Today is a gift.

Standard

Not even one week out of my junior year of college, and still super busy.

There is so much to be thinking about and planning for. Studying for my certification exams, scheduling when to take them, visiting student teaching co-ops, getting clearances renewed, finding a gift for my mom’s birthday (which is next weekend, by the way), organizing all of the crap that I brought home from school, planning a short-term mission trip for the summer, finishing curriculum for the summer camp that I’ll be visiting on aforementioned mission trip, getting engaged (?!), planning weekend getaways, and working 2 jobs.

There’s honestly probably a million other things I’m forgetting.Life is busy, people!

Amongst the business and running from here to there, I’m finding it hard to focus. I’m avoiding what’s in front of my face and looking forward to getting to the “good parts.”

The problem is, though, that I have a lingering feeling that I’m wrong. Yes, our Lord does promise us a prosperous future […plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11] but that doesn’t give us permission to neglect the gift of today.

I’ve taken some time this morning to look into how to go about being more present, here’s what I came up with:

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Ecclesiastes 5:18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him- for this is his lot.

James 4:13-15 Now listen you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on our business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you should say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.”

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As a wise professor of mine says that the time that we spend outside of school with our families is more important than the time we spend toiling away on academics because, “soon, there will be too many empty chairs at our tables.” Every time that I hear him say that, it makes me a little panicky to think that one day too soon the people that I love will be taken from me. It puts it into perspective for me- the idea of being more present, and how important it is that I strive to do that.

Worrying about what is ahead isn’t going to make me get there any faster, and neither is pining for it.

I guess what I’m suggesting is that we all try to take each day as it comes, do what we can with it, and enjoy it while it lasts.

Today is a gift- that’s why they call it the present. (cheesy, I know, sorry.)

#summergoals

Advertisements

Heavy

Standard

It’s just one of those days where everything feels heavy and even though nothing is particularly wrong, nothing is right.

Today I feel like I am being pulled in directions that I don’t want to go in. My heart misses Wilmington, Delaware and the family that I got to be a part of there. And I miss the kids there so much. Thinking about them and our conversations and all of the hugs and laughs gives me great joy and also makes me miss them so much it hurts a little bit.

For whatever reason, it seems like God called me to Delaware because that’s where He knew I could finally listen to Him and see what it really means to serve Him with all of my heart. I have never felt more alive than I did in this one summer. I was exhausted a lot of the time, I was hot and sweaty, I was frustrated and sometimes very grumpy… but despite all of that, I knew I had a purpose there. And that was enough. Just to know that God was using me and strengthening me.

I got back home and was thrust back into school life. And for whatever reason, I just don’t feel nearly as fulfilled in that. I don’t feel God’s presence as strongly as I did before. I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything important to serve Him. Schoolwork already feels like drudgery.

Maybe I’m just not as plugged into the Source as I was in Wilmington. There I was surrounded by a community that was always talking about Jesus. Always singing to Him. Always pointing each other back to Him. And we had lots of time set aside to study the Word and worship.

Back at home I think I give myself a license to slack on quiet time. And plus, so many other things are vying for my time and attention. Between homework and meetings and classes, I feel like I don’t have time for the really important things like spending time with the people I love, for spending quality time with Jesus, or even just for sitting and thinking.

I know I sound like I’m complaining. And maybe I am. I’m trying to decide what God is telling me through this time and the feelings I’m having.

Heartbreak is not the worst thing.

Standard

If you had told me this half a year ago, I would have probably wanted to cut you and said, “don’t try to understand my pain!” But now that I have some time and experience under my belt, I can tell you with a fair amount of confidence that there are worse things than heartbreak.

God asks us to have our hearts broken for Him all the time and sometimes we even directly ask for it (‘break my heart for what breaks yours…’). Heartbreak is healthy, it grows us.

There are plenty of times when we don’t ask for heartbreak but our actions put us on the fast track toward it. Those times are usually when it really hurts the most because our pride gets pretty damaged in the process as well. What we thought was sure and true was actually shaky and unreliable. What we thought was going to save us actually sunk us. Ouch.

