Archive for the ‘RIBBONS OF LIGHT’ Category

  • December 11, 2013

    I spent most of today steeped in my inadequacies. steeped in the feeling that, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t do anything right. I spent most of today up against that measuring stick that keeps telling me that I am not good enough. the one that measures me against what others expect of me and what I expect of myself. and despite my best efforts, I am lacking. my mistakes are seen as intentional. my words are misunderstood. my need to please rears it’s ugly head. and I am undone. the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to beat back the measuring stick with…well…a stick. but some days, I am just too tired to fight it. some days it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other and make it back to my house and back to my bed. there is victory in the simple completion of the day.

    I realize, of course, that this line of thinking becomes an endless cycle of comparison that is the thief of joy. I realize, of course, that even as I discover new flaws, abounding grace has already covered them. but it’s just really frustrating to be human and broken. it’s frustrating to feel like nothing I do is right. it’s frustrating to always be fighting for clarity. to always be fighting to see the ribbons of light and truth in the midst of my inadequacies. it’s even frustrating that I can’t seem to make these words make sense right now. they look to me like sludge on the screen.

    tomorrow, I will wake up with a fresh perspective, I’m sure of it. I will see the forest through the trees and I will get out the “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” stick to beat back the “you are not good enough” stick. and I will swing away. because thank goodness tomorrow is a new day. but for now, I am just going to read andrea’s words over and over again. because these are the words I most need to realize tonight:

    the love of God is not a magic trick, not a secret potion to consume to make it all go away but it quiets my mind when nothing else will, is bigger and brighter than a thousand suns. for this, I am thankful.

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  • December 7, 2013

    the porter flea

    afterlight

    number 21 on the list and I am just breezing through it, if you ask me. (although I may eat my words come july and I am still exactly as far as I am right now.) the porter flea was just okay. it was kind of like what etsy would be like if if existed in real life. and only had things from nashville creatives. which, don’t get me wrong, is awesome. I think my ambivalence mostly came from the fact that when you explicitly use the word “flea” in your title, I expect flea. and I get really excited. about digging through piles of junk to find slightly rusted hidden treasures. about pieces with history and character and a story. porter flea had some awesome stuff, but it was kind of all similar and kind of all REALLY expensive (oh hey there, cutting board with a $700 price tag). I guess in the end it was really just a result of mixed-up expectations.

    I did manage to walk out of there with this print, which I love more than anything. and maybe it’s fitting that I got it at the porter flea, where the reality didn’t quite meet my expectations. because I don’t think the savior of the world starting out as a baby born in the middle of a barn met anyone’s expectations either. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. isn’t god cool like that?

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  • December 2, 2013

    advent. the waiting.

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    I haven’t had a lot of words as of late. to be honest, I’m also only just starting to come out of a season that kind of wrecked me with its disappointed expectations and loneliness and frustrations. but at the same turn, I’ve also been at a loss for words for good reason. the kind of reason that comes with traveling to all my favorite places and seeing all my favorite people. and I have been consistently overwhelmed with thankfulness for the community that surrounds me and surprises me with its depth and value. it’s been exhausting. but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    and now it is the first day of december and I am sitting here wondering and marveling that a year has almost come and gone. and I feel like I need to take advantage of this month. of the last days of a year that has been full of just. so. much. so I’m going to try (and, let’s be real, probably fail) to write everyday this month. because if I need to remember any part of 2013, it’s this season of advent. this season of waiting and anticipation and joy of what is coming.

    christmas. we celebrate with trees and lights and good cheer. in the midst of a broken world, we seek peace and joy through our carols and traditions and gifts. but often times I forget that this is the season of advent. and that “advent” means “coming.” he is coming. just like he first came out of the prophecies of isaiah and daniel and micah. he came the first time to save us. to rescue us from what we had brought upon ourselves. he came. and his people rejoiced. generation after generation, they had lived in anticipation of the coming king, groaning for their faith to be seen. and finally he came. in the most unexpected way. not as a warrior who would conquer the world through force. as a baby who would rescue the world through his life. he would live through temptation and persecution, teaching us what a true life looks like. and he would die the worst death for us. for me. and in his death he would teach us what life really costs. that is costs everything. and that he had already paid it. and then he would rise from this death and prove that everything his father had promised to abraham was true. that hope had not been in vain. that all the waiting. thousands of years of waiting. the waiting had not been wasted. for through him we are reconciled. through him we are never left alone. he came and we were saved.

