The Glory of Simple

“Do few things, but do them well. Simple joys are Holy.”
-St Francis of Assisi

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I’m beginning to see the glory of simple. The beauty of small gestures and whispered encouragement. The behind-the-scenes instead of center stage. To love without a microphone, to love without recognition. To do the simple acts of each season without looking to the next.

I become too emerged in the spotlight. I look over to see if I am being noticed, if I can become seen. I glance across to the girl who has an adoring audience and I become angry and jealous. I want applause and compliments, and published works. I want more than I have, more than I am called to right now.

Do trees or vines or plants produce fruit every season? No. There is a time for production, a time for harvest, and a time for rest. I will not always be producing the amount of fruit I believe I need to be.

What will happen if I begin to listen to the Lord and say,
“What you have given is enough?” What If I can believe in daily bread instead of planning to stock my food pantry for month?

This season I am in is about being faithful in the simple things he is asking of me right now. He is asking me to write what I see and am inspired by and not worry about who will or will not read it. He is asking me to continue showing hospitality to anyone who enters my home and to love my husband. Nothing more, nothing less. However, my over achieving tendencies continue to burst into overdrive.
“God, I can do more. I can always do more! See me?”

I need to learn how to rest in simple acts of holiness, embrace the season of behind-the-scenes love, obey what I have been given, and love God through these things instead of striving to achieve recognition.

I continue to feel the Lord say, “Look at me. Just at me. Don’t look anywhere else.” This is what I imagine Jesus saying to Peter as he began to walk on water in Matthew. He begins by looking only at Jesus, but as soon as he looks away he falls. Every time I look away from Jesus, I start to see the people around me and compare what they are doing to what I am doing. That is when I fall. Although I fall, He always picks me up.
“Oh you of little faith! Don’t you trust the love I have for you?”

When I look away I feel the overwhelming tidal wave of earning, striving and making my own way, but when I look at him, oh when I look at him, I remember. I remember who He is. I remember his voice, the way he takes care of me, and the way he calls me worthy, important, enough.

Simple joys are holy. I want to embrace the simple and embrace the holy. To do only what he is asking of me right now in this season, and not worry about what’s coming or what was. I want to find joy in the life of daily bread desiring to be full on this day alone.

No more striving, comparing or coveting someone else’s season. This season is mine, I am His and nothing can replace the things he is giving me right now.

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Give it all away

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My current job is a ministry job. I work at a homeless shelter that believes that Jesus is Lord and when he changes hearts, he changes lives. I work at this job 8:30am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. My husband and I also lead a married small group every Monday where we provide dinner. We volunteer at church a couple Sunday’s a month. We continue keeping in contact with friends near and far, and my dad spends almost every other weekend in our 750 square foot apartment. This is a lot of people and a lot of time. I am telling you all of this because I am an introvert; I refuel by being alone. Most of the time I can wiggle in one or two nights of rest. I can choose to say no to things most of the time. I tell myself I should say no because I already do “too much.” Though, I’m starting to wonder if this is more a selfish attitude than an attitude of Christ.

The implementation of boundaries is being preached on more and more. Saying no to something that may make you too tired or too busy is often encouraged. Let me first say there is a balance, and I do believe we need to take care of ourselves and our mental health. I’m not promoting burn out, but I am promoting being interruptible.

I am a very selfish person. I almost always choose myself. It requires the Holy Spirit to make me want to think about other people. I’ve picked up the idea of boundaries, used it and abused it. I have built walls around myself so that I don’t have to give too much, I can give just enough without being hurt. I can love Jesus and love my neighbor, but only when it is comfortable for me and when I am not too tired or when it is convenient.

Four years ago I was doing overseas missions. I was gone for about a year. Every day I was spent. I was pushed to my breaking point. I was asked to give more than I had. More time, more energy, more food, more money, more passion, more prayer, more praise, more effort, more everything. Every day I would go to bed exhausted because every ounce of me was being given. That time in my life was where I felt more alive and the closest to God. I was living and breathing the scriptures. I couldn’t do anything before first being filled with the Spirit. That’s what I think I’m missing, and maybe you’re missing it too. I’m not filling myself up. I’m not allowing God to “pour me out like a drink offering” (Phil 2:17). I will allow just enough to be poured out, but don’t pour out too much, Lord! I need to save some for myself, I need to take care of me, no one else will, right?

I’ve picked up expectations and boundaries like luggage, carrying them around with me, never letting anyone forget that these are mine. You cannot touch these.

Jesus asks for more.

He asks for me to lose my life to find it. (Matt 16:25) To love others so much that I forget about myself. He asks me to seek first his kingdom, not my own. (Matt 6:33)

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

Jesus lived his whole life submitted to what his Father wanted. He was interrupted time after time.

