Sunday, December 7, 2014

No = I love you

No sea malita—don’t be bad. Big brown eyes. A whining tone. Don’t tell me “no.”
I can’t say how many times I’ve heard those words. No, I can’t buy candy from you (I want to, but how do I know it is you it will help, and not some guy who’s beating you up?) I’m not being bad when I say no.
How many times have I wanted to hear the word yes when someone says no?
How many times have I said yes, when I needed to say no? Sure—I can’t tell you that I can’t talk now, that’s unloving. Sure—I can’t tell you I can’t work an extra hour, you really have no solutions. Sure…but I don’t want to, I’m doing it because I have to. Sure, but it’s not really me choosing to love you.
People say that the first word children learn is “no.” (Or “mine” but we’re not dealing with that word today.) And yet, it’s somehow the word we least know how to use, or accept.
                I was eighteen when boundaries in close friendships formed. A dear, dear friend of mine told me I could ask—but only if she could tell me no. No, I can’t read your writing right now, I’ll read it later. No, I can’t come pray. No, you can’t keep saying things like that. No, you can’t do that.
No. No. No.
But then she said yes. Yes, let’s eat breakfast, and when we ate breakfast we both wanted to be there.
Yes, let me hear what you wrote.
Yes, I can pray for you, what for?
Yes, you can text me when you need something.

No… because I want to give you something real.

No—but I still care. No—I think you’re capable and kind enough to respect my boundaries. No— I don’t like hugs; don’t hug me all the time, but when I hug you, it will be a real one.

I love you too much to give you what I can’t.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

You are...

When you wake up in the morning and everything is gone, you are loved. When you fall asleep at night and smile at the good day that passed, you are loved. When normality drills a hole into your skull because you are bored, you are loved. You are loved. The cross stands permanently accepting you as you are. If you are like me, if you have heard the story all of your life, it can feel old. Yes, I know, Christ died for me but what about NOW?
Will you step back with me a moment, into a vortex of time, or into a vortex that takes you out of this current reality?
Imagine that you can see God in creation. Do you see, there: Man was made in God’s image with the ability to feel, reason, a sense of morality. There are Adam’s arms, his legs, his full body. Good. No, very good. Then woman appeared, so that man might not be alone. Good.
You are loved, personally, for you. If God is going to hold you personally accountable for your actions does it not make sense that He will also love you and want you personally? Why else would He care?
He made you. He made you finite, with limitations and skin and energy levels. He made you with a unique bent in personality; be that towards art, towards children, towards laughter, or quiet. He made you with the ways that you react and respond to life.
And then they were distorted.
When Adam and Eve sinned, distortions came in and messed up your completeness; your sense of wholeness. You were covered in guilt (be it when you first sinned, or by inheritance, you were covered in guilt and there wasn’t anything you could do about it). But still, you were loved. God did not abandon humans but over and over again as a race He has pursued us, from accepting Abel’s sacrifice to pursuing the Israelites, to the god-man on a cross.
And when the grave became empty, then you became whole and when earth was left without it’s human likeness of God, His spirit  came inside. If you have accepted Christ, you are a new creation. Your name is redeemed, holy, righteous. While you are still sinner, you are only sinner because you sin. And yes, you do still sin. Don’t  just stop when you see it and say “I’ll do better” because sometimes even morality can simply be a disguise of our disgrace. You are loved. You are loved, even when you hit God’s gag-reflex in sin.

You are loved as you are. Distorted image and redeemed image. You were created, distorted, and are accepted. And there is a side of you, an ideal picture of what could have been, and what will be. The perfect image of God. Pieces of it still sneak out on occasion, and in the process of sanctification those occasions grow in frequency. You are loved, not “when,” not “if,” but “now.” Why? Because God made you like He wanted, and He’s not about to desert you. You may be overly talkative, but God gave you words. You may be quiet and withdrawn, but God gave you a sense of hesitancy and caution. You may find yourself in the same sin, the same addiction over and over again. Change may not feel possible. You are accepted. Period. After the period, after that truth, change may be possible but sometimes I think we miss the point. Growth does not give value. Even seeking growth won’t. You are loved. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Good Writing

