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Archive for May, 2008

Intimately.

I go through phases where I think a lot about theological ideas. And I get lost in them. I can’t figure them out or reconcile them or get my mind around them.

And then God does something to show Himself as a unique intimacy in my life…to remind me that He is not just a theology. He is the revolution that has changed my life. The healer. The wholeness. My divine connection that has marked me for relationship with Himself. And He always does something so absolutely unique to my life and circumstances that I could never have foreseen it and am often left speechless at its perfection.  I just love Him. I really do.

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Old buddies.

I went home for my friend Leah’s wedding this weekend. Leah and I have been buddies since elementary school. We cheered together in middle school, went to the same church, and have done some ministry things together in the past few years. We weren’t exactly in the same social category growing up (she was infinitely cooler than I ever was), but we ran with similar crowds and had a bunch of mutual friends through the years.

Just after the ceremony, I ran into one of my old friends. Prior to this weekend, I’ve probably only seen her twice in the past five years.  We were childhood best friends – constantly at each other’s house, traumatizing church childcare workers together, and yes, even making joyful noises in a quest for fame (see #19 below). We were the kind of buddies that stuck it out through class changes, friend shifts, and thousands of small arguments.  

Since my mom bailed on me before the reception, I was trying to decide whether or not to brave it alone when I ran into her. She (although happily married) was also dateless for the evening, so we went to the reception together. We sat down together at a table and spent about an hour catching up on each other’s lives. 

It’s crazy how much things have changed for us. She’s married and has two kids and is still in Cleveland. I’ve moved all over the place, and my current pit-stop is H’ville. She’s a medical assistant. I’m an admin. She looks entirely different, and my appearance hasn’t changed much at all.

I almost cried while I sat and listened to her talk about the past few years of her life. At some point, the similar paths we were on split. She took one road while I took another. She chose a hard road. Extremely difficult. Moreso than most anyone else my age.  She knows what it is to live with the consequences of her decisions and her sin.  But as our paths crossed again on Saturday, we were again, for a brief moment, standing in the same place – knowing of the enduring faithfulness of a God who has promised to work out all things for the good (Rom. 8:28) 

Our lives used to look so much alike, and now they look so different. But the result is the same. We are two young adults, fighting to know and live in the heart of God. Living in entirely different worlds. Doing entirely different day-to-day things. But walking with God just the same. I am so grateful for old buddies who remind me that it’s not just the journey we take – but the Sovereign Guide who takes us.  He is so good. So good.

“and we are not the same / everyday / we are changing. / another season fades / that’s okay / because everyday / we are changing / anyway.” -jason upton.

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50!

I started this blog at the end of December, and honestly, I didn’t know if I would really maintain it consistently. I definitely never thought I would gain a small audience of any kind. My dashboard tells me that this is my 50th post. So, to celebrate 50 posts worth of my life in six months, I’ve created a list of 50 things you probably still don’t know about me. 🙂 And don’t worry, I won’t pull this same stunt for the 100 post mile-marker. Fifty things was hard enough.

1. I hate-hate-hate (no, seriously – HATE) green peas. Gag me. And make sure you never put them on my plate.  I will not be polite about it.

2. I refuse to put books on my shelf until I’ve read them cover-to-cover. If you happen to ever come over to my apartment, please excuse the small mountains of books in every room. They are not yet worthy of shelf storage and bragging rights.

3.  I have been a part of more “camps” than I can count, but I have never actually been camping or slept outside overnight.

4.  I have a deep, heartfelt, and sincere bitterness toward the person who invented pantyhose. I should probably let that go.

5.  I rarely ever use a top sheet when making my own bed. Top sheets were created to entangle arms and legs all night, and I can’t figure out why anyone really likes them. Just give me a fitted sheet and a quilt.

6. I am that girl who will order a Diet Coke with my large french fries. And I will do so without shame.

7. I’m obsessed with the smell of warm, clean laundry. 

8. I am a chronic counter. I count lights in the worship center, reflectors in the road at night, hours of the workday, total reps of squats and lunges at Chisel, etc. If it can be counted or turned into a fraction, you can be sure that I’ve already gone there in my mind.

9. My dad used to sing me his very own lullaby called “Jenn Jenn Baby Girl.”  I would never have admitted it when I was younger, but it was one of my favorite things in the world to hear before bed at night.

10.  I’ve lived in all of the following places since the beginning of high school: Mobile AL, Elberton GA, Cleveland TN, Lampe and Shell Knob MO, Colorado Springs CO, and here.  It’s been an adventure.

