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“Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops.” — Ecclesiastes 11:4

i love the wisdom in this verse–and it’s call to step out in faith. just because things aren’t perfect, doesn’t mean we should act. God may not open that door for us now, but by the time we get right up to it, if it’s His will, we must have faith that he will.

this verse speaks volumes to me, time and time again, season after season. the first time i read it and journaled about it was september 16, and i hadn’t lived here in Grand Rapids for a week even. i’d just started my new job the day before–and my world was feeling ever topsy-turvy. so this revelation, not to let worries or “not-so-great circumstances” hold me back from sowing and trust God for the reaping, was so of-the-moment. it was also early into my relationship with michael, and we’d been doing the long-distance thing for over a month. in so many ways i looked at my life and the incumbrances that seemed to loom all around me and this verse caused me to whisper over and over again: “keep sowing. keep trusting. persevere.”

and here i am, more than 6 months later. both of those situations still get to me: i have my hard, feeling-all-alone and desperate times here up in Michigan and i still miss Michael and wish we lived closer. but i’m glad i’ve stuck it out. God has done such great things in both of them. i’ve learned so much about Him and grown in such a relationship with Him through my starting-over process up here. it’s been a great catalyst for drawing me near. and i’ve learned so much about humility and selflessness in my relationship with Michael, which has had to mostly take place over the phone as we sort through issues and hardships and dreams and everything else.

so for now, i don’t know what the future holds. i’m trying to let go of that. i went for a walk today (it’s finally getting warm enough to make that bearable up here) and that was the thought pervading me: “i don’t care what happens next. i don’t want to rush God with this. i’m OK with whatever he’s got up his sleeve.” because I know Him, and i know that whatever he’s having me wait for is totally going to be worth it. there is going to be a harvest!

one of the ways I’ve seen God’s provision most is absolutely, positively through the relationships He’s placed throughout my entire life. I can look back and see how there was special purpose to so many of the friendships i had and even bad dating relationships that i had. as i’ve become a christian, that reality has only grown and shown itself to be even more true. such was the case when I moved up here to Grand Rapids and barely knew a soul–but instantly had a new best friend.

essentially, when Mallory and I had visited, we went to Mars Hill for church and were going to go grab pizza and play games with the one guy I knew in this entire city. as we were gearing up to go do that, a girl walks up and she decides to come join us. end of story. we got along great and when she found out I was moving up here, she called me and we made plans to hang out when I moved up, she invited me to join her Bible study, to go to Mars Hill with her–the whole shebang. and that friendship, which started off so briefly, has been so amazing for me, growing my faith and encouraging me and opening a ton of doors for me.

one of which is the aforementioned Bible study she invited me to join. it’s been phenomenal. i have to say, that is the one thing I look forward to most every week. I’d done small groups before, but what I absolutely love about this one is how diverse it is. it’s all women, but women of all ages. in my group, i’m the youngest and there are moms with teenagers, younger single women, older single women, grandmothers. and it’s beautiful to see how they can all minister to one another and be an encouragement for one another. like when i was sad and just flat-out admitted that i missed Michael and wasn’t enjoying the whole “long-distance” aspect of our relationship. i expected them to pooh-pooh me and shove it off because dating is not marriage and you don’t know love until you’re married. but they didn’t. they looked me square in the eyes and said, “yes, that has to be hard. i understand. i remember. that’s hard.” to feel understood and to realize, “you mean, i’m not crazy for feeling this way? i’m not acting like a cheesy middle school girl? it’s ok to feel this way and still be a grown-up?” it was so touching.

it’s also here that i’ve started meeting with a woman who is giving me some insights into what i trust God has for my future, which is marriage. i’m stepping out in faith and trusting that that desire that is on my heart is one He is going to fulfill. so, while I wait,  I wait in faith and begin preparing, even now though that hasn’t come to pass yet. when God promised Abraham that He’d give him so many descendents that he wouldn’t be able to count them, Abraham had to shake his head and say, “Well I have no idea how that’s going to happen because from my vantage point it seems impossible…but…i trust you LORD. I know in you all things are possible.” (well of course he didn’t actually say those things, but essentially that’s the circumstance he found himself in and that’s how I relate to it.) i want to, when i see the seemingly impossible before me, KNOW that it’s not too big for God and step out in faith, waiting expectantly and excitedly for God to provide it. and I’ve seen the firstfruits of that promise already, in an amazing boyfriend who has already defied so many of my expectations. God has done an amazing work in him and, though i often forget and somehow manage to take his heart for granted, he still is someone that i just simply have an awe for–because of how I can see him live out Christ and chase after God and humble himself and just love. it’s not that i’m putting him on a pedestal, but it’s recognizing the amazing treasure that’s before me.

that epitomizes many of my relationships right now: both with the new freinds in my multi-generational Bible study and with Michael and with Him.

“Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty,  “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” — Malachi 3:10

RE Grand rapids: I’m now back in the safe, sound, snug place of peace with God concerning this. For a week I was all antsy and anxious and worried about how it would pan out. But I spent time praying and following God to especially fitting verses. Then on Sunday at church, the entire sermon was on being fearless and following God (Jesus’ greatest command is “Follow me” while in the Bible it’s “Fear not.”) and that solidified my trust in God: That it’s not my place to worry or try to figure out what will happen because God can/will do that for me and in ways I never could have imagined. I trust that he will do that here with this decision, its provisions and timing.

Also one of the messages from church was how God uses—and wants to use—ordinary folks. We looked at the life of Gideon (judges 6) who didn’t think he was worth it to do God’s work, but God saw something in him (and, extrapolated, sees something in me) that we don’t see in ourselves and that He can and will use. We can’t hold ourselves back! I think that was another part of the situation that I was experiencing—I felt like I was too spiritually immature to take this big of leap of faith, that I’m fooling myself and trying to do something that’s bigger than my spiritual footing. Like I’m trying to force it. But the point of that is that it’s not about me at all; God loves using the ordinary and the weak to accomplish great things because then he gets all the glory, which is what it’s all about in the first place. So I just need to remember to do that—to give Him the glory rather than wish to take it for myself and all “my” hard work. It is only by his strength and insight and special positioning that all of this has come to be. I am grateful.

Hebrews 13:5-6
God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”


Psalm 92
A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.
1 It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,

2 to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,

3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

4 For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

5 How great are your works, O LORD,
how profound your thoughts!

6 The senseless man does not know,
fools do not understand,

last night I went over to my parents and we spent a good portion of the night outside, scouting out different plants around the yard and clipping flowers and putting them into vases. I took a big bunch of lilacs home with me, which sat on my nightstand and woke me up every once and awhile when I’d catch a waft, which was soothing and seemed to remind me: breathe in, all is good.

and it’s true. all is good, because i feel like i’m breathing deeper these last few weeks.

i think there are two parts to this newfound feeling:

part one
the whole grand rapids thing, where i have so much peace that it makes me wonder if maybe it’s too good to be true? but aside from praying that if this isn’t what God wants that he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure to tell me/stop it from happening, then i’m trusting in God’s nature as a peace-giver and as unchanging. even if this did seemingly come out of nowhere, i don’t want to sit on my hands if i feel it’s a good thing. and i do.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified. Don’t be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

I’ve been going through bouts of feeling scared about whatever the future might hold, because it’s so far-off and so indeterminable. The fact that it would mean leaving many good things behind (church, friends, work, youth group, family) in exchange for…i’m not yet sure what. That makes me scared, so I keep praying that God will be with me and to “not hide your face from me,” that I will know his will and be strengthened to forge ahead with it. i woke up the other day and one verse from a Hedley song was rolling around in my head, “If you don’t believe me, watch and I will make it happen.” i really felt like that was God reassuring me, that he will make it happen. he won’t pull me this far and then drop the ball and walk away. another song lyric that spells the same thing to me: “you are safe, child, you are safe.

Isaiah 43:5-7
5
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth-

7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.

plus i’m reminding myself that if this is what God wants, he’s not going to purposefully make it hard or arduous; He WANTS it to happen and so He will help me do that. He did that for me when it came to breaking up with Paul (I was prepared to do it, but Paul ended up coming over and finishing things); when I moved to Alabama I had 2 weeks to relocate and find a place to stay for 5 months and God provided that along with an awesome roommate; then with Cincinnati He totally set me up with a great church and great friends and a great job. So I have to keep reminding myself of those blessings past, and that because God’s unchanging, that He won’t stop doing that—he’ll continue to guide me and provide for me along that pathway.

Psalm 25:4-10
4 Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths

5 guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O LORD.

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.