The mistake of strong writing is this: it is good. Too good. Constantly good. The mistake of good writing is that it causes you to ask questions, thousands of questions, without trusting any answers. In other words, the problem with good writing is that it is constantly causing a writer to doubt. The problem with good writing is that it is revised over and over and over again until the heart has been removed. Or maybe not the heart, but without a doubt any of the flaws, leaving the reader in awe of the person who can “just write.” And if you can just write, and have no mistakes then you teach me nothing about life because in life I make a million mistakes every day and people have to sort through all the typos and through all of the contradictions in a person’s live to see his or her heart. You see, I just contradicted myself. Good writing, strong logic, doesn't do that, but I just did. I did, and probably before I’m done pushing buttons on my computer I will do it again. It’s not unlikely. That’s another thing life is that good writing is not: repetitive. Most humans are not Anne Shirley, I cannot tell you the number of times that I have made the same mistake, faced the same dilemmas, heard the same words from friends. Life is full of repetition, but good writing eliminates repeated words (unless we repeat the words on purpose, like a prayer said every morning). Or, good writing is often free of parentheticals and yet life seems to be full of them: life and time itself is a parenthetical sitting in the middle of eternity. Eternity, that is another reason why life doesn't quite fit under the mold of good writing. Life, even in time, sits inside of something eternal: good writing begins clearly and ends clearly. A good chapter has a good beginning and yet we rarely seem to look big enough to see the book of time in eternity, and look at the continuity between the creation of the world and the re-creation.
Re-creation, writing is re-creation, perhaps that is why even when you write drafts over and over to show a broken world, it still romanticizes it: because writing is a recreation. If I really wanted you to understand why I am writing I will go back and revise it, at least once, rewording a sentence so that it will stick in your head like a photograph of a sunrise. Which is another reminder of beginning and endings: did you ever notice how we do have book markers to the day but we never stop to see them, or mark them or we rarely stop to see both of them, and so we complain that the days go on and on in a single stream with the same repeats without seeing the repetitions that were meant to be there, meant to be said again.

Writing is re-writing: trying again, and yet when you write in life the first mistake you made will not disappear. But at the same time: grace is revision. No matter how many times you write it, grace will come back to it, and give the words another chance to say it another way as it brushes through the words just the way they are. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I - Introvert

Introspective, find yourself alone walking along a sidewalk of fallen leaves, in the quiet of your footsteps. Find yourself in the moments before bed, or when you wake to the first morning light. Find yourself as you read of the lives of others; find that in the quiet there is a peace in your soul to remember. Find out whose you are, and be still.

N- Intuition
I listen to my gut. Generally she’s right.

F- Feeling
                Facts attempt to tell reality.  A tree sits outside a window.  But, what if I let it stop there? I will never taste it, never imagine reaching towards the pine needles, never smell a breath of Christmas or watch raindrops linger on branches. Never find inspiration. I need smiles, tears, and frowns: they don’t determine truth, and shouldn't always change action, but without them I wouldn't care if truth and action lingered waiting to be grasped. There would be no passion, no love, no hope, it would be a life without color in nature, no songs of birds, no crunching of rocks, no life in reality. 

P- Perceiving
Perhaps? Let me process first because I’m not all the way sure: it’s possible that my tendency towards schedules and checking off lists and occasional quick decisions would determine me to be a judging type person. But then again I stop to look at the sun, and flowers, and the fly buzzing by, and I must consider the needs of others as I weigh how much time to spend sprawling my words across paper. Wait just a moment as I consider whether or not I like spontaneity, or if it is my schedule that maintains my sanity. I’m not sure I’ve found all of the possibilities. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

For the thousandth time...

       I rap them up into a bundle, and slip them under my arm; stepping out of my chair, I stand and I walk. I walk through the memories of life, the first time a story came to mind, then the imagination of a six year old child. I walk through the games I played by the equator, sword fights and dresses that brush against the dirt. I walk past a young girl sitting at a computer, typing furiously. I walk past and early morning’s writing interrupted by the pale face of my mother… until I find it. Deep inside my memories, the image of a cross, just after the stories have stopped. I set the bundles down, the stories of people who have never existed, the giggles of island stranded teenagers, the tears of a motherless daughter, and I fall to my knees. “Have you asked for these?” They have not come often or easily for three years now. Ideas once idled in my mind now flee to the touch, and I must give them up.
           “If you have decided to take these, then here they are. The truth is I’ve lost my love for them anyway. They themselves are but a memory and the memory is not mine to hold.”

