friends

Memories of My Father

I hear my friends talk about their fathers. They talk about their quirks and likes. How their dad always uses a certain type of pen and when they see that pen they think of him. They reflect on stories or mentos and karaoke, homecomings and weddings, projects and just being there. My anger at my father is quenched. I don’t feel a wrath towards him. If anything I feel a pity.

The more stories I hear the more I grieve the memories that never were. When you have someone in your life who makes it more difficult, your brain never keeps the good moments. You work so hard to dump the bad, that you drain everything out. You are left with tiny fractured pieces that didn’t find their way to the recycling bin. I know nothing sentimental of my father, that I can reflect on and smile about privately.

My ultimate hope is forgiveness and restoration. My family is not perfect. We are a bunch of people fighting our demons. Many of us have slain the dragon, but for some, the war persists.

Dear Dad, 

I hope you have not given up fighting. You don’t have to do it for me. I don’t need you to. Do it for the sake of freedom. Happy Father’s Day.

Your Daughter, 

Tosin

Finding God where He has Always Been…

Lately, I have been consumed with this idea: “the Holy Spirit is always speaking, but it is on me to listen”. This came after an amazing conversation happened that could only be explained by God. This idea formed another thought that is far greater than anything I could fathom.

God is good. When, I say God is good, I am not utilizing the term the way we would describe a meal or a day or an action. God’s goodness is an entirely separate idea from what mankind believes good to be. When, I say God is good. I mean “the very essence of Him is good. He is goodness in its primary definition. His good and goodness is synonymous with Himself”. Meals are good, but high cholesterol foods are bad. A day can be good, but bad is happening somewhere. I can do good, but I also do bad. “There is no bad in Him. God is solely and wholly good. There is no bad after effect of God. His goodness does not wear like cloth.”  

God in His infinite majesty has declared that elements of His creation was “good”. Consider this, when God creates something and states that it is good, it is as if He is imputing His essence on it. Allow you mind to drift into the imagery of God speaking this world into existence, but the spark and beauty of the world coming to life as God in heaven declares it “good”. See, the things in which God has deemed as good through His Word will reflect His Goodness or serve as a symbol that points directly back to Him.

(1) Creation is the first thing God declares as good. Romans 1 explains how “God reveals His invisible attributes (eternal power and divine nature) through creation. I have a longstanding fascination with the expanse. One of the benefits of semi-chronic insomnia is watching my Father push back the darkness of night with the vast arrays of oranges, pinks, and blues giving way to the warmth of the day. Then, in the evening, they will bid their farewell to create a blank slate for the masterpiece to happen all over again.

If you allow yourself to get lost in this we are reminded of our size in this world. As stars fill the sky, they reflect God’s creation of us vast, expansive, typically hard to differentiate from one another. But, individual, lovely lesser lights reminding us and pointing us to the Greater Light.

It goes deeper than that though.

(2) Friendship is good. God has said it is good. Not simply because you have someone to spend time with. Friendship is good because of the difficult moments in our lives. The wisdom book, Ecclesiastes, gives us insight into this:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

We see God’s goodness not only in the physical realm of friendship, but in His relationship with us. In the beautiful narrative of Scripture. From the Fall (Genesis 3) onward humanity is known as an enemy of God. Defiant. Oppositional. Belligerent. Christ comes as a peace offering. He compels us into divine friendship with God. We are friends of God.  And friendship with a good God does not have a dark side. Even when it feels it.

…let’s go a bit deeper

(3) Marriage in the Christian faith is a religious symbol for Christ and His Bride, the church. Ephesians 5, talks about the responsibilities and roles of husbands and wives. However, Paul makes it clear that He is talking about the mystery of Christ and the church. Ya’ll why would I not want to share in this beautiful symbolism. Have you ever read Revelations 19? When Christ comes for His bride. It is beautiful. It makes Noah from The Notebook look like a joke.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Chills. Marriage is a constant reminder of Christ’s redemptive and restorative work in His bride. It is a reminder of His return. 

The point of all of this is to serve as a reminder. God is near us. It is in those silent nights, with star filled skies, echoing the song of their Creator. It is in those warm embraces after a resolution, restoring friendship. It is in the marital covenant between two believers. Without God’s goodness in all these things, they are vapors faded into oblivion.

The grandiose beauty in finding goodness in this world, is in realizing that the evidence of His presence is all around us, and He is simply waiting for us to notice.

Day 10: I is Kind; I is Smart; I is Important

Sept 10th: List 10 things that you love about yourself! Let’s kick that negative self-talk outta here!

  1. I have the heart of a student. I love to learn and academic environments. I haven’t even finished my first Masters, and I already want to get another one and a minor in Spanish.
  2. My adult life is panning out to be a very interesting story.
  3. I have the ability to make myself and others laugh.
  4. That God has never given up on me. He could if He wanted, but He didn’t.
  5. While, I may not be a good dance partner, I am a fun one.
  6. I have no plans on settling with an average life, average relationships, average careers, or average existence.
  7. I am always seeking ways to improve on things.
  8. At the age of 24, I firmly believe, I can be anything I want to be when I grow up.
  9. That, God is continually working on me, especially during this 6 month period of struggle, sacrifice, sifting, and sanctification.
  10. That, I am thoroughly blessed, by the community of people around me. From my family, to my church friends, to mentors, to the community of older women around me, to my dance friends, to my friends from work, to my friends across the world, I know the most amazing people in the world.

