Friday, April 2, 2010

my retreat.

Last week I blogged a quick little "see you soon" post. I wrote it on Thursday. The next week I had a couple of friends (who had read my blog) ask me how I was doing. You know--not a "How are you?" but a "How ARE you? No. Seriously. How ARE you?" They knew something was up with me. And it was. I've been trying to figure out how to blog about this--I do live a lot of my life online. I'm transparent. I feel like God has given me a platform to speak... and for some reason people like to listen, they like to hear what's up in my life. I'm forever amazed and grateful for that. I don't feel like my business blog is the place to write all this, however. So I ended up here.

God stopped me last Wednesday night. I was feeling sick all day which wasn't a helpful factor when added to a couple stressful conflicts and a growing exhaustion level. I stopped. Translation: cried. Haha! I was supposed to leave the next morning for the GC Conference in Seattle for two days as a youth leader with our youth group. As I cried with my friend Shauneille late Wednesday night, I knew I wasn't supposed to go. There's no way to express how I was feeling besides a craving for the Lord.

I want more of Him, I need more of Him. I look at my life: my business, my friends, my family, my savings account, my travel, my "following"--it means NOTHING compared to the joy of knowing my Lord Jesus Christ. For some reason, God chose last week to say, "Hey. Jamie. I want you to know more about me. I want you to spend more time with me. Twenty minutes each morning and faithful church attendance isn't enough. I made you. I want to know you." He was calling. I didn't go away that weekend. I woke up Thursday morning, wrote that blog post about "seeing you soon" and I retreated.

There were so many things that I came to God with... wrestled with Him about. What does it look like to live my entire life for Him? When it comes down to it, all I want, all I want, ALL I want, is for people to fall in love with Jesus. I don't want fame, money, success, popularity--I want to see the world changed by His love. But: I have a business. I have friends. I have family. I have church responsibilities. I need to fit in time to exercise. It can feel so mundane, so routine. I want to BE His hands and His feet to those around me. I struggled with the purpose of my day-to-day life--I don't want time to keep passing me by. Going through life, oblivious of the hundreds of people around me each day that are craving His love without even knowing it.

I spent three days reading, praying, resting with Him. One day I took a drive across a new bridge in my area... and kept driving until I saw a sign for a lake and thought, Okay. I'll drive there. I love the outdoors. God's so creative. Then I went to a coffeeshop and read. I didn't see any friends all weekend, I didn't text anybody and hey, guess what, I only checked email/twitter 2-3x a day. (I'm not kidding you: that was a huge deal. HAHA! So pathetic.)

I've been desiring to hear from God and He spoke to me through his Word. So many great things were learned and discovered this past weekend. Questions about life direction and purpose and ministry and calling. Here are a few things that I wrote down.

1. Everything in our lives is for HIS name's sake. Everything. Even our sins being forgiven--that's not for us, but for Him. "Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." (1 John 2:12)

2. Reading in Haggai 1... "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew and the earth withholds its fruit." (Haggai 1:9-10) -- MESSED UP priorities. When the people came and began to repair and built the Lord's house God spoke, "From this day I will bless you." (Haggai 2:19.) Seek first His Kingdom.

3. "Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing." (Psalm 34:10)

4. In Deuteronomy 8, the Lord led his people into the wilderness. To humble them and to test them, to discover what was in their hearts--to see if they would still follow Him. I felt like I was in that place last week. We are not called to live by bread alone but "by every word that proceeds out of the Lord's mouth." Sweet. I love that.

As well as a lot of the Bible, I also read some sweet books:
Understanding God's Will by Kyle Lake.
Perfect book for me in this time in my life. PERFECT. What a great book.

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.
A little emergent-churchy, but you can't deny the simple truth of how we are called to LOVE. This book shook me up. I found myself so challenged by the last page.

In Kyle Lake's book, there was a great quote by Oswald Chambers.

