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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

i think it’s funny (though the word i really mean is more like “befuddling” or “illogical”) that when i’m feeling down and dejected and like the world is against me, my inclination is to coop myself up inside and trudge around an empty room. but that God pulls me outside those four walls and uses the world at large to deflate that suffocating, downward-spiral of a balloon.

that’s how it was today for me. out of nowhere, i got this sudden and abrupt sense of hopelessness, like everything good that i’d been amped about and excited for was all empty and a ploy and i wasn’t going to see any of it. i started getting really anxious and pacing around. i didn’t know what to do. i tried reading a book but that didn’t help. i only got more anxious. so i did the only thing i could and started praying about it. with my breathing fast and my thoughts anxious, i told God how scared i was. it wasn’t until i was praying that i pinpointed that what i was feeling was actually hopelessness, which of course pulled the curtain down and showed who was really at work in that situation.

after i realized that and reminded myself of all of God’s promises to prosper me and give me the good things that my heart yearns for (drawing closer to him, fulfilling his will for my life/love/location/etc.) i knew what i needed to do. i jumped up and bolted out the door to go for a walk. and that’s when i really got my footing back again. with my ipod serenading me and my eyes open and searching for God and my pocket Bible in hand, God threw open the doors that restored my sense of hope and rest and peace in his goodness and the provisions he promises to bring my way.

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

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD
Jeremiah 29:11-14

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

i know God loves to work in ways that baffle us and that don’t seem to make sense, but somehow–even though i can’t put my finger on it–it does make sense: that breaking out of the confines of the ordinary and stepping back into the world–where anything is possible and novelty is all around–will pull you closer to him. i remember when i was reading about fasting, one of the things they encouraged was that when you steeped yourself in prayer, make sure you go somewhere not at home to do it. home is cozy and comfortable, but sometimes that’s not what we need. sometimes we need strangeness to awaken us to the Truth and to open our eyes to what’s really going on here.

today was one such day.

and it worked; by stepping out, i found my way back home again.

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame….
Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:3-5

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This weekend one of my bestest friends having just tied the knot this past weekend (and I got asked out on a date for the first time in almost a year, but it’s not what you think. Ask because it’s a rather pitiful—but entertaining—story…). So with seeing her get all fancied up for the big day and her text yesterday that said “We saw dolphins in the ocean today…I am having a great time with my husband,” let’s just say falling in love and weddings and marriage has been on the mind of late. (But, really, when is it not?)

Anyway you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that I read an article this week that talked about planning your wedding…alongside your soon-to-be-husband and how important it is to include him in that process, even though most guys say they want whatever you want. She brought up some good points about how it’s the first steps of decision-making together and teaches you about his likes/dislikes even before you start “forever” together. That’s something I’d like to replicate whenever my time comes, too.

Also, we recently wrapped up our latest book in my small group with Mal, Bri and Cathy. We read “Get Married” by Candice Watters which isn’t nearly as bad as the title makes it out to be. In fact, I fell in love with the book because she talks about that marriage is a gift God WANTS to give us (among other things: it models for us the relationship between Christ and the church and also teaches us crucial virtues like selflessness and putting others before our self). And so because God wants to give us, we should be bold to ask Him for it:

Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. . . . If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 7:7–8, Matthew 21:22).

And: “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

She talks about not being ashamed of this (although of course with the caveat that to truly reap this gift you should aspire to marry not just anyone but the RIGHT person, which she then details, based on Biblical standards). It was a refreshing and encouraging look at something that people never really talk about. Which is why we are talking about it now. Along with a few other friends, we’ve started a prayer group called “Women Praying Boldly” which is something she suggests in the book, where you just make it a point to be praying for each other as we navigate these waters in our life. (Of course, life is more than just getting married, but that’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make so why WOULDN’T it be something that you’d invest a lot of time in and prayer and preparation for? Seriously. It’s a good thing.)

