Author Archive

He Has Gathered the Winds

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Like the infamous weather here in Amarillo, my life has been a little windy.

On April 30, I graduated from California Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & New Media.

On May 4, I flew to Amarillo, Texas for a three-day interview with the Amarillo Globe-News.

On May 9, I accepted a position with AGN as their new faith and religion reporter.

On May 27, I moved to Amarillo.

In less than one month, I had graduated, moved home, interviewed for a job, cut my hair, sold my car, moved to a new state, bought a new car, signed a lease on an apartment and began my first big girl job.

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Experiencing Amarillo’s welcoming wind while on assignment for my job interview.

I am so grateful. But some days, I have to remind myself of that out loud. Days when I’m homesick and lonely. Days when I’m frustrated with the search for a new church family. Days when I burn my dinner on the stove because I’m learning to cook for one. Days when the culture shock becomes fist-clenchingly irritating. Days when I really just want to be a kid again and move back home.

Amarillo is not where I expected to be after college. I didn’t even want to work for a newspaper. As a junior at CBU, I wanted to move overseas as soon as possible. During my senior year, I wanted to write for some sort of trendy, countercultural, Christian magazine and pummel the Church with my strong opinions.

Now, I find myself in the middle of nowhere, the Panhandle, far from trendy, far from the “Lauren” I knew in California and far from my family and friends.

As the faith reporter most days are humbling and thought-provoking – interviewing some of the most extreme and radical facets of the Church, spending an in-depth day with Mormon missionaries, hearing the testimonies of an LGBTQ couple who are Christians, and breaking the Ramadan fast with a Muslim family from Somalia.

If God could have tailored a position in journalism specifically for little, new-grad me, this would be it. I know that and I believe that – it’s just been a huge adjustment.

If I’m being real, many people don’t discuss the disillusionment of the post-grad life – especially as a young Christian who graduates and moves away from their spiritual community.

Never before have I been so grateful for the spiritual support and encouragement I found in college. Never before have I realized how much I took that for granted. Now I realize how much I have lost. Even with cellphones and social media, we lose it – we’re all so busy.

For 7 weeks now in Amarillo, I have been slipping and sliding down a slope of spiritual dryness. I have gone to work every morning, filed my articles and come home every evening to an empty apartment and an empty schedule. I’ll admit, for the first few weeks, Red Box was my best friend.

When you’re in a new state, don’t have a church yet and don’t know a single soul, you slip quickly.

For me, I slipped and fell deeper into the pits of self-reliance and fear. I’m still struggling to pull myself out of it.

I’ve been strategically placed here in Amarillo. Yes, for my job, but also because it’s allowing my fast-paced, self-reliant, stubborn, prideful self to hit a wall. Well, I’ve already hit that wall. Now I must humble myself to allow God to pick me up, bloodied, broken… and still fighting.

I wish I could share some inspirational, uplifting devotional for you today, but I’m still feeling tossed about in the wind. That, and I’m battling my pride.

These next six months will be a time for me to refocus on Jesus and come to full, humbled peace with my brand new, post-grad, big girl life.

I am eagerly awaiting the chance to return next year with the team, each of us ready to recommit to “living as light” in the world that seems to grow darker with each moment. I do believe we all need these six months, but I also believe the Lord is blessing that time of rest and preparing us for the next chapter.

“Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” Proverbs 30:4

One thing I am certain of, the Lord is the one who has “gathered the wind in his fists.” No man can even fathom what it means to do this. The wind may continue to pummel me, but my God is in the winds that blow through my ever-changing life. I hope you know that truth as well.


 

About the Author

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLauren Koski

Hello! My name is Lauren and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. As a journalist, I believe in harnessing the media’s influence for the Gospel and believe that storytelling will be a strategic tool used for the growth of His Kingdom. I am excited to be interning with GLOW and look forward to the ways Jesus will use this platform for His glory.

Defining Discipleship

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Photo by Lauren Koski

Throughout college I wondered why my eyes would tear up when the word “discipleship” was mentioned. I wondered why I cringed at the term “D-group.” I wondered why I felt like such a loser when I saw two ladies from my congregation or student leadership team huddled over coffee without me.

I have been hurt by not being chosen for a specific discipleship group, but I never even asked to join. I have been engulfed by jealously at the faithful friendships I can’t seem to find with older women. I have felt sick to my stomach when asked, “Who’s discipling you?” I have asked someone to be my mentor and they have never followed through.

