Thursday, November 14, 2013

thoughts on pain

have you been in a place where pain seemed to linger? or rather, caught you off guard at random moments throughout  the day? like suddenly, the feeling sweeps over you and you can't breathe.

I was "boogie boarding" on vacation one time as a kid, and a wave crashed down suddenly, smashing me down onto my board. I remember that feeling so vividly. the wind was knocked out of me and I couldn't breathe or comprehend anything. I couldn't remember what it felt like to feel normal. 

sometimes heartaches can feel like that. 

as I have walked through this season, I have thought of "what if's" and "if I hadn't" and regrets and wishes and wonderings. 

and tonight as I came home and had conversation with a few dear friends who are also walking through forms of heartache, I felt a strange peace and calm and joy. I felt the fruits of the Spirit. I felt comforted in knowing that I was not alone. that we all feel pain. that it's so very....human

I think there is something beautiful about sharing our battle scars. the things that have shaped us, taught us lessons, and made us relate-able. able to connect with one another. able to see God through the healing. because while He closes the wound, it's not quite the same. there's something different. something that's caused us be formed into who He wants us to be. 

I firmly believe that He can make all things work together for His purpose. I don't think everything happens for a reason, necessarily. I think that evil occurs and things happen that He wishes didn't. but in all things, I think there can be redemption. a story of some good. and that is why I will be thankful for painful seasons. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

thankfulness and choosing better

I just got home from a long trip to visit a dear friend. and while I don't mind driving long distances, the drive home proved to be a little rough. in struggling with several things currently, I found myself fixated and hurting. it made for a rather long 10.5 hour drive. 

and as I got home I felt the rush of emotion sweep over me and I began yelling at God. have you ever done this? it seems so silly to me to even say it, because, this tiny ant/speck in the ENTIRE universe, is screaming at its creator. at the creator of the world. at the one who has full power over EVERYTHING. and I'm yelling. at him. smaaaart. 

now, I've calmed down a little and am reflecting on thankfulness and choices. while at my sweet friend's house this weekend, I noticed she had small magnets with handwritten notes on them on her refrigerator. she had made a wall of thankfulness -- listing out all the things she was thankful for in this season of life. she informed me that thankful people are more self-compassionate (something we both struggle with) and happy/healthy. 

as I drove home, I talked to a few friends who always give me some good perspective. and as I told a heartache with my one friend, she encouraged me not to settle. to hold on to my faith and trust God has good in store for me. why am I always reaching for good enough for when He has great? 

and I thought about my last few weeks. how I've tried to get up early to spend time with God and start my days off right. a grand plan, but something this non-morning person is not so great at actually carrying out. until my kind friend at work encouraged me, even telling me she'd buy me a donut if I succeeded. needless to say, I got up early last week. 

all of these jumbled thoughts concluded to this: I am thankful for the people in my life that encourage me to choose better. my good friend, jenna, uses this phrase and it just seems right in this stage of life. I must learn to choose better. but sometimes it is hard, and I need encouragement. accountability. a little nudge. and just when I think God has abandoned me in a city I'm not used to without my support system, I see that He has not. that support can be long distance. or in the office. or on the other end of the phone. 

I want to choose better. I will choose better. sometimes this is hard. sometimes, I really want to just eat candy for dinner. but in the long run, it will make me sick. sometimes, I want to talk to someone who tells me nice things. and makes me feel worthwhile in the moment. but in the long run, is it healthy? does it leave me crying for 10.5 hours on the way home? if so, maybe I should choose better

this week I vow to choose better. to spend more time with Him, to be healthier, to guard my heart, and to be thankful. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


if you live in cubicle world like I do, you know about office communicator. sometimes used for conference call comments (what'd she say? I zoned out...), important work questions (can you send me...), and of course some good old-fashioned humor to get you through the day.

when my IM starts blinking, I typically expect one of these three items. typically, for real, they are work comments or questions, but there's also the random:: "there's pie in the breakroom. and I want it. at 9 am."

however, the other day I got an IM that truly knocked my socks off. one of my coworkers uses a thesaurus a lot at work. she writes a lot, and it's her thing (seriously -- giant thesaurus and dictionary sprawled across her desk at all times). she sent me a note that said: "sometimes I get completely distracted by the thesaurus".

