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every little thing

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I’m a worried mess a lot of days. & I didn’t even realize it until my sophomore year of college. then I slowly discovered that not everyone walks around thinking about what could go wrong, planning things months ahead, & trying to solve problems that haven’t even materialized yet. I worry in a way that goes beyond the “did I forget to turn the oven off?” variety. I worry in a way that’s sinful. the kind of worry that Jesus said is futile. & when I let my mind run wild, it cripples me, shuts down my joy, makes me second guess everything.

but when I’m intentionally fighting it, it gets better. I experience little victories. I go almost a whole day without worrying about whatever my current issue is. I get worried about something, forget what it is that I’m concerned about & then instead of worrying about forgetting an important thing that I was worried about, I consider it a blessing &  l e t  i t  g o. but sometimes just when I think I’m doing a fabulous job of defeating it, anxiety creeps back in, worse than it did the first time. I read about Jesus giving us peace… about the freedom found in him. but many days I do not feel easy & light. & that is sometimes very hard to reconcile.

I’m often afraid to tell my friends & family what’s really in my head because I’m scared it makes me sound crazy. but really sin is probably making us all crazy in one way or another. so I’m learning to let others in to my crazy, even when it requires embarrassing levels of vulnerability. when I let the people who love me inside the parts of my mind that are troubled, the parts that believe lies… they tell me the truth. & the truth sets you free.

I have been blessed by so many truth-tellers. especially lately. the truth my friends & family speak has set me free so many times; they show me Jesus so many days. people who have prayed with me, advised me, listened to me.  people who have gently spoken to me, over & over: “hey. I love you. don’t worry. it will be ok.”

when I hear those words from someone with skin on, it’s easier to hear them from up above.

“hey. I love you. don’t worry–it’s poison, it kills you, it shows you don’t trust me. I love you. don’t worry. it will be ok.”

that is truth– soul-freeing, heart-healing, eyes-lifting truth. here’s to believing. & being free.

p.s. this picture has nothing to do with this post
except that the flowers my babies give me in the bus line
are beautiful & happy & worry-free.
especially the yellow ones.

dominican republic

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spent the week of spring break  in the dominican republic with david (& 34 new friends!), singing songs, playing with kids, eating granola bars & talkin about our favorite story. it was super beautiful with sunshine galore (& the most beautiful sunset flying into atlanta). but my very favorite part was the spanish– all day, every day. speaking it, listening to it, soaking it all in. but best of all, singing & worshiping in spanish.

I love the biblical parallel between the story of the tower of babel & the story of pentecost. the idea that god confused languages when people were using them to exalt themselves, yet later united languages when people wanted to use them to glorify him… that’s cool. one night while we were in the DR we went to a bilingual church service. it was glorious to see people worshiping in english & spanish… languages split due to human brokenness, but both being used to praise god anyway.

it was also really cool to see David playing worship music with a bunch of little spanish-speaking boys. while we live in the tension of babel & pentecost, confused but trying to understand… music speaks. it’s a gift, a tiny taste of what’s to come. I’m not sure if in heaven we’ll all speak the same language or different ones. but I’m pretty sure we’re all going to be able to understand one another. I’m excited.

what’s good about life

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walking hand in hand with your dad & realizing that, even at 22, you’re still his girl. tight hugs from little kids. running a half marathon behind a guy with a t shirt that says “don’t let the 53 year old open heart surgery survivor beat you.” kid’s bible stories that calm your soul right before bed. impossibly blue skies after all that grey rain. there are some moments where you stop & think… “this, this is what is good about life.” & yesterday, I had one of them.

sitting at northside starbucks with three of my best friends from college. even though we don’t have that much time for coffee-getting & table-sitting anymore, it still just kind of happens. I was borrowing a dress from emily & eating chips on her couch when helen asks if emily wants to go to starbucks. she does & she brings me with her & before long leslie is there too.

emily is a nurse that works nights & I’m a teacher who works days. leslie is in law school & helen is getting in med school. emily & helen grew up presbyterian, leslie & I were raised southern baptist. but none of this really makes anything any different. first & foremost we are daughters & sisters. we love one another deeply & our differences usually just make for good conversation. as someone who didn’t really have girlfriends in high school, their love has been healing & lifegiving to me.

