Jul 30, 2012

Friends With Kids...

At this point in my life I have a lot of married friends, and many of them now have one... or more kids. It is both weird, and perfect to see my friends as parents. I joke with some of them that I am allowing them all to get married, and have kids so that I will have the best possible list of options, approaches, and will be able to spend less money because I will just barrow their stuff.

However, it is among some of my favorite things in the whole world to see my friends being AMAZING parents. I love watching them raise their children, and I always find it awesome to see when they are intentional about what they do, and how they handle their children.

Recently I went to visit a couple friends from college, and while I was not super close with them in college, I am so thankful that our relationship has grown and become a solid and mutually encouraging post-college friendship. While I was vising them, my respect for them as individuals, as a married couple, and as parents grew exponentially. The entire time I was amazed at how much everything was a team effort for them, I loved how consistent they are with their children, and there is no doubt in my mind that if I ever have children I'm likely going to be calling them for advice! Because, they have a very smart and active (almost) 4 year old, and twin one year olds.. talk about constantly going! I thought it was great how they continued their lives, and all the things they wanted to do or needed to do, and simply took all the kids with them everywhere they went. Their children have learned to adapt, fall asleep wherever, but they at such a young age have learned patience (at least as much as they can at so young)! AND, then through it all, they cook homemade meals, and find time to play games and just talk... Such amazing people that I am blessed to be friends with!

I loved the entire visit, and while it was busy and exhausting (never ever judge a tired mom or dad haha!) left me feeling so encouraged, loved, important, and it refueled my need for baby snuggles!

My friends are amazing, and I am so blessed to have them in my life!

It is both weird and awesome to see all of my friends and I "grow up"!

Jul 23, 2012

Out of The Boat...

I love evenings that are filled with people I am really close with, they are among some of my favorite moments. My friends (and family) bring such a unique perspective to my life, I always feel so much better after talking to them, and especially after telling them the things I am thinking about, working through, uncertain about, and praying about, they just have a way of speaking into my life words of wisdom and healing. Tonight as I caught up my friends and brother all of them highlighted different things, spoke into my heart in a way that only they could.

A few nuggets of wisdom to share from the conversations:
Not only is Jesus our Lord and Savior, but He is also "Jehovah Sneaky"... meaning He does things all the time that we are clueless about when we walk into the situation, and then on the other side are left feeling like He is crazy sneaky in His plans!.. I laughed hysterically at this term for quite a while!

I realized that I sabotage my own thoughts more than I would like to admit out of fear. I am an expert at hiding my defensive walls, and do a wonderful (in a bad way) job of preventing myself from getting hurt, by also keeping myself from walking through a potentially amazing situation or opportunity.

I was reminded that I will look back on all of this and fully understand what God is doing, and on top of that, I will be thankful, and excited at all of the ways my Lord has moved.

Sometimes I am really good at freaking out for a little bit, melting down, and then coming full circle and releasing the stress, anxiety, problem, situation, questions, uncertainty etc..etc.. to God, and other times, I choose to "protecting myself" from further hurt by not taking it all to God. But, every once in a while, I am all in regardless of the outcome, and then I allow God to truly take control, and amazingly, no matter what happens, I end up happy, content or at least understanding of the purpose behind what He was doing. Somehow over and over I forget that my better option is to give it up and be all in.

Despite bouncing between being anxious and stressing over various things in my life, I want to be all in. I want to step out of the boat, I want to fix my eyes on Christ, and I want to take comfort in His voice. Because after all, He told me not long ago "Peace, I'm here."

Jul 21, 2012

My Heart's Desire...

As part of the leadership training at NCC, each leader is given a coach to help them brainstorm, lift them and the small group up in prayer, discuss things going on, and just be a basic touch point for anything that the leader may need help working through. Not that I am biased, but I think my coach is the best one. Ever. She is amazing, full of wisdom, wit, joy, and has such perception that I just enjoy meeting with her and talking through things cause she is able to cut the insignificant things away and get to the core or the issue. I am beyond blessed to have her as my coach!

