Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Breathe with me.

So I haven't posted in a while. I think it's a mix of being busy and lacking the motivation to write, which is very rare for me. Usually I find that I can write something down and it fits what I want to say or what I'm feeling. I even take pride in my writing every now and again. But lately, I would write something and not feel it was well-written enough to post.
Maybe it didn't flow enough.
Maybe I just didn't like what I said.
Maybe it lacked the charisma I want my writings to possess; the heart.
I want people to feel something when I write, because I actually enjoy writing most of the time.

So connect with me.
Make a touch point with me.
Put down the phone, unless you're out and about and that's how you're reading this (something I'm on quite often, I'll admit). Shut off the million other windows on your internet browser. Tune out the busy traffic and chaotic thoughts

and sit with me.

Hi. Can you hear me now?
The world gets pretty crazy, doesn't it?
It's nice to have just a minute to yourself, isn't it?
Breathe with me.
That was nice.
I don't know about you, but I feel like life is passing me by really quickly right now. It's like I'm pulled over on the highway and I'm watching the cars whiz by me. The car rumbles from the speeding vehicles, and it's scary to try and even think of pulling out at the rate the cars are coming and how fast they're speeding.

Can you believe it's Thanksgiving already? That 2013 is a month or so away from this very moment?
I can't.
Life... it's happening so fast. It's not that I'm unprepared to stuff myself with turkey, potatoes, and chocolate pie, it's just almost surreal to think that this upcoming year is full of complete shifts in direction. That an entire year is about to be behind me. I'm sorry, behind us. That has to be weird for you to think about as well.

Can I talk to you for a second? Just you and me?
I'm kind of scared.
I mean, if I had the option to hide in a really comfortable corner, I might not pass it up.
2013 is going to be a year of big change in my life, personally. I need to figure some things out. I find myself wandering aimlessly these past few weeks. I'm wondering where I'm going and how I'll get there. I called it getting back to "real life" today.
This is a pretty human thing to do.
To wonder, I mean. To try and figure everything out. I think fear probably fits in that category.
I've always had an uncomfortable struggle with change, but life change is especially horrifying.
I guess I should think of it as an adventure. That seems like it would be more enjoyable.

Over the past few years I've mentioned adventures to you: the adventure of life, the adventure of moving, the adventure of capturing each moment, or even finding adventures. I invited you on each of these adventures with me,
so I don't see why this adventure should be any different.
I think adventures mean so much more when people come with you, especially people you care about.
I'd like to think that I care about you.
So would you come with me? I need all the backing I can get.
As the holidays roll around, and as my chaotic brain kicks into hyperdrive, would you mind praying for me and sticking with me? I think you'd be the coolest.

And I'll keep you updated, don't worry.
I already know what most of you are thinking: "You have so many options", "You can go so many places", and "God will show you what to do", "Don't worry about it, you have your whole life ahead of you", and my personal favorite, "You don't know to know right now." I even have gotten many "That's ok" responses to my lack of direction, which I appreciate.
I think I just needed a moment to write it out and digest it, even admit that it's been on my mind.

I'm really glad I shared this moment with you, and that we got to cut out the world for a few brief seconds. Things get pretty overwhelming sometimes, don't they? Maybe we should try and make this a regular thing. I wouldn't mind it.

Amidst all of the chaos, the plans, the busyness, the hectic decisions, the stress, the problems that loom over your head and even your lack of direction, (because I figure there are some people out there like me), I'll remind you of something that I'm trying to remind myself of:

He's here. 
In this moment. 
Don't pass up noticing the presence of God exactly where you are, because He IS there. 

Right next to you.
Right next to me.
He's not taking off or booking it.
He hasn't moved.
There He is.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.

Psalm 23:2
I can sense His presence in the middle of overwhelming emotion and thought.
I can feel Him nudge me, and try to focus my mind on this important thing.
Have you even sat still recently long enough to notice that He's around?
If not, I'll pass you off to Him. You two should talk. He misses you.
And there it is: calm. Maybe not inside, because you two need to talk about some things,
But is it just me, or did the world around me all of the sudden get a lot quieter?
Did the weight on my shoulders slowly lift?
Did my room quickly grow still?

He says, 
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
Psalm 46:10

Thursday, October 11, 2012


To someone who lets me tag along while attaining to their responsibilities, and doesn't mind,
To someone who lets me live with her, even if we've done it for most our lives, and still loves me despite of me,
To someone who doesn't mind a phone call out of the blue or picking up where we left off, even if we haven't talked in months,
To someone who calls me on her drives to and from college, and still seems happy about it,
To someone who makes sure to text me every once in a while and check in,
To someone who keeps making time for me every so often, even if our lives are busy,
To someone who wouldn't mind a late-night phone call, but actually welcome it,
To someone who knows me well enough to know that I don't drink milk without eating Oreos, can read my facial expressions like a book, and keeps proving me wrong in the best sense of the phrase,

To the friends who still write me letters, even if I'm terribly slow at replying to them, 
To the friends I consider family,

To the number of people who try to keep in contact with me, even if I'm across the country and distracted by school
To the family who are what that word describes in every sense possible -

Words fail, but I wish you could see my heart in this moment.
Thank you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

May I Never Forget It.

