The Tax Debacle

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It was interesting, as I was scrolling through my facebook feed, I suddenly came across an article linked to a graphic of Trump’s tax documents. My first thought’s were, is this real? Did they finally get a hold of them?

If you remember back to early September, Trump’s tax returns were a hot button topic because the media was dying to get a hold of them.

 

In this article by the Washington post titled “This is why Donald Trump’s Tax Returns Haven’t been leaked” we see an example of the wide ranged push across the media for trump to release his returns. In this article, there is even Clinton commenting on why she thinks he has yet to release his taxes. .

 

I tried finding an article on the benefits on trump not releasing or some kind of support but I didn’t really find much. I then looked into Clinton’s campaign of tax related documents and she released hers back in August. One of the article’s by CNBC read “What Hillary’s Tax Returns says about her” and then the article continues to state about her generous donations. The broadcast piece by John Harwood attached along with this article states his review of Clinton’s tax statement and then states, “Now how does that apply to Donald Trump”. Harwood then goes on to talk about when He did not pay taxes but did not review the years he did or for how much.

I would have liked to see a chart of the years compared in order to come up with a fair conclusion.

This can actually biblically compare quite straightforwardly. Jesus actually talks a lot about tax-payers and he connects this responsibility to being a good neighbor. Can the media use this as an argument in the election as well?

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Where you need to be

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I’m in my Senior year. WUT. I know, I’m thinking the same. It’s such a “parental” thing to say about myself but I feel like it was just yesterday I was dancing around the house with mismatched clothes and unbrushed hair on those lazy Saturday mornings while I watched an unhealthy and excessive amount of cartoons. What is even crazier though is that SO much has passed but the one thing that makes it seem so close is my imagination. As more chapters in my life keep passing and the years keep adding I keep waiting for my imagination to dim or mature in some way. Almost as if my creativity was a phase and “I’ll grow up at some point”.

I grew up in a pretty broken home (who doesn’t though) where the daily struggle was always in between if my mom would come home from her busy practically 24 hour day of school and work so I could share with her about my day and wondering what “home life” really was like with two parents. I was only a little girl living what I felt like was like a lonely 20 year old woman’s life in her huge apartment with just her and herself. Granted, I look back now and see how blessed I really have been. On the inside it was hard navigating through life’s curve balls but on the outside I had parents who worked really hard to make sure I had the same opportunities that all the other kids did even if our life ended up being different than we imagined. Regardless of my personal testimony, the way that God always spoke to me in those hard times was through the whimsy of my imagination. To this day I vividly remember some of the emotions, ideas and dreams I always caught myself daydreaming about while being bored at home and I think that is exactly what I keep expecting as I get older to lose. But through God’s continued faithfulness that whimsy gets to come out in the love I have for my work and now a days I actually get books that help me navigate through all the beautiful things the Lord has created that I want to capture and show the world.

Going through job internship applications and thinking about the possible career paths I could take both ethically and practically, I am humbled to see in my daunting ill equipped confusion that God is there. I want to remain faithful to Him in the way I live my life not only in how I spend my time but also in what I create. I only imagine all the things that inspired that little seven year old girl I use to be and I cannot imagine how many more there are out there. I can be over analytical but I find a lot of pressure in that. What am I to do when I want to put impactful stories out there but what precious power it is to be able to be the maker of such things. Yet, in my learning I find so much grace and comfort when I find these nuggets of wisdom where He makes my paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). Just today, I had to write a reflection for my Theology class on a book called Good News for Anxious Christians by Phillip Cary. And this is what I said.