Today her and I were meeting to discuss my small group, but really it turned into discussing the changes that have come up and are presenting themselves lately. I spent longer than I needed to explaining all the different things, the perspectives, the caveats, the emotional pulls, my fears, frustrations, and prayers about everything. I went through it all figuring if she did not have all of the information either she would not be able to provide sound feedback or I would dismiss parts of what she said due to her not knowing it all. So, I chose to be completely upfront about it all... And, I am so glad I did!

After I explained everything, and then answered a few of her questions, she asked if I felt I was in a place to make a decision for myself. Meaning, if God gives me the chance to choose, am I at a place where can I choose for who I am and where I am at, based on my heart's deepest desires, instead of feeling pressure based on others? And then, she asked if I knew what my heart's deepest desire is. We talked about how I have a serious need for community, and I work hard to cultivate it wherever I go, and how I also desire whole heartedly to serve Christ... I desire a family one day, and I desire to have a career that means something.. But, when it boils down to it, I am not sure I can articulate to God what I want deep down. I am not sure I can explain to myself or others what my heart's deepest desire is because it feels entirely split into two. With half of my heart I want to forsake literally everything and serve Christ as my main focus, the other half of my heart desires to stay (or go) where solid and genuine community would be found. I mean, I have wanted a family basically my entire life, but I feel like that is something that will come regardless of where I live, go, stay, whatever, especially with all the ways to keep in contact, and the amazing thing that is Skype. And, I have also wanted to change the world my entire life (well, since I was 7 I guess).

So, while I have no idea what is coming, my goal this week is really to spend a lot of time in prayer figuring out where my heart stands in the decision making of it all, so that regardless of what God calls me to next, I will know the desires of my heart.. Which ideally would be perfectly in line with what I feel I am being led to or it could be the total opposite, and serve as a period of time where God is calling me to faith and obedience above other things.

My heart's deepest desire for my life is tricky... I have a sense, but not really words. It would be kinda nice if God would "aha" moment this all for me!

Jul 19, 2012

Always Changing...

I am always amazed at God's timing. I do not know why His plans continue to surprise me (probably because He's God..) but still.. they do. What is interesting to me is how He chooses to work in answering my prayers. I have tons of prayers that I pray consistently, asking for growth, to have more of the fruits of the spirit (yeah, yeah, that may have been my first mistake), asking for Him to use me to change the world... And then, somehow in the midst of all my prayers and petitions, I forget that I am not in control, and neither are my prayers. Somewhere along the lines I forget that I do everything for Him, and in the moments that matter, I will likely freak out for a bit, then I will be drawn back to suck it up, pull it together, and follow Him, wherever He leads me.

I find myself at another one of those crossroads where things are going to change, there is a defining moment or two coming my way, and initially I freaked out.. spazzed a little, and in my anxiousness begged God not to ask me to do anything I did not want to do..

Wait. What?!.. Who am I right now?.. This is not me! I go, I follow, I am not afraid of change, so what is this?

This is fear, fear of the leaving behind things and people I love.. again, fear of a couple years of suck repeating themselves... Just fear.

Not so much fear of the unknown or change in general because I tend to love change, but honestly, it is the relationships that I love that inevitably change that has me worried about change.

Thankfully after a lot of prayer, a lot of thinking, and a very real moment of feeling like God was telling me "Peace, I'm here" has caused me to feel like I am ok again. I do not know the future (dang it), but I do know that regardless, I will be ok because my Lord has told me He's here.

This afternoon I had to take down my hammock cause they are cutting down a few trees in our yard (serious sadness), and beforehand I just laid on it, listened to the birds and the bugs, watched the wind in the trees, and prayed. Prayed for all the various people involved in this change. Prayed for my friends. Prayed for weights on my heart. And, just spent some time being still.

