The Empathy in You

How do you help me?
You can’t help?
No “woe is me”,
Just please don’t spit upon me sympathy.
“You’re okay”, “but at least..” you say
That my feelings aren’t real
And my pain should lay
Quiet until you’re gone.

Empathize and join me in the pit,
Down here ain’t no room for sympathy spit.
I’m real. You’re real. We’re human and pain is a thing.
Sometimes supposed sayings of comfort leave less of a calm and more of a sting.
So tell me my feelings are valid and present,
Connect with me via a feeling in you that understood my vent.
I’ll remind you of my hope in Jesus and you’ll realize all along
That empathy does not endorse self pity but sings a prophetic song.

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Rise and Wonder

Proud of my early rising; the first body in the house to stir.
The morning sunshine is my daily splash of cold water—invigorating and awaking body, soul and mind for the day.

So I venture out for my walk.
My path, usually tread by running feet of mine, is an ugly beat up gravel road beside a ditch holding garbage treasures.
But in the early day, it’s a glorious auditorium facing the stage of the sunrise.

My morning tradition of oil-pulling restricts my lips from uttering a word or singing a note, though my head is filled with thoughts and my heart with a song.
Perhaps silence is the best symphony.

Halfway down my road I perch beneath a tree, the only one of its kind.
Leaning on a branch, I gaze into the growing daylight.

I think of a somebody… Maybe two. I think of my Jesus. What do each of these mean to me? How have I shown them so?

This poetic wording of sorts begins forming in my head. I reach for that electric device we entrust to capture our lives, finding it to be still at home asleep…

Feelings of gratitude and disappointment wash over. Will my memory do its job and cling to these words in my head for me? It’s been as a slacking, lazy employee lately and I’m afraid I’ve been the overbearing, impatient employer…
Unwilling to teach and repair, willing to implode.

I look forward. Shall my walk finish the running route?

I look back. Dreaming has a time limit. It’s time to return and face my day.

Loveliness captures my eyes so I stop to take it for myself. The golden petaled stems stick to my fingers like sap, as if to punish me for breaking them from their root of life.

I move on only to swoop low for some lavender. Pick and sniff, only to be greeted by a pungent odor. Lavender ’twas not. Punished yet again.

I suppose some forms of beauty were not meant to be mobile.

Home I continued… Releasing my mouth to speak and choosing silence as the better option. Perhaps such a choice would reserve my words and thoughts for paper and pen such as this goes.

Thus begins another day of living with the potential of being worthy of ink at the end.

-Amelia MaySun

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Stranger in the City

City blues.Travel far and wide,

Can’t pick all the cues.

I come to explore you,

I intend to find out,

Who and what 

You are all about.

Dynamics and diversity,

They rage and range.

I’m sensing new in this place,

Many others feel strange.

For they’ve come from a land

With far greater gap

In culture, weather, and aptitude

Than from where I fall on the map.

Semi-stranger me 

meeting fully-stranger they,

At the end of the day we’re each humans

Needing acceptance and support day by day.

#arriveministries #worldrelief #refugees #welcomethestranger #lovethestranger #wearethestranger 


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Unspeakable joy spilling from see-able places.
Water, land, and sky flood in through my eyes,
Trickling  down into the depths of my heart.

In this place my mind is bypassed.
How could a human brain comprehend this joy anyway?

There is a catalyst in my soul,
A distinct key.
Observing the beauty and mystery
Of the Artist’s glories simply betrays me
To unspeakable,
Who knows from whence it came,


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The Parable of the Trees

“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a true confession of their character” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve only lived on this earth for 22 years. That used to sound like such an old age. When I was a teenager I had expected to have found a spouse and figured out my long time pursuit in life by the time I was this age. I wasn’t opposed to have already been living that adult life that I watched my parents live by age 22. But here I am and with every day passing it occurs to me how truly young I actually am.

It seems to me I’ve met quite a wide variety of people in these 22 years, but that variety just continues to increase and as I get to know a vaster and vaster array of peoples, my perspective of the world continues to shift. Sure, I have filters in what I absorb and pillars that I hold to that not everyone agrees with, but I find it so immeasurably important to absorb at least one thing about this life here on earth from each individual that I have the privilege of getting to know. And on occasion, you may find an individual on your path whose story and experience is extremely different from your own. The temptation is to walk away and commune solely with those who share more commonalities with yourself, but there can be something very beneficial to coming alongside an individual with such difference.