10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant

* * * * * * * * * * * *

part deux
which brings me to my second point which is the book i’ve been reading of late: Breathe. it’s pretty phenomenal and one that I barely convinced myself was worth buying; I only did so because it was half-price. it was well worth it.

the book is very grounding and encourages us to put our purpose and focus on God and to do so with our time and resources. it encourages us to simplify and say “yes” to the things that draw us to Him and to say “no” to those which don’t. while i know that my priorities aren’t nearly as tangled as a parent’s who has multiple other people to keep in mind with decision-making (the book is intended for mothers), i want to become aware of these struggles now. because if i can be aware and intentional and deliberate now, then it will become a practice/discipline which will serve me well as i move forward–and on into those next stages of life.

i like that the book gives you permission to say “no” to people, causes or activities that draw you away from God. this has been revolutionary to me and quite liberating. i’ve decided to let go of my TV-watching because i can see how it not only wastes time but also wastes words–when i spend time recapping tv shows with my friends and coworkers. it prevents me from digging deep into conversation. so i’ve started abandoning that need to “fill” my time with things like TV. now i just let my friends recap the shows for me, which cuts my investment time down to 5 minutes or less and frees up at least 15, a pretty good exchange if you ask me. (although I do foresee making room and allowing for “Heroes.” no matter how great a storyteller you may be, I don’t think anyone could recap that show with justice!)

one challenge they give in the book is about looking for opportunities to shave down your obligations, and then not fill them. Today I did that on my lunch break by breaking free from my desk and rushing to a nearby park to sit quietly and read more from the book. Being quiet isn’t an easy task or discipline for me, so this book is especially fitting. I need to invest in this ideal more and more, because I know I always complain about not being able to easily “hear God” but I think that’s because I’m not patient enough with the quiet to listen. I’m also hoping that our upcoming trip to IHOP in Kansas City will be enlightening and insightful for that, too!

i’m also hoping that in this decision to follow God to somewhere new, that hopefully that’ll draw me nearer and keep teaching me to connect with him and get to that point where i can hear and where i can really find my purpose and place.

catching up on my blog reading, and the boundless blog pointed to a new book out called “Do Hard Things.” it sounds like a really interesting book and so I’ve added it to my list of books I hope to get around to reading. the authors say:

We’re not just saying that hard things happen and that you can benefit from them. We’re not just saying that you have the ability to do hard things. We’re telling you that you should do hard things because it’s the best and only way to experience true growth in your life. … Our big, crazy idea is that this is the life God has called us to live now—not 10 or 20 years from now, but right now, as young people. This is your best life, not your easiest life; the only way to avoid wasting your single years and ultimately your life.

they also make a good point:

We can’t really avoid doing hard things. We can only decide when to do them and how prepared we will be to handle the hard things life brings our way. You either do the hard thing of getting prepared, or you deal with the harder thing of being unprepared. We either “do it” now, or we end up having to “deal with it” later.

This about a lot more than flat tires or missed meetings. Resisting temptation is hard, but not as hard as dealing with an addiction. Finding and keeping a job is hard, but not as hard as dealing with unemployment and struggling to make ends meet.

and finally, here’s an insightful C.S. Lewis quote they invoke: “We are like eggs at present. And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

on (my) tattoos and piercings
as you probably know, when it comes to big decisions, i’m not one for spontaneity. sure if it’s, “let’s go get ice-cream!” or “let’s go on a vacation!” then i’m all for it, because you can’t go wrong with either.

but something that there’s a chance that i might someday regret isn’t something i take lightly. hence why i’ve been so patient and spent so long kicking around the idea of a/my tattoo. but things changed last week when–in the midst of “where am i headed?” and “what’s going to happen, life-wise, next?!”–i got the out-of-the-blue urge to get one of those monroe piercings. i really, really wanted it even moreso than the tattoo. like, i was ready to get it on friday if i didn’t know myself better.

i don’t have anything against piercings; what i’ve always held as important in decision-making is intention behind the choice. so, i came to see that with this urge for a pretty little beauty-mark diamond was how quickly it came on and how forceful it was and how it consumed my thoughts, because it really did. everyday i was thinking about how i would look with one; i’d imagine it on other people and how it would change the way they look, etc. that preoccupation was a red flag to me–that there was something deeper going on.