Here are some of the notes I took from this book:

  • if it’s true that God is all we need for fulfillment, no one was in better position to be fully satisfied than Adam, who was closest human to God until Jesus came. but even GOD said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone–that man should not be alone….and that’s because man is created in God’s image, and God is a relational God. being alone contradicts God’s nature, which is why it “wasn’t good” for Adam to be alone.
  • in Hebrew tradition, God is often described as the great Shadchan or “marriage maker.”
  • many of the longings that are common to our generation (for friendship, wholeness, for a life that is serious and deep, for associations that are trustworthy and lasting) could be largely satisfied by marrying well. (note the imperative to make your choice intentionally–just any marriage won’t do)
  • through our faith we can believe that if we’re following the guidelines for what to pray for, we can ask boldly and believe that our prayers will be answered. it is worth the risk of disappointment to pray boldly.
  • live like you’re planning to marry: cultivate a lifestyle that is consistent with the season of marriage ahead, where you are responsible (your choices with your checkbook, calendar, media consumption and treatment of your own body–because they are not yours but God’s!), concerned with others (not just yourself), and nurturing the men and the community around you to play their roles so that you don’t have to carry it all.
  • to be feminine is to nurture, not merely respond. we can bring healing to the very men who need it so that they can be empowered to take more initiative.
  • The most likely way to find a future marriage partner is through introduction by family, friends or acquaintances. despite the romantic notion that people meet and fall in love through chance or fate, the evidence suggests that social networks (the old-fashioned kind) are important in bringing together individuals of similar interests/backgrounds. almost 60% of married people were introduced by family, friends, co-workers or other acquaintances.
  • do people in your life know you desire marriage? do they know the qualities you’re seeking in a husband? they might be willing accomplices in the search. also by talking about it with others, you can stand in the gap for each other. you can facilitate the courtship process and through self-disclosure, express your beliefs about marriage and courtship with your friends.
  • stop giving away pieces of your heart without being asked. start insisting that to gain intimacy, men must act honorably, state their intentions and initiate official relationships with the goal being marriage = GUARDING YOUR HEART

well now that i’m back home and have had time to settle in and let the dust of back-to-back trips settle, it’s time to share some of what’s been happening of late.

boston was a great work trip; our conference was especially successful (the biggest and most profitable yet) and i had a blast hanging out with becky and trolling around the city. we didn’t go out once, but it was nice to come home, crawl into a big comfy hotel bed and get a good night’s sleep.

while i was there, i attempted–and completed!–my first fast. mallory and i were doing it simultaneously for 4 days leading up to our Kansas City trip to International House of PRAYER (yep, IHOP). i was surprised at how easy it was to go without food but then again i shouldn’t have been because i know that the fact that it was easy wasn’t me but instead Him. going into the fast, i kept praying that God would make it easy on me so that i could still do a good job with my duties at our conference, that i would be nice and have a blast despite the lack of food. i wanted my coworkers to be surprised at how it went–and see, through that, how good my God is. i didn’t want to fail so that he could get the glory that it was He who did the work, not me. so, like i said, i shouldn’t be surprised that he was with me and answered that prayer. he is a good God.

i never got to that place of “peace” that you’re supposed to get on extended fasts. i wasn’t ever hungry, it’s just that everything sounded so good and i just wanted to taste it: put it on my tongue and let the flavors seep in. i didn’t care about chewing or digesting, just the sensual part of eating. intttterrresting, huh?

my favorite part of fasting, though, was how it freed up time. because i wasn’t running off to fancy restaurants with my coworkers, i found myself with extra time to myself. i walked around the area of our hotel or would just curl up in front of our huge window and pray and read my Bible and stuff. it was so relaxing and a nice change of pace to not be rushed through that.

and that’s been the No. 1 change i’ve noticed and grasped onto of late: digging into God and the Bible. making decisions that allow that. striving for that.

