Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Dance of Hope and Trust

It's like forgiving and breathing.
Like the beating of your heart, it has to keep repeating, going and drumming.

If it didn't, you would experience death in life,
Instead of the life in death that it offers.

Trusting makes you look around, see things.
You see stars instead of dark nights,
 the design of the wind instead of the ferocity of the storm.

Trusting gives hope.
Or, hope helps trust succeed....
Maybe trust is hope in action.

Trust is more intimate than hope, though.
It makes hope personal.

But what is underneath the two?
There has to be something inspiring their dance.
Is it faith?
No, faith is a certainty of hope, hope's child.

What is the foundation?
What is the ground that hope and trust dance on?

They are too vulnerable to grow alone.
Respect, admiration, these could not be the foundation- they whither in a day.
So what remains when hope and trust are gone?
From whence do they come? What drives their dance?

Sacrifice and offerings don't build hope or trust.

What if the sacrifice is one of love?
Could it be a foundation?
Could love remain when trust and hope are gone?
Is love strong enough to hold the dreams of hope, and the arms of trust?

How does one trust?
Where does one find hope, if not in love?

Hope without love- it makes me shudder.
It seems more like fear than hope.
It is bred out of desperation, not hope.
Determination isn't enough for hope without love,
For determination will die before hope is fulfilled.

But hope WITH love has purpose.
Hope and love together breed faith, courage...
These bring determination.

Determination for what?
To persevere in action and character,
To trust the hope- hope of love.

Hope that dances on a strong foundation.
Trust that acts from Hope's inspiration.
All because of love-

Love that caused a Life (indeed, Life itself) to conquer Death.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I'm A Determined Struggler

I know what it feels like to not feel hope. To be desperate, to be afraid of the dark, and afraid of your own shadow. Even yesterday, I was up late into the night, staring at the ceiling, struggling with life.

But enough on that. I don't want to push it away or say that life is not hard or that is only a portion of my life. In fact, I am learning that most of life is a struggle. And I am not the only one who REALLY struggles. (such a good word, right? Sorry if I overuse the word "struggle," but it is so appropriate for what I am feeling. If you want, maybe substitute "wrestle with life," or use your imagination. But I like "struggle").

Ok, I take that back. I do not "like" struggle, or struggling, but I am realizing that is a fact of life. However, I just wasted two whole paragraphs talking about what you guys already know, but few people acknowledge -- life is hard. I say "wasted" because the struggle is not what has been occupying my attention or energy.

The struggles have been trying to drain me, to steal all that I have. They have been sucking away my hope and my sleep and my vitality. They've been giving me back problems and causing my hair to shed like a small animal. But still the struggles are not on the forefront of my mind.

At the front is hope.

Do you know hope? Not the person, though I have known many an amazing Hope. I mean the knowledge that goes through and deeper than feelings and emotions. The knowledge and the wish and the TRUST, that everything will be ok. That somehow you are going to make it.

Through the back pain, through the migraines, through the memories of trauma... Through the storms...

Its like having a really good friend. A true friend, you know? A true friend, that loves you. But not the kind of love that all of you are probably picturing, or even what I would picture. A true friend listens to all of your talk and doesn't call it jabbering; they sit through your tears. A true friend doesn't actually care if  you reciprocate friendship-- even though this friend loves you, they will give without requiring back. They'll sit with you on sleepless nights, and walk with you when you are scared of the dark. Even more, a true friend would give anything for you, even if you didn't accept it. If you were in trouble, this friend would even give their life.

Perhaps you know someone like this. I know I WANT to be this kind of friend. And I have friends that I would call true, yet I do not hold them quite to this standard. My friends are human, after all. There might be some sleepless nights where they can't make it. But, however "cliche" it sounds, Jesus is a true friend. He even gave his life for me, for you, not caring if we would reciprocate or accept. But he wants it. In fact, he is so jealous for my/your friendship, that he waits outside the door, waiting for us to let him in. And if you're like me, maybe you've given him ownership... Sometimes he just sits at the table with you, waiting patiently for you to talk. Either way, he is a true friend. He is the reason why I hope.

SO we come back today. I have class, and I am living real life. I am priviledged to have real friends who look a lot like my best friend, but none are quite like him. He's the one I'm leaning into. And here's how I hope. I am going to hope so hard that I can't stand on my own. People will ask how I am, and I will say I can't stand, but it isn't because the struggles. It's because the second part of "I can't stand" is "without my Jesus."

Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm misplacing my hope. But I don't care. I know I'm not a pessimist to say that the day will get harder sometimes. But I'm leaning in to my Hope-- my Jesus-- with all that I have. So I don't actually care. Bring on the rain.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lucky Pennies

I think I have come to a new conclusion about pennies. I wonder if I can help you catch my view...

