Category Archives: Everyday Life

Messengers

I walk silently down the passageway. It feels hushed, yet I am surrounded by the screaming voices of hundreds, maybe thousands of messengers vying for my attention. In the midst of this silent noise, I slow down, trying to take it all in. The passage and everything in it seems so clean, almost sterilized, except for the messengers. They vary in age, and the older they are, the more worn out and filthy they seem. Covered in dirt and smudges of lord knows what, their thin coverings are often worn or torn around the edges. Some of them barely seem able to stand up straight, but there are so many packed together along the passage that they stay vertical with no room to fall.

Some of the messengers speak with the voices of old friends, who I have visited time and again, yet long to spend another late night and give up another secret. Others are only vaguely familiar, we may have spoken once or twice, but they never made much of an impression. Still others are completely new and foreign. It seems strange that some that are old can seem completely knew to my virgin ears.

What do they say? Well, they all say the same thing, really: Pick me. Choose me. Give me a chance. I have something wonderful, something mysterious, something new to show you. I’ll give you an adventure you could never have dreamed of. I’ll change the way you see the world. I’ll express the deepest joys and longings of your heart in ways you never thought possible. Just give me a chance.

Despite my love of these adventures and deep desire to learn everything they have to tell me, I come here rarely. I have to be the right mood to face these insistent little messengers. Sometimes it breaks my heart to realize I may never know all the secrets they have to divulge. Today, I feel up to the adventure. The monotony of life is slowly drowning me, and this long, quietly noisy passage is my only escape. I walk even more slowly, stopping to speak with a messenger here and there, trying to wrap my mind around which one to choose.

I really am not sure I could tell you what dictates the final decision. It might be just one or two perfect words the strike my fancy. It might be a voice that sounds so close to my own, or to someone I love. It might be that this messenger happens to be a friend of a friend, and that friend thought we might get along. I might just like the look of it. Somehow, finally, through the confusion and the sea of quiet voices, I choose just one from the crowd.

I step out of the silent roar of the library, slipping the book that I had chosen so carefully into my bag. The murmur of traffic and voices of children across the street sooth my tired mind as I begin my walk home.


Sleepless

My old friend insomnia has been coming to call quite frequently in the last week or two. It’s been a long time. Here’s the thing, though, I remember hating these long, sleepless hours. I remember bemoaning the fact that I would be tired the next day and getting so angry about not being asleep that I couldn’t possibly fall asleep. Now, I almost relish it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting to be an old lady and these late nights are taking their toll. So yes, I might be a little more emotional and bit more prone to over-caffeination. That’s okay. Here’s why:

~Sitting in silence with my dog sleeping on my lap while I read

~The chill night air battling to seep through my hoodie (which I can only wear at night this time of year)

~The rustle of the last pages as I manage to finish books I’ve been working on for too long

~Trying to be oh, so quiet in the kitchen and catch the tea kettle before it whistles

~The gentle scraping of my pen in my journal

~The quick, quiet tapping of my keyboard as I finally find myself writing again (night provides far better scope for the imagination!)

~The quiet kind of inspiration that seems so real that the world seems to fade away and only comes from feeling completely alone in the silence

So while I may not have missed the feeling of fighting to keep my eyes open for the first two hours of my work day, I’ve decided I have missed my late nights immensely.


Forward Motion

So, I’ve found myself in a strange new chapter in my life–a chapter that comes without external goals and deadlines. I never realized growing how focused I was on moving forward. Getting to the end of the school year, to the end of high school, to the semester, to the end of college… each goal brought with it a sense of focus and purpose. Well, it’s been nearly a year since I finished college, and to be honest I’ve felt a bit lost.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a great time. I road-tripped across the country. I got in a bad car-wreck (not great, but a near-death experience is a legit life experience). I worked retail over the holidays (see previous qualification). I got a “grown-up job” that’s been an incredible roller coaster. With all that, there’s been not only a lack of focus, but a lack of time to notice it.