    and yet. we are still here. in a season of advent. still waiting for him to come. to finish what he started thousands of years ago when he was obedient to the point of death. for us. for me. through his death, he rescued us. and now we wait for him to restore us. to breathe the fullness of purpose back into our broken bodies. and so we are like our family from thousands of years ago. we are like abraham laughing at his lineage of stars. we are like john preparing for the one who is to come. we wait, at the edge of our seats, in anticipation.

    and maybe it is in the midst of that reality that I finally am able to understand the power of advent. the power of his coming and the power of my waiting. because, in my life, things may always be broken. my family may not be fully reconciled. my longing for joy and peace may not be fully satisfied. my expectations and striving and plans may always come up short. but it will not always be this way. and I have hope in knowing that things will change. he will come and friendships and marriages and lives will be redeemed. we will not have to fight to keep hope. we will never be lonely or confused or uncertain of who we are and if we are loved. we will see the fruits of our labor and rejoice in the complete and perfect fullness of joy. the waiting is hard. it involves patience and chosen joy. it involves faith even when it feels like what I am waiting for will never come. my spirit groans within me because this seems to be taking forever. but I have hope. and I know that he is good. no matter what, he is good. grace upon grace.

    Advent: God With Us from The Village Church.

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  • July 17, 2013

    thoughts on :: cautious joy

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    sometimes the sheer newness of life is absurd to me. (I realize – that sentence does not make a ton of sense. but go with me, for a minute.) lately I’ve celebrated so many firsts and with every single one I am filled with this emotion that I cannot quite put my finger on. it’s something akin to cautious joy, I think. in less than two months, and in my immediate life, there’s been 2 weddings and 3 engagements and 4 birthdays. 2 babies  have been born (as of tonight!) and 1 pregnancy has been announced. new jobs have been popping up more often than I can count. it’s like everything good is bursting out. like spring in the summer – all things are budding with this intense sense of urgent joy. joy that must be pushed out into the world before it gets squashed in the muck of everything else.

    I just spent a week in california celebrating 90 years of life with not one, but two grandparents. and then on the opposite end of the spectrum there was a baby just a few days shy of his birth-day (tonight!) and a best of best friends asking me to stand beside her in the wedding we’ve been talking about since we knew that we could. and then I came home to celebrate the pre-baby shower that turned into a post-baby shower when life couldn’t stay in any longer and just had to come six weeks early. and there were two wedding invitations on the counter (only one of which I’m in, thank the Lord) and announcements of new jobs and new plans. and just so. much. life.

    and I am a little shell shocked by it because with all this new life, something else must end…right? there has to be some level of death right around the corner. I know there has to be. I know it’s all mixed in together – beginnings and endings. even now, as I claim the joy of new beginnings, I am acutely aware of the pain around me. of the marriages ending and relationships breaking for those I love. most of the time, my morbid self is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    but tonight, as I drove home, all I could muster was that un-nameable feeling akin to cautious joy. and a ton of gratitude. and an unshakeable confidence that someday, it will forever only be this. this feeling of life bursting at the seams. newness will grow and multiply like stands of the most invasive and beautiful bacteria. and there will always and only be joy pushed out into the world and there will be no endings. both shoes will stay firmly on and the joy won’t be cautious anymore.

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    Filed Under: RIBBONS OF LIGHT, THOUGHTS ON...

     
  • January 18, 2012

    thoughts on :: sunday night

    okay people, it’s about to get real. sentences have been forming in my head for days. erratic thoughts have lodged themselves somewhere and the only way to get them out is to write them down. and I have written them down. in every place but this terribly public one. but I started this thing to write more honestly and share more honestly. I started it to prove to myself that I could be real in someplace other than the most hidden part of my heart. so here it is. mom, don’t freak out.

    growing up is hard. growing up when your family is falling apart is hard. growing up when you feel really freaking alone is hard. God is good. but life is hard. being broken and longing for Home in the capital H sense is hard. when I put #19 on the list I wanted to understand what it’s like to rejoice – truly live a worshipful life – in the midst of all that is hard. I wanted to understand how joy could remain when happiness faltered. I wanted to understand how God is faithful when everything and everyone else is not. although it was a goal for 25, I sort of thought it would take a long time. I sort of thought I would end the year with the words “work in progress” beside it. and yet here I am.

    and I never expected it to happen quite like this. for it to take marriages ending and lives ending and things to change so quickly. I never expected everything to get so turned inside out and upside down all at once. and yet here I am.

    here I am driving home with tears overflowing to the point that I wonder if I am a danger to my fellow evening travelers. and here I am feeling like the jigsaw puzzles I used to put together when I was young. everything seemed so pretty and neat and together until my little brother came over and threw everything asunder with his chubby toddler hands. but it’s not his fault this time. it’s no one’s fault this time. I am a mess and I am in a million tiny pieces.

    but here’s the crazy thing. the sort of amazing thing.