at IHOP, one of their big things and basis is their Prayer Room, which is open and running all around the clock. there’s always a band playing worship music and people praying or reading their bible or singing along or just reflecting. and even though praying and reading my Bible is often a task for me and one that i struggle with, discipline-wise, it wasn’t there: we’d go for 2 or 3 hours at a time, and afterward, it felt like it only been 15 or 20 minutes it was so effortless to spend time with God. our culture is so preoccupied with being busy that we often don’t just sit before God like that. there, the time would fly by and i’d walk away so enlightened and, really, just lightened (as in my “burden”).

and it’s fitting that that would be such an epiphany to me. because, also while we were there, we got prophesied over a few times. the very first prophesy brought me to tears over this fact: the guy started off talking about how my relationship with God has been me running around trying to “do” all these things and hurrying through (he likened it to a date, where you spend all this time running around getting ready and setting the table and stuff), when all God wants is for me to stop and just look him in the eyes. that moment is the one that matters: it’s the whole point of this great big Date that we’re all on.

and i realized, so clearly, that i desperately need to do that. i need to shove off everything else that’s crowding and just stare into God. just spend time with him and getting to know him.

to that end, i’ve decided to fast from reading books about God and instead read what he wrote for myself–focus more on the Bible. i’ve been meditating specifically on Song of Songs, which has been really good for me and for my heart and for me to stop and “stare.” and to enable this renewed sense of reading and reflecting on the Bible, i’ve tried to institute some of that “prayer room” mentality into my everyday practice: cranking up hymns and praise music while i’m reading and praying, and stocking my ipod with christian-infused songs so that i can go to a park and take time out there to dig in. i’m loving it and would encourage anyone who doesn’t already do it, to give it a try. it makes it more of a holistic experience i think, and makes it easier to just rest and sit before God. which is obviously what i need.

Psalm 27:7-9
“Lord hear me when I call; have mercy and answer me. My heart said of you, “Go worship him.” So I come to worship you, Lord. Do not turn away from 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.

that’s a pretty quote that i read in this lady’s blog. she seems like she lives such a pretty life, always cooking and baking and sewing clothes for her kids. seems very peaceful and serene in that it’s probably chaotic and crazy, but just the way you’d want it to be. who knows. anyway, yes, i liked the quote.

tomorrow i leave for good ole birmingham, alabama. i’m actually really, really looking forward to it. it will be me, becky, and an 8-hour car ride from here to there. and “there,” we’ll meet up with jackie, my old roommate from way back When; when we used to live in a little southern cottage and chase the flying cockroaches with bug spray and try to smash them with phonebooks and textbooks and when i burnt a whole pan of baked beans and our other roommate hated us and there was a visiting mouse and melted strainer and we worked at big-name magazines and hung out at southern bars and learned every word to “sweet home alabama” and watched “life was we know it” until it was cancelled and took a road trip to new orleans and got ourselves in all sorts of youthful debacles. and then she stayed there and i packed up my car and then on Christmas Eve 2004, drove back home through a snow storm with no idea what awaited me in my old hometown.

it was a really scary time in my life. i remember driving down there when i accepted the internship. jackie and i had never met, i had no idea what i was in for and was taking this as a leap of faith. i remember listening to the allister song that talks about starting over from “scratch”, which is exactly what i felt like i was doing:

you better start from scratch
it’s now or never
but we can’t look back
I need you with me
for another day
she’s so far away
yeah far away

I know there’s no time left for second chances
Still we’re right despite these circumstances
You’ve changed me more than you could ever know
So we will just hang on until tomorrow
so take my hand
don’t ever let me go

take our time
making sure that everything feels right
it won’t be easy
but I’m not afraid
she’s so far away

you better start from scratch
it’s now or never
but we can’t look back
I need you with me
for another day
she’s so far away
yeah far away

and as with so many other things in life, it all turned out beautifully. we made memories, i found a perfect job and moved back home and made amazing friends and an amazing little life for myself. so it will be interesting to journey back, now at the point where i am, and look at it all through that lens. on Friday, we’ll head over to Jackie’s and do dinner and reminisce and then head over to Innisfree, the bar that we used to walk to every weekend, and on Saturday our friend Liz is tying the knot so we’ll get to experience a proper Southern wedding. and then on Sunday… we make the trek back. maybe we can stop in Nashville for dinner or something? i’d enjoy that i think.

