected your life. You couldn’t hep but be dramatically affected by him, because he is crazy! He loved to get you outside of your box, to do something bizarre & before you could blink you were caught up in the madness, a part of the craziness with him. He made you look at life differently, he made you live it.

Now I’m not talking wisdom, because most of the time whatever he was doing meant you were going to get into trouble if you were anywhere near him. But you couldn’t help but love him for it. Miah looked life in the face & laughed at it. He did everything “x7”, as his best friend Jason puts it.

He made me be his friend. Just went after me until I trusted him & let him be a brother to me, & then spent the next 5 years being one of the most dependable & intentional friends that I’ve ever had.

That week brought many things too personal to share, moments with the Lord that need to stay sacred. But I’ll say that it wasn’t until the middle of the memorial service that I realized he wasn’t coming back. He was with the Lord and he WANTED to stay there. Never have I cried so hard at a memorial service, never have I laughed so hard at one either. And NEVER before had I sung ‘Happy Birthday at a funeral (it was held on his 29th birthday). Totally – Weird.We spent the next few hours  laughing ourselves into side-aches & tears as the ridiculous stories just came one after another. Anyone who didn’t know him well would think that their one crazy Miah story an isolated incident, and have no clue that he just LIVED crazy! Jason said it really well,

They say that when someone dies they take a piece of you with them & you’re left feeling like something is missing, but I feel like he’s with us. With Miah, it’s like he always left a piece of himself with you instead of the other way around. But man I’m gonna miss him, like on those day’s when I just need to go do something crazy, that’s when I’m really gonna miss him.

Three days later I boarded another plane & headed East with many tears, feeling as if the whole week had been one terrible dream. The fact is, as Christians, believer’s in Jesus Christ, it is REAL that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. My friend is living life way more than just “x7″ RIGHT NOW, fully alive, fully at peace, fully in the presence of the living God. Christ will come & all of the dead in Christ will rise, & we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us who have loved Him.

But the fact is that I can’t imagine the next 70+ years of my life, should the Lord tarry and should I live that long, without the presence of that friend in my life, without his voice, his laugh being a part of who I am. He has a facebook page, & daily people leave him messages as though he can read them & might even respond.  His phone service is still on. I admit I’ve called many times  just to hear his voice on the message, trying to etch it in my brain so to not  forget. But he won’t respond to those facebook messages, & someday soon I’m going to call that number and his voice won’t be there anymore.

At the end of the service Jason hugged me and reminded me that Miah really loved me, then another of his good friend’s Ben did the same saying ” I don’t know if he ever really told you all that your friendship meant to him….” but he did. I always knew he was truly my brother and loved me. He lived well & he loved well. And though he is alive, though I will see him again & then be with him forever, for now I grieve. For now, I miss Miah and all that he has meant in my life, & the thought that real time will pass before I can enjoy his friendship again hurts.

The vapor of this life, the pain of being in the dream is still very real, even for the believer. And until Christ returns it has to, because things are NOT ok. Because the pain is the constant throbbing reminder that we will NOT be ok until He comes and makes it all right again.

*Sigh* And here’s the problem with a Thought Dump – there is no end. No way to wrap up, no conclusion. The conclusion to this one is…..waiting. Praying. Living for the day when we see the return of our Saviour, fixing our eyes on things above, holding onto His divine love and not letting go,and aching until that day when the mist clears, when the vapor fades forever. Until then, tell my friend that we miss him. Oh that You would come quickly Lord.

Stolen from Miah

“When life turns your heart the blackest coal.
When failure and heartache have smothered your goal.
He is vehement flame creating diamonds from old.
He is the purest Love restoring the darkest soul.”

These last two weeks, the first session of ATC this summer, I have felt a vehement flame burning, pushing and crushing my soul. I have felt pure Love restoring my heart. I was warned twice recently that there was a great measure of growth needed in my heart, and that the growing would come either over much time, or in a short time under extreme pressure.

The pressure, pain and tears of these last two weeks have me believing the later.  But there are diamonds forming somewhere, whether or not I see or believe, He always makes beauty from my ashes.