Lakeside Cheers

Last weekend, I found myself helping my roommate cat-sit for one of her friends. And by “helping”, I mean “mooching”. You see, the cat lives in a cabin on a lake… Need I say more?

I’d been excited for this weekend since I knew of its possibility. Though house-sitting with this cat usually means sleepless nights lulled into alertness by its broken meow, to me, nothing beats days spend pondering life on their dock. It also means a few day escape from the “real world” where I still don’t have a job. Somehow, worries subside when seaside (or in this case, lakeside).

In preparation for this weekend, last week, I felt God urge me to bring one of my cherished bottles of wine to celebrate. But my Kentucky wine God? What do I have to celebrate? I asked frantically, not willing to minimize my Kentucky stash from three bottles to two. It’s not what I have done, but what I have yet to do, God responded boldly. Ah yes, one of those risks I get to take, I responded with slight sarcasm. So, basically, I’m going to trust that You’ll provide even when the job-world seems like a desert? And then I’m going to celebrate what You’re going to bring even, and especially before You bring it to me? Yes. Okay, I agreed, somehow comforted by His confidence, As long as we’re on the same page… Packing my sole bottle of Talon Winery’s Equestrian VI, I prayerfully prepared for God’s special celebration of trust.

It happened on Saturday. Spending much of the day switching from reading on the couch, to writing on the dock, I felt God okay the opening of the bottle once I finished the book I was reading. (It was cheesy, and terribly, terribly, written, so a reward was very much necessary.)

Around 5pm, the perfect “somewhere” time, I reached for the $23 bottle of Equestrian VI, momentarily pausing as I realized its representation in my life. For the nearly six years I spent in the land of the horses, Kentucky, I will now take a moment of silence.

winerrd

After a minute of respect for my past, and an epic product-placement photo opp. outside, I opened the bottle, and poured me a glass… Well more rustically so, a mug (classy, I know). I swirled it, sniffed it, and then let the dry’n’sweet Kentucky aroma flood my senses.

Making my way to the end of the small, wooden dock, I sat down at the end, dipping my feet in the icy cold, refreshing lake water. Raising my glass Heavenward, I cheers’d my beloved Maker, “To all the people nearby, who think I am crazy cheersing the sky, outloud, and by myself… To this summer, for helping me survive… No… For surviving me, is that a thing? I couldn’t do any of it without You. Thank You for all You’ve provided so far, and this really tasty wine! Finally, thank You for the job You will provide. You know, the one I want – the $17 an hour one in Moose Lake, Agency-Wide Advocate – the one I’ll be good at – yeah, to that!”

cheersrrd

Raising my glass slightly higher, I cheers’d, and then took a generous sip. The wine warmed my heart and soul as the tannins danced deliciously amongst the aromas of pepper, cherry, and spicy cocoa. To me, I’ve always tasted a red wine base soaked in a french oak barrel, with essence of cigar spice, deep berry, and the warmth of Kentucky love, but that’s just my wine inexperience talking…

After this short, soulful indulgence, I raised my glass again Heavenward, “To the jobs my friends want, that You will provide.”

Raised glass cheers and delicious sip.

“To the relationships blossoming in the lives of my friends. May You bless them, and may they bring glory to You.”

Cheers.

. . .

And then it hit me.

What if we prayed in cheers?

You may consider me crazy, or slightly sacrelig. for this idea, but nonetheless… What if?

Slowly, but surely, I continued to empty my glass to the praising of God – of all the things He’s done, and especially those He has yet to do!

. . .

Isn’t this how we’re supposed to live our lives? Taking the mundane tasks and directing them Heavenward? What if we took the activities we use to bring ourselves pleasure, and instead used them to bring pleasure to God? Do you think, perhaps, if done in the right spirit, that our blessings would multiply not just to ourselves, but to those around us as well?

I think so.

I’d like to see a ripple of cheers breakout from around the lake, to around the world. God knows we enjoy it already, so why not take it, let Him shape it, and celebrate God – for all that He has done, and all that He has yet to do?