I can only hope that the sort of incomplete, restlessness that
nestles its way into my night has to do with the
outside slowly making its way in
and the inside slowly trying to find a way out.
The two coincide together and mix until there's
a jumbled, disheveled painting of combined colors
melted paintbrushes
raw backdrop
and stiff ideality.
The soreness in my heart makes way for the brokenness to present itself,
And I've never been one to openly desire for brokenness to be present in my life
so this is a reminder that I truly am not in control,
as I try to fathom tender muscles and wobbly ankles.
Glimpses of some things that were continually flaunt their memories in my vision
galavanting in shiny wardrobes and blunt emotion.
I can't hide from everything,
and my wobbly ankles prove excuse for running very far from such a strong presence.
I can't hide. I can't run. I can't escape.
That's the point.
Life is out of my control,
like a gusting wind that comes about unexpectedly,
or a merge of stopped traffic that blocks time and makes impatience obvious.
If I can't run, or hide, or escape on my own
I must make a run, hiding place, or escape out of something
or Someone.

May every glance that my eyes journey to make,
every memory that my mind dares to recall,
every dark place that my heart tries to hide from,
and every nerve-wracking, tension-building, stress-discovering moment that I stumble into
be loosed in my Hiding Place,
my Escape,
my Refuge,
my Savior,
my Jesus.
May He be those things to my soul
and may I never forget it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Down to business.

With elections right around the corner, I figure there's going to be tons of debating, loads of opinions, and a bunch of people thinking that they're right about what they believe in.
More power to you. Seriously. I think it's cool when people are interested in politics and what's going on in our country. It's a good thing to have a hold on. 

I was born in Africa and primarily raised in California. I went to a high school that was Republican/Conservative to the max. I knew their opinions and view points. I appreciated them. Growing up in San Francisco helped balance out the right wing perspective education I was receiving as well.  I then proceeded to have my first semester at SFSU, which was at the complete other side of the spectrum. Transitioning from that, I went to Missouri and then to Massachusetts. Both of those colleges being very Conservatively based as well. 

My dad is a Democrat and my mom is a Republican. I've heard both sides. I've seen both sides in action. I love both of my parents so much. I hear them discussing what they think in terms of politics often. It's not an unspoken rule in our home. We're open about what we believe politically.

So, my perspective might just be a tad different then yours. I have nothing against you having an opinion. Please, go for it. What I have an issue with is the blatant attacking or maybe the the haughtiness that comes alongside of thinking that your way is the right and only way. This is what aggravates me above anything else. The almost ... hate that comes alongside experiencing someone in a different party. The harsh abuse of words that we use, and how quickly offended we become and estranged from one another that makes us. 

I have seen both sides attacking the other, and I have also seen how hurtful it is. I've felt defensive of both sides, since my family is rooted in both. I've defended cases to both the right and the left and I've seen it do nothing but divide. But seriously, can you listen for a second?

I'm glad you have an opinion.
I'm glad you think you've done your research. 
I'm glad you believe in something.
But do you think yelling and fighting and pushing it in other people's faces makes them want to have anything to do with you? 
It doesn't.

I was in a high school class and they were debating abortion. Since all the Republicans were speaking up, the discussion really was basically gaining up on the other side without them being there to defend themselves. I'll never forget when a member of my class raised his hand and asked why abortion was wrong. It was a simple question, and he was being so genuine. The members of the discussion immediately attacked him. They responded in harsh words and gasps. They pretty much made sure he would never ask another question again. 
This frustrated me. 
When a classroom full of one party gains up on the other party, it frustrates me. 
They can't defend themselves. They're not actually there. How is that ok? 
And of course you'll be right - there's no opposition.
I've had a few of these experiences in college as well.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't lose yourself in something that can cut off other people so recklessly, and I would even dare to say foolishly. When you push your beliefs so angrily and obnoxiously in people's faces it honestly makes you unattractive. 
What's attractive?
An individual mind who isn't flustered because someone believes something that is different from their beliefs politically or who isn't offended because someone chooses to side with a different party even though they have the same faith.
I call these people mature. 

So here I am, at a Bible college on the East Coast during election time and I've already heard the debates and heat beginning. It's not bad. But bashing... it's not attractive. If I choose to believe something different then you, like who I think should win the election, will you treat me differently? Will you get angry at me and attack me without hearing me out? Will you try to make me believe what you believe even though maybe I've thought through what I believe too? 
And maybe you won't understand over your opinions and strong viewpoints. 
But I can't help but wondering that if we all just listened for a minute to what other people were trying to communicate to us, maybe our world would be a little less chaotic and more understanding. Maybe people wouldn't feel so cut off, because you're actually giving them a chance. 

It's just a bunch of jumbled thoughts from an African-Californian who hates being pigeon-holed and attacked because I grew up in a different environment then you, and believe something different then every other typical, right winged Conservative who goes to a Bible college. 

Sorry for the mouthful. Keeping it real.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

While We Sing.

This song has been messing with me for a while. I don't know if you've heard me talk about it or not, but it's definitely worth a listen. Seriously. Get ready to be rocked.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Connections are powerful. Connections are what sustain us.
I can't help but wonder how people become entrapped in my heart. Not in a bad way, just in a real way. I think there's this moment where you realize that if it wasn't about you, you'd be okay with that. There's also this moment where you realize you're not alone. I think that's what makes connections so powerful. When you have the guts to look someone in the eye and realize that they know you, and you know them... the root of it is really being known. They KNOW you.

