Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why Every Life Matters

How dare we.

How dare we get into little wars of who matters more.

How dare we say "my skin color means my life, and the lives of those like me, matters (exclusively)"

Obviously, that's not what people are explicitly saying, now is it? But it is by every means what they are implying, even when they do not intend to.

Isn't that just how things go? We cause the biggest offenses when we do not intend to.

How dare we.

How dare we say we are superior to one another on the basis of our skin or the uniform we wear or the people that we know or the job that we have.

How dare we decide to implement a system of status and importance on a person's life, and display it like brats in front of the eyes of children who are watching people say "I am better than you"

How dare we.

How dare we think one life is more precious than another, all lives are precious.

Every person, who has ever existed, in the history of the world, bears the Image of a perfect God. And if that person never saw outside the womb or if that person has seen the whole world, it does not matter because every single person is an Image bearer.

Every person was made, in the Image of God.

Every life matters, every single one, because the Father so lovingly planned out the days for each and every life. Not even the hairs on your head are miscounted by Him.

Brothers, sisters, fellow human- our sole purpose in life is to bring God glory. That sounds churchy, and impossible and impractical, and a whole gamit of other things. But its what our lives are built for. See the thing is, we can chose to give Him the glory, in all things, but if you give it or not, He's going to get it.

Let me be clear, GOD. GETS. THE GLORY. But we don't give it to Him when we decide that one of us is better than another. We don't give it to Him when we decide that because I am ________, I matter more.

We matter because we are apart of His plan for His glory and we have to stop because this isn't about us!

When "us" is the focus, the focus is wrong!

The sinner and the saint, Christ has died for both. There was no requirement we had to meet for Him to die for us. I am not better than you, because Christ suffered for us both. I am not better than you, because especially in the matter of eternity, I stand in the same, desperate, helpless place as you do. I am not better than you because like you there is nothing I can do to change that.

Our lives only matter because Christ has given us value. Our lives only matter, because He is worth living for. Our lives only matter because He is worth all the glory. Forever and ever.

Finding Stillness

The ac finally cut off. It's been roaring for what seems like forever. Isn't it funny how irritating sounds like that are when you don't need whatever it is making that sound? (As in, I'm freezing right now.)

I'm the kind of person that generally loves sound. When I'm home alone, I will often cut the TV on in the living room, and have music playing in the kitchen while I work because I like having sound. I don't like feeling like I'm alone. Even though I love my alone time, I like it better when there's people in the house. You get me? I like being by myself a lot, but I like knowing there's people around. So sound satisfies when I am home by myself.

And yet, sometimes the noise is endless. Sometimes it drones on and on, pounding in my ears, relentless. Sometimes I can't handle it. Sometimes the ac makes me what to smack its creator.

I think the need for silence is God given. I think we shove so much down our throats and into our ear canals that we stop hearing Him. And yet He waits as patient as He was yesterday, and will be tomorrow, beckoning us gently to a place of silence and stillness with Him.

"He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth.'" (Psalm 46:10)

We are a people so full of sound, we forget the stillness He calls us to. Honestly, I have no extensive point for this post, I'm just straight up too tired so this is about as deep as it's getting.

Cut the TV off, turn the music down, sit before the Father. Be still before Him. He is God. He will be exalted.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Dear Future Husband

Dear Future Husband,

Per the sage advice of several older, wiser women, I have worked as hard as I possibly can to shed my expectations of you. For ten or more years, I have tried as diligently as I can to drum away my ideas of your face, physique, and voice. I've chased away images of you working on your car, or painting in our flat. I've put ideas of your hobbies, jobs, interests, tastes in music, food, and movies, and even your nationality out of my mind. I have tried to erase my expectations of your personality, your temper, your background, your height, your hairstyle, your everything. It is so sorely unfair of me to have expectations of you, and I know that from time to time, I've built some up, and I don't have it all right. But I think I've done ok putting an image of you out of my mind.

But there's something you need to know.

For as many ideas that I don't have about you, I have so many for our marriage.

I have been the blessed daughter of two amazing people. But the legacy goes deeper. You see, I watched as my grandparents, married sixty years, kissed and held hands. I watched as my ailing grandfather wept over seeing his Darling in a rehab environment. Even thought I know it's helping her get better, his mind couldn't grasp it. And that's a thing that I love. She is still so patient with him.

Even with his fragile mind, she loves him. Even when his world is muddled and confused and frustrating, she's the only thing he knows and loves. Even when he asks the same question 15 times in a row; even when he forgets what he's done with her things; even when she can't physically handle helping him do things, she still loves him. Her love is deeper than "in love". His love is deeper than "in love".

