Sunday, February 12, 2017

Walking the trail

I learn so much from walking on trails.

I went for a hike today. I've been on it once before but that time I was with friends and I was walking + talking a lot.

This time, by myself, the initial adventure was in finding the path and trail to take. The trails were thankfully clear, but they were windy on the mountain. It also looked like I could choose many different paths.

I decided to pick one and set off. I had to pay attention because there were people out everywhere. One biker lost no speed racing down the hill past me as I jerked out of the way at just the right second to avoid a wipe out.

I find myself to be a quiet wanderer on hikes many times. Not always, because there are times I'm actually trying to get a workout or I walk with others. But other times, I see trails and trees (or shrubs and rocks as we have in Phoenix) as a place of discovery and leaning into what God may be showing me.

Today, I am reminded that I am often like the bike racer who needs to slow down as to avoid wipe outs.

The quiet inside the trails reminds me how God teaches me to walk through life. Keep stepping, keep stepping, one little foot in front of the other, up through the rocks, down the hill, yes you can pick a little longer trail but you gotta pace yourself, it's okay to run through it sometimes because the trail is more fun that way, and sometimes you just stop and breathe and laugh at how easy it is for you to lose yourself in the moment. All the things.

Thank you mountain trails for stilling me, God for showing me my smallness and your greatness yet again, and how to set my pace - yet again - and biker-man for not running me over.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Don't have to worry bout a single thing

You are drawing near

you are overwhelming me with peace

you're going to carry me through everything.

your voice is saying

you're going to carry me through everything.

don't have to worry bout a single thing.

you're going to carry us through everything.

-Ellie Holcomb, "Find You Here"

Ellie says she needs to sing these songs. "I need to sing these for my own soul. Its what David didn't the Psalms. He bosses his soul around in song. 

In another time and space, I think I would be a singer.

Instead, I do what I sense God calling me to do in my own unique way and that is to write. Sometimes it is to be a story-teller or an improviser. These things help me to be more fully myself, to write through what circles around me in in me. Writing opens me up, helps me to respond more fully and better to the beauty, the hard things of life, and the wavy, curvy, kind of lopsided things.

I love this new song by Ellie. I would share it here, but it's not released yet, so that doesn't seem right. I found it as an early release for her album coming out soon, Red Sea Road.
Ellie is one of my favorites. I worked her merch table once by accident. They needed another volunteer and grabbed me at the last second because I knew all her albums and was there early enough to buy CDs. It worked out well. I got to meet the band and it was very fun swiping those credit cards for two hours. These not-so-normal situations are normal for me. It was fun meeting Ellie, too. It reminds me God is up to anything He wants to be up to, even working merch tables unexpectedly.

Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that there is ALWAYS something to be glad about, something to thank Him for, His goodness is shining through no matter what our moment by moment lives look like. Every moment, we get to choose whether to move toward rejoicing and praise or not. Just as Ellie said, singing songs helps direct our hearts toward this on a regular basis! He is good.

Friday, January 6, 2017

This Year

Is this really still just the first week since the New Year? It seems since the holidays, life has been busy and full. That's kind of what I was used to before moving to Arizona, life moving so quickly I hardly felt the days go by. I don't think that is necessarily a great thing all the time, but I recognize the feeling.

With the mental health world, work seems either nonstop or slow. There is not too much middle ground. I spent a lot of time craving the middle ground, the steady pace, enough to do but not so slow that I was dragging. I'm starting to appreciate that whether work or life moves fast, slow, or in between, I can find my own sense of rest.

I love this quote in a book by (again and always) my favorite, Shauna. It's not even a quote by her but it's a quote in her book Present over Perfect, describing her state of wanting to be present in her life. "And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." -John Steinbeck. And I would add this: "And now that your life doesn't have to be perfect, it can be good."

Maybe a good theme for 2017 and beyond?

Life is good. If it was perfect, it would be plastic or shiny. I don't want to force it to be something it isn't or push it too hard. It hurts when I do that. Behind the scenes, I know God is doing a lot with the real, true life I have. Showing up and being who I am, I think is what I'm called to do this year. Surprisingly, I have no desire to be perfect or try so hard to be anyone other than who I am. Because life, and I, don't have to be perfect, I know I am free.

So my prayer is always to God who knows me best, and in His great love meets me exactly where I am, every time. I pray that for you, friends, this year, too. That He will meet you exactly where you are. May it be the sweetest year yet for you, too! Happy New Year!

Here is a kind of cheesy (but beautiful because JJ Heller is awesome) video about this year. There is confetti and I love confetti. I hope you enjoy it and you have lots and lots of happy this year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What I know right now

Recently has been a bit of a hard season. And it's also been good season, too. I am working on being more and more real and transparent, and I know that part of that means honoring what is true, even if it means honoring that life can be both good and hard at times. I am starting to care a lot less of getting the approval or love of others in doing that. It is slow but good. It matters more to take care of my heart rather than sacrifice it. That is my constant prayer that I may be aware of when I am fearing man more than fearing God.

In the midst of confusion and stress, I fear stating my feelings because I know they will pass. But they are real and true. This is what I teach others, teach kids. I want to practice this myself. If I am to be loved at all I want to be loved for who I am fully.
All I can do is align myself outside with what I know is true inside. It is hard but good work.

Wherever you go, there you are. You can't escape, avoid, or do anything to get away from yourself, or the people who are in your life to sharpen you.

The messiness of life is not something to run away from even though I want to.

I ask the questions over and over when life is confusing, wanting immediate answers, wanting to sort it out. Apparently, God wants to teach me that most things are a process. I am not made to hold all these things. I was never made to hold them.

