March 17, 2009

it's really happening.
i've wondered quite a few times in the past couple of months how many people get to experience this.

love, awakened.

in the fullness of time.

with the person who is, quite simply, the missing puzzle piece. the one that fits perfectly. you don't have to pound the piece in. you don't have to wonder why it seems to fit, but the colors and lines don't match up. it just works, and has that satisfying feel and sound of... well... FITTING.

i don't really see anything in scripture that could really support the idea of there being one and only one person that is The One. this is still a choice.

BUT, i DO find it very suspicious that prayers i prayed ten years ago regarding a mate, and little qualities that i never even mentioned to You over the years (for i thought they were too unimportant to pray for) are now coming to pass and manifest in this man. i have quickly come to the conclusion that i could not imagine someone more right for me. nothing needs to change for this to be right.

and, one of the things that really GETS me about all of this, is the perfect timing of it all. You have been working out issues and character in both of us that, had we met a year ago, it probably would not have worked... or, at least, not nearly as smoothly.

i am so thankful that the foundation of love for Jesus had been laid for both of us separately. now we just build on a foundation already laid.

i am so moved by Your kindness towards me. You are such a good Daddy.

February 24, 2009

my dear readers...
unfortunately, there is simply not enough time in the day for me to catch you up on all of the exciting details of what is already and i believe will continue to be the best story of my life. it isn't for lack of love. it's for lack of time.

hopefully i can give you some fun little tidbits here and there. BUT, i AM writing it all down. just not here. maybe you'll be able to read this fabulous love story in print someday.

what i WILL say right now is that it is all so GOOD. i've never met such an amazing man as i see in Stuart. i've never met anyone, let alone a man, with whom i have so much in common, and yet am so different from in personality. who would have ever thought that i would have found a man who:

1) gets as excited as i do about bourbon chicken at the cajun restaurant in the food court?

2) pledges his undying love for the state of Texas?

3) loves to talk for hours about the seals and trumpet judgments in the book of Revelation?

i mean, seriously. it's perfect.

January 27, 2009

it begins.
so this is turning out to be quite the story.

allow me to explain.

the weekend before the elections, i felt the Lord impress on my heart very strongly that i was supposed to go to the Prayer Furnace for sunday morning service. i hadn't been there on a sunday morning in YEARS, so this seemed like a bit of an odd thing to do, but I was excited about it nonetheless. i was sure that something exciting was going to happen.

so, i hauled my way to the city that morning in november. the message was great, and my friend angela was there, which was an unexpected surprise. i had a great time, but nothing stood out to me that morning as being the Reason why the Lord instructed me to go. i was a little perplexed. on the way out, i was talking to this dude and his wife, and they were asking me where i lived. when they found out i lived in mundelein, they were surprised and asked me if i knew the Barkules, this couple who live near me who host a wednesday night young adult church at their home every week. i had heard their name tossed around a few times, as we've had people come into Torch who go to their deal, but i'd never met them, and i didn't really know anything about them. anyway, the couple said i should go to the Barkules' sometime and check it out. i smiled and nodded, thinking to myself that my schedule was just too busy to do such a thing.

so i'm driving the 35 miles back to my home. i miss the I-94 and Hwy 41 split, and end up taking 41 (read: the longer way) back to my neck of the woods. when i'm about 10 minutes from home, i notice that on rt. 60 in vernon hills, there is a new Corner Bakery. i LOVE Corner Bakery. i spontaneously decided to stop there for lunch on the way back.

i'm standing in line to order, and i see this teenager walk in front of me who is wearing a Onething conference hoodie. two people that looked to be his parents were right behind him, and they both had shirts on that seemed like they might have been from IHOP. i thought this was very interesting. not something you see every day in the suburbs of chicago.

so, i did what any normal person would do. once i was done ordering my food, i followed them.

turns out this family was sitting at a table with about 15 other people. i awkwardly started conversation with them and said that i had noticed their clothing being from IHOP, and wondered where they went to church.

they said, "oh, yeah. we try to go to Onething every year. we go to a house church around here."

"really," i said, "which one?"

"oh, it's this couple... their last name is Barkules. they are sitting down at the end of the table. you should meet them!"


