Monday, July 7, 2014

Lions, Bears and Giants

I have talked in the past about my dreams. They are small ones by most people’s standards. They didn't used to be, but life and it's experiences have changed my heart and mind as to what it is I really want.

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an archaeologist, an artist, a writer or an actress. I wanted to travel all over the world and see everything I read in the countless books that passed through my hands. I wanted to see the Great Wall of China and I wanted to walk right up and put my hands on a pyramid. I wanted to climb through an Aztec or Incan village and I wanted to dig for Viking armor on the coasts of Europe.

As I got older and my artistic abilities became more refined and I was able to write in such a way that people could actually understand the imaginations running through my head, I began to think that either of those directions were what I wanted to take. The moments alone in my bedroom in front of a canvas or writing in my notebooks consumed so much of my time, but my insecurities and my immediate world around me didn't allow me the confidence to pursue them much beyond hobbies.

I spent years after high school not having a clue (does anyone) and making mistake after mistake in my life. Eventually, I realized that what I was doing at the time was not what I wanted for the rest of my life and so I decided to go to school. Three years later I walked across the stage and I received my degree. During that time in college I met him. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cat(atonic)-Like Reflexes

I used to be a spaz. Like, a freak-out-on-a-dime kind of spaz that would leave me and those around me utterly exhausted. I like to think that while I can, at times, exhibit less than calm (ahem) tendencies, I have come veritable miles from the drop-of-a-hat kind of spazzer I used to be.

There is a direct correlation between the amount my faith has grown and the reduction in my ninnyhammer (1) moments. It really is an obvious deduction. When our faith in God and His ability to take care of us grows, we become less affected by the troubles or hiccups the natural world throws our way. It means that when something comes up that would normally have us in a frazzled state we stay calm and trust that He will work it all out for the good. This is a basic faith-skill so to speak:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

I, um….er…..struggle with this at times.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Night At the Museum: No Naked Cavemen Here

Since I've begun writing again, I've noticed a distinct change in the way I think. It's given me a reason to sit down and really contemplate who I used to be and who I am now, something I think we as a species need to do more frequently. It's so easy to get caught up in a cycle of defeat because we think to ourselves, "I've screwed up again, just like always," or "Gee, here I am at the same place I've always been."

As I was helping my sister plant a vegetable garden a few days ago (and realizing why most people buy their produce from a nice, air conditioned building instead of growing it themselves - insert revelation of hot sun, sweaty armpits, dirty knees and a burnt scalp here) we had a short conversation about how we are nothing like the people we used to be. It was one of those serious talks that finds its into an afternoon of laughter born from shared misery of some sort. (That's how we handle difficult or unpleasant situations in my family - kill it with sarcasm.) A conversation with an unspoken shared agreement that we much prefer the women we are now to the former versions we walked around in.

It hasn't been an easy journey of self-reflection, let me tell you. There are times when I literally face-palm when I think about some of the stupid, selfish, hateful and reckless things I have lurking in the murky depths of my past. I can say with heart-felt honestly that it is a miracle I am still alive. Meditating on who you used to be isn't a pleasant thing to do, and actually not something that I think needs to be done all the time, but it is something that I think we need to learn to take more time for.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Perfume: The Story of You

Things have been extremely quiet on EVBN. This has been (mostly) intentional. As with all of my posts, this one is yet another attempt to articulate just what it is that God is doing inside of me. I am finding it difficult this time to nail down the vocabulary to explain it. This is in part the reason for my cyber silence - lack of ability to fully explain this newest state of being.

You know that feeling when you bang your toe against the leg of the coffee table in the middle of the night and you're pretty sure that in a matter of moments you just might pee your pants from the pain and oh my goodness are you going to die? You hold your breath or jump around or, for those of us of the slightly more dramatic set, you roll around on the floor moaning and holding the throbbing appendage. You know the exact second when that pain disappears and you can inhale once again. Following that moment there is a period of time where the relief is so great it's almost its own kind of pain. Then...then there is this calm. You catch your breath and maybe just lay there for a second and think to yourself, "now, what in the heck was THAT all about?"

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Breaking the Boomerang: Give It Up and Leave It Up

Why is it so hard sometimes to let go? I mean, really let go. Why do we so often give things up to God, only to turn around and take them right back? I realize that this is a pattern that I operate in entirely too much. It’s as if to say that I don’t feel that God is big enough or that He cares enough to handle a situation for me.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am a worry warrior. I will latch on to something and I will gnaw that thing apart for days, weeks, months until there is nothing left. Yet even as I do it I know in my heart of hearts that I am not supposed to be doing this. I am supposed to be remembering that God is all-powerful and His outcome will be so much better than any that I can think up for myself.