How scared are we to truly show ourselves to each other? We hide behind insecurity. We hide behind masks and expect other people to either realize it or not push too hard because then they'd really see us. We hide in our corners and churches, we hide in our groups and our comfort zones, while people are pushing and hurting and trying to understand what it means to be them. What it means to be human. 

Where did we get the mentality that we were meant to be alone? 
Because we're not. 

We all have a past. 
We all have closets and masks. 
We all choose what we want to be. It's a choice. 
Our past does a job to form us into the person we are in the present, but we're never restricted into remaining that person. It was never God's intention for us to always be fastened to years that lay behind us, trying to drag them into the future as we desperately try to push forward despite our chains. 

I don't expect to loose the chains myself, and I don't expect you to give them up so easily. I often refer to myself as a recovery patient. Sometimes recoveries take years. Everyone has a specific process. But you are not the only one who has ever gone through that process, I guarantee it. There are more people like you out there, cowering in corners and hiding, trying to intelligently decipher what it all means. We whisper in shadows and hang our heads down in defiance as if we're completely ruled. 

We're not. 
You're not the only one out there. There are other people like you. 
I know what it is to be hurt. I know the power and sting of rejection. I know brokenness. I know what it's like to carry everything around your shoulders, and I also know what it's like to see someone so weighed down and have absolutely no power to take any weight off their shoulders. 
Connections. People rooted in my heart. 

We know each other deep down, don't we?  We're just afraid to let it be known. Our past still restricts us. It's okay to be careful around people. I sure know I am. But never doubt for a second that you are on your own, and never assume that just because you see someone you know who they are. 
I despise pigeon-holing people. Some of the most influential and talented people I know are going unused because others can't truly see them. They only assume. It aggravates me. I look at them and recognize the impact they could have over thousands, while some just stand around and assume they have them figured out, and therefore they're not recognized or used. I can't help but wondering, if we're all made in God's image and we're all so different, maybe God specifically made people quiet or shy and still intensely powerful and inspiring, and as leaders we're failing to recognize it and let them fall by the wayside. There are so many walls that block a clear view.  To those people: you aren't alone either.

Be yourself. It's one of the most powerful tools you possess. 
It's in that, that you see you're not alone. 
And when you realize you're not alone, something shifts inside of you. 
You can make a connection. 
And when you are yourself, you give others around you the chance to be themselves because being genuine is so far-fetched today, that when you embrace who you are it's instantly noticeable. 

Know that if I could take that weight off your shoulders I would, in a second. Know that if I could take away any pain, I would. Know that if I could carry any of your past, I would try. Just so that you wouldn't have to. I might not be able to take away your pain, push you forward, and numb that raw emotion, but I can stand with you through the process and let it be known that I'm here. I can point you to someone greater who CAN do those things with you. Who CAN help you in ways that no one can. He's waiting for you. 

So, what CAN we do?
Sometimes all we can do is say three of the most powerful words: "You're not alone."
Words fail. Presence matters. Openness make a difference.
Start now.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I have these complete moments of intense inspiration. Realization. Honesty. And honestly, I love speaking my raw emotion. When you express yourself so fully and wholly that it might not make sense but those are your emotions, I just see so much power in that. 
Then there’s this fear: fear of it not being accepted. Fear of being misunderstood. For me it’s fear of it not being good enough or someone taking my raw words and walking away with them, and never returning. 
Fear usually comes from experience. I’ve heard that we’re only born with two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of the dark. Those were the only fears given to us at birth, yet we walk around with millions, just tumbling around inside of our hearts and our heads. Sometimes fear isn’t rational. I know it. 
But there has to be some beauty in it, right? My grandfather once told me to enjoy the uncertainty. Fear means you care, at least most of the time. It means you’re invested. It means you don’t want to lose something, and for someone who’s lost a lot and struggled with people leaving and being left, fear from that in an entirely different situation can indicate that I’ve actually allowed myself to feel, and be, and take part in that kind of communication and friendship again. Even though I take it overboard, it could be healthy for me, because I didn’t square myself away. I didn’t hold back.
I didn’t…. lose myself in being lost. 
I got back up, and now, experiencing this fear with people who are new, it’s scary. I’m not going to buffer it for you. But I have to trust them, because not trusting them only proves that everyone who’s ever left is still in control over my emotional behavior, and that’s not healthy. 
Have you ever missed someone so badly it hurt?
That kind of scares me, because for that to happen to me, it means they take up serious space in my heart. Not unhealthy space, or even bad space, just more space then normal in any regular friendship that I’ve ever experienced. There’s this natural insecurity that follows that, at least for me. There’s so much that could go wrong. But I can’t always think that way. I don’t want to live life that way. 
There’s so much that could go right, and I’m not going to lose one of the best gifts God has ever given to me in my best friend because of fear. 
This is pretty real, and you won’t see a lot of these. But I love so hard, and so fast, and so much sometimes that everything seems so real to me, including fear. Fear is real. 
But it is possible to have a best friend know you so completely and not run away with it. 
I have to believe that. I choose to believe that. And in that, there's freedom.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I realize that under the banner of the title of my blog, "For Helen", there's an explanation of who Helen is. I also realize that I've never really talked about Helen, so you might be a little bit confused about who she is exactly. I wish I could post a picture of her on this page, but sadly I never took one.