One of the most convicting things Cary said was when he stated how pastors and teachers tend to make things too practical, “If you’re a preacher or a teacher, you don’t need to do anything to make beautiful things relevant to us. They wouldn’t be beautiful unless they already had the power to move our hearts, stirring us up in love. And from love comes the eagerness and diligence in the works of love- all the things that sermons telling us what to do can’t give us. What gets Christians moving in the right direction is thus not advice about how to change our hearts but teaching that shows us more clearly the reality and beauty of Christ himself”. As a journalism and media major who finds such joy in capturing the Lord’s beauty and sharing it, I constantly find myself in a struggle to sometimes make that beauty applicable and convincing to others just because I wish so much that they could see it too. This quote has really made me rethink that though. As a follower of Christ my job isn’t to manipulate God’s beauty or try to sell it to others, I have to trust in Holy Spirit to move through others as they view what I put forth.

As I dive through this book, I realize how much anxiety I do have trying to be a “good” christian, what ever that means. A lot of the time, I fuss about what I’m going to do, how I’m gonna do it, where I’m going to be and how I’m going to get there as if I’m just trying to figure this map the Lord has already mapped out for me. But no. Bye felicia to that map, because that’s all wrong. God is so much more than that. He is so much bigger. He got me here and the incredible thing is because this is really all His story, this is certainly not the end. And even more so, I have no say in it. So even at times when I feel convicted and pressured to tell stories in an incredible way, I need to stop trying so hard. Because God is here. All I have to do is answer His call in capturing it. I learned recently just by merely being in and studying the media industry that simple is always better. Some people have these fancy story with all the right visuals and metaphors but the concept is just crappy. The really good stories and videos though are the ones that don’t map it out for you. The ones that require more of you to really dig deep and think about all that you’ve just seen and heard. The audio and visuals aren’t that manipulated or too in depth in time but are simple, straight forward and most of all powerful. Not by aim, but by their innate nature. So I am grateful that I don’t have to dread losing my whimsy because as simple as it is, that’s all I need to glorify Him. Sometimes your right where you need to be to do so and He isn’t too far off. Who knew that little seven year old Candace was actually on to something.

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And that’s okay.

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As years go by and you get older the urgency to hold on begins to dwindle. Time passes and you gain more perspective on how important it is nourish yourself. In your experience you see how most of the time loving others means losing parts of yourself in them. Only to find yourself in the irony that as time passes your love for those who’ve meant the most only grows. Some where along the lines though, you realize that holding on was the only thing that had ever pulled you a part and some how hellos seem a lot more sweeter than the goodbyes that follow. For those that make it through the time continuum with you.. you learn to love from a distance, in between the spaces of the time of the present. You let the realness of them only penetrate your heart for a healthy amount of time, only so that the closure can properly work it’s way through and for the relationship to far out die it’s impact. It’s like a hermit crab shedding itself of it’s old home only to be scared of his bare back in the full knowledge that their are plenty of shells wide open for discovery. There becomes less of a value of having people in your life and more in having the opportunity of having met them at all. You only hope to God that one day; that time, hearts, minds and spirit will bring you close enough to a person/people that both sides won’t want to let go. Cause that’s the trick isn’t it finding people who make life seem small and make the beautiful things of this world look dimmer in their presence. But if your like me you may be so in tuned with reality you very much realize you may never find such a thing.. and that’s “okay”. 

 I could feed on the Lord’s playground. Forever seeking Him for all that He is. He brings me to truth and really really impeccable people daily. He romances me by revealing what He can do through me continually. The truth and love that He moves people to write in books, the whimsy He brings me to find in films and the world’s He takes me through with with each person I meet could last me forever… and I find it shocking to say and that’s okay. That’s the agony of life isn’t it… how scary it is to utter the words “I’m okay”.

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His clock.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

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The apostles were told this as they were intently staring at the sky dumfounded at the thought of their Lord leaving them once again. It was bad enough that they were able to eat and walk alongside Him for so long then for Him to be hung and crucified as they were trying to keep the faith believing that there was more to the story than what met the eye. I’ve always loved the role Acts plays as a bridge gapper from learning our role in the our Creator’s Kingdom to living our role as Kingdom builders.