I was thinking..surely she'll explain. and she did. she followed it with: "sometimes a word will jump out at me. and if it jumps out several times as I'm looking for something else, I'm pretty sure it's a sign. like the way scripture can jump out at you just like you were intended to read it in that very moment."

hm...ok, I'm tracking.

then she just typed: "small potato".

me: "what? small potato?"

her: "yes! small potato. I just saw it 3 times. like I am worrying about things that are just small potatoes."

mind. blown.

I totally believe that the all powerful man upstairs communications in various ways. and I totally believe that he can choose to communicate through a thesaurus. and also, through a thesaurus-loving co-worker.

small potatoes. how many things that stress me out, wreck my world, consume my thoughts are small potatoes that won't matter in a month or three or five? SO many. SO SO many. most, actually.

and as I continued to think about it tonight, I thought about my view of what a small potato is. you see, I'm in a particularly un-thankful season. I haven't felt grateful for much lately. I have focused on what I don't have: a routine here, my close friends, my family, plans a lot of the time. I miss so much about where I was. I miss the people and the routine and MY LIFE. and then I realized that when I was there, all those things seemed like small potatoes. they were a given, so I wasn't jumping up and down in excitement for them.

and now that I don't seem to have them, I feel likely I would do a jig if I did.

so tonight, I'm thinking about the things I take for granted. the health of those I hold dear. my wonderful family and friends, even though they don't all live close by. my job, which I often am not grateful for, but is truly a place I enjoy going (thanks awesome coworkers!). food in my belly. my health. the friends from college who live here and I love seeing, etc. etc.

because the truth is, if I lost any of these things, they would no longer be small potatoes. the absence of these amazing things would leave a large large LARGE potato gap.

so, I will thank God for the large potatoes in my life. I will ask He continues to give me discernment on which kind of potato is which, and thank him for IMing coworkers who read their thesaurus.

Monday, November 4, 2013


messes. who likes them? I'm pretty sure no one. they might be fun to make. ok, they are typically very fun to make. but cleaning up? that's certainly a drag.

I may not be the most organized, clean person, but I still don't like messes. 

I've been praying since I moved that God would use me. that I would find a place where I could serve. that I could be a witness and a valuable member of God's kingdom. and yet, I haven't found a place quite yet. 

or at least I didn't think I had. 

I wanted this to fit into a nice, neat box. volunteering every Tuesday night at a homeless shelter, inner city, habitat, hospital, etc. -- surely that was the way to go. and while I'm not saying it's not, I haven't found that specific opportunity yet. rather, something else: life.

situations have surfaced around me that I've shied away from. a friend went MIA for awhile, and I heard he was in rehab. rehab??! what?! no way. he surfaced today and my first reaction was avoidance. I didn't know how to react. how awkward. 

then I started thinking about the bravery it takes to admit that something is wrong in your life. to admit you have a problem and to take steps to fix it. to publicly admit that you need help and then COME BACK to face everyone who knows. WHOA. how courageous! how strong! how amazing! at this eye-opening realization, I almost wept. and wanted to welcome this person with a hug. and love. and acceptance. and happiness. I felt a little bit of what the father might have felt with the prodigal son. maybe just a hint. 

isn't that a little messy? 

another one of my friends from the past is believed to be gay and wants to get together (we haven't talked in what feels like forever). my initial reaction was to ignore. this is clearly not a situation I need to be in. this is messy! it will surely be awkward. I'll just ignore. who cares? 

but then I thought about Jesus. and it gnawed at me. would Jesus ignore someone reaching out because of a sin? no way! Jesus would seek them out to hang out. come over to my place. let's be friends. 

Jesus embraces messes. and a good thing, too, because I'm a mess! I'm so thankful God doesn't ignore me. 

when life gets a little scary, and awkward, and...well...messy -- I have to turn to the Word for perspective. my instincts and the world may tell me to back away from messes, but Jesus always embraces. and as a mess myself, I am ever thankful.