Jesus + Jerusalem

So I’ve started a lot of blog posts this past month, but due to many, many, many things (happy things!) happening in my life right now, I haven’t finished or posted any of them. I’ll write an update sometime (as if you actually missed me) (who even are “you”), but here’s just my thoughts for now, not super polished or researched, just my thoughts, so that something new will actually end up on my blog today.

Like a lot of people, this week I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Different aspects of this have intrigued me through several lenten seasons in recent years. Just that phrase from Luke 9:51, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem,” struck me so powerfully one day. For the first year I noticed that, I thought a lot about what that meant. Jesus set out for Jerusalem… to be killed. Jesus set out for Jerusalem… to be betrayed. Jesus set out for Jerusalem… though he could have gone back. And He resolutely set out! How did He have the strength for that?

That phrase makes me see my sin so well sometimes. The second year during Lent, I would think, “Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem right now, and I am ______.” Fill in the blank with some useless waste of my time. While I’m idling, while I’m complaining about how I can’t be a missionary right now, while I’m – get this – disappointed at God and the Christian life, He is resolutely headed toward Jerusalem (and all that that entails) FOR ME. Nothing I’m doing here and now will change that. He heads out resolutely just the same.

I have done nothing to deserve His grace. And I have done nothing to deserve the way that He’s shown it. Not only did He die to save me, He resolutely died to save me. He decided, way ahead of time, to do all that He did.

This year I’ve been thinking about that a lot. In between Jesus resolutely setting out for Jerusalem and what happened in Jerusalem, what did He say? How did He act?

…What did I find? That as the day got closer, He was only more concerned for His followers to know Him for who He truly was. He was only filled with more compassion for every person. He continued to teach about good, good things, like faith the size of a mustard seed. Like the parable of the prodigal son. Like heaven. The pages between Luke 9 and Luke 23 are filled with healing in His name, turning praise to the Father, and His welcoming of children, lepers, rich men, and poor women. Did He even know all these people would leave Him alone when He needed them? YES. Did He even realize where He was going? YES.

Jesus, how I don’t deserve Your grace. I don’t deserve to enter those gates, even when You’ve made a way for me. I don’t deserve to be saved, or to have a second chance. But I definitely don’t deserve YOU. I don’t deserve for You to be the person You were while surrendering Yourself to what awaited You in Jerusalem. Maybe You loved me at first, but how could You love me while heading to Your betrayal and gruesome death? How could You love me now that You’ve felt my sin on Your shoulders, in Your gut, infecting Your purity? Now that You’ve known each ugly thought like it was Your own? God may forgive me now, but I deserve Your resentment. Your bitterness toward me. At least Your indifference. But no, THIS was your prayer for me on the night you entered that city to be killed:

“I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them, and You in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You have sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me. Father, I want those You have given me to be with me and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

Those words are from John 17, one of my favorite parts of the Bible, when Jesus is praying to the Father in the garden right before He is betrayed. And they are still what He wants for me. He wants me to share in His glory, and to be with Him. He wants me to know the Father’s love as surely as He knows it. He doesn’t wish that the Father would NOT pour out on us. He does not wish for the Father to see the sin He paid the price to erase forever. !!!! Friend, if you don’t see yet that Jesus is GOOD, I don’t know how I can help you. Read the red letters in the Bible. They are everything. Come with me to church on Easter Sunday. Though it is Good Friday, and Jesus is hanging on the cross and bearing our sin, let us rejoice that He is STILL the Savior full of lovingkindness toward us, every. single. moment.

with all Your waves.

A handful of people in my life know that I’m on a sort of soul healing journey, but now all of you will know. I won’t get into it all – just trying to work you up to where my thoughts are coming from today – but it’s about letting Jesus enter into places where wounds have happened in the past so He can redeem part of what’s been broken. Of course, this means peeling back the band-aids, picking at the scabs, getting to the wound and having it bleed all over again so He can stitch it up. Luckily, my church has a ministry where I get to do this in community, guided by people who have been through it before. It’s been a hard, blessed soul-seeking journey so far, and I am only about halfway through (with the class. I am told this becomes sort of a lifelong thing).

