Archive for the ‘SELF’ Category

  • February 5, 2014

    it is what it is. and what it is is good.

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    I’ve been thinking about expectations lately. well, I’ve been thinking about expectations my whole life, maybe. because the statements “I need to” (see: I need to work out more) and “I should” (see: I should read my bible more) have been the primary voice in my head for as long as I can remember. I create boxes. and I live inside them. I take good advice. and I make it my ultimate standard to live up to. I fail and I beat myself up and then I get up and try to do the exact same thing. it’s circular and exhausting, is what it is.

    but last week, I was talking with some friends who, in their endless patience and grace, have committed to walking through life with me and I realized that it’s been a little while since I tried to figure out what I should be doing. because the past two months have been a slow process of actually giving myself permission to discover what is good – for me. what is right – for me. maybe it’s not reading my bible every morning for 45 minutes (which is actually a really good idea). and maybe it’s not jillian michaels 30 day shred (which is also a really good idea…if you are not a little bit scared of jillian michaels like I am). maybe it’s just the realization that there are a million and one ways to press into life with the one who made it. and at the end of the day, whatever works for me is exactly what should be. it’s beautiful and life-changing, is what it is.

    because there is so much freedom in that. I stop living in what I “need” to do and I live in the reality of what is. and the reality is that I am made perfectly flawed and beautifully broken. and despite my fluctuating emotions and illogical fear of overly energetic fitness instructors, my creator looks at me and is happy with how I turned out. the reality is that he wants me to bring life to the world in whatever way I can, even if it’s messy and disjointed and in ten-minute increments. so I look for ways to be kind to myself. to be patient with myself. I give myself permission to do what will bring me joy. and I finally understand that this is not a selfish act after all. it is a necessary act. it is good. because I am a cup. and when I walk in the love that was given to me at my most vulnerable and broken, I will overflow onto all of life around me.

    and I spend my days looking for ribbons of light wherever and whenever they might show up. I recognize the ribbons of light. and I say “thank you” for them. and I move into them in bits and pieces as I eat dinner or talk with friends or get gas and buy groceries. I acknowledge that the ribbons of light come in the reality of a world that is broken, and in some ways, I even say “thank you” for that too. because it is through the darkness that I see the ribbons more clearly. it is through the darkness that I grasp onto them and celebrate them with more ferocity.

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    Filed Under: SELF

     
  • January 31, 2014

    thoughts on :: a new year (a month late)

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    today is my last day at blood:water mission. seeing those words on a screen is surreal and unsettling. because it’s such a weird feeling to walk away from something I’ve defined so much of my life by. the blood:water dream started when I was 19 and an idealistic sophomore stepping into the brokenness of the world for the first time.  it took me six years and three moves to make it happen. and now, I’m walking away from it. almost as difficult as the act itself, writing about leaving blood:water has seemed impossible. (hence the radio silence around here for so long.) as I’ve spent the past few months processing what it would look like to leave, there have been a million scenarios playing out in my head. a million what if’s. there have been so many days spent trying to convince myself that it could still work. and so many nights spent wondering what it would mean to walk away. because at the end of the day, my heart hasn’t changed. and my belief in blood:water is as strong as ever. and I’m still the idealistic sophomore in so many ways.

    but for the first time (maybe ever) I had to start taking tiny steps outside the box. and those first tentative steps have led to this. the big step into self-employment via freelance writing. partially because I love to write. and partially because sometimes I’m good at it. but most of all because there was a voice that kept asking, why not? that kept asking why I didn’t just take a good look at what I really love to do and try to actually live in it. that kept asking what was stopping me. (it’s fear by the way. it’s always fear.) and after so many months living with that little voice getting louder and louder, I just couldn’t ignore it. and so here I am. a little bit broken and kind of exhausted but really thankful for the past year and a half. and really excited to start. we’re already a month in. but it sure feels like the new year to me.

