the conclusion

i was having a conversation with a friend recently, giving a more in-depth update than the normal, sunday morning, “i’m doing well.”  as i finished explaining my story, it was brought to my attention that i never told you the conclusion.  i kept you updated of the whole story of oe, but never finished it.  like any good story, the conclusion is vital.

it has become more clear to me that i am called to help restore people.  while i believe only the Holy Spirit can truly bring restoration, i also believe He is calling me to be a pioneer, a conduit, and a voice to bring people back into right relationship with each other, with their parents, and with Father God.  that scares me on the one hand because if people keep coming to me, i don’t want to mess them up.  but on the other hand, it’s thrilling!

in order to be a good steward of my gift and more accurately prepare for what’s ahead, i’m back in school (again?!).  last week i began taking online classes through liberty university to get my master’s in pastoral counseling.  i am also enrolled in the second school of elijah house school for prayer ministry.  liberty is providing a fundamental, head-based knowledge of counseling while elijah house gives me the practical, heart-based and more spiritual side.  though i hoped all this schooling would be over by now, i am really excited about my training!

in case you missed anything, i wrote up my whole story and it was published on oe’s blog.  you can check that out here.

hipster armor of God

on twitter i follow Come&Live, which is basically a non-profit made up of Christian musicians who want proclaim good news of Jesus and model generosity, love and genuine faith.  they blogged yesterday about standing firm – taken from Ephesians 6:13, which is the passage about the armor of God.  it was such a great reminder of a simple phrase that has resonated in my life for the past year and a half.  we need to be completely suited up so we can stand firm.

it also reminded me of my commencement speech from ocean’s edge.  a spin-off of the armor of God, i spoke about the hipster armor of God.  for your reading/reminiscent enjoyment, my speech is below:

Good morning staff, family members, friends, and Ocean’s Edge class of 2011.  Thank you so much for allowing me to address you all on this very special day.  It is truly an honor.

So, Wednesday night I started packing my stuff up, taking down posters, going through papers, and putting away all of my clothes.  As I was folding and boxing everything, I was inundated with memories from this past year.  I reminisced about that first day when I walked into the offices after driving 22 hours from NJ, arriving 3 days late, and was greeted by Jessica’s sweet face and then you all… the entire class.  I was so overwhelmed and stressed out, but I can still remember what I was wearing.  Julia thought my sister and I were in a strange conservative Christian cult because we were wearing matching skirts.  I can also remember Lindsay’s bright yellow shirt.  Think back to your first day.  Can you remember what were you wearing?

Then I thought about how some of us have changed this past year.  Some of the guys bought their first pair of skinnies, debuting them at ensemble performances and Not So Silent Night.  The girls downstairs set the bar high on fashion, careful not to repeat outfits all year, which caused me to think twice before I reached for my standard t-shirt and jeans most mornings.  Our class slowly evolved from American Eagle models to Christian hipsters.

One of the passages of Scripture that has resonated with me this year is Ephesians 6, which talks about putting on the full armor of God.  That got me thinking, “What would the hipster musician version of the armor look like?”  I now present you with the hipster armor of God.

First, there’s the belt of truth, which I’ll adapt to the guitar strap because most hipsters don’t need belts… Their skinny jeans are tight enough.  With straps, there are so many different patterns and designs, customize-able with nicknames, favorite gear brands, graphics and colors.  They are buckled tightly to guitars, especially if they are secured with strap locks, and slung just below the waistline so the hipster’s hands are free to shred and melt faces.

Then comes the breastplate of righteousness, the v-neck t-shirt.  It all starts with the crew cut shirt, but later evolves into the smaller v, the “virgin v” if you will.  Then the hipster gets bold, and the v gets lower and lower until, if you were a girl, you have to wear a cami underneath so you don’t make anyone stumble.  In actuality, the true hipster’s chest is completely exposed because the V is so deep, thereby negating the usefulness of the breastplate. 

Next, the Christian hipster would put their feet in the readiness that comes from… Toms shoes.  That is, if you can find them…   (Will).  Who knew that shoes that are made of canvas, cause extreme foot odor, and fall apart after a few months of wear could cost so much money?  But hey, they support social justice because with every purchase of Toms, the company gives shoes to a child who needs them in a third world country.  I’m ok with that.  Hopefully they hold up a little better there then they do here, though.

In addition, the hipster takes up the shield of faith, their instrument.  They have spent days, dollars, and their social lives investing in that one 16-bar lick.  Whether it’s a guitar, keyboard, drumset, or macbook (because Ableton loop fire-rs are musicians too!), the hipster’s instrument is positioned in front of him or her, so would take the hit if they were attacked by flaming arrows.  Let’s be honest though, it’s more likely that the hipster would sacrifice his or her body to protect their Gibson Les Paul, hand-built pedalboard, and Marshall amp. 

After that, the hipster puts on the helmet of salvation, the beanie.  Hanging precariously off the back of the head, the beanie is worn on days that they woke up a little too late to wash their hair.  It also looks like it could have been knitted by your grandmother and given as a gift at Christmas along with the matching pair of socks and mittens for those chilly days in… South Florida??? 

Finally, the hipster takes up the Sword of the Spirit –the Word.  There is no substitute.  Let me tell you, I have fallen in love with the Word of God this year.  But honestly, it has taken almost 25 years.  I used to read my Bible as a good little Christian girl, almost out of obligation.  It wasn’t until last year, when I read through the whole book chronologically, that it changed my life.  I have found so many answers to my desperate cries in those pages.  God uses the Word to speak to us, if we would only discipline ourselves to read what He has to say.  I don’t think we realize the power that we have in our hands, not to mention everything we learned this year in Apologetics and Doctrine about it.  I encourage you to read your Bible!  Develop a reading plan.  Read it every day.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly and deeply your relationship with the Lord will grow.

After you put on the armor, we are instructed to pray in the Spirit on all occasions and with all kinds of requests.  This is another thing that I’ve learned this year… The power of prayer.  I have asked God for very specific things and He has answered my requests.  I prayed for unity and saw us bond in ways I never thought were possible.  I prayed for my finances and was amazed at how He provided a job leading worship for me when money was tight.  I even prayed over my car and it was fixed.  These are only a few my cool God stories, but I know that there are so many more that you all can share.  Please, don’t stop praying and sharing how God has listened and answered.  Be encouraged that your Father in heaven knows what you need, but wants you to ask!  When your will aligns with His, He will give you the desires of your heart.  I am walking proof.

We can laugh about the hipster armor, but like I mentioned earlier, in Ephesians 6 we read about the real armor that we’re supposed to put on daily, so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes.  I truly believed that the devil has been and will continue to fight against us.  He is the Father of Lies and wants to kill you, not just hurt you.  But, there is hope.  The victory is already ours!  God has won!  He promises us that if we put on the armor, we will be able to stand.  As Paul so eloquently spoke, “Stand firm then…  Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”