good & bad & new things.

I have neglected you again, sweet blog.

Lots has happened since my last write. I have a new (temporary) job at my alma mater St. Edward’s (hilltoppers what’s good?!) and I have a wonderful man friend in my life. These are good things.

Some not good things include a terrible case of food poisoning followed by an upper respiratory virus that has lead to laryngitis. I also have to mention the food poisoning came from one of my favourite Indian restaurants – Nasha – and from one of my favourite dishes – saag paneer. A huge let down to say the least. After my stomach failed me, my sinuses and voice failed me. Can someone give a sicky girl a break?

As most of you know I have had an extremely (I mean REALLY THO) hard time finding a full time job that pays decently and is in my line of expertise. (Sorry but I will not watch a group of 20 kids for $8 an hour). It has been a 2+ ride of rejection after rejection with small temporary part time jobs in between.

What is that saying? When one door closes another one opens? Well, I say, when one door closes (or in my case, all the doors are slammed in your face), build your own damn door and be a badass. So I’m going to try that.

Soon, I will launch a food blog where you can hear all about my crazy concoctions I make at home, plus all of the amazing restaurants I visit in the wonderful city of Austin (plus places that give me food poisoning ahemmm Nasha). It will be a big undertaking and it won’t be easy but I hope to get as much support and constructive critique as I can! Send any tips, advice, suggestions, encouragement, or wise words this way!

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai qui tu es.”

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.

 

twenty 4

It happened. I aged another year.

I look back at 23 and man, it was a doozy. Sometimes I think I’ve felt all the heartache I can handle, but then more heartache happens to the point where I am crippled and paralyzed from grief. Death and dying, breakups and broken friendships, family in hospitals for weeks on end… It was a hefty, filled year, but not the kind of filling you would want. I wanted a nutella filled year but it was filled with like, ear wax, or compost, or something else that is really unpleasant.

Isn’t it funny how that works? Something of great sorrow occurs and when you think it is over, it really isn’t, it was a just a short break from something else awful. Both personally and socially, this was the pattern of 23. I look around my community, and then at the world, and I see brokenness; I see a defeated people. I see rejection and abandonment where there is meant to be acceptance and  owning. Sometimes I think about how Joey in FRIENDS looks up to God and says “why God why?!” at all his friends birthdays – it’s funny and it makes me laugh. But then sometimes, it is a real question. WHY? Why? God, please tell me, why? I remember the faith of Abraham and how he didn’t ask why. He had such an incredible trust in God, that he went and did as God said, and that was that. The closeness and intimacy between him and God meant not asking questions, but trusting. What a beautiful trust, to not ask God for things that can’t be answered, but to just trust Him in the midst of all the crap – to see His broken heart there with you,  to feel His tears alongside yours, for all the crap that He doesn’t want happening either. But because He is God and He is good, you feel a bright smile on you, and His smiling face is so, so life-giving.

So, for this upcoming year, this year of 24, I claim joy to be abounding. I claim reward and renewal. I claim health and wealth. I claim the glory of Jesus to be rich and plentiful. I claim a nutella filled year.

rocks and deep ridges.

Heart ache, head ache, body ache, soul ache.

After many late hours up at night, hospital visits, and seemingly unbearable situations… here I stand.

I recently learned in a Scott Erickson demonstration that you can survive almost anything – especially because God is by your side and on your side. Learning this was a game changer for me. You can go to hell and back – but you always come back – stronger, better, wiser, with knowledge to share. God isn’t just by your side – He is ON your side & ON your team.

Through this valley of rocks and deep ridges I’ve found strength incomparable to that which the world can give you. I have found light in the deepest darkness. I have found good amidst evil comes. I have found that I, too, can survive almost anything.

It takes just a spark of encouragement, light, & love, to find your way back out of the darkness. I could have lost my mind these last few months. I could have given up and said that evil wins, because it often feels that way. But oh man, how that is far from the truth.

I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again – I have looked into the eyes of pure evil. And the most beautiful part is that it doesn’t get to win. It doesn’t even have power to scare me anymore. It’s laughable. And I rejoice in these sweet whispers…

Be not afraid.

be not afraid

Unprepared.