I’m reminded of the story of the woman who touches the hem of Jesus’s robe in Luke chapter 8. He is walking with his disciples through a large crowd and so many people are grabbing him, including his disciples. This woman who has been bleeding for twelve years reaches out and touches the hem of his cloak and is immediately healed. Jesus, in the midst of this chaos asks “who touched me?” The story continues with a conversation with the woman. I urge you to read it on your own, but, what I want to highlight is how Jesus stops. He stops in the midst of a crowd that the scripture says is “crushing him.” He allows himself to be interrupted. He allows himself to be given to this woman. I don’t do that often enough.

I want to live my life in submission to what the Lord has in store for me, for his family. I want to be able to come home from work and still be available to be taken from. I want to say yes to someone who is in need and desires my time instead of pushing them away because I’m tired or because I need my “alone time” first. It is all an excuse. Jesus promises to be living water. We have access to that water any time we want, just as he promised the woman at the well. (John 4:14)

I believe when we are giving ourselves and serving others, Jesus is going to provide for us. He is going to fill us because he is the well that never runs dry.

That’s what it was like while I was doing missions. Living to the fullest, and pouring it all out to be filled again. I want to know I am living at my full capacity, loving with no agenda and serving without expectation. To give all I have of myself. To love so boldly it is impossible for me to keep any for myself. None of what I have is mine. It’s all his. All my gifts, all my talents, all of myself. He’s asking me to give it all away, and that is what I am going to do.

Theological thoughts on Thanksgiving from a Native perspective.

*I have asked one of my very best friends to write something in regards to Thanksgiving for my blog. This space is for open minds and open hands and I hope this blog is received in that way. Emily is an incredible woman who has shaped my faith in tremendous ways. Please take the time to read the words written by her below.*

“The first Thanksgiving Day did occur in the year 1637, but it was nothing like our Thanksgiving today. On that day the Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed such a “Thanksgiving” to celebrate the safe return of a band of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians – men, women and children – all murdered…This day is still remembered today, 373 years later. No, it’s been long forgotten by white people, by European Christians…A group calling themselves the United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for what they say is a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember the long gone Pequot…
They do not call it Thanksgiving.
There is no football game afterward.”   
– The Huffington Post, 2011

(It should be noted that these colonial volunteers were actually puritans, not pilgrims, and the reason they set out in the early morning of May 26th was not to seek amiable relations among Native peoples; it was for the forced conversion to Christianity, as they knew it. It should also be noted that these seven hundred *Native Americans* laid down their defenses, and accepted. Their greeting into this new religion was massacare. This day also happened to be on the Pequot’s Green Corn Festival, in other words, their Day of Thanksgiving.)

How do I, a woman of Chippewa descent, interact with a holiday that has wrongly been painted as the end of our war with the White Man? How do I in unexplained terms share the history briefly with the person who asks: How do you feel about this? Moreover, how do I incorporate my living, breathing faith in Jesus into a nationally recognized day that really was only the beginning of harassment, abuse and mistreatment of my people? May you grant me the space and vulnerability to explain.

Firstly, let’s discuss what Thanksgiving is not. Thanksgiving is not the celebration of two heritages coming together. Though there were eager interactions at one point, the majority of Native Americans lived alongside re-settled Europeans for the sake of better protecting their land and keeping further inquiries about it at bay. The truth is – there were feasts together, where no one died and conversation was light. However, intent is almost always more important than action and it is clear, according to history and experience, the intent of Europeans settling on the shores of the United States from the time period of 1492-1900 was to take and colonize. The friendly relations, the regular trading, the invitation to dinner… They were all means to an end.
So, you have to understand when a person of Native descent hears ‘Thanksgiving’, they are really hearing: broken treaties, manipulated relationships, forgotten history and social exclusion (such as, marginalization). They were asked then forced to learn a language that was not their own, adapt to a dress they did not know and express spirituality in a way they did not understand, for the only purpose of colonists to feel comfortable and superior (in a place that was not theirs to begin with). These small yet significant acts of rape [to seize and take away by force] eventually led to boarding schools where children could not know the inheritance that was theirs to hand down. Colonization led to wars that could not be won and families moving across country simply because someone else wanted their land [see, Trail of Tears]. Now, the reality of all those things are buried under ‘Indian and Pilgrim’ dress-up days at elementary and your high school social studies class skipping over hundreds of years of history, to their convenience. To say the least, the day of Thanksgiving, for Native Peoples, is painful, deep and real.

Selah, to pause. Ok, keep reading.