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    and so, I’ve been thinking about resolutions lately. and although I never make them, the writing of these felt necessary. they aren’t really resolutions…because let’s be real, if I tell myself to work out more it just won’t happen. and these are more about the simple (and difficult) act of living more fully into myself…

    1. I want to cultivate rhythm. I want my life to be balanced and not in opposition to itself. with all things working together and in sync. I don’t want to work and then rest when I am too burned out to function. I want my starting place to be a stillness of spirit that is rooted in the confidence that no matter what happens, my foundation is in one who’s grace is sufficient over all my fears. and to-do lists.

    2. I want to be fearless. (or at least a little less fearful.) I want to take risks without giving myself a panic attack thinking of all the possible negative outcomes. I want to take big steps. I want to leap. I want to do things that scare me. and I want to do them for no one else but myself.

    3. I want to simplify. to spend less where it is unnecessary and more where it is truly needed. I want to get a handle on what’s important – what, at the end of the day, is truly a non-negotiable need in my life. I suspect not much.

    4. I want to be rooted in selflessness. I want to stop thinking that I am the center of anyone’s universe. and I want to celebrate the fact that I am at the center of a universe that is full of so much for me to think about other than myself. I want to pay better attention. I want to love others for the sake of loving well, not for the sake of being loved in return.

    5. I want to stop trying to be all things to all people. because, I can’t be all things to all people. I can only do what I can do. and that is enough when it really counts.

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    Filed Under: SELF, THOUGHTS ON...

     
  • January 5, 2014

    things i did on the last night of 2013

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    2014 came quietly. with the baking of the red velvet cake and the watching of man on wire in the last glow of the christmas tree. with bon iver on the record player and a coffee mug of sparking rosé and a silent “happy new year” to myself. it felt odd to be ringing in the new year alone and without much pomp and circumstance but for some reason, just right.

    the red velvet tradition is in its third year. my amazing friend andrea (who maybe I talk about to annoying levels because why wouldn’t I talk about someone as cool as her all the time?) sent me the recipe in 2011 right around the time it was almost 2012. and so on january 1, when I had the day off from work and not much going on, I decided to bake it. and that first year was kind of a disaster. not enough red food coloring and too much batter mixing and no patience for frosting cooling left me with a pink lumpy cake nearly as flat as a pancake. not my finest hour to be sure.

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    every year, the red velvet almost doesn’t happen. because it’s arduous and time consuming and I inevitably find far flung frosting in random spots of my kitchen for days afterwards. but every year I do make it. because it’s tradition. and in some small way, it connects me to parts of myself that I don’t really let surface too often.

    the baking of the red velvet was the first tradition of my own creation. the first tradition I made for myself as an adult. I didn’t grow up with a lot of traditions and although I always wished I had, for a long time, I thought I couldn’t create them until I got married and had kids of my own to force them on. but with the red velvet decision I realized that traditions are really just about rhythm and ritual – and I can create those anytime I want. and all the mistakes and messes made are part of what make it great. the lumpy frosting and flat cake are lessons learned for next year’s baking. the recipe card almost ineligible from spilled milk and my own addendums (“do NOT overbeat the cake batter!!”)  are memories of a new year begun in flour and sugar and at least two bottles of red food coloring. it’s all part of building a ritual that I will appreciate most for the time it took to create.

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    and in the way that traditions recall people and places we love, the baking of the red velvet cake connects me to friends I don’t see nearly enough of. andrea is my favorite blogging friend. the one I went from admiring from afar to spending time with occasionally to sharing life with across time zones. she encourages me with her simple act of existing online as much as she does with her sweet emails about how to explore paris and love my parents better. and so when I make the red velvet cake I am, in small ways, connected to her own tradition of baking it on her birthday. I am, in small ways, connected to portland and her little house that I used to babysit her kids in. and I am, in the tiniest of ways, connected to her mom, who passed the recipe to her and who I think must have been the most amazing lady.