I just finished my first week of working full time (and then some), plus getting my new house situated (took 5 hours to install internet uh what) and making sure Obie stays calm through it all. Needless to say I’m exhausted… and… the word I might use too often on here: spent.

I like to think I’m a rather social person and reach out to friends to make plans to spend time together and whatnot. This week I didn’t do that at all. I cancelled plans. Turned people down (not that I’m miss popular over here but you know). I don’t understand how normal people work 9-5’s and still go out to happy hours and shows and events. It is HARD.

Growing up is hard. I made this my facebook status today and man is it true. No one and nothing really prepares you for adulthood. No one tells you what it’s like to budget, to pay your bills, to multi-task and juggle assignments at work, to be sane and nice and not a zombie through it all. I’m told that it stays this hard for the remainder of your working life, that no one really has it figured out, and that this is normal.

I don’t want this to be normal. I don’t think it’s normal to be so exhausted that all you do is work and sleep (albeit for a week but still, I feel a pattern coming). I don’t think it’s normal for everyone to complain about how they hate their jobs and their bosses and their lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the AMAZING blessings I’ve been given. The other day I was wet-eyed thinking about how I’ve been given a new job, a new house, family, health, and love and how so many people won’t live in luxury as I do. But that doesn’t mean we don’t all struggle in our own ways. I rely on my parents for A LOT of things and I feel guilty about that (although they would never want me to). I am not sure I’m going in the direction I want to be going in. I’m kind of feeling my way through the darkness.

Maybe darkness is all I’ve ever really known, all I’ve ever really been moving through.

It’s not until after something that I can look back and learn from it. After leaving a job, a relationship, a living situation, a burger joint (don’t go to Smashburger y’all). Maybe things aren’t so bad right now, and maybe I’m not in the darkness at all.

Maybe I’m actually in a bright light, and everything will be ok because I was purchased at a high price and am now deemed priceless, and that the hard work has been taken care of. And I can live. Freely. Joyfully. With great love.

Maybe it’s not about stressing or complaining or wishing for more. Maybe it’s about sitting, resting, letting out a sigh of relief, and thanking God for it all.

blood is sunshine

I have no excuse for this lack of update, friends. I apologize. I will get better, I promise.

There’s so much that needs to be said but I can’t find the words, I can’t figure out how to express these things. These words lack meaning. I’m angry. I’m upset. I’m irritated. I’m discouraged. English is such an empty language. The more I research the Greek language, the more I admire how full and pregnant it is. There are 30 translations for our one word, love. Agape, phileo, storge.. etc. It’s beautiful to think there is an exact right word to match you feeling. I’m usually never short on things to say, but this week I took a lot of time to myself to think and be alone. It was mainly depressing, but I think it’s a good thing. It’s ok to not be on the mountain, to be cheery and full of life every second of the day. Honestly, we can’t be that way. We are busted and broken humans. It’s ok to not be ok.

It’s ok to not be ok.

I think the hardest part about not being ok is that everyone wants to fix you. They try to put a band-aid on you. Like, on your whole body, on your insides. I always think the best way to be with someone that’s going through a rough time is just that; be. Be there. Be there to listen. Be there to understand. Be there as a space, for someone to talk into. Just be.

be gentleAs my job hunt continues (someone please hire me) and my bank account cries itself to sleep at night, I have all this time to live life in a unique way, mainly spontaneously. I feel like hitting the gym? I can go anytime of day. I want to read a new book? Cool, let’s read the whole thing in the next 7 hours. Someone needs a hand with something? They’re in luck because I have two. As hard as it is to wait for the right job, I am lucky to get to do it in Austin, and to do things as I please.

My last thought: life is hard enough. Let’s not be people that condemn and preach hate. Let’s be people that love when it’s the hardest, that agape when it’s not easy. The people in your life are important. Treat them that way.

lost in the clouds.

Doing what is right is always hard. There’s no easy way out when you’re following your convictions, intuitions, and God.