if you’ve ever read the screwtape letters (OK, or the Bible for that matter), i believe in that stuff–that the reason why all our movies have a good guy and a bad guy, where there’s always some sort of struggle between the two is because that reflects the greater story that’s taking place in our world. that there’s a God and a Devil and that the bad guy in this story is doing everything he can to bring down Good. i remember when i read the Screwtape Letters, one thing that C.S. Lewis pointed out was how one of the devil’s greatest tools is using inaction and distraction to bring us down–while we may not be committing great sins like murder, if we’re still not doing good,  then what’s the difference? he’s won.

so i realized that this piercing preoccupation was just that: a distraction that was keeping me from focusing my thoughts on what God had in store, future-wise. i know it sounds silly because it was just a simple piercing, but in context it stood for so much more: as i pondered getting it, i was really doubting that God would accomplish what i knew he already told me he would. (because the last thing the piercing would say is “professional” and could really stand as a stumbling block as i consider that path.) i had to realize that if he encouraged me to pursue this path, then why wouldn’t he provide that? why would i jeopardize or disregard that?

it was a matter of regaining/reasserting my faith in the future. and since that realization, the overwhelming preoccupation has melted away and now i’m back to considering that old tattoo of mine. the one benefit i see in this is that at least it has a purpose other than pure vanity (which was all the piercing had to offer) and would be a gentle and daily reminder of the state (and source) of my life. here’s the general direction i’m thinking, although the elements would be better integrated, of course. but i’m digging the idea of calligraphy + ornamentation:

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I’m not sure what’s been going on lately, because it seems like there’s been a lot of transitions lately, with people losing their jobs. Perhaps I’m just now paying attention and when one thing happens, you perk your ears for other incidents. Or perhaps it’s just the economy claiming its dues.

I’m not sure, but it’s a somber reality that people who love what they do and are sacrificial in nature, have to get asked to do something else. It’s something that ought to be their choice, but instead is thrust upon them. But you know, maybe that’s the reason—they love what they do so much that they’re unwilling to leave, so God has to intercede and have someone else make the choice for them, to prod them onto the greener pastures that await.

I don’t know. But I am quite inspired, watching people take what could be bitter and sour and really crappy, and see—rather, embrace and TRUST—the possibility in it. One of the women I look up to/admire most got let go from her job and sent out an email that exemplifies that admirable kind of heart perfectly:

Every good and perfect gift comes down
from the Father of Heavenly lights.”
James 1:17

I wasn’t sure if this decision was from men or from God, so I asked my God and he was kind enough to tell me that it was a gift from him … that he was setting me free to do other work for him.

Please be happy with me and for me … and for Eastside and its people as God continues to “move in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.” 

i read this blog entry last week or so and think it’s just flat out amazing:

We’ve been going to this new church since the end of the Summer. It’s a Vineyard church. ….  And worship at this church had such an overt hunger for God. I loved it. My husband even pointed out to me when a couple of ladies were gently dancing while they worshipped. I was so so hungry for that. But still shy. Real shy. Shy to move my feet. I had no problem with raising my arms. That felt like giving God a hug. But my feet. I was too afraid to move them. …. But for weeks, when I sang, I would close my eyes and visualize myself as a little girl, standing in a field or meadow with my arms outstretched twirling around with my eyes closed and face to the sun. This image would come to my mind unbidden.

I knew it was an inviatation from God …. I knew God wanted me to do it. So in my mind I’m saying, “God are you sure?” “Yes. Yes.” So I said, “Okay. I’ll wait for the chorus.” Which is so funny. But real. It’s like I was a kid standing on the edge of the high dive. Today. I move my feet. Gulp. So the chorus came. and I did it. I kept my arms outstretched hugging God and I closed my eyes and turned my face up to the sun and I twirled in a slow gentle circle. It. felt. awesome. I felt all the innocent freedom and joy of a little girl.

After church, I was talking with a friend from homegroup when a lady I’ve never met walked up to me. She was waiting to talk to me. She said, (she was so shy) she said, “God told me something to tell you. I dont usually do this. Is that okay with you.” “Sure. Yes. Go ahead.” This shy lady said, “Um God wants you to know that he likes the way you worship. He likes it very much just the way you do it today.”

Is THAT AWESOME OR WHAT??

The thing I’ve struggled with the most, lately, has been the idea of trying to understand everything that’s happened these past couple of months. I’ve been wrestling with, “Well what was the point, then?!” and came up shorthanded every time, which only frustrated me more.