11. I have an actual “life list” of all the things I want to do before I’m too old to do anything. It has 53 things on it right now. And the list is growing.

12. When I was really young, my mean middle brother Jeff told me that my oldest brother Rob’s real name was Bob. Jeff told me that “Bob” was embarrassed by his real name, so he went by Rob instead. And I believed that story…for years.

13. I had my first crush on a boy in the 1st grade. His name was John.

14. But my first dramatic crush was, of course, on a celebrity. Jonathon Taylor Thomas? Yes, please.

15.  You can tell when I’m not really paying attention to a conversation by watching my fingers. If you see me picking at them or biting my nails, I am very likely not hearing a word you say…regardless of how good I am at responding to the conversation.

16. My favorite fiction book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

17.  I own 47 pairs of shoes to date.

18.  I am terrified of ovens. I will cook anything on the stove, but please do not ask me to stick my arm into a metal heated box that is hot enough to melt my entire limb. Not my favorite idea.

19.  I was once in a band called ACG. With my friends Lori and Laura Beth. We were 8 years old. It shouldn’t bear further explanation (especially if you knew the three of us then).

20. I’m obsessed with clean, white teeth. That will be something I look for in a husband.

21. A husand? That’s right. I don’t have one yet. But there seems to be a great effort on the part of approximately fifteen middle school girls and three boss-men at the office to change that. I’m not naming any-Lovingood-Steen-Kaiser-names for the leaders of this effort…but I bet you could guess.

22. I used to sing solos in front of people on a semi-regular basis. I might drop dead before trying that again.

23. I once got kicked out of class in high school for holding my friend Chad’s hand. Our psycho teacher had just told us that hand-holding leads to teenage pregnancy. We, of course, seized the opportunity to reach out and grab hands. When she asked what we were doing, we responded, “Building a family.” I’m pretty sure that was one of the most rebellious moments of my entire life. Sorry, Mom. I’m pretty sure I “forgot” to tell you about that story.

24.  I hate it when hardback books have paper sleeves on them. What’s that about?

25.  My 7th grade college-aged Sunday school teacher was the first person to teach me how to have a quiet time. And although my friends and I nearly led her to early retirement from church service, her wisdom stuck with some of us. There is fruit for that labor. And teaching my class of girls was definitely labor.

26. Speaking of labor, I was born feet first. Or so I’ve been told. I don’t exactly remember.

27. I get motion sickness like it’s going out of style…on a bad car ride, at an action movie, sitting on a porch swing, etc. It doesn’t take much.

28. I skipped my senior year of high school. It was the best decision I have ever made.

29. I once gave up peanut butter (my all-time-can’t-live-without food) for Lent. My mom put a whole jar of it in my Easter basket. I thought I had entered the Promised Land when I had the first spoonful.

30. I have obsessively neat handwriting. But it’s all because I’m competitive. My first grade teacher once complimented my best friend on her excellent penmanship, and then she walked right by my desk without saying a word. I was devastated, but I resolved never to lose that battle again.

31.  There is nothing better than a long walk with a best friend. It’s therapy for my soul.

32. My cell phone ring is set to the tune of MMMBop. I love it. Still.

33. My favorite Starbucks drink: a Grande Americano with sugar free vanilla and a little splash of soy milk. With a straw. I always drink coffee with a straw to save my teeth from the stains (see #20).

34. I have a scar in one of my eyebrows from an early cheerleading accident involving some chairs, some standing on chairs, and some girls who couldn’t seem to behave at church. Confession: I was one of those girls.

35. I once announced to my four-year-old Sunday school class that I knew how to French kiss. Ha. Don’t ask. I don’t remember.

36. The following are all women who have made a significant impact in my spiritual walk with the Lord: Alice (thanks Mom!), Jodi, Paige, Carol, April, Sarah, Jill, Julie, Karen, Lisa, Sandy, Beth C., Cindy J., Cindy C., Beth B., Carrie, LeAnn, & Sheryl.  To the generations just ahead of me: please keep investing in us! Even if we don’t express it well, we are desperate for your wisdom.

37.  I am an avid goal-maker. I’ll update on my New Year’s Resolutions soon. Yes, I am still thinking about them. They’ll get done. I promise.

38. I just recently learned to drink hot tea. I’m now officially obsessed.

39. I honestly believe that love never fails.

40. I have journaled consistently since the 8th grade. I still love to go back and read them.

41. I can proudly quote every line of the Growing Pains theme song. Show me that smile again. Don’t waste another minute on your crying.

42.  I have six different degrees listed on my life goals list. I could make a career out of higher education.

43. I only take good photos on one side. If you are my Facebook friend, you can see the theme in pictures I tag of myself.