Then, later this evening I sent out an e-mail to some of my closest friends asking for prayer after explaining what is going on, and I get this back:
"(my friend's) pastor told a story about Mother Teresa. A man was visiting her and asked her to pray for him to have clarity. She said no. He asked why and she said, 'I will not pray for clarity I will pray for trust.' This really hit me, because so many times I too have prayed for clarity when what I really needed was trust.  So, I will pray for you to trust more and more the God who is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine knowing that He loves you and will work all things together for your good and His glory."

Love it.

I am so beyond thankful and blessed by my Lord, by my friends, by my family... Just feeling immensely blessed tonight. Not because the world is perfect, and not because the answers are before me, but because I am loved unrelentingly by my Savior regardless of my situation or emotions.

Life will always be changing. Nothing will ever stay the same, and really I love that. What I struggle with is, change also brings an end to some really great things. But, things have to be let go for new things, so I am choosing to let go, lay in my hammock, and let God direct it all.

Jul 18, 2012

Painfully Good Reminders...

I have love hate relationships with the days where it is brought to my attention that I have been entirely too much about myself over the last while (however long). Not in the "I am a terrible person" way (although in some instances I truly lack compassion and tact), but in the subtle things that really matter to people, like a phone call, a message, whatever...

Lately life has been a whirlwind, which does not really surprise me, due to the fact that typically during the summer I attempt to have a summer schedule that allows me to do things with other people more. However, the problem with that schedule is, I have a typical "9-5" job and am in school full time getting a double masters degree, and still work to have enough free time to be able to do most things. Now, if I am being completely honest, I fill my time up with dozens of other things too, reading, movies, volunteering, small group, lots and lots of good food... and almost all of those activities involve friends.

However, that being said, my schedule lately has mostly revolved around myself.. The things I wanted to do, and the things that interested me. I mean, granted I "did" things to help others, but there have been way too many times lately where I have allowed myself to get distracted and forget things that are important to others.

I realize at this portion of my post it seems like I am beating myself up over little things that are "not a big deal." But they are.

In all seriousness, I cannot put a price on an offense or hurt I have caused someone else, especially someone who I care deeply for.

I was reminded today, in the most loving of ways, and more graciously than I deserved, that I had missed the mark. I had allowed myself to forget and become lazy in my diligence, and in doing so I had hurt someone close to me. How humbling to be reminded that your lack of paying attention to the small things that matter to other people has caused hurt in their life. Boiling it down, I hurt someone else because I did not care enough to make them a priority.


Talk about painful and humbling.

But, it honestly was the best kind of pain to experience because it allowed me the chance to apologize, and then do an inventory of the things I really have been slacking on out of pure laziness or apathy for things other than myself and my own interest... No matter how busy I am; work, school, whatever, I should never be too busy to stop and care about someone else's needs, cares, heart, problems or whatever over my own.

Such a painfully great heart check for me.

Jul 17, 2012

12 Hours of Prayer and Worship...

This past weekend, my church did a night of prayer and worship starting at 7:14 pm Saturday the 14th, and ended at 7:14 am Sunday morning. Sounds extreme huh?.. It kinda was, but in the best and potentially coolest of ways. The entire evening was to kick off a 40 day freedom fast, of which I chose to give up sweets (more on this later I am sure).

I did a post about my view of When Men Worship the Lord, but this post is more about the entire experience for me.

My intention heading into the evening was, to be there until I got tired, figuring it would be somewhere in the 2-3am vicinity that I would actually end up leaving. So, when my friend left around 11, I did not think I would be far behind her, especially knowing how much stuff I had to get done on Sunday and because I had been fairly tired all week.

I have never done all night prayer and worship alone or with anyone else, so I had no idea what to expect heading into the night... Which in this case I guess is a good thing.