So let me tell you a story. There were once two trees in an orchard—two very different trees. An olive tree and a lemon tree. These trees couldn’t grow within the same environment; they needed different kinds of care, different kinds of watering. Their growth season was different, their harvest season was different. In fact, the same workers couldn’t care for and harvest the fruit from both the trees because their individual needs were very different. There were few things that made sense about their placement in the same orchard.

The olive tree and lemon tree both saw the benefits of warmth and the consequences of frost, but the lemon tree needed much more sun exposure than the olive. The lemon tree expected a completely different bounty from the olive tree and at very different production rates. And there was a specific reason why each of these trees were so consumed by the ways they were cared for and what fruit they produced. Their tree peers hardly counted the gainstwo-trees-at-hill-72 and losses of their environment and care because they figured what was going to come would come and they knew their main uses. The olive trees would be harvested and used mostly for delicious eating and the production of olive oil. The lemon tree would be used for consumption of lemons in the grocery stores or often extracted for cleaning product. But the two special trees were on a mission and they were able to stay grounded in the same orchard because of it. While each tree knew their fruit wouldn’t go to waste- they shared a passion, a strong desire to see their fruit used for something greater. They both wanted the fruit specifically harvested from their tree to end up producing an expensive incense—a beautifully refined and delightful incense that was only used on the finest of occasions and bought by wealthy individuals. They knew that their fruit alone couldn’t make this incense but, if the trees could produce some of the best of the best fruit, it could contribute to this rare delicacy.

It wasn’t easy to produce the best fruit. The utmost sacrifice and intentionality had to be poured into the trees. The environment was never perfect and sacrifice was required from the other trees and the workers as well to accomplish this mission. Growing side by side had its give and take for each tree—they could have been uprooted and placed in their perfect growing environment, but they knew that the challenge of growing alongside each other just increased each tree’s stamina and with time their fruit became better and better.

It certainly didn’t take one or a couple seasons to produce fruit of this quality; no, it took seasons upon seasons of sacrifice and growing pains to produce such a fruit, but their unified mission drove these trees to success. Their fruits would never merge into one product—it would make very different incenses, affecting different individuals and attracting different consumers. Though this was all foreseeable, the trees opted for the time being to endure their locational challenges. One tree thrived during some seasons while the other felt the pain; other seasons proved to be a fruit-bearing year for one tree while the other tree had barely any fruit extracted. Some things just could not be helped, but those two very different trees knew they were learning a lot from watching how the other thrived and failed and eventually bore fruit and they were determined to see each other accomplish their specific mission.

In this life, I find it is far too easy to sidestep the challenges of growing alongside those individuals who constantly challenge your perspective, the way you think, how you see the world and how you react to various circumstances in life. It’s completely appealing to hang around those who will affirm you, agree with you and admire you more often than not. Every now and again in life you’ll find a curveball of a relationship has been thrown. There are options. You can choose to dodge it and risk a strike out or you can take your best swing.

A dear word to my fellow millennials—We are young and while we often embrace the risks and adventures of life in this phase of life more than any other, I believe we tend to embrace those risks and adventures within our comfort zones—as contradictory as that may sound. Start the class you think you’ll fail. Befriend the person that weirds you out. Try your hand at an art you’ve never explored. Stick it out if you’re used to quitting early or give yourself a break if you’re the one that never rests.  I highly encourage us to look beyond and find those opportunities the Lord has waiting to grow and stretch and teach us at our young, moldable age.


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Three and a half months in and I am still in constant learning mode when it comes to my work with beloved refugees in the Sacramento area. Within the agency they’ve been called “clients”, “refugees”, “immigrants”, etc….but I prefer to call them brothers and sisters. You might find this hard to believe, but even with each paper signed, each check written and each checklist filled out, relationship grows with these folks. I tell my friends and mentors all the time how much it amazes me that any form of authentic relationship could possibly be developed with those whose case files I handle. I’m their advocate, their counselor, their resources hub, but their friend? That is the work of the Lord.

Half these folks I speak of do not speak English. One hundred percent of them have lived in my culture, at most, for 3 months. Thank God I have darker hair and complexion or I might shock their kiddos more than the site of me already does. But these are my friends. We eat together, talk together, learn together, laugh together, sit in silence together. If that’s not friendship, what is?