I’ve always found myself relating to the apostles so deeply in this transition maybe because I am in a similar season. I remember reading Acts this same time last year and being in awe of the way that the apostles kept it together while waiting for the Lord to overcome the tragedy of His death somehow. What has always stuck out to me was how astonishing their patience and faith was.

It’s been awhile since I last wrote. The last few months have been full of their ups and downs. I’ve been in so many uncomfortable positions, said too many goodbyes and I’ve been frustrated beyond belief. I’ve found myself fighting conviction and courage really counting the cost to what it’s worth? As I’m reading through Acts once again though, this time around another part has stuck out a little more. I find myself to being like the apostles taking a long hard look up into the sky wondering where Jesus went. It did not occur to me how fastened I’d become to just standing in the same position in life, in total bewilderment as the apostles had. It was not until I read that verse and realized that no matter how busy I am, how much work I am putting in or how much time I am spending with Jesus that mentally and spiritually I feel like I’ve just been staring at the same spot. I’m tired of standing and staring, I want to mobilize my eyes to see more than the sky that the Lord once appeared to me in.

It’s so hard at this age. I feel like I’ve questioned everything I have ever felt or thought I knew. I have even questioned how I question things. For one, I am very self reflective and analytical. Two, I think it’s that time in my life where I feel like no matter what efforts I make there is always confusion, their is always misunderstanding. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Strengths Finder’s 2.0 by Tom Rath but one of my key strength’s is restorative so confusion is always my worst nightmare. In fact, one of the main themes in most of my nightmares is always that the world is being taken over and everyone is brain washed except me and it’s the loneliest thing in the world (sketchy, am I right?). But all these transitions and learning experiences I have consistently gone through in the last fews years have brought so much growth and I am accomplishing things I never thought the Lord could bring me through. But I can’t deny that their has been much confusion as well, to the point where sometimes I wonder where God is. I always find myself going back in time where I knew it was real when I felt His presence. I can only hope by my slightest attempts to be close to Him and follow His will, He will bring me the strength to have confidence in Him but really at the end of the day it just takes trust.

Early in Acts 1 before the apostles were staring into the sky, Jesus has warned them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)

Then they continued to ask Jesus  “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel? “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs (dates) which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-9)

It’s so difficult when the Lord leaves us cause that’s home-He created us to crave Him. It’s easy to believe in Him when we can see but faith isn’t real until it has no ground and when you give it ground. God works on His own clock. The reality of it is that He doesn’t live in our world but we are just living in His world going by His clock. For some reason along the way whether it be through physical experiences, opportunities, spiritual or mental health we forget that it’s not about what we think is best for us. We have to learn, especially in our 20’s to live as if Jesus is with us because He is, even though it may feel very real through the constant transitions and change, that He is not.

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

He gave us the most beautiful gift in the world, the gift of the Holy Spirit and it would so awful if we continued living while staring at the sky waiting for our Father when He is not there. He is inside us, ready to move, ready to build His Kingdom!

‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
26 No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
28 You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.

I pray that if you are in confusion or if your a young adult in their 20’s entering this confusing period of life that you find peace in knowing that God IS with you and if you are seeking Him, you are right where He wants you to be. 

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The picnic table

“13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” AKA. Love is not about you.

Often times, I think it is quite frequent for twenty somethings to be continually finding themselves feeling incomplete if they do not have a significant other, a good core group of whatever it is that they “can depend on”. I mean I know I often feel this way and it is something I hear my friends battle with constantly. This isn’t some phase or season, this is a legitimate desire to love and be loved by another. In fact, this is a God given desire to have fellowship, companionship and friendship with people whom deeply know you (not always a romantic relationship for all).

Tim Keller once said…
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What a profound statement. Sadly, I feel these days people who hold out for this person or people who deeply know them as this have come to be few, far and between.

