Soul Chocolate

giving chocolate to others is an intimate form of communication, a sharing of deep, dark secrets…

thank you cards July 30, 2010

Filed under: milk chocolate — beautynobility @ 6:17 am

Today is my last day at this internship. This week has been filled with exit interviews, surveys, and evaluations. Through all of that, I’ve discovered something that is lost in the workforce these days: thank you cards. Seriously. Do people not give thank you cards anymore? I’m not just talking about thank yous for gifts (although those seem to be missing as well), but just thank you cards for the opportunity to work and the experience received?

When I left my previous job (on very good terms and with many tears), I wrote a personal thank you card for every person I had encountered during my time there. Literally, everyone involved in the organization, partnering church, and school received a thank you card from me. I was floored by how astounded they were. Are we that ungrateful a society? Are we so unappreciative? One even asked me if they were generic. Of course not! If I’ve been working with you for 2 years and can’t find one positive and personal thing to say about you, there was something wrong with you, me, and our interactions. I was seriously flabbergasted by how shocked they were. But surely, I reasoned with myself, that was only their experience. Surely in the “real world,” in the corporate world, people would respond differently. Nope. Same thing here. I gave a thank you card and they were shocked that I was thankful for my time and the mentorship I received.  Wow. Well, I guess the upside is this: I’m on extremely good terms with both organizations. Both see me as someone courteous and willing to work with them.

But I think there’s a greater lesson here: we need to be more appreciative. We need to see the good in people, organizations and our general interactions. We have become such a negative society, seeing what is wrong in every situation. We are so selfish and have such a sense of entitlement that we do not appreciate the experiences and opportunities that come our way. Let’s break this trend. Let’s be thankful. Let’s find one thing today to give thanks and rejoice over today. I think this will make a huge difference in the quality of work we produce and the day we experience.

On a separate, but maybe related note, I woke up this morning struck by 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, where Paul is admonishing the Corinthians for taking sides in an alleged leadership battle (begun by the church members). They were choosing their favourite leader and quarrelling about who was better, and who truly led them to God. Paul actually called them immature and said they were infants in Christ and of the flesh because of this behaviour (paralleling Hebrews 5:11-14).  I didn’t understand why I was so struck by this scripture until I came in and checked Facebook and saw pics of my previous camp under the direction of the new supervisor. Now, for the record, this supervisor is amazing. He has a love for the kids and community, and a heart to be led by Christ. I am so thankful that he was hired*. But, I must admit (and only to you, my chocolatiers) that I have struggled with jealousy in the past year. I wanted to be the favourite, I didn’t want my kids or staff to love him as much as they loved me. I wanted to be remembered as the one who built that community. But I wasn’t. God was. And all I could do was be thankful that I had the opportunity to be part of His work. Truly, I may be the one who planted, and Kuya may be the one watering, but we are nothing according to the Bible. God gives the growth, and we are only working together to increase His kingdom. And wow! When I had that perspective this morning, my world shifted. I am so grateful to have been part of His work. I want to write a thank you card to Jesus for this experience!**

Examine today where you’re called to plant, water, till, or weed. Are you thankful to be there? Do you recognize that you are engaged in that ministry only by God’s mercy (2 Corinthians 4:1)? When your perspective shifts to that one, everything brightens.

*If you would like to learn more about the work of God at Camp Freedom, click here. To donate, click here and specify Camp Freedom.

**this has also helped me to see that they still love me, just in a different way. it has freed me to love them and support with a clean and open heart. It has also shown me that I want to be like Paul, planting and building ministries, then freely giving them over to another to lead and develop by the hand of God. hmmm…

 

larger than i July 29, 2010

Filed under: milk chocolate — beautynobility @ 7:16 am

“not just a crowd, but a community. not just a face, but a friend.”

