pools of baptism

Posted by Teen Bean

i always wonder in life, why things happen... and most the time, want to take an aluminum bat to people the have the nerve to say "everything happens for a reason"... i mean sure, that is a nice packaged little statement, but most the time my life does not fit into packages.

its especially hard to understand when those happenings cause me some of the most gut twisting pain ever. I've been in America for 23 days... 23 long days. it feels well longer than that. the list of things I've had the chance to get involved in, the relationships that have been resorted, the battles fought, the visions dreamed, the new friendships made... the list goes on. I've learned how to trust God, how to be more honest with him, how he is moving flipping everywhere, how he can use the oddest situations to make you realize that you matter to him...

this week i had the immense honor to meet one of the girls that did Transit in America. A fiery woman, named Rachel, from N. Ireland, intensely gifted in art and uber passionate about being raw for Christ... and completely honest in her dream to stay in America, to keep on keeping on in the mission God has used her in....

her flight for N. Ireland leaves Tuesday.

The irony of how our lives are mirror images, connected us in a deep and wordless way. We've had a few conversations about our harsh realities and how disappointment can really get in the way of trusting God. But the business of helping host this the arts festival that was going on this week took most of our attention.

Today, with the arts festival having a successful end, we all ran away to an amazing wrap up pool party at a refreshing home in beautiful American suburbia. We grilled hamburgers, jumped in a cool pool, and divulged in brownie sundaes. Rachel and I found ourselves frolicking down to a lake covered in lily pads and just sparkling in the heat of the Midwestern summer sun. we had the honor of sharing our brokenness, our disappointments, our fears... and God in his awesomeness was able to use a time of immense pain in my life to instantly draw along this sister in christ and understand her pain and tho i had very few words of wisdom or comfort... the simple reality of being was enough.

it was an odd feeling to realize that I was living proof, that this amazingly strong women of faith, could go through this stage of leaving what she loved. That my story was living proof that God wasn't going to leave her or abandon her, but that just like he was there for me... he is going to be there for her. That the details of our lives matter a lot to him.. that he cared enough about me to get me to this prayer community to be inspired, encouraged, and used ... that he cares enough about her to bring people to help calm, support, and encourage...

then later on that afternoon we had the beautiful honor of watching this scared but immensely strong sister in Christ declare her faithfulness and obedience, as the spontaneous decision was made for her to be baptized. She declared her fears but also her faith. Despite all the pain, and confusion and unknown she dared to believe that God would stay true to his promises and she spoke out loud her commitment to follow him and commit all of herself to him. And in her moment of intense vulnerability, God showed up and confirmed her capability.

we then prayed over her. It broke my heart to see her face this time... i so was just there... its going to hurt... its going to be hard... there are going to be tears, but there was an incredible sense of peace, as God reminded us all that he is our Big Big Papa God and he's is right there even in the intense moments of pain!

Art Intensive!

Posted by Teen Bean

To say that God keeps taking me places i never would have gone had i fully know what was involved, would be to say the least. For the past week getting involved at the Minneapolis, Mn Boiler House has been a process of seeing, making, and being art. My biggest contribution thus far to the week has been to make up the word "scaddie" and try and pass it off as a cool meaning of being uber artsy!

Ever so often i find myself shocked to a moment of pause and awe as i realize that i want to soak up every moment of what is happening. Minneapolis had a festival yesterday to celebrate water... Aquafest... or something like that. So a group of us from the boiler house jammed down there. We took a big board and all these roughly cut up pieces of cardboard. We also took all these drums and a few painting easels and loads of paints with us. We parked it up in this church parking lot and then we just celebrated. The evening was going pretty good and i was all soaking up the moment, thanking God for being great and just for letting us celebrate him. Little did i know how much we were going to celebrate!

About two hours later they tell us we are re-locating our "joy fest". I'm instructed to help carry over two huge coolers of sandwiches we had made earlier that day and we headed off down an away from the Aquafest celebrations. We walked about two blocks... maybe three blocks... and i was astonished by how the vibe of a city could change in a moment. We no longer were surrounded by heaps of white upper-middle class suburbaner out enjoying an evening parade. Instead the people that roughly were lining this street were doing so in an attempt to get a bed in one of the few shelters that the city offers.

