Humble and Prayerful

Sometimes there are no words that can be said, or written. As the world keeps throwing fast balls in our (a collective we of the world’s) direction. In these instances it’s not the words written for the sake of being shared or read that matter. It’s the words spoken straight to our Father, confessing our humble, desperate need for His help.

LORD, WE NEED YOU.

Bless, comfort, heal, redeem our brothers and sisters all around the world.

We need each other.

And we desperately need you.

Amen.

pray

Please consider taking a moment today to pray for somebody, anybody. Perhaps a country who’s name you only hear during opening ceremonies at the Olympics. Maybe a family in Syria or one facing constant fear and attack. Or, it could be your neighbor, or someone in the next cubicle over. Adventure into the unknown, pray for someone you don’t know, or for something, or someone, who scares you. Remember that statistics on the news are more than numbers, and each one has a group of family and friends now, unexpectedly, learning to cope. We need to take care of each other. Listen to each other. Pray for each other.

If you need prayer, don’t be afraid to ask, or send some requests up for yourself. It is not selfish to ask God for whatever you might need, feel, hope or desire. He’s listening, always.

Prayer changes. Prayer moves. Prayer heals and comforts. Prayer releases. Prayer loves.

I’ll start. You’ll notice that my words are not perfect. They may even seem too floofy at times. I am far from the “perfect pray-er”. Though God blessed me with a capability to move people through words, these still seem to fall flat. My prayer won’t cover all the needs of the world, but it’ll be a start. If we all do our part, share kindness, speak meaningful words, and pray the prayers on our hearts, then we will be…

* LOVE * PEACE * FAITHFULNESS * KINDNESS * GOODNESS * PATIENCE * JOY * GENTLENESS * SELF-CONTROL * COMPASSION * HOPE * MERCY *

* the hands and feet of Jesus*

*the change*

Dear Lord, bless this reader. Meet them where they are and please, Lord remind them of your presence and your light. Spread your compassion, peace and healing over England, and specifically Manchester. Clear away any traces of fear of the enemy and instill an inexplicable hope and peace in all the attendees at the concert, and the families of those taken, too suddenly, from their lives. Please Lord, remind this world so consumed by dark happenings all around that YOU ARE STILL IN CONTROL. Oh we desperately need you Lord. Bless my brothers and sisters, those who know you and those who have yet to have the pleasure. Be present in us, with us, and through us. Grant us your peace. 

May we experience the beauty worded in Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” I can’t imagine Lord, what it’s like have safety constantly in jeopardy, but I do pray this Scripture over our whole world and every single person in it, that we will not fear evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH US, ALWAYS.

Thank you Father.

Amen.

Pink Rush

Pink coated my cheeks when my eyes caught your glance.

Interesting now, how I cannot seem to get you off my mind.

New to you, I’m sure you were simply trying to get acquainted.

Kindling a fiction of nothing, my hopes illuminated a meaning more.

 

Ridiculous I feel, digging deeper into a shallow glance.

Understanding I have this deep desire to be understood.

Special seems to be the word that companions this wistfulness.

How, oh how, feelings flow when a glance cascades a rush of rose.

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Leaving Better

Today I found myself traveling an hour and half away from home to take a test. It sounds exciting right?! Well, actually, it was!

Mantorville, Minnesota is a small town northwest of Rochester, Minnesota. Before a few days ago, I never knew it existed. I have been out of state for the past six years, nevertheless it is a small dot on a map that can easily be overlooked. Then again, so is the town where I grew up.

It would have been easy to GPS my way into town, take the exam and then leave without anyone ever having a clue I’d been there, but that’s just not my style. Deep down I have this desire to leave places better than when I found them. This doesn’t mean I’m some super hero passing through, changing one life after another after another. It can be as simple as my tedious habit of drying off each sink I use in a public restroom, assuming paper towels are handy. Today it meant that, and also one act of kindness manifested by God.

Have you ever had that feeling, like God’s asking you to do something? For me, it feels like a slight pressure on my heart, or really, my soul. I always know it’s God, because the idea usually includes me taking a risk or doing something seemingly uncomfortable at the time. Though it’s usually simple or menial, I regularly try to shrug it off. But God is persistent, even, and especially, when the task doesn’t really make sense to me. You want me to do what?! Really? Are you sure? … Are you still sure? Yes, God’s patience with me is impeccable, and so is His grace. If I’ve been learning anything this past year, it’s that I always feel better, and adrenaline-rushed, when I take those tiny risks of faith and obey. I also repeatedly learn that God always comes through, always.

