Kindle App for Mac…

The Kindle App for my Macbook Pro was possibly one of the worst ideas ever… You see, I have read three books in the last week, which subsequently means two things… First, my sleep has diminished. Second, my desire to read my required reading for school has essentially disappeared. Oye!

I read Pride and Prejudice in three days, Catching Fire in two, and Mocking Jay in two days as well… I have about 10 other books I have been putting off reading, and will likely read them in the next (at this rate) few weeks.

Somehow I have never read Pride and Prejudice, although I am not entirely sure I would have cared for it in highschool given the old style language that made not much sense to me then, and I did not care for romantic stories much at all in high school. Although, I am very glad I read it now, and definitely enjoyed the story, the intricacies, and the cadence that the book had. While I cannot say I would ever personally want a “Mr. Darcy” of my own, I certainly enjoyed the relationship, and the struggle that Elizabeth went through in her journey of hating him to loving him.

I very much enjoyed Catching Fire (the second book in the Hunger Games series), although by the end I was beginning to tire of the back and forth between loving Gale and loving Peeta, however I must say it never got as tiring as Bella was towards Edward and Jacob in the Twilight series. I think this is partially because I tend to be the type of girl that once I make up my mind, it does not really change again in regards to relationships.

Mocking Jay was not my favorite, although I actually expected to dislike it way more than I actually did. It was not until a few events and decisions by the main character Katniss that I became fairly frustrated with the book. Several things I suspected came to pass, but there were several other things I was frustrated with. And, overall it was not nearly as engaging or enjoyable of a read as the first two books. Once I was done with the book I was satisfied the series was over, and unlike my usual desire I did not wish the series would continue (I will be the first to admit I tend to mourn for a bit when a series is over). I will say, she ended up with the guy I wanted her to end up with which I think helped my overall feeling of mild contentment at the ending.

Now to choose my next few books…. (this app is the worst idea ever haha…)

Career Woman…

A couple weeks ago I was driving back to DC from a weekend of friends and a wedding; one of my favorite things about the drive is A. It is always a beautiful drive, and B. The few hours it takes me to drive gives me plenty of time to do some thinking and processing, and catch up with a few people over the phone.

Last time I made this drive, for whatever reason, I found myself contemplating and realizing for all intents and purposes (at least on the outside) I am a “career woman,” the irony is that I have never intended nor wanted to be. I have always wanted to get married, have a family, and then change the world (pretty much in that order). Having a “successful career” seemed exciting, but not really anything I would dream about. One thing is certain though, I have always wanted to change the world.. I just never really envisioned my career being the means by which I took to change the world.

So, what now? I mean, I am in my late 20’s, fairly secure in my career, getting a double masters degree, starting my own business, and avidly working to pay off my debt… Success right?.. Sure, I guess. I mean on the outside it is perfect, I am succeeding and “making something of myself” … What is interesting regarding all of this is, all I could think of on my drive home is “…this was not the type of woman I thought I would be 10 years ago…” I never set out to be a “career woman.” I never thought I would be the age I am and still single.

I realized recently that one of the most difficult things for me to acknowledge, as well as figure out how to respond to is, other people’s belief that my goal all along has been to be a successful career woman…

To be a successful career woman was never my goal.

Being a catalyst who changes the world… THAT has been my goal.

To be honest, it is naturally frustrating to field questions about my status as a 20 something single girl… It becomes even more difficult and disheartening with the added assumptions of my intentions, goals, and the direction my life is going being purposefully to be a career woman or attain “success.”

So, with this in mind, let me explain a few things:

I have completely accepted that I am not God, and have no control over when or if a man will enter my life and one day become my husband. If that will ever happen I do not know so, simply waiting around and acting as though marriage is the pinnacle of what I am meant to do with my life is not something I can do… Nor do I believe that marriage will be the pinnacle of my journey, if I do get married, I am confident it will dramatically change both of us, and God will use that to continue our journey… But, since tomorrow is not promised, I cannot wait for it to show up, I have to be faithful with the here and now.