I went on my first missions trip to Nicaragua. This mission trip did so much for me. It opened my eyes to the world, essentially. It also is the place where I received a more specific call into the ministry. God showed me so much when I was in Central America. On one of the last outreaches we did there were hundreds of people packed into a square. They had all heard that we were handing out groceries. There was no stage and no sound system. We planted ourselves in the middle of the crowd and made space. As the choir was singing during the program I looked out at those hundreds of faces, but one specifically caught my eye. It was like everything and everyone else in that crowd faded as I looked at this little face. She was right in front and she was precious - dressed in a faded teal dress that looked like it should be worn on Easter Sunday if it weren't for how dirty and covered in dust it was. Her hair was in a high pony tail and her face was tear-stained. My heart... it just broke. I almost left the choir and picked her up then, but I knew I should wait until the song finished. 

The minute the song ended I walked right up to her. I knelt down to her level and just looked her in the eyes. She was still crying, and probably six years old. I didn't even say anything to her, I just reached out my arms and she fell into them. I hugged her so hard and then I just picked her up. I couldn't think of anything else to do. She nestled onto my shoulder for a moment and I wiped the tears from her eyes while I just prayed for her. After a while I decided to take her into the kid's program and see if someone could translate for me. 
The missionary's daughter, who was under ten herself, happened to speak both English and Spanish. Yes, this is who I resorted to. From what we gathered her name was Helen, and she had been crying because someone had hurt her. She showed me the scratches on her arms and I saw the dried blood. My heart beat so fast when Elyssa, the missionary's daughter, was trying to translate. She had been hurt. I hated that. It woke something up in me. I made sure that for the rest of the night I gave her special attention. I brought her on stage when the puppets performed. I made sure Elyssa was around afterwards so she could have someone to play with. Someone eventually came and got her, and I wished I could speak fluent Spanish to give her a proper goodbye, but when she left I saw the look in her eyes and I'll never forget it. 
I'll never forget Helen. I'll never forget the first moment I saw her, or when I realized that she had been hurt. I can't get her face or her dusty dress out of my mind. It's almost engraved there: her tears, her eyes, the moment I finally saw her smile when I brought her on stage with the puppets. 

And maybe God has a theme going here. 

I had the opportunity to go to Ecuador this summer. I actually arrived back in the States this past Saturday. Ecuador, and South America, was amazing. It was such a great experience and I can't wait to go back one day. There was a portion of the trip where I had the chance to go see where one of the missionaries, someone who's known me for a good portion of my life, Henry Smith, in his natural environment. It was awesome. The group we were in split up on the outskirts of Guayaquil and went on our way to do home visits. During this time I staid back to help my parents, uncle, and Henry, make a video for the church, and after we were done everyone was talking in the kid's tent. 
Three beautiful children ran over and started to talk and play with us. Henry kept going on about how one of the children had the most gorgeous smile. I asked what her name is and he said: "Helen."
I was instantly reminded of Helen in Nicaragua, and as I looked at this Helen in Ecuador, my heart made the same connection. I had the chance to love on her a bit, play with her, carry her around and just make her laugh and it was in those few moments that I think God was speaking to my heart, helping me realize that I'll come into contact with more "Helen's" around the world. That the Helen I met in Nicaragua wasn't the only one I would ever meet to be engrained in my memory forever, but He was calling me to have a heart for numerous children and hurting people around the world. 
My heart connected with this so much. 

I don't think it's a coincidence that I met another Helen in Ecuador. I don't think it's a coincidence that she's engrained in my mind like the sweet girl I met in Nicaragua, either. 
I think it was on purpose that I met Helen, and because of both of them God has awoken something in me to take with me wherever I go - a constant reminder, a humble perspective, and a heart to see that this isn't the end, this is only the beginning of places He's going to bring me and the hearts I'm going to carry with me for the rest of my life. 

Helen's only the start, and because of her tear-stained face and eventually her unforgettable laugh, I don't think I'll ever be the same. If meeting a little girl in Ecuador this summer who also had the name Helen helps me to remember that connection and also connect with God's heart, then I'll take it as God knocking on the door of my own heart and saying that this 2012, this trip, and even the past trip to Nicaragua, isn't the end of what He wants to show me is in His heart. 
It's only the beginning. 

This blog helps me remember that. I carry them both with me now. My life is my response back to this call. I'm going to do what I'm going to do for the rest of my life because of hearts like Helen. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sometimes words are useless.

It's done. Finished. Complete. Over.
It's a weird feeling mixed with a drained feeling. All my summer's work is pretty much wrapped up, tied away neatly in two weeks of experience and exposure that will stay with me for the rest of my life - the first camps I put together, ever.
I'm exhausted and needless to say, very tired. Being sleep-deprived for two straight weeks can definitely take it's toll. It's more like being sleep-deprived while trying to remain in responsibility of large groups of minors. Activities. Services. Management.
But it's done, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. The way things played out have given me so much experience. I've learned so much and I know it's only the beginning.