Arriving in town with time to spare before the merit test, I found my way .2 miles down the road to the County Seat Coffeehouse. Their sweet, yummy coffee drink list was extensive, but unfortunately I knew they would make me shaky, and distracted by the need to use the restroom while being tested, so I resigned to a cup of delicious chicken tortellini soup. I smiled awkwardly and distracted myself with Facebook and Instagram as I felt the eyes of the elders of the town look upon me, knowingly recognizing that I was an out-of-towner. They seemed nice nonetheless; Minnesotans generally are. I dined and ditched (pre-paying of course) and giddily jaunted the .2 miles up to the courthouse.

Upon entering, I was greeted by the officer behind the security entrance. He gladly offered me directions to where I needed to be: down the stairs, to the right and then to the left. In Conference Room 1 surrounded by seven other ladies of varying ages, I mused at the fact that half of them, including the test proctor, received the memo to wear cuffed capris. Clearly, we were all testing for the same job and we seemed to dress the part.

This exam, my second test of the week, humored me through angry customer questions, and cleared me of the test anxiety I once felt as a student. Actually, I quite liked it. I thoroughly enjoyed categorizing numbers and calculating the petty cash totals allotted in the example pages of the test. Honestly, though, my favorite part was editing. I really love editing. I didn’t realize how much until this exam. Perhaps I’ll become an editor when I grow up… Well… and a writer too!

Post-exam, the kind security officer wished me well, and I was off to celebrate my fine office support abilities with a sugary, delicious drink from the coffeehouse. Can you say Peanut Butter Bliss? With one sip of that sugary delight you’d join me in the ooo-ing and aw-ing of coffee meets sugar meets peanut butter. Accompanying my well-sipped sugar rush, the .4 miles more of meandering readied me to gas up my Honda, and head home. However, while I was feeding “Horse” my sturdy, steady Honda, I felt the pressure as I heard the still, small idea:

What if you ask the security officer if he wants a coffee?’

“No God, what?! I already have mine. It’d be weird. Why would I do that? I’m so not doing it. I know you’ll love me anyway.”

I will, but you’ll never know what would’ve happen if you did.’ 

“Playing with my curiosity strings God? … So not cool. I’m still not going.”

‘Okay…’

As I drove up the hill beside the courthouse, I pulled in. I had to know what in the world God was up to. Plus, a part of me gets a thrill out of random acts of kindness. I parked, and headed towards the courthouse doors, again. I spotted another worker visiting with the security guard and I almost turned around, but I was already through the first set of doors. No turning back, no turning back.

There I was. There he was. Arms crossed over my stomach, I confidently asked if I could get him a coffee from town. He mentioned to the other worker he was more of a soda person, and thanked me in a questioning way. I told him he was sitting there through it all, and he had been so kind to me, I thought I’d offer to buy him a coffee drink. Though he didn’t accept, he seemed grateful for the thoughtfulness, and if anything, the officer behind him seemed amused. Continuing to chat, he asked me if I was local and was applying for a job with their county. I told him no, that I drove in from the cities and was interested in work even further north. “I’m all over the place, “I confessed with a chuckle. He smiled just the same, and offered his knuckle. Just kidding, but he seemed grateful nonetheless. (I can’t turn down a rhyme.)

Afterwards, I felt that familiar rush that comes alongside these random-acts-of-kindness moments. It was the same rush I felt last week when I paid for the fries of the lady in the drive-through behind me at Wendy’s. I don’t know what happened, if either really made a difference or not, but through the beats of joy I felt, I know that God was grateful for my obedience (which in the end, is all that really matters). I do hope to see the big picture someday – the giant scheme that perfectly fits together all these acts-of-kindness puzzle pieces.

I’m not bragging, as none of these ideas were of my own accord, but of God. Our Father in Heaven is reaching down to us on earth, reminding us to take care of each other. No matter where we live, how well we know each other, whether or not we agree on our beliefs, how we look or whether or not we are worthy, God asks us to love one another. Take care of each other. None of us are worthy, and no one has it all together. Sometimes all we need is a free coffee on Friday, a compliment on Monday, or a smile on Wednesday. However God asks you to show love, kindness and care, just do it. I promise you that it will make someone’s day, and it will make your day.

Instead of hearing”You better leave,” leave a place better than you found it. Be the change and you will make a difference. I mean look at me – I wasn’t just a stranger in a small town easily overlooked on a map. I was a pebble, hopefully creating a ripple of kindness into a living, breathing community of people who need to know that they are appreciated. They are worthy. They are loved. Even, if only, by a stranger passing through.