    I may, in fact, be having a complete and utter emotional breakdown. but I am not actually feeling as melodramatically despondent as it may sound. my heart aches, yes. I am completely broken, yes. but more than that – so much more than that – I am whole. or rather, I am hopeful that I will be soon be whole. I am not happy but I am joyful. and in lots of ways that doesn’t make sense, but in one really big way, it makes perfect sense.

    because I am learning that the joy of the Lord is a gosh-darn real thing. it’s not about happiness and fun and laughter all the time. I was never promised that life. but I was promised that when I walk through fire I will not be alone. the fire’s there for sure. but I have someone bringing me through it. bringing me through it in one piece. better, even.

    and I am learning that if I can praise God in the midst of the innumerable blessings I experience every single minute, I better be able to praise him in the crappy times too. and what’s even crazier is that I cannot believe how happy I am in this realization. how blessed am I that I have been counted worthy enough to praise him in the midst of my brokenness?

    and I am learning that it’s not about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses – although I would never say no to a pair of those. it’s about seeing the world as it is and still knowing that it will be better. seeing the world as it really is and knowing that it will be otherwise. and it’s only because of that persistent joy of the Lord that has been sticking on me like honey lately. it’s only because of that faith as tiny as a pin-prick that things begin change and perspective shifts from illusion to reality. because it’s not about how much faith I have. it’s about who I have faith in. thank goodness for that. because most of the time my faith is way smaller than a mustard seed.

    and here’s one other thing about the joy of the Lord. it’s there because I am also learning how to pray without ceasing. and when I say without ceasing, I mean without ceasing. I am praying even when I don’t know I’m praying. because here’s the thing: what other choice do I have? nothing else works. not talking about it until I’m blue in the face. not ignoring it. nothing else. not one thing.

    and so now I am home with tears still coming. but they are full of a million tiny pieces of me mixed with loads of hope. and loads of grace I don’t deserve. and I made it home without seriously injuring anyone. so there is joy in that too, I suppose.

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  • November 7, 2011

    waiting

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    “you can be in no circumstance in which the Lord cannot help you, in which he will not help you, if you look simply to him, rest on him, and wait for him. for every condition in which you may be placed, there is a promise; by that promise, the Lord stands, pledged to appear for you and help you; he is ever ready to deliver you; only he will have you believe his word, exercise confidence in him, plead the promise at his throne, and wait for its fulfillment. wait, then on the Lord at all times. times will change, creatures will vary, but the Lord remains always the same. in your youth and health, in manhood and prosperity, in old age and its infirmities, we should wait on the Lord. he will adapt his mercies to us, make all his goodness pass before us, and cause all things to work together for our good. he will never leave us, change his views of us, or withhold his tender mercies from us. he is faithful to his word, true to his character, and full of love to his people.

    whatever change there may be in creatures, there is no change in him. health may give way to sickness, plenty to poverty, strength to weakness, and life to death, but he is the same. with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of a turn. therefore, “wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I saw, on the Lord.”

    – from “wait on the Lord” sermon by rev. james smith of cheltenham, new york, 1869

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  • November 24, 2010

    thoughts on :: the story i am telling

    lately I feel like questions regarding the character of my life have been popping up all over the place. it’s been more than the typical question of a recent college graduate – more than a question of what I want to do with my future. it’s more holistic. it’s about the the story I am writing with my life. in every situation. in every action. in every attitude. what is the story I am telling?

    I came to dc with an idealistic, all you need is love approach to changing the world and quickly learned that often times, love is not nearly enough. you need truth. and strategy. and money doesn’t hurt either. the past year has been a lesson in standing firm in the truth. and it’s been invaluable to learn how to live in a world saturated by pluralism and relativism. but now, I find I have begun to forget what it looks like to love people. I have spent so much time and energy learning how to speak the truth, but in many ways, I have forgotten that truth must always be spoken in love. what I know to be true should have no ultimate bearing on how well I love people. no ultimate bearing on how I am called to live in community with them.

