Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Why I Can't Wait To Quit Media

I have always prided myself in my non-attatchment to media whether that be cellphones, dvds, Netflix, facebook, snapchat, or insta. Yet I must confess that the past three weeks have been saturated with Facebook and Insta, Netflix, and my cellphone- and that they have been some of the most distracted, unproductive, and un-Christlike weeks I have spent in a while.

There are countless reasons why social media is dangerous to our culture, relationships, and productivity but even more so I believe when we claim to be Christians. I want to share with you some of my top reasons why I have decided to take a break from social media and I hope you will honestly evaluate these reasons and see if you may need to take a break as well.

For me, going to Alaska camps- a place where there is hardly any cell phone reception- makes it totally easy to give up media for a summer. But even if you are not going off somewhere far away, you can still go on a camping trip, or even spiritual retreat and spend some time investing in God and self discovery.

Ok here goes... and please understand I enjoy some time on Facebook or insta once in a while. So I'm not judging you if you love it...But I have done some studying and even personally realized that it's dangerous to my walk with God..

1. Social media breeds comparison and comparison is the thief of all joy. Galations 6:4-5 says we must examine our own actions so that we we can be proud of our own accomplishments without comparing ourselves to others. Even when we don't think we are comparing.. as we scroll through framed and editted pictures of our friends and see all the fun things that are going on in their lives- it becomes so easy to think oh I"m not pretty like that or oh my life isn't as fun as theirs.. or maybe even wow I am way better than that- I can't believe she writes that. In fact statistics show that people who use the media are way more likely to become depressed or suffer from anxiety- things our society has way too much of!

2. Social media is a distraction from a productive, life of service. How can we be focused serving God if we are constantly glimpsing at our cellphone as we get notifications during the day? I was reading research that giving in to distractions during the day can actually decrease our mental ability to focus. Even if we say we only spend 30 minutes on social media per day (insta, snap chat, and FB combined) which let me congratulate you this would be a great accomplishment... let me ask you how much time you are spending with Jesus per day?? Ouch- even if you are spending 30 minutes with Jesus per day- filling yourself with His word, if you are spending 30 minutes a day on social media you have just spent 30 minutes a day digesting trash, lies, and advertisements. What if you spent that hour with Jesus every day?

3. Social media justifies bragging. Since when did it become normal to list our accomplishments and literally just rub it in other's faces? Or what about selfie pics with Bible verses haha those are some of my favorites ;) Even instagram, which in the beginning I thought was so much better, because at least it's just pictures right? But instagram is all about your image, all about your wall. and I know so many people that will spend the hours getting and editting the perfect picture for their wall. It just seems like the more you are on their, the more you start caring about the wrong things- not to mention creating an image of yourself that is NOT real.

I know quitting social media is hard. But for me social media tempts me to lust after guys, compare my body to other girls, and waste time on the internet, ignoring the family members I have right in front of me. When I go on media more often, I began to feel less valued, more depressed, and eventually- if I am not posting something cool- more lonely. For me as an individual who struggles finding time for personal worship, I know that God is asking me to take breaks from social media in order to have more time to spend with Him and in the immediate environment around me. Social media is a hard topic and if you have any thoughts/ input feel free to let me know.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Authenticity

Tonight I went to a Christian concert on the Riverwalk starring Jason Gray and Jayson Reed. I loved the concert and it was a beautiful evening. One thing that really touched me though was both of these song writers' honesty. Jayson and Reed were singing about their marriage and personal struggles as Jason Gray shared about his painful divorce and his struggle with family illness.

If I think about it though, most song writers get a little personal. The way to a top hit- at least in the Christian music world- is a vulnerable song, something that people actually struggle with. It's not just a song that says "it's so easy, I just want to smile, going to church, and sitting for a while..." LOL
No it's more like a song that says Everyone thinks I live this way but behind the door my family is broken and everything is going wrong... People just latch onto those emotional, honest, and authentic songs. Because that is life- it's real- it's good and it's bad, painful, emotional, and everything in between. And being a Christian doesn't change that. It's still a roller coaster, still a ride, and I think that's what the church doesn't always emphasize enough.

I value authenticity so much in people- yet at times it doesn't come easily packaged. Like for me in the past three years I have become so much more authentic but sometimes the real Brooke isn't graceful, or isn't put together, or easy to preach about. Authenticity is so hard! And when you get rejected when you are being so real- it hurts so deeply.

Yet I got to say there are some people that are a little too authentic. People who don't think positive thoughts and who just can't seem to shut their mouths at the right time. They say something from their head and everybody just looks down in shame.