I understand that a GREAT deal of effort has and is being put into my career and education, but I avidly said I would never go back to school when I graduated from college… four years after I made that declaration, God told me to go back to school, He and I fought about it until He won. Which leads me to believe I am in school to be obedient (only), not because I enjoy it (just ask my roomies who listen to me complain a lot..). And, I am living and working in DC because God put me here and continues to keep me here. Thankfully I am no longer loathing life in DC, and have in fact found several things that I love about my life here. The goal of being in DC is not for the purpose of being a career woman, being successful or furthering my career. I am here because two years ago when I was getting laid off, I prayed to have just one job open up… Out of 70+ applications I sent out, I had just one job open up, so I took it… Only recently am I beginning to see (possibly) what God is doing and how He is orchestrating all of these things.. But, even still, one thing I am certain of is, I am not aiming to be a career woman or to have a successful career, if those things happen then that is truly fantastic, if they do not, I will not bemoan or regret them. Ultimately I am aiming to fulfill the plans the Lord has for me, regardless of what that looks like.

So, while a husband and family would be wonderful and although a successful career would be great, neither of these things themselves are or have ever been my goal, my goal has always been to be a catalyst and change the world… I just used to think that meant doing it alongside my husband, which may someday be the case, but that day is not today. Today my aim is to serve my Savior the best that I can, and bring Him glory exactly as I am; a single daughter of His, following the career path laid before me.

If and If Not…

Yesterday church was CRAZY!… Well, not really, just the production/set-up/running sermon/tear down was among the most hectic and hysterical I have experienced yet. The best line of the morning that still has me laughing is “we’re like a bunch of 5th graders..” which was then followed by my response of “yeah, 5th graders in a museum!.. ‘wow, what does THIS do?!…'” Haha, we really were struggling and had several curve balls thrown at us in a very short amount of time, and due to the wonderful natures of the people on the team with me we were able to laugh through the stress. Thankfully I do not think anyone in the service really noticed… But, we sure did!

All that being said, the sermon itself was amazing and really gave me a whole lot to think about… The sermon was another in our current “IF” series, talking about the various passages in the bible that are huge if passages. This week they focused on Daniel 3:16-18:

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’”

First.. can I point out that until this weekend I thought his name was pronounced A-ben-dego, not A-bed-nego.. How do we so often/prominently reverse the n and d?!

Ok, so on to the actual portions of the passage and message that jumped out to me, I love how they say that IF it is so, God is ABLE to deliver… then they go on to say EVEN IF NOT.. they will still not bow and worship.

One of the interesting things pointed out is that they did not justify a way in which they could possibly comply outwardly without inwardly complying. Meaning, none of them said “well, we can bow down, but inwardly worship our own God…” or “it doesn’t really mean anything cause he’s crazy anyway…” or my personal favorite, “I should choose my battles carefully so I can have a greater impact later…” Nope. None of these excuses were made, they stood their ground, and faced some pretty serious consequences for it… The thing I love the most about this is that they tell the crack-head (I do not know if he really was, but her certainly was crazy) that they refuse to bow and worship anyone but the God of the universe, that he is perfectly able to save them from the flames… But, my favorite part is the faith that is unmovable when they say “…even if He does not…” they will still not worship the idol.

Heather went on to explain that so often we only want to proclaim the good things, and focus on our “if He does” faith. But, it is the “if He does not” faith that is more difficult. Because God is able, but he may not… She pointed to Hebrews 11, and explained that we all love the first 35(a) verses, but do not really want to focus on the last few verses in the chapter that explain how some people suffered and died terrible deaths on behalf of Christ, but even still they worshiped. They lived in the “if not” faith believing that the ultimate purpose of God is good, even if he does not deliver them from their troubles. Sometimes God delivers us through our problems instead of from them..

What a powerful thought… While God is able, if He does not choose to deliver us from our problems, do we have the faith to believe His ultimate purpose is good, and He will deliver us through (even if that means into death)?

One of the points she made was that often we want to tell others it’s “going to be ok” when in reality we have no idea if it is going to be ok… The last few verses of Hebrews 11 list several instances where it was not ok for some people who followed Christ. Although it might seem a little backwards, I find it totally refreshing to hear that sometimes it is not ok because God’s plan is not always to keep us or remove us from pain, but to walk us through the entire thing… There are a few areas in my life that I am praying the “if” prayer, but also praying through the “if not,” then I will still worship my Lord and Savior.. Near the end of her sermon she talked about how we have to continue to pray until God has answered our prayer, said no or until we feel a peace about it that indicates He has answered the prayer, but that it has not happened yet; at which point we need to transition into praising Him.