I can cheers to that!

Can you?

MUGDOCKRRD

Used to Be

I am a worn shell,

Unable to scrape together what I used to be.

These days it’s very evident,

How much I miss Kentucky.

. . .

Even if I wanted to,

I couldn’t go back to who I used to be.

Too much has happened, too much has changed,

To be who I was in Kentucky.

. . .

Where does a shell go when it ceases to exist?

As I clearly miss her who I used to be:

Her heart to serve and her proximity to

All those she loves in Kentucky.

. . .

Here I sit on my favorite dock,

On the edge of who I used to be.

Glancing calmly across the lake,

Wondering why I left Kentucky?

. . .

God has a plan, this I know.

For He made me who I used to be.

He brought me there to love and heal,

And then He asked me to leave Kentucky.

. . .

Emotions overwhelm and tears embrace,

As my heart cries out for who I used to be.

This broken shell can’t seem to grasp,

Letting go of the Kentucky me.

. . .

I’ll never forget the people I love –

For they shaped me into who I used to be.

Though I left them behind, they’ll stay in my heart –

The people of Kentucky.

. . .

Today begins a new journey,

As I seek out who I’ll be used to be.

Surrendering all my heart and hopes to You,

I freely give this shell of Kentucky.

. . .

Moving forward I’ll trust that You’ll transform

Me into who You want me to be.

An empty shell can only be filled.

Create in this, the new me.

. . .

I cannot see the future.

I do not know how You’ll use me to be.

All I can do is follow You.

And give You all of me.

. . .

It’s not much I must admit,

This shell of who I used to be.

But from nothing You birthed everything.

I’ll trust You’ll do the same for me.

. . .

The waters heal, the waters clean.

Purify all that should not be.

A new day dawns, a new light shines.

Blue skies clear – gray clouds no longer shadow me.

. . .

Adventure awaits along the lonely seas.

Calm the waves inside of me.

Strengthen me against the wind,

And use me in Your Will to be.

20170723_083108rrd

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 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

 

Holy Week

Holy Week is my favorite time of year. Well it used to be at least. Now it’s more like the memories of Holy Week are what make Holy Week my favorite time of year. Confused? Let me explain.

I grew up going to church at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Cloquet, Minnesota. Each year, we had the same services. It became tradition, and really doesn’t feel right without it.

During lent was Wednesday night soup suppers and lenten speakers, which usually included testimonies from adult and youth members. In my youthful days, I served at the soup suppers, raising points so my brother and his friends could go to camp… haha… And to discount my future missions trips, and because I loved serving! And eating… Wild rice bread. Need I say more?!

Maundy Thursday was the passion play, which I almost participated in one year. But it was classic, and my friends were in it, and it was wonderful. When I was younger it scared me, because when Jesus dies, there is loud thunder and the lights go out. I always jumped when it thundered. Then as I grew up, it was a harsh reminder of how much I’m loved by Jesus. A necessary reminder.

Good Friday was usually a combined service with Zion Lutheran Church. When I was in middle and high school, and participated in the Senior Choir, it usually meant we sang some sort of Tenebrae.

Cue Music: 

Easter Sunday at Our Savior’s is INCOMPARABLY AMAZING. If you live in/near Cloquet, you should go – assuming it’s still the same as it always has been.

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I was in the Senior Choir and Praise and Worship team, thus I would be at all 3 services, but I would never cease to get chills as we sang this song, and the ushers pulled away the dark sheets that covered the pulpit and the front of the sanctuary, and especially the HE’S ALIVE as the sheets were lowered from the cross. Purely beautiful and amazing! I can imagine it is a slice of what was felt when the disciples realized that Jesus was indeed alive. My slice of gratitude, joy, and love.

Breakfast was served between services. Between the two musical groups, we’d work off all the delicious food going down and up the stairs from the choir loft to the praise stage.

Those of you who are there, I hope you enjoy it!!! Please do so for me!!! Maybe if I have money next year, I can come home for Easter 🙂 It’s the best!!!

Happy Holy Week y’all!!!