Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One Year Later....

When I was a little girl, I was absolutely fascinated with writing stories. Not the princess in the castle being guarded by the dragon kind, but the kind that could really happen. Usually my stories involved a girl and her cat and some awesome feat they accomplished together and almost every time I included an elapsed period of time. Ever so innocently I would write "One Year Later" and carry on with story of said feline.

I never thought much about what happened in that year because, at least to my young mind, it didn't really matter. All I cared about was getting to the point where I could write "They lived happily ever after".

This last year, however, has been one of those "one year later" kinds of years. 365 days ago I was a totally different person than I am today. No I didn't win the lottery or dye my hair (or even cut it for that matter). From all exterior viewpoints, I'm pretty much the same. The inside, however, now that is where the change has taken place!

May 2011: I was a college graduate, fresh off the college life and ready to take on the world. I was going to move home for a month or two, three at the most and then be on my way to Michigan where I would live near Saline and somehow God would make it where I could be involved there and at another church. I was going to live in an apartment with a dog, find a roommate who would become my close friend, and wait patiently for Prince Charming to come. And of course, I'd have a little fun in the meantime.

One Year Later.....

May 2012: I'm still a college graduate but not so sure about this taking on the world thing. It's a big place and it will knock you down relentlessly at times. I still live at home, in the room I grew up in. I had a few interviews in Michigan, none of which have landed a job. I still work at the same job I did in highschool......Dairy Queen. I did get a dog, however as much as I love her, she is not the obedient lover that I imagined. My closest friends all seemed to move away or get married in the last year. And Prince Charming...well I haven't located him yet.

Point being, the "one year later" it does matter! I never ever thought I would be here, and I have fought it tooth and nail! I've changed though. I realize the importance of trusting God more than I ever have. I understand that His answer to my prayers looks nothing like I imagined, yet it is good! Working the same job that I did in highschool is less than ideal but guess what! I've met some amazing people and had some truly engaging conversations. My journey has looked nothing like I thought that it would and I still struggle with feeling forgotten at times.

God is using me here. I dont know why and I dont know for how long, but I do know that He has not released me from this town yet. So until he does I am content to do His will here for as long as He needs, even if that means I work at Dairy Queen until I'm 30.

I dont know where I will be one year from now, but I do know something.

I will definitely enjoy the ride!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Just Do Something

Christmas of 2009 I received a book as a thank you for working with Huntington University's campus ministries. As far as I know, this book has never won any awards, it doesn't have a recognizable author and it won't be coming out as a major motion picture anytime soon. It has no "boy meets girl" moments and no death defying stunts. By all accounts, this book is plain.

To me, however, this book is perhaps the single greatest motivation I have to stop making excuses.

"Just Do Something" is the name of this crazy book and I would highly suggest it to anyone who finds themselves overly concerned with doing God's will. It sounds crazy, but this book discusses what exactly God's will is and how we have made the mistake of "searching" for something that is beyond our human ability to find.

What I've gathered from this book is that God wants us to stop going through life with a fine tooth comb, SEARCHING for the thing that is His perfect and ultimate will for our lives, and therefore missing out on the everyday opportunity to DO His will.

 I do not want to ruin the book for you, so I am not going to really talk about its contents too much more. Instead I'd like to talk about my thoughts concerning God's will.

As a young girl and, if I'm honest, up until about a year ago, I had a very strong opinion about God's will. He has a plan for my life, so therefore He has a firm and distinct way that things have to go....right? And if you choose the wrong way, well you have to deal with the consequences of messing up your own life and how God can use you, right? I guess those things might be right if decide to put God in a shoe box.....or even a refrigerator box (and those things are huge!).

What I've learned, however, is that God just wants us to make a decision and let Him be present in whatever that decision might be. I could easily be happy living in Saline, MI. I could also be happy living in Nappanee, IN, or Huntington, IN, or Wyoming, or Florida, or Ireland, or Antarctica (ok so probably not there because I detest being cold....but you get my point!). The same goes with the man I will marry. For the longest time I freaked out that I had to find "THE ONE". How terrifying is that?!? The idea that there is only ONE man out there for me in this whole wide world and if I want to be in God's will, well then I need to find him. Again, that is false! I know that God knows who I will marry, but he also knows that I could be happy with the friendly guy at the gas station, one who is already a good friend, the guy who brings the mail, or a man in Asia who I've yet to meet.

The God who I choose to serve is bigger than a shoebox, a refrigerator box, or even the biggest cardboard box ever built....see: http://community.guinnessworldrecords.com/_The-largest-cardboard-moving-box/blog/632176/7691.html !!!!!!