"We have the idea that God is leading us towards a particular end of a desired goal, but He is not... What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the GOAL itself. His purpose is the process."

I find that comforting. All the questioning, the searching, the seeking--that's His plan. His plan isn't that we accomplish exactly "X" but that we learn A, B, and C on the way to Accomplishment X.

On Sunday, I eased back into my life and... talking to other human beings besides my parents in the hall. Hah! It was a weird experience though. Sunday was incredibly emotionally exhausting for me: church, lunch, coffee date with a friend, birthday party at night. To go from being alone for three days to that much talking? It makes me realize no wonder I arrived at a place of burn-out. I need to seek out alone time more often. By Monday night I was feeling back to my normal self and back to work and emails and friends and my Google calendar. That weekend honestly feels like months ago: even though it was just last week. Weird how life creeps back in on ya.

But. I'm changed. In such a good way.
I walked away from this weekend:
1. Refreshed by His presence.
2. With a greater desire to know Him.
3. Blessed by the assurance that as long as I desire to follow His will in all that I do, I don't need to worry about whether I turn left or right. He will be there with me.
4. Challenged to start taking one full day off (or at least a half day: 8AM - noon or something) a week to spend with Him. I'm blessed by a flexible schedule and I feel SO strongly the calling of the Lord upon me to just spend TIME with Him. I'm so selfish with my time. Jesus gave up his life for a bunch of people who didn't deserve it ONE BIT. I'm pretty sure I can give up my time to the creator of the entire world--who deserves it beyond all comprehension.

Woo, boy. Thanks for reading. God is so good and I'm so excited to walk with Him today and tomorrow and the rest of my teenage years and into my 20s and all the days of my life.


23 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing jamie! this really convicted me as well. praying for you sis :)

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  2. Awesome!! Draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to you! What denomination are you? I'm Apostolic Pentecostal. Your testimony is a blessing. I'm so glad you shared it!

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  3. The best thing you did was listen to God and stay home! I love hearing about other sisters in Christ striving to grow closer to God and making time to do so, even if it's a bit of a harsh reality check.

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  4. I came across your photography blog a few months, and LOVE your photos :). I just followed the link to this post and was soooo blessed. Thank you for sharing your heart, this was something I really needed to read!!!
    Blessings,
    Toni

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  5. I've been checking out your photos on your facebook page. I followed the link here. I was surprised to see that you are still in your teens? You have wisdom and insight that many Christian "adults" do not possess. How wonderful that God speaks to us through His Word. Thank you for sharing how He has been working in your life.

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  6. Oh Jamie...this makes me want to pour my heart out to you. But I won't....so instead I'll just say thanks for sharing

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  7. Wow! You dont know me, but I need you to know that God is using you. I found your photography blog alittle over a month ago and have found much help in your advise. You are reaching the world through what you are doing. Second, I am very, very encouraged to hear what is going on in your life! Your so young and your desire for God is magnetizing. You are effecting the world for CHRiST OUR LORD! I really wish we lived down the street from each other, so we could meet up and talk about our photography businesses and how to use it to impact the world for Christ. But also to encourage each other with Gods word. This world is not our home heaven is! I strive to dream and long to be with Christ in heaven one glorious day. Jamie, thank you for loving Christ above all. It shows. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks!

    God Bless you and Ill pray for your daily time in the word.
    Alissa Hodge

    (Im on facebook if you wanna find me)
    (I also have a facebook business page:Center Point Photography)

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  8. Dear Jamie, This was such an awesome blog post. I know exactly how you feel. Not long ago while on a Disney Cruise I was able to connect in such a great way with HIM. Yet I must share... when I was eight years old I experienced something that changed my life forever. You can read about my experience in the Book of Acts, 2nd Chapter 38th verse. This scripture and the surrounding scriptures is the basis of what life and the here after is all about. Enjoy it and may God increase your understanding.

