Saturday, May 25, 2013

beachy thoughts

Normal people on the beach: ahhh, yes. Sand & sun & surf! Yay swimsuits, saltwater, and sweaty-sunscreeny-ness. Let's stay here forever.
Me on the beach: Um, tank top & shorts, anyone? Okay cool, I walked in the sand and let the water tickle my toes. Back to the room to read and blog please.

But really.
For as long as I can remember, and I'm pretty sure FOREVER, our family has not been the beach kind of family. We're mountains people. In fact, for most of my elementary/middle school/high school years, we simply didn't go to the beach on vacation. Occasionally Dad would have to come down for a business trip over a few days and we'd join him, but we mostly thought it was awesome because of continental breakfasts and lazy rivers in the swanky hotels his employers booked.
Our "real" family vacations consisted of mountains and waterfalls and tubing down snake-infested rivers (okay, maybe not snake-infested, but water moccasins are in basically every river I think). Think tent camping (occasionally log cabins instead, if we were feeling particularly un-adventurous), grilling over a fire pit, visiting historical landmarks and nature centers, hunting down animal prints, and learning about the local plant life. We were basically our own little 4-H unit or boy scout troop.
Needless to say, as I got older and started going on youth camps to the beach and hitting up weekend beach getaways with college friends, I felt less than attached to the ways of the beach- cause let's face it, there is a totally different way of life required at the beach- and liked it occasionally but wasn't crazy about it.
Obviously still true. We're here, at a beautiful beach in a nice family-oriented town on a gorgeous sunny-yet-breezy day, and I'm sitting on the shady porch of our hotel room blogging. And really not missing out on anything.
I think I dislike the beach because it makes me feel shallow. Sure, it's beautiful, and I still marvel at how God made the ocean and controls the tides and all that- it's really awesome. But the beach is about one thing: swimsuits. Whether you're actually in the ocean playing around or skimboarding or laying out or playing volleyball, you're wearing a swimsuit. I mean geez, most people wear swimsuits 24/7 around here. That, plus the fact that I HATE SWIMSUITS, equals bad.
I'm constantly thinking about how I look- how pale I am, how huge my thunder thighs are, how my tummy pooches, how I'll never look good in a bikini so instead I hide behind my very modest tankini... The beach makes me constantly think about ME and how *I* look and what people are probably thinking when they see ME. Sure, I could probably guard against it, but it's pretty natural I think. When I'm not being careful to keep my mind off of earthly things and focused on the eternal, I naturally lapse into the shallow-minded ways that are so much more prominent for me at the beach.
I don't mean to blame it all on other things- the real issue here is that I am sinful and my mind is hard to control. I guess I'm saying all this to point out how quickly my mind progresses from "my skin is pale" to "I'm pasty white" to "I'm so ugly" to "how do I even have friends?" to "no one will ever love me" to a gigantic pity party. It seriously takes about .835 seconds.
The one thing I find to be my fortress in the midst of this is His name. Sometimes, my mind is so caught up in all the grossness that I can't even pull myself out of it enough to transition my thoughts, and all I can think is "Jesus, help me." I still don't understand it, but there's something about his name that changes things. It floods my fluttery, worried heart with an odd sense of security and confidence.
Cause let's be real- how many of those super-tan, super-attractive-in-a-swimsuit people have what I have? It's sad that they don't have it, but knowing that I have a relationship with THE GOD makes up for all that.
This morning, I keep thinking about that Superchick song (the one that EVERYONE knows)- One Girl Revolution.
"If all you see is how I look, you miss the superchick within, and I christen you 'Titanic'- underestimate and swim.
I'll be everything that I want to be. I am confidence in insecurity. I am the voice yet waiting to be heard. I'll shoot the shot (BANG!) that you hear 'round the world, cause I'm a one-girl revolution."
It sounds kinda crazy, the "confidence in insecurity" part, but I think it means 2 things: finding confidence in the fact that you are insecure sometimes and are okay with it, and confidence in the midst of insecurity because of His love. I love the idea of both of these things, because it means that somewhere within me there lies the ability for me to be confident. That's nice to know, and somehow (eerily) boosts my confidence.

All that may not have made sense (it usually seems not to). I apologize for that, and how many parenthetical remarks I made in this post (I really love my parentheses!). I guess my only summational comment is this: through it all, He is here. that's the Glory of It All.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Summer of Taylor

I'll forewarn you: this blog post is not half as deep or thought-provoked as most of my other blog posts are, so if you're not a huge T-Swizzle fan or are here to read something interesting or philosophical, ye may as well leave, lassie. 
I hope you read that last phrase in a convincing Scottish accent. If not, go back and do it again, just for kicks.
:)

So, my friend Wesley and I have recently decided that this is the Summer of Taylor. Meaning that somehow, suddenly, wonderfully, Taylor Swift lyrics and music seem to adequately fit our lives or moods. Because of this, I've found myself almost meditating on her lyrics sometimes (don't even get me started on how it frustrates me that it's so easy for me to meditate on secular lyrics and I can't seem to et the Word of God stuck in my head enough to meditate on it. Stupid Satan.)