PEBBLE

 

“So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” -Luke 10:27

 

The Transplants: Grand-hearts

Disclaimer: This is an excerpt from a collection of stories I’m putting together of the beautiful hearts I knew and loved during my Kentucky years. I’m pulling this story to share with you in memory of G-ma’s 4th year in Heaven. Names are changed to protect friends mentioned in the story.

“Grandmothers create memories that the heart holds forever.” -Anonymous

Carin received the phone call first. You know the ones, you can almost feel the dread in the ringing, and most definitely in the tone of voice of the caller on the other end. “It’s time,” they’ll say, “Not much longer now.” Simple words in any other context, except for this one. These moments create such a depth of sadness in our being that our first reaction is to hit the floor as we nearly drop the phone from our grasp. Even when we know goodbyes are coming, the moment they do show up is always still a surprise. Too sudden. Too soon.

It was a snowy day in February, and Carin pulled herself from her bedroom to the dining room where we all gathered for her. There were eight of us living together in an intentional Christian community as we served in our respective programs. Somehow, throughout the months we had created an inseparable bond, once strangers now closer than friends. Though her emotions were still longing to be alone in this sudden sadness, she pulled herself towards the community that she knew would provide her with comfort and distraction. As she shared the news of her grandmother taking a turn for the worst, and as she mourned the fact that she couldn’t immediately rush to her grandmother’s side (snowy roads in rural Kentucky are not safe to venture along), we did what we all did best, each in our own ways. We sat her down at the kitchen table as one community member made her tea, another grabbed her a snack, as a few of us asked her questions or simply sat together in silence. As long as we were together, we knew everything would be okay. We encircled her in prayer and encouragement. Later on, we distracted Carin with games. Carin loved games more than anyone, and living in this community together we all knew how to love each other best.

together

Three months later.

We were returning from our organization’s National Day of Prayer gathering. My heart was happy from reconnecting with volunteers from the other communities (there were six volunteer houses at the time located in five different counties throughout southeastern Kentucky). Ring Ring. Ring Ring. That ring. I had heard it five months prior when my mom’s tear-soaked voice told me the news of my aunt’s sudden passing. Here it was again. Her voice at the other end of the line. My mind rushed as my feet flew from under me, and I somehow still gracefully hit the floor. I heard words, but all I could feel were the tears moistening my cheeks. I bowed my head as to not make more of a scene while attached to the corded phone in our dining room. My head felt faint. The same words. The same words every time, “It’s time,” strewn along amongst other words. There must have been other words besides, “Not much longer now.”

I knew it was coming. How much sorrow could one woman bear? Losing her son, my father, so many years ago, as well as her daughter, five months prior. Her husband seven years back, and brothers and sisters along the way. Along with cancers and sickness and the wear and tear of an 86 year old body, it was her time. But I wasn’t ready. I’m not ready. Almost instantly after I hung up the phone, or perhaps he hung it up for me, our Czech housemate Radek enveloped me in a hug. There was no shame as I cried. My grandma, my G-ma, didn’t have much longer. She is my person in the world. There is none like her. What will I do without my person in the world? She is… She was. A day or was it three later (time seems irrelevant in moments of love and grief) came the final realization. It was time.

In one sad and unfortunate way, our twinness shone through. Carin was there for me, as I had been her. We shared in sorrow, as we grieved our grandmothers. Together we were sisters, in moments of joy to moments of sadness, always in community via heart, soul, and mind. What a blessing it is to have a soul sister.

A Moving Gratitude

There are stages in life that consist of air mattresses and boxes. They are messy, chaotic, sleepless and many times full of several unknowns. Emptiness dares to consume as endings become sadder and beginnings up the fear factor.

Amongst the sad, fear and chaos, there is something truly beautiful. Blink, or focus on the stress of the mess, and you’ll miss it. You don’t want to miss it. What is it?

Gratitude.

Coming in all different shapes and sizes, it is of the past, present and future. I’m always amazed how many folks (myself included) wait until the near end to share their affirmations with each other. Perhaps, it is as the they-sayers put it, You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

As I’m closing in on my Kentucky end, I’m quite comforted by the presence of gratitude. Found in moments of giving, as well as moments of receiving, gratitude beams a brighter light shining on the soon-to-be what-was.

In the tone of the voices of co-workers, as they bid me adieu, I hear it. Some folks I rarely spoke to, now seemingly sad to see me go. Others, some of the most loving hearts I’ve met leave me with beautiful blessings for the future. Gratitude. 

The determined customer service agent at the storage rental facility who tirelessly listened to and answered all my parentals’ questions, trying her best to secure the most affordable deal for me. Gratitude.

Friends willingly spent an afternoon after a full day of work, helping me haul my furniture to storage… Despite my own exhaustion, my ears heard no grumbles nor did my eyes see any grimaces – only selflessness and kindness shone through their smiles and effortlessness through their strength. Gratitude.