One of my dearest family friends is a couple who is expecting their first baby girl this next week! This beautiful couple has embraced me as a sister in the most loving way possible and I can’t believe that after only 3 months I am just dying to meet their new baby girl and hold her. It’s as if one of my own sisters is having a baby and I’m becoming an Auntie! So excited for the time I’ve spent with this couple, soon to be trio, and excited for the time that’s yet to come. We thank God together for things and I get to express my love and loyalty to Isa Al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah)— a prophet to them, a savior to me. L

If any of you have ever had friends amongst the Muslim community, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Inshallah”. This Arabic phrase, in English, means “If Allah wills”, or “If God wills”. Many time they will tell me “Yes, Emily, I’ll be back at the apartment by [this time], Inshallah”. Perhaps it seems silly or just simply traditional to some of you, but I had to think about this. They are acknowledging every turn, every action of their life to be in the hands of God. If not already a wonderful demonstration of faith, is it not at least a good reminder of the sovereignty of God?

James 4:15 says, “…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or do that.’ “

There are things I learn from my dear Muslim brothers and sisters. There is a measure of respect and belief in God that sometimes I find lacking in my own life, even.

I encourage anyone who may read this post to reach out of their bubble and into the life of another whose worldviews or ethnicity you don’t share. There are many things to be learned from such relationships.

Until next time, dear friends, Inshallah.

Amelia MaySun


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Past, Present, Future.

That moment when the past is suddenly related to the present. I won’t call myself prophetic by any means, but I do love to put on display the things God was doing with me 6 months ago that I couldn’t connect to anything related to my life—until now.

In April 2014, one month prior to graduation from WJU, I was sitting in the local park having some quiet time of reflection and listening. I kept hearing the word “sojourning” in my heart. There had been a measure of people speaking it directly to me combined with an attentiveness in my moment of listening that spurred my writing of one large metaphor.

It occurred to me that day that the life followers of Jesus are called to is very reflective of a sojourner’s lifestyle. That’s not to say that Jesus followers are all called to the mobile, gypsy life or can’t be planted in one physical place for a lengthy time, but it’s more to say that there’s an element of realizing this physical world–the here and now– is not our ultimate home; it’s not our ending up. Our physical life is just a journey through seasons, trials, joys, healthy and unhealthy relationships and everything in between. But the way I could grasp this best was by the thought of what an actual sojourner (traveler)’s life would look like.
[See here: ]

One of the Afghan ladies and her daughter--2 out of a 6 person family we resettled in Sacramento.

One of the Afghan ladies and her daughter–2 out of a 6 person family we resettled in Sacramento.

What I did not know when I wrote this was where I’d be in 6 months from then. I had no idea I would have the privilege to come alongside actual physical sojourners–refugees–as they settle in a new land and a new season of life. There’s an amazing connection with them because I strongly believe I will be in their shoes someday–standing in a foreign land with a language barrier, feeling out of place, and with so much less to my name than I had in my own country. That proverb: Do unto others as you would have them do to you— it’s never felt so concrete as it does now. I doubt I’ll be a refugee, but I will be a sojourner and I will go through frustrations and culture shock and struggle hard to learn the language just so I can function on the baseline level in society.

Now I say all this and I can’t say I’ve heard the audible voice of God speak this over my life, but it seems like every time that concept begins to fade away in my mind, something arouses it back to life.

This past weekend I received one of those little reminders.

My extroverted side collaborated with my fiscally-sensitive side and decided I would bounce from one friend’s house to the next in order to save money on gas and cram all my needed social activities into one four-day time span. I think I ended up seeing 7 different friends over 100-something hours. And for those of you who have done that, you know that you’re never going to be fully satisfied with what you pack or where you sleep. There’s always something lacking somehow. The tiniest taste of this “lifestyle” reminded me that it’s okay to get away from my comforts, that humbly asking for meals or soap or borrowed clothes from friends is necessary, that I’m not going to get the best sleep or get to eat within my diet limits. It’s time to be flexible, humble, grateful and full of joy apart from circumstances–that’s just how one must thrive in that scenario.

At the end of it all I realized this was yet another small taste of the less-than-comfortable life I await in the future. I cannot wait to have the privilege to walk in faith–letting the Father lead me from season to season or dwelling place to dwelling place. Delightful will be the day that the Lord teaches me how to live with the bare minimum or at least start from that point in a foreign place where the sojourner mindset is the only attitude I know I must adopt.