so we’ll see. but i’m looking forward to the break and the moment to catch my breath. i feel like i’ve been running full speed ahead and so now i realize that that isn’t healthy. so if you pray, i’d appreciate those kinds of prayers. just learning how to strike that balance. i went so far as to scribe a little list of rules: things like leave one night a week with nothing planned, do nothing (phone, visiting, etc.) after 10:30pm, and only schedule 2 things a night. (last night for instance involved a happy hour from 5 to 7, small group from 7:30 to 9:15, and stopping by paul’s from 9:30 to 10.) i just recognize that by running myself ragged i get stressed = fretful = crabby and that’s not worth it. that’s not me.

so thanks for any prayers, internet friends. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

(also, in regular list-making fare, i got started on my christmas list. and that’s a month later than most years!)

looking back at the calendar, i see that days have melted away. so, playing catch-up, here’s a review of where i’ve been biding my time lately:

  • awaiting the arrival of my new computer. my home desktop died two weekends ago and i spent all that time flip-flopping between decisions–Mac or PC? desktop or laptop? 15.4-inch or 17-inch? what kind of software? what name brand? i finally got to the point where i realized how distracting it was and all the choices were getting me nowhere. so i stopped. took a deep breath and decided God would decide for me when the time was right. then on monday, with a clear head, i made my decision and my new black, 15.4-inch Dell laptop arrived with all my pretty photo-editing software. and i have peace about it.
  • now i’m just waiting to buy my new camera. i want a sony cyber-shot w80. did my research on that and i think for the price, there’s so much bang. of course i still have a little love affair going for the elph, but i’m quite content with the cyber-shot’s features (amazing lens, can take indoor pictures without flash, face-recognition, auto-focus, etc) that i’m not looking back. indecision will not take me captive again!
  • resulting in a never before seen aligning of the stars, two new, much-anticipated cds dropped yesterday: motion city soundtrack’s even if it kills me, and new found glory’s from the screen to your stereo 2. both are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. take my word for it.
  • planning for the Back to School Dance Party. or more appropriately, thinking about it but not doing anything. it takes place tomorrow. and i have no idea when we’re going to have time to prep. my gut predicts: an hour before the Eagle’s set to Land.
  • and of course…

hanging out with the ever-elusive boy. tonight’s a big night; he’s meeting my family, which i’m very interested to see. i haven’t brought a boy home in y-e-a-r-s, so it’s a weird feeling, but a good one. if you know me very well, you know that i’m pretty aware of my feelings. i remember in college going on dates and coming home and nicole would ask me how it went and i’d respond, “eehhh, i dunno.” and her response one time was, “well, what was it this time?!” it made me realize how picky i am; how i’ve gone on many first dates and only a few second dates and even fewer third dates. my dating record in that respect looks like the dropoff of a huge water slide, which ought to make a big old splash at the end but, invoking Mr. T.S. Eliot himself, “ends not with a bang but a whimper.” but, all poetics aside, i’ve come to realize that pickiness isn’t overrated and that i trust my sense of judgment, particularly when it comes to what i know that i need. i know that i want to be friends with this person. i know that this person doesn’t “fit” with me. i know those things. so the fact that i feel like this person does fit with me, at least for the time being, i’m confident in that feeling. i don’t think it’s ever let me down. and plus i think the whole situation couldn’t be more blessed from any angle.