So here I am almost six months later. I’m really pretty settled in at work. As much as I’d have liked to move out, things at home are pretty steady. My life is actually a little boring. I’m doing the 8-5 thing. I sleep in on the weekends and play with my dog. I’ve stayed in one place long enough and gotten involved enough to actually want to go to weddings and graduations. And I feel a little bit uneasy.

Nervous energy is a good way to describe it. All through school my life was set on forward motion, moving higher and higher in my education. Suddenly, I feel like I’ve stalled. Well, it’s not as dramatic as stalling. It’s more like I slipped into neutral a little while ago and slowed to a stop without even noticing, only to look up and be shocked to discover that I wasn’t moving.

Everyone says that being in your twenties is about figuring out who you really are and who you want to be for the rest of your life. It’s a time of asking a lot of questions. Thing is, if you want the right answers, or answers that’ll be any good at all, you have to ask the right questions. And I honestly am not sure what questions to ask.

I guess I don’t really know where I was going with that and don’t have a nice conclusion. Like I said, I’m a bit lost. I feel like my life is seriously missing the forward motion it used to have, and I know in my head that I can set goals and keep learning and improving, but I guess I just don’t quite know how.


Traveling Thoughts

Sitting in the terminal. Waiting for my boarding call. Sipping a ridiculously over-priced latte. Watching all the people hurrying, hurrying, hurrying. I love travel. There’s so much excitement in the air… or… is that just stress? Ah well, it seems exciting to me. Isn’t it crazy to think that within just a few hours almost everyone in sight will be hundreds, even thousands of miles away from here. That thought always blows my mind. But I suppose I’m just rambling. And I imagine most people don’t think airports are nearly as exciting as I do.

I see a mother with a crying baby. It must be hard to travel alone with a little one like that. I wonder if her husband is somewhere close or if it really is just the two of them. Ah… here he comes. He takes the little girl in his arms and she stops crying right away. It’s nice to see families like that. I love seeing daddies with their little girls. And now that the little one’s settled down they’re sitting back down to wait and I can’t see them.

There’s an older couple sitting just across from me. They seem so old and fragile. I wonder where they’re going. Perhaps to see children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren for the holidays. It’s so sweet to see. The wife has her head resting on his shoulder and is sleeping… I wonder how long they’ve sat here waiting. The husband has his arm around her, every now and then looking down into her face with so much love. The two of them look like they could belong in the happily ever after of a story book.

But I’m just babbling again. I love seeing the people in airports. So many people… so many lives… so many thoughts… so many worries… so many hurts… so many joys… it’s overwhelming. I take another sip of coffee and think it would be wonderful to work in an airport coffee shop. I would love to watch the people come and go every day, although I’d feel horrible charging them double what they’d pay anywhere else.

And my boarding call is in ten minutes. I should turn off my computer and throw away my coffee cup and go back to the real world. I haven’t really said anything I suppose. Or have I? I’m not sure. I won’t look for a way to spiritualize all of this or make it into something worth saying or reading. I’m sorry if you’ve read it and felt it wasted your time. I suppose it really was just a way to hold off boredom while I waited.

And I just realized that every time I write for the sake of having something to do instead of because I actually need to write something, I tend to just write about the people I’m watching. I wonder how much of what I see is really there. I wonder how much of it is just a silly girl looking desperately for love and beauty in a world that’s always growing worse and worse. I wonder if it matters.


Lillian

It’s so strange the way that people come and go in our lives. Some people never really come, we’re born into a family and have a group of people around us who we can’t seem to get rid of. Some come almost out of nowhere and never leave, faithful friends who stay by us for a lifetime. Some come for a season of our lives, staying with us through highschool or college. Others step into our lives for a very short time, and then disappear again. I find myself wondering why. Why would God give us someone for just a few weeks and then take them away?

I met Lillian toward the end of last semester. A friend of mine had been cleaning her house all semester for her Community Service class and was looking for someone to help her out over the summer. In the middle of May, I walked to her house, met her, and agreed to work over the summer. Come mid-June, it was time to make good my word. For the next month and a half, me and one of my best friends walked up the hill behind campus once a week to Lillian’s house to vacuum, mop, make beds, hang up laundry, and do anything else she needed help with. We loved and dreaded spending time with her. She was the funniest, spunkiest little old Jewish lady I’d ever met. She was ninety-four-years-old and had a ninety-year-old boy friend. She had a little bit of a dirty mouth, and some very unusual theology, but we loved her and kept going, kept talking, kept trying to help her understand what we believe, and kept praying for her. She was so old and set in her ways, and it was discouraging sometimes, but we loved her, and that made it all worthwhile.

