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a lot has changed since i last blogged here: new name and marital status (oh yeah, engaged and married within the past 6 months!!), new job (now freelancing full time) and new location–both physically (now in atlanta) and on the world wide web. which is the reason for this posting. come catch up with all the newness at my new blog: http://lifeblessons.blogspot.com

love!

 

lifeblessons screenshot

this season in grand rapids has taught and challenged me and been a real refining experience in a lot of spiritual ways–especially in prayer and reading scripture. starting over from scratch with (very) little social calendar gave me the opportunity to really dedicate myself to these disciplines of digging into the Word each day and trying to pray through everything and find solace in these rather than in the world. it’s given me a great foundation that i know will continue to strengthen and support me throughout my life. and these are just two of the areas where i have changed in leaps and bounds from where i was just seven months ago.

it’s funny because i thought God was pulling me up here for a job and for community. so i came. i listened and i followed. but i soon realized that what i was actually getting were quite different things because neither were at all what i’d expected. both were good and have taught me things, but i think the greater success comes in what i didn’t realize i needed: more of God. even though i didn’t get what i bargained for, He has totally outstripped my expectations because my relationship with him and my roots in Him have grown. yes, they’ve totally wobbled and shaken in times of despair and “what did you bring me here for?!” but they’ve held strong and i think that’s what matters most.

it’s interesting looking at what i think i need and what God shows me i need. i know that all too often i go to God with all these things i want to work on, which are all worthwhile endeavors (a job that will draw me closer to God, friends that will draw me closer to God, etc) but then i realize that there’s something even deeper and more longlasting and more vital than those temporary connections and that’s just me and God, period. those other things come and go. but my heart with God is what lasts and what matters most. those other things are great and can definitely hlep tether me to Him, but what happens when they rip away as all things of this earth do, when they seem hopeless or lost? these disciplines have become the new tethers in more beautiful and fulfilling ways than i’d ever imagined. i’ve seen Him prove that to me: prevailing and sustaining and providing in the midst of my homesickness and stress and worry and disappointment and loneliness. and here i am. still standing, still staking the tethers, one day at a time.

“If the LORD doesn’t build the house, the builders are working for nothing.” – Psalm 127:1

yes i’ve been gone.

no i don’t have any excuses. just that i’ve let “busy” become my middle name.

yes i miss you. yes i miss the revelations i used to come by so easily. yes i’m praying my little heart out for those to return. and for me to return. 

if you’re still here, thank you! i will try to meet you again soon…

just got this press release at work:

Young voters of faith

Voters between the ages of 18 and 25 have turned out in record numbers in this year’s presidential primaries and caucuses, and according to several recent polls, their faith and values are playing a major role in how they cast their ballots. An April 2008 Harvard University poll found that 37 percent of young voters said that religion is a very important part of their lives, and it identified a group called “religious centrists” – those who say they care deeply about the moral direction of the country – as 25 percent of college-age voters.

But young voters seem to define their faith and values in significantly different ways than previous generations of religion-driven voters. While their parents were likely to be more concerned with abortion, same-sex marriage and stem cell issues, today’s young voters of faith are more likely to list poverty, the Iraq war and universal health care as key moral issues.

….

lots of add’l info on the site

Whenever I think about moving, I think of Tara Leigh Cobble’s book Here’s to Hindsight as she contemplates moving from Nashville to NYC. She talks about the importance of moving for community, and how she made sure before she packed up boxes full of all her belongings that she wanted to have a church and some friends in place—make sure she fit there.

So I’ve always held that as advice in my heart, and that’s just what this debut trip to the mitt-shaped state provided: we got to dip our toes into the pool of people there that we could someday be friends with. We hung out with Kevin and Tina and met a few of their friends (who are all really good at playing games! I’d completely forgotten about that pastime and am now dedicated to resurrecting it.) anyway, everyone was the kind of person you could meet and just jump in having a real conversation with. It was encouraging in that aspect, that we could sit around and talk about real-life kind of things and they understood and encouraged and shared their own—it was edifying, the way that relationships and connections ought to be, but are often so rare. But I think that’s a product of the community going on up there, around Mars Hill and all the local colleges that most have graduated from. Which is actually pretty remarkable.

And so I’m encouraged in that aspect and look forward to making even more friends up there when the time comes. Otherwise, the drive wasn’t bad (6 hours with a cooler stocked, courtesy of miz mal) and we blew bubbles and shared music and tried to ignore truck drivers who kept honking as we drove by. Saturday we arrived and Kevin and Tina grilled out for us and invited a friend over who came with us to the beach where we watched a storm start to roll in over the lake as high school kids jumped in off the pier. (Later, Tina’s dad would tell us about how he used to go swimming during storms and the waves would get so big that he could ride them up and they’d drop him right onto the pier landing.) we got ice-cream at a local beach joint and then went home and played a game before going to bed.