    even more than that, the baking of the red velvet connects me to parts of my own self that I don’t see nearly enough of. I spend most of my days being a social introvert, which seems contradictory but is who I am. I am there in the running of one thing to the next. in the everyday busyness that I thrive in. but I am also there in the baking of the red velvet. I am there in the self-control it takes to not overbeat the batter. I am there in the patience it takes to let the frosting base cool completely. I am there in the quiet excitement of cakes rising and smooth rhythms of slowly spreading white frosting over bright red cake. I am not always full of self-control or patience or quiet excitement, but it’s always in me. just waiting for the red velvet tradition.

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    Filed Under: EXTRAORDINARY EVERYDAY, SELF

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  • 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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    Filed Under: RIBBONS OF LIGHT, SELF

     
  • July 18, 2010

    in between

    I apologize in advance for the length of this post. it was never my intention to have a blog that is a chore to read. and I truly hope this post is not that way. it’s just that so much has happened. so much that I wish I could sit down with you over coffee and talk about. but this will have to suffice. so read as long as you are willing. hopefully the distance between us – whether it be 2800 miles or 20 – will seem a little less consequential. I promise the next post will be short and sweet. knowing me, it will probably be some sort of list.

    the past month of my life has seemed to be this surreal dream that I have moved far too quickly through. and yet, with everything that has happened – with all the waiting – so much of it seemed to pass painfully slow.

    one month ago life was one seemingly unanswerable question mark. 31 days later, the next two years seem decided. it is as if I have stepped into a completely different life – one I had much less control in choosing than I ever thought I would. good thing I am learning how to let go of things. it has been a month of doubt and faith and waiting. so much waiting. and what I found out is that God is ironic in a beautiful sort of way.

    exactly one month ago – seriously, I checked my calendar – I sent in an application to be the events and development coordinator at the trinity forum. without going into all the details, I knew that although the organization did not meet the exact criteria in regards to what I am passionate about, the job would be a perfect fit. and although I was somewhat lacking on the experience side I knew that, if given the chance, I could do the job well. I sent in my application on a friday and interviewed the following tuesday. then I waited. and I tried to be patient. and I prayed. a lot. I prayed that God would teach me to remain steadfast in joy. I prayed that he would grant me strength to trust in his timing and not my own. I prayed for peace in knowing that he is enough for me and that he is good. all the time. and then becca came to visit.

    becca. my soul-mate and sister and best friend. my link to a community that loves me in a way that is honest and authentic and selfless. even though they are 3,000 miles away. I wish I could express to this community – I truly hope I have loved you well enough for you to know who you are – how important you are. you have protected me from fire – literally and figuratively. you have not abandoned me. you have kept my in your prayers and your hearts. without you I would not have survived so much of my life. without you, life would not be beautiful. words cannot express how you have saved me and built the foundation of who I am. but if you were here – in the middle of this starbucks across the country – you would see the tears I am shamelessly crying and hopefully you would know.

    so there we were. becca was here. and I was waiting. and thinking to myself that moving back to portland seemed like the best idea ever. after one week of feeling loved and accepted and beginning to re-learn myself, she left and I decided that when my internship ended in october I was leaving. after all the fighting I had done with myself – not wanting to give up on this dream that had not turned out quite as I’d planned – I made peace with the fact that I just needed to be back where I belonged. plus, after almost two weeks since my interview without hearing a word, I was about 99% sure I would not be getting the job at the trinity forum. I told you God was ironic.

    two days after becca left I got the job. in the middle of reveling in my decision to move back to Portland, God’s plan came through loud and clear. the perfect job was mine and I was in shock. in between ecstasy and despair. I called my family and two of my closest friends. and then I cried. I had been praying that God would open a door one way or another and that he would give me the strength to walk through whichever one it was. now the door was not only open, it was surrounded in flashing lights with a yellow-brick road leading toward it. I spent the next two days praying that this was the right step, even though I knew it was. I made peace – again – with the fact that I was right where God wanted me. I got the call on Friday. I accepted on Monday. my first day will be July 26th, five days before I turn 23. I am so excited to take this next step and after two days of training I know this job will change my life in more ways than one.