It’s part of the recommended list of things to do before becoming a missionary, but it’s become much more than checking off a box on the to-do list.

For the past week we’ve been talking about emotions (like how valuable it is to be able to name the actual emotion you’re feeling, and how emotions can be trusted. Who would have guessed that I – who grew up & lived in conservative Christian circles my whole life – would believe that emotions can’t be trusted?! Ha! *sarcasm, in case you didn’t read that*). Anyway, our assignment this week is to lament our biggest ungrieved loss. So far I’ve had several strong reactions to that.

1. “Whoaa, why does this have to be so heavy? I don’t want to have a bummer week because I’ve been thinking about what to lament. It just doesn’t sound like a good time.”

2. Pretty much denying that there are “important” things I haven’t grieved, and further doing the opposite of the *Christianese* pressing-in.

3. Igniting my brain’s waffle-mode, where I plan out when to focus on lamenting and be emotional when it’s most convenient for me. When it feels “safe.”

4. Suddenly having a hyper-emotional week anyway. Believe me, I know my body’s habits very well when it comes to my emotions, and my sudden needs to cry this week have been completely out of the blue. And sometimes public. It seems that God knows better than me when I need to do my homework and when I don’t.

So this morning I finally took the time to start sorting through it. I made a list of losses I can remember pretty well and tried to decide if I’ve grieved them or not. It was kind of overwhelming. Don’t think that because you’re young or your life hasn’t been dramatic that you don’t have major wounds from loss. We all lose a lot. Even the loss of the smallest thing can lead to the biggest wound, especially if it happened when you were a child.

The truth is, all of us have experienced the vast range of emotions that come with life, and I think we come to realize that fact more through life with Christ. I think walking closely with Him can help us experience emotions that we wouldn’t have an understanding of otherwise. I mean, just look at what Jesus did on the cross. Doesn’t that cause you joy AND anguish AND happiness AND sorrow AND a whole host of other things?  When we’re really in touch with THAT, or something He is doing in our lives, or how we’ve been wounded, or things He has told us, feelings can put us in a place where God wants us to be.

I read this morning in Psalm 88, a psalm of lament, “You have overwhelmed me with all Your waves.”

Yes. The waves of goodness, the waves of mercy. The waves of joy & delight. The waves of sorrow, of anguish. The waves of hunger for You. The waves of hurt for the lost. The waves of love that carry me through dark doubts about my worth and seasons of loneliness. You’ve overwhelmed me with both the good and the bad. Thank you, Jesus.

Emotions are a gift. They let us know we are deeper – we are more than flesh. And all the emotions under the “sadness” umbrella help us know what our wounds are, and when we know what our wounds are, we see God redeeming them. Letting myself feel the sadness, the grief, and whatever else pulls lamenting from our mouths, brings me closer to him.

Bring the waves, and I will feel them & find out who You are making me to be.

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c. Hanna Osterwyk, 2009. Mission Bay, San Diego, CA.

Mountaintop.

When I close my eyes to meet with Jesus, I end up somewhere like this:

mountains

 

I stand on the mountaintop and wait for Him, and He comes in the wind blowing through my hair and over my bare toes. And I close my eyes to listen to what He says to me.

I’ve been wrestling with a picture of myself, and the things I believe about myself in the ugly parts of my heart. He could choose to turn my eyes inward, when I close my eyes to meet with Him, but instead He puts me on that mountaintop to look outward. He could point out the truth in the ugly things I believe about myself. He could agree with me, after all, when I repeat to myself the accusations my enemy brings against me. Aren’t there crumbs of truth in every lie? When I believe I am selfish, well… aren’t I selfish?