An aptly timed C.S. Lewis quote came into my life and taught me a thing about heartbreak that I didn’t really fully understand until today. Maybe I still don’t fully trust it. Anyway,

“But then, being hurt is not the worst thing in the world. Better to have suffered and grown than to never have suffered at all. In fact, most growth is accompanied by pain. God can use heartache as well as headache to help us grow.”

I was thinking today about my own heart and how when it aches I become a sorry for myself mess. And how I’m being so selfish because there are people out there with much bigger problems than a little heartache. And that’s when I remembered this quote and it finally dawned on me that I’m okay. I once was broken and lost in my misery but the joy of the Lord has once again dawned in my life. He has not forsaken me and He was by my side throughout the whole thing. Shaping me, teaching me, and comforting me. He was preparing me for the next thing that He has planned for my life and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the direction that it’s headed in.

In fact, I’m actually thankful for my hard time because it has made me all the more thankful for this time that I have now. Not only that, but it has helped me be more receptive to God’s glory manifested in my life. How can we regret anything that helped us to encounter glory?

Guys, our weakest moments and our greatest hurts really do make us into the people that we’re meant to be.

Soggy.

Standard

On a day like today, when the rain is slowly but surely pouring down on my tiny town and I ought to be doing homework, I like to bury myself under the covers in my dark room and stare at the same walls that I have stared at for nearly 20 years. Nearly 2 decades.

I think I find it hard to focus in this place because of all of the thoughts that nudge me to think about them. I wonder about my life and about life in general and I think about how simple it is to be alive and how complex it is to live.

When the sun is shining my soul is awakened and my heart is singing. When the rain is pouring, the need to withdraw into myself trickles in. I’m not depressed, I’m not moody- I’m thinking.

My thoughts turn to things that I have loved and things that I have lost. My list isn’t as long as others and in all honesty I have no right to complain. But today is a pensive, sorry-for-myself day and so there you have it.

I decided to use this Mumford lyric for this post because it speaks to me today. Sometimes I just miss the laughter, the smiles, the touches, the conversations, the sideways glances of days come and gone. I think about them and I just feel so lonely because I put so much of me into those precious moments. The moments that are now only held until my memory fails me. And then who will remember them? Who will remember our lives and the joy that filled them? We are so fleeting.

But like the quote says, what more can be done? We walk around daily pouring out little pieces of ourselves and what more is there? Who can blame us for loving whole-heartedly? Is there any other way to live a fulfilled life?

Once again, my main man C.S. Lewis said it the very best:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Having loved and having lost is something that is a staple of the human life. No one can blame us for being susceptible to vulnerability. Sometimes life smacks us in the face with pain and we wonder if we are at fault. If our pain is a result of having been so unguarded.

I’d just like to say that I hope that this lyric can be a testament to the way that I live. Is it my fault for loving with my whole heart? I’d rather do that than be accused of not loving enough. Some of the best days of my life were spent being 100% open with someone that I loved. Sometimes that causes me pain. But I’d never take it back. Not for one minute would I return to those days and regather my pieces to keep for myself.

Thoughts.

Standard

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what this blog post is about so if you are confused and don’t see the point that’s because I don’t have a defined end point in mind.

I just know that I saw this quote and thought that it describes me in a nutshell right now. I’m an over-thinker and an over-talker. I can’t always say what I mean and most of the time that’s because I don’t actually know. I’m dazed and confused. Driven by desires, passions, and the will to do good.

Sometimes my passion conflicts with my will to do good and over powers it. And that’s when I find myself laying in bed, saying to God, “show me what to do”, and hoping for clarity. It’s in those moments when it literally does feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole; I can squint up at the light but I can’t see any way of climbing out into it.

I’m afraid that I’m a terribly confused person with very little of life figured out. And I’m afraid that that hurts people that care about me. And I’m afraid that I’m a person that must learn from experiences that are not ideal and I’m afraid that I can’t change that fact about myself.

I know that sometimes I learn lessons the hard way but at least I learn them, right?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though I walk around with my head in the clouds a lot of the time, I really am trying to find my footing here on earth. Just trying to see where I stand in God’s plan for His world.

Sometimes we fall into rabbit holes because our minds have gone for a stroll without giving our feet any clear directions about where they’re supposed to be walking. That’s okay too.

Frands.

Standard

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friendship, a lot more than I ever have before.

