Thursday, November 29, 2012


'Are you SO excited?!?'

It's those leading type of questions that are always awkward to respond to when your immediate answer isn't an exhilarated 'YES!' Or, when it's the opposite type of question... like the time a friend of mine and I got our hair cut over the same weekend, were walking together and someone said, 'Oh! You both got your hair cut! you hate it?'  Err... should we hate it?

Should I be SO excited?
What if I say I'm not...?

If you're not caught up to speed on my current life situation, the most pressing news is that I'm going to Africa. Tomorrow.

I can hear the squeals now, followed by a, 'Are you so excited?!?' Because that's the typical response...and it's not a bad response. I'm thankful that you're so excited for me...but sometimes I think I only get SO excited about food.

But,'s where I'm at:
Leading up to this trip, I feel like all I can think about is how uncomfortable I'm going to be. Because, in any trip I've ever taken out of the country, that's always the word that can sum up the whole trip. It's uncomfortable physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And uncomfortable isn't bad... but it's still uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable isn't something I look forward to, and it's probably not something that I'm SO excited about. But... is this something that I know is worth it? Absolutely. Is this something that I'm glad I'm doing and honored to be a part of? One hundred percent. Will it be easy? It doesn't feel easy so far, and I haven't even left American soil yet.

The cool thing is that I have an email sitting in my inbox from a man in India who I partnered with two and a half years ago as we went from hut to hut sharing the Gospel with anyone who would listen. The cool thing is that I just edited and modified a newsletter for a woman in Costa Rica that I had the opportunity to work closely with for three and a half weeks a couple years back.

Moa and Ana both remind me that trips like these are worth it. They remind me, even beyond a short-term mission trip, that the relationships built and the impact made can truly be lasting. They remind me that I can join in personally with brothers and sisters in other parts of the world and how much more meaningful it is to know them versus only know of them. I am blessed by these these friendships, even if I never get to see them again on this earth.

My trip tomorrow still feels surreal. My bag is mostly packed, and I'm not really taking much. I'll fly from Boston to Amsterdam tomorrow evening and (hopefully) meet up with the rest of my team there. I know this trip will be good...and I know the opportunities that we have will be incredible. I know I'll see things I've never seen before (did I mention we're hosting a kid's camp along the Nile River??), I know my heart will be crushed by the heartache of these kids with no families... but I long to bring them hope.

kids at the Amazing Grace Children's Home!
As I prepare to lead Ugandan girls through discussions about godly beauty and adoption, in addition to finding games and group development pieces that are cross-cultural...I pray that the Holy Spirit would be our guide and that we would cross barriers in order to penetrate the hearts of those who need Jesus Christ. As I stay in a tent with a few of these girls each night, I pray that I would be willing to dive in deep...but also willing to laugh and simply love who the Lord has created them to be. I pray that these children, these youth, these teenagers, these early twenty-year-olds would know that they are loved by the King.

Would you pray for me and with me in this journey?
Would you pray that, even though uncomfortable, that this trip would never be about me? That I would always have eyes to see the ways people are in need and that I would tend to those needs quickly and quietly? Would you pray that the Lord would utilize my strengths and that I would not be afraid to share those with others? Would you pray that I would trust Him to be strong in my weakness? Would you pray that, above all else, that the Lord would truly be glorified? That many might come to know Him? That He would heal, save and redeem? That He would bring hope to the hopeless and joy to those who mourn?

I'm not SO excited.
But I am ready (as ready as I'll ever be)...and I am expecting God to show up. And that moves me into a place of 'let's do this' (Rocky-theme style) more than a place of giddy school-girl giggles and jumping up and down style. Maybe it's just semantics.

Either way... you won't be hearing from me for a while.

So, while I'm gone... you should do the following:

  • Pray for me/my team/all those we'll be interacting with.
  • Send me anything and everything you could possibly want me to write about upon my return (like, I'd love it if my inbox were full when I got back). 
  • Let me know about your life and how you really are... because you matter, and what you're dealing with matters (you can do this anonymously by clicking on the link below). 
  • Be courageous and brave.
  • Play.
  • Remember what matters. 
Thanks for your support, your encouragement, your prayers. 

It's that time. 
Time to just do it

Read me in a few weeks! 
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Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just Do It

Nike was onto something when they developed their world-famous mantra.

Just Do It.

I actually think I subconsciously adopted the motto without realizing it...only mine sounded a bit more like, 'I'm just gonna do it...'

My eldest brother and I had a conversation last night about what life would look like without fear and how much fear affects the entirety of our being. He made a lot of good points (he's real wise) about what it would look like to do whatever we wanted to if fear wasn't a factor. That being brave or courageous has everything to do with fear existing and us still doing what we long to regardless. That the presence of fear deters us from doing the very things we are called to do, passionate about, created to do...and it often changes everything for us because we are driven by the fear, instead of forging through the fear into something greater. And then he said, 'That's kind of what you're doing right now.'

Hold up.
Me...? ...brave? ...courageous?
It's kind of laughable.

But, I've been thinking about it... (of course).
It's true that my life is currently riddled with scary junk and the constant fears of the unknown. And as I've taken steps toward new and different things, I realized that my attitude hasn't been one of 'No Fear' (I suppose this post is all about clothing brands).

By that, I mean that my focus hasn't been consumed by longings to not be afraid...because I think my reality is that some things are just going to be scary. I can't change that. Leaving everything behind and attempting to start over will do that to you. Leaving everything behind in a weird camp setting and starting over in the 'real world' seems to enhance those fears even more. I can easily nestle into a world of 'what-ifs' and worst-case-scenarios and suddenly the fears become crippling. This is where Nike comes in. Instead of trying to push away all these fears, I think lately I've kind of moved toward a, 'Oh well...I'm just gonna do it'.

Come into my mind with me for a moment:
I'm going to Africa in a few days. If I think about it too long, my mind can go crazy with all the possibilities of what could go wrong: missing flight connections, not finding team members, crashing in the Atlantic, getting attacked, having things stolen, getting malaria, losing my underwear (it's happened before), failing at leading a completely different culture through a camp name it, and I've probably considered it. Conclusion? 'Oh well... I'm just gonna do it'.

I'm moving to new place, starting grad school and I barely know anyone. Will I find friends, will I find purpose, will I find a job, will I make enough money to cover necessary expenses, will I fail in the academic world, am I too socially awkward to communicate with normal people now? 'Oh well...I'm just gonna do it'.

So rather than letting the fear paralyze me, I suppose I'm forging through the fear.
It's risky and it's unknown, but I'm not too worried about it. At some point, the thousands of things that could go wrong, the thousands of what-ifs, the thousands of excuses and reasons to not do something... they are no longer the deciding factors any more.