As I had been meditating on this passage in Galatians, in the midst of the deep battle constantly making me feel that I am lacking because I don’t have this certain relationship that deeply knows me as this, I was convicted on how wrong I had been reading the scripture. For the past three days I had been praying and meditating over this passage in Galatians. As I kept reading that verse above I kept thinking Paul was simply stating that it is in your best interest to serve each other- that, that is what leads to true joy but as I delved deeper into the context I discovered I was terribly wrong. Paul was correcting the Jews of Galatia here to remind them that their job is to love and not call the shots on whom God loves and whom he will grant salvation to. Boy were the Jews probably terribly convicted after proclaiming that works was true circumcision and the key to God’s love and care. You see, after that Paul explained the battle of the sinful nature against the spirit and how they have two different goals. The sinful nature’s being for oneself gain and the spirit being of…. well you would probably think for other’s because if we are saying the sinful nature is opposite of the spirit and if the sinful nature is for itself than in this case the spirit would be for other’s. In actuality though, the spirit strives to glorify the middle man, who weirdly enough put himself there in the middle on our behalf.

To love God, is to serve one another. All of Galatians 5 and 6 is to come to the point that if you are really striving and seeking the Lord, you are constantly in step with the spirit, humbling yourself of anything that would bring you gain and that your calling and service would be to God’s gain.

As I sit here and reflect on these battles, that happen every couple days (if I’m being completely honest) I would see that this desire for another and to be known by another in this way is selfish, at least right now. I am not striving to serve somebody I am striving to serve myself.

It hurts to be convicted, it hurts to be reminded how broken I am sometimes. It hurts to know the situation I’m in, what I hoped I could fix or hoped a miracle would magically take away is not in actuality meant to be fixed. That my situation is not the problem, the problem is me. Sometimes that seems like a bigger problem than I even imagined in the first place but thank Lord oh my soul that my God is bigger than that and that He loves me dearly.

This is where I went terribly wrong in the first place, if I opened my eyes and if the Jews had opened their eyes, we would see that God didn’t want to withhold from them or make them feel worse,

God just knew something better.

He knew that they could learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That ultimately “loving your neighbor as yourself” sums up the entire law because He took care of everything in between, now it’s just our job to give back to Him what was originally His- our life, our minds (perspective) and our hearts.

As for me and I am sure like any of your deep desires that are currently causing you strife, we need to hold tight to our faith in the midst of the desert and know that He knows us. That in unanswerable seasons we need to tune our hearts to His love and His deep knowledge of us. That as hard it is to accept sometimes that means His timing is perfect and His gifts are good, therefore I only want gifts that are from Him not from my own efforts because my efforts alone are selfish.

If your in the same battlefield as me right now, I want to encourage you that even though you may complain and find yourselves in times of self destructive mindsets and selfishness as me, that God doesn’t call you to not be human and not want. He just calls you to go to Him and ask Him to show you His plan, what He has in mind for the situation your in. And if your in maybe a different yet similar battle- take heart that where it’s friends, ministry work, family, etc. that you are human, your desire to be known and and fully loved is what was put in us to lead us to God. The middle man is our bridge to one another, that is where we can truly find one another; truly knowing and deeply loving one another is loving him and accepting His love first.

In the middle of my mess, I am always missing the point, if I didn’t this blog would not exist. I’m a mess in the need of constant grace. I just think of this picture I took down in Morro Bay a few weekends ago- yes, the ocean is gorgeous and I find myself lost just staring at it. Just like life it is so easy to get lost in all the pretty things and think it’s the point. But it wasn’t until I looked at it a few times that I realized how beautiful it was that there was a random picnic table in the middle of this big blue sea. That somehow in this moment, I found myself secluded with this scenic view, that is to die for and what draws me in is this table, I just want to sit there.

I envision God right there in the midst of the picture perfect view saying “look right here, here is a spot just for you” and suddenly the picnic table is the prettiest piece of the whole view.