         And Jesus picks up the broken mess and hands it back, “where is your pen?” is all He asks.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Self Portrait

Dear Reader,
       As you may know I have been asking the question of who I am, in search of what I might become, but I was looking in the wrong place. I was looking in the present, yet it is the past that God used shaped me. I found in my actions traces of who I am, hints.  Who am I? I am the youngest of three children, the girl who never got a baby brother but tasted being an older sibling for three months at thirteen when I helped love my foster brother and got temporarily ousted from the precious seat of youngest.  I am proud Auntie, and glad to have adopted yet another older sibling through Jonathan’s marriage. Who am I? I am a girl who has lied, and thus learned to love the whole truth. Who am I? I am a girl who loved stories and imagination from the first, from a girl riding her bike and talking with an imaginary friend to the fifteen year old insisting to her friends that we MUST play one more acting game, make up one more story until I became the girl who chose Creative Writing as her major, and wouldn’t give it up because she might not survive without story. Who am I? I am a girl who has lost without expectation, from neighbors to heroes, her homes, then her country, to friends, then an adopted Uncle who was her ride to see friends, we spent most of our time together in his truck or a restaurant. Who am I? I am a girl who was once convinced her parents lied to her, insisted she was adopted, and now loves those who really do not belong to a family; who has cuddled orphaned children into her arms, and who hopes to someday take someone home.  Who am I? I am the daughter of one who has been adopted. Who am I? I am one who has sat in a dark room and cried. Who am I? I am someone who is terrified of crowds, but would die to get a glimpse of your heart. Who am I? I’m Irish, German and Polish by blood but Latin and American cultures have seeped into my veins, creating in me the spirit of what you would call a TCK.  I’m a girl who obsesses, to write I will drop all other hobbies for the sake of learning to put words on paper, if I study a subject and I can, I will do more try to do more than one big assignment on an idea until I’m sick of the knowledge and wish to find something, anything else, to think about.  Who am I? I have perfectionist tendencies, frighten or become anxious easily, and long to please people. Who am I? I’m a girl who is fascinated by psychology. Who am I? I make myself like a subject that bores me, because I hate doing things I don’t like. Who am I?  I accepted Christ into my heart at three years old, was baptized at eight and started to really pursue God at around twelve, who decided to keep pursuing at eighteen.  I have sins that I struggle with, and promises I hold to, trust that is still being grown. I try to read my Bible and pray every day, I fall on my knees before God in both lament and joy and I have heard the very voice of the Holy Spirit in my head, and I have felt His arms of comfort wrapped around me.  Who am I? I am made, chosen, wanted and loved by God.  Nothing can change that.
Who Am I?
I am Jennifer Grace Hunter,
I am Elohim’s adopted daughter.
Who are you?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dirty Houses

           The yellow shower tiles started to look more and more white, one at a time as a scratchy green sponge rubbed them clean. I dumped a bucket of water over them, and me. I was tired, I stopped at the house on my way home to clean that the renters might move in at the end of the semester, the house had to be clean before they moved in. I was getting paid to do this but still I was worn out, and I just wanted my Friday night.  I am working for Jesus I reminded myself, thinking of a verse at the end of Philippians, where Paul tells the slave to work as they would for Jesus himself. If Jesus were moving in to this house I would want the house to be spick and span, pay or no pay. This is how my thoughts run, how I really believe it ought to work, but Jesus does not wait for the house to be cleaned.  Christ will not stand for dirt in a heart, he made that very clear. But here, my emotional beliefs fall short of true theology. God does the unexpected:

         "Zacchaeus, I'm coming to your house today."

         "Oh, but God, it's full of dirt. You wouldn't like it there."

        "May I Come in?"

       "Yes, but... Wait, I like it with you sitting at my table. I'm going to clean the house." And Zacchaeus  started to clean his heart giving away half of what he owned to the poor, and repaying all those he owed.