This morning I replied to an email from a friend. Nothing special in that, right? Friends keep in touch, it’s what they do. But this friend is different. Because of some …interesting… circumstances, we’ve had to struggle and find our way to this friendship. Wait, I shouldn’t speak for her. I had to struggle to find my way to this friendship. I had to learn to make it about us, and not the past, not what connected us and brought us together. And now, as that past is going through it’s own turmoil, I’m learning to find a place with this friend. She has not been perfect, she certainly has days where I don’t agree with everything she says. But I know she’s a friend. She remembers random conversations and things I asked her to pray about 7 weeks ago. She wants to get together, even if it’s only for 5 minutes while I blow through town – but understands when I can’t make it happen. She ignores our age difference, and focuses on our spiritual similarities. She tells me that she loves me, she’s praying for me, and makes me feel like I’m worth being a friend to. She makes me feel that I’m part of something, someone, larger than myself, at a time when I’m desperately searching for community and a place to belong. She, CW, is a friend.

I’ve been gchatting with AM and MJ the past few weeks. They show me each day how much they care. They listen (read?) my bitching and moaning, and put up with my silly jokes. They remind me to turn to Christ. They understand our history, and show me where I’ve come from. They send me silly youtube videos (thanks MJ), amazing sermon links (thanks AM), and generally make me feel like I’m wanted by something, someone larger than myself. They are friends, deep, and to the core.

I entered a horrible, horrible mood. KW (bless her heart) didn’t know this, didn’t know really what was going on because we only catch up every lil bit. But she sensed something “in her spirit” and sent me an FB message. She came, contacted me, and let me know I’m part of something, someone, larger than myself.

I’m driving back to school. SB, a friend I’ve had since my childhood, someone who has literally seen me through my personal hell, is dropping everything to drive back with me. She doesn’t really like long drives, kind of hates budget motels, and is only doing it because of our shared history. I don’t know if she knows, but I was dreading driving back alone. It felt too much like I was, well, alone. But she’s coming, and that reminds me, as I go back to a place where I feel horribly alone, that I am part of something, someone, larger than myself.

I say all this not to brag about  my friends, but to sit awestruck before my God. My friends, and these are but a sample, are my gentle whispers. They are visible altars from every period in my life. Much like the israelites built monuments to mark a particularly significant time period, God built my friendships. SB, ZB, VB, MG show me the good from my childhood, and understand me in ways almost noone else can. Nothing needs to be explained to them, and they take my hurt and outbursts because they were there. MJ, AM, KW, LJ give me the greatness of Spelman and remind me that God brings us to a place unexpectedly to change us irrevocably. SW, JL, KG were there when my world was crumbling and, through quiet love, reminded me that God did not desert me. Each of these were sent by God at a time when I needed to know I had a place, and now, stand as monuments to His awesomeness in giving me more than I could ask, think, or imagine.

And isn’t that what community is? Isn’t that what a true friend is? Someone who reminds us that we are not drifting, that we fit, that we belong? Someone who fulfills that part of us specially created by God to be relational? Someone who reminds us that we are part of something, someone larger than ourselves? Perhaps the miracles we’ve been searching for are found in the community we’ve been given.

 

ramblings July 26, 2010

Filed under: white chocolate — beautynobility @ 1:20 pm

Warning: this is a rambler. in case the title didn’t warn you fully. Proceed with caution and not expecting a coherent and cohesive post.

I’m tired. And my summer’s over. Well, practically.  I realized last night that I just completed my last weekend that I had to myself. My last weekend to sleep, and read nothingness, and listen to music, and take rambling walks for no reason. After this, I’m dedicated to everything and everyone else again. This weekend I’m back in Phoenix, next weekend I’m packing up, because in exactly two weeks I’m driving back to Malibu and law school. And once school starts up…well, my weekends are shot.

Whew. Looking back, I’m not sure where this summer went…but I’ve enjoyed it. At least, I think I’ve enjoyed it. I went to a wedding, helped a friend with a kid’s camp, worked on some exceptionally interesting articles and issues, spent time with old friends, and met some new people. I was ripping and roaring around for the most part, HA! And still haven’t managed to see a movie. Maybe I’ll put that on my agenda for this week…

But now to look forward; I need to make goals for this school year. I’m not sure what the full component will be, but I know the main one: find a church home. I am NOT looking forward to the loneliness I felt last year, and I recognize that a huge part of that was my lack of a church home. I always feel out of sorts without a church that feels like it’s “mine” and somewhere I belong. So, first on the agenda for this year is finding a church, no matter the distance.