There has to be some kind of balance right. I don't believe we should just start telling our problems and confessing our sins to everyone we meet.

For me I'm searching for that balance- looking to the life of Jesus- to find a man that is not just brave, not just honest, but also compassionate- a guy that has grace when he speaks- and speaks the right words at the right time. It's authenticity- Jesus was authentic- but it's authentic love and it's authentically good. That's the kind of authentic Jesus we all could use a little more of ;)

rantings

Have you ever felt like you were doing so good in moving on from a certain challenge or temptation, just to be exposed to one person or thing that immediately brings back all feelings from the past- and let's be real the whole enchilada of emotions.

For me, I feel like I have changed SO much as an individual since I came to know Jesus. And the cool thing about God is if we ask Him to change us- He is constantly showing us things we don't even know about ourselves and ways we can grow.

My walk with God has definitely gone through different stages but I would say that the a large portion of my time as a believer was spent in the "nice zone". This "nice zone" is a very obligatory time full of expectations, accomplishments, and rule following. For me I found comfort in this label of "nice Christian" and it began to take over my identity. If you asked most of the people around me to describe me in one word most of them would probably say NICE.

I have to imagine that Jesus too often got this nice label after all I believe Jesus is probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet. And I really believe that the majority of us Christians striving to be like God have gotten this nice factor at some time or another and felt a little constrained by it.

For me personally, I genuinely strive to be a nice person but beyond that I strive to be loving. And God says that when we are following Him we should have the fruits of the Spirit and one of those fruits kindness I believe is a synonym of niceness. It's definitely a trait Christians should have. Through kindness and niceness I believe we can represent Christ's kindness and love for us.

Yet at times it seems people easily take advantage of niceness. And yes you may say people took advantage of Jesus too. And I totally agree. But Jesus wasn't a push over, he didn't please everyone all the time... As a nice person, I have noticed that I will easily attract not as nice people who enjoy my niceness to them.

The principle makes sense because if you have someone that is selfish and constantly needs someone to meet their needs, that individual (person 1) will look for someone who is giving or kind to be their friend. This makes sense because person number 1 is broken and is looking for someone to fix them, give to them, help them, encourage them. They may attract brokenness but will not be able to stand someone just like them who is also selfish because they can not form a relationship. Thus person 2 the kind person is constantly getting offers from persons from category number 1. And this person 2 genuinely wants to help person 1.

For me though as a nice child, and even teenager, I spent alot of time reaching out to person 1's- specifically one individual. I catered to her needs, played third wheel when she had a boyfriend, and bent over backwards to be her best friend. But in return, I wasn't emotionally receiving as much as I was giving. The more time I spent with this individual, the more I came to believe myself as a passive, weak, kind, servant type of person- who wasn't as capable as her as making friends or looking nice or speaking for myself. As a young girl, this individual wounded me deeply by constantly comparing herself to me and unconsciously teaching me that my identity was found in being nice, being quiet, and that I had to perform in order to get attention. This person 1 did not mean to hurt me, but she took away my self-esteem and sense of identity and freedom. When I hung out with her, I felt unworthy, uncapable, and silenced. It was a deep wound. And I know we all have wounds from people or relationships in the past that hurt us.

I praise God though- the Lord of healing- because He is constantly offering us to heal our wounds and for me when I spent a year in Peru He changed so much about me including the way I viewed myself and even my job as a Christian God follower. I learned that while God wants us to be kind to one another, God does not desire us to be a leech in negative relationships, or to be taken advantage of to the point where we are broken. I have spent the last three years rediscovering so much of who I am in God's eyes and developing a truly authentic relationship that isn't based on what I do or do not, or what I say, or even how kind I am to others but is based on a King in Heaven and a daughter in love with her God.

The interesting though as I mentioned in the beginning is as God is healing our wounds there will be things or people that bring them up again and threaten to throw back in our faces where we came from. I recently spent some time with the individual number one I described to you and it was REALLY DIFFICULT. It is hard not to become bitter especially when we realize the full effects of how a person changed our lives forever. And then they have those old expectations of you.. back when you were a different person. Man I don't have all the answers, it is hard following God and being transformed by His love and into a person like Him- while at the same time staying emotionally and spiritually healthy as an individual.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

When did we lose radical?

Today after church my family visited some friends. Now mind you these aren't the typical friends who barbecue, or have a fancy backyard where they bird watch- instead this is a couple who came from the bottom- who used to be addicted to drugs and sex- and have fell in love with Jesus and been transformed. These people live in a small apartment and in a rough neighborhood. They are slowly building their lives back together.