They have built a marriage of "Three Strands", and 60 years, two kids, 9 grandkids and a growing number of great grands later, this is so evident. The only constant in their life, is the cord of Christ, the cross of Christ.

This is the expectation I have for us. This is the kind of marriage I long for us to fight for.

Better or worse.

Richer or poorer.

Sickness and health.

Love and cherish.

Till death do us part.

I want to be decades deep and still just in love. I want to be 60 years in and still just as willing to love and serve you.

But I can assure you the only way we will ever have this kind of forever love, is if we both are first madly in love with Christ.

So please, wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you're doing, fall in love with Christ first.

This kind of marriage is such a testament to His mercy. Their marriage has brought Him glory...isn't that what marriage should do? Bring Him glory?

Isn't that what our lives are to do? Bring Him glory?

I don't know that I do that well every day, or ever, but I hope I can bring Him glory as a single person until I can bring Him glory as your bride. Until we can with our marriage.

So I will continue to push away expectations of you, but I can assure you I'm storing up many for the quality of our marriage.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

To the One Who Stayed

To the One Who Stayed,

This post is not easy. I feel like I've endured a roller coaster of emotions and I'm trying desperately to get off, but just when I think it's done, that it's all over, it takes another loop. Another uphill climb and another downward spiral. It goes on and on and I'm weary.

Its not all your fault, I get it. But I confess, all day yesterday, until this morning, I was so angry with you. All you wanted to do was leave, but it was so unlike you. You broke my heart and for the first time in the whole of my life I wanted to shout at you.

Sweet, loveable, gentle, docile you.

I wanted to grab your shoulders and plead with you. I wanted to release the floodgate, banging the doors behind my eyes. I wanted to scream and cry and pitch a fit. I wanted to explode for the pain in my heart.

You are so tired. And that breaks my heart. How I want to ease your pain and bring you joy. I can't, but I want to. I know you are tired. I know you are done.

But you're not done.

I am so selfish! I want you to be here with me! I want you to meet whoever I marry. I want to know you approve of him.

I want you to meet whatever children the Lord blesses me with.

I want to talk books and big words with you. I want to talk about family history and geek out over names with you.

I know I'm being so incredibly selfish, but I still want you here.

But if you're ready, there's one thing I need to say:

If you're going to leave, I understand. I love you, I'm going to miss you, and I promise you I'm going to cry a lot, but do me one favor. Please, just one.

When you leave, be you. Be you when you go from here.

Do you remember who you are?

You're sassy but sweet. You like scrabble and novels and fresh picked figs. You like coffee infused water and gooey butter cake. You like things that grow and you always have plants in your windowsill. You like bird watching, wave watching, and 500 piece puzzles. You follow baseball, and basketball and a mired of other sports I didn't even realize.

You have the patience of a saint! You've endured 30+ years of excruciating pain with minimum complaint, and been the faithful, joyful wife of an ailing man. And the gentle, peaceful woman in the life of so many.

So when you go, please! Please be you! You've fought wars of loving a PTSD husband, crippling arthritis, a number of other minor and (semi)major surgeries...so when you go, please don't just wane to another war, you're a fighter, a soldier. When you go, go like you. Still be you. Leave the way you have done all things: with gentleness and strength; the kind I hope to one day attain. Stay the lady I love and admire so very much.

But for now, one last thing.

If it's ok with you, please stay.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Firefly Forest: A story about Jesus

Earlier this week, I read an article that hit me right between the eyes. You know, that spot that connects your thinking brain to your convicted heart. The article is good, by all means please go read it, but it was one line that triggered a memory that brought a smile to my face and proved her point simultaneously. (Side note, if you chose not to read the article for whatever reason, it is a wonderful and convicting post and not as worldly feely as this quote makes it sound, this quote is simply something that jumped out at me.)