How powerful. How difficult.

The Blah Weeks…

I really hate the days that are for all intents and purposes fine, nothing too off the wall, out of the ordinary, frustrating or otherwise, and even contained some really good parts.. Yet I still am left feeling blah at the end of the day. Today was one of those days, work was frustrating, but honestly I think it had more to do with my mindset than anyone or anything that actually took place, I had a great couple hours spent over coffee and chatting with some friends, and I even was able to sneak in a run (really I need to control the sugar intake that has gotten out of control the last week or so!).. And yet, here I sit, stretching on the floor, and something just feels off inside. Not the biggest fan of days where I feel blah for no real reason.

Completely random thoughts floating through my head:
I am super excited for a friend of mine and things going on in her life.

I am really excited to see “The Dark Tower” in a few weeks.

I am so excited for Avengers to come out (I know, I’m a nerd).

I dislike having to be patient, but feel like I have no other option at this point.

I really hate, and subsequently beat myself up when other people’s happiness does not also bring me uninhibited joy and happiness for them… Talk about selfishness.. eesh.

It has been a really long time since I have experienced serious change in my life… I need to travel.. or move… or get a new job.. or SOMETHING!… But, none of those things are looking too promising at the moment (maybe I will just dye my hair again to satisfy the desire for change for a while haha).

My lack of dedication to working out makes me feel like my body is turning to goo or mush… I am fairly sure my goal to run a half marathon at the end of May is not going to happen..

I could use a little inspiration.. It has been a very long time since I have had an artistic craving…

There is a pretty good chance most of my emotions this week are due to a severe lack of good and/or long amounts sleep all week… Maybe I should work on that huh?

On all of these random notes, I leave you with one of my favorite artists Brooke Fraser and her song Faithful, pretty much sums up how I am feeling.

Prayer Circles…

So, I realize, and somewhat feel like the majority of my posts are about prayer lately… Thankfully. I am fairly confident this trend will continue for the entirety of 2012, and I am incredibly thankful and excited that this is the season I find myself in right now… Sure beats the last two years.

Anyway, last night my small group finished the book The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. I highly recommend it to everyone. After a whole lot of chatter, a lot of laughter, the leader threatening to move me and the other leader due to our easily distracted focus, and several announcements that lead to tangents about randomness, we finally got into discussing the last 10 weeks and what we have discovered in our small group. We talked about the things we learned, the things we were amazed by, excited by, the prayers we circled, and of course we spent quite a bit of time praying. This time we each took a turn in the center and whoever felt lead prayed until it was quiet for a bit, then we would say amen and switch to the next person.

If you are not a Christian, have never laid hands on someone and prayed for them or been on the receiving end of a moment such as this, I can only imagine the cultish thoughts running through your mind. However, I assure you, this was only of Christ, and if you do not believe in Him, I would love to talk to you more and answer any questions (even if they are about the seemingly cultish practice of laying hands on people and praying), so please feel free to e-mail me (really for any reason)

While we have circled and prayed a couple times before, this time it was different because we were praying just to pray over each other, not to lift up any particular problem or issue. What came of it was one of the best and most heart felt hours I have experienced in quite a while. All of our shoulders got tired as we laid hands on one another, and the body heat of everyone so close posed a few challenges, but, the peace and calm that settled over us as we came together on behalf of each other was inspiring and encouraging to say the least. To get in a room with 15 or so twenty or thirty something’s and lift each other up in prayer, it truly creates a bonding experience, and to be totally honest is pretty humbling at the same time.

One of the other girls and myself kept “stealing” the other one’s prayers which was more than amusing to realize at the end that our hearts were of the same accord, and that both of us were feeling burdened to pray LITERALLY over the exact same things with the exact same wording. Several times I could not help but smile, laugh or fight away tears as people prayed specific, meaningful, and bold prayers over each other. I was amazed at the number of things people remembered to pray for that had been brought up weeks upon weeks ago, and I was encouraged by the unfiltered love and care spoken in the circle.