Extra hugs have been awarded by customers, along with questions of curiosity and kinder compliments than I’ve known during my year and a half of service. They wish me luck in my future ventures, and hope for a return visit. Some blessing even include cards, gifts and free meals. Oh dear, how I delight with Gratitude.

Words scrawl across a page in hopes of reminding people of the difference they make. The kindness and love they’ve expressed and, I know, will continue to show to everyone they encounter. They’ve been created purposefully to use gifts He crafted uniquely for such a time as this. Scribbling words that hope to suffice on special notes of Gratitude.

Last minute gifts, crafted on nearly sleepless nights, created to help friends accept and value their worth. Reminding myself that even in the most chaotic of times, God still grants opportunities to love on the individuals He strategically places on our paths. Loving through moments of personal confusion can create an unconditional understanding. Gratitude.

God has been effortlessly connecting the dots, healing old wounds and bringing chapters full circle. Providing everything I could want or need, He continues to earnestly listen to my desires, and the prayers of my loving warriors. I am so incredibly thankful for His timing of opening, and especially closed doors. Despite myself, He is subtle and obvious in His reminders of love for me, granting opportunities to love Him in return. Moments become available to share with others this radical faith amidst my doubt and confusion. To still believe and, in some ways, not simultaneously is among my less acknowledged abilities (and He pursues me nonetheless). Not knowing, but still following, I am reassured that He is already there (wherever there is). When every fiber of my being is saying ‘Run away! As fast as you can!’ I will still trust, even though it may seem ridiculous to do so. For all of this and muchly, much-much more, I am moved by Gratitude.

luckyducky

 

 

Timely ABC’s

 

Acquiring an ailment allowing throat annoyances

Booked be all the storage buildings of Berea

Colorful Colorado created the unceasing crying

Dreaming of departing: doubt-free and Duluth-bound

Everything has an effect on my emotions

Favored friends find all the fun festivities for an epic finish

Gates, gambling, guzzling goodns  and galloping greats

Happy, humble, and hospitable hearts

Igniting ideas inspire ideal intentions

Jesus and jumping for joy juxtapose just me

Kentucky kindles kindness

Lovers leap lulling the lens

My money is missed ‘mongst mice ‘n’ monsters

New names note new nuances

Opens the office of Omnomnommy O’s officializing my obsession

Persuasive people pray over my perceptions

Quaint is the quiet I quarrel to quench

Rest I relish, readying to recoup

Sweet are the sights, sounds and smells of the savoring, sadness, solitude and silence

Time tells of temporary tales and timely transitions to triumph.

U-hauling the unicorns unites my umbrella of understanding

Vested voices of the verbal vernacular visit in vehicles of vocational voicelessness

Wild wisdom wanted for worn woman

X is as known as the xenopus

Yes you’re yearning for yesterday

Zesty zebras zigzag in zeroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unraveling

Unraveling at the seams,

I desperately shout out:

“What now God?!

What the f*ck do you want me to do now?!”

. . .

Soaking in the sunshine,

My inner anger boils and overflows.

I breathe and soak in the sun.

A tear or two spill over.

. . .

I try and listen,

to which I hear no response.

I knock,

but nothing opens.

. . .

“More patience,” they Biblically tell me.

I beg, I plea for clarity, for a next step.

Breathing is tough, as the stress weakens.

In the waiting, my body begins to unravel.

. . .

God is already there.

This I know.

“Perhaps He just wants to see how you wait.”

And watch me squirm… 

The thought makes me smile.

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The Colorado Diaries

What happens when life doesn’t go according to plan? I discovered this question last week in a big way. I had plans, ginormous leap-of-faith plans, and I was risking it all. Ante in, I bet everything.

It started out good, well kinda; it started out kinda good. Then out of blue skies avalanched a mass of emotions that I didn’t see coming. I pictured sunny skies, and those are the ones my social media depicted, but in all reality: they were gray, gloom with a steady chance of showers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so incredibly thankful for all the beautiful people I met last week and their wonderfully kind and thoughtful hearts. On paper, everything was fantastic. I networked. I jumped through hoops, oh boy, did I jump through hoops – I did everything everyone told me to, except in great stress and anxiety, I stopped listening to the only voice that mattered.

And now, a week washed away, I stand amidst the crumbling remains of what I thought were my dreams. Now, I’m scared of what that still, small voice might say.

March 25, 2017

Depleted.

If I could describe myself in one word today, it would be “depleted”. As I board the plane to Colorado, I question every decision I’ve made up to this moment. Like why in the world would I ever leave Kentucky? I glance at the photo of bourbon barrels on the wall for comfort. What am I getting myself into?

