Today’s Theme is Brought to You By…

A few months ago I told a couple of people that I knew God and I were entering a new season. I felt like God was going to start speaking to me again, but totally differently than he ever has before. I was excited about it, and felt like it was just going to be this really sweet season between God and I.

Then, as if to confirm my feeling, over the last couple of months I have had several different people either pray over or speak into me about how they feel or see God doing a new thing with and within me. – Some of these people trusted and close, one stranger, and a few people who were oblivious to the inner workings of my heart.

While I was ready for a new season, and I felt like it was going to be “sweet,” I was also a bit worried about entering into a new season. Because the last time He warned me a new season was coming, it was incredibly painful and I still refer to it as having put myself in an induced emotional coma to survive it… So I was anxious, and journaled my prayers to God about it a couple of times because, I am an external processor if there ever was one!

Don’t get me wrong, I so much love and enjoy my life.
I find joy in life every day, I love my community, friends, family, ministry.. Life is rich and full to overflowing with so many blessings!… But, I also live in reality, and that means that life is sometimes hard; as in, really incredibly heavy, full of sorrow and words that cannot comfort adequately. Sometimes, life feels more like just putting your head down and trying to weather the storm with as little damage done to you and your heart as possible.

(Anyone else feel like lately the world seems to be hell-bent on pain, destruction, divisiveness and sorrow?)

I also believe life should be lived authentically, and that while our stories are intensely personal, they were never meant to be kept private. So much of God’s power and help is experienced through people’s incredibly personal stories (just read the Bible, it’s full of these stories!).

When life is hard, I think we should admit it to people who ask that actually care for an answer. We should allow people to love us and help us (ok, so I am actually not always the best at this, but truly working on it).
When life is full to overflowing with joy and happiness, that needs to also be shared. – It pushes back and fights off the darkness.

While I can confidently say that I would not describe this season with God as “sweet” in the moment, I believe that after the fact, when I look back I will be content and find joy from this season. However, IN this season, it is hard, painful, challenging, and actually re-wiring me internally. It feels like a mental, emotional, spiritual breaking down of muscles, being intensely sore, and then finding yourself slowly getting stronger in the process. It also takes intentionality, determination, and a whole heck of a lot of hard work. You can read more about the Perseverance and Grit I am also learning in this season.

My heart is changing, growing, healing, and finding a healthy balance with my head. I am finding more and more that I am first seeking our Lord in moments of questions, uncertainty, thanksgiving, frustration, or any need or emotion really… It is good, it is refreshing.

In fact, I have discovered, that when I take time lately to process, read scripture, and journal, a theme almost immediately bubbles up to the surface.

I have started referring to my day’s like it’s a Sesame Street skit: “Today’s theme is brought to you by….”

Peace.
Steadfast.
Perseverance.
Anxiety.
Renew.

These words (and others) have bubbled up, and subsequently created a place for me to dig in and find out what the Lord has said throughout scripture on these topics. It is interesting, intense, convicting, challenging and comforting all at the same time. I find that many of the passages I am aware of; some vaguely, others are common, but then, there are these little gems that I have somehow never seen before! It has begun creating anchor points in my rock foundation for me to wade through these very hard, intimate, and difficult topics… I know that one day these Sesame Street style themes will also be able to be used to help create anchors for others, but for now, they are creating a space for breaking and healing my own heart and mind.

I tend to use Biblegateway.com so that I can easily pop between a couple different translations, re-check words and other possible translations for those words, and see which translation speaks to me the most… But, I prefer to also use my physical Bible so that I can write all over it! Then, of course, I copy the passages of scripture that speaks to the theme for the day into my journal and have therefore begun to compile a list to reference as I continue through this “sweet” season.

And, of course, like any good researcher, I also google the definition for these words, and find their synonyms to expand the words I use in my journey through scripture.

What a unique season I find myself in; one with so many emotions, so much mulling and thinking through things, loads of prayers, and lots of sitting in silence… But also some processing with people.

One of the daily themes recently was Hope, as I worked my way through the different passages on Hope, I came upon one of my life verses, and I saw it anew:

“Sustain me according to your word, that I may live;
and do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”
– Psalm 119:116

In this season, I have found that I am being sustained, and am so much better able to weather this season because of the words of our Lord. – I also know that I am struggling with hope in a particular area of my life, and have a tendency to rationalize things away rather than choosing faith and hope because it feels too risky for my heart… It feels foolish to choose hope.

So, Lord, do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

It is so interesting to connect to one of my life verses in a new way, and see it suddenly differently than I have for well over a decade. What a beautiful example of how God breathes new life into scripture and all of a sudden it has fresh life directly connected to where we are in our journey.