Just do it.
Whatever it is you are called to, whatever it is you are passionate about, whatever your dreams are...whatever the Lord asks you to do.. do it. There's no reason good enough to not do it. Don't get so consumed with praying against the fear existing...but, instead, pray that you would walk bravely and courageously through the fear, proclaiming that in the name of Jesus it has no hold on you.

I also think that maybe too often we get caught up in being frustrated with ourselves that we're scared and thinking that we shouldn't be...and then all of our attention turns to attempting to extract the fear from our lives. It seems to become a distraction from simply doing what we were trying to do in the first place. And I think that once we just start doing the things we were scared of, we realize that they actually aren't that scary at all...that maybe we were more ready than we realized. We find ourselves living out the adventure instead of being where we were, scared of everything the adventure might entail.

Don't focus on living a life of 'No Fear'. Just Do It. Do life. To the fullest!
Push through the fear, because it will exist.... but don't let it define you, don't let it alter your course, don't let it cripple you.

Do what you were made to the little things and the big things.
Be brave and courageous in the presence of the fear, and trust that you're not alone in the journey.

It's worth it.
I promise.
* * *

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leaving Camp

'Why did you finally decide to leave camp?'

It's a question I get asked pretty frequently...and, sometimes, it's a question that's hard for me to answer. 
I think people are curious for a few different reasons...
  1. They wonder what's so wrong with camp that I would ever want to leave. 
  2. They care about my life. 
  3. They just like to know things about people. 
  4. They are trying to figure out how to know when it's time for them to leave something.
Assuming that you might fall under one of these categories, I'll try to answer that big question accordingly. 

Why did I decide to leave camp? 
It's complicated... and it's simple. 
It was time. 

Cliche, right? 
I'm not usually a fan of quitting. Especially when it's something I care about and I've invested a lot in...something that I think truly matters. Camp was that for me. Because, for those of you who don't know, you don't just work at camp. You live there, you eat there, you sleep there, you work-out there, you hang out with people there. Even when you're away from camp, you're never really away. There's always work to be done, always people to be communicating with. Your co-workers are your friends and there's no escaping conversations about work, even on your time 'off'. 

I tried to leave once before--about two and a half years after being there full-time. I packed up my car, moved back into my parent's house...and a week later I had re-packed my car and found myself back in Texas. Not because living with my parents was horrible, but because I felt like I still had work to do at camp. I still had hopes and dreams, I still had changes I wanted to implement, I still had messages to communicate to counselors and campers. 

Living at camp was never really easy for me. Comfortable, on some level, sure... but never easy. Never easy because it was an environment of constant change and I'm not particularly great at change. It felt like every six months we were having some sort of staff turnover, it felt like every few months we were changing policies or programming or how to internally communicate or where doors and roads were and were not. Some changes were good and welcomed...almost all changes were necessary and for the benefit of camp and/or campers. But, because they embodied something different... I didn't like them. 

Ironically enough, I left camp at a time when stability seemed on the rise. Implementation of five year plans, goals and desires to make everything excellent. Camp is in a good spot, and it's moving into an even better spot. Which, continues to beg the question: why now

As camp continued to change and grow, some of my very favorite parts about it began to fade. Suddenly I realized that I was clinging to a job that I no longer felt qualified for, especially as my duties needed to change in order to accommodate the growth and stability. This wasn't a job that I loved anymore, and it didn't seem like it was moving in a direction of something I wanted to continue to be a part of on the same level I had been. Mostly, I just realized that there were other, better qualified people to do what needed to be done. There were other people who could step in with new ideas, fresh perspectives...people who didn't know camp the way I had known it, people who would be better at jumping into the remodeling with much more joy and excitement than my hesitations and longings to protect what once was. 

It wasn't an overnight decision. It probably took over a year of me going back and forth to realize that this was the right decision- both for me and camp. 

And it's hard. It's hard to leave something you know and love and go do something different. It's hard to know when the right time to leave is. It's hard to admit things could be better without you there. I kept wanting God to just tell me to go, and I wanted Him to tell me what to do next. It felt foolish to leave without any sort of plan for what was next. It's hard to leave a life where I know I'm having some sort of impact on thousands of lives each year...and to not know if I'll ever feel that useful or purposeful again. 

But sometimes it's just time. 
And, I think a lot of the time we know when that time is... we're just too scared to do anything about it. So we stay. Sometimes I think we continue to return to things because it's what we know, not because it's what we should do. 

I love camp. I love the way that God moves in a camp setting like no where else. I love that while, yes, there is often a 'camp high', that people actually make life-changing decisions there. It may not be so apparent immediately, but they are things they often come back to--even if it's years later. I love the community. I love the summer nights. I love the worship. I love the openness and rawness and the inability to hide in darkness for very long. I love the spontaneity of the tasks required and not knowing what each day is going to look like. I love living in the middle of nowhere. I love working hard, washing dishes, cleaning showers, frying thousands of chicken strips. I love talking to guests from all over the country. I love recruiting, hiring, caring about summer staff and attempting to lead them each year. I love talking to hundreds of campers and sharing my heart with them. I love watching programming come to life. I love writing curriculum. I love camp. 

But more than that...I love the way God heals, redeems and saves people. I love the way that Jesus Christ can radically change lives and bring hope to the hopeless, light to the darkness, and peace to the trouble-hearted. That doesn't just happen at camp. 

It was time. 
I'm more sure than ever that this was the right step...but I'm not sure I would have known unless I had taken a leap of faith and stepped into the unknown. 

Sometimes it's okay to quit.
Sometimes it's okay to leave behind old things to do new things.
Sometimes it's okay to make decisions when you aren't 100% sure and to hope it can be better. 
Sometimes it's okay to leave things you love and to hope to find something you love more. 

I'm no longer 'Debbie: Camp Person'. 
I'm okay with that... and I'm eager to see where else the Lord takes me on this new adventure. I'm eager to work hard in other capacities, to be uncomfortable in other settings, to be used in ways that hopefully foster life-change in lots of other people...even if that's not at camp right now. 

I'm willing to believe it can be better. Scratch that. Will be better. 

Maybe it's time for you to finally leave something, too.
Maybe it's time for you to try something different.
Maybe it's time to admit that it could be better for you and others if you left (this one is super humbling). 
Maybe it's time for you to believe that something new could be better than what you know... even if it's unknown. 
Maybe not.

And if you aren't entirely sure? 
Take a leap of faith...take a bold.
Because it's freaking scary, but it opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities.

That's what my life feels like right now: scary, but filled with possibilities.

