Coffee Bean Peace

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This world is full of disaster. I look around at it and wonder how I am going to move forward, how I am going to keep my heart inside my chest from stopping . . . But then there is something that always drives me, always revives me, always keeps me from giving up and that is the belief that even just for a second I can look into someone’s eye’s with a peace so powerful that I watch the fear leave. There will always be wars and I will always be able to look around me and see people  crying and bleeding, brave or defeated. But there is a fire in my heart for peace and I by no stretch of the imagination intend to let it die. An elder has told me she wished she would die already, the young have told me they have passion for nothing. In third world countries the people have expressed their feeling of purposelessness to me and the rich people I have worked for look confused in their short windows of rest. . . I do not believe I am any different than anyone else. We all want a life with meaning. When I should be ready to quit there is something inside of me that says “Come on Getty . . . Come on! . . .You can do it! Don’t give up! Don’t give up!”

I live for some things that are very important to me. Faith, Freedom, and Equality. It runs deeper than anything else in me and I hope that my life has an effect on people on account of Jesus heart beating in my chest. There is so much I see in the news and so much I’ve seen working in Zimbabwe over the years and then there is also what I see in the every day that I get disheartened by. I realize that what I want to put out into the world is what I personally need. I need to be reminded that when there is so much to be overwhelmed by that  there is the strength of the human spirit, faith, honor and a will that can pull us through. I need something to remind me of the power of the human spirit with God. Testing the limits of your own spirit/soul’s strength  is a huge responsibility and it keeps me up at night sometimes but it is also what puts this fire inside of me to work harder than I ever have at anything in my entire life.

Have you ever heard the story of the carrot the egg and coffee bean? Each of them were placed in water and then the fire was lit underneath the pot. Slowly but surely each of them started reacting on account of their surroundings becoming hotter and hotter. The carrot could not withstand the heat and became over taken by the water absorbing it all within until it was mush. The egg could not take the heat either  and neither absorbing or putting anything out it hardened itself completely. Then there was the coffee bean which began to release itself into the water changing the entire body of water and yet remaining whole not having become mush or harder, it simply only gave of itself and changed it surroundings.

Have you ever come across someone who  refused to fail?  That is something that will fill you when you see it. That’s what we need to get through life because everyone is going to fall and if you can get back up, just you on your own decide by yourself you are going to get back up and fight another day, that’s a great message and it establishes this peace in you that people gravitate towards. Everyone wants that. They need that.  The people I look up to in my life are fighters, people who try REALLY hard and don’t give up. I am learning to look at every moment of life and not see every obstacle as a problem but rather see it as challenge. I want to be at the starting line of a race the minute I open my eyes in the morning. I want to even see old age as a privilege and a challenge rather than a problem. I want to be full of life and laughter and love whether I am young or old or rich or poor.  My drive and my peace come from the same place: my belief system.

I believe by being the coffee bean in life when my surroundings are as boiling pressure I can be peace and bring peace. I can bring a filling that people yearn for by one thing and one thing only: the unfailing heart of Jesus for people. There is a champion in you and it just so happens that he is the Prince of Peace. I may lay awake in bed through a lot of sleepless nights.” Blood sweat and tears” may no longer be just a saying, but do not misunderstand my passion and refusal to give up. It is not restless, nor does it fear. It all comes from a soul on fire and an inner peace born from the desire to see it through and to see it in someone else’s eyes because that is like looking into God’s eyes. Do not accredit feeling passionately for the world even to the point of sleepless nights to something being wrong with you, no. Recognize a strong spirit when you see it, root it in coffee bean kind of peace and look at the world all over again. . . Just boiling water. . .

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I Don’t Know What Career I Want. What’s the Next Godly Step?

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“What if we could all meet our spouses at 22 ½ years old?”

I remember asking this question in the midst of confusion. Gosh, how much easier it would be if everyone could just know when! We could be stressfree about marriage, knowing it would come to us at an exact time. More so- because every person’s time would be the same, there would be no identity struggles because of comparison. Every person would be the same.

After pondering for a minute, I decided this everyone-has-the-same-experience idea is terrible. The surprise, mystery, and uncertainty of finding our spouses is special. If we all had the exact same timeline, lives would be stripped of some of the most glorious moments. Maybe some would prefer love to be more predictable, but I think most of us wouldn’t. People finding their spouses at different times, under different circumstances, adds to the beauty of life.

But what about with careers?

Interestingly enough, society has decided everyone should decide their careers at 22 ½. (At their college graduation). This same society that we have banned from deciding our love timeline, is pressuring us into a permanent career. And, for some reason, we accept it! We accept society’s timeline for career-choice, often settling with jobs we hate.

