The Aftermath.

Many of you journeyed with me through the last decade – on this trip, that cooking disaster, new apartments, and all the other bits of discovering self. It’s been an incredible journey. Toward the end I went silent for a bit. I was processing the deepest valleys that I couldn’t bear to share publically. Maybe, eventually.

Anywho, I’ve been feeling like getting back into writing mode. It helps keep creativity flowing and emotions flowing too. Some of us are emotionally challenged. Okay, and maybe at the suggestion of an incredible therapist; but semantics, right?!

Thus, with the turning of a decade I have picked up the hobby again to continue the story, through the aftermath of my defining Roaring 20s.

You can find it here – Then there was 30.

New seasons. New sacrifices. Continually growing and always burning the plow.

Here’s to the 30s club!

Hope

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A Constant Yom Kippur

Israel, 2008.

During this season of observance – today (9/25-26) in particular, on Yom Kippur – my Jewish friends are fasting and placing themselves in reverence before G-d to seek atonement for their personal sins, and to seek forgiveness as a whole for sins toward each other. A day of repentance.

Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement.

 One day to corporately make it right.

For thousands of years it has been this way. Jews around the world coming together, corporately, to present themselves to G-d through the High Priest in hopes of their personal sins and sins toward one another during the past year being atoned for. Covered.

They shouldn’t be doing so alone, as Christians are forgiven by the same G-d.

Because there was this one day, in the middle of all those thousands of years ago, in the garden of Gathsemene, where a pressure that I could never know mounted on His heart, Jesus prayed a prayer that I have prayed in my own ignorance: “Lord, let this cup pass from me.” Not knowing that this cup is exactly what He planned for me to carry… knowing what I could handle. Thankfully, He continued, “Nevertheless…” (Matthew 26:39) and He gave himself over to atone for every one of my short comings, and every sin that he knows I will fall short of in the future.

And it was finished. No more covering. Washed away. Redeemed.

We (Christians) should be reverent to the fact that we are in a constant state of Yom Kippur, coming before our Holy G-d, and continually seeking atonement. Forgiveness.

The point is reverence. Taking time to dwell.

So today, and always, we should join with our Jewish friends – united by our love for G-d and His word – and put away frivolous things in order to seek repentance between our brothers, turn our eyes toward our G-d in gratitude, thanking Him for washing it all away, and atoning for our mistakes.

Dwelling On The Beatitudes

MOUNT OF BEATITUDES

Capernaum, Israel

Matthe 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 One of my favorite places in the whole world.

Whenever my heart is conflicted or I’m feeling overwhelmed with this life, it is this place that I think of.

This place, where it is believed that Jesus taught to many, saying things, such as, “… blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Where He called me blessed and said that I would inherit the kingdom of heaven.

So grateful for these words in Matthew 5 and love remembering back to the moments when I sat on this mountain, in front of this gate, dwelling on these words and imagining what that moment must have been like, reassuring myself that it’s all gonna be okay.

And to all who are overwhelmed in this life (and to myself in particular), take a deep breath, and remember… you are blessed. Seek His kingdom first, and EVERYTHING else will be added unto you. [Matthew 6:33]

Side note: Which means, if you are seeking His kingdom first, and you don’t have what you think you need, then it’s not for you yet – because when it is – he will add it unto you. He promised.

Many days my actions (or just plain human stupidity) may not always reflect it, but I am so grateful that God sees my heart and that I truly desire after Him. Sometimes – and when I say sometimes I mean like every, single day – I make a total mess out of myself. It amazes me that God carries this abundance of grace that is renewed each morning, and that He can see the promise in me, even when I can’t see it in myself.

Reasons


I remember when I first began to understand things of the Lord.

I was a Freshman in college and just moved from a small East Texas town to a city called Lakeland in central Florida (who’s ever heard of Lakeland, right?- It’s in between Tampa and Orlando) Who knows how I ended up there, but God slowing and consistently stayed faithful to his promise that by the renewing of my mind, he would reveal his perfect plan for my life.[Rom 12:2]

The pastor of the church I ended up at is called Without Walls Central, and Pastor Scott Thomas- the senior pastor, has a great way of pulling the Old Testament truths out of The Bible and showing there relevance in our society and culture, as well as that of the New Testament. At first when I witnessed this and really began to look into it on my own I was mesmerized at the revelation that God had waiting for me…. and for you as well :)! The importance is opening the Bible for yourself and really getting into the word, there will be things that are shown in the word that do not just come through reading, but when you put the word into it’s original context, it comes alive in a way you’ve never experienced! I couldn’t help but fall in love with this concept: quickly my book shelves became lined with books on the state of Israel and my relationship to them, but it never really clicked and all come together until my first ACTUAL TRIP to the Holy Land. I’ve been back twice since and truly can say- no cliche intended- that it changed my life and especially my outlook on the Bible: scenes come to life after I walked in the same place, I relate stories to the actual stones, locations, and ruins. It’s something that almost can’t be explained, only experienced to truly understand it.

IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN, WHO IS SEEKING MORE FROM THE WORD- GO.TO.ISRAEL….simple as that… START PUTTING AWAY LITTLE-BY-LITTLE AND JUST GO! IT IS WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!

I remember the very first night that I spent in Israel, with incredible jet lag, I sat out on my balcony (I was trying to soak it all in… at 4AM)- I wrote, I prayed, I sat in silence- all while looking out at the Sea of Galilee, being completely amazing by the mountains that plateau around it. I remember wondering how something so ugly, so plain, can be so brilliant and breath taking; and when I say breath taking, I mean like, I couldn’t stop staring.

One of my favorite places is this youth hostel that sits on top of a dried up ocean and at the base of a massive mountain in the Negev dessert. It’s completely dark out there so the stars are a blazing glory in the sky, and outside in the court yard there is a small ledge that I always sit on and look up at the height and detail and majesty of this mountain. I can not get over it. Every time I go I get overwhelmed to think that he put each one of them in place for his glory.

So anyways, back to my first night on the balcony- time passed, and -the best part- the sun began to rise. I can’t put words on what this looked like. I took about 79 photos of it and none of them did this moment justice. When i got home I couldn’t get over it’s greatness and when people would see the photos they would say “o, that’s nice” and flip to the next. But in my heart I was so excited, not by the photo, but by that night on the balcony, when God gave me a tender and grateful heart for Israel. Ever since then, and the more that I learn, I can’t help but to love and support everything to do with this nation and the covenant that has decreed by God. Not only because it is a commandment, but because it is a passion, I feel so grateful for the opportunity, and as lead by my heart, as I learned the facts of Israel it only give more reasons to be in support of their current situations with surrounding countries.

Currently I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as well as for the Israeli/American alliance. It is one that is dear and would be disappointing to see decease. However, it didn’t start out that way. I never knew all of the things that I know now from the beginning, and I didn’t learn them growing up in church, it is just now that many Christians are understanding the importance, or even have that “moment” where it all clicks and they’re hooked forever into this awesome relationship with Israel.

My “moment” just happened to be there- out on the balcony- mesmerized by the majesty of Jesus Christ.

What’s your reason?

Balcony in the Big-J

This moment seems surreal. Sitting on a balcony with 5 other students… in Jerusalem. All of us are different majors, different states, different cultures. Sitting together, checking emails and singing along with Tommy while he practices worship on his guitar. His voice is amazing, and he has such a heart of worship. I have no doubt that one day, Scott Mason will be shaping up our government. Hunter has a funny sarcasm, but a really great energy and loyal spirit. Adam is consistent, doesn’t say much, but when he does it’s significant, and Rachael is the mother of the group. She is always making sure everyone is taken care of 🙂 and me- I’m just here, soaking it all it. Trying to create a visual memory of a life moment that will be looked back on with nothing but smiles!

Today was full of touring, but most places that I’ve already been to. Last night we went out to Benyahuda St. for a bit. I felt like i was back with Eagles Wings, missing my ’08 crew! But it was fun, we shopped around for a bit and had yummy ice cream. We have been in Israel for 2 days now, visiting Hezekiah’s tunnels in the city of David, prayed at the Western Wall, learned about the temple mount, and today lots of churches. Honestly, visiting all of them, it made me grateful that I don’t have to pay respects to shrines and statues, or presumed graves, or candle ceremonies. I have immediate access to Jesus at any time, and being around all of this religious tradition has made me so grateful for that! There is so much that has to be done in order for these people to be in ‘right standings’ with God, and I love that Jesus brought me life and more abundantly!

This trip has been wonderful.. I have learned so much about myself, been stretched within myself and things I’ve held strong to, what I agree with and don’t- theological and physical. But at the end of the day, I feel like God put me here to see how I would swim in the deep end.

From Steph and my preaching (Shekinah Glory ministries 😉 ) to Tommy’s amazing worship, there are so many people here who are called to change the world, and we goof off and play and experience Poland/Israel together, but at the end of it all- I love that I get to be a part of their stories.

