Thursday, June 29, 2017

Not Enough

Shocker, but I have an inability to find a balance between too honest and not honest enough on social media. This is more thank likely one of the "slightly too honest posts" so please, bear with me.

The last few weeks have sent me spiraling through a mired of emotions. I have teetered the tightrope of this tension, and truthfully I have fallen off of it several times. I have never in my life felt more sorry for myself than I have the last few weeks. With the height of emotion passed, the last few days have been full of quiet introspection and scrupulous self examination. I have replayed things in my mind countless times. Not just the events of that moment, but of all the moments that led us there. Every thought, moment, word and memory I can conjure up, I have, and then examined it. Was I crazy? Was I wrong?

After playing through everything in my mind and going over it, I don't think I was wrong or crazy, and I have come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, something else was better. I was left as second best, and the question that has plagued me is why. What made the "something else" better? why wasn't I enough?

The question and I daresay even the realization it brought with it has been a final blow. On more to the lower gut, reminding me every day for the last week, someone in my life thought someone else was better and it has been painful.

So today, while sweeping the floor, I was feeling the weight of it and wallowing in self pity. The shop was quiet, and then I felt the Father's loving words pour into my heart: you were never meant to be enough.

Friends, this grieved me to my core- because it revealed to me that I have allowed this passing hurt to consume me, and I have lost my Gospel focus. These words, this beautiful reminder, has almost nothing to do with failed human relationships, insufficient capabilities for a job, or the opinion of myself from others; it has everything to do with the cross of Christ. I have taken my eyes off of Jesus, His sacrifice, and the reality that I was never meant to be enough, but He is.

I was asking myself why I couldn't be enough to meet this need in another person, but it was never my job. I was never meant to be "enough" for them, no more than my good deeds will be "enough" for Heaven. And perhaps that is the very reason that all of this happened at all: because I have such a works based look on life, and it's wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Father is using this to teach my stubborn heart that no matter how much I "do", it will never be enough. All of my "good" will never be enough. So maybe I was asking a wrong question about a temporary circumstance, but it was a poignant reminder that there has already been an I AM Enough.

I'm so thankful for the refocus on the Gospel in my heart, because I lost sight of it. I lost sight of how important it is to constantly see Jesus as my everything. I don't have to be enough for Heaven or humans or anything in between, because it's Jesus who fills every need, nook and cranny. To think I can fulfill that need in myself or others is flawed and arrogant.

I'm not enough, I never was, I never will be.

But Sweet Jesus is, and that's everything.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Word Vomit

I'm struggling this morning, friends.

This week has been full of ~stuff~ I was wholly unprepared to face. Sometimes I'm ok, and sometimes I'm sitting there and my heart squeezes and I gasp, and cry a little. Sometimes the reality that everything has changed is just too much for me to handle; the reality that things I had hoped for are now no longer viable in my life is just too harsh a reality to deal with.

I'm teetering almost moment by moment between "embrace the pain of this time and grow", "I just want it to all be over" and "I wish it had never happened at all".

My Pop has always wisely said that "people are messy" and loving them is messy, and painful, sometimes excruciating. But I have learned that it is always, always, always worth it. So I scratch that last bit. I wish it had never happened at all. I am inexplicably thankful it did. But I look forward to the day when I can see many reasons to be thankful, because right now I am having to go on faith that the Father had a divine reason for it all. Right now, it just doesn't make sense. I am struggling to see how everything will ever be as good as it was.

I reposted a blog piece I wrote several months back about struggling to see His goodness in my own life, and I confess I am failing yet again to see it. There are details about this whole situation that I am immensely thankful for, and I can see how His goodness is gently laced in this painful thing, but I am struggling to see this painful thing at large as a part of His goodness.

I am trying not to ask the wrong questions of Him, but I'm also not sure what the right ones are. Is there sin in my life that caused this to happen? What do I need to learn from all of this? Have I misplaced priorities and allowed people and other relationships to become idols? Did I begin worshipping His gifts instead of Him?

I confess that it has all caused me to be acutely aware of my own shortcomings. My flaws have danced in my head, lying to me, telling me all these things are why it happened. That if I didn't have these flaws, I wouldn't be in the situation I now find myself.