Then she disappeared. A week went by without her calling to let us know what day she’d like us to come up. When we tried calling her that weekend, there was no answer. We assumed she was out, left a message, and waited for her to call back. Another two weeks passed with no call from her and no answer at her house and we got worried. We went up to Lillian’s house and knocked on the door. No answer. Everything about the house looked too clean. We knocked on the doors of the houses on either side of hers. No answer. We went across the street to the house directly across from hers- there were cars in the driveway there at least. We knocked and waited impatiently, nervously, to see if someone would answer.

Finally the door opened, and a bewildered looking old man stared out at us. My friend politely explained that we were looking for Lillian, the lady whose house was across the street, and that we wondered if he knew anything about where she was. He seemed confused, but told us that he thought her daughter had moved her to a retirement home, but she certainly did not live over there anymore. We spent the next week and a half trying everything we could think of to track her down. The only contact information we had was for the empty house. We had no way of knowing where she was, but we did our best. But it was the third week of August. School started, and we didn’t have time to look for her. We moved on with life, thinking about her, wondering about her, and praying for her every now and then, but sort of giving up on hearing from her.

Today, the director of the Community Service program told us a story. A story of a stubborn old Jewish lady named Lillian who they had been sending girls up to clean for for years. A story of a stubborn old Jewish lady who said she gave her life to God last semester. A story of stubborn old Jewish lady who disappeared toward the end of the summer. A story of a stubborn old Jewish lady who was moved to a nursing home by her daughter. A story of a stubborn old Jewish lady who passed away a week and a half ago. And I started to wonder.

When I talked to Lillian, she said she was not a Christian. She said she thought she would go to heaven because she was a Jew and had “Jesus’ blood in her veins.” But she told the girls who cleaned for her before us that she had given her life to God and asked Jesus into her heart. And who knows who she met and talked to after she vanished from my life. The Community Service director said we should praise God that Lillian is heaven now because of the faithful service and witness of so many girls over the years. And I didn’t know what to think. I honestly have no idea whether or not Lillian is heaven right now. It breaks my heart not to know. I would love to believe she is and that we’ll get to see our beloved crazy old Jewish lady in heaven someday. But I keep hearing her voice echoing in my head saying that she didn’t need Jesus to die to save her and Jews would never kill Jesus.

Is Lillian in heaven? I don’t know. But I guess that’s okay. If I needed to know, God would have told me. I do know that God is good, and that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He had a good reason for bringing Lillian into my life, even for just a few weeks. And I learned how very true the opening lines of one of my favorite songs are. “We laughed out loud ‘til we cried and the tears were sweet. Midnight melted to morning, a moment faded to memory. All these days just slip away through our fingers, so don’t let go, hold on to every moment…”

This moment is really all I have promised to me. Yes, eternity is coming and in a sense I certainly have that, but once I get to heaven everything is final. For now, I have the chance to change things. I have the chance to reach out to people like Lillian. But who knows how long I have that chance. People come and go through my life as abruptly as Lillian did. Some stay longer, some I’ll never have more than a single conversation with, but almost everyone leaves eventually. Will there be things I wish I had said to them? Will there be tears of regret when I hear second-hand that my chance to reach them is gone? And most importantly… What will I do with this moment?


A Moment Looking Back…

So… it’s August twenty-second. The summer is over and next semester is staring me in the face. And, despite my firm resolution when school ended for the summer, I’ve not written much at all. This has been a crazy summer, and writing about everything that has happened and everything I have learned would probably take another three months, so instead, I think I will just share some of the highlights.

The summer began excitingly enough- with a trip half-way around the world. The mission trip to Cambodia was mind-blowing to say the least. I’m not going to take your time with the full story (it takes four hours to tell and even longer to write/read) I’ll share the main lesson I learned on that trip. It can really be summed up in one verse, John 11:35: Jesus wept.