By the way, shout out to my brothers and sisters in Christ–we are called to LOVE THE SOJOURNER:

Deuteronomy 10:19

19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Blessings upon your days ahead,

Amelia MaySun


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Capacity for Culture

I believe we all have more capacity for culture than we dare to believe.

…or dare to notice.

It’s that moment that we want to greet a stranger in their native tongue just because we know how to say “hello” in what we’re guessing is their language.

It’s those wandering thoughts that imagine what it’d be like to belong to a different ethnic community other than your own.

It’s the normalcy of seeing various skin colors, hearing multilingual conversations, smelling identifying fragrances and odors all around us and being used to it because the state of your city is diverse.

These are all proofs of the capacity we have, but don’t these observations and thoughts get kept to ourselves most of the time? What if one day you actually boldly greeted a stranger in a different language… What if you intentionally moved to another neighborhood where you were the minority…What if you asked someone what language they were speaking, complimented their clothes or asked them what they were cooking. What if…

Have you ever thought about the benefit that boldness, that intentional move would entail? A new friend? New knowledge? Grown empathy? New questions to wrestle with in your mind?

Get out of your comfort zone and embrace the natural capacity you have for culture.20141020_185736

God did not design humans to cling to their definitions of normal, nor their self-created boundaries, nor their own personal theology, but to cling to each other. And “each other” stretches far beyond your own religious community, your own race, your own political party, your own economic status. Dismiss your social stigmas by first asking yourself what your stigmas are. Who, what, or where are you subconsciously sidestepping with the excuse that you don’t have the gifting, the desire, or the capacity to embrace other cultures.

Ask someone this week what they believe about God, how they feel about the immigration issue, what their story is. And maybe, in return, they will have the opportunity to reach back out and ask you the same thing. What a blessing.
Or maybe, in return, you will begin to learn more about another human being, another culture, and perhaps become an advocate for them or their community in some way shape or form. Jesus stepped off His throne in Heaven and embraced humans here on earth, becoming an advocate for us to God. Why shouldn’t we humbly do the same?

Shaw Bakhir,

Amelia MaySun


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New Year’s Revelation

Well hello there blogging world! Long time, no type.

I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions. They sometimes strike me as the annoying little kid that is constantly nagging at their older sibling, begging for trouble, begging for frustration and exasperation to appear on the scene. At least for me, it’s just a great set up for failure and besides, what’s so magical about January 1st?

But while I don’t believe in resolutions, I do believe in revelations. You know, those mini “ah-ha” moments that come out of the woodwork. They’re much more satisfying to follow through with than resolutions because they typically stem from a heart’s desire and are backed by motivation and passion…or at least some conviction.

So here’s to a recent revelation of mine that desires to write more and talk less. I recently wrote in my journal, “I haven’t much to say at the moment. Most of my thoughts have been dispersed by way of random written words, spoken thoughts, and prayers”. I’ve discovered it takes energy to come back around into mind-engagement after a long work day and pound out some published words, but I want to do it.

2015 is going to be grand. And by grand, I am making no claim that it will be great by worldly standards. I don’t anticipate it being pain-free, smooth-flowing and full of satisfaction and inspiration. It could be, but by “grand”, I’m saying I know there will be growth—growth of character, growth of love, growth of wisdom. 2014 had more struggles than any other year of my life thus far, but it also contained some of the most growth, and for that I am thankful.

I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do with me this year. This is my first year since I was four years old of being without a saturated school schedule. I’m already feeling the joys and pains of a full time work life where summer is no longer coming to rescue me…IMG_20140621_132246

So here we go, life could speed by quickly if I’m not careful. I have to resist becoming narrow-minded and living a one-plot life. I must stay aware of and grateful for everything all around that the Lord is conducting. And I must trust He is integrating me into His plan–even in those moments that life feels mundane.

May all blessings flow to the smorgasbord of readers that make a pit-stop on this little site.
Culture remains a huge part of my life and my job and I’m delighted to expand on that in the near future!

Sula Bulungi, Familia!

Amelia MaySun
(P.S.- that’s my new pen name)

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Dreaming Convictions

Last night I had a dream that we were living in the last days on earth. I knew it was so because there was war, chaos, and persecution. I knew we were still in America because I was surrounded by all my fellow Christian friends. We were hiding. People were missing. Families were separated. America had finally become unsafe.