I secretly struggled with this throughout college because before college, I was never introduced to the practice of discipleship. Feeling like the oddball, I never broached the topic to anyone for fear of judgment. I felt very alone and, honestly, I was alone.

Discipleship can be defined as the act of molding one’s life to reflect the teachings of Christ, or it can be for the actual process of teaching Christ followers one step behind you while following those one step ahead of you. As Christ followers, we are all disciples of Christ — He is our Teacher, we are the pupil. All of this terminology is growing obsolete. As I type this out on a Word Doc, red scribbles appear indicating our dictionary’s confusion over the different forms of the word. But, I’m also afraid the practice of discipleship will soon be obsolete as well.

I see two main problems here:

  1. We are all too busy for relationship.
  2. We have allowed structure to compromise intimacy.

Now, I may not be the best voice for this argument — frankly, I know I need more discipleship from both Christ and sisters in Christ before making many arguments — but I have to believe I’m not the only Christian woman who has felt disheartened by the pressures of discipleship.

I am a huge believer in the practice of discipleship — Christ Himself literally commands it (Matt. 28:18-20) — and I have seen how encouraging, uplifting and beautiful it is.

But, with all these “life groups” and Bible studies and women’s retreats and, finally, “D-groups,” what is it that truly defines discipleship apart from all the other spiritual relationships we have out there?

Here are 3 thoughts I have about reconsidering the way we do discipleship:

  1. Go where the disciples are.

Where the boys are… If you want a boyfriend, go where the boys are, right? So if you want discipleship, go where you will find it.

Fellow younger women, don’t spend all your time with your own generation and expect to find yourself a mentor. Reach out to women who are in different seasons of life.

Older women, contrary to popular belief, we do have a desire to be challenged and spurred on in our faith — I just think my generation needs a bit of help getting there.

Maybe I’m speaking just to my own generation here, but we must be willing to enter into life with other believers — and not just believers who are the same age, like the same things or, dare I say it, have the same exact doctrine.

The times I was lonely throughout college were, in large part, due to the fact that I was too shy to reach out and ask for help. When encouraged to find a mentor, I simply retreated back into hiding. I was fearful of being raw with someone about my sin and I was fearful they would let me down.

  1. It’s not all about coffee.

Phew. That was difficult for me, a self-proclaimed coffee addict, to say but am I right? Aren’t we all just sipping coffee, talking about attractive hipster worship leaders and maybe breaking open the Word once in a while? Or, maybe we are too concerned with memorizing the “Bridge” diagram or moving on to the next event scheduled in our busy day?

Okay, I know that’s a little exaggerated, but discipleship is becoming so routine. Amid the coffee stains, various Gospel diagrams, prayer requests and checklists, I wonder where real life is able to come into play.

Maybe discipleship is as simple as spending an hour holding your mentor’s crying baby while she does laundry. Maybe it’s cooking a homemade meal for a college student. Maybe it’s playing Bingo with the lonely woman across the road in the retirement home. Maybe we ought to live life with others and allow spiritual conversations to arise with the different tides of life.

  1. We all have the same Teacher.

Our greatest Teacher is Christ Himself. As His followers, He has bestowed upon us the title of His disciples. This is our greatest and most important relationship, and out of that relationship is where discipleship with others comes alive.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15: 4-8

God has given us to one another. As we all plug into the Vine individually to receive the nutrients we need to produce fruit, we grow together as well.

It was last week that I felt as if I finally saw a glimpse of raw discipleship. With greasy hair and no makeup on, I was deep in prayer with three of my closest family-friends. It was 4 A.M. and I had slept on a cot in their living room that night. They had opened their busy home to me as a resting place before I had to drive the length of California back to my parents’ house. In the middle of life itself is where they met me and where I was able to meet them.

Early that morning, we clasped hands and, through tears, prayed over one another. For that moment, our chests seemed to be cracked open wide to reveal our hearts and the reality of life’s pain and joy was exposed. Together, we beckoned one another further down this road called discipleship and worshipped the God who sacrificed of Himself to even give us that opportunity.


About the Author

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLauren Koski

Hello! My name is Lauren and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. As a journalist, I believe in harnessing the media’s influence for the Gospel and believe that storytelling will be a strategic tool used for the growth of His Kingdom. I am excited to be interning with GLOW and look forward to the ways Jesus will use this platform for His glory.