But more, I realize I need to dedicate this year to God. As quickly as this summer went, I know this school year will be infinitely busier and faster. I want this to be a year where I hear and discover Him more. Where my dreams aren’t pursued, where I’m looking only for His face – and not His hand. I was  so convicted about that through a sermon I heard recently (check out the series here), and I know I need to grow in that area. I must stop looking to God as only providing my needs, and meeting my dreams, and doing what I want. Ugh. So much self in that sentence. Instead, I’m looking to Him for what He desires for my life, and how He wants to move. For His kingdom to come, and His will to be done.

I’m also learning to quiet myself enough to hear the gentle whisper and experience those tiny miracles. I realize I’ve been like Elijah, seeking for God to be in the fire, wind, and crashing rain…but He is in the gentle whisper. Hmm. I need to think through that some more. Expect something on the quiet, gentle whisper in the next few days (or weeks, based on my posting track record. HA!).

And on a totally selfish, non-spiritual tip (exactly the type of thing I was just saying i need to get out of), I really want to find a crush LOL. Just a little someone to daydream about and not expect anything to happen. Is that smart? I don’t know. I just want to feel like a girl woman. And I feel like one of the best things about being a woman is the ability to have crushes. Just to bring that nice bubbly feeling inside. But then, I guess the downside is that we always push it, and it goes too far, then we get depressed, and eat tons of chocolate…wait. Sorry. Projecting. Let’s just go back. I want to be reminded that the type of men I love exist. That’s all. And maybe meet one. or two. or ten. HA! Just kidding. This might be a good time to focus on Jesus again…

thanks for enduring the ramblings, my chocolatiers.

 

not just the parts i want to July 14, 2010

Filed under: 100% Cocoa — beautynobility @ 10:01 am

What a poignant, and timely, reminder. I forgot that this song was in my worship mix until it came on and forced me to the washroom to cry. Can I truly say that I give God my life, my dreams, my all? Is it a sacrifice for me? This is my prayer:

To You I give my life, not just the parts I want to.

To You I sacrifice these dream that I hold onto.

To You I give my future, as long as it may last.

This is no sacrifice;

Here’s my life.

 

Awestruck

Filed under: 100% Cocoa — beautynobility @ 7:21 am

I don’t know how You’ll do it, but I believe You can. Lord, leave me awestruck.

That was the prayer at the close of my devotional yesterday morning and it’s been sitting in my heart and on mind ever since. I just can’t past the  plea to be left awestruck.

It comes at the right time. To be honest, I’ve been neglecting my devotional and I picked up yesterday from a sense of guilt. You know, that “uh oh, I should be reading this because that’s what ‘good Christians’ do” feeling. Then I saw the scriptures mentioned (Matthew 7:11 and Ephesians 3:20) and my heart was blown.  It was exactly what I needed; a reminder that God not only can do what I ask and meet my needs, but that He delights in it.

I’ve been struggling with impatience, fear, and a sense of something close to neglect. Out of frustration I yelled at my mom (then burst into tears) on Sunday night, because she dared to remind me that God’s timing isn’t mine and that sometimes the long road is so we meet and bless others on the way to the destination. I know this. I really do. But I’ve been feeling like everything I pray for comes on the long road, everything I desire is delayed (for what feels like an eternity) so others can be blessed. I’ve been wondering why I have to keep smiling, keep having faith, keep believing.

And then I was hit by two things in the past two days:

1. how unbelievably arrogant am I, thinking that I know the times and plans better than God? Sure, I need money for school (and if anyone is so moved to send me that money, I will not deny you the blessing :)).  But can I really say that being denied the loan is worse? Do I want to owe the bank my soul? No. And God knows that. He knows the best way to pay for this, He knows what will give Him glory, and He knows what will reduce my stress.  He knows the plans and how dare I, who barely know what I’m eating for dinner (although baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon is winning), question the God who created the heavens and earth? The arrogance is unbelievable and such a reminder of the depravity of my self and the need I have for Him.

2. He loves me. He loves me so much. It is simple, I know, but it’s also easy to forget when faced with overwhelming fears. I don’t have a plan B, I don’t feel like there’s anything else I’m good at. This school thing is it. But He loves me so much that He’ll ensure that His plan A is accomplished. And I can rest, secure and aware of His love for me.

So join me in praying, believing that He will leave us awestruck.  That He will work in such a way that only He is glorified. But most of all, that we will know that He is for us.