Wednesday, October 18, 2006

As I sit here my ribs hurt.

They hurt because of the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament earlier this week. I took a few hard hits and spills and when you don't usually play that hard… you feel it the next day. The rush of competition and the adrenaline it brings comes with a small price. It may be the "man" coming out in me, but I think it is well worth it! I may feel it the next day, but I wake up knowing that I played hard.

Then, as I sit here and think about it all, my heart hurts.

It hurts for some of the guys I met on the field. Who seemingly embrace everything this world has to offer but in reality only helplessly grope for the wind. The guys who bow at everything one could imagine attempting to fulfill themselves, but walk away empty night after night.

At the risk of revealing my own selfishness I admit to making a couple comments like "yeah, that's why you pay for your friends" when someone would take a play a bit too seriously. But later as I drove home and as I sit here thinking back I look a bit deeper than my surface level selfishness.

It could be compared to a rich man looking at a poor man and making fun of him as he begs and scrounges for food.

It would be foolish and pointless to stereotype any group of people any certain way so I refuse to.

But it goes further than just that single situation. It's all around us. People attempting to fill their lives with things that were never ever meant to fill them. It's like trying to survive on a diet of only cupcake icing. The icing is the "extra" stuff in life. (A nice house, good food, loving family and nice friends, car to drive, new Bible to carry to church, money in my bank account, being warm at night, etc…) Although we as a western culture may view that stuff as necessary, and inside of these things may actually find our very identity, that's something these things aren't capable of providing. The only thing in this life that will every TRULY satisfy is a relationship with the Creator.

The world who looks so full and satisfied, is actually starving and desperate.

I pray they are lead to the table and are given the ability to feast on the reality of who Jesus Christ truly is.

What am I trying to say here… nothing ground breaking or revolutionary. Just a thought I was meant to sit on for a while.

Somewhere in the midst of the last few nights I was taught something. I was given a chance to see the value of what I have in the face of what others are missing. The gift that identifies me isn't universal, it's personal.

And I thought it was a simple game of Frisbee…

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Thoughts From an Evening
(Originally Posted June 29th, 2006)

We wrap our arms around one another and pray in the front yard of the house we've called home, on Thursday nights, for varying amounts of time. In the moment a soft spoken tear wells gently in my eye. In an attempt to hide it I refuse to acknowledge it. As I make my way for my truck it quietly falls, cutting at my pride, as I reach for the door. I turn my back and walk away from something I know will never return.

With memories tight inside our hearts, the lights turned off, the doors locked and the crowd dispersed, we all do the same. What we know as Atwood Family Fun has now come to an end.

The night is warm in late June and annoying, repetitious fireworks screech in the distance. I take my seat in what is probably one of my favorite places on this earth and begin to ponder and attempt to concentrate. Tonight my seat faces west, so as I beg a question, I watch the sun set faithfully yet again.

I beg the 'always productive' question of "why." "Why do seasons change?" I'm completely uncomfortable with it and have never grown to like it. Why do people I love leave? Why do people change? Why do things happen that are so far beyond my control but affect me so deeply? How can a human walk in and out of a life so quickly but leave an imprint on a heart that will be felt for eternity?

The Atwood's home is only a small example of a season changing and coming to a close. But, tonight, I think it's the thematic concept more than the event that bothers me so.

I'm drawn back to a passage that's big in my life. It's Hebrews 12:7-11

7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Someone told me the other night the thing to know about this passage is that the translator got a word wrong. "Discipline" should actually be translated "training." So everywhere we read "discipline" we should read "training."

All training for the moment seems not to be joyful, but it hurts like crazy, yet those who have been trained by it, afterwards, it yields the PEACEFUL FRUIT of righteousness. (jv paraphrase)

Season changing is not comfortable. It seems sooo… NOT peaceful. It is no fun (and it tends to happen rather rapidly in college), but it is all intentional. It is ALL to train God's children into who He has for them to be.

As the night has quietly slipped up and covered my lovely 'boro for the evening I'm reminded of the trainer and His UNCHANGING faithfulness. Just as He brings the night, He WILL bring the morning.

So I tuck my memories back in my pocket, close my Bible and Journal, and simply pray. Rest in the maker…

Clinging Yet Moving

- JV
Sunsets and Journals
(Originally Posted June 13th, 2006)

Something only I see, but now you

My journal: May 24th, 2006 – Location: Somewhere over the North Pole

Sunsets, One of my favorite of all God’s creations. I look to my left and see an amazing, blazing, red depression of the object that gives physical life to the earth. I know God painted this one just for me. I knew it when I opened my shade and saw it. So, I cut off my movie and picked up my journal in an attempt to somewhat preserve the moment.

Tonight we will stay in Newark. As badly as a want to get home, I’m content with only the next stop because it puts me on American soil and out of China. I love the country and the people, but I’m ready for home.