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The markings of home

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The crisp, cool, salty air brushes each wave on it’s own time and in a vast line paralleling the coast, the line of surfers patiently await the next one to come. It was a calm morning on the Huntington Beach pier, the sea slowly speaking as its listeners tune in close to its slow whispers that every so often graces their ears.

This is one on my favorite things to do. I don’t know what it is about the relationship between the surfer and the sea, but it absolutely fascinates me. It is one of the best things to just sit on the pier and observe the surfers contemplate their next move. I honor and respect that kind of patience and maybe that’s why it’s so compelling to me, because it is virtue that I strive to have.

Life is such an adventure right now for me and I am completely doing my best to embrace it, but as I was observing the surfers this morning a calm came over that helped me feel not so alone in this weird spot in life as I noticed the surfers just sitting their waiting in the big, blue, vast sea. It seemed almost that even if only for a moment, we were in the same spot in life. A vast sea in front of us, around us and below us, waves bound to make their ripple across our path. Our only missing piece was the strength to cultivate the skill to embrace the wave.

When people think of surfing, I think the first thing that providently crosses their mind, is the board itself. Although it is a very vital tool in the act of surfing, it takes far more discipline in the virtues that it draws out from it’s counterpart. It takes just as much courage to choose and pursue the wave you’ve been envisioning, anticipating and hoping and nevertheless just as much to get out their in the middle of the ocean in the first place.

What a beautiful gift and God given lesson, surfing is though and the vivid imagery it brings to our minds. Think about it, waves are solely created from the winds and gravitational forces from the earth and atmosphere. But lets pull even deeper than that, the gravitational pull of the earth in itself is doing it’s own job and in return affects the winds and atmosphere which then affects the flow of the ocean. So essentially waves really are not a God given creation, but merely a direct result and byproduct of His creation’s work. In essence, waves can even be viewed as a disturbance to the sea. But somehow they all work together and create something beautiful, especially to the surfer who decided to create a tool in which enables them to find pleasure in it. A tool in which allows many to wander deep off into the sea; to enjoy, to worship and to be.

It may seem like the sea is intimidating but it’s a beautiful and sacred place in the world that I have grown to appreciate more and more. I’ve been surfing before but there lately there is just one thing that has been holding me back, my fear of instability. That is such a human thing to fear though, right? It takes a special kind of person to not just love the sea but love being in the sea.

Ironically, these days when I sign up to get notifications for a certain subscription or even just the other day when I was ordering my mac hard shell there came this very awkward area that I always have to fill out… you know that thing called an address. Oddly enough, I have like three different addresses right now and in the last two years I have about like six in total. These days I just prefer email, notification by text or social media but it wasn’t until today that really occurred to me how much I have become accustomed to my home being with me at all times. In my mind, my home address is my email address not the number out on the street curb. But weirdly enough, I absolutely love it. And when I discuss where I’m from when I meet new people, it has become a rather difficult question to answer but beautifully enough I am just coming to terms with how freeing it is that I don’t have a home.

In my past posts I’ve discussed how this realization has come over me many times emotionally and spiritually but finally I am embracing it in the physical world around me. My relocation to La Mirada to attend Biola University has been such a positive one for me. Just like the surfers location in the sea between the tide and the coast, La Mirada is the perfect location in between Orange County and Los Angeles, the two huge major hubs in Southern California for diversity. These counties hold many different cities that can serve a multitude of personalities and I believe that just like my personality- one that craves to learn so much about others and the world around her- God placed me here for a reason. I am not speaking in terms of showing me something specific in my life. Sometimes when we say the phrase “God has me here for a reason” or “I know God is going to use this for a reason”, we usually associate it with something specific that God is going to reveal and we kind of visualize it in our minds coming to us in an epiphany that were just waiting for in a mere moment. But what if those phrases serve to the mere purpose of the process. That just as much impact as timing and placement has had throughout most of the Old and New Testament, that we forget that God brings us to places where we aren’t called to stay or to get comfortable but where we’re called to dig through our mess and work it out. This is a place where we can cultivate a sense of appreciation and coming to terms with the person that life has and is continually growing us into.