When I got there, my first overwhelming thought of the evening was that there were too many people, and they were all too close to me... and it was really warm. I mean, do not get me wrong, normally I love being close to people, I enjoy being surrounded by people, giving and getting hugs, most of the time I do not mind being touched by friends and people I know, and I was really excited there were so many people there. However, when I worship my Lord and Savior, it is intensely personal and private to me; almost more than anything else. Not to mention the fact that, I am a swayer when I worship (thanks Dad for that gene), I move, I raise my hands, I sway, I bounce around, all depending on how the music moves me. But, there were so many people that I literally had no room to move, and I did not want to bump into those around me for fear of interrupting their worship time.

Once I settled into realizing it would be a while before I was able to sway and move freely, I began the task of searching my heart to let go of the things that would hinder my communication with Christ. It took me oh, about .001 seconds to identify the burden on my heart. Lovely.

After my friend left at 11, I moved up next to another friend, mostly because I would rather worship next to someone who knows me, just in case the Lord decides to do some real work and I turned into a blabbering fool. Thankfully by the time I moved to join my friend almost half of the people had left already and I was able to worship without worrying about bumping into someone else's worship experience.

Every hour or two they would transition into a new worship leader while one of the pastors talked or shared for a bit about what God was putting on their heart. It was really a neat experience, and while somewhat structured, it was actually organic enough to make sense and flow with the Holy Spirit. The neat thing about having so many different people lead worship throughout the night was how it all ebbed and flowed do to the different leaders. There were periods of time when the worship was powerful and exciting, and other times it was raw and seeking, some ushered into praise, while still others lead us into contemplation and reflection. It was a fantastic experience from just the worship leader's anointing alone!

What amazed me afterwards about the entire thing, and as I began processing through what happened, how in the world did I end up being there the full 12 hours?! The first real thing that struck me was, it took me EIGHT HOURS to deal with the burden on my heart. Eight hours of constantly in the presence of God working through my fears, my anxiety, my desire to control, and finally relenting to letting my Lord deal with it. I spent the first seven hours begging for a clear answer, I just wanted to know for certain what His plan was and where He is leading me. Finally around hour eight I still did not have a specific answer, but an entirely overwhelming sense of "Peace, I'm here." No form of do this or that, no action plan, but an outpouring reminding that the plan is in motion, my job is to let go and let God, and remember He is with me. However, just before I realized I was at peace I began crying and saying over and over "Abba, Father, I need you." It was an interesting moment when I realized I was at peace once more because I was beginning to get tired, and had curled up in the chair to listen to other people talk about the various things God had been laying on their heart to share, and in the midst of someone sharing their heart, they mentioned Abba Father, and instantly I realize I was content, full of peace, and God was going to take care of me. What is even more ridiculous to me is that it took until about hour eleven before I really felt God at my core.

What I also find interesting and fairly ridiculous about the entire thing is how long it took for me to let go and relax in the presence of God, my Savior. EIGHT HOURS before I was finally able to relinquish control and let go of my anxiety. That is a really long time, and kinda stupid that it took me so long. However, the truth of it all is that, it took me four hours for the knot and dread in my stomach to go away, so I suppose it is fitting for it to take another four hours to work itself the rest of the way out of me, and then another three hours for God to wash it all away from my memory enough so that I could only focus on Him, despite my almost delirious state of exhaustion at that point.

I was a little surprised throughout the night at the things that made me tear up or cry. Nothing sparked a fountain or waterfall type of crying, but at several points throughout the night, different things touched me or beckoned me to the feet of Christ enough that I found myself tearing up or in a couple instances crying... It is in those moments that I am thankful my bangs cover my face when my head is bowed, it gives me a semblance of privacy; even though I am fairly certain others can see me wipe my tears away. Like I said earlier, worship between God and I is one of the most personal and private things to me, I really struggle letting others into that area... And, I have also had several people on numerous occasions inform me that I am really bad at letting others know how and what I need prayer over... I am working on it, promise.

The other thing that amazed me about the entire experience was how easily I paid attention the entire 12 hours. I expected to really struggle as the night wore on, but the hours flew by, and my attention span remained... I also was slightly surprised that I did not even come close to falling asleep at any point throughout the night, even when my eyes were closed and I was sitting while praying.