The God I serve doesn't want me to waste precious time and energy searching for the perfect combination of life events to make me happy and successful. He doesn't want me to sit in church every Sunday and discuss how to be effective and then go home to "pray about it". He doesn't want anymore excuses of why it wont work.

The God I serve wants faith, trust, and an unwavering love of Him. He wants my heart. He knows that when I set aside all my pickiness and my human desires, and instead choose Him....that is when real ministry happens. That is when His success bubbles forth. That is when my cup runneth over with blessings from Him. Not because He has given me the secret formula of happiness but because I have chosen Him, the ultimate source of Joy.

Stop weighing out every decision and making your pro/con list.
Just Do Something.....Now .... Go.... Do it!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sore Ankles & Patsy Cline

Since getting a dog, I've been taking more regular walks at night. Despite the frequent bites at my ankles and the necessary reminders to not eat rocks, I've grown to really love my nightly walks. The truth is, however, I think I like them more than Molly does!

Every time I walk at night, I sing to myself the old time lyrics of Patsy Cline. Reality is, even when I lived in Huntington I would often walk at night to clear my head and the same lyrics would run through my mind.

"I go out walking after midnight out in the moonlight just like we used to do. I'm always walking after midnight searching for you."

I would assume this is a song of a true love gone wrong. The woman, devastated by the breakup, turns to walking the familiar streets alone that she once walked with her love. It definitely has a romantic element as she hopes that the same man will be doing the same thing and in a perfect Hollywood sequence they would reunite. Don't get me wrong, I admit that I truly am a hopeless romantic, but that's not where my mind necessarily is as I contemplate the lyrics when I walk.

After a crazy year that has seemingly not gone at all as I had planned, I think the real thing I am searching for as I aimlessly stroll through the night is closure. Some tangible thing that makes the insanity of the past year seem clear and purposeful. It is interesting to me that Patsy sings of the hope she has that the love of her life will find her while she is out walking. In a very similar way, I cant help but hope that in the midst of my walking, thinking, processing, praying, and singing of these famous lyrics, that something of value will find me and make things all better. I don't really think it will jump out of any tree or fall from the night sky. I just think it might come more as a little nugget of wisdom or a reminder or something that I have forgotten. When you "walk" so long without finding what you're searching for, the temptation to give up and move on with your life is furiously present.

At the end of the day, however, I suppose I should not give up on looking, searching, and processing. And neither should you. Don't give up on whatever it is that drives you. Like Patsy, remember the feelings that you once held toward it and do not waiver. It may mean you look foolish as you walk your ankle biting dog around at night humming to yourself a tune that was popular 25 years before you were born. That's OK!

A wise person once said “Life's real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up"

Stick with it....whatever "it" is!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Insanity.....No not the Workout!

When it rains, it pours. Time and time again this old saying has proven true, but none more so than the last few weeks. Really, I dont remember a time when so many emotions were pumping through my body within this length of time!
It's not a negative thing! There have been some really great elements to the last few weeks, but also there have been some heart wrenching times.
One new and exciting piece of news is the newest member of my family. Her name is Molly. She is 13 lbs, brown hair, brown eyes, and a wet nose. Thats right, I got a puppy! She has taken over my life in many ways but I still am grateful to have her! My sleep schedule is completely different and she has caused a few "tiffs" with my mother but overall I'd say she is fitting in just fine. I love taking her on walks and with the exception of a small biting problem, she is turning into a great dog!
Another part of the last few weeks was my chance to visit Saline, MI!! I did an internship there and was so excited to return for a visit! I have always felt a deep connection since leaving and it was great to touch base with them again! I was, however, pretty challenged while I was there. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am called to youth ministry, however I am feeling a bit stuck right now. Luckily through some great conversations, I have become more motivated to look diligently for a position. I just have to remember that I am not God, sounds simple but not always obvious for a control freak like me :)
Sadly, in the midst of all of the good things that have happened, there have also been some very sad elements. One being that my Mom and I have been to four funeral viewings in two weeks! Whether the deceased was young or old, each one was difficult to attend. I think the hardest part was the realizsation that I do not want to die before I have the chance to really live. There are so mnay many things I want to do in my life that I have yet to accomplish. Sure there are the obvious ones like get married, have a family, own a home with a picket fence.....the basics :) But also there are things like lead a person to Christ or visit France or go on a legit road trip. I cant help but wonder if I am living my life like a bird free to roam and fly or as one who has become content in my cage. I want to break out....fly....maybe even do some tricks while flying.....but I'm not one to fly alone. All of that to say, I dont want to just live, but I want to feel alive!
Care to join?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My How the Times Sure Change

We've all seen it. Whether on the big screen, in a play, or perhaps you've witnessed it happen in real life. The dainty woman wearing the floor length dress must hold it up above her ankles in order to keep it from dragging on the ground and, therefore ,becoming dirty or wet.

