Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Simple Joy

Today I felt most normal I have in a long while. I journeyed with a friend into Springfield, and we just took the afternoon as it came. It started with a two hour long trip to Barnes and Noble. Something I have not indulged in in a while. I love sitting and reading, knowing that for however long I'm there, I won't be disturbed. The world around me slowly fades away as I plant myself between the bookshelves and engage into someone else's story. There's nothing like it. Meandering from the books to the magazines, I sat contentedly with Decor magazines, day-dreaming of the home I hope to have, and the crafts I wish I could afford to do. Even in my wistfulness, it was such a restful time. 

Following that we ate at Panera. There is nothing like a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup on a brisk fall afternoon. Am I right? I say am I right?! Then to finish the evening we headed to Potter's House for some coffee time. Reading, writing, thinking. It was beautiful. 

I haven't experienced this kind of restful bliss in a while. The kind where I just sit and smile. Unhurried, simple joys. They look different for everyone. And I think I've been forgetting what mine are until today.  I can be very unfaithful to who the Lord created me to be, and the passions He's put inside me. Today He reignited some of those in me, and it's causing me to ask what I do for me and what I do because I think I need to for others. And not in the good way. I think the Lord is reminding me of the individual He created me to be, and I forgot how much I liked being her. 

I was reminiscing about my senior year in high school, and I was remembering a certain friend who I remember just feeling so normal with. We never really did anything special, we just enjoyed the same things and so we did them. Coffee at various places, going to Barnes and Noble, driving around. Those are some of the most restful memories I have of high school, and it was a blessing to remember those today and to realize that what I enjoy is perfect on it's own, not to be defined by those I'm around, but by what the Lord has instilled within me to resonate as rest. 

Lord, may I never lose who You created me to be. May I never be so caught up in the people or situations around me that I lose sight of the things You have fostered inside me to be passionate for. May my desires match Yours and my rest be decidedly from You. You are good. Thank You for the grace of simple joys.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I am a superhero. If you have a problem, flash my sign and I'll find the nearest phone booth, change into my sequined jump-suit, and mysteriously fly off into the distance only to return when the world's safe and sound once again.

Except that's not really true.

I wish I were a superhero. Everything in me feels for any sort of hurtful situation and just wants to fix it. Which means by association I am a meddler, nosy, and quite honestly, too involved. I hate any sort of conflict and recently have been surrounded in such. My heart is breaking at my lack of control over the state of things and I just have to sit and cry at my helplessness.

Know that whole independence vs. dependence thing I'm learning? Here it is again. I can't control the people I'm around. I love them, but am by no means purposed to rely on them, nor could I handle it if they were to solely rely on me. I also cannot rely on myself, and believe me, I have screwed up plenty of things to gain that realization. So that leaves me where?

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 

Again and again I keep coming back to this. This idea of trusting always gets me. I suck at it. I like having plans. I like knowing there's a step by step process to get where I'm going, and knowing that if I follow the rules then things will pan out all nice and pretty. The harsh blow to that mentality (or as my best friend says, "MANtality")  has come in these past few weeks when nothing has been certain. I love the idea of feeding on His faithfulness, it's not just a thought process to go through. It's a life-giving action, key to survival.

It's like these weeks my heart and psyche have been starving. Nothing is clean cut and it just eats away at me, and all I really am left with is my faith. It's a do or die kind of situation with the Lord saying, "let's see what your faith is really made of". And I'm seeing it's not much.

For years I have focused on the "how" of my walk. How to walk well, how to invest, how to be patient, kind, loving, honest, peaceful, meek, humble, all of those NT terms that give us the picture of a "Good Christian" as I have chosen to see it. And honestly, I was safe there. I could judge my level of Christianity high because I was "doing it right" but my faith level remained virtually non-existent. I mean who needs a god when you can just change yourself? Mom terms this "Functional Atheism". The idea of  Christians living day to day as if God doesn't really exist.

The opposite of this idea is abiding. Mmmm that term warms my soul. The concept of just sitting with Him and resting in His presence, giving Him the crap, and getting to bask in the peace of not having to figure it out. It doesn't necessarily make the process any easier but it sure takes a ton of weight off my shoulders.

The actual rubber to the road of getting from Functional Atheism to Abiding is where it all gets a little blurry. How do I go from working my rear off at doing the three hundred and five steps to being a Good Christian, to not worrying about it and sitting with God first? For me, I feel like I have to try harder to stop thinking about things and just rest in Him.