Suppose after one rather tiring day of contemplating the future, a girl comes upon a bright, shiny penny lying in front of her foot. Well, if she's anything like me, she'll pick it up. Not thinking much about what she usually tries to get rid of, she can't help but glance at the brightness, and read the words.

"In God We Trust" lies along the top in bold letters. Maybe it is lucky to be reminded of that. Lucky to trust in something bigger than you.

A sigh, a few steps more, and fidgety fingers bring the other side into focus. A shield.... somewhat dimly she realizes "God will protect me," and with more excitement "he is my shield!" E pluribus unum, it says. Liberty, in tiny capital letters next to Lincoln's truthful head.

Why bother? Why would anyone care when the thing you make is work less than it takes to produce it? The Wall Street Journal revealed in 2014 that it costs 1.7 cents to make a ONE CENT coin. Pennies cost more than they are worth. I'm not sure what pennies used to be worth, but let's pretend it has always costed more to make than the value of a penny.

So why put in so much money and effort into something so worthless? Apparently, to Someone it has or had value. Someone saw a vision, even in something so small and worthless that few people care if it is lost in the pits of their couches.

Perhaps they saw that a nation could pride itself on the littlest things, and even the poorest of the poor could hold a shiny copper penny that pointed to higher and grander things - like God or freedom. A tiny thing that could be so worthless to some, yet to others it pointed to trust in time and work -- one comes from many, and many from one, after all. Holding a penny, all men were suddenly equal, just as they were created.

Maybe its extrapolation, but in my view the penny captured the essence of the nation. The founders took something big and compressed it, or maybe they saw something small and said that greatness has little beginnings. Either way someone developed the vision for a penny.

I'm not saying don't shoot for the stars. But remember that pennies are good too. Vision can be just as much for the little things of life as it is for the big.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why I try to be small

I'm a little person. If you know me, you know I'm not the tiniest person in the bunch, but I'm always on the shorter end. Lately, it seems like kids are even taller than me. Let's just say I can't reach the top shelf of anything without climbing on something, or otherwise getting a really tall person to help. (...And for your information, my definition of a really tall person is "anyone who can reach the top shelf. If that's you, congratulations- I am in awe of your body's ability to stretch itself.

Perhaps I shouldn't be writing this when I'm tired. If there are excess amounts of sarcasm in my writing, just take it for exhaustion. I just finished finals week in my 2nd year of undergrad (which makes me, officially, a senior. Praise the Lord!), and I have so much to do. Number one on that list is sleep. But something popped into my mind and I just can't get it out. Thus, here I am, spilling out my mind and heart to a lovely blank space.

*Ahem* (Again, tired...)... First off, I suppose I should clear up some things about my title. I frequently wish I were taller. My apparent sarcasm was really truth. Sometimes I have to fight jealousy over all the tall people in the world. People tell me I have it better; apparently all the guys like shorter girls, etc. But really, it seems like all you tall people have it better. The only thing small people seem to do well is hide-and-go-seek. Seriously, unless you are five years old and under 4feet, I will probably beat you, every time, at hide-and-go-seek. Otherwise, being short isn't all that great. I get people asking me if I am 16, if I need help, telling me how cute I am, thinking I can't do something....So I find myself always trying to be taller. I climb trees, I climb shelves (tall people are always conveniently absent when you need them), I wear heels.... but it just doesn't work.

My mind has gradually been changing on the concept of smallness. Don't get me wrong, I still love all my tall people friends, I love the feeling of tallness when you climb or wear heels... But I'm learning to be content with my littleness. Even more, I have learned something about being little.

When you are small, you always look up to people. If you treat that opportunity right, you start to learn things. You get a chance to listen, and perhaps to begin that process of understanding the world around you. Kind of like being a kid, when there was someone older and wiser than you, and you had a moment where you could just sit and listen and learn from them. When I had those experiences, I usually walked away feeling motivated to do something.
Do you remember how you used to dream in those moments?

I do, because I've been having them a lot lately.

Maybe you're starting to see my point. I hope so. I mean, I'm not writing a thriller here.

For those of you visual learners or mathematicians, I made a formula. (LOL). Here it is:

Kids dream. Small people dream. Being small sometimes has nothing to do with height. Smallness comes when you realize that you are not quite big enough to fill the room, and you recognize those people that take up more space than you. I mean really, have you ever seen a really tiny person confront a really big person? It always seems to me that the "wow" factor is more on the smaller person's side.

Smallness is not putting yourself down or saying you are not enough, except perhaps to notice that your body is not quite big yet. So you recognize those that are, and watch to see how they got there. Unfortunately, this no longer works for me as far as height goes, but when we talk dreams...