The outcome of that fact is this: T-Swiz lyrics that I really like or fit my life or fit my mood or I find entertaining. 
Ready. Set. GO:

"We're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It's miserable and magical." -22
"I don't know why, but with you I'd dance in a storm in my best dress, fearless." -Fearless
"And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid. I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause he never did." -Begin Again
"And the cynics were outraged, screaming 'This is absurd!' cause for a moment, a band of thieves in ripped up jeans got to rule the world." -Long Live
"You told me I was pretty when I looked like a mess... Today was a fairytale." -Today Was a Fairytale
"Sophistication isn't what you wear or who you know, or pushing people down to get you where you wanna go. But they wouldn't teach you that in prep school, so it's up to me, but no amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity." -Better Than Revenge
"You put up walls and paint them all a shade of gray, and I stood there loving you and wished them all away." -Cold As You
"I'm wonderstuck, dancing around all alone. I'll spend forever wondering if you knew I was enchanted to meet you." -Enchanted
"Wind in my hair, you were there, you remember it all too well." -All Too Well
"Spinning like a girl in a brand new dress, we had this big wide city all to ourselves." -Holy Ground
"Someday, I'll be living in a big ol' city, and all you're ever gonna be is mean." -Mean
"I hope sometimes you wonder about me." -I Almost Do
"Once upon a time, a few mistakes ago, I was in your sights, you got me alone, you found me... I guess you didn't care, and I guess I liked that." -I Knew You Were Trouble
"Everything I need is right here by my side, and I know everything about you, I don't wanna live without you." -I'm Only Me When I'm With You
"I go back to December all the time." -Back to December
"All that I know is I don't know how to be something you miss." -Last Kiss
"Wasn't it beautiful when you believed in everything, and everybody believed in you?" -Innocent
"She can't see the way your eyes light up when you smile." -Invisible
"They tell you that you're lucky, but you're so confused, cause you don't feel pretty, you just feel used." -The Lucky One
"I'll be eighty-seven, you'll be eighty-nine. I'll still look at you like the stars that shine in the sky, oh my my my." -Mary's Song
"When all you wanted was to be wanted... wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now." -Fifteen
"You are the best thing that's ever been mine." -Mine
"Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room. Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home. Remember the footsteps, remember the words said, and all your little brother's favorite songs. I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone." -Never Grow Up
"If this was a movie, you'd be here by now." -If This Was A Movie
"I got tired of waiting, wondering if you were ever coming around, my faith in you was fading." -Love Story
"She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts... Can't you see that I'm the one who understands you? Been here all along, so why can't you see you belong with me?" -You Belong With Me
"When you think Tim McGraw, I hope you think my favorite song, the one we danced to all night long." -Tim McGraw
"All I know is you held the door. You'll be mine and I'll be yours. All I know since yesterday is everything has changed." -Everything Has Changed
"You're beautiful, every little piece love, and you're really gonna be someone, ask anyone." -Stay Beautiful
"I believe it was a Tuesday when I caught your eye and we caught on to something." -Forever & Always
"Well, I was riding shotgun with my hair undone in the front seat of his car. He's got a one-hand feel on the steering wheel, the other on my heart." -Our Song
"I used to think one day we'd tell the story of us, how we met and the sparks flew instantly, and people would say we're the lucky ones." -The Story of Us
"Don't you worry your pretty little mind, people throw rocks at things that shine, and life makes love look hard." -Ours
"This is the last time I'm asking you this: put my name at the top of your list." -The Last Time
"I was a dreamer before you went and let me down, now it's too late for you and your white horse to come around." -White Horse
"The way you walk, way you talk, way you say my name- it's beautiful, wonderful, don't you ever change." -Hey Stephen
"You're the kinda reckless that should send me running, but I kinda know it won't get that far." -Sparks Fly
"He tells me about his night and I count the colors in his eyes." -I'd Lie
"Ooh, ooh, we could get married, have ten kids and teach them how to dream." -Starlight
"Forgetting him is like trying to know somebody you've never met." -Red
"This is the golden age of something good and right and real. And I never saw you coming." -State of Grace
"You took the time to memorize me, my fears, my hopes and dreams, I just like hanging out with you all the time. All those times that you didn't leave, it's been occurring to me I'd like to hang out with you for my whole life." -Stay, Stay, Stay
"I'm really gonna miss you picking fights, and me falling for it screaming that I'm right." -We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
"I'd be smart to walk away, but you're quicksand. This slope is dangerous, this path is reckless... but I like it. I can't decide if it's a choice, getting swept away. I hear the sound of my own voice asking you to stay." -Treacherous


#SummerofTaylor

Monday, May 13, 2013

Upon the completion of the three-year journal:

I think the reason this day is so momentous and impact-ful is because I've kind of forgotten what it's like to start entirely fresh in a new journal. I've been writing in this one for almost 3 1/2 years, man! That's a long time. I'm not sure I know how to handle the newness or the oldness or any of it, so I'm pretending I don't care and attempting to brush it from the forefront of my thoughts.