I know that that's not true, but it feels so severely true. That if I was different, my personality, my character, my looks, my interests, my views, if everything was just a little different, I would still be happy right now.  Please know, I know this is not true, but it feels so incredibly true right now.

I told my sister today that I am looking forward to the one days, when I can see all of the reasons to be thankful for this time, but right now, I'm just thankful for everyone who is here with me during this time. <3


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hey Christians, we're doing it wrong

**DISCLAIMER** This post is not in about tearing others to shreds. But these are things I have on a regular basis seen first hand. It has caused me to change the way that I tip when I eat out, and they way I listen when a friend or customer is talking to me. I simply wanted to call it back to the attention of others, that we have some work to do.

MercyMe droned on in the background as the sweet, modestly dressed young woman slid two $1 bills towards me for her $1.90 coffee. She shifted awkwardly, waiting for me to finish my side of the transaction, and rotated her leather bound Bible so I could clearly see that it was in fact, a Bible. I gave her her $0.10, and she hurried it into her pocket and then over to the corner with her nose in her Bible, coffee cooling on the table. Nothing about this interaction particularly bothered me at the moment, I'm used to people feeling awkward and/or not tipping. It kind of just rolled off my back until a second customer followed soon after who I know for a fact is a professing believer. This time it was a $3.something coffee and a $5 bill. Again they left, again no tip. At this point it bothered me.
A week ago, the shop experienced inexplicable generosity and "loving on" by a local restaurant we've connected with when they allowed us to use their deep freeze when ours crashed (which in case you didn't know, that's bad for an ice cream shop) They then supplied dinner to my family who had worked tirelessly that day to clean up the melted ice cream from the freezer and then transfer the salvageable ice cream to their freezer. We're still in awe that they so willingly allowed us access to their freezer, and gave so much of their time.
I have a customer-turned-friend who is forever offering to pick up lunch for me, just because she knows that she gets out more than I do, and I might enjoy something. Although I haven't taken her up on it yet, she heard me say I couldn't afford a new restaurant I wanted to try, so she popped a $20 in my hand, specifically for this place whenever I get the chance to go. She's heard more than one meltdown rant, shared some shady side eye over really irritation customers, been a comic relief, and we've definitely filled a need in each other for companionship in the shopping strip.
I'm going to guess that someone who preaches karma isn't in an particularly active relationship with Jesus. But if I'm wrong, I apologize. However, the mom sporting her coexist tshirt insisted that her daughter give their change to me as a pay-it-forward to the next customer. It was humbling as the one behind the counter, and humbling for the little girl, and humbling for the young lady that was receiver of the gift.
I've had a lady pay for a $4.74 purchase with a $10 and say keep the change, and a man pay for the same priced drink with a  $20 and again say keep the change, because he just wants to see us succeed.
This is not about the money- the money just happens to be the example. If you look deeper into each example I gave, you'll see that these people have given me so much more than just their money. Some gave time, an encouraging word, or the gift of their friendship.

Why are we as believers so stingy and busy? Why do I see more Jesus style coming from people who do not actively walk with him? Why are believers pocketing their time and money, and keeping their heads down? In case you didn't realize, we're the ones who are supposed to be doing this sort of thing. We shouldn't eat somewhere if we can't afford to tip there- it's not about the money, but believe me, a generous tip is humbling. And your monetary gift my put enough gas in her car for her to get home tonight. If you're too busy, stop it. No one has to be so absolutely busy that they can't just be there for people. We say "oh call any time you need anything" but I'll wager that most of us don't mean it if we think through the implications of what its going to take to actually be there for someone. What if it means using a personal day on someone else? Or getting up at 3am to take someone to the ER, or even just giving up your afternoon to go to that appointment with them.

Jesus had incredible moments of grand gesture love, when what he did was loud, observable, and applauded. But He also loved quietly, practically, and generously. He ate meals with those who's class or reputation was far beneath Him. He talked to and hung out with the outcasts, dirty ones, and lowlifes. When did tangible love become beneath us? When did we stop loving from the overflow of love in our hearts?

We have been so hugely loved, it only seems logical that we would love right back.

