Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The butterfly life

In January, my friend came by with a jar and an idea to store all the good things during the year. You know how it's easy to store all the bad stuff? To recall all that went wrong and brush over what went right?
Maybe there's something symbolic of the ball dropping on Near Year's to show all the ways we don't get it right year after year.
I kept a jar this year, because I had to remember graces. Maybe God knew I'd have a year where that was going to help me see truth and beauty again.

Don't worry if you didn't keep a jar.
Maybe you work differently. Maybe you want to keep a jar next year. Maybe you will laugh at the fact that I crammed tons of paper and now have to make sense of my scribbles and if anyone's good at interpreting jibberish, I have a job for you.

It's going take me awhile to figure out what all I've learned this year. This year I know I have learned a lot but I've been slow at processing that. The good news is I'm getting better at seeing His love. And I'm not always good at that.

Let's start at the beginning. The beginning is usually with the small stuff. Which in the end becomes the big stuff.

God is good and another year has gone by. I hope there has been much grace in your life, too, even through the trials.

Here are 8 random findings when I grabbed at some notecards a day early (the goal of the project -- there's always a goal -- is to wait until New Year's and then read them, but if you can't wait that long you are an utter failure. Just kidding).

1. Starting back at consistent women's Bible study. Faithful friends.

new friend this year. no, we aren't having a fist fight.

2. God who heals..redeems..comforts..loves us always.

3. A lottery ticket.

I won it in a gift exchange and it landed in the jar. Good place for it. I wonder if I won. I know we're all at the edge of our seat.

4. Hummingbirds.

Good job if you can read this description of hummingbirds below. A friend sent me a card about them, and you win (not lottery win, just win) if you agree hummingbirds are the best. 

5. Dad got to come visit NC -- fun times -- basketball

6. A Group of 4 People.
Neighbors / friends / nc family who adopts me in and lets me stay in their home for days on end in snow storms.

7. Cleaning my closet.

 "This is a praise because I need to get it done"
(literally this is what the card said...)

8. Two friends who had losses earlier in the year getting pregnant at the same time. Thanks God!

Grace helps me remember who I am. If only I could live in this mentality all the time.
It's easy to forget. It's easy to feel like we're not enough. Instead of thankfulness. For things like cleaning closets (I don't even know...).

At the conference I went to this year (which all of my actual bookish learnings could come from that), Glennon Melton said that "we are like caterpillars who constantly quit right before we become butterflies."

This is probably true.

Not just when the calendar turns this year, but everyday, I want to live out of my butterfly life. The one I know I already have.

I live a caterpillar a lot of days. But I know I am a butterfly. Randomly, my fun coworker even nicknamed me Butterfly this year when I started my new job. So that's further proof.

If you need me to, I can come give you a butterfly tattoo. We may have days and weeks where we inch along back like the caterpillar, or where our butterfly lives are not all they are cracked up to be. We forget we have the potential to see the world before us and bring beauty to it. But we do! Come on, butterfly, come see the world with me and  let's shed off the old skin.
linking with emily

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The tinest light

I often think of families I've worked with, past and present, around the holidays, because I know as much as it's a time of joy and celebration, it's also a time of longing and struggle and heartache for many. Preparing, hoping, yearning. Sometimes I hear that and all I hear is "I'm just hanging on."

I believe this hope that we have is real. Christmas and Christ come is such good news. And yet, all that the season entails does not equal merry moments for everyone.

Which brings me to Advent.

People seem to like Advent. You know, preparation, hoping, yearning.

I'm not always so good at these things. My friend asked us at Bible Study if we were taking part in Advent this year. I told her I was 'engaging with Advent,' which kind of sounded like Advent and I were acquaintances but not really friends. I don't like the word acquaintances, so much so that I just had to look up the spelling of the word acquaintances.  