Just because I read about change or love and seem to understand it, does not mean I have it figured out when it happens in real life.

There is much I can help others understand, and I try to do everyday as a counselor. But these big things, like change and love? I thought I knew what they meant, how it all was to play out. I am sure I have some knowledge by now, but honestly, change is still so unexpected to me. Love is still a constant mystery to me.

All I want to do is tell the truth that I have to share and be with others who can do the same. It's hard and courageous but I want to keep trying, by God's grace.

I see now that some of the mystery and some of the unexpected, strange places I have journeyed to have led me to more honesty about myself, about what I want, and about what my hope is for the future.

Okay - I have to put in a quote from one of my favorites because it makes everything sweeter.

"I don't know where you are these days, what's broken down and what's beautiful in your life this season. I don't know if this is a season of sweetness or one of sadness. Bu I'm learning that neither lasts forever. There will, I'm sure, be something that invades this current loveliness. That's how life is. It won't be sweet forever. But it won't be bitter forever either. If everywhere you look these days, it's wintery, desolate, practice believing in springtime. It always, always comes, even on days when it's impossible to imagine, ground frozen, trees bare and spiky. New life will spring from this same ground. This season will end, and something entirely new will follow it." -Shauna Niequist

FYI, this quote is sweet because it's also bittersweet. I am not a generally sad person, but at my core I am a combination of a realist and a dreamer; I can see both sides of the coin. I know there is so much beauty as well as pain in the world, and I can't deny people when they have known both. What I believe most of all rises to the surface from all of that though is hope. Something even brighter and more beautiful.

HE will surely do it

As I was typing the subject for this post, I mistyped and made HE in caps. Then I kept it because I think it helps me to emphasize HE.

HE will surely do it.

The devotional for today in Come, Lord Jesus is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23

What will he do? In the previous verses, it talks about the God of peace sanctifying you completely, for your whole soul and body to be blameless at the coming of Jesus.

That kind of transformation sounds impossible. It is, by human strength.

Right now I am learning what God teaches me in many different ways in my life, that the try-hard life will never, ever work for me. There might be a temporary satisfaction here or there, but it's not where my true life comes from. The try-hard life, grit-it-out by my own strength (and I'm pretty tough!) is still not how I am transformed. I am transformed by acknowledging who God is and that HE will surely do what he has planned to do and has promised to do. He is faithful and if I can see how he does things as a gift, I may not try so hard on my own.

My own prayer for this may be one of the hardest but also one of the most necessary.

Mostly, this is a prayer of confession that I try and get it right on my own. I like to have my own back, even though that's a heavy weight when I know God's burden is light. I know that I am all the time challenged to see things another way and that is grace.

I pray to keep letting go of the try-hard life. I pray that inward and outward peace would surround me, surround you, friend, because it's God that will surely do it.

Like those who dream

Yesterday's devotional from Come, Lord Jesus gives rise to the idea of dreams and tracing the hope of Christmas.

When I think of the dreams God has given me, I think of hope and joy and possibilities. I think of spacious places.

One of the overarching dreams and themes of my life continues to be writing in some way or another. I know I am more fully awake and alive to the story of life when I am writing my way through it. 

God supplies me with visions of hope and reminds me of this when I need it most. A friend of mine, a fellow dreamer-heart prayed a prayer for me that I would not lose in the night the dreams he has given me in the brightness of the day. What a sweet prayer.

God is good to give us dreams.

He is in charge of all our tomorrows, even as we may aspire to live fully in today. During advent and any day as we wait on him, may we be fully alive to the seeds once planted in our hearts. Peace, friends.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What I am reminding myself

Tonight I wrote out all the song lyrics to one of my favorite songs, "As Sure as the Sun," by musician Ellie Holcomb. I wrote as fast as I could.

HIS MERCY WILL NOT END, I wrote in capital letters, in case I couldn't read the scribbles from all the other lines.

As sure as the sun. His mercy will not end.

So what am I reminding myself about tonight? Exactly what I wrote a dozen times. His mercy is real and it will not end. He loves me. All the time.

And he loves you. All the time.

I love that the sun is sure. I love thinking about something being as sure as the sun.

I'm reminding myself there's always so much good. So much sure-ness. Even with the muck that happens in life. God is really with us.

There are things about God that are so mysterious to me and that is pleasant actually. For a girl who likes to know things for sure, to know that God works in ways that are much higher than my ways, actually frees me somehow. To know that life with God is not going to be something I can always figure out. His timing is different than my timing. It just is. His plans are going to be His plans, not my plans, because He's the author, not me.

Yep, I like these reminders. I know God is my comforter, my peace and my savior, and when I remember that he loves me first and most, I can rest in knowing that I am right where I'm supposed to be. Life and circumstances can swirl at times, but I trust God, that He already knows the plan.

I don't always feel that way. Sometimes I want to take back control. Sometimes I think I have a better idea.  God knows all of this and I can't fool him. But with his help, he shows me how to live more free and with more peace and joy even when things go wrong, are confusing, or emotions start to get frazzled. 

Today's devotional in Come, Lord Jesus explains the difference between God's time and our time. God's timing is called Kairos and our time is called Chronos. Each day of the devotional ends with a prayer. Today's prayer is this one:

: Lord, how good and generous you are to give us each day of our lives. Help us to remember that every hour is a gift and to use the minutes wisely, to learn the way of repentance, and to wait patiently for the new heaven where righteousness dwells. It is hard to wait for you, God. Be with us as we struggle. Teach us what it means to live according to kairos. Come Lord Jesus, we pray. :

It is past my bedtime. I pray encouragement and love for you and to also hear all the time on repeat that HIS MERCY NEVER ENDS.