Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: November 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014


"We are offered all of the rest in the world, in greater depth and measure than we could ever imagine, but we only experience as much of it as we believe exists and as much of it as we take."

I wrote that just as I was finishing week 8 at Regent University. Midterm week. So exciting. And here I am at week 13, coming to the end of the semester, and I feel like I'm running just as hard; maybe harder.

It's times like this when rest seems impossible. I find that my sleeping habits are a lot like my car-fueling habits: getting a third of what I need when I'm in desperate need for it because I don't have time for a "full tank." And even rest outside of sleeping is hard to come by when my mind is constantly flying and grasping at my mental to-do list to make sure nothing is forgotten (and often failing... I forget a lot).

Hebrews 4:1 talks about a rest we can miss:
"Therefore, since the promise that we can enter into rest is still open, let's be careful so that none of you will appear to miss it."

The author of Hebrews is probably talking about eternal rest, the rest gained by salvation. BUT it's a part of our inheritance through the death of Christ Jesus that we can pull our eternity down into our life on earth! So we technically have access to the entire rest of the presence of Jesus at all times.

How often do we take advantage of this? I am finding that I hardly do. Instead of taking up this rest, I'm striving just as hard as I am in every other area of life. I'm treating it like homework or ministry or something to get done.

However, my relationship with Him was never supposed to be like this.
It was not designed to be full of me kicking myself while I tried so hard to be perfect.
It was not designed to be a result of the pressure I put on myself to get everything right.
My relationship with the Lord is supposed to look like the pursuit of a groom towards his bride,
or a Father crouched on the floor beside his toddler daughter while she learns to walk.
Both are full of delight.
Both are designed for nothing but joy in the relationship.
And both allow me to enter into the rest and freedom of His love and grace even while my life continually falls short of reflecting His glory perfectly.

That's rest:
Knowing that however many times I mess up or fall short or screw up,
I'm that bride, that could never look more beautiful.
I'm that toddler daughter that causes nothing but a smile to rise on my father's face, even when I trip over myself.
And that's something I could live in.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Leaves in a Parking Lot (and celebrating people)

I found these leaves in a parking lot.

I love how they're all beautiful and unique.
And it's cliche, but
just like us.
We are made up of all sorts of different shades and sizes and shapes and spots.
No type being the "right" or "perfect" type.
They're all pretty.
Just like we all, in are innate composition, are pretty.
Pretty by definition of our differences.

"Celebrate people, and you'll find yourself serving them, cuz you just want life to be a giant party." - Jason Peaks

Let's celebrate people, and differences, and the funky little details about each individual that make them stand out and bring a special flavor to the world.
And then, let's tell them.
Let's encourage them.
Find something you like about someone, and tell them.
Appreciate them.
Put them in the best position to shine.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Doubts vs. His Display of Faithfulness

We all have those times where we realize, or become significantly more aware of, how far a year has taken us. Typically this time comes around New Years for me, or around my birthday. But this weekend marked a clear moment of reflection on how far the Lord has brought me.
This weekend I was one of 25 leaders on a trip with 350 teenagers from Chesapeake (almost 600 teenagers total) with Young Life. We were in Nags Head, I was leading beside some of my best friends in the world, and spending time with some of the coolest sophomore and junior girls I have ever met. I saw kids laugh and dance and cry and hear the Gospel in a very real way. Literally, my only job while I was there was to love on girls, spend time with them, and watch the Lord change lives.

Where was I last year? Praying that God would give me ministry. Dying to be around high school girls, and fulfill that calling that had been heavy on my heart for years. Frustrated at the lack of open doors for ministry. Why wouldn't the Lord honor my desires to serve, and give me opportunities in ministry?

After this sleepless and busy weekend, we drove straight back to the Young Life house in Chesapeake. I spent the afternoon talking with the other leaders about ways they saw the Lord move in their kids' lives while we played video games and ate great food. I realized, then, how much this group of people had become like a second family to me; a place where I felt safe enough to show weakness and honesty, but where I could always expect a laugh. 

Where was I last year? Desperate for community; tired of struggling through young adulthood on my own. Feeling left out and forgotten. Nobody to pray with or laugh with. No motivation from others in my walk with the Lord. Feeling uncared for. Would He ever give me real friends? or a solid community? Had He forgotten me? 

All of this is pretty cool to think about... but even more so in light of my current frustrations. I'm impatient with endless schoolwork, anticipating a time when I will no longer be single, and itching to be back in Guatemala. But these times of reflections bring encouragement.

What do these reflections say about me? Not much. 
What do these reflections say about the faithfulness of God? Everything.

When I look back on where I've come from, and consider where He's brought me compared to where I am, or where I thought I'd be going, it can be really humbling. It causes my current doubts and frustrations to shrink. Yes; sometimes frustrations last longer than a year, and yes; there are prayers and desires that take much longer to be fulfilled. 

I never would have imagined that the Lord would bring me to a place that was both so sweet and so challenging. So why should I doubt that He won't continue leading me? Why should I doubt that He still has amazing plans for me beyond my imagination? I'm working to choose His faithfulness over my doubts.

Keep your head up; because no matter where YOU are, the same goes for you, too.
He is faithful. And He's more interested in, and excited about your future than you are. I guarantee it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Here, and Nowhere Else: Opportunities for Greater Faith

Fall is an easy time for me to feel overwhelmed.
Sometimes it's a good overwhelming. My heart tries to soak up every inch of this glorious season, and my eyes want to devour every single color of the clothes and the leaves and the cars and the streetlights. My insides get all bunched-up with excitement when I think about the approaching Christmas season. It's all I can think of when I see red and green stoplights at night, especially with the early darkness that has come along with daylight savings. I begin anticipating what the reaction will be to the presents I am most excited to give, and nighttime car drives that have no purpose other than to look at festive trees and porches that have been decked-out in sparkles and lights.

Other times, it's a bad overwhelming.
Homework seems unending, and my brain doesn't feel like it ever stops scrambling to remember everything on my extensive to-do list. My body is run down from its lack of sleep and lack of food. With Christmas comes another to-do list of presents and cookies to make, and people to see, and decorations to get; obligations continually hounding me for attention. And the wet, heavy blanket over your soul when you feel like you are alone.

Fall is the hardest season for me to be single sometimes. Loneliness is a common thing to feel when it's so glorious outside and there's no one to enjoy it with, or no one's flannels to wear, or no one to watch Christmas movies early with you, or no one to go to a crowded coffee shop and read with you.

Besides that, I think fall is just that sort of season. Every season we long for different things, andsometimes that correlates with the physical seasons. Winter is a dead and grey sort of season; Spring is anticipatory of blossoms and flowers; Summer is warm and slow. And fall, sometimes, is just that dread of the dead season coming, when things are darker and colder and lonelier and sometimes the snow leaves you stranded at home.

But it's a marvelous thing that I can rely on the fact that every season - truly, every moment of every day - is an opportunity to choose greater trust. I ask for greater faith, so I'm given greater opportunities to choose who/what I put my faith in. There are endless small moments to choose whether I willfocus on my own discouragements or circumstances or the lonely, overwhelming feeling of my heart...or trust that I am where I am supposed to be, and that I will continue to be guided to where I need to be when I need to be there.

"Here and nowhere else is the appointed place. If faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all." - Elizabeth Elliot

Have a phenomenal week, friends.