Overall I am so excited to have been able to experience 12 hours of prayer and worship, it was not at all what I was expecting, in the very best of ways, and I am excited to see what God does in the next 36 days of my fast!

Jul 16, 2012

When Men Worship the Lord...

I have grown up in a family full of strong, God fearing, and loving men. I am so proud of them, respect them, and they have a great deal to do with the way I view men, and the way I feel men should treat and take care of women... Regardless of their relationship.

That being said, I am always encouraged to find, see, meet, become friends with, spend time with or talk to men outside of my family that exhibit the same level of character and love for the Lord. It warms my heart in an entirely unique way.

This weekend I spent 12 hours with a fairly large group of people from my church, praying and worshiping throughout the night, from 7:14pm Saturday (the 14th) to 7:14am Sunday (I will do a separate post about that experience later because it definitely needs its own). And, whether any of us like it or not, a lot can be understood about someone when they are singing worship music to their savior. For instance, you can tell when someone is deeply impacted and moved, you can tell when they are passionate, who is typically expressive, energetic, and when the music is taking them to solemn or emotional places. The nervousness some people exhibit while singing is interesting indication as well. All of these characteristics can be observed while someone is singing. Granted, the thing that is causing these behaviors to be exhibited can vary dramatically, so to assume someone is nervous because they are uncomfortable singing out-loud would be an unfair judgement, and that is not at all what I am talking about. I am merely talking about the basic things that are actually getting communicated, not the cause. And, I do believe in a lot of ways you can tell what type of person they are based on how the worship.

However, for just a few minutes, I want to focus specifically on the men I spent the evening worshiping and praying with. Why am I focusing on the men specifically? Because, while a lot of what I am saying can and does apply to women also, as a woman, I think it is actually easier for us to worship openly due to our natural bend towards being in touch with our emotions. Plus, I think there is a lot to be said about the leadership a man exhibits in the way he worships his Lord and King. Also, just a housekeeping note, I am specifically referring to congregational/group singing, and not at all referencing the worship leader's gender or particular style of leading worship.

So, here are a few of the things that struck me from my 12 hours of prayer and worship with the men in attendance.

It just feels right when people of all backgrounds, ages etc.. unabashedly worship God together; however, there really is no amount of words that can accurately describe the comfort and "rightness" that comes from being around men who openly and passionately worship Christ. There is just something different about being around men who are excited to worship and not at all worried about those around them, if they are on key, if the person next to them is raising their hands or closing their eyes.

I have always loved listening to men and women's voices blend when they sing together. When men lend their voices loudly to the group, it adds something that while beautiful, women's voices simply do not have. There is a weight behind the sound when men sing that carries the song in a way that allows the women's voices to add the beauty and change the depth of the song (Right about now is when it becomes clear I have virtually no experience and a seriously basic understanding of music making itself).

So, taking all of these things into consideration. Spending 12 hours around men who exhibited a love and passion for God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), was awesome to say the least. There is power behind men who worship openly. Men were meant to fight, strive, protect, and care for women, families, puppies (haha) etc.. they were made that way. It is an amazing thing to watch and hear men sing songs about needing Christ, humbly saying that God is holy, holy, holy, and declaring that if God is with them, then who and what could possibly stand in their way? Being surrounded for 12 hours by this atmosphere creates an entirely different level of comfort and feeling of safety even though I personally only knew a few of the dozens of men in the room.

Throughout various points in the night I watched and listened to the men around me, not because I wanted to judge them, but because I was trying to understand them... What was God saying to them? What were they saying to God? Were they praising or pleading for something? Were they feeling the weight of bondage or set free? Were they declaring victory or needing forgiveness? Were they at peace or burdened? It was such a unique atmosphere to be a part of for dozens upon dozens of reasons, but throughout the evening, I found myself on numerous occasions just smiling as I saw or heard the men around me. There were some fantastic singers, some really excited and passionate dancing, lots of men bowed down praying, and more than a few sobering and emotional moments, all mixed with a lot of singing from the very core of who they are.