When the Path Changes

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I wonder what it would be like to suddenly wake up 10 years ahead or behind in time.

Like you fall asleep as an awkward middle school girl floundering for social recognition and then wake up the next morning in an apartment with a roommate and a diploma waiting for you at the end of the week.

You fall asleep fretting over a skater-boy and wake up pondering a move back home and a far away job interview.

One moment, you’re waking up in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator, the next moment you’re waking up because you realized how much a refrigerator is going to cost you as new grad.

No joke, these are very true and very recent stories. I woke up this morning thinking how silly it would be to wake up in another time — how freaked out I would be — and then for a moment I wished I had woken up in the past instead of the present.

Time is changing too quickly for me.

I don’t want to move far away from family, but I don’t want to stay either. I have grown frustrated with the community I’ve made in school, but I am afraid of losing that community. I want to move forward in my career, but I also want to hide from the world and binge-watch Netflix.

I’ve mentally blocked friends’ grad parties and other milestone events because I can’t deal with the goodbyes. My Snapchat feed is bipolar; my Instagram is nonexistent. One of my coworkers sent me words of affirmation through a text and I dropped my phone like a hot potato after reading the first line. I eventually read it… and cried.

And yet, #DegreeMe has become an icon, of sorts, among my friends and me, as well as other phrases such as, “Get me out of here.”

I’m a mess. I’m a spoiled mess because I’m graduating with a college degree, in America, with a job interview lined up and a supportive family… and my emotions are as present and toxic as the popcorn ceiling in my apartment.

But, this has allowed for some amazing, blissful moments with the Lord.

About a week ago, I was at the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Oklahoma for the Baptist Communicator’s Association workshop. Two hours ahead of California time, 1,000 miles away and also several cellphone service bars away, I was forced to sit and twiddle my thumbs instead using them to manipulate the joystick of my life and others’ lives.

On one of the more tearful nights, my introvert-self escaped the confines of our hotel room and explored the grounds.

Crossing the creek, I looked up to my left and I saw, through the trees, three tall crosses lit up in the night. They were beautiful and my heart longed to run to them even just for a simple visual of my Savior who I wanted to meet with.

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I’m coming! My heart cried, but as I stepped another foot forward, I hesitated. Leading to the crosses was an ominous pathway. It was dark with the nighttime, grizzled and forlorn.

I’m coming… My heart cried softer now. This was not the path I had expected.

I took my phone out to light the way— it was at 7 percent battery life — I cringed and questioned my decision yet again.

I hadn’t even bothered to change out of my conference clothes, so I was stumbling up the muddy path in my little heeled boots and tripping over the rocks. As I struggled, I increased speed with the thoughts of kidnappers, psychotic runaways and wild animals… and my phone battery drained away. But I kept moving.

Breaking through the trees and into the clearing, I looked back down the path where I had come and cried — alone, without a working phone and in the middle of the night — what was I thinking?

But though the journey was frightening, I saw the crosses in the distance and they compelled me to continue. Christ beckoned me forward; He showed me a place where He had already been.

That night, I found a seat at the base of the crosses where their concrete foundations had been over poured, creating a flat, dry surface. It was ideal for my chaotic heart. I sat there in the darkness and communed with my Lord.

It was terribly cheesy, but it was terribly needed and it became our spot while I was in Oklahoma. I went back there and the path looked so different lit up with the diffused sunlight of morning. I knew the rocks and mud were still there, but I was no longer afraid of those things. With the light, I saw something so much greater.


About the Author

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLauren Koski

Well, hello there! My name is Lauren and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. As a senior at California Baptist University and the Editor-in-Chief of the campus magazine, Pursuit, you can find me at anytime reading in a coffee shop or working closely with my fellow editors in the newsroom. I believe in harnessing the media’s influence for the Gospel and believe that storytelling will be a strategic tool used for the growth of His Kingdom. I am excited to be interning with GLOW and look forward to the ways Jesus will use this platform for His glory.

I Love God, but I Also Love Drugs

“Will you give me some food?”

Her dull brown eyes gaze up at my friend, Amber, and me — twisted up by an unknown drug, beneath the blue sequins of a feathered masquerade mask she found in the garbage.

I strain to understand what her muddled words are saying.

“… I also need money for the bus.”