Secondly, there is freedom to make this day worthy, notable and hopeful. While the above paragraphs are true, truer than most would admit, the presence of Creator in our story is true, too. Let me be the first to say, he was not pleased when these zhaagnaash (“white man”) tagged his name to their atrocities. He was not in their corner, cheering them on. Creator’s Son came and experienced ridicule, mockery and harassment; Jesus understands injustice. He gets being ripped from his culture of kingdom and being questioned by foreigners. He is not without compassion or sympathy when it comes to our losses; he is also not standing by idle.
The White Man’s god may push you around, disrespect your behaviors and leave you for dead. Jesus will not. The White Man’s god may solicit murders on behalf of innocent men, women and children. Jesus could not. The White Man’s god may make promises with the intent purpose of not keeping them. Jesus does not. Here is my point: Jesus is not the White Man’s god. Our greatest gift as believers of the Jesus way is the gift of the Great Spirit. And with the Great Spirit, there is hope. There is an assurance that we are not alone, that our voices do not go unheard and that redemption (the buying back of something previously sold) is possible.

Finally, there is a way forward. There is a way to acknowledge the truth of history and the reality of hope in Jesus. Here it is: We all live in tension. Every single human lives in a tension. Of joy and grief, or of loss and gain. Of expectancy and disappointment, or of provision and of lack. And let me tell you something: It’s not surprising to God. He – Creator God, Everlasting Counselor, Prince of Peace, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – is not afraid to dwell there. In fact, often times, he makes his home right there in the middle of it. In the loss, Creator is bringing light. In pain, Creator is bringing perspective. In real anger over injustice, Creator creatively strategizes to bring unity, forgiveness and a better way. May we not miss him in the tensions. May we not overlook, or ignore the uncomfortable and hard. It is there, in those places, we will confess, and we will grow.  

This Thanksgiving, take time to consider what you’re celebrating + why. Take time to praise a Chief who fights on your behalf and is making all things new.

emilyselfie
Emily is on a journey of expressing her ethnic identify in faith and is passionate about sharing her experience with any who would have an ear to listen. She loves living in Atlanta, Georgia where she lives among refugees and cares for babies. In her free time, she likes weekend trips to New York City and a good cup of tea. Any inquires, encouragements or questions you may have, feel free to contact her: emnaganashe@gmail.com or follow her on instagram @emnaganashe

I’m not afraid of being wrong

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My whole life I’ve fought being wrong, feeling wrong, and looking wrong. I have never wanted someone to find out that I was wrong because, then; who would I be? I’ve found something out: I’m wrong a lot of the time. I’m wrong probably more than I’m right. I’ve realized it’s okay.  It doesn’t make me a horrible person, it just makes me human.

I’m also in a place where I’m questioning things. I’m questioning belief systems I have because I want to know if they stand on their own.  Do I believe these things because that’s what the church has told me is true or because the word of God has spoken this into life? I’ve come to this point in my life because two things are happening; one, close friends have become atheists, and two, close friends have been severely hurt by the church. I want to know why these things are happening. I want to know why the people who claim to be daughters and sons of God–who is Love–have the least amount of love to give. I want to know why my friends who have questions are pushed away for being toxic or dangerous to the church. I want to know why a church would call someone toxic and have no reservations about it. I want to know why Christians are fighting the fact that racism is real in this country, or that gay and transgender people are people too. I want to know what belief systems are causing this.

Am I a Pharisee or am I a disciple? Am I missing the point? Have I moved too far into judgement and condemnation or am I choosing grace and truth? I am close to tears writing this because I don’t want to be so focused on the rules and on the way-it’s-always-been-done to the point where I’ve forgotten to look people in the eye. I don’t want to have an agenda or a project of people. I want to always choose to see people as people and not the means to an end.

I’ve been sharing multiple different articles on facebook, most of them about the injustice happening towards our black community– some about the gay community–and I know it’s making people uncomfortable. Here is where me being wrong comes in: I’m okay with the fact that I may be wrong about the things I’m sharing. I’m okay with that, but I think these things are worth honest conversations and lots of prayer. I think it’s worth talking about because people are hurting and suicidal. People are being pushed out of churches when they should be welcomed in. Church isn’t for the healthy, it’s for the sick. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.;” (Mark 2:17)

If I’m wrong, so be it! If I am, I know the Holy Spirit will soon correct me, but what if I’m right? What if it’s time for us as a community to stop clenching our fists and closing our eyes to this world? I think it’s time we stop talking for one second and just listen. I want to hear the stories of people who I’ve overlooked because they were too broken. I want to know how I’ve hurt them by my words so I can ask for forgiveness. Can we stop surrounding ourselves with people who think the same way we do so we can learn and grow and be challenged? Please, can we listen instead of rebuttal? I just want people to know Jesus, the real Jesus, not the one we’ve made in our image. If I’m wrong, that’s okay, but if I’m right, we need to help those we’ve hurt, because we’re hurting a lot of people.