I have had a few experiences lately where I have made the extra extra extra effort to just sit with Him, and they have been the most enjoyable occasions of the past month. I don't know what this really looks like, but man, I need it. I need the Lord like nothing I've ever realized. It is my respite, my solitude, my simplicity, my joy, my rest, and most of all, my grace.

Monday, October 18, 2010

One Step at a Time

Last year I had a professor who started every class period making us sing unfamiliar hymns at 9 a.m. Most of the time they were ones he had made up. His favorite had to be "Enjoy the Journey". I have to say, even though I laughed every single time we sang it, the tune haunts me to this day. The past few days the chorus has been recycling through my brain incessantly.

Enjoy the journey, one step at a time, enjoy the journey, His life in mine

Now bless this professor's heart, he never seemed to have a care in the world or understand the constant stomach-flopping-mind-twisting-ever-changing lifestyle of a college student, because he was one of those people who is able to smile no matter what the case. I have to be honest, that kinda sickens me. Maybe it's my heart that needs to be blessed....

Either way those annoying little words have been running like a hamster wheel in my brain. Squeaking away until I just can't ignore it anymore. I have witnessed conversation upon conversation recently of everyone stating future plans, what they think, where they want to go, why they want to live that way, and every time I listen to one I just sit there. And then I leave the room and cry.

Although, I don't think I'm supposed to know. It freaks me out to see everyone having plans and not feeling as if I have any direction at all. It scares me to be on my own as I have been lately. The Lord has been declaring my independence from people and my dependence on Him lately, and I've been dragging my feet, kicking and screaming, but I'm finally getting on board with Him. I absolutely love my friends but I have spent way too much time and energy defining my life by theirs and now I'm in a nasty pile of garbage because I haven't been declaring the Lord first.

I was reading Psalms today. It's where Mom turned me to, gosh she knows me so well. I read from twenty-three to thirty-one and all I kept reading was "wait on the Lord" "find your strength in the Lord" "protect me Lord" "show me Your ways". Dependence, dependence, dependence. Gosh I rot at that. I think it's why I have no inkling of what's to come. I think it's why solitude is what I enjoy most right now. I think it's why I feel beaten to a bloody pulp by life. All I can do at this point is wait on the Lord, and rest in the belief that He'll show me what's next and He's got the good stuff waiting up ahead. But I don't wanna do it for the good stuff, because if there's ANYTHING out of all of this I've found, it's that life works well when I'm only depending on His grace, mercy, and strength to get me through.

I am becoming one of those people who doesn't shy away from hard things. I think hard is hard and you can't diminish the hardness, but it is something to be embraced and acknowledged while walking to find Truth. I think that's the truth behind enjoying the journey. It's not about making things better, prettier, funner, or easier, it's about finding the Lord in it all and waiting for Him to glorify Himself through you.

This is a hard stage, but man, I wouldn't trade it for anything, the Lord is faithful. My momma always says that nothing is irredeemable. It may not be fun, but I know that it's good. Praise God for that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dirty Laundry

There are a lot of different thoughts rolling around in my head today, mostly self-focused negative ones, but maybe you can empathize. 

1) I stink at simplicity. For a girl who enjoys life way more when it's uncomplicated, I am really good at weaving a web of confusion and can take even the simplest concepts and divide them into ten different parts all involving another twenty factors. It drives me nuts about myself. I have always known I'm analytical, but I am beginning to ask the Lord what that means. Yes, the concepts seem opposite, but I wonder if there is some balance. Maybe it's combining the two ideas, maybe it's both co-existing but not meshing, I don't really know, but I'm asking.

2) I am really bad with opinions. I either try to do it all on my own and get snotty when people give them, or I ask for too many and can't sort through it all to find my own thoughts. I often drift in and out of seasons of the two extremes.  Lately it's been the latter, I don't like being told I'm wrong, it's that whole arrogance thing rearing it's ugly head. I tend to think I'm very right and because I see it differently than most, people should listen to me. If you can't already tell, I've been learning how wrong I really am a lot lately. It's sucky, yet refreshing. I forget how faithful the Lord is when correcting me, I'm not just told I'm wrong and left to change. He reminds me that I'm not Him and that my way isn't always right, so I need to get my head out of my rear and ask Him about things. 

