Love is Patient…

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I shared on instagram a couple days ago about how the Lord and I have been in this intense and intimate season over the last couple months. – Fear not, there are no signs that it is slowing down anytime soon.

I have had several people ask me about what I do or have been doing to create this intense and intimate season with the Lord… That’s actually another blog for another day that I am working on; but, I will say, it requires a choice to press in rather than continue as is or pull away. You must choose to create space to communicate a lot throughout the day with our Sweet Savior, remove distractions (I haven’t watched Netflix in months.. and I haven’t been listening to the radio in the car either). – Write. Down. Your. Prayers. – Just do it, and copy impactful scripture into your journal. Everything else I will talk more about later in a different blog.

Ok, onto the actual Love is Patient portion of this…

Yesterday, I was fasting (apparently something that I am actually getting better at compared to the beginning of the year). At the beginning of this year I realized how absolutely terrible I am at fasting, but I have continued to press in and practice, and can say that I am actually beginning to feel like I am connecting with the Lord differently than I used to. (Yasss!)

So, I took my lunch time and went to just sit on a park bench to soak in the sun, attempt to dwell and abide in the Lord, and pray through a slew of different things turning over in my head and heart.

I can honestly say there was no overwhelming sweet or intensely confident “the Lord told me this” moment… But, what I do know is the feeling in my heart and stomach when the Holy Spirit meets me. Sometimes I have a hard time telling the difference between what is just my creative mind thinking as I pray and what is a picture from God. – I wish I could tell you how to do this, but I really I am just a baby in my figuring this out, so I cannot share much wisdom here. (However, you can go listen to my church’s series Whisper, it’s about hearing the voice of God. It’s very good.)

Yet, even when I don’t know specifically if something is inspired by God, or inspired by my creativity, I feel like it’s worth writing in my journal and revisiting until I have a sense for the accuracy of it!

So, back to the park bench… I “got” three separate things that I feel like are probably inspired by the Lord… Even if I didn’t get anything close to a confident assurance or audible voice.

Here are the three things:

1st thing:
Was a mental “picture” of me standing in front of a closed door.
I was getting ready to open it, to step into the next thing/season. I was full of anticipation and excitement, but I had paused to stop and take a deep breath to calm my nerves.

God or my own creative brain? I dunno actually, but does it matter? – Is there anything right or wrong with this mental picture? I do not think so at all, so I copied it into my journal to continue to pray over. But, maybe one day I will look back and see what that door was, what season was beyond it, and will be able to point to that park bench conversation and praise the Lord for this picture.

Or maybe it was my stomach just excited about dinner ūüėČ haha

The 2nd thing:
1 Corinthians 13
If you are not at all familiar, this is known as “the love chapter”… Basically everything you need to know about love: actions, attitude, perspective etc.. are all spelled out here in this chapter.

The 3rd thing:
The ending of “Faith, Hope, and Love” – This actually hit me as I was standing up from the park bench to walk back, and it felt a little like a resounding gong in my head.

So, before I had even got back to my desk to dig into this more, I found myself reciting what I knew from this passage, and then pulling out my phone to read through all of the things that “love” is.

As I walked back, I settled that the Lord’s answer to the things I had been praying through on the park bench boiled down to this: Faith, Hope, Love.

I was both happy, full of peace, and had a bit of an “well crap” moment all rolled into one.

Once I got back to my desk, I proceeded to look up the main portion of 1 Corinthians 13 in several different versions. My favorite two versions for this passage are the ISV and NLT, and while I read the whole chapter, I focused mainly on verses 4-7 & 13.

However to make it easy for you, the ISV version of these passages reads like this:

Love is always patient;
Love is always kind;
Love is never envious or arrogant with pride.

Nor is she conceited, and she is never rude;
She never thinks just of herself or ever gets annoyed.

She never is resentful; is never glad with sin;
She’s always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win.

She bears up under everything; believes the best in all;
There is no limit to her hope, and never will she fall.
Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Can you insert yourself into this and it still hold up? – I can’t. At least not all of the things, and certainly not every day.