    Jesus knew absolute truth. I mean, he really knew it – figuratively and literally. he would die for it. he was it. but he also knew love. he also was love. he ate dinner with prostitutes and tax-collectors. he was friends with them. not above them. with them. he loved them in action and without any pre-requisites. the world is black-and-white in so few things. it’s messy and it’s broken.

    and that line of truth and love, and love and truth. it’s so hard to walk. how do I speak the truth with passion? how do I love people regardless of what they believe? and when I say love people, I mean really love them – with action and persistence and not one ounce of judgement or one string attached. because in the end, I can say I love people until my face turns blue. but we don’t love people with our words. we love people with our actions. faith without deeds is dead. truth without love is nothing.

    “let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. the commandments…are summed up in this one command: “love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

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  • November 16, 2010

    thoughts on :: how he loves

    saturday, november 13. the lamb center.

    I think I will be processing this one for a long time. but here is the first attempt to understand how God continues to blow my expectations out of the water and show me his love and grace in the most unlikely of situations.

    just as bible study was about to begin, her mother tapped me on the shoulder. “would you mind sliding over a little bit more? we like to sit on the end.” as I stood up to make room at the table, I saw mia. a little girl so deformed it made me gasp for breath. her skull was folded in on itself, almost looking like an egg on its side. her hands and feet were curled into balls. her body was shrunken to half its size. she had her name written in sharpie on each of her socks. her mother, a petite woman not older than 40, slowly lifted mia out of her wheelchair and placed her in her lap. “well good morning, miss mia.” the table echoed with greetings from old friends. a most unlikely community surrounding this little girl and her mother. “you are looking so beautiful this morning!”

    bible study moved forward. we spoke of the gospel of luke and the grace of our Creator who enters into the mess of life with us. who walks alongside us and somehow works all things for good. and these people believe this with all their heart. in their homelessness and in their struggles beyond anything I can ever imagine. they believe that God works all things for good. and mia’s mother believes this. she sleeps in her car and she has a daughter who needs constant and meticulous care. and she loves her so beautifully. as I listened to the people around me talk of God’s grace and his love for us as we are broken and beyond repair, I watched mia’s mother stroke her hair and kiss her protruding forehead. her love for her daughter was beyond any words I can think of except to say that it was the most perfect picture of unconditional love that I have ever seen. or will ever see. and in her love for mia I saw God and how he loves us. how he picks up our broken bodies and places us in his lap. how he kisses our deformities and our scars and covers us with his perfect and unfailing love. and although mia could not smile or even move on her own I knew that she feels that love. she knows it is there. she has a peace and a joy that shines through her brokenness.

    and here’s the thing. my life is easy compared to 99% of the people in the room that day. even though my house is a little bit old, I don’t sleep in my car. even though my job is a little bit frustrating, I have found work that not only provides for my life, but is actually satisfying. even though my budget is a little bit tight, I can still spend money on polaroid film and vintage children’s books in georgetown. but so much of the time, I live in a way that takes for granted the life God has given me. in one of my most favorite books, donald miller writes “life is staggering and we’re just used to it. we are like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we’re given.” and I think that’s true. I take the beauty of life for granted. I take God’s unconditional love for granted. but mia doesn’t. and her mom doesn’t. and the people I talked to on saturday don’t. they could be real angry at God. they could choose to hate him. or not belive in him. instead, they live in the truth that their life is a gift. and they live in the truth that God is good. all the time. no matter what.

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  • November 13, 2010

    impeccable timing

    I am often amazed with the impeccable timing of God. how his hand is in every single situation and thought and action. how he guides me even when I think I am walking my own way. how he gives me exactly what I need when I need it – without me asking for it – or even knowing I need it. how he is good. always. and until the end.

    but I am like the olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
    I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
    I will praise you for what you have done;
    in your name I will hope, for your name is good.
    – psalm 52:8-9
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  • November 11, 2010

    transformation

    transformation: to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form or character of. more intense than change, transformation is to not only a change in appearance or outward image, it is an entire shift from one nature and character to a new perspective of how the world works and how we function within it. we change everyday: from our clothes to our appearance to our opinion. but transformation is much more rare. change may be inevitable, but transformation is based on how much we allow ourselves to be altered from the inside, out. and when we let this happen, transformation can be explosive and life altering.

    when we stop trying to figure out who we are within the context of the world, and we begin to live with an understanding of who we are in relation to the kingdom of God instead, we begin to slowly be transformed. and when we decide to let God transform our lives, he doesn’t just change our mindset, he answers the deepest questions of our soul and the strongest desires of our heart. through this transformation alone, will we truly learn how to live authentically in the calling he has placed upon our lives.

    but when God transforms us and reveals his vision and purpose to us, it is not only meant to affect our own lives. just as an electrical transformer transfers energy from one circuit to another, when god transforms us, he is transferring his purpose and love through us, so we can begin to transform a broken world.

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