I guess what I'm getting at is that we (I) should try to listen better. I think there is a reason that Jesus asked us to have faith like children, and also to sit at the back of the table rather than the seat of honor. In those places you can still grow, and when you are moved forward it is even sweeter. Plus, children have this amazing tenacity that leads to "impossible" dreams and "too-large for life" motivations. I have this feeling that if we could get our kids to NOT lose their dream-big mentality, and if we could find it ourselves, the world would potentially explode with the amazing things that would happen.

OK ok. My tired self is going nuts. Obviously the world would not explode. Metaphors people!
Anyway, I could go on and on about this. However, in the interest of grammar and word errors that will certainly appear any moment now (wait for it), I am off to do that wonderful thing called sleep. You all should try it sometime. And you should consider dreaming, but not just the sleep-kinds.

One last thing before I go. Another "if you know me" moment, but my tagline is very obviously that "life is an adventure." This isn't by accident. My view on life as adventure comes from a firm belief that God is on the throne, and that He is my friend. My dream, if you care to know, is to see Jesus glorified. And out of this dream comes a whole adventure that I call life. YES, I can't wait for heaven. But I'm also pretty thrilled with right now. I'm with Jesus, and no matter what happens...This is not an idealist statement, but a "look, I have had those moments of total crap in my life. I understand and still think this" moment. So I'm off to bed. And in the morning, when I wake up with joy (because God is SO good, all the time), I'll spend my day trying to be small. Because small people learn a lot, and small people dream big dreams. I want to be a small person who sees God, because I know those people will do big things with Him.

I hope it goes without saying, but obviously you can too, regardless of stature.
'Night friends.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What is an Adventure?

Perhaps I have written about this...

But I don't suppose it can be spoken of enough, and definitely not too much.

So I'm guessing you've all noticed my blog's title (I know, call me Captain Obvious).
It's there for a reason, and definitely not because I am trying to join some hipster movement.

I like adventures, and I go nuts over fantasy stories.
My reasoning is simple, really.
The protagonists and all their struggles look like me, and the heroes in all their grandeur remind me of Jesus.

Stories speak to something deep in our souls, something that Jesus' kids like to call that "eternal" call.
I know you know this story, sometimes I think we were born with it in our DNA. But bear with me as I tell it yet again, won't you? Won't you sit with me and listen (or read, I suppose) to the story that makes my blood sing, my heart rejoice, and my feet to dance?
It starts like this...

We were never called to be here, at least not like this. Life was made because the God of the Universe lacked one simple thing. In all His perfection He was (and is) love embodied, yet He had no one to love. So He created a beautiful world, the most impressive utopia ever imagined. He put all of the most wonderful things ever imagined into it, more than man could write about or even study in a few lifetimes. Like an overeager lover setting up an exciting first date, He set up the world for us. He wrote His zeal in the clouds, built it strong in the mountains' foundations, and weaved it into the core of the earth's very atoms.

Then all of creation eagerly waited, looking for that day when God breathed life into a creature unique from all the others -- a creature that looked like Him, thought like Him, and talked like Him.
Can you imagine the shock and the joy on that day? The most perfect Being ever had done it, He created A MAN, a mirror image of himself.

As if things could not get better, He proceeded to make another, just as unique yet just as mirrored to Himself as the first. The woman was different from the man, yet still she looked like God, talked and thought like Him. God recognized that they were made in His image, that like Him they needed an equal to love. So he gave them to one another, to love as He loved them.

For a little while everything was Perfect, untouched and unscarred. Can you imagine the joy that the creation felt each morning? Surely the air vibrated with it!

And then it was all gone in an instant. The simple choices of men and women, the stupid pride tore them away from God like flesh from bone. The rend was instant, and the earth screamed with it. The innocence of man was destroyed, how could humanity go on being like God now? Perfect love had been destroyed when trust was cast aside and disobedience was embraced.

....So man was separated from God, this we all know. I see you there, nodding your heads in frustration and sighing in boredom. Deal with it for a moment longer, and listen now. I am not a bard or a poet, but try to see where I am coming from, what my heart's cry is. Lifeblood will be found here, just wait and see....

Centuries, millennia passed. The world sighed time after time with exhaustion, for it could no longer bear the weight of the would-be-gods of man. Mankind had meant to be loved and be lovers (in the purest fashion, my friends. Don't let your minds stray now!), yet they had begun to stamp and push and shove, each fighting to Be the God that created them, rather than be His image and reflection. They did not understand the beauty of the 'simple' reflection of the Sun on the Moon in the evenings (that beautiful moon that brings so much light to the dark!), but instead strove to be the Sun.

Yet God cared not for men's futile attempts to be Him. He could have erased it all and started anew... But out of the same love that sparked the creation, He made it fresh instead. In His mercy God made the nightmare into a dream, for all who would see the Way that was made. Just as before, He Himself did it. In a moment He restored what in another moment had been destroyed. And in His way, He stretched out the firmament to make it permanent. What was made firm then was the love that will never end, a love that came and died for man, a love that longs to be in close connection.
An unending God declaring who He is -- Love.