God completely broke my heart for the beautiful people of Cambodia with their shattered culture, war-torn history, and spiritual darkness. But He also showed me that just as He stopped and wept with the heart-broken Mary even though He knew her brother would soon be returned to her, He is crying alongside the Khmer people even as their nation is slowly being rebuilt and, more importantly, as the Gospel is spreading and healing some of the deeper hurts.

I serve a God who truly weeps with those who weep. And if the Creator of the universe is not above crying with a hurt child or lonely woman, who am I to be so high and unfeeling? So I’ve spent much of this summer learning to put myself in the shoes of the people around me… learning to laugh with them… to hurt with them… to listen to them… to let my heart break for them. It’s been hard, but at the same time it’s been so eye-opening. I want so badly to look at a hungry crowd and feel nothing but compassion, just as my Lord did when He walked among the hurting people of the world.

Which sort of brings me to the next part of the summer. When I got back, I started the summer job I had lined up- serving in the conference center dining room. The Bible College I attend shares land with a conference center, so during the summer they hire students to work over break. My job was generally fun. Really fun. The work was fast-paced with lots of people interaction and I worked with a great group of people who always gave me something to laugh at.

It wasn’t always easy, though. It was extremely physically taxing, and not all of the people we took care of were easy to get along with. It was through that that God began to teach me that really, people are all the same in His eyes and that the loud, demanding conference center guests are just as much His children and are just as worthy of loving, selfless service as the Khmer orphans. I was going through the Gospels and was repeatedly struck by the story of the feeding of the five thousand. Even when Jesus was exhausted and had had a long day, He saw the crowd and was moved with compassion. And again I was faced with the same dilemma: If my Lord’s heart was stirred for these people, how can mine not be? So work was an area of breaking and learning as well, and with every retreat I once again had to beg God to give me a heart of love for the people He would bring here.

And of course as always, the summer was filled with couples. Why is it that everybody decides to get together at the same time anyway? It was really hard sometimes to see what seemed like everybody and their mom finding somebody who was just perfect and who felt the same way about them, and I must confess I found myself spending more late nights than I’d like to admit to up late bemoaning my own singleness and asking God what was wrong with me and when it would be my turn to be loved like that.

But, like He always does, my Daddy gently reminded me of His own beautiful love for me… and that He loves me too much to let me have anything like that too early or too late. When the time is perfect, and considering that He knows everything He’s a better judge of when that is than I am, He’ll bring the right man along. Until then, He has other plans for me. As anxious as I am to have my own home with a husband and a family to care for, I know it’s not time yet. And if I’m really honest with myself, I know I’m not at all ready. And as hard as it’s been with all of the couples around me, it’s been very encouraging to see other, older girls who have faithfully waited and trusted God seeing that hope fulfilled. It’s good to be reminded once in a while that God really does know what He’s doing and I can trust Him in everything. And, as came up in Bible study a little while ago, hope in God never disappoints.

A lot about what I’ll be doing in the future is up in the air. Right now, I have no idea what next semester will be like. I know it’s going to be very different from the last two, but what that actually means I have no clue on. And out past this next semester, I’m completely in the dark. Past December tenth, I don’t know what I’m doing at all. But somehow, I’m not the least bit worried about it. I’ve stopped stressing out about that all too common question of what I’m going to do next after “wasting” two years of my life getting a degree from an unaccredited Bible college. The answer is that I don’t know, and that’s okay because it’s not my problem. That’s the nice thing about trusting in authority… it takes away a lot of burdens. And, it just so happens that the Authority I’m trusting in knows the whole big picture of history, so I figure He’s a pretty good one to know what I should be doing next, and He’s been teaching me a lot this summer about how He leads us.

In June, I was going through the book of Proverbs. I found over and over verses about how people can make their plans, but in the end, God is the one who decides what happens. Proverbs 16:1 says, “The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” We can make our plans, but God gets the final say. Verse nine of the same chapter says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” A few chapters later, Proverbs 19:21 reads, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel- that will stand.”