Thanks for asking.
Thanks for caring.
Now you know. 

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Monday, November 26, 2012


I played today.

I swung on a swing, attempted to flip on bars and scurried across monkey bars. I felt like a giant in the process, and I forgot how much monkey bars rip the skin off your palms... but it was fun. I was alone in a small little playground and I played.

When's the last time you did that?

this guy was one of my favorites back in the day... 
I was there for less than 15 minutes and while I eyeballed the other pieces of plastic playground equipment (they don't make 'em like they used to), I was sure that I was definitely more likely to break them than enjoy them, especially without a partner in crime. Remember when playgrounds used to occupy our attention for hours upon hours? Remember how, when it was time to leave, we still begged for one more time on the slide or one more dash through the tunnels?

Today reminded me of another day in college where I had driven out to a big lake/park outside town to have some alone time. There was a playground there. I remember needing to get away from the stresses of college life...tests, papers, relationships, extracurricular obligations and just take a time-out. I didn't expect to play, although it's exactly what I ended up doing.

It feels a bit ridiculous to play when you're an adult. Especially when you're by yourself.
But sometimes I think it's necessary.
I think it's good for us to remember what it's like to be a kid.
There's a shamelessness to it.
There's a joy to it.
There's a hope.

There's a peace in letting go and just letting yourself play. Letting yourself enjoy the moment without getting too caught up in the millions of other things that are on your mind, the thousands of things that you have yet to do. And there's a freedom that comes in not caring what anyone else thinks when you do decide to play.

If you're ever alone and you come across a swing set or a playground and you feel the gentle prodding of, Play...I hope you do it. I hope you play. Embrace your inner kid. Maybe that doesn't mean playing in a playground, but maybe it could mean coloring in a coloring book, painting with finger paint, building a fort, singing made-up lyrics at the top of your lungs, dancing like a fool (I'm quite sure I gave myself whiplash once from head-banging to some rocker music alone in my room...and I wasn't a teenager).

I hope you breathe in the simplicity of it.
I hope, as you play, you remember the hope that you have...that you would remember what you find true joy in. That as you play, you allow the complexities of life to fade away, even if only for a moment, and you seize the fullness of the sincere and uncomplicated faith of a child.

It may just be a day-changer for you. It may just put a lot of things into perspective for you.

So, what are you waiting for..?

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jesus = Sinner?

They thought Jesus was a sinner.

I think I probably would have thought so, too.

Wouldn't you?
This man comes in and defies everything they've known about what it means to be a Jew. He defies laws, he defies religion...he challenges their authority, he challenges their interpretations, he does things they've never before witnessed.

I've been thinking a lot about what that would look like for us today. Christians adhering to a strict moral code, judging all others who do it differently than us. We are right, they are wrong. As much as we don't like to admit it it, I think, at least for me, that's kind of how we view it. That's kind of how we live life. Striving for holiness and perfection...and that strife soon becomes a list of dos and don'ts. When anyone else strays from our interpretation of what that means, they are automatically wrong/sinners.

Jesus healed a man born of blindness on the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.'

What if Jesus came and healed, if he raised the dead, if he multiplied food, if he turned water to wine today? What would we say? I imagine, especially if He turned water to wine, that a lot of Christians would have a lot to say about that... and how He could not possibly be from God.

And sure, I know that culturally it's different and we can make those type of arguments all day long...
but I'm wondering if I'm the kind of Christian who is open-minded enough to allow Jesus to come and to do His thing and to simply follow and believe without judging, without condemnation, without fear, without skepticism, without doubt. Or I wonder if I'm the kind of Christian who would be exactly like the Pharisees.

Because, unfortunately, I think I am. And I bet a lot of you are, too.
We're so accustomed to what we've come to know as right and wrong, good and bad...but there's a large part of me, when I read Scripture, that makes me think that we don't really know. And what we think we know? I honestly believe Jesus could come and do it all radically different.

The Jesus that I've been trying to follow my whole life doesn't seem to be the Jesus that I read about in Scripture. The Jesus in Scripture is the giver of abundant life, He is healer, He is savior... and yet I feel that sometimes I'm following a Jesus of rules, guidelines, and strict religion. As much as we are a generation of believers who long to disregard religion and simply be followers of Jesus... I don't feel very successful in that endeavor.

I don't know how to separate the two. Because being a Christian means both striving for a life of purity and holiness and simultaneously receiving Christ's grace, love and mercy every day because nothing I can do can ever save me. I don't know how to strive for this holiness without quickly turning into a Pharisee. I don't know how to maintain the balance. I don't know how to allow for Jesus to do radical things in me and through people around me, to remain open-minded to Him coming and doing things different than I ever thought possible... and then also allow things those to be okay when they may be the very things I thought were sin or breaking the 'law'.

I don't know how to let Jesus come and heal the blind when He's breaking the law while He does it.
Because what does that say about the law? And what does that say about sin? Or...what I've always thought sin to be?

But maybe that's the point.
Maybe the things we thought were black and white sin....maybe they're not always so black and white. Maybe, in my striving for purity and holiness, I can't ever let it be about dos and don'ts and right and wrong. Maybe there's something fuller that I've been missing out on.... something deeper.

'Cause I don't want to be a Pharisee.
I don't want to miss out on following the real Jesus.
Because I've been religious my whole life... and I'm unsatisfied. I'm truly unsatisfied because I don't think I've allowed the real Jesus to penetrate my heart. I don't think I've allowed myself to really follow Him. And part of that is because I don't know how.

This remains unsolved for me for now.
My prayer today is that I would be open-minded and open-hearted enough for Jesus (the Jesus who went against all pre-conceived notions of what the Savior of the world would be) to show me who He really is and what it means to really follow Him. I think I'm willing to admit that it could look different for each of us. I think I see that in the way Jesus responds to various individuals throughout the Gospel.

I'm weary of not ever feeling good enough, of not ever believing enough, of not ever doing enough. I'm weary of religion.
Jesus came to give life...a whole life.
And that's not the life I've been living.

I'm not sure if any of that made sense... but it's where I'm at.
Where's the balance...? How do you strive for holiness/purity without losing yourself in the legalism and forgetting the Gospel?

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Loving & Hating

I have a love-hate relationship with holidays.

As much as I can be thankful for things and appreciate all the good stuff going on and genuinely love so many aspects of them, there's an element of sorrow that accompanies each day of celebration and family fun. I can't avoid the feelings of loneliness that always seem to surface, and I can't seem to escape the 'shoulds'.

