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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Arizona Summer

Here are some things I like about Arizona in the summer in no particular order. I can't turn on my friend summer just because I live in an oven.

-Everyone talking about the heat constantly (there's a hint of sarcasm here but it's fascinating).
-Everyone pointing out that it's a dry heat.
-Splash pads
-My BFF the sun even though it burns me in 10 minutes.
-Vitamin D constantly (although somehow this is THE vitamin I'm deficient in even though I live in the place where it's sunny 98 percent of the time. Unconventional is my middle name)
-Charting where my new friends live a.k.a. where their pools live. Just kidding friends.

So, life is sweet and warm (mostly warm) right now. How can you not be happy when you have to carry an emergency bathing suit with you in your car, your office and everywhere else you go? It may be hot but it's also a dream come true because hopefully I will find a lot of places to swim living here.

It's been a long time since I've blogged. I've been doing other things and my creative ventures have been more on stage (not intentionally, it kind of just happened that way). Although writing will always be a first love, being able to improvise on stage and let the lighter side of creating take over is a good, good thing.

Perhaps I can keep the blog up more regularly to at least stay focused on what I'm doing and document it along the way. Take yesterday for example. We learned stage combat. Who does that?? Apparently now I can fight you and it will be totally real and you better watch out, at least if you're on stage with me in an improve scene, of course.

The last few times I blogged they were all deep and meaningful and that has it's place, too. I think I wanted so much for life here to make more sense and for it to feel like home. Without realizing it, that snuck up on me in the last few months and even though I'm sure I still seem like a tourist a lot of times in my own town, it's feeling more like home. Things like that usually happen when you least expect it and in ways you don't think or try to do yourself. What a relief that it's not up to me to make life work.

Happy weekend, friends.

linking with kate

Sunday, January 31, 2016

All things new -- January

Living life in my new city of Phoenix (a.k.a. new time zone, new coast), weeks used to feel longer than they were. That's not necessarily the case anymore. But I still have to be careful that way I see and hear and experience in the world around me doesn't get trapped somewhere inside me.

I used to write more, but I stopped knowing how to organize my thoughts into words on the page when life became so different. I was just trying to become accustomed to my surroundings, and I didn't quite know how to put words down on paper, something that always seemed easy to me. I typically write to make sense of life, but in a new place, where do you begin??

The best thing I've been learning this month is that to begin again you just have to start somewhere.

you have to start somewhere.

What else? Here are 5 more things I've been learning this month -- sharing again for Emily's monthly link up!

1. Life and the newness is settling a little more each day. I'm starting to like it more for real.

This feels important.

It also feels important to say that there have been days I probably haven't known what I have been doing, if I've been totally honest with myself. I know what I'm doing in the big picture, practical way. It's lovely, beautiful, exciting, an adventure to be sure. It seems like I've always been supposed to be here now. And there are days I crave familiarity. Not for keeps, but for a moment or two so I could live on automatic at least for a minute. Do you realize how much of our lives are lived on automatic? Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones, I tell myself, because I have to pay attention.

2. People like to get personalized painted pictures for wedding gifts. They also enjoy getting keys.

Car keys, house keys, and work keys. It means you care about them a lot when you give people these things.

I went to a wedding this month and I lost my keys. The bride called me after the honeymoon and told me she found them in the wedding gift. The sad part is that I actually thought that might have been where I dropped them. Yes, in the present bag. You can't say I'm not a giver.

3. Your new friends in new cities do not necessarily know you that well but they start to know you real quick when you leave your keys in wedding presents.

Note to readers: I promote being yourself even if it means people have to find out yourself is part wacky.

4. Arizona in January is nice.

I'm sorry North Carolina snowmageddon. It's not that I don't miss you still with all your ridiculousness and cars blowing up but I am pretty fond of the warmth and sun that I've never experienced this time of year.  

5. Even Arizona can't get too cocky.

We have had some 'cold' (chilly) weather and rain (rain = snow for the east, this is a phenomenon I can't quite get used to) to the point I needed an ice scraper. My friend Jodi sent ice scrapers in the mail secretly because I told her I was using credit cards and spatulas for awhile due to I thought I didn't need them on account of moving to the DESERT. Thank you, Jodi.
Writing this out reminds me how I could fill up pages and pages on all the learnings I get to experience -- transition has given me that, and I believe God gives gifts in seasons of change, even if we don't often notice them. My prayer is that my story would impact others in the way their stories have touched me in the middle of change.

If your heart is heavy or you are in the midst of change, be encouraged God is working in you and it is good. Keep going. Much love.