Wednesday, January 26, 2011

back to reality.

i hadn't been home in a while and i was so looking forward to family time, catching up with friends, bon fires, bike rides, and the beach. my trip turned out to be so much more than that. the highs were high but there were some pretty harsh moments. i have a group of 4 "best friends" from home that i have been friends with for as long as i can remember. in the six short days i was there, i went shopping for one of their wedding dress, spent the night on the beach with two of them, and listened while the other one told me she is gay. like i said, ups and downs. these are my girls, we have all changed so much. when did this all happen? how did we get here? yesterday, my flight got delayed 6 hours. after spending about 14 hours between the airport and airplane, i had replayed the entire trip in my head a dozen times. yet, i'm still reeling. after work today i sat down to listen to the orbits podcast. while i still have a billion questions about how we all got here, i learned a few things about my own story. my birthday is on friday and i have over the course of the past week mentioned more than once that i thought i would have accomplished much more at this point in life. there were three elements of the discussion that helped me process how i got here and determine where i'm going.

1) success and failure. discontentment with "how much i haven't accomplished thus far" is a mirage that will keep me in a state of discontentment forever. my past is littered with a series of failures. i stumbled through a season of my life and made quite the mess along the way. in the same way darin could be "grateful" for the dissolution of his parents marriage, i am thankful for my failures. if i could go back and not fail, that'd be awesome. but i can't. i also can't imaging taking the next steps of life without the lessons God taught me through my failures. success has been learning from my mistakes, knowing that God is God, and submitting to His best.
God can redeem it ALL.

2) image building. mine was the story of the snowball. "i'll alter this story or this part of who i am to make me more appealing, no big deal." one thing led to another... my biggest failures in life stemmed from image building. learning that Christ has defined who i am and my worth lies in Him has changed my life RADICALLY. seems elementary to the christian faith, but was a truth that became reality to me relatively recently.
it's not about what i've done, it's about who i am becoming.

3) relationships. relationships are everything. my relationship with God, my family, my friends-these have shaped me into becoming me. in the midst of the mess i had made i discovered i was loved by a God, was blessed with a family, and had made friends who created a place for authenticity. it was the beginning of new things for me. these people had seen me live my "story" but saw me for much more than a story. they had earned the authority to speak into my life and break down walls that had encamped the parts of me i didn't want anyone to know.

which brings me to circles. relationships are everything. i know that God will use your story to teach me how to love limitlessly, how to trust that God is God, how have joy and peace when it is all spiraling out of control around us, how to be committed to the body of Christ in a way that allows for sincerity and authenticity that leads to true community. i'm committed to you all. i look forward to learning from you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

dannah bradel christensen. this afternoon, i will be getting on a plane and going home (hawaii) where i haven't been since i spontaneously moved away ten months ago. this morning, i woke up early and took my cousin, whose family i live with, to her early am water polo workout. i live in newport beach, ca and spend most of my time attending class at paul mitchell the school and working full time as a salon coordinator at images in corona del mar. let's rewind.

i was born on jan 28, 1987 here in newport beach where both of my parents grew up and all of my extended family resides. in 1992 my family packed up and moved to hawaii. it was a bumpy transition but one i am so glad they decided to make. i grew up on the north shore of oahu doing things most kids do: surf, eat, sleep, surf, eat, sleep. it was great! in high school, i did it all. i was on the soccer team, student council, debate team, cheerleading squad and somehow still found time for the surf, eat, sleep routine i had been programed for. it was in high school that i became a christian. i had known who Jesus was but i didn't establish a relationship with Him until my freshman year in high school. in the summer of 2004 i went to malawi for the first time. it rocked my world. going into my senior year of high school i had with me a whole new set of priorities and the world that i was once blind to had come to the forefront of big life decisions i was about to make. it was at this time i decided to go to westmont college in santa barbara, ca in the fall of 2005. i made another trip to malawi the summer before i started at westmont where my passion to love those affected by HIV/AIDS was reaffirmed. i attended westmont for three semesters before i transferred out to a local community college and got my AA in political science. however, school wasn't "clicking" for me. it wasn't too hard and i wasn't not doing the work. i just dreaded it. not normal dreaded, like felt purposeless kind of dread.

thats when i moved back to hawaii. i was determined to find my nitch. after a few internships, lots of introspection and lots of "getting out there". i think i found it. i started working as an apprentice at a salon. i LOVED it. i love the salon, i love doing hair, i love the one on one time i get to spend with the person in my chair, in an industry fixated on the outside i love the opportunities to remind myself and those around me that beauty is much deeper than that. i just love it. it all changed again when dave (my best friend from santa barbaras boyfriend) called. he had a ring and was going to propose and really wanted me to be there for it. so, i hoped on a plane and came back to cali, a trip that would be much more significant than i had anticipated. i ended up getting a job while i was here on vacation and didn't get on the plane home. it was a huge move. i've grown more in the last ten months than i have in a long time.

which brings us back to today. today, i'm going home. don't worry, i'll be back.

things i love:
doing hair - i prefer cutting over color but i love both
watching my cousins play baseball/water polo
frozen yogurt - tart with strawberries
the ocean - playing in the ocean
HIV/AIDS ministry - it is more than a statistic
malawi - i can't wait to go back
running - i've run 2 marathons
baking - cupcakes are my favorite thing to bake

things i don't love:
snakes - my family has a pet snake i named jake
when people don't use their turn signals - or when they leave them on and aren't turning
being cold - i'm always cold
shellfish - i'm allergic

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

you are the only one i need
i bow all of me at your feet
i worship you alone
i live in a culture that has a billion things vying for my attention. the latest and greatest everything from phones and cars to abs and butts to boys and status. i can’t keep up with it all. there is a sense of relief and conviction in knowing the only object of my worship should be jesus. relief because i can let the car and the abs and the boys go and cling to the one who my heart was designed to worship. convicted because i know that although jesus should be the only object of my worship, he isn’t. what do you do when you know what not to do, but you do it anyway? even paul had the same dilemma. he writes to the romans,
7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
it’s the beginning of january. there are a handful of goals i set for myself to accomplish in the next 365 days a few habits to kick, a few to pick up, and lots of learning along the way. the over-arching goal i have for 2011 is to be satisfied completely with jesus. probably one of the most terrifying but most meaningful and rewarding to date. i know that the cars and the abs and the boys are fleeting. i know that they are incapable of satisfying the part of my heart that has been designed by my creator to be filled with him. however, i still find myself cramming the fleeting objects of my attention in the god shaped void in my life. this brings me back to the struggle, “for what i want to do i do not do, but what i hate i do”. and round and round i go. where do i go from here? paul continues,
8:3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
the answer: live according to the spirit. live supernaturally. not in a crystals and clairvoyant kind of way, but in a way that is fruit of god in us. we are no longer bound to the natural tendency to worship the temporal, tangible objects of my attention. when jesus came, he gave the power to live outside of our sinful flesh. john piper puts it this way,
Our spiritual mindset determines our walk. The power of the Holy Spirit to impart life and to change what we value and treasure and desire changes the way we live or walk. From hostility to life to a spiritual mindset to a new walk according to the Spirit.
this isn’t a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of job. this is a call on creator of heaven and earth, one who raised from the dead, one who holds all power in his hands, secure my life and enable me to live in a way that reflects your lordship. may the things i value, the objects of my worship, be reflective of such security. here’s to living supernaturally, to being content with who i am in christ, to worshipping the creator, not the fleeting objects of my attention.