All job-searching has left me empty-handed; empty-handed and soon be jobless and homeless. Just me, my stuff and a U-haul. Leaving this land I love to move to a city where I know no one. Jumping, leaping with no sign of landing.

This is when my heart sternly prays, “God, please show up now.”

I’m tempted to worry, oh boy, would I worry, but I can’t. For every doubt I’ve thought there’s a still, small reply, “I’ve got this. I’ve called you. Just trust me.” Every single time. Each step of the way, I can see God working. My resignation date to the gentlemen who offered to help me book the U-haul and attach the trailer, God’s hand is in this; He is working.

As my plane lifts off the ground and into the morning skyline, so does my hope and trust as I take this risk, this epic leap of faith, following that trusty, still, small voice.

Where you go, I will follow.

Here I am, send me. 

Give me peace. Grant me patience. Help me obey.

No matter how hard I try or how much I hope to be involved, I know that this is not of me, my hard work or ability. This is all you Lord. All you. So I give it all to you. All hope, trust and glory be to you God, the Light of the world.

Later that night…

I am officially scared out of mind and body. I keep silently pleading that God will let me move to Lexington instead. I know it’s fear talking. After all my silent pleads I hear, “I think you’re gonna like it here,” which is sing-songed to the newish Annie song. 

It’s all so new, so unknown. Completely different than my Kentucky world – my Kentucky love. Also there’s the sense of hopelessness: Is a month long enough to find a job and a home? What if that doesn’t happen? What if I do something wrong and God doesn’t come through for me? Oh me of little faith. The mocking, belittling voice in my head says, “Who would want to hire you anyways? What do you have to offer? You’re experiences won’t help you. You might as well quit.”

I feel anxious while I’m typing this… Words straight from my journal – not necessarily poetic, but true to this page: raw. What if He makes me relive the experience I had last week, except this time… forever? I need to take a break.

March 26, 2017

Life is working out for me in a way that it never did in Kentucky. This morning, as I worshipped with my new fellow believers at Woodmen – I remembered some important details about the nature of God. Lost in praise I felt the beauty of worship despite a scary and seemingly hopeless venture. As tears threatened to trail down my cheeks and my voice choked to silence, my heart – my soul – thank my precious Savior for what He was about to do. For all the doors He would open and connections He would make so I could follow where He leads me. Seemingly dire, I praised him despite my inkling of human doubt.

It wasn’t perfect, in fact, I’m sure I was gleefully off-key, but it was beautiful. The message, in a series that each week had been speaking to my soul, followed in suit.

Lead by the Spirit, and my mother’s encouragement, after the service, I headed to the connection center. Directing myself to the available helper in the center, God swooped the lady to his left in my direction instead. She was wonderful! I shared my story of how I’m moving there in a month and want to get connected with people my age of 20s-30s. Very informed, she shared all her knowledge and passion for young adults and singles groups in the congregation. Feeling the urge of the Holy Spirit, I added in the “and if you know anyone looking for roommates…” which lead me to deluge my leap of faith.

“I don’t have a job yet… or a place to live,” I explained, “But I know in my depths this is where God is calling me.”

“Several years ago,” she responded, “That was my story too. I moved from Iowa with no job and no place to live, but I had a few folks that helped me settle in.”

In that moment, I felt the most delightful feeling: Hope. She asked me my background and my interests and I could see lightbulbs, left and right, going off. Five minutes prior, we had been complete strangers. Now she was helping me find a solid place to land.

Yesterday, one month seems like no time at all.

This morning, I worshipped despite.

Shortly after, the hope of possibility reignited my faith.

With each passing moment, I can feel you working Lord. It’s still scary at times, but if we just focus on each of the todays as they come, i think I’ll be okay. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU! I can’t wait to see what you do next!

I will trust in you.

My good, good Father.

I am no longer a slave to fear!

I am Your child!

I will follow where you lead,

and I know you are in control.

Though I fail and fall short,

I cannot screw this up for you!

A grand praise and thanksgiving to that!

Help me, equip me to continue to follow and obey, and to somehow give back to everyone who is helping me. Your will Lord. Close doors that need to be closed, that aren’t right, and open those you have planned for me. Your plan Lord, your plan. Your move! I’ll follow.

My prayer: Direct my path, guide my steps. So all glory may be given to you!

