Saturday, February 20, 2010

The choice of joy.

I tend to forget the brightness and intensity of the sun. Especially here in England. But the past few Saturdays i have been blessed with a very bright sun. I'm beginning to appreciate this rarity, though. Because when these sunny days do come, I am just in awe of the intensity, and the majesty. A huge star, so far away, that I can feel on my face. Incredible.

I go to Africa in three days. Yes, three, which is much closer to zero than the previous numbers. I honestly can't even believe that it is almost here. This week has been a hard one. Feelings of inadequacy, fear, anxiety, and defeat have been bigger than any of my other feelings as of late. For me, there is nothing worse than the feelings of being defeated.

In the midst of all this darkness, I was reminded in the most beautiful way of the light.

We had another media fast this week as Capernwray. This really isn't hard for me, I'm fine with not checking emails, watching movies, etc. But the one that seems almost impossible is the absent of music. You don't realize how much it plays a role in your days, until you go without it. This time it seemed even harder, because i was feeling all these feelings of inadequacy, and I wanted to escape them via music. So, I felt far from home, and just... sort of crazy.

But then, I learned a lesson...

I had recently finished a journal that I have had for three years. This is what I like to call my "moments" journal. So, it's not consistent in the least. But it holds my most favorite moments from the past year. So, on prayer day, I decided to read through it. Mind you, I'm still in this sour mood. So, I grabbed my journal and attempted to decipher my writing. When I stumbled upon January 31, 2008, I read it. And then read it again, and then again. Then I just, cried.

It was an entry about joy. It was talking about how joy is a choice, not an emotion. Joy is a set of mind. So even through the darkness, we can choose to set our minds on things above. We can choose to claim the promises and truths from our Lord.

We can choose joy.

Then, I had written a quote from a friend that has experienced a kind of darkness that i've never known, and he says this,

"I do not deny the darkness, but I choose not to dwell there."

So, something I had written in my journal 3 years previous, was exactly what I needed to hear on February 18, 2010.
So funny how perfect God's timing is.

I can't wait to see what I'm going to learn in Africa. I can't wait until I see God's beauty in a whole new way. And I can't wait to tell all of you about it.

So friends, let us choose joy.
Let us not dwell in the darkness.
Let us recognize the light.
and let us dwell there.

Let's not forget to be thankful for the darkness, though. Because without the darkness, we would forget the intensity of the sun...

[This is a picture I took at Lake Windermere, on a day that the sun seemed brighter than usual.]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Let us be hopeful...

I love that this beautiful place still holds so many surprises for me. Just when I think that I know this place a little too well, I get a surprise thrown right in my face. And to be honest, I couldn't be more delighted.

This weekend, most of the students were gone for the weekend for outreach preparation purposes. There were few of us left behind to stay at the castle. And i couldn't have asked for a better gift. The sun was out all weekend. It was bright and in your face. It was beautiful. I went on adventures everyday. On friday, I walked to the old ruins up on some hills.
There are wild horses up there that come right up to you. There is also a small sheep that is convinced that he too is a wild horses that gallops around like his brothers. He has a very strong presence about him, that little sheep. He just knew he was meant for bigger things, I suppose. Good for him.
Anyway, we bared through the cold, so we could watch the sunset. It was truly magnificent. I took some of the best photos i've taken since being at school, and that makes me feel very happy.

On Saturday, I walked even further to a local pub and enjoyed dessert with some close friends. We started to walk back, and the night seemed to be one step ahead of us the whole way. The giggling, ghost-story telling, and singing came hurling to a stop. And we all noticed what was so apparently sitting to our left. We saw the moon rise. Yes, I looked and saw the most yellow half circle i have ever seen in my life. And i watched it slowly dance above the hill that it was hiding behind minutes before. Everyone was silenced and i just stared at the brightest most beautiful moon I've ever seen in my life. I felt like I was the only one there. The moon was reflecting perfectly off of the railroad tracks in front of it. And in awe of all of my Lord's glory, I felt the uncontrollable tears stream down my face.

In that moment, I felt content.
In that moment, I felt limitless and free.
In that moment, I felt hopeful.
In that moment, I felt God's presence closer than I ever have in my life.

It pains me to think that people can look at a sunrise, a sunset, a moon rise, or just simple beauty and not have someone to thank for it. I can't imagine seeing what I saw, and not being able to see my Lord's infinite glory.

See beauty, and give thanks.

[This is a picture I took on friday of my friend Jake.]