It's nothing special. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that causes you to stand up and cheer.

Tonight, however, this hit me in a new and different way. I was all settled in for the night and passing time by skyping a friend and googling interesting articles. Nothing too special. I was comfy cozy in my Huntington sweats which have become a staple in my post-college wardrobe. I had been trying off and on to get a hold of my Nana, just to check in and such and realized that I hadn't talked to her much all day. Every time I called, the phone rang busy and suddenly it hit me that it could be an issue. I pulled on a jacket, slipped on my moccasins and hit the trail, off to her home to investigate. Everything was fine and it was just a technical issue.

But that's not where the story ends.

After talking for a bit I bundled up again, ready to head home. I reached the end of the cement walkway and before hitting the snowy ground I paused long enough to hold the pant legs of my sweats up so as not to let them drag on the cold snowy ground.

That's right! I held them up like I was dressed for the Oscars and I had just reached the end of my red carpet. I felt a little embarrassed and a lot ridiculous. This did cause me to think, however, about how true the old saying is that "Times sure do change".

I think my grandma has told me this twice a week for the last 24 years. Usually I brush it off and make a mental note to try to keep up with the times as I age. This incident, however, made me pause and think a bit.

Years ago, women wore dresses every single day. They were floor length and yet women were expected to accomplish all tasks in such attire. I'm sure that they never imagined that come year 2012 a girl driving a red sporty looking car would pause to hold up her sweat pants in order to prevent them from getting snowy or wet.

The fact of the matter is, times change. People change. Ideas change. Traditions change.

How wonderful is it to know that the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha, the Omega, the One True God does not change! He never has and He never will! I find it to be a comforting and liberating thought!

Malachi 3:6 tells us that "I the Lord do not change"

That's that. He stays the same today, tomorrow, and forever. So whether you're hiking up your dress to step into your carriage, hiking up your sweats to step into your car, or hiking up your future attire to step into your Jetson like travel machine, God will be there to lead you, guide you, and love you. And He will be the same throughout!

Treasure this thought and thank Him today for His consistency in a very inconsistent world!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Pulled Back Curtain

When the president of the university hands out your diploma, there should be a disclaimer attached. One that goes something like

"I know you've spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours working to earn this, but just because you have it does not mean that there will be a job readily available or that all that you planned for will be accomplished"

Now, had that been the case this blog would not likely exist. Eight months ago when I first held my diploma in my hands, I had great dreams. Noble dreams. Dreams that put to shame my childhood ideas of being a singer despite my lack of ability to carry a tune. I thought that I had grown up, I was ready to be released into the world and to make my presence known. I was ready to prove to everyone that when you do A + B + C you would get D. What I never expected is that that D would have a Q attached.

Thats right. DQ. The place where I spent my high school years working and dreaming. I was back. All that time, all that money, all those dreams were replaced by a button up shirt, a visor, and the directions to always ask if a drink was desired with the chicken strip basket.

So for the last eight months, thats where I have been. I had become a pro at feeling sorry for myself and pleading with God for some sort of explaination of why I was put there. Through a series of events these things all came to one giant head in the last few weeks.

This brings me to my point. You know those moments where everything suddenly makes sense and you feel foolish for having questioned anything to begin with? That is me. I am a follower of Christ. I yearn to be near Him always and I try my very best to serve Him well. I had, however, put Him in a box and decided that He was not powerful enough to release Himself.

No box is big enough to contain the Creator of the Universe and no person is wise enough to fully understand His ways. Luckily for us, however, He meets us in our stupidity. He certainly met me. I have had the distinct pleasure of having God pull back the curtain of my life only to reveal His omniscience.

God didn't put me at Dairy Queen so that I could sulk or pout. He put me there for a purpose. He allowed me to live in my hometown for a purpose. He allowed me to return to my home church, interact with the people I grew up with, and get to know some completely new people. God had a plan. A wonderful one.

So here is the point of my whole rambling thoughts.

Sometimes we have no idea why God is doing something or what His intention could possibly be. It seems He has allowed everything to turn upside down and be shaken up completely. But when the dust settles you realize something wonderful has been created and you might even come to believe that you are right where you need to be.

I know I have.

I am honored to be a servant of the Most High and I am learning to be completely comfortable being at His disposal. It will probably not look like I imagined and it might at times feel lonely or confusing, but it will ALWAYS be worthwhile.

Drop your baggage. Pick up your cross. Follow.
Matthew 16:24