To the believers who have "pocketed their change", I love you. And I genuinely hope that you were and are able to bless someone else with your time, because that's what we ought to be doing! I don't have to be nor do I expect to be the receiver of your blessings, but make sure someone is. Let the love Christ has for you burst out of every pore in your being, and love on others. Love freely, love until it hurts. Love until you feel the drain of energy that it takes to truly love someone else. Love completely, love unhindered. I don't care how you do it, just make sure you do. Love, love, love.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

To the Friend Who Gets There First

To the Friend Who Gets There First,

Congratulations on your ______(new relationship, engagement/marriage, new house, new car, new job, new baby, new dog, new experience; life goal/milestone)! I mean it when I say I am truly and genuinely happy for you! As Solomon talks about in Ecclesiastes 3, I am going to be and am happy for and with you during this time! If you and I are long time friends, there's a real chance we dreamed about this as young girls, together. I hope your dreams came true, or are better than you imagined. Because I love you, I hope it all exceeds your expectations. I hope you are choosing to see these things as divine blessings from the Father. And I hope during this time, you are worshiping Him, and praising Him for giving you these desires of your heart! How He loves to bless us! I will be praying for you as this new chapter in your life begins!

I know you're there first. And I know it's exciting and overwhelming and maybe even exhausting, but please, please, please, do one thing for me:

Don't leave me behind.

No, you certainly can't change my circumstances to match yours, and I am not asking you to in the least! But don't leave me out of your life. No I may not understand by experience what its like to be planning a wedding, or nurse an infant in the middle of the night, or running a house, or working as a _____(new profession here). But that doesn't mean I don't want to still be involved in your life!

If you are not allowing me to be apart of things in your life because you feel sorry for me, please believe me that the introspective pity party I have when you don't allow me into your life is actually what sucks. Don't dismiss me from your life because you feel sorry for me, don't think I will get it, or don't feel like we can "relate" anymore. I may not have a husband, but I will still talk about relationship stuff, like we always have, with you. I may not have a baby, but I will still come over and to hang out. Maybe our "hanging out" will be me helping you clean out a closet, or scrubbing all your bathroom floors, but if we're friends, like actual friends, you better believe that's something I will do in a heartbeat. I'm single, no kids, flexible job & schedule. So if your concerned that your schedule is to rigid, let me fit into it- but please, whatever your reason for keeping me out of this season of your life, don't.

Don't feel bad for me, don't pity me, and please please please, don't shut me out. Allow me take part in the joy of this season with you! Because it is joyful!

I love you friend! Please allow me to keep doing just that! <3

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Moonless Seas

Where I have decided to forego the most popular form of social media (ahem, facebook) I have not altogether walked away from it. And today, I am thankful for that. I have a wise friend who posts an impeccably well balanced amount of humor and nuggets of truth. Most days her Hallmark hastags make me laugh, but today, she shared an Elisabeth Elliot quote, and it caused me to ponder greatly the words she shared:

"He is not all we would ask for (if we were honest), but it is precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency. It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my Light!"

Wow. The words gripped my heart and squeezed until I was tender enough to gasp at my arrogance, my insufficient "self sufficiency", my total disregard for how truly sufficient He is.

I think I *know* He is sufficient, but as she said, it seems to be only when He has denied, taken away, or temporarily withheld something or somethings from me, that I begin to see just how sufficient He is.

But I have a confession: sometimes He says no, He takes away, and He withholds, and I still think something else is the ticket. I still deny that He is sufficient enough for me. Sometimes my world is completely dark, and I still deny His help.

May this be a caution we take to heart dear sisters, that we not make our hearts go that far before we lean into Him for His sufficiency.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

22 things I've learned

A few months ago, I turned 22. Yikes.

It's been a mix of emotions being this old and feeling like I'm still leading the life of a high schooler. And yet, I realized that I have learned a lot in the last 22 years. So here's "22 things I know are true at 22". Enjoy. 

1) sometimes bad things happen- and there is no logical reason to be given. They just happen. 

2) sometimes bigger isn't better. This is something poignant I have noticed over the span of my life. For simple example, since working in a coffee shop (which will be a theme in so many of these points) I thought I would enjoy my 16oz cafĂ© con leche more than I would a 12oz- but I can assure you, the 16oz is simly too much, and the flavor is far better in the 12. Just my opinion...