Some of my friends have known for years what they want to do- be a teacher, work in business, go to med school. Most, however, have no idea. They choose a job because they need money. Then they settle into this career because they now have experience in the field.

I believe that careers have the potential to be an extension of us. They flow from our inner being in order to push forward our passions into the outer world. While we may not always have our dream job, I firmly believe we should aim to avoid settling in our careers. We can still be reliable people, who can stick to jobs. But we can also put ourselves in fields that interest us, so our job experiences ignite more of our passions.

Mostly, we can avoid settling.

With marriage, we get this. Some people marry at 18, others at 38. We wait until something clicks within us, when we find ourselves rested and purposeful in our choice. Yet with careers, we have let the societal pressures carry us to careers we hate. We then justify being in these careers because we do need to make money.

But in a country where we can make money in so many unique ways, I want to encourage all of us to yes- take the job. We DO need jobs. But please don’t take the career you hate. Wait until something clicks within you. We can move forward and take jobs that interest us, and BE OK if it isn’t our forty-year-long career.

I believe YOU have the power and opportunity to change the world for the better. The gifts and interests you have been given are not given to you to tease you. I believe God knew exactly what He was doing when He put something in your heart.

The fact that we have rejected the idea of everyone getting married at 22 ½, yet have accepted the notion of everyone picking their career at 22 ½, shows me that we have decided careers are not spiritual…or even personal. We have taken out the potential wonder and we have decided that the uncertainty is too scary with careers. We have let money control our decisions in what we put a whole 40 hours per week into.

There will be plenty of pressures to encourage settling into a career, but I want to encourage you. I want to remind you that we really do only live once. There is no reason to fear, or quit your job right after reading this. But I would love if we all (especially those of us around the age of 22 ½ ) consider being less anxious about choosing a career, and decide to enjoy the wonder and mystery in the searching.

So, maybe it is OK that we all do not know what we want to do with our lives at 22 ½. Maybe this actually makes life more wonderful, but only if we avoid the pressure from society. Again, we DO need jobs. I don’t believe it is advisable to sit in unemployment while jobs are available. But…while we may have to get jobs that do not suit us perfectly, lets not give up on our passions. Lets not settle because it’s easy and predictable. And lets feel no shame in saying, “I don’t quite know what I want to do with my life right now, but I am determined to follow my passions.” We should know the bravery in chasing after our dreams. There IS something within us that can change the world in some fashion.

Most of all, lets pray. We can pray to see our passions clearly, yet to also enjoy the journey (however uncertain it is).

So, what is the next Godly step when we don’t know what career you want? I don’t think it’s stressful. I think it’s simply:
-avoid being anxious
-avoid settling
-look for jobs that ignite your passions
-pray for God to show you your gifts and passions
-and rejoice that every single person doesn’t know their careers at 22 ½.

Be at ease. It will all be ok. Don’t lose hope. Dream big.

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Ministry: A Jar Poured Out

Ministry: A Jar Poured Out - Grafted Magazine

Let’s have a chat about ministry. Have you ever felt that being involved in ministry was far beyond you, too difficult or time-consuming–But God orders our time, 1 Corinthians 2:7. Perhaps you believe, like so many others, that ministry is for a select, or special few–but God has called all who believe in Jesus Christ to serve nations, Matthew 28:18-20. Or maybe you like the idea of being involved in some kind of ministry, but don’t believe you have anything to offer–But we are all part of the body of Christ, we all have something to offer, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

Often, we look at ourselves in comparison to others. In my life, I’m surrounded by beautiful people of Christ who are out serving and loving and living a life so bold and huge, and sometimes it’s hard to see yourself in a similar place. There are some people who are simply incredible when it comes to serving God and others. They seem to spend all of their time in worship or holding orphans, preaching or disciplining. To the average Christian, that life seems exhausting.

“But I’m already going to church on Sunday and Wednesday nights! I smiled at that annoying guy in my office last week and helped teach Sunday school for the toddlers last month! I’m too busy to do anything else.”

Does this sound anything like you? I confess, I’ve had similar thoughts to this at times. True, my life is busy. True, I’m not completely ignoring the calling of the church to love and serve and disciple. But am I, are we, doing enough? My conclusion, generally speaking: no, we’re not.

I’ve always read the story of Elijah and the widow’s oil in 1 Kings 17: 14-16 as a story of God physically providing for needs of His children no matter the impossibility. And yes! It’s true, God takes care of our immediate needs, of our hunger, our thirst, our sickness.

Let’s pretend that the widow and her son in this story is a metaphor of the world. Starving, sick, using the last of their oil for a final meal before they die. And we, the church, are the jar.

Still with me? Okay.