i remember i started reading all those books about women and men and relationships and singledom, and although i had been very OK with the idea that maybe i wasn’t meant to fall in love and get married–what if i wanted it too much and singledom was God keeping me closer to his will? what if He knew that it’d be bad for me? so i was OK with that. i always just told myself that i could always adopt and that that would be enough. well in one of the books, they said something about how God isn’t malicious–he isn’t going to put a desire on your heart and then not fulfill it. so i my view of that whole situation altered and i began praying that God would fulfill that desire in his own time, and in whatever way he deemed appropriate–to my mind it was a Boy relationship, but maybe it was mentoring or missions or something else. my mind is only so big and so i can only see so much. i just wanted to feel filled.

also, one of the things i’d picked up from the “the thrill of the chaste” book was the idea that you can’t be on the hunt for a relationship because what invariably happens when you go hunting? you end up killing that which you were chasing after. it’s destructive. so i also started praying that god would make it so that i didn’t have to chase or hunt, that he’d just provide and deliver the person without me having to do any “work” (meaning, trying to make him like me, trying to get his attention, etc.). and what do you know but that that’s how it worked? that the new boy came through an avenue i never would have imagined. (abridged version: two of the girls i lead on sunday morning, who are 14 and 15, told me they had a tennis/water polo coach and wanted to set me up. i humored them. it actually happened.) God provided.

so that’s why i think that no matter what comes of this–another week or year or indefinite–right now i can’t doubt that it’s in God’s will. plus, my relationship with Him is very strong and so that is another thing that encourages me in all this, where i want to have 100% certainty but that i know that some of the best things in life require a small leap of faith–God included. so, for now, the same with Paul. (yes, there you have it: that’s his name.)

i’d gotten this cute little agenda book from work (i got to oversee a story that showcases some really cool office products) and realized that i wouldn’t really use it for my calendar since i always rely on my Google calendar.

but the notebook was really cute, so i decided to turn it into a prayer journal where i’ll just take note of things i’m praying about, because a lot of times there’ll be so many things and i’ll forget. i know that’s terrible, but i think it’ll be good to keep them all in one place, even apart from my other journals.

also, when holly and i had first started looking at apartments in mariemont, we came to our current place and the lady who lived there showed us around and showed a basket that she had where she’d put all her little prayers. at the end of a month or something like that, she would dig through there and see which prayers had been answered and give thanks for that. it’s pretty easy for me to just pray and move on, rather than really dwell on them.

so i think this will be helpful and a good, productive, grounding gauge and a gentle reminder.

when i was little, i remember how they told you at church that you could ask Jesus to come into your heart. i thought that sounded like a splendid idea, so i prayed along and from then on, i always imagined him being pint-sized, tacking a “Home Sweet Home” sign up on the inside of my (anatomically incorrect) heart. and, since i was hosting him, every night i’d lay in bed and tell him stories and entertain him and we’d chat. it was really a sweet way to start out with God.

and then, when i got into my later teens i started up again, even though i wasn’t even that into God. but every night i’d have to pray or else i just couldn’t go to bed–it was like brushing my teeth or something; it would nag me until i did it and then i could peacefully fall asleep. well my senior year of college i fell out of the habit when i started dating this new guy who would (yes) spend the night a few nights a week. and once that habit broke, there was no going back.

even as i’ve gotten more involved in church and reading and researching my faith more and more and opening up about it with it to other people, that’s the one element that i haven’t been able to regain. i know i should but i just can’t make it happen with the verve that i used to. kind of makes me wistful.

anyway, the other day i finished reading “the thrill of the chaste” (i will post some of my favorite takeaways here soon), i was ready to pick up my next book and dive in. but something told me to hold off, to not rush into the next step. i did this mostly because i wanted to give that book a chance to soak in. but then, as i was doing so, i realized that what i’ve actually done is substitute reading about god for talking to god. because very rarely am i reading fiction–it’s almost always some sort of nonfiction. for every 3 nonfiction books, i may read 1 fiction. i can recall 7 fiction ones  over the past two years, versus that same number of nonfiction just since spring.