In the dream, I found myself upset…less upset at what was going on and ore at the fact that I knew I wasn’t going to get to live out a lovely life. I probably wasn’t going to fall in love, have a family or a defined career path or ministry. I had become an outsider in this world as a follower of Christ, and here I was pitying myself.

It occurred to me in the dream that I had the wrong heart attitude, but it wasn’t easy for me to make a change, feeling blessed, as I should, that I was chosen to likely be a martyr for the gospel.

My pastor was amongst our hideout group and he was going around asking people what they were most concerned about in the moment and if their hearts were right with the Lord. He asked me the questions I was already wrestling with and asked me to relay the questions to more individuals.

Wow. It was so convicting.

Even though we are yet to be in an age of physical violence and chaos, spiritual warfare is on the uprising and the Day is indeed drawing near, as Hebrews 10:25 says. “So where are your priorities?”, I believe the Lord is asking. Do I have expectations set for my life that are unaligned or beyond the Lord’s simple calling? Do I meditate on my relationships, talents, usefulness, or job before I meditate on my relationship with the Lord? Do I seek knowledge through books before I seek to know the Lord through His Holy Word?

I must be so cautious of these things, ever more as I see the Day approaching.

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Being Me

I’m the weirdo.
I’m the oddball that likes to step outside my comfort zone and take risks.
I’m that way half because of who I am and half because of the presence of people in my life who encouraged me to step out in faith.
I see it in a positive  light…this whole stepping out thing. Sometimes I step into a pile of poo, sometimes I find myself standing on cloud nine, other times I’m simply standing on a stepping stone–it wasn’t as big of a deal as I anticipated. Either way, I’ve grown through stepping.

I want to see others in my life grow too, so I encouraged them to take those faith steps…even if they’re tiny. However, many times, my encouragement of this stepping is labeled “being pushy”…a phrase that’s been a humbling reminder of my imperfection for a good chunk of my life.

Something I thought was positive turned negative and I find myself pondering: “Where did I go wrong?”

I wrote this exert in a book cover the other day and, being a blogger, a few titles came to mind as I closed up this series of thoughts with an open ended question.

I experience my fair amount of frustration by simply living my life…by being who I am. Since we all have flaws, I figure everyone experiences this sort of frustration now and again. So this whole “I’m the oddball” feeling expressed on paper made me think of a title for my little exposition.

“Being Emily”… an exert written and ended with some self-pitying, “whoa is me” question. I can throw a great variety of parties, but I’d rather not practice my skills in the pity party department.

So I thought to myself… “how can these thoughts of mine exemplifying frustration and confusion become a positive aspect?”
The real question is…”why don’t I ask myself this question every time I feel a less-than-joyful emotion?”

“The Redeemed Me”… my blogger mind created a new title.  WHAT IF… What if I asked myself how the Lord can redeem each and every misunderstanding I experience, insecurity I feel, ingenuity I see, and every frustration that weighs me down? I know for a fact that He can; am I recognizing His ability to do so and subjecting myself to that positivity?

I’ve always wanted to write a book….maybe I found my title.  What do you think? I guess I’ll ponder that one for a while….
In the mean time, let me share a great quote from Dan Kimball. It applied to my little exert and maybe it will be a small lift for your day too!

“Not all perceptions about us are correct, but just because they’re not correct doesn’t mean there aren’t good reasons we are seen the way we are.” -Kimball

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Sometimes I wonder…
When should one begin to accept rejection in its most deceitful, underlying forms?
When does one stop hoping for a particular something that seems never to happen,
shrugging their shoulders saying, “Well, I guess it wasn’t supposed to happen that way”?
And when should one just just stop dreaming too big,
wishing too often,
anticipating too much,
hoping so fervently?
Is there a point in each individual circumstance in which one should draw the lines for themselves
and maturely announce,”Now, that’s enough.”?
Do these lines exist?
If they do, should they?
Who is to say anyway?
I say.
Only I have say over the existence of these lines in my life.

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A Universal Word

So this blog has its name for a reason. “Capacity for Culture”. The mindset and heart that came up with that name is truly a different one than the one that writes today.