It’s really hard to read back on this moment without thinking, ‘what in the world are you doing Lord?’ I repeatedly question if I’m just taking my own path, because I have this tendency to believe that God doesn’t want what I want. ‘Surely He calls me to struggle, and take the path of anxiety.’ I must remind myself that He created my desires. He knows that I long to be around the people that I care about, and my heart hopes to be closer to friends and family with every passing minute (even if it means venturing to the frozen tundra and living in an igloo for nine months each year). He knows how to coax me to where I need to be. Knowing my terrible inability to follow, He confidently leads me around the dance-floor of life. He made me just the way I am.

So why do we question? His ways are above my ways, and I know now that I needed to go through the following. I needed these possibilities to be able to give my 110% to my Colorado hopes and dreams fund. Sometimes we need to risk it all and fail in order to willfully follow onto what God originally had planned. Failure is better than regret. Failure means we at least tried.

March 27, 2017

Waking up anxious seems to be the devil’s attempt to distract me. However, it does not distract me for long, as God shines brightly through the kindness of His Colorado Springs children. I have never met so many people so willing to help. Not simply willing but also excited and grateful to help. It is clear that these people are distinctly God’s people. Selflessly kind, generous with their time and willing to help a complete stranger, they amaze me.

Anxiety creeps in as I worry about which hoops I need to jump through, but I know – it is so clear to me now – that God will not let me miss His opportunity for me.

March 28, 2017

One month

Waking up anxious again today has presented less hope. Lots of brainstorming and many good ideas… and a few dead-ends. Will I have a home? Will I be able to pay for said home?

You’re not going to leave me hanging God. I know you’re not. Am I doing too much? Am I doing the right things? How do I sit and wait when pressure from all sides says, “Do this! Apply here! Call there!” My work leads to dead-ends, Lord. Where does your will, your work, your way lead me?

Is there anything I must do besides wait?

I am overwhelmed, pressurized and yet enlightened by the kindness of such strangers, I’m hopeful. On my own I’m lost, rejected, tire and worn, but with you I have hope and new life. Lord please deliver soon – if anything for mom’s nerves. Your will. Your plan. Your steps.

Later that night…

I quit God.

I quit.

March 29, 2017

I’m broken, frustrated, defeated – why in the world would you call me out here and take away all the good things in my life?! Clearly I am not simply content with just you. I feel alone, even though you’ve provided so many thoughtful folks, but there is so much to do. Do opportunities ever show up in people’s laps? Must an already difficult move be even more difficult? I hate this. I hate it.

Rollercoaster of emotion leaving my heart in Kentucky and now this emptiness, worthlessness. Why in the f*cking world would anyone want to hire me anyway? I’m so not worth it.

Are you sure you don’t want me to stay in Kentucky? Please? Let me stay. Let me quit. Please. I can’t do this anymore.

What do you want from me?

I just feel like an idiot for trying.

Marcy 31, 2017

I’m seriously considering moving home. What in the world is wrong with me?

I’m exhausted, worn, depleted. Dead man walking.

Everything’s changing, but not in the way I had planned. What in the world is going on?

Lost and confused seems to be my official state.

I don’t know who I am or what I want anymore. So dazed and confused by jumping through everyone else’s hoops. I am a successful hoop-jumper. When all else is silenced, what is left?

I still question, if that still, small voice is the Right One or simply one in my head. ‘Have I been listening to my own voice this whole time?’ I second guess myself over and over again. It continues to comfort through my doubt, leading me on a path towards peace. I know that if He wants me somewhere, He’ll make sure I get there. Also, He’ll pack my knapsack to the brim with peace, because He’s generous like that. A loving Father, He promised to never leave my side, even when I’m frustrated because things aren’t going the way had planned or expected. Sometimes I feel like a teenager around our Lord, whining because His plan “embarrassed” me or somehow made me feel like a fraud.

Isn’t it tough when faith adventures seem to go awry?

What do you do to cope?

How do you know that you are headed in the right direction?

I think I get caught up in the whole “direction” mode. As an adventurer, I want to feel special and called, so I put all my energy into figuring out the place that God has for me. I’m starting to think along the lines of a quote that a friend has mentioned to me several times over.

“Do we enjoy our work, love our work, virtually worship our work so that our devotion to Jesus is off-center? Do we put our emphasis on service, usefulness, or being productive in working for God—at his expense? Do we strive to prove our own significance? To make a difference in the world? To carve our names in marble on the monuments of time? The call of God blocks the path of all such deeply human tendencies. We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone. We are not called to special work but to God. The key to answering the call is to be devoted to no one and to nothing above God himself.” -Os Guinness

I used to dislike it, because I wanted to have direction, but now I’m wondering if all I need to do is seek Him wherever I am. Whether I be in transition, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, England: Seek Him. By plane, car, U-haul: Seek Him. In coffee shops, bars, clubs: Seek Him. Be it administrative work, nonprofits, or writing: Seek Him. Follow my heart, do what I need to do, and seek Him. He’ll be there, present in all circumstances.

