A Brief Update: Rain and Ducks

  • Not having a rain jacket is not the wisest decision I’ve ever made as it hasn’t stopped raining in Boone for the last 12 years. I’m an avid lover of rain but this is a touch ridiculous. Please sent a boat and rescue me.
  • Comfort colors is great, but these t-shirts do not dry. So if anyone has a spare shirt and would like to bring it to the Wired Scholar (Boone coffeeshops, you’re so funny), I would probably marry you on the spot as I’m pretty sure I’m getting hypothermia (no joke).
  • I puddle jumped with a posse of ducks which may have been the highlight of my entire career at Appalachian if it weren’t for what happened after that:
  •  Ducks like water. We all know that. But it seems even the ducks are mildly offended with this incessant rain resulting in my new favorite duck of all the ducks in the duck world jumping into my arms (this is real, people) and tucking his precious face into my jacket. I can now leave Appalachian a happy woman.
  • And finally, completely unrelated to ducks and rain, I’m looking for people deeply interested in the making of blanket forts to hide from the rain in (ok, so not completely unrelated from rain). So if this sounds enticing in the least, let me know and let’s build a fort and curl up in it for hours with books and popcorn and Bon Iver.

That’s all, precious ones! Thanks for bearing with my homework frazzled and sleep deprived mind. (It’s a joy and delight.)

A Letter For Those With A Choice: There Is Someone Who Understands

DSC_0462

I don’t get it. I don’t know exactly what you’re feeling. I haven’t been pregnant at 15, 16, 18, 21, whatever your age may be, left with a choice that feels like your life or your baby’s life. But as I sit here in my dorm room, my heart is heavy for you. I can imagine the loneliness. I get the fear. How do you raise a child at that age? What are people going to say? How are your parents going to act? How do you go on living a normal life with a baby?

I want you to know that I don’t judge you; I respect you and I hurt with you, I want to celebrate with you. As a nineteen year old college girl, I don’t really care about how it happened, I want you to know that I respect you and I stand with you in love. I want you to know that in a time where the argument of life and choice makes this decision even more difficult, your decision is important. Your desires and fears and dreams are important. You are important.

Stop and breathe. Look down at your stomach. See that? There’s life. Your life. Your baby’s life. You cannot separate yourself from your baby right now. How amazing is it that? There is life in you. He or she may be so small. They may not look like a baby. But they depend on you. Already, there is a bond growing between you and this beautiful baby.

You are amazing. You are doing something I’m terrified about doing even further down the road if I get to have the opportunity to be pregnant. You are courageous. I can imagine the fear. Breathe. You are not alone.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine. He calls me beloved even though he knows everything about me. He gives me hope when I’m hopeless. He mourns with me, celebrates me with. When I feel so alone, he holds me close. When I feel forgotten, he tells me he remembers me, he knows me, he has never forgotten me. His love is constant. His advice is trustworthy. His forgiveness is constant. There is nothing I can do that will disappoint him. Nothing in my past, my present, or my future, can scare him, anger him, or cause him to leave. He knows what I have done. He knows what I am thinking about doing. And even still, his look of pure joy and love because of me, because of you, does not even waver. He never tries to manipulate me. He never takes advantage of me. He never pushes me in a way that would hurt me. He is the perfect lover. He is the perfect father.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him: Jesus, God…I like to call him Daddy, Abba, Father. I can’t tell you what to do with the baby growing inside you. I can’t understand completely. I can’t love you perfectly. But he loves you unconditionally. He understands. He desires you. He wants to lavish you with love. He wants to give you perfect peace in every situation. He wants to replace your fear with joy, your loneliness with understanding. Will you let him?

This perfect lover, perfect father knocks and waits to be invited in. He will never demand anything. He will never push his way in. He knocks and he waits, he hopes, he so longs to give you the peace and the joy he created you to experience. This knock rarely is presented in a time of joy because that is what he is offering. His knock can seem like fear, sadness, loneliness.

As women, so often this knock is loneliness. I would argue that it’s not snakes or spiders that is our greatest fear. Above all, we fear being abandoned. Utterly forsaken, forgotten. What a terrible word. Abandoned. What are you willing to do to not be abandoned? This fear drives us to do things I don’t think we would ever consider in any other circumstance. I know it has driven me to do things that have brought such pain and such guilt. I just wanted everything to be normal again. I just wanted to not be alone, left behind, overlooked.

But, my beautiful women, there is one who never leaves, never forsakes, never abandons. He is knocking. Go look in the mirror. Do you see your eyes? Do you see what they are saying? Look at the fear. Look at the exhaustion. There is his knock. In your fear, in your loneliness, he is asking to give you joy and peace. Will you have the courage to invite him in?