What?

“I… I’m so sorry… what did you say?” I am stammering,

Again, a gummy, wet, one-toothed answer that I am struggling to understand. My heart is sinking, and screaming, and fleeing.

She is wearing black exercise pants and a low cut white T-shirt. Her dark hair has been buzzed short. She has an ancient medical bracelet on her slim wrist with only her name and birth date scrawled across it.

Stacey Grant 7/3/77

A lighter is pressed deep into Stacey’s cleavage. She continually adjusts it, along with the other random items she has carefully stowed away there. She comes close to me, pressing her cluttered bosom into my personal bubble.

“I look good, yeah?”

God, this was not on my schedule today.

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Photo by Lauren Koski 

I had homework to do, people to call and maybe even a post-church Sunday nap to take. Selfishly and awkwardly, I wanted to run. But standing in front of Amber and me was an opportunity and, praise Jesus, Amber had the presence of mind to take it. So into the nearby Jamba Juice we walked, Stacey at our heels, still mumbling different unintelligible phrases about the cops, drugs and whether her pants made her look fat or not. She made her way to the different patrons in the Jamba Juice and tried to start conversations with them as well. Most of them ignored her; all of them stared at Amber and me wonderingly.

Stacey raised her voice above the smoothie blenders, she pushed her way through the line of customers to see the menu better and two oranges we bought for her (upon her request) disappeared into her shirt with the lighter. She asked me for my earrings and my shoes; she told me I had beautiful eyes. Stacey rolled up her sleeves to show me the names of her four children tattooed on her bicep. Robert, James, Corinne, Gianna — they were taken from her when she became addicted to drugs.

She whispered, “God bless you,” to everyone there. She almost grabbed a smoothie from a woman with an upturned nose. She made two trips outside to check on her cart full of garbage treasures. She explored the restroom.

Smoothie in hand, we walked with Stacey back outside to her cart. Sitting at a nearby table, Amber began to share the Gospel and Stacey’s crisscrossed eyes immediately grew swollen and glassy. She knew. She saw her mess and understood how she was separated from God. She knew it her whole life, but it was not enough to just know it.

“I love drugs,” she told us. “I won’t ever give them up unless I hear God tell me to, and I don’t hear Him telling me anything.”

My heart sank; we joined hands in prayer; I held back tears; a security officer for the shopping center stared at us from a distance.

“Do you love drugs more than God, Stacey?”

She didn’t give me a direct answer.

With a peach smoothie and the perfect amount of change (that Jesus must have intentionally placed in my wallet earlier that week), we were able to send Stacey off to catch a bus.

It was a situation from which I expected to wake up. It was offensive, awkward and uncomfortable, but it was real. It was this sinful world, according to Riverside, California, in all its raw glory — and in a Jamba Juice on a Sunday afternoon, Amber and I had stepped right into the middle of it.

“Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your mother a Hittite. And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.

And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment.

Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.

But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.”

Ezekiel 16:3-7, 10-12, 15

Aren’t we all like Jerusalem? Aren’t we all like Stacey? We wallow in our mess waiting for a Messiah to come rescue us, and when He does, sometimes we choose to whore our blessings and ignore the One who gave us those blessings. Oh, the numerous times I have said, “I love God, but I also love _____.”

I do not share Stacey’s story with you to be a contrarian. I do not share it to get good reactions. I am sharing this because in church on Sunday before I met Stacey, I prayed that God would use stories to strengthen my own faith. In the pews, I saw how stories of redemption, or even heartbreaking stories like Stacey’s, are one of the ways He speaks to my heart and reminds me of His greatness.

Ezekiel 16 is one of my favorite passages, and it never fails to make me cry with the pain of my sin and the power of my God. On Sunday, the Lord presented Jerusalem, sin, the Gospel, Jesus Christ, everything, to me in the package of Stacey and her story — and it sent me spinning.

Stacey also reminded me of the environment I had lived in for the past 4 years. With an extremely high percentage of homelessness in the country, Riverside is a place that has completely shifted my perception. The homeless are not just individuals, but they are individuals with stories and struggles. They are a people group that the Lord is reaching for His glory. Redemption and reconciliation is offered to them, even in their unkempt, unloved state. And we are just like them, our sin is simply hidden beneath our pretty clothes and manicured nails. When our perspective is flat-lined, we are all like Stacey.