Just as the surfer sits in anticipation of his next move, the calm in between the pursuit of the wave and the peace in riding it lies in the exact essence of really grasping the appreciation and the gift of the wave itself.

I know I sound like a total hippie right now but I never want to become a person who overlooks these gifts, these simple lessons where God leaves his mark in creation. Its moment’s like these where I’m reminded where my true home is… in Christ.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Lord, open my eyes to your beauty and markings all around me. I want eyes that see the beauty of your kingdom. Help me believe so I can see. Help me preserve the relationship we have in your daily pursuit and Divine romance by keeping my eyes and heart linked in with your graces. I want to be attuned to your will. I want more of you God, I want more of you.

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The shadow side.

Recently I have been learning about DSLR camera’s because I decided to get my hands dirty and finally start to learn them. I have always wanted to learn about all those fancy button’s but I have never really taken the time to get a hold of a camera fit to do so. But it was not until recently in my enrollment at Biola University’s Integrated Media Program that I have had access to a wide variety of equipment so I can experiment. Luckily, I also have incredible friends (s/o to the homie Andrew) who let me borrow there’s as well.

My first couple attempts have been frustrating but it seems the more I play with more scenes, capture more subjects and encounter a variety of different lighting the easier it seems to get. I mean by no means am I saying I’m a pro now or that it’s simple because that sure is not the truth. I am just simply… more comfortable. I know how to play around with it all in order to get closer to what I envision or to provoke something to capture. Throughout all this trial and error though, the one thing that always seems to be the biggest challenge is lighting; contrasting between the light and the dark.

I think something very important can be said for this. Often when I’m editing my pictures, I go back in forth between “Ooh it looks grundgy darker, I like it” and “But with more light you can see more of the details”. While these are legitimate reasonings and of course these are just my own, everyone has their own perspective when it comes to aesthetics. This lead me to really question why these conclusions even came into my head. I guess you can say I have become more keen to my aesthetic senses as I am in the process of writing this piece pertaining to art for my school’s magazine. So i first asked myself “Why is it that I naturally want to brighten up more of the picture when the the shadows make it look much more raw because the shadows are essentially what show the lighting”. It was at that moment that I realized I must take great responsibility when playing with the lighting in a photograph.

The lighting is the one thing I cannot control about the picture yet it has the ability to make the greatest impact.

It wasn’t until I was editing some pictures I captured of my best friend that we took in the art district in downtown Los Angeles that it occurred to me why this conflict always occurred. I believe it’s our natural response when seeing a photograph to want to see all the details in it, it’s just how were wired; we’re curious and we strive to clear up what we cannot understand. It came over me that even though I craved to clear the pictures up to show all the detail that when I sat and really stared at the photo it did not seem as aesthetically pleasing. I took a second, a deep breathe, closed my eyes for a mere moment and really digested the photo’s lighting in my mind…. “why is it that shadows seem more desirable?”

I realized it was because shadows show the real image as it is seen in person.

It troubled me and something just did not sit right with me to tamper with the lighting. One part of me felt like I needed to fix it even though I had already established that it was beautiful work the shadows brought to the lighter parts of the picture. Yes, removing the shadows little by little is nice as a whole but keeping an even amount of shadow to light enhances the parts that the light did decide to highlight. This may be a regular and known thing to photographers but to noobs like me, this was a fantastic revelation. I chuckled to myself as the writer in me knew what a beautiful comparison this was to life.