Humorously, after all was said and done and the day was over, one of my prayers as I laid in bed was:
“Lord, I don’t want to be patient anymore…” – Which is super fun given my conversation on the park bench earlier that day with God.
For a chuckle, be sure to read my blog post from just 2 weeks ago on cultivating patient endurance.

What has struck me the most is that Love is always patient. Period. – I am certainly not even consistently the FIRST THING mentioned as to what love looks like and how it tangibly plays out.

I have so far to grow.

Just so we’re clear though, I do not believe I am the exception, and this doesn’t mean I am beating myself up over my failures, nor does it make me think that everyone around me does this well. What this all does is highlight for myself once again that no matter what anyone else is or isn’t doing, I am responsible to carry out the command of Jesus to love Him and love others (well).

I like the ISV version of this passage, because love is described as “she”, so it is easier for me to see and connect these actions to myself for comparison.

Some of the areas where I realize I actually need a lot of work:
I am not patient (even if I am working on it),
I often think just of myself,
I definitely can get easily annoyed,
I for sure get arrogant with pride (the “I don’t need you” kind of pride),
I really do not believe the best in everyone all the time,
and there may possibly be a limit to my hope.

However, these three remain:
Faith, Hope, Love.

The greatest is love; because Jesus is Love. He died, resurrected, and since He is love: Love restores me every single day.

Now cycle back through the list…
Jesus is Patient.
Jesus is Kind.

Jesus is never envious or arrogant with pride.

Nor is Jesus conceited, and Jesus is never rude;
Jesus never thinks just of himself or ever gets annoyed.

Jesus never is resentful; is never glad with sin;
Jesus is always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win.

Jesus bears up under everything; believes the best in all;
There is no limit to Jesus’ hope,¬†and never will Jesus fall.
Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and Jesus. But the greatest of these is Jesus.

If Jesus is restoring me every day, if His mercies are constantly new (because He is constantly making morning somewhere), then I too am love and patient and kind and my hope knows no limit (and on and on)…

The difference between me, left to my own, and who I am in Christ is astounding.

If you experience love and patience from me, I can most certainly assure you it is the change that has occurred through my Sweet Savior.

Because I believe honesty is essential…. My prayer stands, “Lord, I don’t want to be patient.” – Yet, even still, I will choose to follow Him and do my best to choose patient endurance too.

He has told me to cling to Faith. Hope. and Love. With this means more of the Fruit of His Spirit must be learned and cultivated within me so that I can endure through a myriad of life’s seasons and relationships. My want and desire to succumb to my impatience doesn’t get to be what guides me, obedience to what He has told me is what guides me and ultimately determines what I will do.

That One Time I Bought a Puppy…

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Remember that one time about 3 1/2 years ago that I bought a puppy?

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Cute. Sweet. Little tiny puppy.

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And then he started growing…. In size and personality.

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I knew my sweet pups would grow.. and grow.IMG_0977

I just didn’t realize that he would continue to grow, and grow, and grow.. and of course grow!

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I got the pups because I’ve always wanted a “large dog”.. It’s actually on my bucket list. So, I went through large dog breeds, and researched their personalities, quirks, aggressiveness, and then compared them to the lifestyle I have to make sure things matched.

Great Dane, that’s the breed I settled on, cause why not “go big”… and if I’m going big, why not get a male so I would have the bigger version of big.

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Growing up, we had “medium-large” mutt dogs… aka little tiny puppies in comparison and let’s be honest, no one gave a second glance to.

So, as mentioned, my pups continued to grow… I learned how to train him, keeping in mind how big he would get, and wanting to make sure I trained him to be large. Which meant, training him to not take food, to not tear things up, to sit, stay, leave it, no, go, move, get out-of-the-way, come, back up, and a plethora of other practical commands.IMG_4453

Trust, “leave it” and “get out-of-the-way” are two of the most handy commands to teach a Great Dane.
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Never before did I realize how much attention he would bring to us himself. How many of the same questions I would have to answer repeatedly on the same walk. How many times I would have to tell people his weight, name, breed, and name again because they misunderstood me the first time!

IMG_3053 My pups and I have moved six times in the course of our life together. We have traveled literally more miles than I can remember. He is ever my companion, snuggling on the one piece of furniture he’s allowed on, and getting to go bye-bye are his two favorite things.