He could choose to turn my eyes inward, to deal with my sin by slicing me open. To allow condemnation grow on my heart like cancer – grow even on the good part of my heart that wants to make Him happy with me.

But when I close my eyes to meet with Jesus, He takes me to the mountaintop. And to Him I am always the same there – in the same dress, with bare feet, hugging myself against the chill of the wind that means He is there with me. I do not have cancer. I am not falling apart. I am not worried about falling apart. I am on the mountaintop, inviting the wind to move through me and bring His voice. When I look outward, I see the world that He made, the world where He is. I see who I am, and I know who He makes me in His presence. And that is all there is.

When you close your eyes to meet with Jesus, where does He take you?

Guest Post | January Book Report: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

YESSS!! It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – a guest post by one of the most awesome people you will ever meet! *drumroll*dramatic voice* The one… the only…  my husband… Brett Osterwyk!

As you may or may not recall, in 2014 Brett and I are each reading a book a month of the other’s choosing. For January I made Brett read the second installment of the Harry Potter series. He has finally finished his book report (cost him a letter grade for tardiness) and here it is:

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1. Title, author, copyright date, and genre?
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. 2 June 1999,  Fantasy
2. Summarize the book without giving away the ending. [Please read in Brett's dramatic story-telling voice]
After spending a miserable summer with his unloving extended family, Harry Potter was dreaming of going back to his magical boarding school, Hogwarts. Unfortunately a semi obnoxious house elf named Dobby tries to warn Harry that if he goes back to the school terrible things will happen. Harry ignores the warnings, forcing Dobby to take drastic measures to keep Harry from going and eventually staying at this school of witchcraft and wizardry. Danger in the castle rises and is eventually linked to the Chamber of Secrets and the monster of Slytherin. Harry and his friends must find the Chamber of Secrets and the one controlling the monster that is petrifying inhabitants of the school. As Harry digs deeper into the the mystery surrounding the chamber and the monster, Harry discovers a much darker plan from an unlikely wizard.
3. What did you think of the main character?
I think Harry is really rebellious and brave. He always seems to get into trouble, but it’s often for a good purpose. I think he has a strong sense of right and wrong, but doesn’t really think about the consequences to his actions. To me, it makes him more relative.
4. Which character could you relate to best?
I relate to Arthur Weasley, because we both are curious about the world outside of our own. We want to learn about different cultures. We both like to tinker.
5. Were there any other especially interesting characters?
I thought Dumbledore was super interesting. He seems so wise and knows how to work the system. He is respectable and wise, and I like that. Also Dobby is pretty interesting. He’s a slave that runs away from home to help Harry, yet he goes back to his master. His logic is wack. He tries to save Harry, but by doing these horrible things to him. It’s interesting and doesn’t make much sense.
6. From whose point of view is the story told?
Third Person
7. Were the characters and their problems believable?
Seriously? …It’s fantasy. But on a deeper level, the themes run into real world problems, like racism, trust, terrible professors, guilt, and how to deal with giant snake monsters.
8. How did the main character change during the novel?
At the beginning of the book, Harry is so focused on how miserable his life is and how much better it would be once he arrived at Hogwarts that it makes him irresponsible and reckless. He doesn’t think about how his actions will affect others. After taking Mr. Weasley’s flying car to get to the Hogwarts he feels remorse after hearing that Mr. Weasley’s career might be at risk. Then at the end of the book, Harry finally changes his heart toward Dobby after finding out who his master is and that he really was just trying to help him out. Dobby goes from being an annoying pest to a meek and helpless slave with a huge heart.
9. What was the book’s central question, and how was it answered?
Does our heritage define us? See question 15 a.
10. Did you learn something new from the book?
How to play quidditch.
11. Was the book different from what you expected?
Yes, it was longer than the movie.
12. Was location important to the story?
Yes, because the whole story revolves around a secret chamber somewhere in the castle.
13. Was the time period important to the story?
Not really, the story just has to take place somewhere after 1886 after the first car was created. Other than what goes on in the muggle world the story could take place during the middle ages, because the school still acts like it’s stuck there.
14. What alternative title would you choose for this book?
Harry Potter Spends a Great Deal of Time in the Girl’s Restroom.
15. Share a quote or two from the book.
A. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  – Albus Dumbledore
B. “Tell me, what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?” – Arthur Weasley
16. Share a favorite scene from the book.
My favorite scene is when Harry meets T. M. Riddle in person in the Chamber of Secrets. I like this scene because I feel like there is a lot of truth in this moment. When Riddle reveals that his diary has been feeding off of Ginny’s soul, which she was pouring into the diary. To me this has a rich and biblical theme. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” [Matthew 6:21]. Ginny treasured the diary, and in doing so she placed her heart in it. She was placing her trust and soul into a false treasure. He was a deceiver and only was using her to get what he wanted. After a while she realized what the book was doing to her and tried to stop it, but Riddle’s roots were too deep in her soul. To me this seems to be a clear representation of sin in our lives. We go to it thinking it is a good thing, but it isn’t until it’s too late that we realize the evil in it. Sin’s roots are so deep in us that we become a slave to it.
 