Lately it has been hard to swallow and sit in the shadows that sit with me. Although they could be removed, I know this would be the easy thing to do but not the most worthy and beneficial. Like shadows, hard times, cold and lonely winters cause growth and enhancement of the light that is there. Although by first glance it is hard to appreciate, my gosh they are immensely beautiful when you really let whole picture soak those little spots in. So I vow to not take the easy road as a young amateur photographer looking to perfect her hobby and as a young amateur lady in the world and daughter of the great King. I pray that I can have courage picture by picture, moment by moment to soak in the shadows and for God to show me how it enhances the light. His graces are everywhere.
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The Art of Winters

As you can see, I have been spending a lot of time exploring the nature of art. Not purposely… but because of the piece I am writing for The Point. This mixed in with the my new community of critical and biblical thinking people, I have slowly realized I am coming out of a spiritual winter. I knew I was in the dark somewhere along the lines, but little did I know it was way deeper than I really had imagined. It’s crazy how a person cannot really come to these conclusions about a deep winter until they are in the process of healing from it and I believe this alone shows as a testimony to the fact that He knows more about us than we do. This is the effect of questioning, I am not saying it is necessarily sinful to question but when you come to God out of doubt and desperation in your vulnerability, carelessly pouring yourself out in His Holy presence and asking Him for evidence, God doesn’t throw a pity party for you. No, no, He is a jealous God; He wants all of your mind, all of your heart and most of all all your strength, so you can have the ability to believe in Him even when things don’t seem right.

So, instead of that pity party… He gives you reality.

It’s these winter’s that no one can really understand what you have been through and I do not think anyone is really suppose to, but God. You only realize the severity of how deep you were, in certain moments that bring you back to the part of you that is growing yet has never left you. These moments reveal themselves in beautiful art that awakens the senses, music that seeps through the cracks that you forgot about and moving questions that great films or certain discussions with people bring you too.

Today in my Foundations of Christian Thought class, my amazing Professor, Jason Oakes. Within a discussion of existentialism, showed us a snippet in class of this profound movie called Winterlight produced by Ingmar Bergman.

“God, why have you created me spiritually dissatisfied?” Marta Lundberg claimed.

“Everytime I confronted God with the realities I witnessed, he turned it into something ugly and revolting. A spider God, a monster” Tomas Ericsson pleaded.

Isn’t this the way we feel though even if in our most spiritual of times. We will always face death just as much as we face life. But why is that though? If I am covered by the blood of Jesus and claim Christ as the center of my life and call on the Holy Spirit daily, why do I still deal with doubt? Why do I still deal with shame, darkness and tragedy. If I have hope and call on hope, shouldn’t I be hopeful and strong? Shouldn’t I be firm standing. The answer no, in fact we will never be.

Watch a snippet of this incredible film before proceeding to read.

We see the questions, we see the utter doubt.

“I prayed for clarity of mind… and I got it” Marta Lundberg.

“I knew nothing of evil or cruelty. When I was ordained, I was as innocent as a baby…. Then everything happened at once” Tomas Ericsson.

We also see after many many tears, frustration, wavering…

“I realized that I love you… I prayed for a task, to put my strength in and I received one… and that is you…. Beneath all my false pride and independent airs. I have only one wish….to be allowed to live for someone else” Marta Lundberg.

“I refused to see what was going on. I refused to accept reality. My God and I lived in an organized world where everything made sense… So I sought to shield him life, clutching my image of Him to myself in the dark” Tomas Ericsson.

After much wrestling, Marta and Tomas realized belief is not essentially calling on Christ to be your redeemer but really believing that He is. That He, Himself is the ache in which our heart longs for. The audience sees these two characters come to realize and have grace with themselves. That belief is not just the happy and joyful moments, but God’s goodness is just as much in the dark. When we see no light and we feel no love, we have to have wisdom and courage enough to commit to Him and what He’s done for us despite our disbelief in such a rich gift. Being a Christ follower, doesn’t relieve life from you. It does not take away the pain, the hurt, the loneliness and sadness. You are the same human you were before your realization of your life giver and you always be that same human in that same dying body. This includes the soul, it longs for purpose and we were given a gift to choose what that purpose is and just because you realize and get really good at choosing Christ as your purpose and just because you chose once over baptism as reflection of your life, doesn’t mean you don’t have to baptize yourself daily even momentarily. He is life giver… but you are life receiver. It takes action, it takes great strength considering the opposition that faces you daily but nothing compares. The little moments of complete affirmation of where your home is are mere privileges, they are not wholly your spiritual walk. No, your spiritual walk requires YOU to choose to move forward. To believe and receive from the life giver and keep walking and growth, well growth is a product of the endurance one gains in learning what to truly love means.