Ezekiel 16 shows us how Jerusalem failed to fully recognize God’s mercy, how they took advantage of it and how heartbreaking that is. But the amazing part of the story is that God still sent His son to save them once and for all. Again, not all of them recognized it, but He chose to rescue them anyway.

No, Sunday afternoon did not go as planned for me. It began with a prayer, changed with a Jamba Juice coupon in my wallet and exploded with a woman who was hungry for more than physical nourishment. It was awkward; Amber and I stuttered through the Gospel and through prayer, but it wasn’t about that and it wasn’t about us. It was the Lord choreographing a scene with three broken women and proclaiming His name in that moment. Even though Stacey still clings to her addiction, it was a reminder of His sweet, sweet grace and the fact that He equalizes the playing field for His children. His love is so unpredictable and undeserving. I ask that you would join me in prayer this week for Stacey. I am praying boldly that the Lord would speak loudly in her ear and that He would pour grace upon her to hear His voice. Hey, the Lord is mighty enough to speak even through the fog of drug addiction, let us believe He will do that for Stacey.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:21-23.

*I have changed Stacey’s name and those of her children in an effort to protect their identity.

Spiritual Resolutions for 2016

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When I am home in the Bay Area, morning is my favorite time of the day. My mom’s first-edition espresso machine is so loud it wakes up even our deaf, old dog, Molly. The iPad speaks out the Word of God — this month it’s been Ezekiel, which has been… heavy, to say the least. The cats rub against table legs, flirting for attention. And through the windows, among the trees, mist is rising.

It’s been a cold winter for the Bay Area this year. When I am up early enough, the entire world seems frozen in ice, and if you cross your eyes just right, it looks like snow. The little birdbath freezes over, the old wooden fences reveal all of their crevices and delicate clovers in the front yard are crusted in fine, white crystals.

But then the sun comes out, moving aside the ugly, grey clouds. The frozen landscape starts to melt back to normality with the suns rays and the ice is released into a mist-like breath.

For many at this time of year, the whole New Year’s resolution thing can seem like a fresh time to start over; it get’s us going again to make changes in our life. We arise from our caves of disappointment, laziness or fear and race forward into January, only to get tangled again in the minutia of life.

For me, recently, I’ve been struggling with the idea of change — friends who change, friends who don’t change, the ever-changing scope of my future or even the change I am too lazy to bring about in myself. I’ve almost begun to look toward this new year as quite routine and stagnant. I find myself stuck in the same sin, having the same frustrations of interpersonal relationships, and the grieving tragedies of this world. Everything feels crystalized and hardened as ice.

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But the Son has indeed come out — mist is rising from all over the earth — we are just sometimes blinded to it, or still partially frozen ourselves. Praise God that Jesus is our New Year! He brings such hope. We wait, like little clovers, for His rays to strike our frosted hearts anew. With his light, comes the comfort that He is one who does not change, but can change us.

“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:6-7

Even though He can thaw out my heart, I continually struggle to keep it from freezing over again. This is one reason why the idea of New Year’s resolutions has left me uninspired. I know that I cannot accomplish it on my own, and boy, do I have a bad habit of trying to accomplish tasks without the Lord’s help. How convicting of both my lack of faith and my lazy character! But again, I return to the Lord, and He is faithful. How undeserving is His love for us small, frigid clovers.

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A friend recently told me about Don Whitney’s 10 questions for the New Year. Author of the book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, the Lord has used Whitney to convict me on many levels in the past, but these 10 questions are something else. He goes on to include 21 more — the perfect amount for an entire month of heart-transforming ponderings.

This year, instead of New Year’s resolutions, I am going to process through these questions and be faithful to answer them. I encourage you go through January allowing these questions to thaw your own hearts from whatever you may be struggling with.

Welcome to 2016, ladies! May we be reminded of the Lord’s power this year; may we be faithful in walking with Him daily; may we be women of His love and great faith; may we, like little clovers, transform because of the Son’s presence in our lives.

Are you ready? Here’s day #1: “What is one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?”

Shining a Light on Perspective

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The sun is setting under the ever-expanding clouds. Heaters and fluorescents come to life with the incoming darkness. A pre-lit Christmas tree transforms my little living room from one color to another every few seconds. The warm glow of the porch light snaps on with the rest of the neighborhood; the cool tones of tech screens illuminate my face. My roommate reaches under the nearby lampshade and the room is transformed yet again.