(Also, just for kicks and giggles, my other life verse is Colossians 1:10)

This season is hard.
This season is painful.
This season is beautiful.
This season is forever changing who I am at the very core and foundation of who God made me to be, and I am grateful beyond words.

Unchosen Change…

Late night writing has pretty much always been my thing. There is just something about the silence and stillness that comes late into the evening that just causes my mind to think differently. Tonight, as I sit in my soon to no longer be mine living room, with my incredibly large puppy sound asleep at my feet, I am struck once again by one thought: Unchosen change is the hardest.

I have said for a very long time that change is hard, even for someone like me who tends to really enjoy change (yes, 7 different hair colors in the last year). Change brings a lot of things, many of which take the form of uncertainties that simply cannot be answered. But, I will always stand by my personal view that it is actually the unchosen change that is the most difficult.

The complex situation can sometimes be caused by someone else choosing and making decisions on your behalf, other times it is because of illness, and every so often it is because of a series of tragic events. Regardless, the things you did not decide, but have no choice except to walk through is where the grieving of the change comes in.

My mantra for the last year has been pretty simple: “It’s just different, it’s not good or bad, just different.” And, that could not be more true for my life right now.

This week, I have had such a whirlwind of emotions play through me.

I am 7 weeks out,
100 job applications in,
23 rejection letters received,
15 packed boxes later,
2 cans of primer required,
and a solid 50/50 mixture of sorrow and joy.

Sorrow because I am painting my place back to white (which is never my favorite), and not preparing for a new exciting place yet.
Sorrow because I do not see the plan nor do I have a plan for what is coming next.
Sorrow because I am not excited about my next steps.
Sorrow because I did not just lose a job, I lost my community, and my home.
Sorrow because I learned a lot of bad habits due to some difficult people.
Sorrow because I miss and am going to miss a lot of people immensely.
Sorrow because it all just sucked.

And then, mercifully, I also find joy has just as much room in my heart and emotions.

Joy because I really do love adventure.
Joy because I get to take a furry companion with me this time.
Joy because a safety net fell into place exactly when I needed it to.
Joy because a terrible situation provided the means to get me through this season.
Joy because I know without any doubts that in a few days/weeks/months/ this time next year, I will be focused on other things.
Joy because I am loved by so very many people.
Joy because I trust that this all happened for a reason.
Joy because tomorrow brings new things.
Joy because I by my choosing or not, I am taken care of and Loved, and I know that when I look back, I would gladly choose every time for this all to work out exactly as it is playing out currently.

Unchosen change honestly sucks and it is hard. But, if we only ever got to choose the change, we would only ever do what we knew we could… And, where’s the fun adventure in that?

What Will You Do If…

That edge of darkness takes on the form of all sorts of thoughts, comments, and whispers.

Have you ever known in your core that everything will turn out ok, just like it has every other time? But, no matter what you know to be true, and no matter how often you have experienced things playing out exactly perfectly, there is a thought at the edge of darkness muttering, “But, what will you do if….”

The edge of darkness is a little disconcerting because things take on a little bit more of a menacing demeanor, everything looks uninviting, and simply cannot be seen well.

Currently, I find myself in an interesting place. I know that my God, my sweet savior will in fact take care of everything just like He has every single other time. And yet, every time I feel the stress and emotions of the edge of darkness creeping in and tickling with doubtful thoughts, I find myself having to purposefully not allow movement towards it in the slightest. Perpetually forcing the uncertainty out of my head, and instead replacing it with what I entirely know to be True.

What will I do if I do not have a job or place to move by October 1? – I don’t know, but that doesn’t change the situation or fact that God is taking care of every bit of my situation.

What will I do if the money runs out? – I don’t know, but that doesn’t change the situation or fact that God isn’t scrambling.

Where will I go if September 30th comes, and I don’t know where to move? – I don’t know, but that doesn’t change the situation or fact that God knows the next move.

What will I do?… Exactly what I have been doing. Applying for jobs (oh good grief have I been applying for jobs), slowly pack my apartment in preparation of moving on the 30th (or sooner), enjoying the time I have here right now with my friends and family, and pray.

Pray.

Pray.

Pray.

How do I feel about everything? – Depends on the moment. However, there is a distinct difference between my emotions and my soul and spirit; which is at peace. My emotions are fickle and fleeting, so I try not to pay them too much attention.

But, no matter what I feel, what I know to be true is that in a few months this will be a memory and another piece of my adventurous puzzle of a life. In a short time, I will be stressing about something else entirely. Life will continue, I will get the chance to meet new amazing people, and continue to build relationships with the most wonderful people who are already in my life. But, above and through every bit of it, I will be thanking God for dancing me through my inability to see what is going on.

Life isn’t easy, and no matter my emotions, I really do love how my story is getting written.