So when your path serves up a curveball, just remember to seek Him. God’s understanding is far beyond our own. Yes, He calls some of us to special places, but sometimes He simply asks us that we just serve Him wherever we are in whatever we are doing. We must use the gifts He created for us to love others, and mostly importantly, love Him.

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P.S. My path is leading me home!!!

(and yes, I’m excited about it!)

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederick Buechner

 

Words Matter

I’ve hurt people with words.

People have hurt me with words.

I’ve built people up with words.

People have built me up with words.

I wish I could claim just the second set of statements. I wish that words in my life were used for the sole purpose of encouraging and bringing others closer to Christ. I wish. I wish. I wish.

Words stick, and unfortunately it’s sometimes easier to remember one hurtful word, than several encouraging sentences. Why do we say things we don’t mean, and why do we tear down the people we care about the most?

“Words kill or words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” -Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)

In a recent message at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, Jon Weece spoke about the power of words. He mentioned the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people.” Pressure, he explained, can cause us to use our words to hurt people instead of helping them. Prior to sharing this message, he asked a question on Facebook and received a mass outpour of responses, making it one of his top posts. This is what he asked: “What hurtful thing has been said to you that you struggle to forget or forgive?”

He listed off several responses that his friends had made, which lead me to think about my own. While I was thinking, I heard the still, small whisper, What hurtful things have you said that someone may struggle to forget or forgive? I prayed that God would bring moments to mind, or flaws in my character that allow me to say something cruel to someone else.

Sticking with me for several weeks now, I highly recommend you take a moment to watch this message. It has the power to change your life.

What hurtful things have you said that someone may struggle to forget or forgive?

A short while ago, a couple of friends and I visited a local pub that we used to frequent several years back. We celebrated reconnecting with a spontaneous shot of tequila, followed by a round of beers. As the alcohol created the buzz sensation, I allowed words to freely flow. It wasn’t until the buzz faded that I realized I was not being the woman God created me to be. I found myself using sarcasm to show off and seek attention. Listening to respond, I found myself not being the friend I’d worked so hard to be. I remember “joking” with my friends and saying they were my second choice, as I had planned to be hanging out primarily with another friend that night. I didn’t mean it of course, but I did say it. Words stick.

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” -Ephesians 5:4 (NIV)

Allowing myself a free night to curse, I noticed it was fun in the moment to say words I shouldn’t. However, I found myself flashing back to the most difficult life-taking moments in my life, not the life-giving ones. Curse words didn’t add to our conversations, but stole from them. They didn’t build me up inside, instead they were slowly tearing me down.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” -James 1:19-20 (NIV)

It is very difficult for me to simply listen and not respond, when people share hurtful words. The other day, a customer looked me straight in the eye and said, “Are you just fat like me, or are you (she motioned a pregnant belly)?” I tried my best to smile kindly, as I responded, “Not pregnant.” All the joy that I had experienced moments ago realizing I had lost two pounds that week, swiftly disappeared. Confidence fled leaving space for insecurity. My insecurity began to frantically seek security. Hurt people hurt people.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

With added attentiveness to my words, I’ve found myself apologizing a lot lately. As clay being molded for my next adventure, I’m feeling hard-pressed on all sides. Everyone seems to have an opinion or a helpful idea for my move, which in respect is very wonderful. However when they all happen at once, it can be incredibly overwhelming for me. I am thankful for all the people that God has provided that are willing to help; I wouldn’t be this far down the road without them. Nevertheless, I’ve said words in the “struck down” moments that didn’t build my team up. Working on breathing first and speaking second, I’m hoping in the future I’ll be able to say “Thank you,” more and “I’m sorry,” less. Words help or words hurt.

Clearly God is showing me the weight words carry. I’ve said hurtful words and I’ve been hurt by words. Awakening a desire to develop the character of the tongue, I’m prayerfully trying to be more intentional about thinking before I speak. If my thoughts were spoken, would they help or hurt? What effect are my words having on the people I encounter? How would I feel if someone said that to me?

Are words we think and say:

  • Building our friends up, or tearing them down?
  • Building our family up, or tearing them down?
  • Building our coworkers up, or tearing them down?
  • Building the waiter or waitress up, or tearing them down?
  • Building up the folks in the car that just cut us off, or tearing them down?
  • Building our pastors up, or tearing them down?

Are my words building myself up, or tearing me down?