But last night I finished reading Cameron Conant’s second memoir “The Year I Got Everything I Wanted,” which had been a Christmas present. While I really enjoyed his first book, this second one was definitely the capstone of the two endeavors—rich writing (the book parallels Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes, which is a pretty cool literary approach) but also full of insights and lessons to be taken and bookmarked. One such one spoke volumes to me as he started a new chapter off with this verse from Ecclesiastes, which i underlined about a dozen times (filling up as much space as i could with the emphasis-marks) because it was so poignant and especially fitting:

Ecclesiastes 11:5: as you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, SO YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE WORK OF GOD, THE MAKER OF ALL THINGS.

The thing is, when it comes to things like creation and evolution and physics, I have no problem shrugging my shoulders and saying, “Well isn’t that evidence itself of God?” i just know that it’s God who’s behind all them and how in the world could we even begin to fathom Him and His ways?! So with those big-picture issues, i’m completely content to just accept them as-is and as bigger than my comprehension. In fact, that complexity is what i love about Him! but when that complexity creeps into my own life, i wrestle and thrash as i try to make sense of it all. why, oh why?!

And I have to just learn that not everything is for me to understand—perhaps, as is said the the Chronicles of Narnia which I’m still listening my way through–“it’s not part of my story,” and thus not for me to know. That I have to stop struggling to make sense of it and just accept it as is and ask God that if I’m to understand it that I will, and that if not, that he will use it in whatever way he needs to. Because I know it has a purpose—even if I can’t see it. I have to trust in that, and that it’s all about something bigger, anyway…

today could not be any more confusing, any more shape-shifting, any more clumsy. i can hardly think straight long enough to formulate a fluent train of thought, everything’s so mishmashed and disjointed. i think that’s what happens when everything gets turned upside down and you don’t even know where to begin. that’s how i feel.

but despite that, today has reignited my love for my friends, who make me fancy mashed potatoes and cookies with frosting and who come to hang out because they know i need it. of course i never doubted that; i know how blessed i am with my friends. but it feels good to feel loved and to know it, without a doubt, deep into your bones.

part of me is really sad and part of me is really relieved. and unfortunately i don’t think this is the time/place to go into such things. so i apologize for the enigmatic-ness of this entry. but it feels good to admit that everything isn’t ok. that sometimes things suck.

and so i’m reminded of a sermon jonathan did a long time ago–i’m guessing around Easter–when he talked about how, like Jesus, there are going to be Fridays in our lives. but, as with his ressurrection, SUNDAY will always triumph. so long as we love God and embrace his will, Sunday will always come and we will be rescued.

right now a Hey Mercedes song just came on, and it seems fitting: “it’s such a beautiful day to be sad.” because today after church, it started raining, big cold heavy wet raindrops. and i had to walk around in them. but i didn’t run or try to cover up because it was comforting–that i was sad and the weather didn’t laugh in my face, but instead consoled and let me continue that way, to ride the wave out and embrace it and sink into it.

before that was my favorite Smoking Popes song where it goes “no more smiles, it’s just teardrops falling to the ground. now it’s around here, i don’t love you anymore. and i’m sorry about it, when did my heart change its mind? must have been near the changing of time. no more smiles from now on, they are all gone. i’ll never understand what went wrong.” and the third song in this little string of consolations is an Andrew Bird one, titled, “Don’t Be Scared.” which i think is a good note to end on. because Sunday will always come. and i know that even though things suck and i don’t know what they mean or where they’re coming from, that that is a comfort. and i have nothing to be scared from. God has carried me this far, so why would he let go anytime soon? He won’t.

i’m sitting at home listening to “hey delilah,” ready for the weekend. it’s very peaceful. like a breath of fresh air.

last night i met brianna and, sitting in the comfy couches of starbucks, i sipped my peppermint white chocolate latte and she her eggnog latte (although i’m not positive that either of them were lattes; i have no understanding about any of those differences. all i can tell is whether it’s hot or cold). anyway, we got on the subject of tattoos. it’s not anything i’d ever been interested in, but over this summer, something has begun to change…i think it’d be nice.

the problem has always been that i’m a very safe decision-maker; i shop around before i make any big purchase. i don’t commit to big plans until i’ve had time to mull them over and make certain they’ll work. i keep an excel spreadsheet of my finances and budget. so when it comes to things that will last forever, it’s not exactly in my comfort zone. i look back at the clothes i wore even 4 years ago and cringe–were my skirts really that short?! did i really think the whole newsboy cap was cool?! really?! and i know that that’s as much a result of growing up and settling more comfortably into my own skin (as opposed to society/what everyone else is doing). but still. am i capable to make any decision that lasts that long?