...So maybe you liked my story, and maybe you did not. Stay a moment longer, won't you? Come see how it applies to you, to stories, to adventure (if you don't already)...
Here is where the adventure is: not in the horrors or temptations of life, not in the horrible valleys that seem to have no end of darkness, and certainly not in the struggles and griefs that each of us must face as men on earth. The adventure lies in the doing, If it is done with God. For Jesus Christ (surely you know His name?) did more than sacrifice Himself so that we would not die. He made a way so that we MIGHT LIVE.

Now then, like the greatest heroes of old that we tell our children about, and whose stories tug at our deepest beings, we too are on the greatest of adventures. If you choose to accept Jesus for who He said He was, that is... Then you will find the adventures that have magic and fairies to be nothing compared to those we will face as His followers, for He is our guide, our destination, our rear-guard, and our constant companion. You will find, if you follow Jesus, that like the heroes of old you will face valleys and rivers and mountains and battles and times when it doesn't seem like you can go on (at times you will even have to crawl)... You will find times when it seems all is lost, times when you wonder why you started the adventure at all, times when you find adventures aren't always that great, times when you cannot see if good or bad lies around the corner... at times you will be betrayed by those you held dear, at times you will be frustrated by your enemies, at times you may be captured... and some of you may even be killed on the course of the adventure.

But this is the Best kind of adventure, you see? Not because of the bad, but because you know that NO MATTER WHAT the hero faces, he/she will Always win, will always reach the finish line, will always defeat the enemy.

Our solution is assured. Jesus said so when He died, and said "It is finished." And as if we weren't sure, He came back again, in Glory to lead the charge. Our struggles are before us, yes -- for the world has still not completely accepted its King again. As long as it abstains from His love, creation will writhe with the tragedy of it. For man was not created to BE God, but to be Loved by God, and to love Him. We destroyed it, but guess what? Still He loves us.

Dare I go on? I fear my words are at an end... all adventurers need to rest, you know. And anyway, I can only speak of the adventure for so long. There comes a time when the adventure must be Lived. I hope to see you along the way, my dear friends. Join us, won't you?

Live this adventure with my Jesus and I, if you care or dare. There is plenty of room for more. ;)

Monday, February 23, 2015

i gotta have that "single person" post now...

So another one of my friends got engaged yesterday.

Don't get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled.
I mean, I already have their wedding gift half-way done.

But I couldn't help the little mental sigh that came. You know the one.
Please don't get me wrong, I am far from in a hurry to be in a relationship. But my mind can't help but make the tally. This friend in a relationship for almost two years. That one entering into a more serious relationship, those ones going Facebook official (because apparently that's a big deal), and my other friends with several guys pursuing them.

Oh dear, there's that sigh again. The inner mirror turns and looks at me, and sighs again. I'm not unsatisfied with what I find in me, yet I can't help the next sigh that comes out.
I find myself in this strange place of wanting and yet not wanting, because I know that now is not the time.

Here's the deal: I am trying to be content in being single, and I don't care who knows. It's not because I disdain relationships (because I don't), or because I'm trying not to be jealous of my friends (because I'm not), or even because I am trying to find patience for right now (well, I'm always trying to do That). It's more because I believe that God has called us to be content where we are, regardless of circumstances.

Maybe this is just another single girls' post. I'll be honest that someday I do want to be in a relationship, to be married to a guy (who I unashamedly hope is like my dad and brothers). But my desires and dreams don't center around this one thing. My dream for a husband is that someday I can pursue the rest of my desires (and his) with him, not pursue him.

Because the ultimate goal and desire in my heart is God. I don't care how cheezy it is, but I want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and to walk in  this way towards him-- whether I am single or not.

It seems my heart is settled, so why the sigh?
Maybe to laugh at myself...
Maybe in relief that it's not me yet....
Maybe in answer to the reminder that someday....

Sigh. Looking out at the snow, I remember I have bronchitis-- that's probably why I sighed. Oxygen getting to lungs, that's an important thing. ;)
I sigh again, surprised to find it is one of utter contentment.
When you know you're looking for God, life can be nothing but an adventure-- whether sick or single or whatever status you happen to have.

Laugh a little harder and longer, and more often at yourself.
Dance in the rain if you like to, but not just because it's cheezy, because you can.
Sing in the morning and in the night, because the morning will just come again.
Say "I love you" to the people around you and mean it with your actions too...
Pursue God with all your heart and all you have.... He'll be found.
And you'll find life, don't worry kids. You really will.

And thanks, everyone, for reading my #odeToCheezy post. Be encouraged!