"when humans experience awe...we become less individualistic, less self-focused, less materialistic, more connected to those around us. In marveling at something greater than ourselves, we become more able to reach out to others."
I was driving back into town tonight, reflecting on Bible study and all that we had talked about. I had referenced this article, specifically the portion about (obviously not verbatim here) how when the focus is us, the focus is wrong, but when our heart is one of awe of God, our focus is right, and our awe drives us to reach out to others. My dear friend listened quietly as a I rattled on and on about the memory that this one little quote had sparked.
It was summer before senior year. I was young, hopeful, and all kinds of selfish. How I wish I could say I wasn't, but don't we all. I was perfectly happy to be on this missions trip to Philadelphia, no fight there. But could have done with out the incessant bathroom themed jokes from the abundant amount of middle school boys who had somehow secured a spot on this trip. As one of the few high schoolers there, we had few options of people to hang out with and chose instead to be all together. For the most part this was fine. But after a few days of it, my total lack of brothers growing up became increasingly clear. Its amazing how fast you can learn to tune something or someone out...by day three I'm pretty sure I had thoroughly installed my "middle school boy" filter. So one night when they came running up to me and my best friend, huffing and puffing and obviously overexcited, it was all I could do to listen to them go on and on about the "GROVE OF TREES" that we "ABSOLUTELY HAD TO SEE RIGHT THIS SECOND BEFORE THEY WENT AWAY!" Literally the only reason my attitude-ed self tuned into them was because the only things these boys got excited about were, food, farts and video games. And since I'm pretty sure the weren't coming to fill me in on the latter two, and we had already had dinner, I listened. And to this day, I'm so glad I did.
After they all took a breath and could speak more than one word between gasps for air, they got out that in this little grove of trees, just into the woods at the edge of camp there were innumerable fireflies. Since that was clearly a big word for their vocabulary my friend and I decided to go see the "firefly forest" as they had been calling it. A few steps down into the woods, and you hit a clearing, and you didn't even have to look up, your eyes could see it everywhere. Thousands, if not millions of fireflies dotted the canvas of dark trees against a gently lit sky.
Awe doesn't even begin to describe it. Not one person could believe or shake it. So the few high schoolers that had gotten wrangled into going down there promptly turned around and ran out- everyone needed to see this.
We raced back to the camp, gathered up blankets, sleeping bags, tarps- anything people could sit on, and the hand of anyone who would listen to us talk about the fireflies in the forest. After grabbing things up as quickly as we could we raced back down to the little grove- not wanting to miss a moment of the light show God had set there.
We laid out our blankets and laid in a circle, just staring at them all. So overwhelmed by the little piece of majesty we were watching.
And here's where things got intense. One by one, middle school right up to high school, boys and girls, grabbed the hand of the person sitting next to them. Some prayed a loud, some shouted attributes and qualities of God, other sang, and still others were so struck by awe, they were silent. I had never had worship quite like it, so raw, so vulnerable- so full of awe.
We all marveled. We all sat in this little bit of glory. And we worshipped. And we only knew about it- because the awe of the moment touched the hearts of six middle school boys. It moved them beyond themselves to tell everyone, anyone, about what they had seen.
Friends, when the focus is us, the focus is wrong. Be awed  by our Savior. If you look at the mountains, praise their Maker. If you look at the sea, praise its Creator. Allow these wonders to be the vehicle to awe- and not the point of praise. But look for them! If you aren't awed by Him, find it again. Praise Him for it. And then tell others.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The journey ahead: all that is new

So since I don't like the "media bombs" people sometimes drop, I thought I would give the world a proper update on me.

Well first things first, lets go back to January. Yikes, I know, January. And not just January, early January. I went to Atlanta with some friends for the Passion conference. It was an incredible weekend, and when I came home my parents informed me that the company my dad worked for was going under. Since my dad found out he began actively working towards a new job. Nothing was panning out the way we thought it should.

The story is full of lots of God ordained, beautiful details. The way that all the pieces fell into place was a work only He could have accomplished. Maybe someday I will get my parents to do a guest post so you can give God the glory He so deserves in all He did for them.

So all of that to say, long story short, after some conversations and a whole lot of prayer, my parents moved forward, and they are opening a gelato and espresso shop.

YIKES. Yay! What? Seriously?!

YES. To all of the above.

My parents are taking a terrifying leap of faith right into the arms of God. I'm proud of them. The timeline is all His, and we don't know when the shop will open, but it will open when God intends it- because nothing has happened unless He has intended for it to. He knows best in all things, the faith this is instilling is vital.

So where does this leave me? Back to January...

My career as a nanny was literally all over the place. I was working for a school teacher as my main job, and doing some part time childcare for some long time family friends. Their situation, however, was changing and they were needing something more consistent. I love the kids, love the parents, love the grandparents- it made sense. So I jumped in with two feet, and by February I had three kids under the age of three; all in (cloth) diapers. Three different schedules, two different families. It was me and three little people that needed me to remember that this one couldn't eat this and that this one has to go down at this time. I had to have this kids on a rigid schedule or something important would be forgotten. (like naps. more than once...) Their diaper changes were scheduled for Pete's sake. To say I was overwhelmed is to put it lightly. I was frazzled, burnt out, stressed out and exhausted. I had Irish triplets and no idea what to do with these three precious babies.