God is… well, He’s God. And He can do whatever He wants. If we’re the jar in this story, refusing to give up more oil for the fear that we will run out, then how can we be used to feed nations and make His name famous? We’re called to pour out every last drop. Just like in the story, God will continue to fill us with His life-bringing “oil” as long as we keep pouring out.

I had this picture last semester of a jar with its lid tightly shut, unwilling to waste the precious resources it contained. When the day finally came for it to be used, and the lid was removed, the contents poured out revealed them as spoiled. Instead of pure, golden oil, out came a sickly, rotten mess that was now useless to all. It corroded the inside of the jar, it burned the skin it touched, and the Maker was blamed for its shortcomings. God wants us to constantly pour out our ministry into the lives of others. We are not limited by what we can or can not do– because God will provide more when we run out. We are not limited the amount of time we have to share–because God controls our time.

If there is something nagging in your heart telling you that you’re not doing enough, not sharing enough, not pouring out– then listen to it. Maybe change your pattern a little. We’re young, I know! We’re not rich, it’s true. But there’s so much work for us to do, if only we’ll be a jar poured out.

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Steps Toward the Sun

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In 1983, Australia hosted an ultra-marathon from Sydney to Melbourne. 544 miles, one of the most grueling races in the world. The starting line was crowded with young athletes in peak physical condition, Nike logos stamped across their backs, when an old man joined them, dressed only in overalls and old workboots. His name was Cliff Young, a 61-year-old farmer. No sponsor, no professional training, just a childhood spent running down 2000 sheep on his family’s vast farm.

The race began, the runners took off, and the old man in the overalls started walking slowly down the road. Night fell, and the athletes, many miles ahead, stopped for eight hours’ rest. But Cliff Young kept walking into the dark, like herding sheep, towards the light that he knew would come. When the sun rose, he had left the pack of professional runners far behind.  Cliff walked nonstop for five days, and the pack never caught up. He won the marathon by ten hours and set a world record, one shuffling step at a time through the night.

In contrast, I’ve always been a person who struggles with apathy. Not the mild spiritual kind where you forgot to tithe or your prayer life’s not too exciting. This is the soul-deep, crippling kind where you sabotage your life and relationships because you just can’t find the energy to care. The Nike runners of life sprint by, the Cliff Youngs walk tirelessly, and I…sit still. On the ground, in the dark, although like Cliff, I know the sunlight is coming.

If you’ve grown up in the Christian community, you’re familiar with messages that we do not have to fear what the world—death, disease, violence, temptation–can do to us. Perhaps, however, we do need to fear what we do to ourselves. Apathy is one of the most insidious forms of sin-slavery on the planet. So many sins are the result of passions gone amuck, but apathy is the sin of nothingness. No desire, no effort. It’s a void, one that the Bible is not kind to. Apathy is one of the seven deadly sins. Dozens of verses talk about those who are “lukewarm”, “asleep”, “slothful in zeal”. The entire book of Proverbs is one long sermon against slothfulness.

And yet, we don’t like to talk about it, not seriously. Facebook passes memes around poking fun at the ways apathy costs us. A self-deprecating post about chronic procrastination gets thousands of notes on Tumblr. Everyone clicks “like” and laughs and breathes a secret sigh of relief, because if everyone can relate, if it’s part of the human condition, then we can’t help it, right?

Except we can. When the pressure’s on, when judgement or scrutiny or public failure is the consequence of doing nothing, the apathy often melts away. Which means I do have the choice to be better, I’m just not making it.

Why are we apathetic? The answer’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s fear, insecurity, or the scars of a past failure. Maybe it’s a clinical issue to get some additional help with. Maybe it’s plain old selfishness. Maybe it’s simply that everyone else seems to be effortlessly running and it is so hard to lift one foot and take a step after a lifetime of habitual sitting. But it’s not the distance we travel, not the speed by which we cover the miles, but the faithfulness we walk with that matters. One tiny, shuffling, mustard-seed step towards the sunrise. Then another.

God is not frightened by our apathy. He is not defeated by it. Our Father does not want us to sit in the dark. He wants His sunrise to find us walking, hopping, crawling on hands and feet, whatever it takes. And the Strength, the Will, the Love that sweated blood in Gethsemane, facing the most hellish suffering that any human on earth ever has or ever will face—He’s there, endlessly patient, for those of us who can’t face getting out of bed in the morning. We might be His stuck sheep. But we are still died for. We are still called to run the race, if we could just lift our feet.

I hope none of what I’ve said so far applies to anyone reading this post. I hope you’re brave and strong and burning up for Jesus, that there is a deep well of driven purpose in your soul you draw from every day.  I hope you’ve never been in a place where it felt like there was a grey cocoon between yourself and the rest of the world, and inside that cocoon, nothing mattered because none of it felt real anyway.