              When the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts, He can't stand to have the dirt, and He offers to help us get rid of it ("When we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness," Check out all of 1 John 1 &2.) But, just like any house, while He does want us to work to keep it clean, work to let His light shine on it: just like the first time He doesn't leave because dirt exists.  I will go clean in the bathroom today. What if that were my heart?  The brilliant light from His presence begins to shine through the cracked windows as He steps into the room. "Did you say it's dirty in here?" He  sighs, "I think you know already. In all your efforts to clean it, it will never be clean without me." And as He takes the sponge  from my hands, a red liquid spills across the tiles, dissolving the dirt, as it has done so many times before, "If you can remember just one thing, keep your eyes on me. My child, I will not leave you or forsake you, even to the ends of the age. This new room won't make me go away."  [1]  

[1] Sometimes, it won’t be so simple, sometimes he will use caustic situations like a caustic chemical, and scrub until it aches, sometimes it will break you in the process so He can remold you… analogies only go so far, but the idea remains the same. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rambling Thoughts of Truth

     They say that thousands of people around the world are dying for their faith. But, I am not. No, I come and go from work, on a bike, in a car, on foot, with complete confidence of my safety, but never do I stop to tell the people with whom I work about Christ. How can I? What if I did it at the wrong time and I offended them? What if they disagree, because who am I to tell them, I know perfectly well that I am no different… but then again, God never expected me to stop being human. And what about the fact that I have lived my life in a world that focused so much on helping others know Christ that I forgot that I am supposed to know Christ. And now I want them to know him, but I can’t forget…. They don’t understand. A Hindu leader once said that a truth repeated is no truth at all. In many ways that’s flat out false, if I tell you it rained today it won’t eliminate the fact that it rained, yet sometimes I think to a certain extent it’s true. I can tell you all I want to about my friends, but until you meet them face to face you will not know them. But, if I tell you about God, and then you go and meet Him, then you will know Him more, because you also know how He looks from other’s eyes.
The goal in my life stopped being to go out there and save the world, but today I was reminded of a passion to save the world. Yesterday, I was reminded my relationship with God comes first. Christians are like fire flies: we aren’t light itself, but we have moments when we light up and grow, and remind you of REAL light, God’s light.
Or maybe we’re more like windows. If we open up the curtains to our hearts, God will shine through. But the thing is, to do that you don’t have to have the name Christian. You need more. You need a relationship with Jesus, and the brighter He shines in your own life, the brighter He shines out the window. But here’s the tricky part, it’s not about opening the curtains of the window twenty four seven, it’s about opening the front  door to your house. Tears were driven to my eyes today because people are dying, but the only way that I can show them how the light works is if I open the door. (Oh, I don’t think this means you can’t keep your bedroom door shut if you need to, for you and God, or you and God and a few treasured loved ones, but that doesn’t mean you don’t let people in.) And what I mean by letting them in is this: you don’t judge them as people who are OUT. Yes, people who don’t know God are indeed out, but you and I have a limited perspective and it may drive us nuts that they aren’t worshipping God, but it is only ours to speak to the rock (see Numbers 20) not strike it when we strike it we stop our worship. God never said not to get angry or frustrated, but we are not God: Jesus was the one who dumped the market stalls in the temple, Peter only spoke in it. Yes, thousands are dying, thousands have to walk through life without knowing God at all, and thousands outright choose to disregard Him. Some choose to walk on the edge of heresy, others so close to the conservative line you have to wonder if they are Pharisees, but this remains: God can heal the heart. You never know who will turn around and help you, or who God is using.  God used an unbeliever to change my life forever. It is not ours to judge, but it is not ours to stay silent either. The Christian has been ordered to use their words to speak.
But your value will never come from sharing your faith or how well you wear the face of a “believer.” Ultimately our values come from God. Even growing in a relationship with Him won’t make us matter more. But the more we know God, the more we know about God the more we will grow to understand our own, and maybe then another’s value. But, I want you know God; not only as a tool to help you know that you’re valuable, that’s a byproduct…  
I have a friend who helps me write, I don’t love her only because she reads my work. But her reading my work has bound us together: the little comments and smiley faces and her defining my writing process as turning a cow into a giraffe  told me something about her.  She stepped into my life by reading my work, it was my choice about whether or not to get to know her. Then, after that I got to know her as someone much more complex, who is more than I will ever know: I have gotten a glimpse of this irrational tendency to make a million new friends, a person who doesn’t really stop to think but figures life out as she goes, and who desperately needs her quiet time in the morning.  And the thing is, I got to know God better through her, just as I came to understand her better through meeting her family. Now, my relationship with her does not depend on her reading my work… I don’t love her because I spent hours talking to her comments in my empty bedroom, but because of who she is. Her help with my writing just opened the door, and still carries on into our friendship as a rich element of love.  In a way, that’s how it is with the cross. I love the cross, that symbol of victory (take note of the fact that the cross is empty,) but the cross alone is not who God. 