44.  I broke my nose twice in a matter of months in high school. It was rough.

45.  I have had 10 roomates in the past 4 years. And I have loved living with all most of them.

46.  I thought it would be a great idea to graduate early from Lee. Then I got into the real world. Now  I wonder what in the world I was thinking.

47. There are only three non-negotiable requirements for the man of my dreams: Christlike, cowboy, dance skills. Kidding about the last two. Sort of.

48.  I cannot believe you are still reading this. I knew I was pretty arrogant, but I didn’t know you were as interested in my life as I typically am.

49. Snuggling and hugging are two of my spiritual gifts. I’m convinced that Paul just left those gifts out of his Corinthian letters because they are so rare and valuable. Don’t covet my gifts.

50. I would be a total, complete, and utter mess without the grace God has poured on me through the the Body of Christ. I would be nowhere without Him, and we would be nowhere without each other.

Done. Finally. That, blogging friends, was a task-and-a-half.  I’m out.

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Even so.

I’ve been listening to this song on repeat for about the past hour. I wish I could upload it somehow for you hear, but you’ll have to settle for the lyrics.

Even So – JoAnna Miley King

Storms in my eyes / make it hard to see. / Sometimes I get choked / on what I think of me / because my life doesn’t look / like my kindergarten dreams / of picket fences and yellow roses. / But I never knew You then / the way I know You now. Could I have ever learned to pray / if You hadn’t let me fall down?

Like a rain on a tin roof, / a sweeter sound I’ve never heard / than the sound of Someone singing / while we cry. Can I be so faithful? / Can I pray, “Even so, / my heart will rejoice in the Lord?”

Take away my eyes / so I can learn to see. / My ears keep me from hearing / what You want to say to me. / My riches and my strength / are all that keep me poor. / If I give them up to You then I find more. / And I will not be satisifed / to only know your name. / I want to be identified with all your joy / and all of your pain.

Like a rain on a tin roof / a sweeter sound I never heard / than the sound of Somone singing / while we cry. Can I be so faithful? / Can I pray, “Even so, / my heart will rejoice in the Lord?”

And even if the victory doesn’t bud, / even if there are no fruit on the vine, / even if there are no sheep in the field / I know that all of heaven is mine.

But I never knew you then / the way I know you now. / Could I have ever learned to pray / if you hadn’t let me fall down?  Even so, my heart will rejoice / in the Lord. / Even so, my heart will rejoice / in the Lord.

It’s been a frustrating few weeks.  With a measure of humility, I can say (or type) that I’m in this place of struggling with the Lord over what He is doing in my life. I don’t understand the current plan He seems to have for me. I don’t know my place or my niche, and what once seemed like clear directions and open doors now just seems like a jumbled mess of disappointing changes. And I feel completely stuck. Totally lost for direction or a way out of this place.  Where is God in this? What happened to His voice behind me saying, “This is the way – walk in it.” ???  

When my family uprooted and moved to Mobile during my freshman year of high school, I felt this exact same way. I was a mess. Everything about the move was frustrating. I didn’t know my place or my role in a new social setting. I lost direction, and I was so frustrated with all the disappointment that year brought. At that point in my walk with the Lord, I could not imagine how in the world He possibly could have let something like that happen to me intentionally…so I didn’t believe that. I felt forgotten. Misplaced. I thought that surely God had left me out of His plan.  It wasn’t true, but I believed it for that season.

On the drive to church this morning, this song popped into my head.  The message of the song is so fitting for me right now.  Things are not turning out the way I wanted them to, and it’s disappointing.  It’s not exactly what I pictured (see the line about kindergarten dreams), but in the midst of rain and disappointment and frustration, I know God now in a way that I did not know Him as a freshman in high school. I know that He is purposeful and intentional about everything He does in my life. I am not forgotten or misplaced, and this season of struggle will not go on forever.  The rain might be messy and frustrating, but from the right position (see the line about the tin roof), it has a beautiful sound. He is allowing me to walk through this struggle intentionally – with the ultimate intention of knowing Him tomorrow in a way that I did not know Him today.

 So, I don’t understand. I might not understand for a long time to come. I might walk in a season of frustration and disappointment for months or years. But because I have known God’s faithfulness through even the darkest seasons of life, I will choose to trust Him in the way I know Him now. He is faithful, and His plans are good. I might not see the evidence of that right now.  But even so, my heart will rejoice in the Lord.

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Quick update.