Replacing the noise and celebration of water was the silence of trying to hush the reality of these forgotten ones lives. The street had no lights, no color, no vibe.... just a bland single line of hopeless people caught up in a hopeless system. the four of us that carried the sandwiches plumped the coolers down waked open the lids and then moves away. Slowly our parade of possibilities made it way down this dark street. Drums were set up, easels were opened, paint was unpacked, our cardboard prayer wall was propped up against the wall.

there we were two extremely different peoples, two extremely different cultures, with two extremely different realities capable of unfolding. As i stood there in that moment as the very street seemed to hold her breath... i just kept looking at the line of them vs. the line of us. What were were doing here? what were they do there? then slowly one brave soul stepped forward for a sandwich as another brave soul stepped forward to start a conversation. with in moments a reality had been chosen and it was one of JOY!

For the next two hours i had one of the best nights laughing with prostitutes, writing down prayer of a drunk man, dancing with some of the homeless, watching a desperate man beat out his song of celebration on the top of a newspaper vending machine, hug a displaced woman from Louisiana....

It was in that moment that i so appreciated a God that doesn't just exist in the places we think he would be, but one that shows up in the places we sometimes forget that He never leaves! Christ on the street... thats where it be at!

drop it down!

Posted by Teen Bean

so i've been living in this 24-7 prayer community in Minneapolis, Minnesota.... learning loads of things like how to say meeennahhhhsoootahhh, how to be super artsy, and how to make coffee on one of the most complicated coffee makers... EVER!!

it has been well cool rocking up here. there is a group of girls from the state of georgia here and they crack me up because they think i sound super english and keep asking me... yes me... to teach them how to speak with a british accent (i think the entire island of britain would shudder at my attempts... but they don't know the difference... so life keeps on a'spinnin').

but seriously the boiler house here is intense. they are well into art and dance and music and they go crazy over everyones ability to express themselves. one of the first days i was here i was praying for God to just use this time to do what needs to be done. i felt like was being pulled a million directions. my family back in illinois, my friends in chicago, my new home to be in seattle, my lovelies from england and then this random calling in minneapolis... i just was like "dude God could you be anymore everywhere". and plugging into him is well easy, but who am i in these place!? so during this morning prayer god just really was like "come on girl... this is a modern time and i've well equipped you in this time to lead and support and gather".

i got so excited because i'm sitting here in minnesota hearing about my peeps in kosova rocking it up with prayer rooms, i being blown away by the strong and faithful in sycamore/dekalb, illinois just digging into raw worship times with our God, i'm getting all involved in minneapolis with the holy saints here loving God through art, i'm hanging on the words of my good friend sarah who is tearing it up in Kenya... and through out it all there is this firm foundation of all the experience and friendships i had in Essex, England and Gods like "come on tina... use it all to worship me". I'm buzzing off the high my friends and family are having with the holy spirit and am sooo eager to take a hit as well!

I literally ran out of the house i was staying in and called one of my girl friends, Ruth, in illinois and was like "ahhhhhhh can we pray about living in this vision of gathering... prayer, art, space, and worhsip". Ruth, who was currently on a mission trip to s. dakota was all "this is sooo God and sooo yes!" i'm well excited to just spend some time gathering the life experience and the stories of God and then spending a night just celebrating it! God wants us to be spurred on by what he is doing and that happens when we as the body of christ push each other to be all that we can in Christ!!

So a big thank you to my brothers and sisters in Christ for fighting the good fight and digging into what God has called you to because it is completely impacting the world in more ways than you know! Keep it real!

me.. this girl!!?! nahhh

Posted by Teen Bean

who would imagine i was this girl?

So, Sunday more i clammered out of bed trying to be on time, but failing desperately. For about a half hour i just keep rushing around trying to make life fit into the control of the kitchen microwave clock, but... its a lost battle. Defeated, i figure i better find a better way to make the most of this day. So i just waltz up to my room and decide to start the day the way I shoulda with God. Caught up in the moment i just can't help but praying for everyone I love and the journey that God is taking them on... spilling out my heart to him and my concern for my friends and family, time again gets away from me but this time i don't care... as i finished, i just felt so refreshed to be reminded that i'm not alone (how often i have to be reminded of that!). God also placed on my heart an urgency to meet up with this girl that i knew from my old university town.

So, I end up heading to my old university town to see if i can find this girl. Now i've been praying for my friends, and my old town the whole time i was in England, so it was bit surreal to trot in there and be face to face with that physical reality. It made me feel really small. But at the same time so good because this place i left just has an intense pulse for God that just rattles me. It makes me so thirsty for God and yet quenches me in a way i can't describe.

I end up reaching this girl that i needed to talk to and make a plan for meeting up with her later that afternoon. See, during my morning prayer, God really confirmed to me that i had to meet up with this girl today... I knew it was because i had to tell her something, but God wouldn't tell me what it is that i had to tell her. It is weird being a messenger, that lacks the message. She kept asking what exactly we were meeting up to do... I just said i wanted to pray with her... cuz dude i haven't seen this girl in like a year and didn't want to freak her out too bad.