Today I got a ring made and I wanted to have something engraved into it that resembled what I’ve gotten out of this trip, and all I could think that I’ve learned was about the power of Jesus under question and condemnation. so I went with John 5:58- which talks about the Pharisees questioning Jesus, saying that he’s not old enough, how could he claim to have seen Abraham before? Jesus replies back to them, “Truly, truly I tell you, that before Abraham was even born, I AM.” I love that outside of the religious tradition, laws, and legalism, Jesus stands supreme, rules and reigns over the earth, and Jerusalem- HE IS- inspite of all things!

Goodnight once again from Israel- Life is good. God is great.

Hope

Playing Catch Up..

WOW! so much done, with no internet time to catch up on it all… I am now officially in Jerusalem!! SHABBAT SHALOM!

We ended our time in Poland with visiting Auchwitz, Triblinka, and Birkenau concentration and extermination camps. The emotions were not as raw as they were at Mjdanek, I think because the initial shock was different. I have chosen to not talk to much about all that I saw until I am able to begin processing it all. My emotions have ran from one extreme to the other- initially upset, then angry, then confused. The autracities that occurred there have no words to do them justice, and seeing the strategic planning and excecution that took place… I have no explaination. But I know that I want my explanation of my time and experience here to be strategic and well thought through, so for now I will hold it all in my heart.

I can say that having a survivor with us changed the entire dynamic of this experience. The next generation will have no survivors to talk to or hear a story from. Irving took us through Auchwitz from his own life, he took us to bunk 33, and to the crematorium that his family was killed in. The ground that he stood on twice a day to be counted and recounted, experiences with Dr. Mengele there during the selections. It was all so real, as a 14 year old boy, and now in his 70s, he can still smell the burning hair and flesh, as well as the sound and smell from the electric fences that surrounded the area. Suprisingly, Irving walked with pride through that camp, making jokes and telling stories of his 3 years in Auchwitz. It is very apparent that the SS soldiers walked as gods around these Jews, and after all their evil attempts, the Nazi regime no longer stands, but he is still there today, reliving his hell, will a smile and hope. His righteous anger at God has turned into grace, and he loves being able to share his experience.

There is so much I can say about the last week, but I’m not sure how it will all come out in words. There is no logic.

But for now, I have just traveled and walked for the past 24 hours, so I’m going to hit the pillow. We landed at 4am and starting touring from there, checked in to hostel at 2pm.. back out for touring.. finally in late. I have so much to say still… maybe tomorrow night.

I will leave with this- A people who does not remember their past, will never have a future. We cannot be blind to the things of our past, because as the little changes begin in our present, that past will absolutely become our future.

goodnight from Jerusalem!

Hope

Travel Time

I’M SO TIRED!!!

today we booked into the hotel and I’m ready to go back to sleep! Yesterday was lectures in the morening, then headed to JFK for travel time… our flight left at 6:30 which meant 2 hours in the airport waiting, reading People magazine – Saved by the Bell had a 20 year reunion! ilove that show! Our flight was 9 hours long with no sleeping. I switched seats into the middle section with Kristen and Victor. The man in front of me had his head in my lap so I barely slept. We jumped ahead 6 hrs which landed us at 9:45AM- and just the right time to tour all day apparently! We didn’t even see our hotel until 4:30 PM. So in 2 day old clothes and through a delirious fog, I saw the old city of Warsaw, which was beautiful.. with great ice cream! and homemade cones! We also went to a Jewish cemetery with a mass grave in it. that was the first thing that hit my heart and took me out of vacation mode. We finally got to our hotel and I layed on top of my covers waiting for my roommate, thinking, 9 hrs of flying and 7 more of walking, lets just rest my eyes a bit then I’ll shower and refreshen for dinner. The next thing I know is the fire alarm is going off- no wait.. that’s our phone.. waking me up out of a dead sleep 4 hours later! The voice on the other end was saying all sorts of things, i’m still not sure what. Thinking itwas morning, I was glancing through the sheer curtains thrying to figure it all out, she was saying- everyone is downstairs.. you missed dinner. come down. And all I could think was WHAT! They’re waiting for us? like to leave for the day?.. dinner? O wait, we’re in Poland, poor girl just is confused with the words breakfast and dinner. I hung up, still confused, and my roommate, what was asleep as well, took her intinerary out and saw another event lined up for right after dinner. Christian Zionist speakers from Poland. greattttttt…

Finally our day is over.. others are going out.. me too… on a date- with my dreams! How cheesy was that??

Last on my mind- every one of my convictions are being tested right now, it’s crazy.. what is a standard? What is conviction? I keep reminding myself..

..Righteousness is righteousness, no matter the circumstances.

Goodnight! (I wanted to be cool and write it in Polish, but I don’t know how)

-Hope