Last week, Andi wrote about the light of Christ. She beautifully weaved in different elements of light from the Bible to illustrate the task we have been given to illuminate the world for His glory. Check it out here!

This is what we seek here at GLOW — to “live as light” in this world. It seems like a very appropriate time to be discussing our ability to glow in the dark, whether contemplating current events around the world, gearing up to do some annual service projects or mentally preparing ourselves to spend the holidays with difficult family members. The light that we shine is crucial. Just as the winter nights grow darker and longer, so this world will grow darker — we are to be the light!

Sitting in my living room during these blustery (for Southern California) evenings, I am enveloped in various sources of light — light is coming at me from various directions. Do I choose scroll through social media? Does the sparkling tree lull me into curling up to watch a Christmas movie? Does the lamp allow me to spend quality time with my roommate?

Different light sources influence our perspective. Warm, cool, bright, dim, secular, Godly, selfish, wise. We are to be the light, but do we receive that light from the Lord 100 percent of the time? There are many “lights” competing for our attention in this world.

For myself, having the last word in an argument can sometimes seem like a good way to “glow” that Christian light to others. But if this is how I am a light, I am not glowing with the light of Christ, but rather the light of religion and selfishness.

It is only through Christ’s light that we are able to see His perspective on all things. I have found His perspective shows me how petty or sidetracked I have become.

Jesus’ light changes our perspective in diverse ways:

By teaching us to claim our transformation as His handiwork

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Through the power of His Word

Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

By dispelling any fear, including fear of recent violence around the world

Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Through teaching us to live as He did

Philippians 2:14-15, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

By filling us with joy at His presence

Matthew 2:10-11, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him.”

As we seek His light and as we be His light this holiday season and this coming new year, may our light source be the one, true God.

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Essence of Time

It is the kind of adorable kitchen where teacups hang from hooked shelves and hot air is pushed up through art-deco vents in the creaking floors. Coffee is hot in a tin cup painted with delicate flowers.

My heads turns and I look out the window into acres that slowly evolve into crags and gray skies. A filly lopes around her mother in the pasture – stretching spindly legs, thrusting hooves into mud.

The quiet is endless.

Crumby remnants of a lemon cake sit in the little refrigerator. Tomorrow, I will be 22.

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I have been savoring Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, for the past few weeks – when I am able to find the time. Now it sits open next to my Bible and tin of coffee.

“Time is only of the essence, because the essence of time is God, I am. This I must consecrate: time.” | Ann Voskamp

I breathe. Time. Where did the time go? Where does it go?

In my heart, “Lauren, time is mine to give. I am giving you time now.”

On this 800-acre ranch in the middle of the Southern California wilderness, I am seeking and finding and consecrating time. A moment separated from university’s own wilderness. A holiday. A moment. A weekend. Fleeting.

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Why do I wish my time away? Why do I rush my time away?

24 possible exposures sit waiting in my Minolta – a thousand in my Canon. Film or digital? Today, I choose film. Today, I choose to carefully frame each moment, to expose them perfectly, to hover over the shutter and… wait. I choose not to wish away each photo that forms itself around me. I slow. I quiet.

And I must continue to wait. Back in the chaos of the city, I am told to be patient. Apparently Southern California has some law against same-day film developing. I must count the time to get my photos back… 3 days, 5, 10. Our impatient society manifests itself in me through dramatic sighs and folded arms.

On campus, texts and emails come in by the minute. Wifi is abundant – not so, the time. I rush from classes to meetings, from meetings to editing, from editing to homework, from homework to bed, and all over again.

Take me back to the ranch. 

Searching, stretching, striving. Now I look for the time again. Where is it hidden in this workaholic’s life?

In illustrated pages of a new journal, I scribble out moments of time for which I am grateful – moments from this weekend at the ranch that made me stop and look a bit closer. Even some moments that are being developed from the film.

Leftover rain dripping from the gutter. A basket of ombre’d eggs in the chicken coop. Diffused light from the window cradling the kitchen. The plane of horse cheekbones warm beneath my hands. Uncontrollable laughter in the pillows with Mama.

Moments, details, beautiful things – they fill time. Time is weighty with potential, but I waste it.

Where is time? It is being devoured by my sin.

Sanctify, redeem, purify my time, Jesus.

When my sin anchors me in bed each morning, may I instead choose to give You time.