This is more of a thanks for coming along with me on this journey. I couldn't have done it by myself. There are so many people who helped, labored, and worked extremely hard to make the past 2 weeks a huge success, so thank you: staff, interns, neighboring churches, pastors, leaders, counselors, CITs, and those who stepped in when we needed it. Those last minute sign ups and counselors made everything come together completely.
Thank you for partnering with me.
Thank you for being my friend.
Thank you for listening when I was trying to hold it all together and thanks for sticking around anyways.
Sometimes words are useless, and it may just be the sleep deprivation, but when I try to appropriately express my thanks it seems almost mediocre in light of how much you really helped and accomplished.


I also need to express a special thanks to my best friend who fought for my sanity and helped me to maintain my balance in life with both work and you know, living. There's nothing like having someone like that around. She's the best. Also to my family who spurred me on to accomplish this goal and believed in me every step of the way.

Next stop: Ecuador.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My life this summer.

Everything is moving so fast! I thought the summer would drag on, but in reality everything that so many people have been working so hard for is speeding right towards us! In case you didn't know, camps are right around the corner. I figured since this is my last full week of normal-ish office hours before everything takes off, I would like to explain to you what this has all meant to me and how these camps are going to take off. I don't see myself having massive amounts of time in the next few weeks between camps, my online summer courses, and a missions trip to Ecuador.

Planning these camps has been a massive amount of work and endless hours of planning. I don't remember ever feeling so drained or tired. Who knew working and planning in an office and thinking of every possible scenario could use so much energy? So much time, effort, and prayer has gone into each step and decision made. I really didn't have a complete understanding of what it took for the planning, and I know that's only a fraction compared to what it will take during the actual camps.

I feel that this form of ministry is something that God has called me to, along with conventions and conferences. I'm not one to speak so boldly about my specific call into ministry, because it is VERY specific, but when the opportunity came across for me to be able to have so much involvement in camps back in my city, I jumped at it. No, jumping isn't even the word. I asked for it. Literally. I asked to have that responsibility, because I wanted it.
Seriously. I did. I still do.

I know the impact a camp/conference/convention can have on a life. Sometimes all it takes is one night and everything in that life changes. Someone can accept Jesus into their lives for the first time. Someone can experience healing for the first time. Someone can get to the next level with God after years of feeling in the same place. Some even get called into the ministry at these types of events. It's not even necessarily the events themselves, but rather the anticipation and room for God to move that makes it so life-altering and special.
I know this from experience. My life has been radically altered and challenged by camps and conventions. It's those moments that you look back on and it's so specific that your mind automatically thinks to that instant.
I was called into the ministry at a national kid's convention in elementary school.
I had the first glimpse into what I was going to do at a youth camp in 7th grade. It's also at this youth camp that I remember every single message the speaker preached. I can tell you the titles of the sermons, the way he spoke, and even how my heart melted under God's power. THAT'S how much of an impact it had on me.
I remember getting the first specifics of my call into ministry at a youth convention in my junior year in high school. I can tell you specifically how I walked up to an altar call I'm not even sure was about, but was so assured that this moment was created for God to reveal something to me. It's vivid in my mind.
I can also name numerous specific times where my heart was encouraged, broken, changed, and mended at any number of these types of events. Life-altering moments. Moments that change your direction and focus permanently.

My heart is for events like this because I know the impact they can have on a life.
I am a product of it, and I want that so badly for others. It's as if every instance I can remember and take from where God revealed something to me about my future and my call, He placed a piece of His heart in mine and sometimes I can feel it beating inside of my soul.

Having said all that, my heart, along with all my energy and efforts, is in these camps and services. I believe there can be change and connection all within a few planned days like these. I really, really do. I've seen it happen! I can't wait to see what God will do, and I'm even more expectant to hear the stories of how broken people are mended, souls are encouraged, and people get to know each other and Jesus even more, fully engulfing themselves in the body of Christ image that the Bible portrays for us to be.

I've already learned so much, and I know I'll only learn more. In the meantime, if you're reading this, know that this is my sincerest form of communication on the subject. I cannot tell you how badly I want you to come and experience everything God has for you at these events!

See what I've been up to:
CITY CAMP 2012 - JULY 8-10 (Ages 8-12): http://gtsf.org/city-camp-2012-2/

URIM - JULY 15-19 (Ages 13-18): http://gtsf.org/eventregis/?ee=9
(This event is open to anyone - aka all ages - during the night services at 6:30pm. It's usually packed with people from churches around the bay!)

Jeff Deyo Concert @ 5pm - July 15 ($10 a ticket): jeffdeyo.eventbrite.com

All these events are held at: Glad Tidings Church - 1280 Webster St. San Francisco, CA. 94115

As a camp director, I had to plug it, guys. It's all I've been doing this summer.
This is my life at the moment! See you there!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Life won't wait on the wounded.

