Monday, December 7, 2015

The Stories Have It Wrong

The rain soaked through my shoes
And the cold breeze against my face
 Drops of rain and salty tears
Mixed together and fell to the ground
The pain of all I'd loved and lost
Washing over like an ocean of grief
Minutes ticked by
Rain fell harder
I knew I had to get up
To make the walk back
But going back meant life kept moving
Here I had a solace
Almost as if
Nothing had changed at all

The stories have it wrong
When tragedy strikes
When you lose those you love
The world doesn't stop
 Nothing changes
Everything remains the same
 Each morning still brings a new day
Each evening a close
 But now there is a void
Something - someone - missing
But the world continues around you
Blissfully unaware of the pain you feel

The stories have it wrong
When tragedy strikes
When you lose those you love
You don't forget your other struggles
They remain
Sometimes they grow
With each new goodbye
A previous goodbye awakens anew
And though this new sorrow
Overwhelms all else
Your tears are for so much more
As if you never healed

The stories have it wrong
When tragedy strikes
And catches you unaware
Your world doesn't stop
And even though you want to
You don't stop either
Because you fear if you stop
You will never start again

I gave one last long sigh
And forced myself to get up
Though the wind blew harder and the rain heavier
The two mile walk back seemed shorter
I reached my front door
And knew life was still moving
Though my heart weighs heavy
And though this goodbye still leaves this hole in my heart
I continue on
Clinging to the One who I know grieves with me
Who remains faithful through it all
Who has promised to never leave nor forsake me
I cling to the shelter under His grace and mercy
And the comfort found in His love
And still raise my hands in praise
For in my weakness, all the more can I glorify His precious name

The stories have it wrong
When tragedy strikes
When you lose those you love
It's not the end
For those who are in Christ
It is merely a temporary farewell
And a cause to rejoice
For this wonderful hope of eternal life
The hurt is still there
And the tears still come
But we still have this unending joy in Christ
That encompasses our very being

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” -Job 1:20-21

Thursday, November 19, 2015

On Loneliness and Thankfulness

     "...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty of in what. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:11b-13

     A month and a half ago I moved out - I am now an hour away from my family and the life I have known for 22 years.
     It's amazing how much has changed in that short time.
     But, that's not what this post is about... by far the hardest part of moving is missing my family. I still see them at least weekly, but I no longer wake up to my little brothers jumping on me or my little sisters practicing the piano scales over and over and over in the room next to mine.
     I have wonderful roommates and friends nearby now, but I get really lonely.
     My schedule has also changed - a lot. In addition to my photography, I now nanny 4 days a week. My schedule is consistent and busy. Most weeks I barely have time to run through my laundry.
     This is not something I'm used to. And I don't usually adjust to change real well...
     I often feel stressed and worn out.
     I start to feel like I might have things figured out, or at least a plan, and then everything changes and I find myself feeling lost and completely alone.
     Three weeks ago(give or take), I was driving back from my parent's house, struggling with a hard week and talking to God.
     It didn't take me long to realize that my prayer of thanks to God didn't include the hard situation He'd placed in my life.
     I wanted to be able to thank God for everything, including the painful moments that I felt I'd never get through.
      But I couldn't.

     I spent the drive trying to get over my pride and thank God for the hard things.
     The hard things that brought me closer to Him, that grew me in my walk and that caused me to get over my pride and realize that I could do nothing on my own and I needed to rely completely on His strength. In everything.
     It took 45 minutes(ya, I have a lot of pride...), but I eventually was able to truly thank God for these hard situations I was going through.
      45 minutes of truly taking to heart the realization of who Christ was. What He'd done for me.
      And how He deserved all the glory and praise.
      45 minutes of getting over myself and my human selfishness to have things figured out.
      The moment I let my heart rest fully and completely in God's hands, the biggest burden in my life immediately fell off my shoulders.
       The burden of doing things on my own. Of sitting in my room or car crying on my own. Of trying to figure out my life on my own. Of being in a room full of people, but still feeling alone.
       Because no matter where I am or what I am going through, in Christ I am never alone.
       In Christ I am never alone - I have no reason to stress. No reason to worry.

       But I have every reason to praise Him.

      When we try to get though life on our own, allowing our pride to keep us from completely giving it all to God, we will find ourselves lost in the insanity of life without a purpose or hope. But when we truly take to heart the truth of who Christ is and humbly come before Him, allowing His Spirit to fill us, we will find that our hearts will not be able to contain the joy and thankfulness that so overwhelmingly overwhelms every aspect of every moment in our life.
      And it will not take effort to thank Him in every season in life, because in in the light of this truth, there is no response but praise.