i haven’t decided. but i’ve been kicking it around. i’ve come so far as to think that what i would like to get is something with a leaf or a fern. ideally it’d be a leaf in the shape of a heart of some sort. the idea behind that is that “God is love” and I feel closest/most aware of Him and His grandness when i’m out in nature. everything about nature just seems to edify me and–no pun intended–ground me. i think that’s one of the reasons why i love the color green so much; it’s so symbolic. anyway, so rather than the usual cross or icthus, that’s what i’d get to represent my faith for me.

i was originally thinking it’d be cool to get it on my left wrist (to remind me to spread that love out into the world, be Jesus’ hands and feet in my actions), but that’s where my fear gets the best of me. what if i’m 50 and get self-conscious of it? i’m not too fond of long-sleeves as it is, so that’s a great deal of commitment. the next logical place is my back or on my side. but then i wonder, if i don’t see it, what’s the point? however i used to wear a cross necklace because i thought it’d help me remind me of my faith and the whole WWJD thing, but inevitably i’d forget i was wearing it, so i’m sure this is just another one of those you’re-bound-to-get-used-to-it things anyway.

here’s the best example i could find:

317134536_0bfcc48532.jpg

but i did convince brianna to let me go with her when she gets hers, hopefully next month.

the idea of doubt is weird to me. because if you talk about god, even though i don’t understand him and i know i still have miles and acres to traverse and learn about him, i still know that He is good and He loves me and He will watch out for me. i don’t really have a hard time grappling that. or at least i don’t think i do.

but i’ve realized, lately, that when it comes to matters of the heart, i do.  i have a hard time giving my heart over and trusting in it. i think it’s a flip-of-the-coin thing: in the good in the bad, i know that God is doing what ultimately is best for me, even through the struggles and hard times. so i know that they will come and that they will strengthen me. but i think that i almost expect them too much. that even though i trust they will be for good, i expect them to happen. and so i set myself up for them and keep a watchful eye, almost willing them to happen.

i’ve realized that i do that with paul. and, admittedly, it’s dumb. we talk at least once a day. he holds doors for me and smiles at me and listens to me. he opens up to me. we hang out multiple times a week (this past week, we hung out, for some amount of time, on sunday, monday, thursday, friday and saturday). so should i doubt? but inevitably i do. with thoughts of “well he doesn’t do this like he used to” or “this has changed.” it almost seems inevitable for me to think that he’s always on the brink of leaving or losing interest. and i suppose it’s probably a lot of  insecurities, but i also chalk much of it up to selfishness.

because in my doubting, what does that say to him? your word isn’t good enough? your past actions aren’t good enough?

i try to think of relationships–friendships, romantic, etc.–in light of God. and so i think about how in the Bible they always refer to him as “the God of Israel” or “the God of Abraham.” they reference the things he’s done, almost as a reminder and testament of his nature–what he’s done in the past and so what he’s certain to do in the future. and yet, you watch time and time again how the israelites turn their back on god and stop trusting him. i mean, they’ve seen him provide for them and lead them out of deserts, and yet they still waver. which is why i think those reminders of how he’s proven himself in the past are so important; as humans we need those reminders. because we’re so easy to stray.

and so i have to learn to trust and let past actions speak for themselves, and quit being wrapped up in looking out for myself–and expecting that i’m the only one who will do that. it reminds me of the whole adam and eve story, when eve’s convinced to eat the fruit, because satan convinces her that god is holding out on her. and so she doubts god and all the promises he’s made and all the past blessings he’s poured out. she wavers and decides to take matters into her own hands. she turns her back on god and sins. i have to let go of that need to control and be on alert for those things. i’m sure i’ll never really overcome that (i think that’s kind of the curse of being a daughter of eve), but still. i want to trust instead of doubt. which otherwise i feel like comes so easily.

i think it’s hard with paul because there’s a lot at stake. of course i know that if it goes south, there’s purpose in that and that it’s just another step along the way. and i can handle that–i’ve been there before. so what am i so scared of?