God, the time I have is only Yours to give. 

God, give me more time? No, teach me how to utilize time. 

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The Jesus Jar

I am currently in the newsroom surrounded by rough draft magazine spreads and tingling emotions in the air. I am breathing in those emotions and trying my best not to breathe them out on the people around me. This past week has been a black and white, hot and cold, Jesus-filled and Jesus-less week. Our magazine, Pursuit, is behind deadline, two designers decided they wanted to quit, my design editor is sick (on top of the 18 spreads he has to design this weekend), multiple stories had to be rewritten, and I am in the midst of a back-and-forth spiritual struggle.

I am ashamed at how worked up I get over petty circumstances, but I am thankful that God has given me work that I am incredibly passionate about.

I am frustrated with people being… well, people, but I am beyond grateful for the talented people God has placed on my staff.

I am seeing this entire magazine as a worthless burden, but I am astonished by how God uses this imperfect publication, produced by imperfect people, to glorify His name on our campus.

But when I am tempted to give in to the drama and selfishness of the circumstances of my day, I have to stop because all of those worries and selfish desires are folded up and resting inside a little glass jar in the newsroom. This jar is affectionately known as the “Jesus Jar,” and it is a simple illustration that holds me accountable to relinquishing control of my circumstances to the Lord. Once the situation is folded in paper and dropped into the jar, it lands on a multitude of other struggles I once had, and then I cannot retrieve it. Jesus has it.

I am now compelled to also evict these new stresses from my heart and into His.

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Sometimes in those stressful moments, I have to choose what to dwell on and what to stop dwelling on. The Jesus Jar comes in handy for the latter, but help for the former has recently come through the Psalms. Just the immensity of God’s holiness brings perspective and humility into my humanly woes.

“But I trust in you, O Lord;

I say, ‘You are my God.’

My times are in your hand;

Rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!

O Lord, let me not be put to shame,

For I call upon you.

 

 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,

which you have stored up for those who fear you

and worked for those who take refuge in you,

in the sight of the children of mankind!

In the cover of your presence you hide them

From the plots of men;

You store them in your shelter

From the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the Lord,

For he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me

When I was in a besieged city.

I had said in my alarm,

‘I am cut off from your sight.”

But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy

When I cried to you for help.

Love the Lord, all you his saints!

The lord preserves the faithful

But abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

All you who wait for the Lord!” 

Psalm 31:14-16 & 19-24

It is so easy to focus on the bad, and sometimes it is so difficult to see the good. God is the good in our lives, and He is powerful enough to hold the bad of our lives in His hands.

Pursuit will come together. The stories will be rewritten, my design editor will be relieved of his sickness, we will have an amazing photo for the cover, and we will sleep through the entire night once again. There will be a magazine on the distribution stands across campus and rather than a symbol of bitterness, it will be a symbol of the ways God stretched my character, developed my talent, humbled me, and taught me to trust him…

…and with that, I will make yet another visit to the Jesus Jar.

 


About the Author

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLAUREN KOSKI

Well, hello there! My name is Lauren and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. As a senior at California Baptist University and the Editor-in-Chief of the campus magazine, Pursuit, you can find me at anytime reading in a coffee shop or working closely with my fellow editors in the newsroom. I believe in harnessing the media’s influence for the Gospel and believe that storytelling will be a strategic tool used for the growth of His Kingdom. I am excited to be interning with GLOW and look forward to the ways Jesus will use this platform for His glory (stay tuned for more on Tuesday).

The day my teacher said I was weird…

“Hello!”

“Good afternoon!”

“Oh! How are you?”

Her voice is like Disneyland. She meets each student with an individual, sugary greeting while I wait my turn excitedly at the end of the cue of Jr. High geeks.

I just love to look at her. I love the way she has different colored earrings on everyday to match her outfit. I love her adorable smile and the way her cheeks are always balmy. When you tell her something, her body stills, her smile grows serious and her brown eyes begin to sparkle—it’s like you’re the only person in the room. In my awkward mid-pubescent eyes, she is literally like Disneyland, or ice cream… or a puppy.

I step across the threshold into her classroom and smile up at her as she welcomes me, but my usual excitement falters when I see a bright pink nametag on her blouse. It glaringly announces, “I am weird.” Before I know it, she slaps an identical nametag onto my sweater and ushers me into the classroom. What is this?