While I could go on and on about all the ways the evening encouraged and changed things in my heart with just this one element of the evening; the biggest ways it impacted me were in feeling so proud of Christian men, and being incredibly encouraged to see so many of them leading the way they are supposed to; by seeking first the Kingdom of God. There is a good chance I will never know the names of the majority of the men I spent 12 hours praying and worshiping with, but the ones I did know now have a special place in my heart because of it all.

When men worship the Lord, it is a game changer because it allows God to change them, and then women cannot help but be effected.

I will likely never know even a small portion of the things the men were praying for, through or praising God for, but, they will also likely never know how it spoke to my heart and how 12 hours of worshiping and praying with them changed me. They will likely never know how that small step of leadership has impacted me, and I am uncertain I could even explain it or articulate it well if given the opportunity.

Bottom line, there is something exactly perfect and right with the world when men worship the Lord.

Jul 14, 2012

The Despising Part of Change...

I have always been a people person and made friends, close friends, good friends, lots of friends everywhere I go/move/visit. I love the people in my life dearly, and once they are "in" so to speak, I really never let them entirely go. I mean granted, like all relationships distance, schedules, and stages in life cause ebs and flows, but I make a point to ensure that every interaction reinforces that no amount of time or distance changes my willingness to pick up as if no time or distance has taken place.

That being said, I kinda hate how many people I know in so many places. Everywhere I move, everywhere I travel causes pieces of me to stay behind and makes the thought of moving more challenging each time.

The thing I find so interesting about my perspective is, my desire to move, stay, travel or my anxiety about those same things has nothing really to do with the logistics, dangers, money, etc.. and everything to do with the people in my life that I love. Going somewhere new, meeting new people, making new friends, all of that is actually more exciting and exhilarating than anything. But, as I get older I realize that the more I do that, the more it means leaving someone else behind (at least for a while) because the reality is no matter who you are or how social you are, you simply cannot fit everyone into your life the same amount all the time. There are inherent ebs and flows that are neither good nor bad, they just are... And, leaving people is the one thing I dislike about change.

And, just as a note, currently there are no actual plans in the works to move, there are just always possibilities as I keep my eyes and ears open to where God is leading me next and what our next adventure will be.

Jul 12, 2012

Gaining Perspective...

This post is a little different.

These are pictures of various pages from a Christmas gift I got in '09 from one of my best friends. She wrote different things on each page with various styles and patterns throughout the entire little book.

I love this still, and thought I would share a few things...

Jul 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Don...

... Well not really Don, but Dave.

Don is his redneck-hick alter ego.

This is ridiculously poor quality cause it's a recording of a recording, but it means a lot to several of us...


No one could make me laugh like Don and Karl.

So, Happy birthday, you are awesome.

I'm glad we're friends,
             even after all these years,
                                       and moves,
                                             and schedules,
                                                      and you getting married,
                                     and lack of actually being able to be friends and hang out like we used to..

 This picture is from several years ago at one of my college roomies/besties wedding.

Hey, remember when you almost got us arrested?!...

(Does this satisfy your need for a blog shout-out on your birthday? lol)

Jul 10, 2012

Writing a Book...

I love reading. My dad loves reading... I have likely gotten the affinity for slipping away into other worlds from him, and I am thrilled about it! I simply cannot get more excited about reading a good series, especially if it is fictional, thriller, with a serious driving force being the relationships between the characters, and I absolutely love when the books are either sci-fi or close enough to reality that they might just possibly have/could happen. These facts about me are likely why I love Ted Dekker and basically all of his books, the Inheritance Series, and feel like all rainy days should entail a good window seat and book.