On a day where you 'should' be surrounded by the people you love and care about the most, there's always a void when those people aren't there...or simply don't exist yet. Holidays make me miss ex-boyfriends. They make me ever-aware of my singleness...especially as I'm always the fifth wheel (or, in my family's case... the 9th wheel).

It's a sad, pathetic story... I know. It's probably one that some of you aren't too unfamiliar with yourself. Only, I'm blogging about it for the world to see which makes me feel especially pathetic. I'm blogging about it, assuming (or hoping) that you might also have a love-hate relationship with holidays.

As much as they can be a reminder of what we have, I fear that they also remind us of what we do not have. Sometimes it reminds us that our families are broken. Sometimes it reminds us of those who have hurt us deeply. Sometimes it reminds us that we are alone.

I talked to a friend briefly yesterday whose parent's are recently separated. Two separate Thanksgivings after being accustomed to one.... not two because of having to split between in-laws due to the joys of marriage. Holidays can become a source of a pain, a reminder that once was no longer is. For my friend, I felt the pang of the love-hate relationship with this holiday...aware that my loneliness and singleness was a far cry from the hurt being experienced in the wounds of separation.

I know this isn't unfamiliar territory for many of you... many of you who have been dealing with this split for a lot of your lives. And I've been wondering if one of the reasons we love holidays so much is because of the hope that it embodies for us. That there's this captivating feeling that surrounds them...maybe our parents will get back together, maybe our families will be reconciled, maybe our ex's will want us back, maybe we will meet someone new, maybe the voids/hurts/pains that shouldn't be there will suddenly be erased and all will be made new.

There's something magical about holidays. Or, at least I want there to be something magical about them. And sometimes, I think our excitement for the holidays is this misplaced hope. We get more excited about reunions with family and friends than we do the real meaning behind them...sometimes I'm not even sure we care about the meaning behind them. I mean... Thanksgiving? What are we really celebrating here?

Mostly I just want to acknowledge that sometimes holidays suck. And as much as we put our happy faces on and spew out the thousands of things we're thankful for because that's what people apparently do on social media all day long during the month of November... if you're one of the people who is hurting, who is having a hard time, who is angry, who doesn't feel so thankful... I want you to know that you're not alone.

Sometimes holidays are hard.
Sometimes they remind of us crappy things.
Sometimes, I think it's okay for us to admit that it's hard vs. put on the facade that we're in the holiday spirit and everything is okay.

Mostly...I hope that the holidays move us toward a searching for a greater fulfillment. I hope they move us past hoping solely for our families, our friends, and our love lives to sustain us. As I was lying awake for a while last night, thinking about how different this Thanksgiving was than year's past...feeling lonely even in the midst of a great family... I realized this wasn't something they could fix. And it wasn't something even the perfect man could fix.

Because my loneliness screams of a deeper loneliness, a deeper void that I keep trying to fill with things that don't last, with things that don't matter.

If the holidays are hard for you...
Let them be hard, but don't get stuck in hopelessness.
I think there's still much for us to hope in, much for us to hope for.
You don't have to be a scrooge, but you don't have to be fake, either.

And at the darkest moments of your despair and the heightened moments of your joy and happiness, I pray that you would find the hope of Jesus Christ. That you would find the redemption, the life, and the promises He made true. I pray that you would find Him faithful...even when it looks different than how you might have envisioned it all.

I love this season.
But I also hate it.
I think that's okay... because I'm still hopeful for more than this.

* * *

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be a Blessing

Generous people are the best...don't you think?
Especially the unexpected, out of the blue type of generosity that flows from strangers.

It's often the little things that I tend to value a lot. The little things that can go unnoticed, but I so greatly appreciate them. They make me feel blessed...and I'm humbled in the way that others notice the little things they can do for others, both people they don't even know and the people that they love dearly. They aren't big things done in a prideful arrogance that beg for the world to notice them... but they are simple, they are thoughtful, they are selfless things.

Like the lady at the store who has a million groceries in her cart and notices me with a handful of things behind her and insists on me going before her. Or the man who lets me take the parking spot instead of trying to fight me for it. Or the woman who rushes to help open the door for the stroller-pushing, exhausted mother. Or maybe picking up after your sibling, or asking for ways to help your mom with Thanksgiving prep, or spending time with your family when it means not spending as much time with your friends.

Little things.
I love when the little things become big things.... when they become day-changing things. In the good ways, of course. I love when someone else's generosity can remind me that there's still good in the world, there's still hope.

It makes me want to notice the little things. It makes me want to reach out in little ways to people when I see a need...or even when I just see something that could help make someone's day a little better.

Generosity breeds more generosity.
Pay it forward, right?
And when it doesn't work like that... well, I think we still need to be generous, despite how it may be received.

I've been wondering why we don't do it more often. Why I don't do it more often.
Aren't you so blessed when a stranger does something selfless for you... for no reason at all? Aren't you so blessed when someone you care about does something for you even when you both know that you don't deserve it? Isn't it astounding? Isn't it baffling? Isn't it humbling? I did no thing to deserve such an act, and yet I'm experiencing grace in real life. Why wouldn't we seek to extend this to every person we encounter every single day?

Lord, I pray that we would have eyes to see the little things... and I pray that we would be quick to respond. Jesus, teach us how to be selfless in our day-to-day interactions with strangers, teach us how to be bold with our words. Jesus, teach us how to be selfless in our day-to-day interactions with those we love, those we don't like...everyone. 

As we're in this season of thankfulness, I really hope we would be willing to consider the weight of what small acts of selflessness on our part might mean for someone we don't know (and those we do). Especially as we shop, as we tip, as we interact with cashiers, as we drive, as we walk into buildings, as we fly... as we live life, may our eyes be opened to the ways that we can simply be a blessing to those around us. Even as you interact with family or close friends... as you make Thanksgiving feasts, clean up after others and feel (perhaps) as though your efforts are overlooked and purposeless... I hope you keep giving.

Be a blessing through generosity.
Live in such a way that places others before you all the time.
Live a life of humility.
Watch as your generosity breeds more generosity...and persevere when it seems your generosity goes unnoticed or unappreciated.

Join me in praying that prayer above more frequently... because, as usual, this is nothing we can do of our own accord.

Father, I beg that we would be a people who bear fruit wherever we go and with whomever we interact matter the response we receive from them. And Lord... I pray that You would be glorified. 

Be a blessing today.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I bought boots today.
Scratch that... my mom bought me boots today. Yep. It happened. I'm that 28-year-old (one who didn't own boots and one whose mom still buys her clothes). I lived in Texas for over six years and never, ever was tempted with such a purchase. But a move to New England at the beginning of January made it seem like a wise investment.

The problem with the boots, however, is that I feel like a fraud when I wear them. It reminds me of when I started wearing dresses.