The Word says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

That pretty much takes us down to brass tacks doesn’t it? There are over 300 different passages in scripture that tells us to not be afraid and not to worry - yet for some reason we can’t seem to help ourselves. As I am sitting here today, catching myself once again gnawing on a situation, I realize that the biggest enemy to my personal peace is my own assumption that I should take control and not wait to see what God does.  I am worrying about the outcome rather than trusting that all will work out according to God’s will.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Are We There Yet? Don't Make Me Pull This Car Over...

I had a conversation with my Dad earlier today that has got me thinking.

He told me a story about his first car. He said that he was so proud of it and washed it so many times it was a wonder the paint didn’t come off. He babied it and took care of it and wow, how it shined! It was a car most of the kids around him would’ve killed for. A couple years later, though, he came across a new Jeep and it was all he could think about. He wanted that Jeep and he started not paying as much attention to the car he was sitting in. He would daydream about driving the new car - how it would feel to drive and what he would look like in it and soon the car he was in didn’t impress him quite as much.  

Was it wrong for my dad to want the new Jeep? Of course it wasn’t, and the thing of it is, God might have had that Jeep planned for him all along.  It wasn’t wrong for him to want to “upgrade” and enjoy something else. We are always supposed to rest in the knowledge that God has wonderful things in store for us (Jeremiah 29:11). What Dad did do wrong, though, was stop being so impressed with the car he was in. He stopped washing it quite as much and appreciating that he was pretty blessed to have it. He forgot that until that new Jeep was his, he was still sitting pretty in something that most others couldn’t even dream of having.

The point?

Friday, February 28, 2014

A City Without Walls

pa·tience - ˈpāSHəns, noun, see also: self-control

1. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. Antonyms include hastiness and impetuousness.

In my last post I mentioned that, though I am a spontaneous person, I am somewhat of a planner. I have to clarify that this is typically in matters of finances or career choices. When it comes to other matters, especially those of the heart, I have always been of the dive-feet-first-with-my-hair-on-fire breed. While some aspects of that kind of personality is commendable - I could never be blamed for not being willing to try new things or let fear of being hurt again stop me - there are other aspects that can be very damaging. I could fill this entire blog with detailed descriptions of why I know this to be true, but I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that I am a slow learner and it took more than a few burns to get to where I am now.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

No One Left Behind

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

I realize that my posts lately have appeared on the surface to be a bit grim. The things that have been going on in my personal life have been wickedly difficult to walk through, and as a result God has been working with me to get to the other side.  Underneath it all, though, is the revelation that a golden thread of hope has been woven through it all holding me together. Every day I wake up is brighter than the one before. My joy that was buried (never stolen) is being uncovered again and I am beginning to feel my strength returning. I am in a position to think back on what I’ve learned and what I have been shown and I want to explain why this blog has taken a walk down the back alleyways at night.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Stage is Set: Your Inner Monologue

There’s a little girl sitting on a straight-backed wooden chair with her feet dangling over the seat. They can’t reach the floor so she kicks them back and forth. One muddy shoe is untied and the laces graze the wooden planks as her legs move. Her little fingers are slightly sticky and intertwined and she fumbles them on her lap nervously. A thin beam of watery sunlight rests on her disheveled curly hair, making it look like a nest. Her name is Uncertainty. Surrounding her in a circle sit dozens of versions of her of all ages and types, each a voice, waiting for their turn to usurp her and take her place in the center chair - the place of prominence.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rope Burns and Promises

I’ve been through some stuff. Like, “whoa, what the heck just happened?” kind of stuff. Things that have completely altered the course of my life. Some of it was happenstance, some of it, I am ashamed to say, was self-inflicted. The point is, I know how to handle heaviness. I know how to handle the darkness. At least, I thought I did.

In the past, whenever something has seemed like it was going to swallow me up, I have been able to hold on to the thought that it was only a matter of time before things became right again. Just hold on for a little while longer and it would all be ok. And it always was. I always just waited and worked through and it would even out.

For the reasons I spoke about in my last post, this time around wasn’t like that. I didn’t even have the awareness or wherewithal to tell myself to just give it time. I just didn’t see how that would be possible. I thought to myself, “there is no amount of time that is going to make this OK,” and I believed it. Even the darkest situation can seem defeatable when there is a spark of hope. When that spark is gone, the sunniest day can seem as though the clouds are going to choke you out. I had lost my hope.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tuning to the Right Frequency: A Cautionary Tale

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24

Without any level of melodrama or exaggeration, I can say with full confidence that the past three weeks have been the most trying time of my life. It came on the tails of a season where I was becoming increasingly more weary every day so that when the lightning finally struck, I was left without energy or clarity of mind to deal with the circumstance. As this unfolded, I experienced a state of being I have never gone through before... and it scared me.