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He is stubborn, lively, silly, pushy, rude, friendly, and cuddly…. possibly all reflections of his owner!IMG_6078

The pups and I have been through some rough seasons of life, some really fun ones, and everything in between.IMG_1207

He is the best “party trick” that there is, and at (currently) 205lbs he is the largest dog most everyone (including myself) have ever met.

He is loving, but there are some pretty serious dangers in having such a large dog… He has also accidentally broken a bone in my foot from stepping out of a vehicle directly onto my foot. He has hip-checked me and caused me to slam into things, which has caused lots of bruises. – Once in the bathtub when I was trying to bathe him, and I was hip-checked cause he shifted… I was sure I had almost died. He has stepped on, sat on, laid on, and of course pawed at me causing a plethora of minor cuts and bruises.IMG_3834

Sometimes, I find myself annoyed at him, frustrated with him, and having a lot of extra work because of him. But, then I am reminded of how perfectly suited of a companion he is for me.

 

All the snuggles and kisses make it worth it!

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Remember that one time I got a puppy? While that created some of the most work for myself, it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself.IMG_4169

….. But, for the love, please stop asking if he’s a horse or I have a saddle for him! – I’m tired of laughing at that same lame joke!

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2015 Reviews

At the end of every year I write a review of that year, they always look different, but, this particular post is one of my favorites to do because it makes me stop and reflect… Which, inevitably leads to gratitude for what God has done in my life… Even during the hard years.

You can see last year’s here, and the 2013 review with links to previous year’s reflections in that post.

So, here I sit reviewing and reflecting on 2015.

This year from beginning to end felt like warp speed, it never slowed down.

I have now completed my first year at my new job and back in DC. This year has been full of stress, frustrations, and confusion as I tried to navigate my new job and rebuilding my life here in DC. Yet, through it all there has always been an overwhelming amount of contentment and certainty that I was and continue to be exactly where I am supposed to be.

Some things took much longer to resolve than I anticipated, like my stress level over money. I had not realized how much being unemployed created an obsessive compulsiveness in me to check my bank account every couple days… I stressed about money constantly. Through work because I manage a budget I was given the opportunity to take Financial Peace University; I love what it has done in my life. While I do not follow it entirely (I’m really bad at using all cash), I certainly have seen it change my stress level, and I have more money in savings, and a greater understanding and comfort (peace) with my finances than I have ever in my entire life. I have a lot of debt to pay off, but I also was able to pay off half of my credit card debt this year.

Blessing #1: Finances settling.

I loved the house I moved into when I first got here. I liked my roommates, and the location was great. Then, we had a curveball thrown at us, and we had to move after only a few months of living there because our military landlords were returning. Insert: Chaos and stress. Figuring out what we were going to do and searching was chaotic and stressful right in the middle of chaos and stress at work. Then we found this amazing row-house that was smaller, but somehow actually better than our last. We lost and gained a roommate in the transition, and yet again, the move seemed to create this pressure valve, and peace, laughter, joy, and community have settled in our home.

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Blessing #2: Amazing house and community.

My car. Not much brings me to tears faster than car problems. There were so many car problems this year, as a carry over from my head on collision a couple years ago. It took a lot of money and time to get everything up to inspection and then in August for a routine oil change my mechanic called my car a “rolling death trap”. He more or less instructed me to get rid of it and stop putting money into it, then parked my car until I decided. After lots of back and forth, I let my trusty car go and have been without a car since. My goal is to go a year then reevaluate, and use that extra money to pay off debt faster. I have loved that not having a car forces me to walk, I have access to vehicles of friends if I need it, and I live in a massive public transportation city which makes life much easier.

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Blessing #3: Having to walk everyday.

This year has been absolutely stuffed with adventure. Which, as I reflected on the different adventures, I looked up the definition just to see how accurate of a term it was:
“an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”
Every day was full of adventure this year.

And, just to give a (very) small window into the adventures and people that made life so fun and funny in 2015:

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Blessing #4: Adventures.