Have you experienced this before?

I've probably identified myself as more of a 'Tom Boy' most of my life. My mom was pretty disappointed after having three boys to get a girl who didn't like to wear frills and lace and feminine things. Instead of looking like a girl, I sought to look more like my brothers. I often sported the 'ol two colored Umbros- remember those? They were the best.

There were a few brief stints in junior high and high school were I tried, quite unsuccessfully, to look more like a girl. Mostly it just consisted of bad make-up and terrible fashion sense. Eventually I left my girliness to school dances and formal events.

But, over the years it's changed. Maybe it's been my circle of friends, or the willingness to admit that dresses can actually be comfortable...or maybe just a desire to actually embrace my femininity instead of despise it.

The first few times I wore a dress (outside of a dance/wedding), I felt ridiculous. It felt like everyone in the room could tell I had never worn a dress before and it was written all over my face. I searched for validation in every possible way, eager for people to either tell me I looked great....or simply not notice the monstrosity before them. And while I now realize that no one probably cared or noticed, I know that I was having an internal meltdown as I attempted to parade around in this costume as though it were normal attire.

I like dresses a lot now...even if it took a few... years. I've even graduated from not wearing shorts under them every time I wear one.  I don't wear them all the time, but I don't feel like an awkward duck every time I do. As I move away from camp life into 'real world' life, I realize I can't get away with my Umbros (shoot, if I actually had a pair of these, I'd actually wear them a lot...) and t-shirts. Or my plethora of sweatshirts. I mean, I guess I could... but I don't want to.

I want to step further into my femininity in the way that I dress, but because it's such a foreign land to me... it's terrifying and often makes me feel like a fraud. Sometimes I think this is where you just need to take a plunge, though. Sometimes, no matter how I feel on the inside, it doesn't mean that it's apparent to everyone else...and it wouldn't matter if it was.

I think these changes are hard to make. And while, yes, superficial on some level... I think the way we present ourselves can speak volumes for the way we think about ourselves. I think for so long my inability to dress 'cute' was a direct tie into my inability to see myself as attractive. So I avoided fashion trends and style...because I felt like I could never look as good as the other girls. I didn't have right body, right personality...and the clothes looked stupid/were uncomfortable. I had every reason to not look like girly girls... but I think, on some deep level, I always wished I could.

Maybe it's vanity.
Maybe none of this matters.
Maybe I could walk around for the rest of the life never wearing make-up and dressing myself in sweats and be perfectly fulfilled (ha, I have...). But I think we tap into something deeper when we allow ourselves to become more of who we were created to be, both internally and externally. And I'm not saying that every woman or man will approach this in the same way. I'm simply saying that in me, there's always been this connection in the way I dressed and the way I thought of myself. The past few years have given room for transformation both in how I think of myself and how I then present myself.

Let me be clear- this doesn't mean that in order to embrace your femininity that you must put on make-up, wear dresses or buy boots. There's not a certain dress code for what this means...I think it can look different for each of us. I guess I'm just challenging to consider why you wear the clothes that you do, why you present yourself the way that you do. Is it a direct correlation to how you view yourself? Is it a true representation of who you are...of who you want to be? Is it only a representation of who you want to be and not who you actually are?

I still feel like a fraud when I wear things I'm uncomfortable with or not used to... but, I think, sometimes that's okay. Sometimes it takes time to grow into things. And I think that's true when we change internally, too. That sometimes we have to be willing to be uncomfortable, feel awkward... and maybe we become more of who we were created to be, both internally and externally.

So I bought boots. Tall, leathery boots. The kind of boots you wear with skinny jeans. I don't own skinny jeans. *sigh*

I think this will be a very growing year, after all.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

All Over

My mind feels too all over the place to write these days.

In a given moment, I could be thinking about:

  • What type of job I'll be able to find in January that will give me the hours and the money I need to live while in school. So, I peruse jobs on the Internet. I might be a nanny. 
  • Body image. I used to think I had a very accurate perception of myself, but now I'm wondering how warped it actually it is. 
  • A new life...and new friends. I can't envision this becoming a reality, no matter how hard I try.
  • The plethora of people I need to contact, respond to... love better. 
  • Whether or not I should stop blogging.
  • How much I think/care too much about what other people think of me. 
  • And how being single forever seems pretty realistic. Sometimes I'm lonely, too. 
  • The book I want to write.
  • Family- and being overwhelmed by my thankfulness for them.
  • Why the little cat isn't cuddled up next to me right now.
  • How much I hate spending money...and how much money I've had to spend lately and will continue to spend for the next three years. 
  • Wanting to cut ties with everything I've known and start anew.
  • How I'm glad the little cat finally decided to join me.
  • God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit....Christianity... and 5,000 other things that fall under this. 
  • How to relate to other people in a way that connects with them and inspires them.
  • My upcoming trip to Africa. 

Yes...that's right. I crawled into bed tonight, thankful that I had a bed to crawl into...and knowing that in just a few weeks, the bed I sleep in will probably be much different. I feel like my mind has been so many other places that I haven't been able to really give much thought to what's happening in my immediate future.

I'm going to Africa.
I'm flying to Amsterdam from Boston on November 30 and meeting up with the rest of my team there. We'll catch a flight down to Uganda and remain for 2.5 weeks. We're hanging out with orphans, we're dedicating a children's home, we're putting on a camp. I don't know what other expectations to have beyond this, and so I feel like I have none. I feel unprepared. I have some long skirts and I'm going to get some vaccines tomorrow. But, in less than two weeks I'll board a plane with a carry-on and a passport and fly across the world.

Maybe it's better that way. Maybe it's better to be expectation-free and feeling slightly unprepared.
But it's time to start praying more diligently for this trip.
Maybe you'll join me.
That even beyond prayers for me and my safety and whatever other prayers seem to flow from our mouths when we don't exactly know what to pray when people travel overseas... that we would genuinely just pray for God to be glorified, above all else. Whatever that means.

One of the mistakes I made in going overseas before was making it all about me. Wanting to see God move in ways that were powerful and life-changing... for me. I wanted to see the miracles I had heard about. I wanted to I could believe.

So, while my mind may be jumping from one thing to the next rather quickly...I know that, right now, I need to focus more on this trip. It's something I have to choose to do. To continuously surrender, to pray for my teammates, to pray for those we'll be interacting with in Uganda... to pray that it would never be about me. To pray that I would have eyes to see the needs of others and I would be quick to react. To pray for boldness and courage. To pray that I would not complain for any reason. To pray that I would give...and give...and give. To pray that I would decrease so that He might increase.

Pray with me, if you'd like.