I Don’t Mind the Boone Fall

DSC_1775-side

DSC_1789-side

DSC_1876

DSC_1972-side

DSC_2010-side

DSC_2012-side

DSC_2027

As soon as I reach the weekend, I tend to stop and breathe for a hot minute (maybe 20 hot minutes if we’re being generous here) before jumping into the weekend.

There’s this funny rush, you see, to fit in as many experiences as possible into the 28 hour span of pure bliss before Sunday hits and you remember the mass amounts of papers to write and books to read and exams to study for that you ignored so you could finally ‘relax.’ (excuse that excessively long sentence channeling Victor Hugo and we’ll just keep going)

I’m completely convinced that fall in Boone is incomparable to anywhere else. Even in mid to late September, the mornings are already blissfuly crisp. The leaves are already changing to those beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows. Iced coffee and cold brew is being traded for gingerbread lattes and peppermint tea. And in three weeks, all the leaves will be gone; and they’ll stay gone until after we leave for summer break (I kid you not). We’ll start seeing chances of snow. Yes – even towards the end of October. All the flannels disappear from anywhere and everywhere you can find flannels and they all appear on campus. Sure, they’re cute, but they’re also just about the only weather appropriate thing that can be worn when it’s 39 in the morning and 72 in the afternoon.

So for now, I’ll savor the sweet serenity of afternoons spent on the patio at Comeback shack with my handsome honey, evenings watching the sun go down and the stars creep out, nights swinging in enos between trees, and mornings riding on the parkway with my favorite curly hair, blue eyed beauty. Oh, fall in Boone is so sweet!

There Is Freedom to Be Had

DSC_0593

I’m intimidated by blogging. I love to write but sometimes I find myself hesitant to say anything. There’s a desire I have to be read, but not always because I have something worth reading. I stopped writing this past month. It’s been quiet, as I’m sure you’ve been aware of. I’ve been quiet – listening. My last post, Anything but Evangelism, received more attention than I typically garner and I really felt the pressure to write a follow up, take advantage of the added views, be recognized. 

So gently but so deeply, God said no. I write in order for him to be recognized. And so I became quiet, with both written and spoken words, and I allowed him to speak to me. I love to curl up at the feet of Jesus and listen but this past month of being quiet has been different.

In the past, I have been content to kneel and stay at the feet of Jesus, listening to him without looking at him. But Christ desires more for me and more for you. For me, this struggle of wanting to be recognized goes deeper, it’s about safety and about independence. If I’m speaking or writing, I can easily control what is known about me. I can control my level of vulnerability.

I am terrified of being deeply known because I am afraid of rejection.

I would come before God and be content to worship without being known. I didn’t understand the beauty of the cross, only the burden – a burden I was not meant to carry. The cross isn’t about my needing to be good enough. The cross isn’t bondage. I am not tied to never feeling like I’m ‘Christian’ enough. God does not want shame. He does not want comparison. He does not want guilt or remorse. He so desperately wants freedom. He wants freedom for me and he wants it for you. He wants us to look up at him and see his face, see our reflection in his eyes – how he sees us. 

This is why he wants relationshipBecause in relationship, we know, we see, we draw near. We are given a chance to look up at him and see his face. I have spent the last few years coming before God in the stance of the prostitute who washes Jesus’ feet in Luke 7. I wanted freedom, acceptance, but my expectation of rejection was too strong. I decided it was safer to stay at the feet of Jesus and never risk looking into his face. I didn’t have the courage to ask “God, what do you think of me?” because I thought I knew the answer.

I have expected rejection, disappointment, and so I stayed downcast. It was too much of a risk. Bondage was safer. I didn’t pursue relationship, knowledge was enough. 

But I want it. I want to know how he sees me. I want relationship. And so I was still. I let go of my words, my protection from vulnerability and I came before God over and over again, trembling and crying. I asked the question I haven’t had the courage to ask before. I looked up at the face of God. Where I was content on the floor, bent over the feet of Jesus, my tears washing his feet, he offers his hand and pulls me to him. He wants relationship. I didn’t need to say the words. Tears falling down my face, I looked at his face. He knew my desire, my question – “God, what do you think of me? Who am I to you?”

Where I expected disappointment, he said I am his beloved. He said, “My love, I have been waiting so long for you. I have been preparing a perfect pace for you. Come and sit with me.” Where I expected rejection, he said I am enough, just as I am. Where I expected to be cast aside, to be overlooked, he called me desirable, necessary. He gave me a purpose, a position. He says I am always desirable to him, always beautiful, never surprising.

Where I have experienced this at moments – at times where I feel like I’m doing ok as a christian, God says ‘no’. He says my daughter, my beloved, you are always desirable. When you are broken, when you are messy, when you hide from shame, when there is mascara running down your face, when you ignore me and are content to stay kneeled on the floor, you are desirable. 