A couple of sun-kissed moments later
After a wave of everything comes storming my way,
I am left here.
A guitar in my hands and emotions brimming on my heart,
I strum the familiar chords
and I remember.
I remember every laugh.
I remember every smile.
I remember every moment when I was brought alive
Almost complete.
Almost, but not quite.
I remember being almost content.
Almost, but not there.
I was almost happy.
I remember flashing scenes
Regular life meshed with hearty dysfunction.
Dysfunction was life,
and I was ok with it.
I remember crying,
warm tears streaming down my cheeks
every time my heart was lashed at.
I remember feeling confusion,
lost causes met with incomplete silence.
I remember feeling frustrated,
lacking in what I wanted to be and being pushed into who I resisted becoming.
But I became that person eventually.
I remember feeling safe,
forcing myself to feel safe
when I was anything but safe.
Despite the fear that I knowingly ignored, I persisted.
Despite the warnings that seemed to pop up everywhere, I became ignorant.
Despite the caution in my spirit, I sprinted in the wrong direction.
Because it had become my home.
Even now, through flashes and fear, chaos and peace,
my heart finds the smallest piece of itself somewhere else,
lost in a past that I was forced to move forward from
behind in a dream that almost seems like it was yesterday.
I'm sore.
Running, pushing, waiting, using
Helping, thriving, living, striving
with a dull throb of a reminder in the back that I know must eventually fade.

Why is it that the faster you attempt to heal from something, the harder it haunts you?
Because around every corner there is a chance to be who I was
who is almost unfamiliar in light of the person who sits here now,
typing and wondering how it all happened.
But "everything I was I'm now running from.
I'm never looking back."
I can't look back.
Why does it hurt so much?
Why does pain have to be so painful?
Why do memories have to haunt you for agonizing hours?
Why do places fill you with remorse and heartache?
Because life doesn't sit still,
And life doesn't wait on the wounded.
In the midst of the drama of emotion and the abrupt halt of consistency,
life persists.
It moves.
It pushes on with or without your consent.
I've lost too much time knowingly and unknowingly being ignorant of the will of God,
and life has handed me a slap to get me back to reality.
This is my life now,
will I live in it or will I live from the past of it?
Will I push on with it
or will I avoid it in attempts of recreating shackles?
Will I let hurt become an anchor
or will I attempt to be anchored to nothing less then Jesus Christ?
I feel it,
His will.
His presence.
Chipping, breaking, grinding everything down to dust
So that He might rebuild.

He smiles, because through my stark change in direction
and heavy change of focus,
He's been waiting for this moment.
He's been anticipating this summer,
and when He smiles I feel it
and I know I'm doing something right.
"Not my will, but Yours" has never meant so much,
because I'm realizing now that it changes your life.
So through every weighing down possibility factor,
I am reminded that I am more than a conqueror.
This is my Everest,
and I will climb it until I
and when I take in the air of overcoming
I will be the mountain climber He always dreamed me to be.
And even though I'm not there yet
Not who I need to be
And far from who I was
He sees me as is and as I will be.
So, I climb.

Climb on, friends.
You are not alone.
We're in this together.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Three years later.

Today, through so much happiness and joy, I am soberly reminded of a friend I had 3 years ago named Johnson Ko. It's amazing how something can stay with you for so long, even though so much time has passed. All it takes is one moment and you're back to where everything happened. My friend Johnson passed away my senior year of high school. We had carpooled everyday to school and back since we both lived in the city and school was a little over 20 minutes away. During this time I really got to know him and see his family, along with all sides of his personality. There's only so much that people see and can tell about you at school. It really comes down to what you put out there, but you really learn a lot about a person when you visit their homes and ride with their parents, wait on them to get ready, and have conversations in the car about school, work, and classes. You don't necessarily have a choice in what they see then, because they see you in multiple environments.

There was something funny about my friendship with Johnson, mainly that he always made fun of me. But we made it into a running joke and I will admit that I AM quite unpredictable at times, so it all played in together. We embraced it, for the most part, and we just laughed. I have all these memories of laughing with him, or laughing at myself. He also could always tell when something was off or wrong with me, and he would actually make an effort to ask what it was. I usually didn't tell him. I usually brushed it off and let him figure it out for himself. He usually did.

I remember giving a speech on the day of my graduation from high school introducing a song about heaven and tying it into the death of my friend: "You Hold Me Now" by Hillsong. This song will always have a tie to this loss for the rest of my life.  I remember saying that "You Hold Me Now" was a reminder that Johnson was in heaven, and what we all hope for as Christians we will one day come to see there. God granted me the grace and honor to know that Johnson was happy in His presence through that song and through a powerful encounter I had with Him in a church service.
I KNOW Johnson is in heaven. I KNOW he is free and fully satisfied. I know it.

There is so much uncertainty in life. I never knew that Johnson would never get to graduate. I never knew that we wouldn't be randomly talking on Facebook about college or life. I didn't anticipate it.

In my life today there is so much uncertainty with what I have and where I'm going, but I'm encouraged by these words my good friend Johnson wrote in an essay our senior year in high school, and I hope you will be too. It's in remembering these words and the memory of our friendship that I can look forward and know with certainty where my future lies:
"In my short life, bitter and sweet times fill up the past. The bad times are bearable only with the presence of good times. These good times give preparation to endure the harder times. In this way, the past affects the future and sometimes restrains the future, yet your future ultimately depends on what you will make of it...Though I have no clear vision of the future, I plan to walk by faith without sight. However, while the inability to see into the future or the goals that will limit is fearful, being led by the hand of God places exhilaration and enjoyment in that life. My future will not be something I can predict, given the sovereignty of God, but it will be mind boggling to see a life given to God unravel."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Love is the movement.