I hope you get to know Him not only as your savior, but as your Lord. It is the beginning of eternal life, even if today is just as shadow of what is to come. It is the greatest and first commandment. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul…” And by the way, it’s okay if we get discouraged, I don’t think getting to know God is easy. He doesn’t always do what we want, and we can’t see Him or touch Him and all I, at least, have is this vague feeling that He’s there or wants me to do something… but do not fear, it is not by Moses’ power that the red sea was opened, that he found a burning bush, or saw the back of God. God is “I AM,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if, like Moses, He revealed Himself to you if you ask. And like in the books of Moses, I wouldn’t be surprised if God reveals Himself to you even before you ask. Remember God’s promise, “I will be with you.” Not only to Moses and the Israelites, but also to the disciples, also to the Christians (Matt 28:20).  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Dream A Little Bigger Darlin'"

         Unpacking. Pulling out a suitcase and sorting books and clothes-dirty or  clean, winter  or summer. It’s the story of a college student. It’s the story of a missionary. Packing and unpacking.  As I settle into my home for the summer with piles of boxes on my other bed still and job searching I remember the decision I made for this summer: I will be where I’m at.
          I’m not really good at that: being where I’m at. Oh I complain when people bring cameras for future memories, but there’s always a notebook tucked into my purse to capture a moment. When I was little there was always somewhere else to be. When I was older I either had my nose stuck in a book or brain flying somewhere in a cloud of fantasy. But see, that’s the problem, my brain stayed in the clouds and it didn't learn how to guard my heart against the cold of reality; reality is like the weather, and you have to be ready for winter. The reality is that I’m not a very good writer. The reality is that change will come, no matter how hard you fight it. The reality is that life doesn't always go our way. These realities all knocked me off my feet because sometimes you have to wear a coat in winter.
            I hated winter in 2012, it was cold and windy and you couldn't be outside. But then in 2014 I had a class called “Winter Field Ecology” where I spent hours bundled up with wool socks, wool hat and two or three layers of pants, crunching through snow on snowshoes. Let’s just say I fell in love with winter. I had learned to face the cold. I’m learning to do that too with dreaming. I can’t hole my heart away in a house. Yeah, reality hurts but I can’t stop dreaming: I’ll miss the snowflakes landing on the branches of a white Pine. It’s time to put on my coat. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It’s a speck in the distance, a stream of cloudlike fuel spills behind the jet. “Take me with you.” The thought flips by my mind. I’m called to be there, not quite words, more knowledge. Then the cognitive thought, “No, Mom and Dad are called to be there. I had the privilege of joining their calling, but that time is over now. I’m called to be here.” I look at the waist high snowbanks along the curving sidewalk; at a pile of snow blocking the three crosses on our campus.

 Miller library stands welcoming as I walk by it, big windows allowing light to poor inside. “I’m called to be here.” The realization sinks in again. I don’t always want to be here. I don’t want to deal with seemingly empty author debates or discussions of topics that, while valid, are rather useless for my life right now. I’d rather not have to face the constant stream of transition that follows me around, screaming that I only have ten weeks left before summer interrupts classes. And yet, I am called to be here. No, there are no Andes mountains here. The need or reason to not indulge does not stare at me in the face every day. But, I am called here. To this campus. To these studies. To these people.