in “girl meets god”, she’s way into reading–at one point she describes her apartment and how it’s one huge library: european and asian history books are in the dining room; american history and christianity are located in her bedroom; other sections are in the living room. now i am nowhere as much of a reader as that (i don’t even read that fast to begin with), but at one point she made a decision that makes sense. she decided for lent, rather than give up pop or chocolate or some sort of edible, to give up reading. she talked about how it was a crutch for her and that fasting from it would bring her closer to god. i thought that was insightful, and i wonder if in my quest to “improve” or “grow”, i’ve skipped over the step that’s bound to help the most because i don’t “have time” for that–i have to keep checking things off the list and making my way. it was almost as though it were a waste, when you have these books that can discern everything for you and can spoonfeed you epiphanies. of course i think others’ insights are important. but i also think i neglected the importance of taking a step back, chewing, swallowing and relishing. and laying out. and listening. and trusting.

so my next book (part of my homework from owen) sits unopened. and for now, that’s a good thing.

don’t worry; i won’t count my way through entries for long. but this is just an attempt to say “yes, I’m still here” and “yes, I meant what I said.” i want to try at this blog thing. i suppose two days might be lofty at gauging success, but there you have it–it’s a start.

and it’s funny to think that my life could be considered a “start” right now. because i’ve been at my job now for 2.5 years. i’ve been out of college for more than three. i’ve bought a brand-new car and already paid it off. i’ve signed a lease and bought a new bed and called the cable company and water company and had to haggle them to get things done. i’ve gone on business trips by myself and introduced myself to big names (within our industry, though). i contact people and tell them i work for a magazine and i get them to give me stuff and clamor for attention. i’ve been invited to weddings without my family; i’ve been a date to weddings. some of my best friends have been the ones getting married. i’ve been teaching the teens for almost two years now–teaching! when did i outgrow being just a student and step into this role? what do *i* know?

and yet, here i am, still feeling like i’m fumbling around and still sorting all this out. by all accounts, i’m grown up. but i still feel like i’m 17. it’s a weird feeling and i was talking to my dad a few weeks ago, and he talked about how he always imagines himself back in his younger years. i’m not sure what specific year, but he said he doesn’t feel his age. i never, ever imagined i’d be like that. but here i am and always feeling puny and insignificant and unsure of myself and out-of-place.

but i want to feel grown up and full of confidence. i wonder if that’s why i try to read more and more–to try to catch up with my age. to match my wits with my calendar-year. or to solve all my problems as soon as possible to speed the aging process.

i’m not sure but sometimes i take a step back and i realize where in life i fall and i’m amazed. how did i get here? was it all a dream? i feel like i was in a trance most of the time and that’s one of the most heartening things I find about God: that it’s obvious, “in hindsight” (shout-out to Miss TLC), that he was there all along, playing puppeteer to my marionette.

today i had to give a testimony during a meeting for church members interested in serving with the youth group. i talked a little bit about how i just one day decided to try it out and didn’t really think too much about it–i just did it on a whim and without really any contemplation. our youth pastor always says, “well, pray about it and then get back to me about your decision.” now, i think that’s very good advice–i do, i do. but sometimes i think that the best decisions i’ve made are ones where i just did and didn’t question. because it’s in that questioning step that i usually am able to talk myself out of something. but volunteering for the junior high ended up being something so perfect and so amazing for me, that i had absolutely no clue and couldn’t have. i had no idea the potential it held. but here i am, with amazing girls who look up to me and who i love and who i get to share with. and i feel like that totally was a God thing–him leading and me not even realizing it at the time; just figuring, why not?

it’s interesting to look back at the path he’s paved… “and be glad in it.” i know i owe it all to him and that in itself makes me eager for the times to come because i have to trust that if he’s gone through all that trouble, all that fishing, all that cleaning off, that he’s got something worthwhile in mind–that he has big plans for me. and i know that it’s a scary thing to say that i hope he does, but i do. i know i’m a scaredy cat and will probably pull a Jonah and run off when he asks me not to, but i do want to fulfill those plans, i want to become that woman and bloom those seeds.

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