One thing about these people though is that they are radical about Jesus and radical about evangelism. They truly believe and follow the doctrine of Christ and perform church activities and evangelism every day of the week. They are constantly going to Bible studies, constantly watching Christian sermons,  witnessing at their work, and even telling their anesthesiologist at the hospital about the resurrection. They say phrases that I tend to roll my eyes at like "God is so good" and "His mercy always provides" and "faithful to the end."

To me, these people are radicals and today it seems harder and harder for me to find people who are radically living for Jesus.
And to me it seems sadly that 90% of any radicals will have these crazy conversion stories like turning from drugs, or crime, and then going to the church.
To which I must ask: Where are the stories of the radical Christians who grew up with God?
What about the Bible saying to train up a child in the way he should go so he will not depart from it? Where are these children of Adventist parents who are radically living for God?

Or does God not ask us to be radical?

Well if you believe in the Bible it seems we are given a clearer picture of the Christian walk. In Acts 2:42-47 we see believers who devoted themselves to the apostles teachings, prayer, and fellowship. People who gave away everything they had to the needy; people who performed miracles with the power of the Holy Spirit.

We see Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his only son for a God in heaven. We read about Jonah who ran away from God to the point where he was swallowed by a whale. We learn about John the Baptist a wild Alaskan beau (sarcasm) who ate locusts and wild honey, running around half naked, and sharing the life changing news of Jesus. And as we continue with Christian history we read about martyrs who had to fight lions in a colliseum or be burned at stake.

And now days I look around and the most radical Christians I know are the ones who are waiting to have sex til marriage, or people who aren't getting drunk, or missionaries.

So my question is why aren't we expected to walk radically anymore? When did we as a church and community lose radical Christianity? And most painfully, when did I as an individual give up the dream of radical Biblical Christian living and become content to follow cultural Christian expectations?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 stars

It was a sunny Sabbath in Pucallpa and we had about 20 people getting baptized. We decided that since we Americans were staying at such a ritzy hotel called the Manish which had a beautiful pool, the Peruvians could come to our hotel and we could have the baptismal ceremony there.

Now mind you the ERC mission trip I just got back from to Pucallpa was the most elaborate and fancy mission trip I have ever been on. This mission trip was not a survive in the jungle, live like the locals, or even eat or act modestly. Instead the trip was built like a vacation at a comfortable and glamorous ecological hotel so that we the participants would have the opportunity for quietness and safety to study the scriptures and prepare for our evening sermons.

So here we were having the baptismal ceremony at this elaborate hotel and pastor asks me if the woman who were getting baptized could use my room to change into before and after. And of course I said yes.

When the Peruvian woman who were getting baptized saw the room I was staying in with my roommate there mind was blown. Most of these people lived in the slums and had never seen such white fancy comforters with window curtains and a huge mirror. They all lavished in the opportunity to come in and sit on my bed and use my large clean bathroom.

After they were baptized they came back into the room soaking wet and cold. They tracked in dirt and mud. But they were just so excited to be changing in such a clean place. One younger girl instinctively picked up my fancy brush and started brushing her head with it. Even though I cringed inwardly I decided not to say anything and watched as she brushed her hair with joy. These people were not used to such cleanliness and luxury.

After they left, I had a choice to make. I could either be delighted in the fact that I had the opportunity to share my large and clean room with these people and celebrate with them the best day of their new lives with Christ, or I could whine about how my clean room was now trashed, smelly, mud filled, and my brush probably filled with lice.

And I think as we go through life encountering different situations we always have a a choice of how we will respond to what blessings we are given as well as what tribulations or inconveniences. And we must choose what we will do with the gifts and privilege God has given us.

You know, I don't mind my fancy hotel room becoming dirty and gross because 10 people just gave their life to Jesus. I don't care if they cover the room with mud; these people live so poorly every day I am happy for them to get to use my bedroom. And pity if the American girl gets lice for two weeks. I unlike them have blow dryers, washing machines, and lice treatment. My problem is easily fixed.

It's easy to stay in a clean place, living the "American dream", and send a little money to help the orphans. It's easy to think that you care about other's needs and to convince yourself that short term trips or kind thoughts are really changing lives.

But do you honestly care enough about others that you are willing to sacrifice your personal dreams, goals, or possessions? Is missions a hobby and a travel opportunity or is it a way you live?

It bothers me that my favorite starbucks drink can provide six Peruvian meals to children who are hungry. It troubles me that I have more clothes that fit in my closet and I am constantly throwing things away.