3) friendships you intend to keep may fall apart, and, but they just may last. I have been warned against holding out for friendships to last forever, but trust me- some of them just might make it. It's a conscious choice you both have to make together though. But know, that sometimes circumstances are out of your control and sometimes friendships do fall apart. But I truly believe that friendships, like relationships can be fought for.

4) coffee shops are not quiet work places. I had this beautiful misconception that coffee houses were nice, calm quiet places for study, reflection, and deep conversation. And where those things still do and should happen, a coffee shop is most certainly not quiet. The espresso grinder, the blender, the gelato cabinet's machine running, the ice machine dropping ice, the scurry back and forth when the room is full of people waiting on is not quiet. It's a warm, cozy, and nice place to be, but it is not quiet.

5) everyone has a reason for doing what they've done. Maybe it's not always a good one, but there is one. You don't have to agree with someone's reason, but listen to them. And respect their reasons, no matter how bologna they sound. (this is obviously very different when you are dealing with a small child- but I still believe they deserve to be listened to too.)

6) where you value people who will listen to you, remember that when someone talks to you, they value you listeningThis is a very personal thing, because I crave for people to listen to me (why else do you think I have a blog with grossly long posts?) but being someone who listens is so important. And people value it, more often than not, above your advice.

7) "you will be the same person five years from now, except for the people you meet and the books you read." Charlie Jones. The chance to change is yours for the taking- the trick is to simply take it. 

8) but, in follow up to that, be careful about who and what you choose, not everyone or everything changes you for the better. It is so easy to become influenced without even realizing it. What you read shapes your thinking, who you spend time with shapes your lifestyle.

9) age truly is just a number. There is value in building friendships with people of varying ages. 

10) I don't have to agree with you to be friends with you. I used to be deceived into thinking you could only be friends with people who thought just like you. "Likemindedness" is the term that was used. Where there is an element of that that makes some friendships easier, not every friendship has to be that way. It's ok, and I daresay even healthy to have some friendships with people you ardently disagree with. It causes several things in yourself: you either become firm with what you believe, or have your mind opened to possibilities you never considered. You learn how to fight fair, and how to disagree peaceably. You learn maybe the reasons why other people who believe like them, do believe like them. It also causes you to accept and love people who's political stance, diet choices, and music styles are different from your own.

11) It is good, healthy and Biblical to be quiet. We live in such a "go, go, go!" world, that we forget to just slow down for a bit. Psalm 46:10a says, "Be still, and know that I am God." so just stop every once in a while, and worship Him in silence, in writing, in song. Just be in Him for a little bit.

12) in three years, what ever new thing you bought won't matter. we become so focused on the "stuff" and the "things" we lose sight of the thing that really matters: the people. People have souls, and souls are eternal. Why are we ignoring them?

13) everyone has at least one weird quirk. Do not judge others for theirs, don't be embarrassed about yours.

14) pet peevs only matter to you the moments they happen- don't let them cause bigger issues. I have become so upset with people over trivial issues, that in the grand scheme of things, don't matter. Things that on that fun questionnaire when they ask "what is your biggest pet peeve?" I can't call anything to mind. Because they just don't matter at that point. Stop making them a bigger deal than they are.

15) be friends with people who have different backgrounds, different first languages, different ethnicities, different hobbies, different taste in music, different family dynamics than yourself. Be open to their interests, and so long as it doesn't compromise what you believe, be willing to give it a try. 

16) when you feel lonely, and there will be times when you do, you never know who you will happen upon. So be kind to everyone, and remember that strangers can become friends

17) at every opportunity you are given, try something new. New food, new destination, new sport, new music. Whatever it is, try it.

18) read, learn and remember history. Your personal ancestry, your country's history, your favorite period in time. Read. Go to museums. Watch documentaries. Find people who know about it, and ask them questions. 

19) there are a lot of wise teachers and a lot of good resources, and you should use them, but nothing can replace the Word of God. It's ok to have a favorite speaker/teacher, favorite book, favorite quote, and favorite sermon, but don't press into these things as Gospel truths.

20) its ok to be friends, even good friends, with people of the opposite gender- but certainly safeguards should always stay in place when you are. There is something beautiful that happens when you have those alternate perspectives on things. There is an element of irreplaceability in these friendships. 