I tend to get myself caught up in situations that I think are good for me. I tell myself, “This is what I’ve been longing for. This is it. This will satisfy me fully.” Each time, I’m tricking myself. And my actions have consequences; they affect other people.

How I yearn for wisdom to make the right choices and make good decisions. How I hope to make everyone I meet happy, feel loved and cared for. How I pray that I’m doing God’s will. But… I’m human. I am made of dust and dry bones and there are many broken parts to me. I mainly make the wrong choice, don’t love people well, and even avoid God’s will.

But God…. but God freely gives me sweet sweet grace and mercy. I don’t have to be so hard on myself for messing up. I get to go to people with a vulnerable and sorrowful heart, asking for forgiveness and forgiving others with compassion.

If I have hurt you, from the bottom of my heart I am sorry and ask for forgiveness.
If I have made you happy, praise God because the fullness of joy comes from Him alone.

May my experiences make me love those around me better, truer, fuller.

press on.

“…Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

The past is the past. Let it go.

I have heard those words uttered to me countless times. I think it’s good advice… easier said than done. There are things from over a decade ago that I haven’t been able to let go. Oh, how I’ve tried. How I’ve yearned to surrender the past and be rid of it. However, there are times when the past crawls back to me, reminds me of who I’ve been and the damage that was done to me + damage that I’ve done to others.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

How arrogant is it that I think I hold all the answers. That if I look inward, I’ll find what I’m looking for. How foolish! How childish! How hilarious it is thinking I know more than the God of this world, of this universe. And how humbling is it to step back and see that false truth I believed. How much grace there is for people like me…

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Our past might haunt us. It might crawl into the deep spaces of your mind and keep you up at night. It might remind you of awful + unspeakable things, of things that you wouldn’t want anyone to find out about you. Our past has a way of making us feel dirty. But we aren’t those things – we aren’t who our past says we are. We are being renewed constantly, as we struggle and wrestle with death + heartache + loss + chaos, we are made new over and over, with good things ahead of us, even if they seem so very far away… God never lets us down or disappoints. Our past tells us not to believe that, but God’s words to us have much more weight than our muddy experiences of the past.

I’ve been facing many dark truths and facts in the past several months. When all hope feels lost, I hear a whisper telling me, “don’t give up on Me. talitha cumi, arise little girl, daughter of Mine.” Through the death of friends and family, through the ongoing darkness of human trafficking in my city, through the heartache and drama of relationships, through it ALL, I can rest assured in the Person who whispers to the inner parts of me. So I press on.

“…I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Violent Loving God.

2014 is about to be history.

This has easily been the hardest year of my life. Let’s review:
– planned for China departure in February, but everything fell apart
– heartache
– death in family/first funeral
– job searching/sorta homeless from May-August
– heartache
– found a home but still jobless
– found a new amazing, godly community
– h e a r t a c h e
– another super unexpected death
– job leads (sorta)

More than anything, God grew me and fed me and lead me and didn’t forsake me. His faithfulness is real and alive and unwavering.

Today, I met with a dear friend who lives in the DR that I hadn’t seen since last Christmas, and she told me that I seemed joyful, that there was a difference between how I was last year compared to now, that I have changed. How reassuring to hear! When stuck in the battle with sin, with the evil in this world, and sometimes with God, you gotta remember how far you have come. A year to us may seem long, but God is not limited by time. Heck, it took 75 years before Abraham ever heard from God, and another 30 or so before he had kids. God isn’t interested in our timelines. He’s interested in our hearts and where our desires lay and where we find our identity. He is interested in all of us; the best part is that He KNOWS us in all our flaws but LOVES us and never rejects us. Christmas is the time to stop and remember how God works – He uses the weak to show His strength. He brought our Savior in the form of a little bitty baby, to grow up like you and I grew up, and to live a human life like you and I are doing. Christmas is about remembering God’s faithfulness to His children, to Abraham when He said His lineage would bring about a Savior. 42 generations later, and God brought that Savior. Time is not a worry to God. Time is a worry to US.