So, with that in mind, my dad and I have spent a decent amount of our communication over the last little while discussing a book (series) we are writing together. Well, technically we are still planning everything out and creating the characters, world, timeline, interactions, and basic facts. But, the thing I love most about it is that it is just so much fun! We have spent hours discussing little things like weapons (yeah, weapons always get my family talking for hours) or the humor that a certain character possesses.

I mean, to be totally honest, my dad and I can talk for hours about almost anything, pretty much regardless of if there is a specific purpose, but creating a fictional world together has been such a blast so far!

We have created a chart detailing the various things we need to remember about each character, situation, and crucial story plots to ensure that we do not forget or contradict ourselves... And, like any good story, the world will need saving! There will be a love story or two, some tragedy, humor, bait and switching, and a pretty intricate threat that will need to be neutralized. Should be lots of fun to read, but probably way more fun to write!

Knowing both of our schedules, it will likely be a long time until we are actually anywhere close to finished with the first book, let alone the series as a whole, but, it has been a lot of fun to just be creative for the sake of something fun to do together.

At some point, I will release the synopsis of the book/series... But, until then you will just have to....

Jul 9, 2012

Resolving Conflict...

I have never been one to shy away from conflict.. likely due to the fact that while unpleasant, thanks to my parents, I learned that when dealt with, things are always resolved and better afterwards. However, just because I do not shy away from conflict, does not actually mean I like conflict, just that it has to be resolved in order to move forward... and move forward in a healthy way.

Lately, I feel like I have been surrounded by conflict, some of it I am fairly certain I have caused, others it has taken everything in me not to merely just drop everything and run from the person and situation, and still other bits of conflict have evoked an immediate reaction to the situation.

Let me just pause again and say that, conflict resolution is exhausting, especially when there seems to be lots of it from different places in a very short amount of time.

I know that, probably like most, I do a terrible job at resolution when I am tired; and I have spent the better part of the last month exhausted. Honestly, I was completely worn out until last weekend when I was finally able to sleep, and sleep for more than a couple hours at a time... And then, I was able to wake up with no where to immediately be, which is a nice change of pace as well.

Anyway, I digress...

Resolving conflict is tiring, it is unpleasant, it is frustrating, and it often brings out the worst in you before it will bring out the best, but every time on the other side I am thankful for the experience, the situation, and the person who stuck it out with me instead of hiding or running from me. Because, like most everything that is good in this world, it takes two people to make things work, especially if it is the relationship itself. Not everyone I have had conflict with lately has been willing to stand and fight with me to resolve our disagreement, which is frustrating beyond words, but I have come to realize lately that, I have a much larger pool of friends and loved ones than most who will stand and fight with me til resolution. Even if our conflict puts us on opposing sides, they will continue to work it out until we have figured out what is wrong and how to move forward.

Let me be the first to say, I have handled a lot of the situations poorly or at the very least, not as well as I would have liked. But, I think what has made it so exhausting lately is the sheer amount of it I have dealt with in such a short amount of time... Mostly small things that just evoke emotional reactions, things that have been thrown in my face, some that only brought about immediate anger, and other situations that forced me to choose what was more important to me; being right or showing love and respect to the person in front of me...

Can I just say, choosing love and respect is really difficult when you are angry at the person for something they have done and/or said...

But, I would also like to say, the difficulty or frustration felt when restraining the impulse to say or do something in retaliation is always worth it in the end. Otherwise, you are only left you feeling worse, unresolved, and now needing to also apologize on top of the initial hurt and emotion. So, while I have yet to entirely master this restraint-in-the-heat-of-the-moment thing, the few times I was able to keep it together, I always felt better in the end. Not because I felt like I had "done less wrong" and definitely not because I felt more right, but because hurting those you love never makes you feel better in the end... you just end up feeling like a scum of a person.

So, I guess the bottom line that I am feeling is that, despite the struggles relationally lately, I am learning a lot, I am somewhat begrudgingly growing, but I am growing and working for friendships that are totally worth fighting for. Talk about un-fun but entirely needed life lessons to learn. Sheesh.

and Self-Control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Sometimes I hate the fruits of the spirit, and other times I am overwhelmed by receiving them from others.