The single aspect of this that most dizzies me is how little I knew about what life would look like at the end of the journal, as I composed my thoughts for the beginning of the journal. It was January 2010 and I was STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL, dadblamit! (yes, I think I just made up an expletive.)

I knew nothing of the fabulous roommate magic I would experience with Ellie, how I would become best friends with the strange purple-loving lefty across the hall, how I would be welcomed into a family of pink elephants so big-hearted and Jesus-loving that I'd have no choice but to pour back into them, the crazy but awesome things God would do in my family (and the beautiful nephews and sister-in-law He would give me!), or the vast amount of times I would doubt my major and future and He would subtly reassure me of His perfect will.
I didn't know He would lead me to London, to my heart's home. I didn't know He would have me fall in love with a country and people so different and far from my "home". I didn't know He would keep me waiting for love for so long, all the while romancing me in a way I never imagine could come from God. I didn't know He would lead me to teach piano to underprivileged women, or provide me with a rocking coaching job (including a fabulous boss and amazing coworkers), or teach me to find beauty in the ordinary.
YET, He has done all these unexpected things and so much more. He has healed, and restored, and renewed, and redeemed, and forgiven, and tracked down, and wooed, and dug out, and reminded, and promised, and held true, and taught, and listened, and spoken, and yelled, and sat silently, and carried, and provided, and waited, and held, and shocked, and BEEN, and CONTINUED TO BE.
For this, I am unendingly thankful.
My God, My God, you have not forsaken me. You have never left me alone, you have carried me and rocked me to sleep amidst my many millions of tears as you gathered them in your bottle (which, let's talk about that for a minute: your "bottle" of my tears has GOT to be a vat at this point. there were so many, especially in the last year!)
I thank you, I thank you, I thank you.
For all of this. Especially for Your whispers.
Continue this legacy you have now begun, continue burning the flame, continue bringing me to gaze upon the goodness of Your works!

"For YOU are God, and I am not, so give me understanding to know YOUR will, and seek YOUR way. For YOU are God, yes- YOU are God."
"Consuming fire, fan into flame a passion for Your name... Lord, have Your way."
"Give me one pure and holy passion, give me one magnificent obsession, give me one glorious ambition for my life: to know and follow hard after You."
"Make me to know I love You, make me to know I need You, make me to dream of only You."

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

His tender whispers and inexplicable movements...

There is something stirring inside of me that I can't express with words. Something comes quickly but silently- I feel its approach but cannot see or hear it.
"I think I'm on the brink of something large. Maybe like the breaking of the dawn, maybe like a match being lit, or the sinking of a ship, letting go gives a better grip."
I don't even know what to call this. It's more of the aforementioned waiting, but it's building now.

Things swirl around me, out of my control. I am unable to fully grasp any of this.

I can only hope that someday, sometime I can look back at this time and understand what will have happened. For now, I'm walking through the can't-see-your-own-hand-in-front-of-your-face fog, well aware of the energy building around me and quite unaware of what it belongs to.

In the meantime, God is whispering:

- Matthew 10: 34-39, especially verses 37, 38, 39...
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
It's almost like a command, given the way things have been shaping up in my life lately, especially in regards to London. It's not that my parents aren't supportive, they are doing the best they can, I think. But consider attempting to be enthusiastic about your baby girl moving across the ocean to live in another country. I'm sure it's scary and not exactly exciting for them to see this slowly becoming reality in my life. The fact that they've been less than thrilled over the prospect of me moving to London has concerned me, and made me wonder if that's really God's call on my life. Crazy how He keeps reassuring me in my unfaithful, too-frequent moments of doubt- one of which came in church through Matthew 10. Jesus did not come to make everything the rainbows-and-butterflies kind of happiness and peace. He came to seek and save the lost, and in the meantime divide His true worshippers from those who love their comfort zone more than Him. 
My job is not to cling to my parents and my rut of the usual while I'm waiting for God to fulfill His promise.
My job is to take up His cross and love Him even more than my family- to follow Him before following my family's wishes, if it comes down to that.

- Hosea 2:14-23
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her... And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord."
This continuation of His former promises to me has been my source of strength so many days lately. He will bring me out, into His glorious wilderness (I imagine that we pick wildflowers and taste the syrup of honeysuckle as we walk in the field of knee-high yellow grass) and speak tenderly to me. His whispers stun my heart and hold me together. My heart is His and only His, this betrothal is never to be undone. No matter how far I may run or how hard I may fight His goodness and faithfulness, He cannot be anything but that, for it is who He is. His faithfulness, righteousness, steadfast love, justice, and mercy win me over moment by moment and I cannot help but seek to know Him. I cannot help but trust His promises, because I know His heart and it knows me, and there are only hopeful, magnificent things to come from it. 

welcome to midnight.

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