In high school, friendship was easy. It’s easy to be friends when you see each other everyday, have the same mutual friends, live in the same town, participate in the same extra curricular events, etc.

In college, you have to really take the time to get to know people. Unfortunately, time is one thing you never seem to have enough of.

At this point, everyone has lived on this earth for 18+ years and are coming from across the country, sometimes even across the world. They’ve already experienced their fair share of ups and downs. Who they’re meant to be is already being molded and they have a pretty good idea of what they do/don’t want. I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that you really have to decide who you’re going to invest your time into.

Sounds kind of harsh, right? But it’s the truth. Friendship is beautiful because it’s light hearted and free. But it is also a gift from God that He expects us to invest in and take seriously. I’m going to quote C.S. Lewis again because he said it best:

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I don’t know about you, but I have the most beautiful friends. I love meeting new humans and seeing God’s beauty revealed in them. But my friends are also humans which means that I don’t always think that what they do is beautiful. I love this quote because it reminds me that they have been chosen for me. I have been chosen to be blessed by them; how lucky I am!. And for that I have to be grateful and loving.

I sometimes find it hard to let go of friendships. I reminisce on friendships I had in the past and become saddened. Sometimes I even feel guilty. Friends that vowed, “we’ll never lose touch,” did. Friends that said, “I’ll always be there for you,” weren’t. That scares me because at one point or another, I must have been that friend. That friend that promised to write every week and then didn’t, that promised to catch up over coffee every break and then didn’t.

I read a post by a blogger a while back that talked about being ‘friends for a season’. At first I thought it was kind of tragic. I value my friendships and I certainly don’t want to lose touch with my beautiful people. But then as I look back over my life I realize that it’s reality. I am learning that God gives us exactly what we need when we need it. Sometimes that’s a friend that must come and go. That’s okay, that’s beautiful too.

I’ve been thinking about how I want to be willing to pour into friendships while I have the time to do so. Because what if we aren’t meant to be forever friends, what if we’re friends for just a season? And then what if we are forever friends, how deep our friendship will be!

I guess the point that I’m trying to make here is that whether you’re friends for ever or just friends forever until tomorrow, I think it’s pretty wise to give it all you’ve got and ask God what that might be.

Isn’t it comforting to know that we’re always right where we need to be?

Expectations

Standard

I talk a good talk about how I think people ought to conduct themselves. I have firm convictions about what I think is right and wrong. I have expectations for myself and others that I believe should be met…until I have to make a decision.

When it comes right down to it, when people are looking to me for an answer, when I have to decide how I really feel, I falter. All of my principles go out the window. Everything that I use to organize my life crumbles and I’m thrown into the depths of chaos.

I’m weak. I collapse under the weight of my own and others expectations.

And most unfortunately, I pull people into that chaotic place with me. I avoid the hard things. I talk and talk until I can’t anymore and rapidly drive my train of thought right onto the ice where I’m bound to sink.

I want to do the easy thing. I want to do the thing that hurts people, and eventually myself.

Yes, you read that correctly. I’d like to say that I’m not in the business of hurting people that I care about but I am. I do it all the time. And yes I know that being a human means that we mess up. We hurt people. People hurt us. It’s all part of life.

But when it’s your fault that someone else is disappointed, hurt, angry…fill in the blank, it sucks. And it hurts you too.

So what do we do? I’m still trying to figure this one out.

I know I’ve written a blog post similar to this before which just goes to show that I have a lot to work on in this area.

So far all I know is that it’s important to be honest. Honest with yourself about realistic expectations. And honest with other people about whether or not you are going to be able to meet their expectations. This is key to any successful relationship. It can be hard to be honest. Sometimes even honesty can hurt. But in the end I think it’s better to have been the person that confidently declared their thoughts while they still knew them than passively allowing the situation/relationship to progress and allowing confusion to set in for all parties involved.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I wish there wasn’t so much ambiguity in our world. I wish that I wasn’t so scared of my actions and feelings affecting others. I wish I was stronger. I wish I could never hurt another human heart.

I’ve got some work to do. But I have learned this much thus far. Unfortunately, my track record suggests that I may have another post like this in my future. I’ll try to keep working on this and sharing what little wisdom I have.

If anyone has any advice to offer me here, that would be cool.