we sit around that table in starbucks & ooooh & ahhhh over the ring (leslie & brett 4eva). we talk summer jobs & helen’s future as a trophy wife & premarital counseling & kitchen aid mixers & babysitting & a whole host of other things that are really just between us. we only have about half an hour between when leslie gets there & when I have to leave for tutoring. but it’s enough. & I walk back out to my car in the glow of being known, being loved. community is a huge part of what is good about life… & even 30 minute dose is beautiful enough to put a light inside you that lasts all day.

thankful

grace, peace & morning light.

the weather earlier this week was that sort of icky that gets deep down in your bones & my mood pretty much matched it– sad, cranky & generally gloomy. but wednesday night david & I played chess & went to church & talked for awhile. & as I drove back to clinton, I was overcome by thankful. & I kind of have been since then.

thankful for david who is kind & gentle when I am crummy & reclusive. thankful for his humble leadership, his steady love, his unwavering rationality. thankful for the seemingly unending grace god gives him with me. thankful for a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to be loved by christ, a taste of how god sees me.

thankful for the kind of friends that help me understand why people can’t shut up about community. thankful that my best friends from college are mostly in the metro area. that’s really rare. thankful for those people that talk sense into me, spend time with me, make oreo balls with me, pray for me. thankful for friends who let me deep into their lives. thankful that we were never ever ever meant to do any of this alone.

thankful for a mom who is the most organized & helpful wedding planner, for a dad who sends valentines day cards still.

thankful for a job that never fails to challenge, to inspire me to be better & work harder. thankful for people who teach & support me. thankful that although my life is hectic, it is never boring. thankful for my 287 new friends who consistently push me, frustrate me, & make me laugh really hard (usually all three in the span of 30 minutes).

thankful that I get to live in this city I love so much, this city full of people so dear to me. thankful for the neighborhood, the park, tutoring, friends across the street, friends from clinton who drop by. thankful for this warm little house Jenna & I share. thankful for grace, peace & morning light. & also chickfila breakfast before prosat.

when the world looks grey for multiple days & you’re really cranky it’s easy to forget to say thanks. it’s easy to forget what a magic existence I’ve been given. anne lamott says the two best prayers she knows are ‘help me help me help me’ & ‘thank you thank you thank you.’ this year has taught me a lot about the former. but I want to pray (& live) the latter just as desperately.

on not being able to do everything

bedtime reading. "we cannot do everything... this enables us to do something... an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter & do the rest." thankful.

I want to be a good teacher & start a Spanish club & hang out with my sister & run half marathons & tutor & have a birthday party for everyone & write some grants & cook something new every week & plan a wedding & have all my neighbors over for dinner & hang out with David lots & be part of a great small group & keep my house really clean & go pick up things from craigslist & put coupons on my kroger card & plan really engaging lessons.

but I can’t do all those things at the same time. some things have to lose. unfortunately lots of times the things that lose are things like sleep, a clean house, & grocery shopping… which are the very things that make the other things possible.

when I can’t do everything it sometimes makes me feel like a failure. like I’m not as strong or organized or responsible as I should be. like if only I did a better job of time management I could fit everything in. & if I did a better job with time management, I could probably fit a couple more things in. but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it all, no matter how well I use my iPhone & planner.

so I’m trying to learn to prioritize. to learn that saying no doesn’t make me selfish or incapable or a bad person. & to give up the idea of control, the idea that things will fall apart if I don’t do everything. a lot of my frantic-ness has to do with a lack of trust, a lack of belief that god will “pick up the slack” I am leaving behind. that’s wrong. & it’s a pretty prideful way to look at life. so here’s to breathing deep, saying no, & not feeling guilty for resting. I don’t know how to do any of those things. but I want to learn.

p.s. the book pictured is this common prayer pocket book, which I recommend.
p.p.s. this is a good post from a favorite author about living anti-frantic.

engaged

well tonight @dmossthered gave me the shiniest present ever. & I cried.

so last friday david gave me the shiniest present in the whole world & asked me to marry him. I nodded a little & cried a lot & finally said yes. the story is over on david’s blog. this post isn’t really about the story, though.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the happiness & joy surrounding engagement. david & I are so happy to be getting married. all of our friends who we shared the news with have been thrilled. all my third grade girls squealed & ooh’d & aaah’d on the playground. (11 little girls have asked if they can be the flower girl & one bold little 2nd grade boy asked if the best man slot was up for grabs.) brett & leslie & others threw us a very happy party. hannah made ruth ann & david cookies. it’s been a week full of lots of fun.