And in the meantime?
Keep sending me over the things that you'd like to read about...'cause sometimes me blogging feels a bit purposeless if it's not beneficial or relatable to you. What do you want to talk about, read about, hear about? Let's get it all out there on the table.

Thankful for you.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tell Me

What do you need?
What feels missing in your life right now? 
What makes you hopeless? 
Why are you broken?
What are you scared of?
What hurts? 

What are you doing about it? 

Tell me. 

It's your turn tonight. 

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Music Speaks

I love music. it so much that it might be a requirement for the guy I marry to be musically inclined in some way. Maybe that makes me shallow.

I just think it's powerful.
Music has a way of bringing us back to things, to people... it has a way of penetrating our hearts. It moves us deeply. It leads us into worship. It's a way we can express ourselves when words don't feel like enough. It's motivating,'s never-ending. It caters to each of us at different times, in different moods, in different settings.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with my appreciation for music.

Today was one of those days where music brought me back to a moment in time. A memory that I'm not sure I'll ever forget. It was a Wednesday night of camp and campers had just experienced 'The Last Supper' to the Garden of Gethsemane in full. From the Passover Meal, to the washing of feet, to the praying in the garden....each camper, each week walked through this. It included the usual gagging on horseradish and the awkward silence as counselors squeezed their way into tight spaces in order to wash their camper's feet.

The night segued into our open-air Pavilion where all the campers would gather from their individual prayer spots. Each camper had been carrying a small rock with them for two days... a rock that represented their story. They'd each had a chance to share their story with their group. On this night, they were given a chance to surrender their life, their story, to Christ. It was a night to open the door for Christ to intersect, for Him to take over...a reminder that there was so much hope in letting go and giving it all to Him.

Their counselors collected each rock/story in a wooden trough and carried them to the Pavilion with their group trailing behind them. The idea was that they represented Christ in this big metaphor. As each pair of counselors came into the Pavilion, one in front of the trough, one in back... I would direct them to a certain spot. As we waited for them to trickle in, no one spoke...but the music penetrated our souls. By the time all the counselors were present, the shape they were in resembled that of the cross.

It was often a pretty intense night for the campers...but I was too far removed from them to really know all the details of what was going on which each of them. The thing that I vividly remember were MY 'campers' each week: the counselors. They'd come in carrying this uncomfortable trough, sometimes overflowing with 30+ rocks...sometimes scattered with less than ten. Sometimes I'd watch them try to hold back tears, and the unspoken looks exchanged between us told me that something powerful had just happened in their groups with one of their campers.

Sometimes they stood there for a long, long time as we waited for the last of the groups to show up. One night, in particular, seemed especially brutal. Not only was the wait long, meaning the more uncomfortable they got as they bore the weight of these stories...but there was this spiritual heaviness that seemed pressed upon them. As the music played, the words seemed to pour over us. I remember the tears that so many finally let loose, I remember the heaving shoulders, I remember seeing the desperation in their eyes as they looked up... almost as if they were pleading to God. They were prayers I never heard, but I knew they mattered.

I knew they mattered because it was as if in this moment that we all understood the urgency of the message we were presenting that night. It was the only one we could ever share that truly could change a life. It was a message of hope. And in the midst of the tears and the brokenness, there was the cross that made life possible. That makes it possible.

As my iPod randomly shuffled to one of these songs today, I was immediately taken back to this place. I was immediately back to this time where Jesus Christ was all that mattered... and I needed to be reminded of that again. I needed to be reminded that I am carrying His name...'for all of my days, in all of my ways'.

This is the only story that matters: the Gospel.
How does my own story reflect the only one that does...? How does yours?
Jesus, Your name... forever. 
Soak it in for yourself.

How merciful the cross
How powerful the blood

How beautiful Your arms

Open for us

Open for us

No greater love

God's only Son

Jesus, Jesus
No other name
Mighty to save
Jesus, Jesus

By Your wounds we are healed

And You have conquered the grave

And in Your rising, we will rise
To carry Your name
Above every name

I will carry Your name

Carry Your name

Jesus, Your name forever
For all of my days
In all of my ways
Jesus, Your name forever

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Bad Christian" Syndrome

The comment:
I want to lead in an upbeat, ecstatic joyful way all the time and I'm just not doing it. I've gotta get my head in the game. I need to be content more, but I'm almost too stuck in "I'm fine with where I am"
You might have what I've dubbed "Bad Christian" Syndrome. "Bad Christian" Syndrome is typically characterized by a lack of desire or unwillingness to do spiritual things that historically keep us connected to God and others. Sometimes this also includes a lack of fervor or excitement for the things God is doing around you. People with "Bad Christian" Syndrome often experience guilt, anxiety, loneliness, and self-sabotage. Common symptoms include (but are not limited to):
  • a resistance to pray, read the Bible, go to church, or talk in depth with other Christians.
  • absence of emotional and spiritual zeal/energy
Not every person with "Bad Christian" Syndrome has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times...

My point?
Too often we lump ourselves into this category of being a 'Bad' Christian without legitimate reason...and instead of it moving us toward something better, I fear it moves us toward self-loathing, guilt trips and unrealistic expectations.

Honestly, the first thing that crossed my mind when I read the first sentence of the comment above was, 'Don't'.

Don't be that Christian leader who leads in an upbeat, ecstatic, joyful way all the time. Don't be that person because that person isn't real. That person isn't raw or authentic. That person doesn't admit that sometimes days just suck, and that sometimes life is hard...and that most of the time, that's okay.

I often think the leaders I respect the most are the ones who are willing to admit that they don't have it all together, but are still pushing on toward better. The ones who can readily admit mistakes, heartaches, brokenness...the ones who know they cannot do it on their own.

I guess I don't think that people typically need a leader who embodies perfection...they need a leader who embodies hope, love, and grace.

Unfortunately, "Bad Christian" Syndrome subconsciously has woven it's way into our core...especially for those of us who have grown up in the church. It feels next to impossible to shake the expectations placed on us for what a "Good Christian" leader should exemplify.  But, I'm trying.

I want to tell you that it's okay to not be the same all the time. It's okay to not be this version of you that sometimes feels like a facade. That sometimes it's fine to be "fine with where you are". It's this weird balance of being content and continuously pushing on toward better.

I feel like my best moments of leading others were the moments where I shared my weakness and brokenness. In those moments, people saw me as human... they saw me as someone not so different than them. In that instant, they were able to relate to me in a way that maybe they couldn't before. I wish I had more moments like that, but I, too, get caught up in the fight against trying to lead this perfect way.