17. What did you like most about the book?
The last two chapters.
18. What did you like least?
I didn’t like how incompetent the wizarding world is. Even with evidence of Voldemort still present in the world, they still don’t take measures to stomp out the dark wizards that still follow the dark lord.
19. Did you like the way the book ended?
Yes and no. I liked how the book ended with all the bad guys getting what they deserve, but I don’t like how Hogwarts keeps sending Harry back to the Dursleys. It’s clearly an abusive family. The could at least let him stay in the castle and study more over the summer.
20. What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
It was pretty good at bringing up deep themes without being too blatant about it.
21. What did you think of the cover?
The cover looks a little childish for my tastes. I think it would appeal more to me if it had some art like LOTR does. But then again, I don’t think the target audience is really meant for me.
22. For banned books: Why was this book banned?
It’s banned only in some places, because of witchcraft. Duh. Although I think it’s really kind of silly. If you banned this book because of that. If that’s the case, then you should get ride of most Disney movies, fairy tales, LOTRs, and Chronicles of Narnia. I think there are really great christian undertones.
23. Would you recommend this book? How would you rate it?
I probably wouldn’t recommend this book, but I did enjoy it. I would give it a 5 out of 10. [BLASPHEMY!]

Thursday Thankfulness Party

Yesterday, this blog opened me up to a whole other world of gratitude. I’m thankful for my own baby brother, who I got to get to know for two years before he left for Heaven. I am beyond-words in love with my other three brothers, all over again. The little one being gone is only part of the reason why they’re so precious to me. And most of all, I think, I’m grateful for my parents. The fact that I don’t remember their hard battle with grief is a testimony to how well they kept me from their anger at God so eventually I could experience my own.
If you clicked that link or read any of the Zeller family’s story (which I really encourage you to), here’s another link to where you can help care for them.

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Eric, me, Joel, Austin, and Adam

I’m also thankful for the happy childhood my parents gave me. I’ve been trying to dig up childhood memories for the past couple weeks because I thought I didn’t have any. Especially ones of my dad from when I was little, because I’m trying relate to God as “Daddy,” but I had no daddy memories. But I went to stay with my parents this weekend, and of course there were old photo albums sitting on the table so God could jog my memory.

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And I’m so thankful for my husband. Specifically, right now, his earnestness and his honesty. And his presence. I just really value his presence. Even on nights when I’ll sit in one room doing my own thing, and he’s in another room doing his own thing, I’m so much more at ease than when he’s, say, all the way in Midland, TX. For eleven days.