All around me, my classmates have turned red, started giggling with one-another or have even taken the nametag off and put it on someone else.

Everyone’s nametag also has, “I am weird,” plastered on it in large letters.

Miss Brasuell walks into the room with the last of the children, her face is shining mischievously.

“You are all weird! I am weird!” She exclaims, pointing to her own nametag and giggling despite herself. Wide-eyed pre-teens and those obnoxious neon tags gaze up at her. She’s very amused.

The rest of that day in seventh grade was more impactful than I would ever realize until I was 21 and digging through the remnants of my youth. I kept that nametag in an old shoebox of only my most cherished possessions. It absolutely amazes me that I carried it home and it survived years of a messy teenager’s room. Yes, I am pretty sure it made an imprint on my naive pre-teen heart.

Beautiful Miss Brasuell, who has since become Mrs. Harris, instilled in me the desire to be different, to be unconventional … to be weird. That day, she taught us about what it means to truly follow Jesus. She said it was hard. She said it would cost us. To society, we might look weird for following Jesus. Miss Brasuell was not afraid to tell it to us straight.

Today, only three weeks away from beginning my senior year of college, being weird is something that I have taken comfort in. This summer has been a summer of preparation, networking, prayer and, most of all, processing. Supreme Court decisions, murder, fireballs of anger on social media, poverty, identity shifting, utter national division—in between tears and frustration this summer, I found myself so exhausted with being part of the “different” crowd. But it’s something I have to confidently choose. What kind of adult will I choose to be? How will I react? What will I stand up for? Well, I think I will choose to be weird.

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Like Miss Brasuell so wisely and humorously pointed out, as Christians we are wearing bright neon signs that declare all kinds of ideas to our society. I can guarantee that the majority of the world around us sees “weird” written on our flashing nametags. But I believe that’s okay. We can take comfort in the fact that our Savior was also a living, breathing… well… weirdo! Who was this Jewish hippie walking around with sinners? Being weird goes even farther than just being countercultural. It even means being “counter religious.” While the world may see us as weirdos because of our beliefs, they should be even more appalled when we reach out loving arms to those who disagree with us. This can be so difficult, but it is what Christ did, and still does. He chose some of the most societally unqualified people to continue His work on earth. To the Pharisees, Jesus was nuts. He healed the sick on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 14:1-6), He spoke to Samaritans (John 4:1-45), He turned over the tables in the Temple (Matt. 21: 12-17). He came to level the competition among the so-called “righteous” and “unrighteous.”

And Jesus told us to expect this. While we can pray, speak and serve during times of crisis or moments of injustice around the world, and while I believe that we are here to do just that, should we be surprised when sin and persecution happens? Because we bear Christ’s name and because the world is blinded by the enemy, we are going to stand out as weird, or worse.

John 15:18-19 & 21, “If the world hates you, know that is has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you… But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”

Being weird also doesn’t stop at simply saying it or wearing a neon tag; it must go as far as physically doing something about it. Miss Brasuell told us to continue to wear the nametags to our next class—Physical Education—which meant sticking the nametag on our PE shirts and Coach Shaffer giving us a funny look when we walked into the gym. This lesson from Miss Brasuell was something that she didn’t want us to leave at the door when we left Bible class. I am sure she prayed that it would stick to us, literally, and transform the way our little hearts viewed Jesus. And that, I believe, is the most beautiful part about our nametags—it is a symbol of who we belong to. Jesus has claimed us as His own.

So in this present age, when the enemy seems to be winning and when you feel overwhelmed by the amount of prayer requests that weigh heavy on your heart, be encouraged because you are weird! The moment we surrender our lives to the one true God and allow Him to transform us, a fat neon pink nametag is slapped onto our foreheads for the world to see. Society knows what that nametag stands for, but it’s up to us to decide what it will say to them.

1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

 


 

About the Author

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLauren Koski

Well, hello there! My name is Lauren and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. As a senior at California Baptist University and the Editor-in-Chief of the campus magazine, Pursuit, you can find me at anytime reading in a coffee shop or working closely with my fellow editors in the newsroom. I believe in harnessing the media’s influence for the Gospel and believe that storytelling will be a strategic tool used for the growth of His Kingdom. I am excited to be interning with GLOW and look forward to the ways Jesus will use this platform for His glory (stay tuned for more on Tuesday).