By April I was a literal mess. The Bible study I was "leading" was not getting my best. In fact they were just sort of getting my leftovers. I didn't like to say I was leading, I said I was "facilitating" because leading was too much responsibility. I guess I thought that if I called it something else and didn't put the work in, it would be ok. But it wasn't. By the middle of spring, the study had all but fallen apart. My help around the house was all but nonexistent, and my social life was certainly no better.

It all started adding up, the best way I knew to give something of quality to these other areas of my life was to take the energy from somewhere else. But as I have learned, when you spread yourself too thing, you run out of "you" to spread. When I finally realized that I was no longer giving my best to the babies, that they didn't have my full energy, creativity, and enjoyment, I knew something had to change. I loved them, but in order to survive, I had to have way to much of a schedule. Not that schedules are bad!!! I was just so locked into it, that none of us were enjoying it- me or the babies. So I gulped down the pride, and gave the family my notice. Can we please just get real for a second? This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Those kids, those precious babies, meant and mean so much to me. My sassy girl and my capuchin monkey man. My kiddos. I loved them. I do love them. Letting them go, however, was the most loving thing I could do for them. They needed to be in their home, on a freer schedule, with someone who had the energy to dedicate to helping grow their creativity and curiosity. They needed something I could not be at this point in my life. So in May, I said good-bye as their nanny and returned to my place as long time family friend and occasional babysitter.

For like, a split second, life chilled out. It was kind of...smooth sailing. I should have known.

I felt like I was doing better with just the one little guy. My baby baby. I've had the kid since he was 2ish months old. He's going to be two soon. Which, isn't a ton of time, ok, I get it. But that's most of his life. I've walked this kid through hours of sleepless naps, argued over quinoa, and cuddled the teething crankies away. I got to help him learn how to walk, speak, learn his shapes and colors. I've been able to teach him signs, Spanish, counting and how to work a crowd (go on, ask him if he pooped his diaper. It's hilarious.)

Needless to say, I had no intention of quitting. I was going to keep my baby, work for my parents over the summer (working for the school teacher came quite handy at times like summer. And holidays.)  and come fall, when I went back full time for them, my parents' shop would be up and running enough, that me being there part time would be enough.

But remember that whole "God is controlling the timeline" thing? Yeah well, if my plan had panned out, my parents would have been open by now and all of ^that would have been fine. But as it is, they aren't even going to be open in the next four weeks. Since this is a "family owned and operated" and everyone else was not able to walk away from what they were doing in life, it was down to me. I was and am the only daughter that will be able to dedicate the kind of time they need.

If we're being totally honest, I knew I didn't want to nanny forever. I did not, however, anticipate leaving it so soon. And yet here I am: walking away from the only career I have ever known. My older sister is sending her baby to kindergarten this year. I would have loved to see my guy that far and then had a parting at such time. But our end came three years sooner.

I'm going to sound super Greek when I say this, but babies are all I have ever known, really. It is the only job I have ever really had.

So, after some prayer and council from my parents, today I took a giant leap of faith. I quit my job, the only job I have ever truly known, and have agreed to work for my parents (as a barista....so. there's that)

YIKES. Yay! What? Seriously?!

Yes. To all of the above.

If you asked me five years ago where I saw myself in five years, I wouldn't have said as a barista in my parents gelato shop. It's not what I imagined for me. To be honest, I've been pretty scared to dream. As totally downer as this sounds, dreams don't seem to pan out too well for me. So I stopped trying to hope for something, and just take each day, each new challenge as it comes. It reminds me of a quote I read, probably on Pinterest, "Maybe the plans God has for me are better than the plans I had for myself." Really it was when I let go, and stopped trying to rip into every door I saw, that the one I'm pretty sure I am supposed to walk through was placed right in front of me. A big neon sign blinking saying, "This is the One". I'm not just stepping into a new job- I am totally switching gears here. I can't wait to be around new people all day. Meeting them and getting to know them. Learning my regulars and learning their stories. I can't wait to be surrounded by the smell of coffee all day. I can't wait to get to be in such a unique and special place with my parents. Working full time, the three of us. I can't wait to see if this is a "reason or a season" (God will use it in my future, or what He will teach me through it...or both.)