RECAP. 45 minutes earlier, i was in the heart of Chicago proper, and someone asked me if i had ever met the Barkules. i drive home, and through a strange series of driving mistakes and hooded sweatshirts, i run into the Barkules randomly at Corner Bakery.

tell me that isn't God.

so, i share this story with the Barkules at their table in Corner Bakery, and they hug me and we smile and agree that this is probably the Lord. they invite me to come on Wednesday night, so i do. the house group was a ton of fun, and many of the people there are nuts about You, which makes me feel at home.

during the service the first night, i end up seated next to this guy. i was sitting on a chair, and he was on the floor, so for awhile i didn't see his face. i remember seeing his Bible before i ever saw him. it was all written in and marked up, which i always think is pretty awesome. it's not too often that you find people who devour their Bibles.

at some point in the night, i saw this guy's face. daaaaaaang. let the reader understand, there are not too many dudes that turn my head. i don't know what it is... as much as i can acknowledge that a guy is good-looking, i just haven't been attracted to anyone new in a very long time. i think i've just fallen so in love with Jesus, that a handsome guy is a dime a dozen.

but this one, he was different. i saw his face, and my first reaction was embarrassment. i was EMBARRASSED that he was so ridiculously good-looking. i couldn't look at him without smiling, and i figured that was waaay too obvious for having just met him. so, as we were worshiping, i just avoided making eye contact with him, though admittedly i did observe him a little when he wasn't looking in my direction. what a killer smile. daaaaang.

he introduced himself later to me as Stuart.

thus begins our story.

January 13, 2009

the sweetness.
life is mostly joyful right now.

i always get a little suspicious when things are fantastic, because i know You promise that in this age we will have trouble. and though i'm not really too fond of surprise trials, i find that in the trouble, there is a sweetness of Your presence that is of a different caliber than when life is peachy.

BUT, i have to say... life is pretty sweet.

yes, there is a man. he's pretty much incredible.

that's all for now.

December 13, 2008

stephie is stuffy.
i am fighting a cold. i am quite stuffy. no no, cold, you will NOT win. my immune system will conquer you before you fully develop. take that.

i am only six days away from holiday freedom. i will journey back to the great states of iowa, nebraska, and missouri, though not necessarily great in that order. i know i was just away for thanksgiving, but i am really looking forward to some more time.

i've been feeling a little overwhelmed these past few weeks. i'm conflicted about work. in my heart, i am longing to be in ministry. i feel like i come alive in a greater way when i'm sharing the gospel with strangers, or doing personal ministry with people. i want to teach, i want to preach. i want to write music. most of all, i want to sit in a prayer room and meditate on the Word. i feel as though i barely know You, and i long for deeper communion.

though my non-Starbucks job gets lauded as being a very noble and selfless endeavor, i feel like a lot of the work i am doing there is producing no eternal fruit, and so therefore it feels pointless to me, and it is hard to be motivated. serving coffee may seem to be in the same category of vanity, but there is actually something quite fulfilling about working at my Starbucks. there are so many relationships built behind and across the counter... so many opportunities for people to open up. i've thought for several years now that my job at the Bucks is the Lord's prophetic poetry... that part of my life commission is to help wake people up, believers and non-believers alike. i like that.

so... i don't really know what the point is here... just to say that i'm longing for some change. i sense in my heart that there will be more clarity as we go to Onething. i think what i want most is just to be wholehearted in my love for Jesus. i just want to be all Yours. You are mine, and i am Yours. i want this to be true in the fullest possible sense. i don't feel as though it is right now, but i want it to be. i want You to own me.

one thing i've been praying for recently is just a greater revelation of the cross and of Jesus as Judge. i think in the days to come, these two things are going to become crucial for us to really have in our hearts, Beloved. i have often, in the way i've thought and spoken of the Lord, neglected to give due attention to part of His character. i think and speak mostly of His gentleness, kindness, and love, but i've been sobered recently by the other side of Him. He is fierce, He is HOLY, He hates sin, He is just. these are all wrapped up in His great love, to be sure, but they are not comfortable. He is not like us. if i will preach of Jesus, i must preach both the Jesus in white, who is beautiful and gentle; and the Jesus in the blood-soaked robe, having trampled on His enemies (Isaiah 63).

i want to accept all of You, Jesus. i do not want to be ignorant and believe only what is comfortable and easy to understand. please, give me Truth in my innermost places.

