Hi Everybody! It's Maria. Remember me? Allow me to re-introduce myself to those of you who've long since archived any memory of me. For others who are more recently aware of my current status, feel free to not read on.
It has been however, an age and a day since I've spoken to many of you and I regret my delay in sharing my life ventures of this past year or so, so for you, feel quite obligated to read the following. Totally kidding. =)
With some help from a gifted professional, I just got this blog deal "officially" up and running with the new design and hope that this will be a place you can - if interested - find out more regularly what I'm up to and such. I tried to get a Christmas letter out, before 2005 drew to a close, but that obviously didn't happen. Now that summer of 2006 is nearly in full swing, I'll try and catch you up on what's been happening with me as of late. First off, let me say that I hope you have witnessed and recounted the goodness and mercy of God in tangible ways and will take some time to hear about how God has been working in my life as well. I pray also, that you will all, tangibly experience, His faithful, beautiful love in your hearts and lives as each day dawns, understanding, as I too am learning, that His mercies are in fact as He says, new every morning.
Well, I suppose we can get on with the more "newsy" stuff now - so - let the word caravan begin... =)
Since my move to Southern California January of last year, my life has been on a course of refining and illumination. Being largely removed from the comfortable and familiar God has illustrated to me, my absolute need for Him. His gentle, instructive ways have allowed my spirit to yield and be more aware of His perfect direction. Incredible lessons in His faithfulness have been mine to ponder and learn. Even in times where circumstances did little to confirm that I was in fact, in "His will" - my spirit remained in a increasingly solid place of surrender. I find that we often long for obvious change through "result-oriented" faith. Yet, confirmation of His goodness and provision (despite "evidence") reinforces faith in our hearts. In that, my time/my life here, has been made better. It is becoming increasingly obvious to me, that the constant hope of my life cannot be built on anything less than Jesus and HE is always enough. I yearn to surrender fully to that, finding solace in the fact that He is the Prince of the peace I so desire.
Living in California seems a foreign place so much of the time - quite unlike what I've been spoiled with back home in beautiful Oregon. I've missed home badly at times, but, I've grown - adjusted - and am really beginning to embrace life here, "blooming where I've been planted" as someone wisely suggested I do. (grin) It's been important, for survival however to connect with both community and a steady paycheck. God has graciously supplied both.
On November 14th, 2005, I came onboard an independent film company in Studio City, called Every Tribe Entertainment. It's my pleasure to serve as Personal Assistant to the President as well as assist our production staff here. This terrific company was responsible for producing the feature film - "End of the Spear" a beautiful theatrical depiction of how 5 North American Missionaries came to bring love to a violent, indigenous Ecuadorian tribe. Their story weaves a legacy of hope...testifies to God's love, and the power of redemption. This amazing film released in theatres on January 20th 2006. (www.endofthespear.com) and released today, Tuesday, June 13th on DVD. You can purchase the DVD for friends and family from these links at bestbuy.com , walmart.com or amazon.com. Sounds like an advertisement doesn't it? I don't mean to give a shameless plug, I'm just trying to look out for the home team, you know? =) Being part of this unique company - whose heart is to see cultural change through movies that nudge an audience toward good by planting seeds of love and devotion to God without being preachy - is a big privilege, so I want to share with you all the things that progress here, particularly as it relates to my journey.
Just as I have been honored to connect with Every Tribe Entertainment, the spring of last year (wow, that's how tardy I am in updating everyone) also brought about a blending of hearts, journeying into an emerging community of believers known as Basileia. Pronounced: bass'-ih- lay-uh) derived from the Greek, in Aramaic meaning: "royal power, kingship, dominion." It's the word used in the Lord's Prayer: elthetô hç basileia sou (your kingdom come, your will be done). Our self-described "point people" are 2 truly amazing people. David and Anita Ruis, who with their 4 kids, hail from Canada. They moved a short 3 and a half years ago to the LA area feeling the call of God to relocate here, (nowhere their family ever dreamed of landing either). Funny how Jesus likes to mess with us! =)
Many of you may be familiar with David. He's written worship music through the Vineyard church (into which we're integrated by association/accountability). The body of Basileia doesn't live communally, (although it would be convenient to share rent in this craze of jacked-up property costs), but we have that flavor: united - not merely provisionally, but exuberantly, lovingly, and practically. Our goal is to be increasingly true and transparent, expressing compassion and care in pragmatic ways. Basileia's mission is "our passion to see a Christian urban monastic community emerge beyond programs and buildings, marked by a deep commitment to the fusion of spiritual disciplines and social impact expressed through the vibrancy of shared life engaged with the culture at large" I Corinthians 12:12-27. One Sunday a month, we pull together something we call "The Gig" - inherited from the name of the club at which we meet. Yup, that's right, I said club!...right in the heart of the original "get down tinsel-town" - Hollywood. We meet to reach out to one another and to anyone who would drop in for some worship, teaching, a hug, and some hope. Included in this get-together is a fantastically tasty meal prepared by near professional chefs we're privileged to have amongst our family.
We also have some weekly gatherings at various "in-touch" gatherings at our amazing new Loft space, Basileia's living room if you will. The pulse of our community is prayer and the fuel by which we stand surrendered to God's leading and direction about this venture. So, we have "PULSE" meetings - commonly known as good ole' fashioned prayer times - twice a week on Monday and Wednesday evenings. After Wednesday’s prayer, this past week, we've been venturing out into the streets of LA, exploring kingdom ministry w/the poor & marginalized. This is also, very much at the heart beat of this community, which thrills me. I look forward to growing in my true understanding on living out kingdom ministry in these times with both anxious anticipation and thrill to watch God move in His might, in and amongst us. HE is able and I remain humbled and awed at the opportunity to live out of the place of love He calls us to.
Another cool thing is that this last February, we began to develop a leadership track deal, discovering again the foundation core values of Basileia and what establishes us as a community. We have about 25 people who have committed to 6 sessions of 4 hours each that are be lead by an incredible woman named Sheri. She has moved down from Canada about 9 months ago to be a part of our community and has been extremely instrumental in Basileia's formation and development. Misty actually got to come to one of our leadership meetings when she came to visit me back in April, so that was cool!
I thank God that I do not walk through this life alone, no matter where I am located at geographically. Rather, He has garnered for me, friends, family and those of the flock that foster growth, and a desire to cultivate atmospheres of true fellowship. I've been learning that for principles of the Kingdom to be realized in tangible ways, it requires authenticity, diligence, a willingness to be inconvenienced, and a commitment to lay aside agenda and program - welcoming instead the often laborious nature of long-suffering and the act of walking in community with the Body. He was broken for us - shouldn't we at least be stretched for one another? Tough realities to see actualized I think, but again, He is more than enough.
I am growing increasingly comfortable with the dichotomy of God's kingdom being a mystery and look forward to where this crazed adventure with Jesus leads.
I think I've more than burned out your eyes with reading my dissertation here. If I've lost anybody along the way, I can all but guarantee that future posts will not be this wordy. I think I'm just trying to catch every one up and share some contemplations of life as of late. But, I will say adieu for now, and will hopefully be more closely in touch this way from here on out.
Please feel invited to e-mail me or post something on here, whatever suites you. I would LOVE to hear from you and reconnect so - bring it on...
Ciao for now. Love to all