Sunday, we woke up and went to Camp Geneva’s morning service then over to Tina’s parents’ to celebrate Father’s Day with good food and a likewise good nap on the deck. (Their house is beautiful; her dad is an architect so the house has multiple decks and gardens and is my childhood dream come-true as it is full of foliage and a pond and overlooks the lake. I think of all the little imaginary stories I could have concocted with that kind of inspiration all around…) Then we wash, rinse, repeated: Wake up. Go to church (this time at Mars Hill). Eat (this time, pizza with our new friends and a healthy game of Catchphrase.)

Monday was good prospects all around (not hypothesizing on that at all, just leaving it in God’s hands, where it belongs!) and we took a tour of a really cute part of town that was full of indie restaurants and shops and the like. Definitely somewhere to check out when/if we end up there.

All that to say: Successful trip. Ready to call it home.

“I would have despaired unless I had
believed that I would see the
goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Pslam 27:13-14

For awhile now, I’ve been trying to make more space in my schedule and be more deliberate about what I say “yes” to and what I say “no” to, so that I’m not overburdening myself and filling up a social calendar without filling up my heart and head first. One thing that went into this was deciding to cut out TV when I’m by myself (though I still watch movies socially). it really wasn’t that hard because if I really wanted to watch a show I’d just have friends update me on what happened. And if you pay attention, “what happened” is usually nothing. That’s the way TV works: you keep dragging it out and dragging it out so that people always tune in. so the whole premise behind the script is to bide time.

And I think that the reason we buy into it and idly hand our time over to television remotes and subscriptions and the like is that we’re afraid of what we’re missing. we’re afraid that something good could be on the next page so let’s keep reading or watching the show—just in case. It’s really a dumb gamble of your time if you think about it; is the investment of one good tip or one good laugh really worth it?

and more recently i realized another reason why i’m glad i cut it out, and that’s because it distorts my reality and makes me fantasize about things that are in God’s hands. essentially: boys and how i want to fall in love. TV is just another outlet that reminds me that i’m still single and don’t have a man and don’t have this amazing, deep, never-awkward, never-boring relationship. and so it makes me long for it all the more. and it makes me start imagining what it could be like.

that’s not healthy. i need to break that habit because that keeps my head clear, it helps me see things as they really are and men’s intentions (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) for what they are (typically, that they’re just friends or absolutely not the kind that’s good for me). and coincidentally i’ve been much better at that (at keeping my head on straight when it comes to the male species) ever since i cut out tv. i think i might even be better suited/healed with my broken heart toward paul.

But the other day I decided to treat myself to some TV: an old re-run of gilmore girls, my favorite show that I have seasons and seasons of on DVD. it was the episode where Dean tells Rory that he loves her and she is caught off guard and can’t tell him she loves him back. and as i was watching the love story on the tv screen unfold, i could feel my heart growing envious–wanting that. of course i do that all the time in real life with real couples, but at least there i can reassure myself that perhaps it isn’t perfect or that if it is, someday God will give me that. but on the TV screen i know it isn’t real so i have nothing to condemn it for. because the fact that it isn’t real doesn’t make me want it any less. i start comparing my lack with an unrealistic fairytale.

there’s that verse about how your eyes impact/feed/nourish your entire being: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34)

And though I didn’t realize before how true that was, now having gone without I can really see the difference. I really can see how the two are linked. It’s weird how the simplest and most innocent of things really can make an impact—whether for better or worse. Right now I’m listening to a podcast called “the theology of the body” that emphasizes this idea of how the body (what goes into it, what you do with it, etc) and the spirit are linked. Which makes sense….

Joel 2:25-26 (New International Version)

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm [a]
my great army that I sent among you.

26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.

I was reading an article that referenced this verse and about how he’s watching God bless him and renew him from all the hardship he’s experienced (his locusts)–even when the hardship was his own doing (as it most often is!).

That’s a hard concept for me to wrap my head around, but also oh-so encouraging. Oh-so freeing and forgiving.

That’s Love…

i got back from Boston last night around 8 and am leaving in just a few minutes to jetset off to Kansas City. fast-paced to be sure, but thankfully quite beautiful despite.

i am looking forward to some downtime next week, though; that’s for sure!

till then, dream of chowda (tribute to Boston) and pancakes (for our own personal IHOP–though we’ll be at the international house of prayer!).

i feel as though i say the word “freaking” every single sentence. this past weekend becky was in town and we celebrated the infamous Playing House Party, complete with aprons and old-fashioned jewelry, cider beer and lots of dancing. it was fabulous. so much so that we kept oohing and ahhing, “we are SO freaking cute!” “you are SO freaking cute!” “s/he is SO freaking cute!” i would lie and try to say that our variations were more compelling than that, but i guess it just goes to show how–well–freaking cute everything was!

it really was adorable.

my camera conked out halfway through the download, so here’s a taste of what the night held.
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