    needless to say, this month has been one of transition into stability. suddenly, I have a real-life, job. and I am looking for an apartment. and I am paying bills. and I am an adult – kind of. but I still feel like I am in transition. and really, the past year has felt this way. I feel in between. in between college and career. in between passions and obligations. in between portland and dc. in between authentic community and a feeling of being so very alone. in between knowing myself and losing myself. I am in transition, always waiting for something to start or change. always waiting for the other shoe to drop. but won’t it always be this way? I guess so. until I get to heaven, of course.

    it is weird to realize how much I have learned in just a few short weeks. I could make this post unbearably long and tell you every single detail. or I can just mention the most important one. I learned how to rest in God. I realized that so much of my life has been spent relying on the people God has placed in my life. he put them there to teach me how to trust in him through trusting in them. but somewhere along in the process I stalled. this community that I love more than my own life – sometimes it is my crutch. instead of relying on the only one who is deserving of my trust, I depend on others or on myself. but the past year has proven this assumption utterly flawed. I have not been able rely on others, and most of the time I have not been able to rely on myself. I have felt alone and bewildered and insignificant. I have felt so lonely as I longed for friends so far away. but now I realize that of course I am lonely. I will always be lonely until I leave this fallen world. I could have one million friends and the love of my life and I would still be lonely. my heart will only feel at home and at peace when I am with the one who created me. and once I gave myself permission to be lonely I felt the weight of it leave me. finally, after a year of searching, I have found myself. of course, I was in the last place I looked and in the only place I could be.

    but I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
    I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
    I will praise you forever for what you have done;
    in your name I will hope,
    for your name is good.
    psalm 52:8-9
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  • May 19, 2010

    if I’m being honest

    okay. it’s time for full disclosure. even if it’s only with the handful of people who actually read this.

    jyndia just left. after a two-day whirlwind of adventures, in the end, it feels like she was only here for an afternoon. it’s weird to have an old friend visit you in a new place. all of a sudden, your two worlds merge together and at first, you are a bit shell shocked. everything feels a bit surreal. but it’s even more odd to feel like even with this great friend, you cannot find yourself. I thought she would get here and I would immediately fall back into my old self – the one I used to know so well. but now she is gone, and I feel just as lost as I ever did. she noticed it. of course she noticed it. I was holding back. trying to figure out how to mesh these two lives together, just for a few days. because, if I’m being honest, the girl I am now is so much different than the girl I was nine months ago. and if I’m being even more honest, this new girl is not one I like too well. I am selfish and sad and argumentative. I have always been stubborn, but now, sometimes I am just plain mean. I am more insecure than ever. I have hit creative roadblocks everywhere and I have become numb to them. I have been so worried about what others think of me that it has made it hard not to judge others for judging me. I have been so preoccupied with fitting in (or not fitting in) that I completely forgot how to be who I am. I have completely lost the girl I once was. and I kind of liked her.

    and as much as I would like to blame it on other people or this new place, I can’t. I have to accept that my life is changing. I am entering something new, and I have to embrace it. like a dog that pulls at its leash, fighting to get somewhere it is not meant to go, I have to accept that all my straining is useless and will only end up making me lose my breath. for so long I have been fighting to get back to some semblance of the joy I once had – in Portland, with my closest friends, being known by people who love me and know how to love me well – all the while fighting against what I might be able to love if I let myself. but how do I do it? how do I start all over again?

    for better or worse, I am learning. and it is so hard so much of the time. all I can do is pray. pray that God reminds me to be content. pray that He reminds me to be thankful. pray that He teaches me to trust people when it is seems impossibly impossible. pray that He knows what He’s doing – especially when I have no idea.

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