I’ve been a bit absent for the past week. It was an unintentional skip in blogging world. I was finishing up my coursework for the semester (PRAISE GOD) for most of last week, and once that was completed, I was completely wiped out from all motivation.  Here is a brief re-cap from my week last week:

1. I joined the Y finally. I’ve held out for a whole year, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. I have to have a gym. And although I’m extremely glad I finally decided to join, there were several days last week when I was so sore that I couldn’t life my arms above my head or walk up the stairs without shaking. That is both the best and worst feeling in the whole world.

2. I signed a lease on a new apartment for July. I’m moving in with Brittany and I am so excited. Hopefully, my dog will learn to be a little more friendly toward hers. Have you ever seen the movie Grumpy Old Men? Mozart is the dog equivalent of those guys. Ha.

3. I went home for Mother’s Day. I have the best mom. I know you think your mom is the best, but you are wrong. Mine wins every time. If you know my mom, you would just think that she’s about the sweetest person you have ever met. She is. But if you really knew my mom, you would know she can hold her own in the quick-wit and sarcasm that seems to be our family love language. And that is exactly why she’s the best. And her mac-n-cheese is out of this world.

4. I’m going to be an aunt this fall. And it’s about time.

5. Middle School Camp begins one month from today. Let the chaos begin!

I promise to give a better update and a real post later this week. I felt compelled to at least post a short update since I’ve been MIA this week. Check back soon. I promise it will get better now that school is out.

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Work.

I just got home from eating dinner with a friend whom I don’t see very often. At some point after running through all the usual questions about school and work and social relationships, our conversation turned toward the various transitions both of us have made in the past year. The transitioning just seems endless….and it seems like so much work. It’s a lot of work to move everything you own every couple of months. It’s a lot of work to readjust to new social circles every year. It’s a lot of work to learn how to manage a tight budget for the first time and to face the reality of sometimes mundane forty-hour work weeks. So we spend our twenties wishing and hoping for an easier life stage so we can do less and feel more comfortable. We are waiting for easy to come.

Yeh right.  If I’m honest, probably 70% of my prayer journal in the last year has been filled with my complaints about this life stage. I have spent more mornings than I can count telling God about all the things I wanted to do to get to the next life stage. I want a job that is satisfying for every single hour of my forty-hour work week. I want a salary that is comfortable so I can start thinking beyond month-to-month. I want a husband.  If I’m really honest, almost all of my prayer journals are filled with the same kind of thing. From one life stage to the next, I always feel like the next stage is just one step ahead of me, and surely if I could get there, things would be easier. 

I think our culture feeds us a lie when it teaches us that each life stage should get easier and more satisfying. It’s just not true. Life is work. We’re just lazy. It’s not even about a job.  We are required to continually do life over and over and over again, in every life stage. It’s hard work. Is the work the same in every life stage? Nope. But is it still work? Yes.  There isn’t really room for laziness and ease in any life stage, and I will wish my life away if I think that comfort and ease are just one step ahead of me.

In one of the Truth Project lessons, Del Tackett talks about the sphere of labor. He spends a whole lesson talking about what work is supposed to look like from a Biblical perspective.  In this lesson, he talked about what I like to call “The Forgotten Commandment.”  Check out Exodus 20:9.

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work…”

Mostly, when we read that, we skip right over it to the next part of the sentence that talks about the importance of Sabbath rest. Of course we do – who doesn’t want a good Sunday afternoon nap? But before we can rightfully get to Sabbath rest, the command says that we “shall labor.” And if Sabbath was made for the man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27), the implication is that we are not made to be lazy. We were created to work. We were created to do life. There isn’t much room for laziness here. If God created Sabbath for our good, it means that we probably wouldn’t have come up with that on our own. God created Sabbath for us because we weren’t created for Sabbath. We were created to work. To do life. Day in and day out. In every life stage.  

Funny to think about, isn’t it? We’ve come a long way since then. We were apparently created to be enthralled by work, and here we are trying to do anything we can to get out of it, to reduce its load, to get to a life stage we think is beyond “work.”  God apparently made the Sabbath a command because He knew that without it, we might work ourselves to death. It’s hard to even imagine that idea in our culture.

How did we get to this looking-for-the-easy-way-out mindset? And how do we get back to God’s work ethic?  I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just processing good conversation tonight.

Note: I updated a couple of the links on my side bar. I’m becoming obsessed with blogging. But apparently, so is the rest of our culture, so I’m feeling okay about the obsession so far. The new links are to just a few of the things I read regularly and thought worthy of a link. Check them out when you get a chance. Some of them have short descriptions if you roll over the link with your mouse. Enjoy!

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