For me, love is so special and so real and has the power to alter you so much that it should be treasured. It should be honored and revered. I think that what I see a lot is that people have lost it.
Love doesn't hold the same meaning and weight that it should. It's flippantly displayed and boasted and then it's mind is changed but days later. That's not love, and if it is I don't want it.
I don't think that love should change it's mind immaturely. I think that when it does and it's been publicly displayed on social networking sites that it leaves people looking foolish.
And it annoys me. But seriously:
If love is supposed to be so special, honoring, and treasured, maybe we should treat it so.

Love should be respectful, but maybe even the concept of love should be respected.

I read this quote in a book the other day that goes along these lines: Maybe it'd be the best thing for you if your greatest fear came true, because then you'd realize that it isn't the end of the world.
There's this world outside what you think - how you think, how you feel, what you feel.
There's this world out there: outside your box, outside your reality, outside anything you know to be true. I'm currently living in that world. I didn't think it were ever possible, but it is. I'm here. A long time ago one of my greatest fears came true, and I realize now
It's not the end of the world.
It never was.
It was the end of a world I myself had created and made my own.
But that world faded, and the real world hit. Hard? Maybe a little. But all the more, very real.

People - If we are supposed to love like God loved us, how foolish are we into showing love and affection one moment and then changing it the next? This isn't even in reference to relationships - it's just in general. What does that show everyone? What does it show each other? How can we say we're like Christ when we change our minds on a daily basis & never follow through with our commitments?

One of the bravest things I have ever seen anyone do is stick it out and stick around. That's the stuff that you see that stays with you, that really means something. When I'm brave enough to say to you: "I love you so much that I'll stay," "I love you so much that I won't let you do this alone," or "I love you so much that you shouldn't be afraid of me changing my mind" and actually follow through, then that's real love and courage, because doing that is one of the greatest challenges you'll ever face: consistency and commitment.
I wonder sometimes how God feels when He extends those words to us and we display the opposite in return.

If we are to be ANYTHING like Christ let's take a step changing our actions revolving around love. It's in realizing and fixing this that one of the greatest feats can be achieved: unity.
Love should be the thing that attracts people to us, not the hypocrisy that turns them away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

He makes all things new. That includes me.

You know what makes bad days better? Owl City releasing a new EP. It doesn't even necessarily mean that I think this is his best work or anything, his music is just happy. There are lot of things about today that made me sad. When the two met in the middle, I got pulled up. New music is like a breath of fresh air: a new mindset, a new start. It made me so happy in contrast to everything else that had happened.

I guess the decision has been made that I'm moving on. For real?
And if there was any ever doubt that I had the greatest people in my life, it's gone. I've decided to take up all these people on their offers to help me out. What a thought! It humbles me so much. I'm so fortunate to have all these people here for me. In this crazy, upside-down reality that I'm currently living in, it's nice to know that people have my back.

I could vent, and rage, but that's never really been my thing. I'm the suppressor, right? Well, I don't think I'm suppressing this time. This time, I'm breathing it in. I'm letting it happen, and after all of it is over I can't wait to see where I'll be. I'm not even necessarily anxious to get through it all (disregarding the whole pain aspect of it all, of course). I just wish I had all my dear east coasters with me for the process (Can my twin just get here already?!). It's practically the only downside to being here. Thank God for technology, right?

One of the most comforting thoughts to exist in the entire world is: I'm not alone.
I, Tabatha Beiser, am not alone.
I felt it so clearly today, even through all the stinging and numbness.
Hey, you reading this. You're not alone either. If I can do this, you can too. Don't give up.
Don't turn back, either.
I can't even imagine what is in my future, but I know that it's gotta be pretty great if I have to go through this right now. Someone told me today I must be doing something right or there wouldn't be this many cannons coming my way. You can still be doing the right thing and have your life be tumbled.

I put this on repeat during my 4 mile ralk (walk/run) today:
You make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things out of us.
You make me new
You are making me new.

I believe it. He makes all things new. That includes me.
I'm going to make it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

There's greater in my destiny then what's been in my history.

I am now typing to you as a senior in college. 
ME. A senior. In college. (Excuse my asthma)
If you're surprised, well, so am I. 
I've pushed so hard all of my college career in order to graduate with the class of 2013. With all the transferring I did, it was inevitable that I was going to lose credits. To make up, I pushed myself to take 19, 20, 21 credit semesters. This past semester was the first semester in over a year where I took the normal 16 credit load. Needless to say, I wish every semester could be like this one. I felt like I could breathe. With all that work in mind, I can say to you that I will be graduating in a year from now. 
May 2013. 

It's weird. It's different. It means a season of my life is about to end, and I'm not entirely sure what to do with that. It means I need to make life choices soon, and that can be intimidating. 
I want to DO something with my life. I have all this passion and hope to blaze a trail, but I never realized that blazing a trail is hard work. Sometimes I want to doubt the dreams that God has placed in my heart, but I need to realize that He wouldn't have placed those dreams there if He didn't intend for them to come to pass. 
These dreams are huge, and I'm so small. I'm a little crouton in a big crouton world (I hope someone gets that reference). But God gave them to me. He handed me a piece of His heart a few years ago, and I can feel it beating inside my soul sometimes. When I stop and think about this moment: all the loss, the pain and fear, the hunger, hopelessness, and helpless eyes that are looking for some sort of reconciliation, my heart becomes so passionate that I can't believe that God would actually allow me to take part in something that I feel so strongly about. Then I realize that the passion that I feel about my call is only a fraction of what He feels about it. He gave me part of His heart, His vision, His plans. He lets me feel only the smallest bit of what His heart contains at all times. 