The other night, God blessed me with a beautiful opportunity. Listening to the students at WorkFest recount their weeks of service through the Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) alternative spring break program, I felt, in remembrance, the beautiful spirit of this organization for whom I once volunteered and am now an employee. My involvement in WorkFest has varied throughout the years, and as of lately includes simply sharing in a few suppers to reconnect with alumni and meet some of the students. After listening to the incredibly touching stories of the crews’ experiences and the families touched by their presence and service, I felt it. The overwhelming spirit of love, joy and service that has connected me to CAP for five and a half years. Only in this organization have I found such an abundance of beautiful souls.

I had planned on just observing that night, soaking in all the goodness of the words that created stories; stories that would change the lives of friends and family back home. However, their stories changed me too. Listening to a participant’s family tearfully share their gratitude for the college students who spent their spring break making their home a safer and warmer place to live, I teared up in unison feeling the difference people in this organization make. Using their hands to build up home, these students invested in service; using their words, they built up a family.

HAND HEART

After all the crews shared the stories of their week, and the participants headed home, the staff allowed anyone to come and share their testimony from the week. Many of the alumni crew leaders (who spent the week sharing their knowledge of construction and leading the students on each worksite) shared how these weeks of WorkFest make a difference in the lives of the participants, and in their own lives. A leader from one of the college groups shared how this life-changing week impacted the world. Breaking out of their shells, students shared about the community they had built and how they would live differently after this experience. Meanwhile, my heart was pounding, and my hands were shaking.

I always know what that means. God’s giving me an opportunity to be a part of His plan. The pounding and shaking ceases and intensifies as I try ignore it.

But God, I’m not a part of WorkFest this year. I’m just visiting. These people, don’t even know me…

(I have something to say through you.)

I’m bad at public-speaking…

(You trust me to move across country, but you don’t trust that I’ll give you the words to share?)

Yes…?

You can use someone else. See that crew leader just said things I thought I would say, about making a difference. You used him instead! Thank you.

I experienced peace for a moment as I listened to another testimony. Then my heartbeat revved again. Lub-dub, lub-dub, LUB-DUB, LUB-DUB. Pulling my left hand apart from where it was grasping my right, I noticed it was only moderately shaking. Remembering my Lenten fast of choosing to obey what God asks of me, I plead again:

Will you at least give me an idea of what to say. So I don’t stand up and look like a mega-fool who also doesn’t belong?!

(You belong.)

But what right do I have to share? I’m not a part of WorkFest.

(Your story matters. You have something to share.)

Then I felt it, and I knew what God needed to say through me was important. Feeling all the CAP-feels that night, I hoped to help everyone become aware of the beautiful spirit that hung in the room. This spirit of love and service could only be found here in Kentucky, serving with the Christian Appalachian Project. Everyone who comes to volunteer becomes a part of this beautiful selfless love, this forever family. Those are the words I knew I needed to share.

Awkward, yet confident in Christ, I stood up and walked what seemed like the long distance across the gymnasium floor and I picked up the mic. Surprisingly so, I felt peaceful as I shared my gratitude for the students’ service, stories and their words. Because words matter. Their words, service and passion matter. I threw in my typical spiel of encouraging those thinking of volunteering for a year or more, to do so, and with that I had completed my task. God had shared the CAP story He built within me through me and when I was finished I couldn’t even remember what I said. It almost made me want to do it again. Perhaps next time, I won’t be so hesitant to obey.

My words matter.

Your words matter.

Words matter.

Just as easily as God revealed areas in my life that I need to work on and improve, He also gave me the gift of words that create, inspire and love. As a writer, words are key to survival. As humans, words will either make or break us. As Christians, the Word is the gateway to Life. What will words do for you?

my words

In[God’s]decision

Lost in indecision,

With shouts on every side.

“Go this way! You must!”

One voice says with gust!

“If not, you’ll want to hide.”

. . .

I try and try to sleep.

The voices will not cease.

“You know you’ll always regret…”

“Listen to me, you’ll come to fret.”

Those folks I’ll never please.

. . .

Find your own voice inside.

Though they try to add pressure.

If only I could,

Surely I would…

Will it be any better?

. . .

Fasting I try,

To be rid of all the distractions.

Faint do I feel, then a moment of peace.

The hunger of stress soon to be released.

Spirit within me, be my reaction.

. . .

My God is the God of Peace.

He is not of confusion.

He leads us with grace,

At His very own pace.

All else is of delusion.

. . .

So follow I will,

That still, small voice.

Crazy thoughts though it shares,

As He answers my prayers.

His Will, my choice.

. . .

This life requires risk,

And the very letting go,

Of all answers that hold us back.

Journey, we will to stay on track.

On blind faith, our lives shall grow.

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