There doesn't ever have to be a "Bad Christian" Syndrome anymore...and the guilt that so often accompanies it. In the end, we're all just doing the best we can to figure this thing out.

So here's to authenticity.
To being willing to admit when we don't have it all together...even as we lead.
And let us push through, clinging to the hope we know we have in Jesus Christ...letting Him be our all, because we know without Him we have nothing.
And let's be transparent in that pursuit as well.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prayer is Hard

It's hard for me to pray. 

Three failed attempts at writing this blog, and I'm still struggling to put words to my thoughts. 

I went through a period in college where I refused to pray out loud. Looking back, I'm not really sure why... but I remember being at a volunteer meeting for a high school ministry that I was involved in and one of the directors asked me to pray for our food and I flat out denied the request. It's ridiculous and immature to think about...but, I think I understand the theory behind why I did what I did.

I didn't feel authentic. 
I think, in praying out loud, I was aware that I was more concerned with how I sounded to other believers than I was concerned for what I was actually praying about. That in the circles where everyone goes around and gets the chance to pray, I was the person who spent majority of the time trying to think of what I was going to say instead of listening to what anyone else was actually praying. I wanted it to sound good. I wanted to have the best prayer. The type of prayer where people 'mhmm' and 'amen!' because what you're praying resonates so deeply within them. 

Prayer had become a source of pride for me.
And so I needed to go into my room, close the door...and pray to my Father in secret.

But, even when I pray in secret...I still feel guilty for not praying enough, for not being as focused as I could, for not interceding for those I love and care about more regularly...and especially for not praying for those I don't want to love at all. I sometimes feel like a failure at prayer...and I sometimes feel like it doesn't matter. 

Not that prayer doesn't matter...but that us caring so much about how much we pray doesn't matter. Mostly I think that our guilt can deter us from actually praying. Instead of beating ourselves up and wallowing about how we need to pray more... maybe we should just shut up and pray more. 

Maybe that sounds like an aversion to a hard question. Maybe it is right now. 
I just think we are too easily caught up in everything we are doing wrong that we forget that even if it's not perfect, that we're still seeking Jesus. Maybe it's okay for that to be a bit of a rugged process. 

It's hard for me to imagine Jesus being too disappointed with my prayer life... because I'm not sure that my prayer life is always a reflection of how much I love Him. Jesus doesn't say, "If you love me, I'll know by the frequency in which you pray." 

Prayer is important. It is. 
But.. instead of freaking out about how we don't do it enough... let's just do it. 
Even when it's hard. 
And let's not let who we are be defined by how much or how little we pray. 
I'm a rugged piece being refined in this process of learning daily what it means to follow Him. 
I'm okay with that right now.
I hope you are, too. 

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Monday, November 12, 2012

A Bridge

Today started off with a reminder of how small I am.

And it quickly moved into a day where I was reminded how incapable I am of relating to so many people. Sometimes, at the climax of my zeal, I think I can identify with every single person in the world on some level. Today I realized that it might be ridiculous to entertain such a thought.

If we were playing 'Never Have I Ever', I think I would lose...because I haven't really experienced a lot of things that a lot of people have.

Let's see...
Never Have I Ever...
  • been drunk
  • had sex
  • lost a loved one
  • been poor (like, truly poor)
  • been homeless
  • been severely injured
  • had severe health problems
  • been friendless
  • been abused
  • been raped
  • had an eating disorder
  • seriously considered suicide my only option
  • cut myself
  • done drugs
  • been abandoned by my family
  • questioned my sexuality 
  • gone without food
... there's probably a lot of other things that could be added to the list, but those were the first ones that popped into my mind after 5 minutes of thinking about it. The point isn't to sound like a 'Goody-Goody'...although, as I re-read the list, I realized that's how I might come across. The point is to admit that I rarely know what a lot of other people have gone through or dealt with on a firsthand basis. Sometimes the differences in our experiences make me feel as though no bridge could ever be built to close the gap. 

Because I don't know
I don't know what it's like to struggle with addictions, or life-altering questions, or diseases, or hurts, or pains, or losses that are so deep that they feel defining...and maybe they actually are defining. 

I wonder how much these different experiences keep us from ever wanting to even try to bridge the gap, regardless of which side we are on. If I adopt a mentality of, 'I'll never understand...' and they adopt a mentality of 'She'll never understand...' then we end up more distant than ever. 

In a world where I can quickly point out my insignificance (i.e. the video above), I'd venture to say that we can still find meaning and purpose. I wonder what it might be like to bridge the find commonalties among us. Regardless of our past experiences, of our backgrounds, of our challenges and struggles... might there ever be a way for me to relate to you, and for you to relate to me? 

Perhaps my grandiose visions of finding ways for us all to identify on some level aren't that idiotic after all. Perhaps there is a way. Perhaps it starts with a mentality of, 'I may not fully understand, but that doesn't mean I can't try...' or, 'She may not fully understand, but that doesn't mean I can't talk to her or trust her...'. Perhaps it begins with a willingness to connect, to see things from a different perspective than before, to remain open-minded to people who may be different from you...whether they've experienced a lot or very little. Perhaps it moves us into a realm of no judgement. 

Maybe there's purpose and meaning in that. 
And maybe, at the core of all of our differences, there might be something that unifies us all. That despite the degree of our struggles and pains, we all still have them. We're all still broken. We're all still searching for answers. We're all still desperate for something more than this. 
It's a place of commonality, a plane we all exist in. A place where even in my past travels overseas, where I literally have nothing in common with those that I'm with (including culture and language), I can feel more connected than ever. 

I don't know if you can look past my naivety and inexperience. I don't know if you can look past the fact that my life seems pretty blessed. I don't know if you can see beyond the notion that I'm a goody-two-shoes (and if you've read my blog much, you probably can). I hope you can. I hope these things don't keep us from finding commonalities, from finding deeper connections. 

I hope that although my experiences might be different from yours, that it doesn't cause us to halt as we exchange stories, as we share dreams, as we move forward into the future. I hope we aren't too quick throw each other to the curb because our worlds are too different...I hope we aren't too quick to check out and give up. 

I hope we remember what we have in common.
I hope we remember the thing that we all need, the thing that we're all desperate for.
For all have sinned and fallen short. 

I need Jesus.
I'm guessing you do, too.
Let us not forget how united we are in that, no matter how different we may appear on this side of life. And may everything else pale in comparison ...

No matter how big the universe is, and no matter how small we might be (and often feel)...may we not forget what matters. And may we always try to bridge the gap. 

* * *

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Funeral Thoughts

'Do you want to get married?'