But the reality is, the closer i get to meeting up with this girl the more intense the need to meet her was... but it was confusing as well because I still had no clue what I was suppose to say to her. I kept asking God "yeah, i know you want me to meet up with her, i am... so can you please let me in on what I am suppose to say to her?" But nothing... just silence and now I am minutes away from meeting up with this girl.

What follows can only be described as the masterful plan of our amazing God. As we are sitting there, in our designated meeting spot, I am completely astounded and honored to join the journey of this sister in Christ as she recounts her involvement in God's story. The buzz of what she has been through and how God has stirred her heart is intense and beautiful. Inwardly i'm shaking my head, because as this girl is pouring out her desire to dig into the ministry God has put on her life in my old university town, i'm hearing her spill out phrases and words that dripped from my lips this whole year i've been petitioning for this town to God.

And then, i know why i was brought here. For this time, for this place, for this girl, for this battle. God wanted me to anoint this girl and her ministry. Just like Samuel anointed King David in preparation for a life dedicated to God's Cause, God wanted me to pray the prayer of anointing, leadership, and blessing over this girl. I was shaking so violently on the inside and my eyes got as big as saucers... me??? this girl!?!?

and I knew... it was time to not be afraid anymore. That i had to be for Christ, so she could be for Christ, so that other people could come to be in Christ as well.

As i stood over this girl and spoke God's living plan into her life... the electricity of the moment jump started my passion for how God knows the plans He has in store for us... they are plans to prosper us and not to harm us! Being involved in that simple and completely powerful commissioning, was extreme. Just two girls, one in cut of shorts, both bare foot, sitting in a parking lots, with bugs crawling on our legs, and the vision of God unfolded right, flipping there in front of us. Never have the words that came out of my mouth sounded so powerful or so alive. The heaviness of that moment has imprinted itself on my heart and as we stood in our simple surrounding, I just heard the army of heaven yell "Come On"! As we left that soft grass spot, we no longer walked away two simply summer clad girls, but Warrior Brides; fully dressed for battle, commissioned, and equipped to lead for Christ!

wind in my hair!

Posted by Teen Bean

can i just say that one of my most favorite things about being back in america is driving! And not just any kind of driving, but the old ghetto character driving. I rocked up to my parents house where they kindly let me stay this summer (big kiss) AND they gave me the keys to my very own ghetto-gas guzzling Ford Explore! can i get a woop woop!?!?

so yesterday i had to be famous in Dekalb... took my new party machine and rolled over there. Little in life compares to having the freedom of controlling my very own death defying act! Remember that movie "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken"?... i love that movie... there is this character in that movie Cliff... a young guy that is always searching for his very own "Death Defying Act". He has such satisfaction on his face when he shows the main character, Senora, how he defies death. Yeah that was the look on my face as i flew down Route 38. Windows down, the broken radio forever to be left on loud, no right indicator, shakes like hell if i go over 60 (and you know i can't keep her under 65!) and the ever comfort of the red "check engine" light!

It was amazing. As i flew down the road, it was just so comfortable. i didn't have to think of where i was going, or how traffic flows, or how to actually reach my end destination... i just knew. To top it off, there is no place like home, when i can jam out to Ninty-Seven Zee O.K. radio... my favs like Rob Thomas, Beyonce, Pink, and Jaimee Fox... Zippin past loads of space, corn field after corn field, huge houses sporting big flowing american flags, taco bells on my right and on my left, big ass American TRUCKS... i just smiled and soaked in the pleasure of a perfect midwestern summer day.

Driving down that road... owning a bit of that space... it felt good to be me again. Good to have that control, but the best of all, just having the wind in my hair and belting out out "Halo" by Beyonce! Nothing beats singing in the car... Freedom in her purest form!

Step into my world

Posted by Teen Bean

Its all in the way you see it. I went for a run this morning, determined to start putting more structure in my day. The last couple of days my mind has been running a million miles an hour. This big world we live in and the life i have, just seemed way to open for my liking. As I ran down the ever familiar streets of my childhood, i just kept wondering what this day was all about. But there was no answer; just the ever laborious attempts of my lungs to catch my breath. In an effort to finish my early morning "work out", I cut through a back ally that used to be my proverbial "Play Ground" as a small girl.