God’s been teaching me about how He leads in the most natural days. As much as I might want to hear it sometimes, God very rarely gives us instructions by rolling back the sky and speaking from heaven. Instead, He guides us so naturally in everyday life that often we don’t even see His hand until we’re looking back on what happened. This sort of work of God is displayed beautifully in the story of Ruth.

When Ruth went out to glean in hopes of providing for herself and Naomi, she didn’t go expecting to find a husband. Gleaning was the lowest occupation and was essentially the same as begging. She had made her plans, and gleaning was the best she could do. And there was nothing wrong with that. She did her best to be faithful with what she had. But while she was planning her way, God was directing her steps. She did not intentionally begin to work in Boaz’s field in hopes of being redeemed. She did not even know that such a man, or perhaps even that the laws of kinsman redeemers, existed. In her faithfulness, God guided her without her knowledge to the place where He would begin the process of her redemption.

So often God seems to work like that. I may have no idea what He’s doing, I may not even be able to see His hand at all, but He is always there, orchestrating everything perfectly. It’s so comforting knowing that as I look forward at my future and see nothing but foggy dreams, and even as I look at the next semester not knowing what to expect, God has I all figured out. I don’t have to understand ahead of time, or in the middle of things, or even looking back on them, it’s enough to know that He does understand. And that’s all I have time for, so I guess I’ll stop rambling and just move forward. Year two of college is waiting.


The Gift of a Thunderstorm

The last few days, and weeks, have been hard. Very hard. There are some situations in my life, situations for the most part that I do not have the right or the desire to share here, that have been extremely hurtful. People I care deeply about have been struggling and so have I, yet despite all of it, God has proved Himself to be so good, so faithful, and so eager to bless again and again.

Earlier today I was really depressed about some of the things that have been going on. Me and a friend were just sitting in her room, not even really talking. She was listening to music and I was texting my younger sister. Then she randomly stopped her music, leaned over to where I was sitting, and prayed for me. She told God that she didn’t know how to make me feel better, but that she knew He could, and asked Him to please do it. A few minutes after that we thought we heard thunder and went outside to see what was happening, and a few minutes after that it started raining. It was sort of a crazy storm for summertime in this peaceful little corner of Southern California… we got lightning and thunder and pouring rain and wind strong enough to be respected even in Western Nebraska.

I stood outside for a few minutes with my eyes closed and my face toward the sky, just feeling the huge drops hitting me one after another. The falling water was cold, but the puddles around my bare feet were warm from sitting on the pavement that had been absorbing the unbearable heat of the pounding sun less than an hour earlier. I could hear my friends laughing as they ran outside into the downpour and I tipped my head back farther and laughed myself, reveling in the feeling of the wind in my hair and the rain on my face. And I realized God had answered my friend’s prayer. He had given me exactly what I needed to be joyful again and to be reminded that He does love me and everyone involved in every situation… that He has it all under control and it’s all going to be okay… that no matter what happens, He will always be right beside me holding my hand. The God who created the universe and has the power to give rain calls me His precious daughter… what right could I possibly have to be worried or afraid? What right could I even have to feel useless or worthless when He calls me His treasure and is willing to open up the sky and pour rain all over the city for my sake?

Proverbs 16:15 says, “In the light of the king’s face is life, and his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” The King I serve is such a rich Blesser. He has poured out His unmerited favor on me in so many ways that I could never begin to understand them all. He has given me such precious sisters and brothers who I know I can always go to for prayer and encouragement when I need it… He has given me life and breath and strength and the honor of using them to serve His people… He has given me countless everyday blessings, the color of flowers, the smell of fresh coffee, the majesty of a sunset, to remind me of Him… and most of all He has given me such a deep, beautiful relationship with Himself… He has made me who was His enemy His daughter.

God is so good you guys… honestly… life is hard and it hurts sometimes, but He said in Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” No matter where He may take us, He will always be right beside us providing for us… and when my God provides He doesn’t just give the bare minimum, He blesses above and beyond what we would ever have dreamed of asking for. Sometimes He gives us something as big as a thunderstorm.