I like friends.
I've made friends with Christmas. My family makes me laugh and I love to see them. I remember God's goodness a little more around this time of year, even though it's evident all year round. Not because of gifts of course. I told someone today you could get me no gifts whatsoever and I'd be fine. I am the girl who wants to go ice skating or make Christmas cookies. I made the dough for buckeyes tonight with my neighbor, who is also from Ohio, so I'm a step closer to my goal of eating Christmas cookies.

And, call me Elf but I like seasons in life dedicated to merriment and celebrating because I like celebrating, celebrating's my favorite. And of course this celebration is for the birth of our Savior, so that's even better. People who aren't normally kind or generous or warm seem to break out of their shells a bit more at Christmas, which is also nice.

Except when it's hard for people at Christmas.

Which is often.

And I get that. I like Christmas. I understand Advent.

Everyday, behind the scenes of the joy which take center stage, there exists the not so popular longing, the ever unwelcome grief and the not talked about conflict. I see it everyday as a counselor.

Most of us would rather skip over this. Some of you stopped reading this already.

Good news, I'm not saying we have to choose one or the other.

I'm just guessing that if you're part of humanity, you've experienced this, even if you pretend to jingle all the way, all the way.

I can't pretend to pretend, mostly because my job isn't about that and mostly because it makes me want to be sick. There are times I am like an elf-creature and there are times I'm not. I know longing, too. I identify with both.

I've said it before on here, but every Christmas I think of a family I worked with long ago, and the fact that they had barely anything that winter. They were in between housing situations and would likely be going into a shelter soon.

It was a cold day at the park. They brought their baby.

Don't worry, that baby was loved and cared for. There was a Christmas happy you could see, but it was evident the parents were longing, with a longing that made sense and only hoped things would change.

I know grace stretches beyond things we can't see in the moment, but it feels like a lot sometimes.

Who hasn't held tight to December prayers in the dark, looking for the light?

But the magic of Christmas isn't found in the most showy moments or the lights that twinkle the most bright. Sometimes, it's found in that one candle in the window, catching you by surprise, in the midst of an otherwise dark night.

linking with five minute Friday for the prompt prepare

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dear Teenager

Dear teenager at Teen Night Lock-in,

I apologize that I didn't interact with you very much there. It's no excuse that I spend most of my days with your age group. It's also no excuse that I got LOCKED OUT of the lock-in at one point and had to bang on every door and window until someone finally saw me and let me back in.

OH and one more thing. I'm also sorry I didn't stay to find out how it played out when you guys had breakout sessions about all things sexual health and testing for STD's. At an overnight. I try not to ask too many questions. 

(Check back for more on these stories later)
One thing is for sure. Where you people are is always eventful.

Dear teenager who knows more than me about social media (= all of you),

Please help --

Thank you.

I still (now affectionately but previously for real) call Snapchat Snapfish. I downloaded this app this week. In an effort to better understand your life, of course. I subsequently deleted it. There are a few things that are better left a mystery.

Dear teenager neighbor friend who just got your driving permit,

I think you (along with every other teen) are helping me prepare for my future life as a teen mom. Correction, not a TEEN mom (thankfully, that can't happen, and let's not go there for you either..) but a mom of teens. You make me nervous that my kids are going to pop out as 15 year olds. I think that might happen.

Even though you are some of my most favorites, I still need you not to grow up too fast.

Dear teenager who has to live among drama in school and life I can't imagine,

Remember number two? I wish we could get rid of social media some days. Everyone wants to know why things are so hard for you all. Lots of reasons I'm sure. But yours is the first generation where nothing is secret anymore. Everything is documented before it barely leaves your mouth. Videos. Pictures. Texting. Tweets. It all sounds fun, but I know what's said can also hurt.

I would love to be a bug on a wall and see what goes on in high schools now. To most of us adults, especially those who prefer Snapfish over Snapchat, I'm sure we wouldn't last a day.

I know it's hard. Keep going.
I'm proud of you that you don't give up.

linking with five minute Friday on the prompt DEAR to get me back to writing again!