A couple years ago I topped out at my heaviest weight of my life, and it was not due to muscle. So, I decided in 2014 to start purposefully eating better. In 2015 I was still not happy with how I looked, but also how I felt, so I got a gym membership and began working towards feeling better. It has been 10 months, and I am happier with my body now than I have ever been in my life. I am not yet where I want or need to be, but it is so encouraging to see pictures of myself this year compared to the last two, and find myself satisfied rather than embarrassed.

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Blessing #5: Better health and confidence.

It would get exhaustive to list a paragraph for each of the blessings I see as themes from 2015, so here are a few additional:

Blessing #6: Growing and Re-growing.

Blessing #7: Seeing and experiencing God’s faithfulness new.

You can see the community throughout all of the pictures. The community of people both near and far that fill my life is overwhelming in the best of ways.

Blessing #8: Community.

Just because I always love new music, here, here, here, and here are a links to a few of my endless repeat songs from this year.

Blessing #9: Music.

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Blessing #10: Family.

What an incredible year it was. 2015 certainly did not disappoint, so much laughter, crazy challenges, some heartache, and a few curveballs, but I find myself thankful and amazed at how God was with me throughout it all this year.

Trees…

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Over the last year and a half I have become slightly obsessed with trees.

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Especially cool looking trees.IMG_1243

But, my obsession is not just because I all of a sudden noticed trees, or had an encounter with one, but because God used trees… Or specifically one tree to show me His plan for my life.

It is a little odd now to think about, how much I used what I came to decide and call a prophecy given to me at such a low point in my life to cling to hope… You can read more about what was said to me here.

You see, there were some seriously long periods of time that felt like I had died or that I had nothing good, helpful, or beneficial to offer.. or as my sister-in-law puts it, I had become like a “little sad grey piece of paper”. Which is about as accurate a description as they come.

But, even during those times of struggle, I knew God would use what was happening to me, and even all of my failings throughout, and He would take it and He would grow it all in the ways that only He can.

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Then slowly, over the course of about six months He began to reawaken me. It was as though He knew it had to be slowly in order for me to survive and not undo or break the ways He had grown me. I mean, it makes perfect sense, He is the one who set up how the world grows, the laws behind the health that takes place in a tree after a severe pruning. He did all of that… It only makes sense that He would then apply those same rules to the way in which He began the re-growth phase of our journey. In the process of cutting away, and then in the slow-growing back, my already deep and wide foundational root system grew and strengthened. I learned in new, painful, refreshing, and restorative ways how God provides for me… Especially when I do not deserve a thing.

Then, ever so slowly I began to realize that the grey had dissipated, and maybe, just maybe beauty would return to my vision. Maybe I would see and feel deeply once more. Possibly, I would once again revel in joy in ways that I had grown to expect throughout my life. Laughter would return easily and sit in my heart for longer. Life, beautiful overflowing life would allow me to dance my way through it once more.

Then, out of the blue, I was gifted the picture below. What a special little I love you drawing from God delivered from a new friend. She said she was praying for me, and she could not get away from a tree, but specifically the roots, and that God is regrowing me. She had no idea of my past, and certainly did not know anything about my tree.

And just like that, God reminds me that He sees me, and then tells me exactly what we are doing this year.

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I discovered a while ago that I tend to get tattoos when God changes my life. Not in regards to physically changes or when He moves me or anything similar to that… But, when He changes who I am, the deep down makeup, and especially when it is so dramatic that it causes me to be totally changed… Those are the things that spur me towards a tattoo. Almost like a forever mark on the outside showing what He has done on the inside. I equate it to the Old Testament temples and name changes whenever God encountered His people.

I have been slowly piecing together what my tree tattoo will look like, who will do it, where it will go, and all of the meaningful elements that will tell a story within it. I am so excited to get it (sometime soon) and share it with you all.

I have been forever changed, and while I am not done regrowing, I have begun to feel the beautiful new fruit that is coming.

(As an FYI, and to be totally honest I did not take two of the pictures in this post)

Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

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I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
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I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
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I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

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I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
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I love seeing things that take my breath away.
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I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
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I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
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Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

Taking Pictures

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Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

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And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a¬†“100 things you must see before you die” book and seven¬†of them I saw on my¬†trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.