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Hoping to have Brett’s book report from JANUARY up on here any day now! They’re not giving him a lot of free time down there in the Lone Star State. I’m really excited for the first ever guest-post on my blog from my very own husband! Now this lone star is going to bed, but I’ll leave you with this gem from my parents’ wedding:

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January Book Report: Kingdom Come

As you may recall (either from this earlier blog post or from me talking excitedly about it for all of 2014 so far) one of Brett and I’s marital goals for the year is to read one book a month of the other’s choosing. This month, Brett had me read a graphic novel. So unexpected.
No, really. I thought he was going to hand me a theological book by Tim Keller because he’s getting back into all of that, but instead, one evening while I’m sitting in bed comfortably watching Mad Men, he hands me this book with glossy pages and says, “The art in this is amazing.” Well alright then. I can appreciate some art.

So here is my book report (with outline questions borrowed from here).

Kingdom Come

1. Title, author, copyright date, and genre?

Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross; copyright 1996 by DC Comics; Graphic novel.

2. Summarize the book without giving away the ending.

Things are looking pretty grim for humankind and superhumankind, and throughout the book they just get worse. It’s set some 50 (?) years past what I assume is the golden age of the Justice Leage, Superman has banished himself after an incident with a foe that destroyed all of Kansas, and the rest of the DC comic heroes are either gone completely or being aloof. Guardians of Earth Lite, if you will.
However, there are generations of superhumans spawned from all the original super heroes and villains from way back when. They’re kind of adolescent and uncontrolled. They constantly fight one another, with a growing apathy for the human life that gets in their way.
Resulting from this are many points of conflict. There’s Superman’s internal conflict when he’s approached by other Justice League members and asked to help them resolve the problem of the uncontrolled superhumans. Will he forgive himself for what happened years ago and come out of hiding? And how will he then handle the situation? There’s the conflict between humans and heroes – if the superhumans continue to fight, another disaster like what happened with Superman in Kansas could happen. World leaders in the UN have to decide whether to fight back, basically starting a war with superhumans. There’s conflict among the old members of the Justice League concerning how to handle the younger generation of superhumans. If they refuse to comply with the old rules, which prioritized preserving human and superhuman life above delegating justice and capital punishment on their own terms, should they be punished? And to what extent?

3. What did you think of the main character?

The main character was Superman. At points in the novel, he was much less like the typical boy-scout idea of Superman, and more like a dictator who laid down the rules and was unwilling to change his ways for any reason. He’s very arrogant through the whole thing. But is he right? Probably. At least, you’re supposed to think he is. But the questions raised in the center of the plot are pretty deep.

4. Which character could you relate to best?

Superman’s character was really torn and experienced the most conflict. I think this makes him the most relatable. He’s dealing with really intense moral issues about life and death, capital punishment, and how much restraint he and the other superheroes should show, even when trying to protect humanity.
I don’t know why I relate to this. Probably because of my super powers.

5. Were there any other especially interesting characters?

At one point, Wonder Woman and Superman go visit Aquaman in the middle of the ocean to try to enlist his help, and he’s all like, I got my own problems. I take care of like, 70% of the world. (I don’t know if that’s accurate. I’m not a scientist.) You take care of your above-sea-level issues.
That’s totally respectable, in my opinion. I mean, it’s not that Aquaman is lazy and doing nothing, but he literally says he won’t help with their problem, and it’s not like he shows up to save the day at the last minute anyway. He’s got a really good point.

6. From whose point of view is the story told?

A priest named Norman experiences visions of all the different things that happen in the novel. It’s how we get to skip from one event to another so quickly. An “angel” guides Norman through his visions and explains what is happening. It’s very A Christmas Carol. Only instead of a terrible Christmas it’s the apocalypse caused by neglectful superheroes.

7. Were the characters and their problems believable?

Well, yes, as far as superheroes go. What the story does best is show the hardest issues superheroes would have do deal with if superheroes were real.
Except for Batman. He is real.