I started laughing as i saw these old pipes that twisted out of this building and plugged into a meter reader and took on the exact shape of a horse. If i remember right, that horse took me on many great adventures. Shaking my head as i remembered how hard it was to mount that rusty stead; i continued onward. Soon i was met by the ever scary dungeons or rickety old bridges formed by old window wells that were no more than 4 foot deep. Depending on the day and if i had enough courage to walk across those taunting window wells, sometimes i was the hero, but most the times the damsel. I remember i used to throw toys down into those window wells and then spend the rest of the day figuring out how i was going to rescue them. Then came the ever famous staircase. An odd little staircase attached to the back of this building, that lead up to an odd little cement porch that contained one rarely used back door of a dance school. How that space attracted me. If i wasn't building forts and defending my pride from the neighborhood boys; i was repelling off the side of that porch to escape whatever made up jail i imagined i was in. As i walked up to that staircase, i remembered the best part about my time spent on that odd little cement porch. it was what i could see through that doorway that always attracted me the most.

The red door. It's painted red every summer. The true spender of the red door comes when she would gracefully leave her locked frame and fulfills her purpose by allowing entrance into another world. My little gleaming eyes were like magnets for that open red door. If she was open, you were sure to find my face smashed up against the black screen door that denied full access to her world. and there i would stay perched and wait.... wait for those wonderful childhood moments when you experience life and the rawness of dreaming and hoping and longing... the moment i would see the red door's mystery. It only ever came in pieces. a bit of pink netting there, a spotting of silk covered feet here, the lively and random music that would draw them away from my secretive view of their world. Ballerina's, thats what they were... real ones... and they were my age... little.

I loved those moments of my childhood, because they were raw. No one told me to want that, no one forced me to smash my face up against that screen, no one pushed me to get excited for that red door to open... i just did. In the rawest and most innocent of ways i remember experience life through desire. And i watched and wished beyond everything that i could be one of those girls, dressed in a tutu and dancing ballet. But i never did. I stopped rushing to the red door, i stopping wanting to look in her world, I stopped wanting. so i didn't ever dance with those girls, I never walked through that red door.

I smiled today as i looked up that staircase at the closed red door. Then i looked down the ally at my childhood world filled with dungeons, horses, bridges, and loads of potential adventure... and i smiled again at how much shorter that ally has become.

I might not have ever walked through that red door, and i might never have stood in that mysterious world... But I smiled again

i've danced!! and i'm going to keep on dancing even if no one but me is watching. The red doors opening again and I'm walking in.

I'm going to Graduate School!

with wal-mart and grandma... you can't go wrong!

Posted by Teen Bean

so today i was bound and determined to get a mobile phone... a nice one! i headed out on my quest with my trusty purse, reliable flair, and dead on determination. we rock up to the Verizon store... pretty confident in my abilities to wheel and deal. the customer service lady, Lauren, seems nice enough. she lets me know what packages they offer and answers a few questions i had about international calls and texting. Before i know it, anticipation and excitement are buzzing on my lips as they spill out my next question, "so what free phone options do i get with this plan?"

then the blowing ball drops. "we don't do free phones with our plans" WHAT!?!? WHAT!!!?!? is this not America, are we not consumers, do we not understand customer service and the draw of incentives!?!?! i was so flabbergasted i couldn't speak! I mean in my day when you signed up for a new phone contract they would friggin pellet you with millions of free phone options. but (sarcastic sigh) not today! she then had the nerve to show me the worst line of phones ever, they were seriously going to cost me an arm and a leg. And!!! and then being completely lacking of all my appendages, they had the nerve to require me to jump through about 10 burning hoops to get the smallest fraction of money back in lame rebates! Not only completely rude but highly impossible! the line, any decent consumer would have drawn, had blatantly been crossed.

stumbling out of the store wounded and phoneless, i went to the most obvious source of any American satisfaction, Wal Mart. As i staggered through the store hope slowly began to rise... maybe it was the eye squinting florescent lights or the obviously over stocked bright yellow plastic cups or the ever jammed center isle, but something settled right in my soul. I found the phone section and was pleased to see that indeed there was justice in this cruel world. Not only were the same phones cheaper, they also were not attached to some "let me sever your arms and legs off and force you to jump through burning hoops" rebates. They also were having a sale! and the same phone that was going to cost me $60 dollars, was $8.88!!! (blow out sale!) nice! I talked to the wal mart man, asked some questions, filled out paper work, and settled for the ever cheap insurance.