I don’t have this life all figured out, no one does, but I think we’ve come too far into trying to defend ourselves.  We are worried about being wrong. When it comes to hurting people, being right or being wrong does nothing in the face of suffering. I’m going to be reflecting way more on my life and the ways I could be hurting people around me instead of helping them, I urge you to please join me in this. Lets listen more than we speak.

a new introduction.

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I need to write.
I need to write because it allows me space to breathe and move and create. I need to write because it’s part of who I am, and I think I’m learning it’s the biggest part. Whether I’m the best at it, I’m mediocre, or you read this and you think this is the worst blog you’ve ever read, I’m going to keep writing.
I’m making a commitment right now to write more. Not just more but once a week. To make an active post on this blog once a week so maybe I don’t go insane and so maybe my thoughts and the words I put on Microsoft word will help you find hope. Maybe I can show you that you’re not alone, and that I’m out here with you, shifting around uncomfortably trying to find where I’m supposed to plant my feet.
I’m here, and I’m writing, and I’m laughing, and I’m crying, and I’m engaged to the man of my prayers, and I get married in 2 weeks and 2 days.

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This blog isn’t just going to be my ramblings, well, yes it is, but it is also going to be about our life. By “our life” I mean mine and my fiancé/husband’s life (When you’re 2 weeks away from being married fiancé sounds wrong.) and the life we are living in our small but big apartment in Michigan. This blog will now be filled with stories on how I broke the toilet seat and how maintenance won’t call us back. (This happened.) It will still continue to be filled with my honest and raw reactions to the unfair and the fair ways of life and how I see the Father in every situation, or how I try to, at least.

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What I’m trying to say is;
Hi, I’m Chelsea Miller (Tracy, in 2 weeks) and I’m 22 years old.
I started this blog after I came home from the World Race and had no place to leave my thoughts and worries and cares so I put them here.
Now, almost a year later, I am coming into a completely new season and I want this blog to have a place, a home, here, in this new season. It needs to have a place.
I am a writer at heart; I’m an expresser, and a feeler. I need to write down the things that happen to me, and how I see them so I can see Him in them. When I write things down they become clear and hopeful and wonderful. I hope if you find yourself here, you feel comfortable and at home. I hope my words move you into a deeper relationship with Christ, and maybe you will laugh a little bit. I think when people express, and create, the world lightens a little bit. When people are honest about where they are people relax a little more into who they are. No one can pretend to be perfect and right all the time. I hope this place can be a place where you don’t have to be right, because I’m not going to be.

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You are now invited into this crazy, wonderful, adventure I am embarking on.
It’s called life, and I think I’m finally learning how to live it.

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Grace in the unknown

I’m walking into a new season.  A season I didn’t expect, but kind of really like.
As I walk into a new season, April is starting and so is spring.
The snow has melted and sun peaks its head out of the clouds every once In a while.
I’ve placed my sweaters in a box and my coat hangs unused in the closet.
This season is beautiful because it’s full of grace.  Grace that is being retaught and relearned.
I woke up this morning to a dreary, gray, rainy day.  I couldn’t help but smile.

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You see, rainy days, especially rainy spring days, are my favorite kind of days;
Rainy days remind me of grace.
They remind me that God never forgets to refresh, to restart, to renew.
They remind me to rest and remember to cuddle.
They remind me to love and be loved.
They remind me that I am never forgotten and I am always taken care of.

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God takes time to refresh the earth.
To quench its thirst for him.
I like that idea, because He’s doing it to me.
He’s reminding me of how cared for I am,
and how much he knows and I do not. 

The father has torn my plans from me.
I’m not surprised because that’s what he does.

I was planning on moving to Ireland in August to be a part of the ministry that is happening in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.
I am no longer planning that endeavor.
Instead, I’m walking into a much scarier place, home.

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I tend to find security in unwavering plans.
God likes to remind me that He is in control of my plans, not me.
My plans for Ireland were good, and they were glorifying to Christ.
Staying home is also glorifying to Christ.
One is not better than the other.
But something He is teaching me is that sometimes it’s easier to keep moving
and never look back instead of standing up to your past and not letting it define you.
He’s teaching me how He redeems and defines me. 

So, in this new season I’m going to curl up on the couch and listen to the rain.
I’m going to watch as God refreshes the earth just like he continues to refresh me.
I’m going to learn as people hand me grace and remind me of my Savior.
I’m going to listen as I hear the promises that are engrained in His word.

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I am taken care of, and I see His grace clearer than I’ve ever seen it before.