21) "my biggest regret was the things I did not say" --- "where words are many, sin is present."
Say what you need to, but no more than that. It is a delicate balance, but essential to find.

22) every person deserves your respect. This is another coffee shop lesson. There have been all sorts walking through our door. Blue hair, alternate lifestyles, face tattoos, people who were drunk, high or both...but every customer deserves to be greeted with the same enthusiasm, and every one deserves to be respected the same. Mistreating someone just because you disagree with them should never be ok. Being mean isn't a way to disagree anyways.

I don't know much, and I will (try to) be the first to admit that. But I do know these things are true. Every day is a gift, use it well. Learn. Grow. God didn't give us feet so we would stay in one place. Seek who He wants you to be, and be that person fully.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

facebook, health and joy right here

Well in case you haven't noticed, my blog has been a bit sour as of late. *Insert every cringe emoji here*

I think we all by nature want to be joyful, and yet by nature are not. I know that's basically the conundrum I have found myself in. Wanting it, but not actually doing it.

There were a lot of reasons riding on the decision, but a week ago today, I decided to leave facebook for an indefinite period of time. I know that sounds so silly, and people may be wondering why on earth I even felt it was worth mentioning. Have you ever heart the term "keeping up with the Jones"? Being active on facebook fuels that like you wouldn't believe.

This in addition to the horrid behavior I was witnessing from people I love, admire and respect were really the basis of my decision to leave. I didn't need a constant reminder that everyone else's life looks better than mine and that politics can tear families to shreds.

Here's just four quick things I have learned since leaving a week ago:

1) I spend way to much time browsing social media
I hate to admit this, especially right at the top of the list. But this was the most immediate thing I realized. I would pickup my phone upwards of 50 times a day (towards the beginning) to just "check real quick" only to unlock my phone and realize the little icon was no longer there. I found myself substituting with other social media platforms (twitter, and instagram namely) but have started browsing there less as well.

2) Anything I need to know about can be found in other formats and places
So I have thought about going facebook free for a while, but my biggest excuse to myself was that it was the only place I was seeing news. And, that was true. But honestly after leaving, I haven't missed the petty and sometimes depressing headlines. I have however chosen to follow a few news outlets on twitter, and have been able to keep up with what I need to.

3) I think, in some way, being off of facebook has made me a more genuine, kinder person
This might be a bit of a stretch, it might not. But I feel like when I see friends I can ask what they have been up to with a more genuine attitude since I don't already know what they've been up to. It has already paved the way for me to be more personable with people I call "friends". As well, it has made me be more genuine. Its not longer just polished, edited photos that I am putting out there. When people see me now, all they see is the real me and however I actually look, not necessarily how I want to look.

and lastly, 4) facebook is not inherently bad
I felt like this was important to mention, because my post can come across judgmental and that I think it's bad, or wrong for people to use. I don't think it's bad or wrong in the least! However, social media, like anything, can quickly become a god and a point of worship- either of self or others. It most certainly had for me. I was comparing my life, even subconsciously, to the lives of those on my newfeed. I think facebook becomes wrong when we start to think our lives are better or worse than everyone's and when we put the use of it above so many other things. I probably spend an average of 1-2 minutes browsing every time I opened the app. That's almost an entire hour of my day that I could spend a different way.

In addition to my mental health, I have decided to get a reign in on my physical health as well. As I have mentioned, I have had a rapid weight gain for no real explicable reason. Where my eating habits aren't great, I certainly don't pig out. However, eating habits are just one facet. My gut health needed to be upgraded as well. So in addition to a daily workout, I have also started drinking one bottle of kombucha every other day, as well as 8-12 ounces of almond milk every morning. Almond milk has numerous health benefits, and many of them tended to be exactly what I needed. (Including boosting metabolism, and increasing kidney health and function- so look into it!) And at only 60 calories a serving, its a great filler without a lot of wasted calorie intake! What better combination?!

Look I'll be totally honest, the past week has been rough emotionally. So many little things have added up, and I have felt weary and joyless. But the Father has tenderly reminded me, that joy is not a circumstance. Joy is not a feeling. Joy is a choice. And I haven't been choosing it. Hold me accountable sisters, because today, I am choosing joy!