He says, “My beloved, you are everything to me. Do not be content washing my feet with your hurt, your shame, your fear. Take my hand and draw near to me. Look into my eyes. See yourself how I see you. Ask me what I think of you. I am waiting to tell you. I want freedom for you.”

California Wanderings

DSC_0543-side

DSC_0515

DSC_0427-side

DSC_0418

DSC_0306-side

DSC_0348-side

DSC_0379

DSC_0286-side

DSC_0267-side

DSC_0377

DSC_0146-side

DSC_0090-side

DSC_0170

DSC_0640-side

DSC_0679-side

DSC_0709-side

DSC_0507

DSC_0014-side

DSC_0745-side

The past month, or really two months, have been a blur of wandering and adventuring, new friends and experiences. It’s been uncomfortable. I’ve been pushed and spread so thin – beautifully stretched by my sweet Jesus. I’ve seen places I’ve always wanted to see – Big Sur, San Francisco, Monterey. I’ve driven the dream that is highway one. I’ve learned to love more completely, allowed myself to be pursued more deeply, and I’m  content.

Anything but Evangelism

DSC_0113

Saturday evening, light wash denim kissing the sidewalk, I sit and I wait. Soularium cards arranged in front of me and Ivy and Erin to my right, I pray. God, your will be done. Give me courage. Give me words, not mine, but yours.

You think signing up for ten weeks of missions, I would have been at least a bit ok with the idea of outreach. I’m not. I think it is great; I think it is something as believers we are called to; but I don’t like it. Well, I didn’t like it.

I selfishly thought evangelism was all about my saying the right words. As long as I explained the gospel well enough, whoever I was talking to was going to pray with me and be saved. I would pray for God to come to Santa Cruz, but that’s not it. Because, you see, God is here. God is in Santa Cruz. It’s not about the right words or the right tools, it’s about being willing to be used by Christ.

Evangelism is surrendering all control, all desires, all glory. I will never say the right words to bring someone to Christ. Christ brings people to himself. We just get the honor of being his tools, his disciples, his missionaries.

And you know what’s amazing? When I was sitting on the sidewalk, talking to whoever was sober enough to make coherent sentences and willing enough to stop, God wasn’t just working in them, He was working in me. There’s an incredible thing that happens when we share our faith. God comes beside us and says “Don’t you see. Don’t you understand what I have done in you. I am so good to you. I am so powerfully at work in you even now. Once you were lost, but now you are found. I have given you a new name, a new identity. Now you are mine. Rejoice!”

And so I do. I rejoice in him. As I share what has changed my life, I rejoice in the God who changed it, the God who said “Have faith. Trust in me. Allow me to work.”

Beloved

DSC_0492

DSC_0539

I am sitting on a cliff, worn and weathered. It’s been battered by wave after wave and yet it stands, unchanged. Changed is too fast. It’s been transformed. Slowly. Never gently. 

All other oceans I’ve encountered go in, out, again and always. They are gentle, expected, rhythmic. All other oceans are approachable. The Pacific is fierce. I stand on the edge of the cliff, fifteen foot wave daring me to stay where I stand, soaking me when I accept. I have been nervous of what lies in the ocean for years but never before have I feared the ocean itself – the waves, the power, the noise, the intention.

I challenge those who say where the Pacific meets Santa Cruz was created with the purpose to be enjoyed like where the Atlantic meets Emerald Isle and Topsail Island. It was made for the daring. Water sprays over me, I can hear nothing but the crash. It’s overwhelming, shaking through the air, demanding to hold attention. I stand terrified. I have climbed the faces of mountains, wandered the streets of Ukraine, chased trains before I knew what they were and only heard the sound of wheels on track. Yet I stand twenty feet above where wave meets rock. Terrified. In – it slams against the edge. Up – pulsing twenty feet and further. I am nothing to the ocean. Insignificant. I pose no threat.

I don’t think I have ever understood the word awe before, not with the ocean and not with God. I am in awe of the ocean and the ocean regards me as nothing. The ocean is water, force; if I fell, I would be nothing more than a battered body. But the ocean was created.  Created by my God. All it took was God’s breath and this ocean in front of me existed.

This ocean that I am nothing to was created by the God who calls me his beloved.

The ocean is powerful. It is stunning. It is fierce and daring, and terrible, yet I am God’s beloved. You and me, we are weak and inadequate, humble and dependent. We are God’s beloved. 

How great is our God. I am in awe of who he is. He breathed the most powerful thing I have seen on earth into existence. But with me and with you, he didn’t stop when we were created. He offers everything. He has already given everything to be with us, his beloved. He desires everything, wants everything, asks for everything. His love knows no limits. His power has no bounds. The ocean hits the cliff and runs back, away. God never will. How great is my God. How immense is his power. How endless is his love.