Wow, the sunset reminds me of my favorite Hawaii moments. Observing a sunset that simply stops time and allows God to scream “LOOK AT ME!!!” And I do. I look at that and know that the millions of brilliant colors coming from outer space point to a creator who is passionately in love with me.

Now, I never even asked to be “romanced” here, but that sets a heart at ease?!

Below is a snow-covered tundra. One I’ve never really seen before. Even though cold and non-receptive the sun still exerts incalculable amounts of energy onto its surface. Makes me wonder if there are times in my life when I resemble the tundra? The sun is still exerting energy, faithfully rising and setting, but the tundra is simply not interested.

Not interested in the life that could be. Simply content being cold, hard, and barren. It’s not an issue of a lack of effort on the part of the sun. The tundra has to look at it rising and setting each day as it lays there stagnantly unchanged.

May I never be like the tundra. I hope I spend every morning I’m blessed to be on this waiting room, ball of dust, we call earth waking up and draining every ounce of energy I can from the one who made the sun rise and set. The tundra is vast, intricately detailed, and beautiful… but it’s dead, barren, and lonely.

John 10:10 comes to mind

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Thank you for showing me, I’m ready to go… - JV
Rhythmic Life
(Originally posted May 26th, 2006)

Walking while Chris Martin soothes my thinking mind with lyrics speaking of “igniting bones” and I’m counting in beats of four... the beat does not match up and I find myself disgruntled. Then realizing the song is not written in counts of four, but counts of three. So, mid-stride… I adjust.

Sometimes life falls into this… We’re walking along counting in what we did last season or what we assume the count should be only to realize things are suddenly off beat. This takes a slight mid-stride adjustment then things are brought back together and one wonders why they spent so long on the three count when the four was right in front of them.

“To dance in the rhythm of King Jesus”

Not walk, not abide, not think, not believe, not sing… but to DANCE in the rhythmic life that is lived inside of Christ Jesus alone.

To Dance: To move rhythmically, usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.

What’s your rhythm?
What are you dancing to?
Are you dancing at all?

What does it mean to “dance in the rhythm of King Jesus?”

That’s beautiful language

- JV
(Originally posted April 28th, 2006)
So, in a couple hours I board my last plane out of Hilo Hawaii knowing I'll probably never come back.

I turn my back to this place and walk out. This semester has been crazy but I'm so thankful for it. It held a few things I didn't expect but they were all exactly as God had planned. I leave here with a peace that can only come from Him.

I'm walking out of one season of life... into a whole new one. And to be honest, I'm not sure what the next one holds, just like I was unsure what this one would hold.

But my last 4 months confirm what was on my heart when this picture was taken. God is big! He has you in the palm of his hand! He loves you and He is FOR YOU... and if God is for us... who can be against us?

Praise His holy name!
Your Glory...
(originally posted on April 25th 2006)

REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is NEAR. Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
your perfect love is casting out fear
even when im caught in the middle
of the storms of this life
I won't turn back, I know you are near
and i will fear no evil
for my God is with me
and if my God is with me
whom then shall i fear
whom then shall i fear
I can see the light, that is coming
for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
and there will bean end to these troubles
but until that day comes,
well live to know you here on this earth
and i will fear no evil
for my God is with me
and if my God is with me
whom then shall i fear
whom then shall i fear
You keep on loving and you never let go!
Ill keep on singing...
I can see the light, that is coming
and there will be an end to these troubles
but until that day comes
oh no you never let go
through the calm and through the storm
oh no you never let go
every high and every low
oh no you never let go

God WILL have His Glory...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Determination of Freedom

It feels good to feel the freedom to sit and write once again.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17

I currently find myself in my lovely little house here in Hilo Hawaii. I awoke this morning on a different island, Maui, but after a quick 7 am flight, I’m back where I began. The weekend was crazy and God is faithful. I got a chance to go to Maui, so I did. Wouldn’t you if $150 was all it cost?

The weekend was filled with whales, fish, a lost Japanese guy named Yuji who was introduced to the Name above all Names (you can pray for that), Krispie Kreme doughnuts (praise God), a lot of “chillin”, late night conversations, and very little homework done on my part.

I’m thankful for freedom. We serve a chain-breaking, big axe carrying, light-shinning, freedom giving, gracious, loving God; and all the darkness in the world, which we are contained in for the moment, TREMBLES at the sound of His name!

“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8

I was walking with Kira (L) on campus today and the definition of “renown” was “something everybody should know, has no negative connotation, and you’re proud of.” Pretty good definition if you ask me, especially coming from a girl with no concept of the word in its truest form.

Why don’t you pray for Kira, right now. God is working on her heart.

(Did you pray for a prospective sister? This is one of those parts not to skip.)

Question: What’s you purpose in life? I’m not after a church answer. I’m after one that honest… just honest. When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing on your mind? As you go through the day, what consumes your thoughts?

"I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols." Isaiah 42: 6-8