Jul 8, 2012

Oh to Be Single...

So, while I have days where I am more than annoyed at the single life.. Lately I have had a few instances where the humor in being single is almost worth all the frustrations!... Here are a few tid bits of wisdom for those hoping to gain some insight into the single girl...

(These answers are meant with humor and a tad bit of sarcasm)

Do not ask a single girl "why" she is still single, this may result in many ridiculous responses or a slap across the face. The question is really akin to asking a single girl "what is wrong with you" and trust me... She will respond appropriately, likely with sarcasm..

Do not tell a single girl you "understand" why she's single.. Please see the previous paragraph for her likely responses.

If you want to make a single girl feel pathetic, tell her you feel sorry for her still being single, that is not helpful nor will it make her feel better... Plus, what will you do if she cries?.. Feel like a jerk.

Telling a single girl that her "prince charming is out there somewhere" only makes her want to kill the makers of every Disney princess movie ever created. Especially if she thinks "prince charming" tends to be a sort of boring fellow in fairy tales...

Explaining that a single girl's "dominant" personality might have something to do with "it".. is like claiming she's single cause she has brown eyes... It makes no sense, and only proves that you also have no idea why she is still single.... other than the obvious fact that she has not gotten married yet.

Just because a girl is single does equate her also being lonely.. It makes her.. single, that is all. Do not assume one inherently means the other anymore than getting married solves all your problems.

Single girls really can (believe it or not) just be friends with guys (single or married). IF she has had the "could I see myself with him?" thought about a single guy, that does not mean she ceases to be "just friends," it means she's realistic and not shallow...

...If the single girl has not wondered if she and a single guy would work together, that does not inherently mean she is being shallow, she likely knows herself well enough to know whether they would work well together. Both scenarios are good things.

Believe it or not, high standards is actually a good thing (for guys and girls). Do not try to convince the single girl otherwise... Her dad won't appreciate it.

Telling a single girl to "enjoy" being single while she can, is like telling someone to enjoy their freedom before they are sent to prison... Aka... You have just indicated that you feel like a prisoner, and she will feel sorry for you and your marriage.

To be continued...

Feel free to add... ;)

Jul 5, 2012

4th of July in DC...

A few of the pictures to showcase the heat, fun, and fireworks that we experienced on the 4th of July!

(click on the images for a better view)

Jul 2, 2012

Fasting Sweets...

I say this about every Sunday, but I certainly feel it more often than I express it.

I. Love. My. Church.

There is just something about it, the mission, the vision, the Christ centered everything, the community, the uniqueness, everything. While not perfect because it is run by imperfect people. I love it, and the Lord speaks to me through it.

My pastor Mark Batterson has a way of connecting with the Holy Spirit, and obeying. I love it because he does it often, and he shares it with us just as often. The amount of miracles God is/has done at my church is just inspiring.

Last weekend he talked about waging war on our sinful nature, and part of that will start this summer starting on 7/14 as a church we are doing a 40 day fast. Mark has chosen to fast media saying that he feels too distracted by it, and as though it has a hold on him that it should not have. He gave us as a congregation two weeks notice so we can think, pray, and decide on what we are fasting for 40 days. I have decided to fast sweets because as much as I like to think and claim I try to be healthy, lately my self control seems to have exploded and been demolished. So, no sweets/candy/dessert/etc.. for me for 40 days, and I could not be more excited to have this encouragement behind me pushing me closer to the cross.

What makes me even happier is one of my closest friends here in DC without either of us talking felt the same pull to fast sweets. Whew! Talk about easier knowing we are on the same page with that too!

To end the 40 days of fasting on August 24th will be an all church celebration/concert of the God Anthology CD that the worship leaders/musicians put out last summer that another group has asked us to come and have a concert/worship jam session there. I am so excited, and love how much involvement my church has in the DC community!