November 02, 2008

October 19, 2008

the problem with men (probably not what you think).
so i slept for about twelve hours last night. it was glorious. i think i had many dreams, and i remember some faces that appeared, but no plot lines. i really haven't had much luck remembering many dreams the past four months or so, and i'm not sure why... is it that i am not as expectant for You to speak to me through them? or just that i perceive You speaking in so many other ways, that for me to have as many vivid dreams as i used to would just be sensory overload? i know not... i do miss it, though. remind me to start asking more fervently.

i met up with Steve Yi (read: Mister Yi, a.k.a. "mystery"= hilarious!) for a shake on Friday after work, and we unexpectedly landed deep in a conversation about why there is such a disproportionate number of fiery women to fiery men in the church. for the sake of this conversation, "fiery" will mean "totally in love with and seeking to be fully surrendered to Jesus."

the stark reality is, at least in pretty much every place i've been, there are significantly more fiery women than there are men. i certainly have noticed this, and pondered over it mostly because i realize that it makes it quite difficult for fiery women who desire to be married. what the rest of the population calls a "nice Christian man" just doesn't really cut it. if we would be married, we need men that maybe look a little bit crazy to the rest of the world because they don't really give a rip about what people think of them. a fiery man, first and foremost, answers to God. from the Living God comes his identity and his success.

Steve brought this up in our conversation. he said he felt sorry for me (us fiery women), because we have so few men to choose from, and expressed grief over the internal state of christian men (at least, in our small spheres of influence). this caused some emotion to well up in me, as i briefly flipped through the mental pages of my relationship history, and realized that this issue is probably the Number One area of conflict that has ended all of my relationships or potential relationships, whether i wanted it to or not. it's not that the men i've known haven't been great-- it's that most, if not all of them, have no idea how great they are called to be. most of their dreams and ambitions are not grounded in eternity, but rather temporal-ness. their greatness is much bigger than their earthly position or success in this age, but they do not perceive this. therefore, without transformation in the heart, they will struggle all their lives to make themselves important in a way opposite of what Jesus said would make them great: humility. as it is said:

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. ~ Matthew 20:26-27

back to our conversation. Steve and i started brainstorming about what the root/s of this problem is/are, and possible solutions. we came up with a few ideas.

in Ephesians 5, Paul says that marriage between a man and woman is supposed to be a temporary picture of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, us (the church). in a marriage relationship, the husband is to love his wife "as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her..." in effect, the husband represents Jesus in a marriage. as he loves his wife with the same love Jesus has for the church, she becomes more sanctified (more like Jesus). it is in the heart of God that marriage in this age would be a means of preparing us for the next, making us more and more like Himself. there is a great sense in which a woman is to experience the love of Jesus through her husband.

but, if the man does not truly know and live in the reality of the love of Jesus, he cannot love a woman this way, and then the beautiful illustration breaks down. so, it seems quite obvious to me (and to Steve) that it would be high on the priority list of the enemy to deceive men about their identity and purpose so as to destroy the very image of Jesus in the family, which ultimately brings much deception to the church at large about the character of God.

so... having this in mind... we think it's possible that the root (or one of them, anyways) of this problem is fear. because, in their hearts, men believe the lie that their identity and value are determined by something/someone other than the unchanging God, they fear rejection. they fear intimacy. they fear commitment. they fear failure. all of these are sides of the same dice. and it seems as though many men live reacting to these fears, instead of living responding to the love of God. when he fears rejection, a man often responds with pride, to cover over the fear. anger, pride, ambition, selfishness, even lust... i think all of these could be manifestations of fear.

so... solutions? well, i don't have a ton of time to write about it now, but a couple quick thoughts. as it is written: "perfect love casts out fear." you cannot purge yourself of fear in your own strength... really, you have to posture yourself to receive the love of God, which basically means spending time with Him; talking with Him, listening to Him, and getting the truth of His Word in your heart. the more you are aware of His presence and love for you, the less room there is for fear. it would probably save us tons of money and time in counseling if we would give ourselves to spending time with God.

so, these are some thoughts. anyone want to contribute? i would especially be interested to hear from you precious believing brothers...