3) Community easily becomes a cop out for me when I am not inviting the Lord into my life. I have been beaten into the head, as well as beating others into the head, with the ideas of community, doing life together, walking together, whatever you want to call it. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a huge believer that we are not meant to do this on our own, but I know (at school especially) it is SO easy for me to let my walk with Christ slip and to take solely into account the thoughts of those I know are walking consistently with the Lord and then depend on my own thoughts to tide me over until I "have time" for the Lord. Sick right? I see it in how I end up approaching my "community," I become apprehensive, snarky, unkind, and just flat out unenjoyable. Yes, not all the time, but enough to need to be addressed. 

4) Introvert is to Emilie as bark is to a tree. As much as I try to shake this, I can't. I THRIVE on alone time. I need it to function. Lately, I've had chunks of it and I have selfishly chosen to waste it with Netflix. Being alone, in a position to read, write, and think, keeps me honest.  As aware of this fact about myself as I am, you would think I would be very intentional about making sure I have this. I'm not. In fact, it's the opposite, I flat out, lazily, choose to do something more appealing because then I don't have to bother with questioning whether or not what I'm doing is the best. It's a whole lot easier to not walk in the Spirit, it's fairly comfortable, and I tend to settle into those stages a lot more often than not. But the Lord continues to not let me be satisfied there, my butt grows numb and I realize I need to get up and stretch my legs, which then leads me to be more active. 

I'm pretty raw with these realizations right now, so forgive the brashness and negativity that easily comes out when I am feeling analytical.
 I've missed good alone time. I've missed being with the Lord. I've missed questioning things on my own and digging to find my own answers. I've missed knowing where I stand on things and being able to challenge and be challenged securely. I bring this upon myself, but it does me some good to see this side of me. I feel like I sound cynical, and maybe I am, but I think I need to feel the weight of these things to actually provoke some kind of change. 

May complacency not settle in you. 
May you choose to find where you are settling and decide to push past it.
May we all never let ourselves stop asking God where we need Him most and then invite Him there. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just call me Alice.

I have much to say about nothing today. Or maybe it's everything. I haven't quite decided which.

I feel like Alice after tripping down the rabbit's hole, I'm just kinda falling, and I've been falling so long I'm beginning to enjoy the scenery. Falling in the sense of learning, one lesson after another after another. Independence, dependence, freedom, community, rest, discipline, desire, and the list goes on. Each lends service to a much warranted, occasionally desired, change that increases my awareness of my need for a God. 

And maybe that's it, maybe all of life isn't necessarily about the lessons we learn, but Who we learn we need through the lessons. Not to make light of the change that is needed in this frail flesh, because Lord knows I need to be changed. Though perhaps our purpose is more than becoming Godly, but learning our need for Him and asking Him to come here, or at least teach us how to bring a little of "home" down here in the meantime. 

If that's the case then what's my limit? When I land in the rabbit hole and see the doors, am I going to choose to unlock the door and see what's ahead or am I going to sit and drown in my own tears? 

Recently I have been slapped around a bit by reality, the reality of growing up and making decisions. Ironically enough, the only decision I've made is to not make decisions. I for once in my life am experiencing the full freedom of telling God I'm waiting on Him. Who knows where I will be in two years when I graduate, all I know is that I am so tired of choosing safe. Not that there isn't merit to being safe. But I've always been safe, I think it's my turn to get a little dirty and get out of my comfort zone. 

I think i've tripped out of it before a couple of times, but then I realized where I was, dusted off my knees, and hopped right back in my bubble. I don't think I'm exactly out of it yet either, but I for once think I am not only willing, but waiting for opportunity. 

I want to experience Wonderland. That richness that comes from letting go of my reality and following my theology (thank you Beth Moore), and going and doing something hard. It may suck. It may be hard. And i'll probably cry....a lot. SO WHAT? Heaven forbid things aren't easy, breezy, beautiful, Cover Girl the rest of my life. Lord, may I never be so blinded by fear and the appeal of security that I choose complacency and safety over the divine rest that comes from walking with You. 

So there you have it. My horizon just broadened and I have come to the conclusion that my world may just end up being a little bit bigger than the Bible Belt. And I'm excited.

Let me leave you with another quote that has become a mantra lately. May this inspire you to look beyond the hear and now, and ask God what's next.

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death
Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions
Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention
Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God
Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution
Stop repeating the past and start creating the future
Stop playing it safe and start taking risks
Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Criticize by creating
Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can
Live like today is the first day and last day of your life
Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God
Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails
Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks
Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself
Quit holding out
Quit holding back
Quit running away.
Chase the lion.

-Mark Batterson "Lion Chasers Manifesto