8. How did the main character change during the novel?

Superman didn’t change as much as most of the other characters. In true Superman fashion, everyone else is supposed to conform to his moral standards, not the other way around. The story really is geared to reach the good ol’ American in all of us. That’s why all the superheroes have aged and look like a conglomerate of upstanding members of the GOP.
Anyway, Superman does come out of hiding. So he changes a bit. He lets go of his guilt.

9. What was the book’s central question, and how was it answered?

The book’s central question is whether the sanctity of superhuman life is more or less sacred than the lives of the regular humans that the super humans are meant to protect. (Answer: they are equally important, but by equally they mean less.) Or maybe the question is whether super humans really ARE meant to protect humans. (Answer: Superman says they are, so they must be.) I think the book had more of a central theme than a central question. The theme, like most superhero stories, is about responsibility. What are the responsibilities of superheroes? How much power should they exert?

10. Did you learn something new from the book?

I learned who Captain Marvel was. (I thought this was a DC comic?)

11. Was the book different from what you expected?

Based off… the cover? I didn’t really have any expectations.

12. Was location important to the story?

It was set in the USA for the most part, but this is only important because it’s about American ideals.

13. Was the time period important to the story?

I’m not sure what year it was supposed to be set in. It looked like present-day, but it was about the end of the world.

14. What alternative title would you choose for this book?

Your Favorite Superheroes Get Old And Feel Threatened By The Younger Generation And Try To Control Them Instead Of Handling The Situation Properly And Everyone Dies

15. Share a quote or two from the book.

“The Gulag’s ready to blow.” -Superman, to Batman

16. Share a favorite scene from the book.

The scene with Aquaman that I described above.

17. Did you like the way the book ended?

Not really. After all the really intense life and death/end of the world stuff, the scene falls on Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman hanging out in a coffee shop where all the staff dresses in gaudy superhero costumes. (Clearly the golden age of superheroes is long ended and they’re just laughable now.) Batman uses his crime-fighting deduction skills to predict that Wonder Woman is pregnant with Superman’s child. (Can that even happen? I mean, not because they’re super human, but because they’re like, fifty?) Everyone, even Norman and his parish, lives happily ever after.
It was just kind of sappy.

18. What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?

I was impressed by the deep moral struggles in the novel, but all in all, it wasn’t my favorite. And the ending was laughable.

19. What did you think of the cover?

Very apocalyptic.

20. Would you recommend this book? How would you rate it?

I wouldn’t recommend it except to someone who really likes graphic novels. Even though I thought it was disappointing, the art was good, and it doesn’t take too long to read. So even if you don’t like it very much, if you like graphic novels it could be worth your time. I give it a 4.5/10.

Mid-week thankfulness party

Last week was all like

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New workplace shoes from the boss.
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Sprinkled donut from Schneiders with my man.
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The brightest scarf – a gift from a faraway aunt.
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2-3 birthday candles from the best person to share an office with. Hands down. Period.
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Cheerful flowers from McMolls.
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To top it all off: presents from Slovenia. Thank you, Rachel!

AND Brett took me to get sushi (the pictures weren’t appetizing), my mom drove me to and from work every day, and my family was willing to get all adventurous and try Indian food (I ordered for the whole table). The two precious Oldest People In My Life sent me love over the phone and in the mail, and the nice barista at Starbucks gave me a free drink even though I didn’t have my birthday coupon with me.
Oh, and my sister-in-law is practically giving us a car (in exchange for repairs and the dreary job of DECORATING MY NIECE/NEPHEW’S NURSERY. As if there’s anything else I’d rather do with my whole life).

I’m thankful for people like you. Because of you it was a good week to be me.

Aaand one more picture of the flowers. Have I mentioned that tulips might be my favorite?

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#blessed

My Bedouin Life

Bed·ou·in (noun or adj.) \ˈbe-də-wən, ˈbed-wən\ 1. Desert dweller, nomadic Arab of the desert. 2. A wanderer or rover.

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