To me, at this point in my little life, capacity for culture means keeping my arms and heart open to all which has developed and is developing around me, no matter what soil I am standing on. “Keeping open”–not to say I’m accepting of all, approving of all, tolerant of all, but to say that I’m loving of the potential that sovereign God has placed in all. “Keeping open” to say that my mind can’t possibly wrap around the infinite web of ways that God pulls out the potential in all of His creation.

Today was our 6th Birthday at Origin Church. Whoohoo! Happy Birthday Origin!! We had quite the celebration. There are loads of  beauty, freedom, joy and excitement that comes with audible worship to God. Tears came to my eyes this morning when I closed them and listened to so many voices sing the words “Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen” from the song City Harmonic. What I heard was volume and not everyone right on pitch or on rhythm and it was beautiful, because what i saw behind my closed eyes was a Christ follower from every different country and tribe in this world all being able to sing that one word, “Amen”, together.

“We will be a people free from sin; We’ll be free, a Kingdom with no end”

On this, all believers in the body of Christ, agree and sing “we agree, we agree, we agree, we agree” all together.

I’m not normally one to fantasize, but in that moment, I could see myself anywhere in the world with Christian brothers and sisters and it was the most glorious thing. Do you think I was seeing apart of what God’s Kingdom here on earth will be like?

All that to say…. Unity. Culture can be divisive; that’s why I value it so much. Because while the entrancing, lovely qualities of culture remain as such, somehow, in the largest and the smallest ways, it can make us feel categorized–like we have limits on us. The unity of the body of Christ and the power of God transcends all culture, though, and redeems it, so that the beauty in difference shines through and the barriers are no longer. And in that kind of phenomena that we see happen here in our lives on earth, all can look upon it, be told it was nothing that they accomplished and joyfully express agreement: “Amen!”

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Freedom or Lack Thereof

There’s this luxurious place I can go in the mornings before it’s terribly hot outside. It’s outdoors,  at the back side of my house. I go out the side door and sit in an aged picnic chair positioned right in the morning sunshine with a short brick wall in front of me for my feet to rest upon. It’s a small back yard, but it never seems quite so tiny because when my back is facing the house, I cast my eyes forward not on a wooden fence, but on a golf course. With nothing but an almost invisible cyclone fence between the brim of my backyard and the edge of the course, it seems I could get up, walk forward and never stop walking.

I’ve never known it these 21 years of living in this house, but facing the backyard “fence” is one of the most freeing places I can be while still confined by minimal suburban property lines. One of the best features of my morning perch is that I feel I can see everything, 20140612_100215but no one can see me. The chair is positioned just right so that one inside the house would have to purposefully peek out the windows or come into the backyard to discover my whereabouts. I’m alone and free, yet sitting with my home to my back and the golfers right in front of me. Somehow, though, I’m almost always free from distraction in this place.

I compare this place of beautiful solitude to last week’s experience. This blog is not meant to announce my life, but I have not written for two whole months, so I’ll dare to give a quick update. Without any particular reason beyond “why not?”, I was admitted to Kaiser Redwood City Hospital last week for five days worth of an ongoing EEG. I’m epileptic and they just wanted to see if they could discover anything more about my brain than they were able to see with more minor tests in the past. Really though, I am in good health overall. No freak-outs, please. :)

Last week’s experience included neither surgery, pain, nor anything else dramatic, but it did include a good amount of unanticipated discomfort. Confinement was something I had never experienced–at least not for five days straight. I had these huge windows to look out. I could see the mountains, the bay area fog, the sunshine and the tops of buildings from the 6th floor in the hospital tower. But I could not taste, smell or feel on my skin any of these lovely things…this brought along discomfort much faster than I even thought possible. Who knew that one could be so teased by looking at freedom, but not being able to feel, touch, taste or smell it? When I sit here in the backyard, I know that I cannot go walking out onto the golf course right in front of me, but I’m content being able to look at it, feel the beautiful weather, smell the occasional whiff of skunks walking by, breathe in the freshly blown breeze, and know that this is not confinement.

I learned something about myself last week: I really enjoy my comfort. This hit me pretty hard considering what bragging I’ve done in the past about the places I’d be willing to travel to, to live and the daunting tasks I’d be willing to undergo. Did I ever consider that these endeavors could bring about the sort of confinement, at times, that reduce my freedom and may haunt me in the same way the hospital room did?

For me, I know some truth, though, that keeps me going. Even when all my “deserved” freedom is taken away, I have freedom in Christ Jesus…and this freedom is entirely different than the kind one doesn’t get when confined in a hospital room, when their body is functioning properly, when they can’t speak their mind freely, or whatever the restriction may be.