I have been struggling with being jobless, boyfriendless, and a few other things. But God knows the desires of my heart and He wants to fulfill them, for His glory and renown alone. My greatest joy is in His greatest glory. He cares for you. He loves you to the point of sending His perfect Son from the perfect most dreamy land to this awful earth, to live a life among people who treated Him with disdain, to die the most painful and unfair death, and to be raised back to life. The stone is rolled away friends….

“God’s chief end was not to bring Christ into the world for us, but us for Christ . . . and God contrived all things that do fall out, and even redemption itself, for the setting forth of Christ’s glory.”

Bring it on, 2015.

twenty three.

I turned 23 over the weekend, and I had such a blessed birthday. I actually woke up with a nasty cold on the 15th and wasn’t 100% myself, but I was surrounded by rich love and wonderful people. Birthdays are always a little weird… the day God decided you should pop out into this world and every year it is a big grandiose thing. I love it. I love the importance of that day and what it means to grow a year older. I’ve only really known God for 4 years but it’s amazing getting to walk with Him day after day, year after year. I’ve asked a few people what they learned in their 23rd year of life and what are some important things to remember. Advice ranged from “focus solely on your career and nothing else” to “travel the world alone and really live.” I don’t know what 23 holds for me. I know that 22 was rough and a huge transition year and not one I particularly enjoyed but I know it was necessary. If anything, I learned a great deal of things and am excited to apply what I’ve learned to this next year. Relationships, jobs, church, family, activities, OBIE… the list goes on and on. I really just want to focus on loving God and loving others to where it’s overflowing, where there’s such an abundance that no one around me is left empty. I want to learn to love big and love well.

Every person out there has the longing in their heart to be known, understood, and needed. Mine might be less or more intense than others, but that is beside the point. I know that the level of desire for those three things are very high – to the point I bring it up in conversation to loved ones around me often and scarcely come up with any real solution. I’m left questioning, am I crazy? Am I being irrational? What’s wrong with me? Or, what’s wrong with them? The blame game is easy to run to and used more so than I would like. It’s been one of the biggest challenges to truly understand my desire to be known, understood and needed – that it is healthy, human, and that God made me this way. My biggest issue has been to who or what I’m looking at to fulfill those desires. I fail myself, and I fail others, so of course others will fail me. Same thing with places, or objects, or anything other than the Designer who placed those longings in my heart. I’ve racked my brain over and over for years wondering why I am this way and why I can’t find peace. Yet I’ve never truly brought those desires to the Lord and said “here, take these and form them to be for Your good and glory.” Isn’t that the whole reason we are here anyway? The best part about glorifying God in those three distinct desires is that when He properly fulfills them, we get joy unlike any other and He gets the utmost glory. That is how this was all meant to be! But a broken world with a broken system and broken hearts makes them, well, a little difficult…

But grace.
Astounding, ridiculous, beautiful grace. It makes way for even the most arrogant, naive and confused people (ehem, myself) find peace and contentment in knowing that the desires of my heart will be filled, my prayers answered, my longings reached, on that day when I’m face to face with the One who matters most.

Here’s to trusting the Artist who made me, to loving fuller, to leaning harder on my Father, and to accepting grace in all its beauty.

Though You Slay Me

“Your heart and flesh will fail, the earth will give way below, but with your eyes you’ll see the Lord one day. On that day he will be lifted high and exalted. You will see the Lamb who has been slain and you will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that every tear was worth it all.”

Scott Cason Frazier

I can remember the night lucidly.

Months have passed since that interminable night, but I recall the exhaustion, the tears careening freely down my cheeks, and the desperation of my soul in high definition.

It was night one at the Dell’s Children Hospital NICU. Chelsea was still at Seton Main recovering and I was sitting alone at Davy’s bedside begging that God would give my little girl another day to keep fighting. At that point I had been awake for over 36 hours and delirious, but nothing was going to keep me away from my daughter – even sleep.

I’ve never been so fervent or desperate in prayer as I was that night. During one of my prayers a friend of mine sent me this video.

The lyrics in this song momentarily ceased their mortal qualities and embodied the divine. No, they weren’t the inerrant words of God, but God…

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