     "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." -Ephesians 5:19-20

This post isn't instead to say I have things figured out and I've mastered being thankful... quite the opposite, actually.
I struggle daily with my pride, my flesh constantly fights to try to do and figure things out on my own.
But God is so so so gracious to continually remind me of who He is and forgive me daily when I rely on my own pride.

All glory to Him who has conquered this world. In Him we have complete victory!
Isn't that in itself more than enough reason to praise Him? 

This is the day the Lord has made, let us REJOICE and be glad in it!!!! :D

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

-Where to Start-

Where to start - Where to end
The chapter has closed
The book has just begun
We conquer the hill
To reach the mountain
Our hearts find happiness
But never satisfaction
We always want more
Yearn for what we do not have
But how rarely we see
What a promise has been said
He'll supply all of our needs
No more - No less
So why, with this promise
Can we not see beyond the mess
Where to start - Our beginning 
Given life and breath
Where to end - The story untold
Easily we assume finished at death
We fail to remember the mountain
We allow the chapter to be the book
This life is not the end
But merely the stepping stone to a life with no end
If you seek satisfaction - Seek it in Christ
If you yearn for what you don't have - Yearn for what's eternally in store

Let not the life be the end 
Our momentary dreams and desire
Let nothing of this world be our hearts yearning
For our God is an all-consuming fire

Hebrews 12:28-29, "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hey! It's me! ...the prideful one.

Oh, hey there, random citizen.
Yes, I will give you a moment to recover from your shock upon the realization that I still exist even though I have blogged in 2 months.
And even my last blog post was kind of...a downer?

I've started many a blog post...and then deleted it.
Why? Well, even if you aren't asking why, I'm going to tell you anyways.

Every time to started to write, I felt like I didn't have a single finished thought in my crazy brain.

To say God has been stretching and pushing me these last few months would be an understatement.

It started last October.
Which, ironically, happens to be the same month I turned 21...
9 months ago.
I felt God calling me in a new life direction... and I went about it all the wrong way.

My thought process: "I know what God wants, so I'm going to do everything in MY OWN POWER to accomplish it."

Yea, it's okay to laugh at me, or groan...or whatever.

I let my own pride get in the way.
And once you open that door, it just gets worse and worse...

And for months I let my pride remain. Didn't want to admit my attitude was wrong.

-December 27th, I took a drive and God showed me a lot(see post here). He showed me I needed to submit. To submit where I really really really really really (did I mention really?) didn't want to.

-January, I learn more and more to submit. God puts many trials in my path to make sure I really know what submission means. I fail a lot. Learn a lot. ...Lose a lot.

-February, I try so hard to press on through loss. Am kind of stupid about it and rely on my own strength far too much. Too prideful to admit otherwise.

-March-April, God is so good and gracious. Shows His love for me even while I am horribly prideful. Begin to slowly see how much my own pride is wearing me out. See that my pride affected far more than just myself. Begin painful process of letting go of my pride, having conversations/making apologies that are really hard. Learn once again God is so so gracious.

-May, God is gracious to me far more than I deserve. Get a 'second chance', in a weird sort of way. So incredibly humbling.

And the last two months have been just that.
A learning process.
Learning how easily pride can sneak into everyday life.
Learning that pride hurts not only yourself, but others around you.
Learning that, so often, God gives us such amazing amazing blessings that we certainly don't deserve.

I in no way deserve the mercy and grace God showed me over the last few months.
The people he placed in my life, the forgiveness He gave and the forgiveness He gave.
The patience and forgiveness He's given to others to give to my undeserving self.

If I had to sum up what I've learned over the past 9 months, it would be this:
"The moment we allow our pride to get the smallest slip into our lives is the moment we begin to rely on ourselves rather than Christ. And the moment we begin to rely on ourselves, is the moment we begin to put the Creator of the earth under our own, helpless, selves. And this is the moment we need all the more to turn away from our own selfish desires, turn away from our pride, admit our wrongs, and actively acknowledge that our strength truly comes from Christ alone."

I'm still learning. Daily.
But, as humans, our nature is to be prideful.
So not on my own strength, but in that of Christ alone, I am striving to turn my eyes away from myself, and look fully upon Christ.