but then i think about how God fashioned us after him, how he planted little pieces/reflections of himself in us. and i wonder if this, this need for reassurance, is a manipulation of Him. because you look at how Jesus shows us how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. the first thing he does is praise God. he tells God that he loves him. and God loves that, God wants to hear that. he knows everything about us and everything in our hearts and everything before it happens, but yet he still likes hearing it. just like i do. and in church today we were talking about doubt, and Jonathan quoted the verse in Mark 9:24  where a man tells Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” he believes but still has unbelief.

so that’s not me making excuses, it’s just me exploring and prodding. and trying to learn.

see? home by 10:30. refreshing.

this has been week no. 1 in my attempt to recalibrate. it has been good. although really it’s worked out less because of my attempts and more because everyone (meaning the lovelies and paul) have been busy. so i haven’t really had to try to take things slow and take time for myself. it’s nice to be eased into things.

yesterday, after having what was officially titled “my no good, very bad day” (don’t ask), i left work 15 minutes early and took the time to do something i haven’t done in over a month: run. in high school i was a really good runner. i played soccer and could almost always be the first player to finish all our laps around the practice complex. halfway through the season my junior year, though, i got really bad shin splints and couldn’t run without shooting pains. so i stopped running and was afraid to for years. this past summer i decided to try again. and, surprisingly, i wasn’t half bad. although i guess i’m not sure what i’m measuring it against, but i’m not disappointed in where i’ve picked up.

so it was, that i ran for an hour yesterday and was quite heartened by it. it did help clear the bumbling air that was gathering in my head.

today i went over to my parents’ house and visited my grandma who was actually much herself, which typically isn’t the case. that was such a good feeling. she was laughing and cracking jokes. she had a hard time hearing and many times misinterpreted what i was saying (i guess i have a hard time speaking up), but that made it more entertaining. she slipped a few times into her own little world, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it has been. that was a good feeling. we ordered pizza and i made tasty pumpkin cupcakes for sir paul and then i worked a new project of mine.

right now i have this crappy piece of cardboard that i made holes in with a hole punch and have strung my necklaces through. although i’ve received compliments on it, i think it’s pretty shoddy. so my new effort is to take a medium-sized branch and cut it down and then pop nails into it and spray paint it white. all i have left is the spray paint and mounting. cross your fingers. i can’t have my necklaces get tangled and this is the best idea i’ve come up with yet. (plus i just like nature-y stuff. i’m also working a poster to blow up for over my bed. more on that later.)

and i think the best part of my day was at work i decided to start working on my lesson plan for this sunday. if you don’t know, i teach sunday school for the teen girls at church. well every once and a while i like to do “Fireside Chats” with the girls–basically a chance for them to tap into what’s going on in their life and apply it to God and look at it through that lens, and get the support of the rest of the group. so, considering what’s been going on lately in my life, i decided to hone in this week on struggles. so i spent some time looking up verses and came across a bunch that just heartened me. it was pretty cool to go from, one moment being self-pitying and ‘woe is me’ to, the next, being content and satisfied despite the circumstances or ‘what if’s.

here’s an example, 2 cor. 4:16-18 (MSG): Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye.

one of the things i did was type up all the verses so that the girls can cut the various ones up and keep them with them, in their purse or put them on their mirror or in their locker–just so that they have them nearby when they need them for reassurance. i do that at work; have a little “inspiration/reassurance wall.” it’s mostly made of encouragements i received when i went to haiti this winter. and i look to it often, so i know it’s worthwhile. so i’m amped for it–for both my sake and for the girls’. i haven’t felt like i’ve really given them the time and effort they deserve lately, so i’d like to work on that.

although i did get an email today about the OTR efforts and that they might be acquiring a n old church down there and attempting “betterment” efforts like helping the homeless neighbors find jobs or learn to read or to write. that’s totally the kind of thing i want to be involved in. so we’ll see. i’m excited about the opportunity, although i’m already wondering how i would be able to fit yet another commitment into my schedule. but i think it’s a good thing. so i guess i just have trust that the pieces will all fall into their place. i have faith that they will… one way or another, they alway do, right?

The concluding paragraph from an article I just read on radiantmag.com:

In this 29th year of my life, I’ve determined to become a woman who doesn’t underestimate God. I’ve determined to be a woman of faith. A woman who no longer anticipates disappointment. Instead, a woman who stands ready to be amazed by what God can and will do when I have faith enough to believe that nothing is impossible for Him.

(Plus there’s an interview on there with Eisley. I just ordered their new cd on amazon!)

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