This freedom exists outside of life as we know it on this earth-

2 Corinthians 4:16- So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

This freedom is given freely to all who have the Spirit of the Lord living within them-

2 Corinthians 3:17- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

This freedom is not a quick fix for the confinements and discomforts we experience. It’s given to us for this very purpose–testifying that God is merciful in many ways-

Galatians 5:13- For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

In my life, it appears that comfort, in more ways than one, equates to freedom. Confinement is the opposite of freedom and equates to discomfort. I must ask myself, though, how many more times in my life will I experience confinement is some way, shape or form. How many times will I be lacking in freedom? The second to last day in the hospital yielded one of the worst mornings. I had experienced insomnia all night (something I’d never known before) and my mind was really wrestling to stay sane. Mom left Sacramento at 5:30 am to make it to the hospital as early as possible. I just lost it while she held me; and in all my vulnerability and desperation to leave that place, she had some profound wisdom to offer:

“This probably won’t be the hardest thing you ever have to do, Emily”

She is right and I knew it. There is always going to be more confinement, more discomfort, and thus, less freedom.

What is it, in your life, that equates to freedom? Why do you feel you deserve it? What would you do without it?

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In this world, many of us who believe there is eternal life after mortal life would loosely call ourselves “sojourners”.
To be a sojourner means you are a on a journey, without a permanent home or settlement. A sojourner might stay in one place longer than their last stop, but that’s just dependent upon how long the season surrounding that stop may take. A sojourner identifies with the people and location they are dwelling with and in because they know that the key to thriving is diving into the hearts and mind of those that surround them by looking at life through their eyes. Such a relationship with each stop along the way will make for a good, healthy journey. The sojourner’s end goal is to arrive at a place they will remain at forever. Such will be a place they are most healthy, most happy and most satisfied. Sojourners may move in groups or alone, but whomever desires to sojourn with them, in search and en route to this perfect residence, they will not turn away.

If eternity spent with Jesus Christ is that perfect, final destination, then followers of Christ are the sojourners. In a physical world that is less than perfect, followers of Christ are spiritually sojourning their way through this life. The Christ follower is confident they will arrive at that end destination and they know that the path between now and there is no more than being wandering strangers who love…who live life one season, one calling, once location at a time…who make effort to find identity and confidence in their lifestyle yet mold themselves to learn the ways of others in order to reach out to them, hoping they may find the sojourner’s destination a worthwhile road and desire to begin sojourning themselves.

There will be times that the spiritual sojourner comes and goes from a season so quickly because their foreignness is treated with persecution and mockery. There will be times such a season is long drawn out to the point where the sojourner is wondering how much longer until they may pack up and keep moving. Sometimes the winds of heart change blow and sometimes they do not. That’s not up to the sojourner.

There will be times that the sojourner is warmly welcomed, well fed, well received and shown much hospitality. These seasons of rest may also be short or long.

And at all times, the spiritual sojourner seeks to explain their end destination, though their obvious identity as sojourner often provokes this question from others almost right away. They want to know about this foreigner that stands before their eyes…how and why they stand out.

The life of each sojourner is different, but when they cross paths with each other, there is a joy shared because of their mutual destination. Whether they begin traveling together or not, they know they will both see each other again on the other side of the journey.

For many, the life of sojourning is bewildering to them. They ponder why one would stay as less than settled for so long. At the same time, they wonder if they themselves could be striving for this great destination and if they are missing something by not doing so. The sojourner understands their bewilderment and curiosity. They too were once settled. They remember that moment they chose to identify as a sojourner and the first time they saw the light of the end which spurred overflowing gladness in them. And they cannot say that sojourning is considered ideal in the physical world. They either began their own journey with great vigor and excitement and realized later some of its sacrifices or they made commitment to sojourn with a knowledge of the sacrifices, later discovering the worth their commitment carries. Either way, all sojourners, in choosing the unsettled life, know their persistence and strength will not be flowing through themselves, but from that which feeds into them when their eyes  are set on the bright, shining light of their final destination.

To keep eyes on the light is not simple, nor easy, nor delicate, but the sojourner knows it is their only hope to sojourn well. And in that hope, they kind joy in the unsettled life. The hope that has already arrived and the final destination that is to come.


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