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  9. I am a very blessed Mom my girl! What an inspiring post. So excited to wait on the Lord with you. We can't begin to imagine the good things that He has in store for a heart that waits, truly waits on Him. Love you more than I can say. God is so good.

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  10. So encourage by what you wrote, Jamie! Can't say more as my mild is wildly pondering (is that an oxymoron?) it all.

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  11. Jamie,

    This is so great.

    I just finished writing a very heart-felt post on my photography blog that was DEFINITELY full of my Christianity. Parts of me were thinking....

    'Heidi, this is too much for your biz blog. People don't want you to PREACH at them. They just come here for pictures.'

    But then I kept thinking of you. You always blog so freely, so honestly. And I love that about you. I used to have a personal blog as well as a photog blog and it just go to be too much. So I merged the two. But ever since then, I haven't blogged honestly like I used to on my personal blog. Until tonight. It was really a great feeling. I love to write and I love to share my heart.

    After writing my post, I decided to come visit your blog. (Well, not this one - your biz blog.) And then I was directed here.

    God is so good. I'm so glad to hear you were blessed by your 'retreat' with God! Keep blogging your heart. People love to read your honesty.

    Heidi

    P.S. If you'd like to read my overly-Christianity-infiltrated blog that I just wrote, you can hop on over here:

    http://indyphotography.blogspot.com/2010/04/life-death-and-children.html

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  12. Thanks for sharing Jamie!

    Take a little time out each day. It will make you feel better.
    Praying for ya.

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  14. Wow! Great post! You are such an inspiration. Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Cor 9.24) :)

    Just wanted to offer my two cents' worth on the 'taking time off' thing: I've been a full-time church worker since last September and started taking a whole day off each week when I took up the position. Next to having a daily God-time, this is the most beneficial life pattern I have EVER tried out. Give it a go, even just for two or three weeks. It is scary to unplug from work for all that time at first, but you will not regret it. I have felt so much freer and more 'like myself' since starting! Also, I am much more effective at work, because I'm not always running on low and am more tuned-in to what the Spirit wants me to be doing.

    Hope that helps :D

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  15. Wow. You inspire me. Thank you for sharing your heart. I noted the Kyle Lake book on my Goodreads, will have to check that one out.

    Blessings to you! You are wise beyond your years and God is going to continue to use you!

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  16. I've been following your photography blog for about a year, and have never commented since you don't know me. But as a sister in Christ, I couldn't pass up commenting on this post. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. This post was such a huge blessing to me.
    Your photography work is so amazing, but this post is my favorite so far. Please keep sharing with us how God is working in your life... I will be faithfully reading.

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  17. Jamie,

    Thanks so much for sharing the details of what the Lord is doing in your life. Your thoughts echo so much of my own heart and mind as I struggle how to live completely and utterly for the Lord in the midst of growing a business, relationships with family and friends, serving, and just... a busy life! I'm so encouraged to keep pursuing him, first and foremost, knowing that he will direct me!

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing. You're faith is encouraging, challenging, and relieving all at the same time.

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  19. Your transparency and willingness to obey God by taking a time-out with Him, very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Some of the best retreats I have had occurred after the "official" retreat, and/or when I couldn't go.

    Something I've learned:

    Alone time is a must, it is never permanent, and it should always be followed up with some unwind time with close friends. The longer the alone time, the longer and better the close time with a few friends is needed. Keep your closest friends close, and don't be afraid to tell everyone else you need space.

    Interesting concept: Sabbath is not a day of worship. Sabbath is a day of rest. Sunday is not necessarily Sabbath.

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  21. Jamie! Thank you for your openness!! There are several photo and Christ centered workshops out there... if you ever feel led to have one- I would sign up in a heartbeat!! Your openness is so encouraging and inspiring and convicting and God has blessed you with amazing talent and communication!!

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  22. Hey Jamie, love your work with photography and was blessed to find out that you are a sister in Christ. The Lord took me to China these past two weeks to show me a lot of the same things. He is so good!

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