I'm terrified, excited, nervous, sad, ready, and totally unprepared all at once. But one thing I guarantee:

I. Can't. Wait.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Girl Meets World: why you should be watching it

Ok so if we're being honest, the quality of Disney channel has drastically decreased in the last 12 years(and yes...I vaguely remember Disney of the late 90's early 2000's.) The Disney I grew up with sported movies with quality lessons and a promotion of higher character. Movies like "The Color of Friendship" tackled  the tough issue of  racism in recent America. Tru Confessions told the tale of a sister and brother duo as she learned to love him, his autism and his gift to her and their family. And Tiger Cruise dealt with the American tragedy of 9/11. These movies were made for kids, and they maintained an age appropriate format for dealing with content; but they dealt with content.
Nowadays kids get movies with titles like "Teen Beach Movie" and characters where the parents are idiots 300% of the time, and the kids are always right, even when they're wrong. The storylines are cheesy, the writing is messy, and the characters are stupid. Almost everything Disney has put out in the last 10 years has lacked quality. (***Note the "almost")
So when the classic show "Boy Meets World" was getting a reboot, my sisters were pretty hesitant. BMW was before my time, so I actually didn't care about this new spring off series. It was my little sister who began watching first, and I decided to sit in on an episode. One "huh-hurr" and I was hooked.
These are in no particular order, but here are 10 Reasons Why You Should be Watching "Girl Meets World":
1) Not every issue presented in each episode is wrapped up neat and tidy at the end. I like the element of realistic that is added, not so subtly, to this show. It doesn't leave you feeling depressed (at least not often), and it doesn't leave you with unrealistic expectations for your own life. The show creates a situation, that feels familiar, and relatable. And lets be honest, it keeps you coming back for more.
2) For once, the parents aren't total idiots. Ok, so Corey is a DORK and Topanga doesn't seem to be maybe the most street smart mama (as in sometimes the current cultural things go over her head) but the parents, for once, are not idiots. In fact, unlike most Disney media, the kids seek the help of their parents more often than not. And when they don't, they face and deal with the consequences of that. Corey and Topanga are the coolest TV parents I've ever seen- and they are active in both their children's lives, and the lives of their children's friends.
3) The characters! It takes no time to find your favorite, your personality, your conflict, and your crush(yeah, lets be honest. The show does in fact sport some good looking people. {Shawn Hunter though}) They develop the characters so incredibly well. There is thought given to every storyline and each character is unique and consistent, yet displays continual growth. They grow them up well, and accurately, which sometimes means not so gracefully.
4) The story spans most ages. My little sister (15) started watching the show first, and in no time, everyone of my sister and both of my parents were watching, and enjoying this show. Although it centers on middle schoolers, it doesn't relate only to middle schoolers.
5) There's always a lesson or greater purpose. Sometimes the lessons are deeper than others, but unlike past shows, there is something of meaning in every episode, and not just a show for laughs. They have addressed everything from bullies to beliefs to self weaknesses to autism. They haven't shied away from tough issues, and the episodes have opened up conversation gracefully.
6) There's equal amounts of laughter and heartbreak. In a single episode you can laugh till your belly hurts, and cry real tears. Riley is funny, and goofy and outgoing, and she makes you laugh. But her best friend, Maya, has a tragic story that causes you to feel some deep emotions. Outside of the characters personal stories, many episodes were just straight up emotional. I have ugly cried in more than one episode.
7) There's an equal focus of importance on family and friendship. Although more of the show focuses on Riley and her friends, there is an incredible focus on family. She relies heavily on the wisdom of her parents, especially her dad, and is often brought back to a place of recognizing their importance in her life.
8) YES parents, they deal with boy/girl issues, but they do it in the most tasteful way I've seen yet. For those who care, **SPOILERS AHEAD**
There is something of a love triangle that forms, and so it is a topic of conversation often- but not "every episode" kind of often. I think they way they have handled the boy/girl stuff has been in a format that encourages open dialogue between kids and parents. There aren't secrets kept from parents.
9) There is an open story for real things that real people deal with. I mentioned earlier that they cover everything from bullies to autism, but its true. They really do deal with a number of issues. Smaller scale issues, like learning that the universe doesn't revolve around them. To the bigger issues like, friends becoming the children of divorce, or a friend being diagnosed with autism. It almost doesn't matter who you are, there is a piece of this story you can connect with.
10) It is by far one of the cleanest, funniest, sweetest, most family friendly shows on TV today. In a world where 11 year olds are watching and pining after the lifestyle of the Kardashians, this show is a breath of fresh air. Girls in wacky clothing, behave (generally) age appropriate, and work through real life issues in a format that is open for viewers of any age to enjoy. 

At almost 22, I am so unashamed for loving this show. 

Already seen in? What are some of your favorite reasons for watching this show? 

Interested in watching? Seasons 1&2 are on Netflix and season three is showing on Disney now! Let me know if you love it as much as we do!