Ringing up my bill it was announce loud and clear (and with a bit of pride) that my total rang up to $9.48 (with federal tax). with a smile of pleasure i opened my wallet only to be reminded that i had just recently found a wal- mart gift card given to me by my grandma 2 christmases ago! i handed it over to have the amount checked... oh how the heavens rejoice!! not only did i have enough to pay for my phone, but i rocked out of there with .52 cents to spare. i walked out of that wal-mart the proudest new owner of an Envy Verizon phone!

so a big thank you 1st to wal-mart for keepin it real and 2nd to my grandma for supporting my reality!


tina proverb #1 those that shop for verizon phones at verizon shops will soon come face to face with loss... its not the place to shop!

self relocation project: take 1

Posted by Teen Bean

so despite my efforts, my time in England has come to an end. Thursday came with every warning possible. to be fair i stayed my last night at hannah lawtons and she and i stayed up until the sun started to rise... as if to fight back the arrival of the day by merely refusing to invite her in normally! (sadly i didn't work!). Thursday came, the last boxes were packed, good byes were tearfully exchanged, and i soon found myself sitting on a plane ready for take off. 

there is something final about sitting on a plane; it seemed to yell "its finished' with every snapping shut of the over head cabinets. Everyone just sat there, face my future with out a care in the world with what it was doing to my heart. I actually had to grit my teeth and mental tell myself not to rush off the plane.

8 hours later i arrive in Chicago. there is something about ending a journey you never wanted to begin that just saps loads of energy from you, but thank God for a family with bright smiles and eager hugs. my parents and two sisters collected me from the airport. Still the same it was a rough night. I was hurting loads and sadly found myself giving into some really bitter and negative thinking. I struggled settling and assumed that I no longer had an identity in this new place i found myself. I didn't feel like a daughter, a sister, an American, a newly graduated transit student... i just felt lost and completely alone. Morning came and if physical clouds could indicate the ability for new light to be shed on a situation, then i was freaking staring at a black sky. In self pity i dwelled in my misfortune and had no clue what God was thinking. 

unsure of what i should do i decided to do what i would have done back in the 'promise land'... so i went for a prayer walk. the moment i left my house i started my pity talk with God. "why did you drag me away from what i love? no one wants me here. i don't fit in with my family. they don't understand me. no one understands me. I'm alone. this isn't going to work. you didn't see this did you? What am i going to do?" i hated that i was being so selfish, but i figured if God had just listened to me in the first place and let me stay in England, things would be so much better right now. selfishly i said "God i need to know some way how this is going to work... the mess of life and my place in my family and my call for this summer" 

i walked two blocks... two blocks... and i randomly ran into my great uncle kyle. Let me tell you, i don't know my uncle kyle that well... a few random holiday's here and there, but that would be it. So tell me, tell me how this happens... before a min goes by we are talking about how powerful prayer is. He is telling me how prayer chances everything. He pours out how we have to love people by serving, how he is determined to pray (enough so that he spends 30 years praying for his son to have transformation of heart and 4 years ago he got to witness that transformation), he tells me how loving people is about building relationships and drawing along side them no matter where they are at. I'm flippin blown away and thank him so much for living a life so courageously for Christ. he tells me the story isn't done yet and asks if i have time to hear it.... at this point my blood is pumping and my soul is stirring in one of those great ways when you know God is ready to speak to your heart... i tell him i have time.

he then tells me a great story of generations pasts. How my great great grandfather used to be the local pastor in our community. My uncle Kyle had been tracking down info on the family history and found out that this relative of mine, used to gather with other church leaders of that time.... great people like john wesley and have these huge prayer meetings. With tears in his eyes my great uncle explained to me how these church leaders felt a huge responsibility to pray for their future generations to come... to pray that they would have deeply personal and impacting moments with our great God. My great uncle kyle looks at me with more love and passion and encouragement, and continues to explain to me that our family history is woven into the foundation of the church. With eyes still on me, he tells me how, we as the following generations, have a great call on our lives and that God is going to stay true to his promises. 

My great uncle kyle challenged me right then and there, on the streets of the small town i was born in, to live up to the dedication my family history shows we have for building the church. He stirred the passion of my soul to continue in this legacy of praying for the the future generations to come. It reminded me how important my family is and how much many of them have and do live constantly in this call to be the church. As we talked, our conversation poured the light of understanding in my life and i realized how much of a place i have in my family and how God is going to use the power and position i have in my family to answer the prayers of the faithful men and women of the past. He also confirmed in me that indeed i was going through a self relocation process... one that included me taking me, and my selfish attitude, out of the center of life and putting Christ back where he belongs. 

As we parted ways, i gave God all the praise for loving me enough to confirmed it through family that i am loved, and wanted; planned, and purposed. I might be a fish out of water, but lucky for me I've got a God whom rivers of running life flow and i know there's enough on tap for even the driest of life situations...