I didn't sacrifice anything to let the Peruvians use my hotel room for one day- afterall it is the hotel staff that cleans my room. And I didn't sacrifice anything to go to Peru for three weeks with the ERC trip- I had a great vacation, learned more about God, and ate great food.

But living a missionary life- like a real life like Jesus- I think it requires more than the occasional 5 star mission trip. I think God is asking for more than a little donation, a couple weeks of our time- I think He is calling us to more.

I don't want to limit my service to Jesus to when there is only 5 star commodities. I don't want to serve only where there is good healthy food, hot water, and air conditioning. But my prayer is that I would be able to humble myself- that we would learn to serve wherever we are. That we wouldn't be afraid to be dirty- disgusting- gross- smelly- poor- hungry people. That we would be more afraid of not following God's call than afraid of following Him to scary places or to lives of sacrifice.

I'm tired of living a rich American life and going on feel good mission trips. I want to do something more to fulfill God's calling for me to a life of missions.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I'm going back to an orphanage

I decided to change this post and make it more heart real. It's easy to write what you think people want to read. It's harder but necessary to write from the heart.

I had  the opportunity to return to the San Juan Aldea Infantil and it really stirred up my emotions, life plans, goals, pretty much general life at whole. I knew going back to Peru would be hard for this reason. When I came back from my sm year 3 and a half years ago I was so stoked and ready to go to Africa, go to India, save the orphans- cliche, idealistic, naive, but sweet thoughts.

For this reason I struggled adapting back to college life where my parents encouraged me to get a degree even though my head was in the clouds, around the world, back in the mission field. And going back to Peru and this orphanage just re-awakened my call and love to missions.

 During my student missions year at AMOR my favorite work was at the orphanage. Every week we would visit the orphans who were there and try to mentor them. These little girls and boys literally took my heart and tore it into pieces. The orphanage is where God spoke to me to help me change my major to nursing and it's also the place I've dreamed about working even since I was younger.

Need I remind you I just completed my nursing degree at Southern and I am beyond joyful! After visiting the orphanage in Peru I am so head strong and fascinated by the idea of going back to an orphanage probably in South America to work. I honestly can't wait. I want to go somewhere where I can be a mom to the kids and also be a nurse for them. I want to go for a minimum of two years because I think it's important for kids to have stability and I want to go somewhere where I can speak their language. I think it's important to be able to counsel the kids. And hopefully, I know you may call me crazy for saying this, but God willing I would love to get to adopt one or two of these kids.

I don't know when I'll be going, I don't know how. But I know God willing I'll get the chance soon. My goal is to get some nursing experience in the states, save up a little money, and wait on God's call. But I'll keep you posted.. because my heart is excited to return to an orphanage to stay and live quite soon.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

back in Peru 2

Sometimes I like to think about my life as a book or movie- full of emotion, drama, adventure that's so real and alive. I am a girl that's totally down for adrenaline. I love change, love passion, and love roller coasters. And sometimes mission trips are like that- they go so fast- and you see so many new cool things- you can hardly process it all. But this trip has been quite different.. it has been slower. It has been full of deep thinking, reliving memories, and quiet prayers. It has been a good break from the rigor of nursing school and American life but honestly even this trip has felt a bit mundane and I have to question God "Why did you bring me here?" What do you want me to learn about your character?

I'm not an evangelist. This trip is not using most of my God given gifts to humanity. I've never felt competent in Biblical prophecy. I am weak in my Spanish. I am not eloquent in speech. The cool thing though is in spite of my weaknesses God can use me to share a message to people around the world! This trip has been interesting. But honestly I don't feel like there is alot of exciting mission stories to share. I don't feel like I have really impacted the Peruvians who I am with.

I have preached 12 sermons and saw some friends from when I was here as a missionary. I have donated blood. I have eaten delicious Peruvian food. I have made some new friends with my mission team. I have not studied for my NCLEX which I just recieved the official ATT permission to test. I have not heard any great conversion stories from my church or met anyone who wanted to be baptized. Today I will get to go back to the Aldea Infantil in San Juan where I was able to work with kids and spend a couple weeks living with them. I am so excited about that.

I have six days left though on the trip and I have yet to answer the question "Why have I come back here God". I have enjoyed the trip of course, made friends, of course but I know God has something bigger in store. We have 5 nights of preaching left and I know God is not done working in my life or in the lives of the people at my church. Friends and family members I am grateful for your prayers and thoughts. It is a blessing to be back in Peru and to have the opportunity to share about Jesus.