I don't deserve it. Not at all. I am the one that should be sent away, or cast off. 
I'm so grateful for my call. Beyond-words humbled by His will and choices. 
He still wants to use me, guys. 

This college senior is going back to San Francisco this summer to work as camp coordinator for summer events at her church. 
I get to do this. 
I get to live out some portion of something I'm extremely passionate about, and not only live it out but plan it myself. I get the opportunity to partner with amazing people that I consider my family, who have stuck it out and spoken to me by their actions that the greatest sign of commitment to God is commitment and consistency in His church. 
I keep thinking to myself, I get to do this! 

With all that in mind, I want to say that at the end of this school year, I couldn't be more grateful for the friend support system that I have now. Seriously. It's something that I can't believe He would give to me. I look at my friends and I thank God, because I'm so lucky. I get to be friends with these amazing people. I have the opportunity to join with others and be myself. It's amazing. 

Summer 2012, here I come. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

At all times.

I take note of all the different seasons I've gone through and as I look back on my life something very noticeable comes to mind: they all pass.
Every season has an end.
This is something I've been learning for a while now. It comes in more handy when you're going through a harder season. You need something to cling to, or someone.
Over and over, I try to cling to anything else that seems to make sense at the time until I'm left at a point where this is no sense in trusting and relying on anything other than Jesus Christ.
Everything changes. All the time.
I wish things could sit still for one second.
But then it wouldn't be life would it?

I hear His voice amidst the chaos.
I sense His calm in the middle of my fear.
I feel His hand reach out to mine when I begin to panic.
And I see His eyes that shout for me to trust Him.
"I am not the God of your panicked moments and crisis'," He says to me.
"I am God at all times. I am God for a lifetime."
Each time I try to resist, because who could love someone like me?
A failure. A fool. A liar and a betrayer.
He could. He does.
I see the leaves changing and the temperature is soon to follow.
I notice how my environment is shifting and all at once there is a stark contrast between my past and my present that is so obvious, I cannot help but stare.
I look up and I see Him. I look around me and I can't help but become aware of who He is.
He takes my hand and guides me into this new season, and there is a warmth inside that comes only from knowing that He is here, and that's usually all that I need to know in order for the empty places inside of me to cease being empty and rest at ease.
Uncertainty erases itself. Unease becomes peace.
Chaos becomes quiet and hope hangs confidently in the air, ready for a harsh moment to reveal all the potential and life that comes with the knowledge that my trust in Him will not prove futile.
With this in mind, I wait expectantly for new seasons.

A big shout out to friends who stick around.
You're appreciated more than words can say and loved more than I can possibly express.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Changing with change.

With so many changes happening at once, it's fair to say that being overwhelmed is a natural and suitable response. I have a feeling, however, that change is one of the biggest challenges in life to grow accustomed to. As I look back on my life, I can see all the elements of change that I've experienced over moving to different houses to moving to different countries, not to mention all the people that you meet between going to different schools and national events. It's not always been bad, it has always been a challenge. 
I have a pattern with change, both negative and positive. In terms of the negative, it has to do with my first instinct, which is: RUN. 
Any chaotic or problematic scenario in general that occurs in my week, day, hour, I find myself wanting an escape more than anything. So what do you do when you're thousands of miles away from intensity and you still feel like you need to run?
I think that instinct is just a want to get away from something that is inevitable. 
In terms of the positive: with so many changes I've had to grow in, I've also grown accustomed to what I need during these times of change. Country hopping, college hopping, you-name-it-hopping are all things that I've done in my later teenage years (isn't it crazy that I'm no longer a teenager?). 

What I need in times of change is rest. 
What I long for in moments of chaos is understanding and peace. 
I need a small, quiet place where my thoughts can sort themselves out and I can begin to understand what is happening. I can let it hit me. 
I am the excellent suppressor, so this is necessary. Suppression is a hard-earned art form that I've come to more or less conquer, but when the going gets tough it tends to wear you down instead of help you move on. 
So, with all that being said, what do I need to do next? Rest. 
Where do I find that rest? That peace?
Well, where do you think?

"I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. 
He freed me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; 
no shadow of shame will darken their faces. 
In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;
he saved me from all my troubles. . . 
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, 
but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing."
Check out Psalm 34

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The wait.

This thing just keeps popping to mind during all this waiting to happen. Waiting to fully heal. Waiting to graduate college. Waiting to go home. Waiting for that person. Waiting for summer. Waiting for ... life. 
Waiting, waiting, waiting. 
I can't help but think when I get to where I'm supposed to be in the future, I will think to myself that all that waiting was worth it. 
When I'm finally home I'll think that it was right timing. When I graduate, I'll probably want to go back in time. When I have someone to be with, I'll probably realize why I waited so long because it'll be like nothing else I've ever been involved in (in a good way, or course). 
And so what to do in the meantime? I just enjoy this moment. I enjoy this semester. I soak up every time I encounter God's presence and I meditate on each thing that He is trying to teach me. And maybe after all that growth and patience is created in me, I'll be the person who I'm supposed to be when that stuff happens. 
Photo cred; isaiahbeiser.com