You know…I actually do feel better.

One bonus one….I love this picture.

Day 2: Because I’m Happy…

Sept 2nd: Write about what makes you happy, from the little joys to the huge game-changers.

On average, I stay at a pretty constant place of happy. My 6 months of homelessness situation made me pissy (in my opinion rightfully so), but generally I am happy.

Honestly, any little thing makes me happy. When, you assume from the get go that you don’t deserve anything, anything you get makes you overjoyed. But here is a list of the top 10 little things that make me happy.

  1. Someone buying me lunch
  2. Work meetings that are catered (especially if it is from Chick-fil-A)
  3. Unexpected letters in the mail
  4. People caring about me to any degree
  5. When, I do a job really well or have mastery over a theoretical concept
  6. Watching my friends achieve and succeed and fight through struggles (it inspires me)
  7. The Gospel, because if there ever was a human undeserving of grace it was me
  8. When people comment on my writing, whether positive or negative. It allows me to know people are actually reading this.
  9. When, I see someone do something kind to or for someone else
  10. Dancing with fun leads or leading with awesome follows.

I am going to expound on some of my little joys, because before they were little joys they were (and still are) huge game changers.

  1. The Gospel
    1. As a child raised in church, I typically had a normal sense of appreciation for Jesus dying on a cross to save me of my sins. I was glad because I was told to be glad not because, I had an actual understanding of what I had been saved from. Continuing in my teenage and young adult life, I began pondering the futility of my existence and gave myself into ever foul and disruptive thought exalting itself above the Lord. I became self loathing, self condemning, and eventually self-destructive. Until one day, the Gospel wasn’t a story about sweet baby Jesus, but about a God who saw me and out of His goodness pursued me, by the means of self-sacrifice. The Gospel was more than a baby and a cross, but a story of redemption and forgiveness.
  2. Dancing
    1. I could dance until the morning. Dancing has brought me the joys of friendship, but also continually teaches me to trust and follow. Which is a life lesson applicable to all subject matter.
  3. Writing
    1. Writing is relaxing. I had my first blog in 2005 and it has opened my mind to storytelling and simply being honest with myself about my crap. My blogs vary from humor to satire to laments of my struggle. Comments remind me that there is meaning and purpose in what I say.

Run

Ends are just as important as beginnings. The manner in which we finish a race is rarely determined by how we start. It is about the miles in between. Because the initial sound of the commencement shot and the tearing of the white winner’s tape is what we live for. However, this miles between the start and the finish are our lives, and so often we are all too focused on meeting checkpoints (college, dating, marriage, kids, career) as opposed to house the checkpoints alter the terrain. I am running a race that many have finished. I am running a race that many have dropped out of and stopped running. A race filled with deterrents and distractions. A race, pushing the runner to adventure and pain. A race that is run with many companions, but sometimes run alone. Yes, we are all in a race. I have reached a mere checkpoint. I am another year older, and as I continue running, I think it a brilliant time to reflect on the checkpoints, terrain, obstacles, and companions along the way.

Today, I do it before the Throne of Grace of my Father. Some day soon, I will do it online.

Happy Birthday to Me.

 

A Breath

Blogging is breathing for me, and I haven’t taken a breathe in almost a month. Writing on WordPress is this weird four person conversation that I am both completely engaged and sort of disengaged.

I am talking to me. I am a thinker. I over analyze situations. I look for context clues in life and hidden meanings. I totally process and reprocess and reprocess. And, despite the copious amounts of the day I spend talking sometimes, I say absolutely nothing substantial. I jest and joke around and don’t allow the weight on my brain to unload. I go to bed frustrated with the same situations from the day. Writing is this purging of everything. I pray God keeps me honest as I write and breaks the backspace key. I am only as sick as my secrets. As of late I have none and am feeling pretty well.

I am talking with God. I am closest to God in these moments. I feel like I am one with the Holy Spirit when I write. There are posts where midway through I am overwhelmed with the love of God for me. So expansive and vast that all I could do was cry. However, there are moments where I am documenting my anger or frustration or downright sin and with immediacy God just convicts my heart and it hurts. It kills me. In those moments, I have to choose to keep on in my pride and sin or repent. I have done both. The latter is far better. Then there are those glorious moments my fingers are moving more rapidly than my mind and sentences form in the most marvelous of fashion. Those words are God’s. Creative as I attempt to be there are some posts that are God breathed. They are the ones I have to read once they are finished. They are the ones I return to when I am downtrodden. I love those moments.

I am talking to people in my life. Let’s be real here, I live in a small community. I don’t have time to sit here and lie about how I feel. Some times the words I rehearse over and over don’t get said. Here is where I place those words. I will never mention names, but typically these people know who they are. I refuse to believe people are that dense. I honestly believe people have adopted an “ignorance is bliss” mentality. So…yeah…I’m talking to you.

Lastly, I am talking to everyone. I believe that all posts I write are beneficial to some extent to someone. I have laughed, cried, learned, and loved in these posts. I believe people have done this with me as well. I wish I could engage with all the people who have read this blog. WordPress is awesome because it has statistics. Since starting my blog October of 2012 I have had people view it from all continents. People hear my words. I get to have a voice. I am breathing words.

So, after a month of no posts it seems as I am now ready to breathe again.