Tag Archives: Change

26 to 26: Life isn’t always peachy.

I wish that there was one area of my life that I felt good about right now.

I wish saying that aloud didn’t sound so terribly miserable and ungrateful.

I wish I knew what I meant by good.

good  [goo d]

adjective, bet·ter, best.

1. morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.

2. satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher; good health.

3. of high quality; excellent.

4. right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here. His credentials are good.

It’s just that things feel hard right now—working, teaching, trusting, feeling. Living feels a lot like heavy lifting on these long, cold days.

I am the heavy lifting and the lifter. It’s the responsibilities and obligations and fears and apathy that are multiplying the weight.

The truth is that life is not always satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree. Satisfactory. Life does not always feel satisfying. I wish that every day felt like a cool glass of water quenching my thirst on a hot August day but some days feel like sipping sand to quench an insatiable thirst.

Good is not an objective unit of measurement. Good changes with the day, with the seasons. Just because something doesn’t feel good, doesn’t mean that it is automatically bad.

You have to stop letting the memory of yesterday interfere with your living of today.

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26 to 26: I need Jesus.

credit: pasotrepaso

credit: pasotrepaso

It hit me in the shower this morning—steam rising, mist splashing in the tiny stall—trying to scrub off feelings of sin and failure.

This is the gospel: me falling on my face.

That’s it.

I can’t get up tomorrow and hope to be stronger or wiser or less filled with sin. It is in me. It stitches me together and pulls me tight.

And yet, this is grace: unbinding the stitches—one by one—and piecing me back into wholeness.

This is mercy: that in my tripping and falling, I am lifted to my feet.

This is love: that in my darkest darkness, my most grotesque sin, Christ died for me.

It is timeless Truth to be repeated with ceaseless thanks:

I need Jesus.

 

May I learn it and feel it and deepen in this understanding each day. The gospel is for me today and tomorrow, at 26 and at 96.

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26 to 26: My Weekend

I know that I made a promise.

I know that I said that I would finish this.

I intend to.

It’s just, this past weekend was a little crazy and a whole lot of wonderful.

In the spring, I was invited to help out with administration for the Simply Worship Conference—a conference for worship and tech teams from New England churches. This was their third year running the event but this was a year that they were really looking to grow.

What was last year a conference of 150, this year grew to be a conference of 400.

I spent Friday walking the halls of a massive church and stuffing goody bags and assembling name tags and poking fun at my new friend, Tommy.

Saturday started at 4:30 am and ended at 11:30 pm.  The time in between was stuffed full of driving and coffee and coordinating volunteers and coffee and answering questions and checking in registrants and schmoozing with presenters and vendors and making more coffee and finally, a concert.

And then stacking chairs and cleaning up and stealing snooty Perrier from the Green Room and  a long drive home followed by lots of the sleeps.

Honestly, it was a little crazy seeing so many ministries and churches from New England represented in one place at one time. It was a humbling reminder that God is still very much alive, very much active, and very much busy here in the Northeast. It was inspiring to hear stories from tiny churches to I-didn’t-think-churches-in-New-England-got-so-big churches about how God is moving in their communities and congregations.

And to have this one day, this one time to educate and encourage and serve people who spend so much time serving their congregations from the stage (or the sound booth). It felt like such a blessing to be a blessing to others.

Not to mention the volunteers. Oh! The volunteers. It’s always wonderful to meet wonderful people. Like, really truly fun, beautiful, lovely, genuine people. I made a few new friends.

I realize that this puts me three days behind both in sleep and blog posts. So, here are three tid-bits I picked up this weekend:

  1. Working at camp equips you to do just about everything/anything. Stacking chairs? I don’t bat an eye. Coordinating volunteers? Yes, thank you. Fielding 400 questions? I’ll pretend that I know the answers. Remaining calm in crisis? Bring on the crazies. As weird and taxing and undefined working at camp can sometimes feel, it sure prepares you for just about anything.
  2. Parents are awesome. My parents took care of my dog most of Friday and all day Saturday. This began when I left at 5 am and Olive decided to bark for an hour. My mom finally managed to snuggle her back to sleep. Thanks, mom.
  3. Wear sensible shoes. Hah. This is a lesson that I will probably never really learn. It’s kind of my thing, to never be wearing appropriate footwear. 

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26 to 26: Growing up & knowing that you’ll never be grown up.

creative commons; veganbaking.net

creative commons; veganbaking.net

Your mid-twenties are weird. I’m only half way through but I’ll tell you what I know.

At some point you start talking to your best friend about cutting sodium of your diet because you feel bloated.

You start putting flax seed on your oatmeal.

You realize that your parents’ actually know what they’re talking about and this prompts you to listen to their advice.

You start finding gray hairs. Not just one hair. Several.

You lose your ability to stay up late, wake up early, and still function normally.

You use clichés like, “That’s for the birds!” And find yourself wondering, “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! AND WHO AM I, MY GRANDFATHER?!”

You begin to refer to college freshman as “babies” because 18 is sooooo young and they’re so naïve and don’t they know how good they have it?!

You start worrying about health insurance and how many cavities you probably have.

You start saying things like, “I really need to start saving for retirement,” and, “I need to establish some credit.”

You start watching HGTV and thinking, “I should buy a fixer-upper while the mortgage rates are still low!”