But if you’ve been there, if (like me) you’re there now, here’s a few lessons I’m trying to learn this year:

  1. Find the point where enough is enough. Shoddy last-minute work? Missed opportunities? Losing friendships that might’ve grown into something beautiful with just a little effort and commitment? Religious lip-service to a God who died for us? When do we become tired of having something worth living for and not living for it? Hold onto that. Take the anger, the regret, the guilt. Admit it, and let it fuel you.
  2. Realize that although apathy is a chain you fasten yourself, you are not the One who can unlock it. The very definition of apathy—passive indifference—means that we don’t have the willpower to escape it. Only His grace, over and over again, can make us free.
  3. Boldly invite Him into your apathy. There is no dark place that our Savior has not paid the blood-price to enter into. “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.” He wants to live in the ugly with us.
  4. Choose differently, one moment at a time. Tiny choices become big ones. Say “hi”. Set an alarm to wake up 10 minutes earlier, and do it. Make that phone call. Ask about the missions trip. Send two sentences to someone on social media who’s lonely. Pick a person you know and say a prayer for them every morning on your commute for a week. Then pick another. It’s not about trying to banish apathetic feelings from our lives, it’s about changing apathetic decision making, moment by moment.

I have always understood that Jesus could set me free from the things I sinfully and wrongly cared about. I am learning now that He can set me free from not caring at all.

2015, by all accounts, was a hard year for a lot of us. What if this new year isn’t a year of great victory or defeat, but simply a year of movement?

“You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped.” (Psalm 18:36)

Here’s to 2016, friends. The Light’s about to rise. Let’s start walking.


i’m waking up from a dream that had me thinking

i’m better off asleep under this tree

safe and sound, we’re cold and useless

come out into the open sun

(“a distant shore”, the wandering tree)

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Following Without A Map

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The past few months have seen me more aimless than I’ve been in quite awhile. I guess it was because of the vacuum of college, the flurry of the holidays. But I just didn’t seem to have one moment to listen, to myself or to God. To really just sit and be still. As a mild introvert, its maddening when I don’t get that time. When I don’t have time to process, or think and plan. Worse, I didn’t connect with God and what he was doing in my life and the lives around me. I was traveling on my own, in my own orbit. And then I wondered why I wasn’t seeing change I’d been praying for.

I am about to begin a season of life full of changes. Marriage, finding a career, really digging into the dreams and things I want to do and have been imagining for so long. And in all of those things, I want God to be present. For me, this has been a season of beginnings and endings. But I’m also just sort of in No Man’s Land right now while I wait for things to unfold. And the waiting is difficult.

I have been praying into many personal things recently, and not really seeing the results I thought. (Key word: thought). In praying and seeing nothing happening, it is easy to get discouraged. It is easy to think that the problem is you.

It is so easy to become restless. To just start down a path without God’s lead and foresight. It is easy, when we feel overwhelmed or stuck to make a decision. To leave God behind and hurry towards our own plans and ideas.

In waiting, nothing’s really going anywhere. Nothing’s really happening. How can we follow a plan that we don’t understand? That we don’t know all the features of. It would be easy to rely on ourselves. And so we do. But then things get even worse. Things do not turn out as we might have planned, things start to get messy and we are left holding the shovel to dig ourselves out. But God’s plan is better than anything we could come up with ourselves, and relying on the unknown is just easier somehow.

Its counterintuitive, and this is why its difficult. Its like Luke constantly questioning Yoda on his methods, looking for something bigger and greater rather than landing his focus. It doesn’t make sense that we should be led to green pastures without having any of our own works to prove our journey there. But that’s grace.

In ending college, starting a marriage, and really having to ask ‘what’s next,’ I have been praying for the hand of God more than I have been praying for his heart. And there was my error. There was my reason for feeling so restless. I wanted to move; he wanted to lead. He has been calling me to pray for aspects of a job I want, not just getting in the door. He has been calling me to pray for the specifics in my relationship with my fiancé, not just a good marriage. Good is great, but its boring. And God never wants boring. He wants abundance.

I wasn’t looking close enough to see the great things he had already blessed me with. And even more, I wasn’t seeing the ways he wanted to bless me in the future. I was turning towards myself; relying on my own works and blaming myself for insecurities and shortcomings that are already covered by his blood.

Following him through difficulties, through times of feeling stuck, brings hope. Brings thankfulness and resilience for the future. If we want to follow his path, we must trust him with holding the map. This doesn’t mean we follow blindly, this means we have a great partner in the journey.

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