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The Greater Things

Every once in awhile you meet extraordinary people who bring you out of all the “priorities” in your life that have you running around like a mad man. For me, anxiety is a huge part of my life and coffee just heightens it. I rarely get adequate sleep, my schedule is so hectic, it’s hard to find time to just breathe… even when I get the time to do so my heart won’t stop racing. God has this way of romancing me though. When it seems that their is no way possible, He sneaks into a plan i expect to enjoy or through someone’s words that bring me warmth.

Not too long ago, I was offered an opportunity with my school’s Magazine The Point, as a staff writer. As soon as I started they gave me the topic “The Importance of Art” to write on. Despite the broad window it holds, this is a subject I absolutely love talking about and in some ways is exactly what I do here on this blog. I love writing about God’s beauty and His heart, how He moves me by the good and sweet things in life. These things are among the arts: people, visuals, music, concepts, performances and books that can have me reading for hours. Being where I am at now though is definitely not the way I imagined researching and exploring such beauties. When it comes time for me to write, my head is full with all I need to do and the last thing I want to do dwell on such deep thoughts. It takes patience and discipline with oneself to produce something of this sort of substance. I’m not going to lie either, when it comes time to interview such extraordinary Professors that are extremely knowledgable about the arts (especially at my school which is full of such God centered wisdom) all I want to do is sleep and not be in such a grouchy mood to be doing these things I have longed to do for a very long while. In these times of deep bitterness for where I am at, God reminds me within the thin strand I am hanging on by, that what’s most important is that I just show up. So i down my coffee like drugs, grab my pen and paper and get to my work. It’s in these times that I show up to the interviews so tired, so scared that I am going to screw up due to lack of sleep yet God shows me that He can take control from here.

Last Thursday I interviewed Daniel Callis and I came out of the interview feeling so at peace. Seeing Professor Callis’ viewpoint of God as the center and giver of art helped me come to terms that God has always been here. Despite my wavering spirit, that like art, my life may seem like a chaotic mess but God is what anchors them both. He is both the creator and the sustainer of all life and He never abandons, He is truth.

As I was looking into more information about an Art Professor, Kurt Simonson, God caught me by surprise. I literally was sitting in the middle of a minor anxiety meltdown on my bed at 2 am, wide awake. As I did my digging, seeping through all the wonderful things said about Professor Simonson on the Biola website, I found a link to his personal photography portfolio. His pictures just eased my mind like a calming breeze at random and made the pounding anxiety come to a halt. Usually pictures are not the first thing I go to to calm my spirit but this, my gosh, was breathtaking. The way He used light, the simplest household materials and the simplest of scenes to show the concept he had behind his thinking. I really can’t even describe it or come close to it, you will just have to look into it yourself, it’s worth your time… trust me.

I consider myself so blessed to go to a school where I can walk up to any of the professor’s of any department and they are so wiling to answer my questions. Especially that I am able to meet people of the art department; for so long I’ve felt so out of my element as if my way of thinking was something to be ashamed of. But these professor’s get it. They get the power and wide spectrum in which God speaks in. If I were you, I’d check out this talented man’s website. Notice the ways in which he uses his photography to tell a greater story than just the one that inhabits his daily life.

http://www.kurtsimonson.com/home

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National Poetry Day

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Pablo Neruda

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