While I could end this blog post there and feel satisfied that I had covered the topic as a whole, I would be incredibly remiss if I did not mention or talk about what I felt and the impact being in the center of the circle had on me. First, and probably most amusing, having around 15 people’s hands on you is.. heavy haha.. But, the entire time everyone was praying I found myself keenly aware of each and every hand on my shoulders, arms and holding my hand. Yet, the most profound thing were the words uttered over me, on my behalf, and into my heart. Honestly words cannot describe the complete humility I felt, and how much I was, and maybe am more so now aware of the fact that I did not deserve that, and some of the things people said were incredibly meaningful, and they had no way of knowing that except for the fact that we serve the same amazing God and the same Holy Spirit talks to us. I laughed at a couple of the prayers (such as me finally being able to get a real bed instead of the air mattress I have been sleeping on for four years), and I was touched by the prayers of thanksgiving for my friendship, laughter, joy, and a slew of other things tucked away in my heart. I was so grateful for the petitions that were uttered for several prayers I have had for a while… And, as silly as it may sound, being a touch person, having everyone lay their hands on me while praying truly changes the impact it had/has on me. 🙂

Lastly, while I am sad to see the small group end next week, I am really excited and hopeful for the things that God is going to do, has set into motion, and the ways in which He is going to use these friends to not only impact my life and the community around us, but just all of the ways He has set into motion His plans because of this small group and the fervent prayers we have uttered over the last 11 weeks. I am so blessed and I am so thankful that a completely random situation lead me to this place.

The two leaders of the small group prayed for a couple months prior to the start of our group for God to bring the “right” people, God did exactly that. Every single person in our small group was there for such a time as this… and the world will never be the same.

Theaterchurch, DC…

Last Sunday I was attending church with the friends I was visiting, the message was not aimed at me, but it was good none the less, the music was good, and the church is doing great things… But even still, I found myself thinking “I miss my church.” While I am always talking about how much I love my church it is easy to forget all the many reasons I love National Community Church (aka Theater Church) here in DC…

Thankfully the last several months have allowed me to finally get much more involved than I was for the first year or so I lived here in DC, even still, NCC has always been the one thing I absolutely love about being here. So much so that even the thought of moving away is a bit of a struggle because that means leaving my church. I genuinely appreciate the entire congregation as a whole, I enjoy that all six locations carry a distinctly different culture and feel from the rest, and I love how much I feel like I belong to my location. I have so much respect for our leadership, I am excited and thankful that I get to be a part of their mission, their vision, and I am constantly challenged to do better and be a better steward of what I am given. I have seen some absolutely incredibly approaches to training, praying, sharing, worshipping, and building community, and I am so excited to realize that someday I will likely get the chance to recycle some of these ideas! While nothing is perfect, I am always amazed at how straight forward, open, and humble our pastor (Mark Batterson) is about what he is doing, things God has/is revealing to him. I am inspired by the things that he is passionate about, and I am challenged to grow closer to God every week.

Recently I joined the production team at my location, and arrive a couple hours early every other weekend to set up the sound, lights, and projector. The people I work with both on my team and on the worship team are all incredibly witty and hysterical people which makes for an entertaining morning of setting up! I am so encouraged at not only how dedicated they are to Christ, but also to the community our church provides, I am inspired just by hanging out with them every couple of weeks on Sunday mornings.

Around the time I started helping with production, I also joined a small group, and what an unexpected blessing and encouragement that has become in my life. Between these two groups of people I have a much deeper connection to my church and the community that it provides… But, I have also found myself engaging and being more intentional in my own personal growth with Christ… It is pretty hard to coast when a small group asks questions each week, but even more than that, I find myself intrigued, asking questions, and looking up answers more than I was previously…

I say this all the time, but I love my church! And, lately despite the stresses and the chaos of my schedule I keep coming back to “I am so blessed.”

Weddings and Friends…

I made the trip this weekend down to Lynchburg for a wedding of a good friend and his new beautiful bride. I love… LOVE when prayers for healing, restoration.. and companionship are answered entirely perfectly for both people involved.

So excited for them, and so much fun being around friends all day celebrating!

Plus, I really love these girls 🙂

God is so good.