It was one of the most significant memories in a cemetery that I can recall to this day. I still blush thinking about the freudian slip while attempting to ask my best guy friend (whom I also had a severe crush on at the time) if he wanted to be Buried or cremated. We were taking an afternoon stroll through a scenic cemetery in our college town on a crisp fall day. Neither of us knew a proposal was on order, and, in my humiliation, I quickly tried to recover... I've probably subconsciously avoided cemeteries ever since.

But, there are a lot of cemeteries in the northeast.
I went for a short run/long walk in one this afternoon. Creepy, sure... but beautiful, nonetheless. It's a cemetery marked by age and history, not to mention the lakes, trees and rolling hills. Aside from the occasional mind rabbit trail where I imagine the thousands of corpses under the ground that I'm treading upon, I tend to think a lot when I'm in a cemetery. Today was no exception.

When I was younger, I used to think (hypothetically, of course) of the ways that I could fake my own death. Once 'dead', there would obviously be a funeral for me. My grand plan was to find a way to scout out my funeral and see who would actually show up, who would actually care if I died. Would people make an effort to come? Beyond the showing up, I wanted to know what people would say about me, I wanted to hear the eulogies (eugooglies?).  If I could be a fly on the wall of my ant in a blade of grass at my burial...then I would know if I really mattered to people and who I really mattered to.

I imagine other people have had similar thoughts. This desperation in wanting to know that we matter, to know that we're doing something right, that we're making an impact on more people than ourselves. It's a cry to be truly known, loved, cared about.

I was reminded in a sermon today of how risky it is to let people in.
I was also reminded of how worth it it is....and how much we we all, deep down, desire it. We were made for it.

It's interesting, because sometimes I get concerned with the numbers. I think about my funeral with a small number of people in attendance and it makes me feel like I failed at life. But I wonder how much the opposite might be true. That in this pursuit to be known perhaps we make the mistake of getting caught up in how many people we know versus how many people we know. Facebook friendship vs. true friendship, perhaps?

I've realized that my life has become far more about trying to let a mass of people know I care about them and a lot less about letting people actually know me. I'm quick to dodge questions about myself and eager to ask you questions about your life and your own struggles and joys. It's a one-sided where I hope you feel known/loved by me, and one where I escape being known by you. And, as I get to know more people, my ability to truly care about them decreases as my time, energies, efforts are divided. Instead of being a truly good friend to a few, I feel like I'm a disaster of an acquaintance to many.

I'm honestly not sure what this means going forward.
I think there's something to consider as we develop relationships with other people, as we seek to go beyond the surface. Instead of focusing so much on the number of people that we are Facebook friends with, what might it look like to consider the depth of those friendships. Do you have authentic relationships with others? Relationships where people encourage you, but also challenge your weaknesses and call you to something greater? Relationships where people know you, even the 'not-so-hot' you? Relationships where you know you are supported, cared about...and loved... no matter what?

I don't think this unattainable.
I just think it's scary. But it's what we want... whether you're ready to admit it or not.
I have a few of these friendships, and, to be honest, they sometimes tend to be the people that I run from the most...the people that I find most annoying at times because they ask the hard questions and expect more from me. I can't hide from them, but yet I try. They are friendships that push me toward Christ in ways that others simply cannot. They are good. They are necessary.

I don't think we need every relationship on earth to be like this. I think that's an unrealistic expectation. But, we need some. Even Jesus only had a few close buds.

I hope we become people who care much more about quality than we do quantity. I hope we become people who are willing to go 'there' with a few people in life.

Think about it.

And if, by some chance, I do get to witness my funeral? I hope I'm just thankful for those deep friendships instead of disappointed by a lack of attendance. That my significance and worth wouldn't come from fame or popularity...but from something much greater. Being truly known, loved and adopted by the Creator of the universe...and from that, may everything else flow.

* * *

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Next Steps

I'm sitting here, with a blank 'Notification of Intent' Form lying next to me.

To fill it out, attach $100 and send it in...? That is the question.

I've officially been offered a spot in the Master of Arts in Counseling Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (about 25 miles north of Boston) to begin after the new year. I've also been offered a spot in a house off-campus that's a few steps away from a beach off Mackerel Cove.

Beautiful, right?
It's the cool kind of beach (at least to me). The kind where it's rarely too hot, the kind where you can wear jeans and a sweatshirt and it feels just right. A New England beach, with rocks and trees...the kind that entices you to eat seafood even when you don't think you like seafood.

It's a sweet opportunity. All of it is.
But, I'm scared to sign the paper. I've been scared to make this decision for a while, but up until I was actually accepted into the program, it wasn't a decision I had to make.

I think this is one of those times that I don't necessarily know what my next step should be and so it paralyzes me. It's one of the times where I want God to audibly confirm my plans so I can feel assured in taking a risk. It's probably one of those times where I just have to go forth confidently and faithfully, trusting that it's okay to not always know.

It's tricky because while becoming a licensed professional counselor/writing is a dream on some level, there are also many more dreams. How do you know which ones to let go of and which ones to press further into? Can I somehow do them all simultaneously? Perhaps I'll try.

I think my biggest fear is pursuing something and missing out on something better. In fact, I think it's a fear that haunts me in all other areas of life, not just with this. A fear of commitment. A fear of saying 'let's do this' and having a different, better opportunity come along. It keeps me from committing to marriage, to a job, to Friday night plans...

But I can't stay here in this land of limbo, living a transient life-style with no income or stability. Some part of me thinks if I could, I would...but some part of me is ready to dive into something new and different. Some part of me is ready for a new adventure, a new community, a new world of possibilities... even if the reality of what that means is actually somewhat terrifying.

And so I'm going for it.
I may not know what this next step will unveil for me, I may not know what other possibilities will come along... but right now, it doesn't matter.

Good things are in store, of that I am sure.
I will walk blindly into this next phase in life...entering back into a realm of academia, trusting that I haven't completely forgotten how to take tests, write papers and study. I will find a church, a part-time job, a close network of new friends in which to share life with.

But above all, I know this decision has eternal significance...that pursuing this dream is a part of something greater than just me. The end goal seems worth it.

So I guess you'll find me on the east coast for the next few years.
No more running, no more indecisiveness, no more fear.

I hope you'll continue to join me in this journey as I remain engaged in this online dialogue with matter where I am and no matter where you are. And may we mutually encourage each other as we strive to live lives that are no longer about us, as we hope in the second chances possible through Jesus Christ, as we serve the Living God.

I hope, if you're up against any sort of decision right now, that you'd be willing to take a plunge with me... even if you don't know everything that it entails.
May we take risks, dream big... and trust Him to take care of us in every regard.

I'm signing my name to this form... I'm unwilling to miss out on this opportunity.
All in.

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