1 Peter 5:5, "...and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Bright Green Tablecloth

 I walked into the crowded coffee shop and my eyes were instantly drawn to a single table in the middle of the room.
Under large, floppy, sunhats sat two old ladies, no younger than 80.
But what made their table stand out was the bright green table cloth decorated with matching tea cups and a teapot and a pot of pink lilies.
Though they sat in silence, there seemed to be a mutual communication between. 
They had known each other long enough to enjoy each others company even in silence.
And the thought struck me: these two old ladies have lived long lives.
Lives that are important. Lives that may be forgotten.
How many loved ones have they witnessed pass away? Friends, parents, siblings.
And as those loved ones have passed, so have stories that people will never know.
But here were these two ladies, having a tea party in the middle of a coffee shop, seemingly oblivious to those around them.
They have stories. They have precious lives.
They were once young adults, like me, filled with wonder and not knowing what life may hold.
But now they seemed so content. Taking time to appreciate a simple tea party.
Watching these ladies made me wonder where I would be in 60 years. Will I have accomplished all my goals? Fulfilled my life's wishes?
Would I have someone I could sit in silence with?
Life passes so slowly. And so often we get so wrapped up in out own lives that we fail to see the lives of those around us.
The lives that are so precious.
Lives you and I have the ability to influence.
The truth of God's amazing gift we can share.
When I'm in my 80's, will I be able to look back and say I influenced other's lives? Or will I have fulfilled all my selfish desires and leave behind absolutely nothing for further God's Kingdom and touch other's?

As these thoughts swam around my mind, one of the ladies stood up and began placing the teaparty supplies into a large gift bag hanging on the handle of the other lady's wheelchair.
Then she folded up the green tablecloth, stuck it into the bag, and pushed the wheelchair out the door.
And just like that, they were gone.
Two lives, momentarily crossing my own, leaving behind a impact on my life they will never know about.
What will your future hold?
Why so often in life are our desires so focused around ourselves?
Shouldn't we be focused on serving others? On spreading the amazing love of God with those around us?
What story will we leave behind?
Will we sit in a coffee shop and have nothing to say for the life we have lived?
Or will we sit in that very same coffee shop and know that we lived to the fullest? Lived for Christ and not ourselves.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Of Strangers & Regrets

"Hello, dear. How are you?"
I snapped my head around and found myself staring down at an elderly lady dragging an oxygen tank. I racked my brain for recognition of this unfamiliar face. None came.
A packed mall bathroom seemed an awful odd place for a stranger to single me out.
I pulled my hands from the sink, shut the water off and smiled at her. "I'm doing well, how are you?"
Her eyes instantly lit up. "Oh, I'm okay. I'm 64, ya know."
The words came out jumbled, only barely audible, and it became clear old age had taken a toll on her mind.
She continued. "Without this," she waved a winkled hand toward her oxygen tank, "I can't breath."
I nodded and smiled politely. My friends were waiting in the food court and I felt uncomfortable holding conversation with a stranger in a crowded bathroom.
"I don't want to die. I will probably die soon." She said it with the same cheery voice she had greeted me with.
My friends could wait a few minutes. Silently, I said a quick prayer that God would allow me to share the gospel.
"Only God knows when we will die. All we can do is trust in Him."
A woman walking past raised an eyebrow at me.
I swallowed and fumbled through the rest. "And if we've accepted Him into our lives, we don't have to worry about where we're going when we die. We don't even have to fear death."
 The elderly lady rolled her eyes around the room. "I'm going to Heaven." She said it, but her words held no conviction.

There it was, the perfect opportunity for me to share the entire gospel. To explain the importance of repentance and the amazing gift God had given us.

But I paused.

I paused, feeling awkward and doubting if the lady would even understand anything I had to say.

And just like that, the elderly lady had moved on.

The wheels on her oxygen tank rolling softly across the floor.

I could have gone after her.

Could have taken the opportunity God had given me.

Instead, I went back to my friends.

And have regretted it ever since.

Since one of my best friends died, living without regrets has been extremely important to me.
So often I've found myself in situations and 'no regrets' has swam around in my mind. Twice it has led to me sharing the gospel in the past. Two of my very favorite memories.

But we get so caught up in our own little world. And forget to live life for other rather than ourselves.

Moment by moment.
No regrets.
And ALL for Christ.

That's what I strive for.

I wish I could turn back time and continue talking with that elderly lady. But maybe the little I did say was able to impact her. I can only pray.

And remember that moment the next time God opens the door for me. Whatever door it may be.

I pray next time I'll be able to walk away with no regrets.