I struggle with doubt & worry & anxiety. but my often muddled mind is as sure that our marriage is pleasing to God as it is about anything. & I am so, so happy about it–happy that David loves me, happy that God has allowed us to be together. & as I was driving home from church last weekend, I thought, “you know, I wish I was this happy about everything I believe to be the will of God.” I believe that being a teacher is the will of God for me right now. I know that waking up a little bit earlier to pray & read & collect myself before work is something God wants for me. I think that taking my thoughts captive & fighting worry is what God would have me to do. but lots of times, I’m not as happy about those things as I am about marrying david. those things are inconvenient & painful. I fuss & resist.

so when I look at the ring on my left hand, I smile. because I am about to marry my favorite redheaded boy who plays drums & is an incredible leader & always beats me at scrabble. but it also pricks me a little bit inside, reminding me that so often my faith is weak. many times I buy into the idea that God’s will for me & the things in my life that are pleasant are one and the same. & that is just not true. in fact, it’s actually pretty preposterous in light of the story of creation & redemption.

most of my fussing & resisting is really just a manifestation of my disbelief that God is a good Father who gives good gifts to his kids, wants the best things for his kids, only requires hard things of his kids when it makes them (or our world) better. so lately I’ve been trying to imagine what my life would look like if I really believed that everything God wants for me is good. just like I believe this marriage is good. so I want to embrace early alarm clocks & long days at work just as much as I’ve embraced marriage & wedding planning. because God is a good father who loves to give good gifts. even when our faith is weak & we can’t see clearly.

p.s. this is a fabulous book on the concept of ‘god’s will.’

little drops of water

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a couple of weeks ago I went to Kroger after a rough day at school. this was a mistake. the Kroger on i55 is stressful enough on a normal day (no parking! totally backwards from college Kroger!) but after a long day at school it feels almost insurmountable. & it had been a long day, one of those bone-tired, chewed up & spit out days. I walked in with a dazed look on my face, fumbling for my poorly made list. an employee actually asked if I was ok. that’s how bad it was, guys. I was most decidedly not ok. I had an awful attitude, I was stressed & tired & I did not want to be searching for capers (they’re by the olives, fyi). still, I went through my list methodically, fighting the urge to just sit down & cry.

I ended up in the produce, making the usual selections–spinach, avocado, carrot sticks, gala apples. wait. WHERE WERE THE GALA APPLES? certainly not on the end of the apple display where they always are, where they’re supposed to be. I continued around the display, picking through red delicious, fuji, granny smith, pink lady…. nope, no gala. not even any honeycrisp (my 2nd choice). I had had enough & I kind of felt like pitching a fit right there by the lemons. frustrated, I turned around to leave, just in time to see the sweetest old lady catch my eye & say, “dear, you don’t happen to be looking for gala apples, do you? they’re over by the bananas today. I couldn’t find them either.” I inhaled deep, smiled, & breathed out thanks.

sometimes I like to think of grace as little drops of water in a desert. because once in awhile grace comes as a waterfall, big & grand, sweeping you off your feet. but mostly it trickles down in tiny drops. just when you think you can’t walk anymore. just when you are so parched you’re about to give up.

thursday morning was not so great either. so many questions & fears & insecurities. big awful conversations with people I love. it had been a hard night & the morning after I couldn’t get out of bed. I was lying there, almost literally crippled by fear & doubt. I tried the usual things… reading my bible, listening to music. finally I just cried & cried, asking God why we have to be sin-sick, why we have to hurt, asking why can’t things just be perfect? sometimes I ask those questions & I feel like I don’t get any answers.

but then a friend came over. & crawled in the bed with me. prayed for me. held my hand. got me up. took me to lunch. it was like I could almost feel healing falling down on me. little drops of water. they might not answer our biggest questions. but they remind us that the questions are heard. that we are loved. & right now, that’s enough.

p.s. thanks to david for the photo. he has a blog now, check it out.