And then, at some point, you stop saying things like, “When I grow up…” because it hits you—like  a brick to the face, like a kick to the gut, like a —that you are indeed “grown up.” You have a job and people actually trust you enough to give you responsibility over things, important things and you’re buying your own toilet paper and probiotics and coconut oil because it’s supposed to be good for you, right? and you just adopted a dog and what were you thinking, embracing this growing up thing?!

It’s just a really weird place to be. You’re only 10 years from 16 but you feel like you’re 46 pushing 106.

But then again, being grown up, you start to realize that you’re never really fully “grown up.” You’re still uncertain of the future, still unsure of yourself.  You’re still a little scared of the dark and all of the scary things out there at night. You still long for adventure and passion and love. You still want to laugh and be silly and shed all of that responsibility on a Friday night.

You still spend time thinking, “What if, when I grow up…”

But, you know, it’s actually better. It’s actually nice to know your credit score and buy yourself something nice with the money you’ve earned at the job where you’ve proven you’re responsibility. Or just to sit in the home that you’ve made for yourself with your little dog and your hand-me-down furniture and that coat rack that you hung yourself. I don’t think I’d trade it. I don’t think I’d go back to the simpler, naïve.

There’s some peace in the process of wisdom. There’s some strange beauty in the knowing. There’s something charming about growing up and knowing that you’ll never be grown up.

Ah, the mystery, the intrigue, the flax seed. You’ve just got to go with it.

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26 to 26: This is not the end.

I’m already a day behind on this. Figures. Such is my life. Always one step behind.

I’m fast approaching my 26th birthday—25 days out to be exact.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with November 29th. I love it because cake is my favorite food. I hate it because I can feel the minutes, years slipping away, ticking by so quickly this cold, dark month of fading fall. Every hour, closer to the wrecking day when my age expands another notch larger.

Birthdays, for me as a critical-cynical-pessimistic-realist, are really more about looking back than they are about looking forward.

Sometimes this looking back is a time of seeing God’s hand at work. Sometimes everything seems bright and clear, beaming with life and promise. Sometimes everything feels beautiful and right. And then again, sometimes not.

Sometimes, times like now, things seem dark and unfamiliar and downright terrifying. Sometimes it seems like the dawn isn’t breaking, the dark isn’t fleeing, the spring isn’t coming, the fear isn’t ebbing.

Sometimes, it feels like the end. Of something. Of nothing.

Of so much yet so little that I can’t fight to tie it down, pull its mask off, and finally see what it is. The mystery haunts me.

It’s days, months, years like this the need a little hope. Sometimes we can only see that hope when we gaze back, even if it is into utter darkness.

Because this is not the end.

Some friends and I made the trek to Quincy to see Gungor perform last Friday. Miranda always used to say that their music made her too emotional. For the first time, on Friday, I understood it. As they sang, I mumbled along and felt as if I needed this. I needed to believe it.

This is not the end, this is not the end of this.

Eyes are opening wide. Lungs are breathing in. Chapters are closing. Pages are turning but it isn’t over. Whatever it is, it isn’t over.

And even if it was, even if this was it, it would have been enough.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?” –Ecclesiastes 7:8-13, ESV

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No One & Naan

It’s only been 4 months since I posted last & 3 weeks since I started writing this. I wish so whole-heartedly that I was better at all of this that I am. Regardless. I finished something.

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bread dough

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I came home tonight and I felt alone.

For the first time in the two weeks that I’ve been roommateless, I felt really alone. Maybe it was because I had no to-do list to keep me company. Maybe it was because I knew that I was exiting a car with two people whom I love dearly and entering an empty house.

My co-worker’s father died this week. Tonight was his wake. Tomorrow they will put him in the ground, whisper long goodbyes.

Death stirs up so many questions, and still for me, illuminates so many fears about family, friends, and self. And this haunting thought—it is coming for those I love.

It’s on nights like these- lonely, quiet, fearful- when you need something warm and hopeful and home.

So I mixed the flour and the sugar and the yeast and the water. I formed thin, round circles. I covered with a cloth. I waited.

There’s something about yeasted bread that gives so much comfort. The perfume of dough rising smells nothing less than home.  The feel of a loaf proofing puts magic at your finger tips.

Yeast is a magical thing. It lies dormant in our refrigerators and pantries, awakening to life with a little warmth, a little sugar. It’s comforting. It shows evidence of life—springing up, bubbling over— where there seemed to be nothing by dry, desert death.

And I heated oil over flame to transform the dough into bread, the nothing into naan. Four misshapen rounds of dough becoming bread.

I took a round from the plate where it lay cooling. I broke it, still so warm—almost too warm for my skin to take— and remembered a body broken. Remembered a death. Remembered a sacrifice—a remembrance so unexpected.

I took it and ate. I remembered and gave thanks for a life-given for my life-rescued.

I chewed and thought only of communion, thought only of doing this in remembrance of Me. Thought only of the dry, dead yeast springing up dough like my dry, dead heart springing up with new Life, new Hope. I thought only of the death which gave and which gives life.

And I was filled—with warmth, with home, with Hope. I was filled with remembrance & thanksgiving that from death springs forth life; from old springs forth new; from pain springs forth joy; from Christ springs forth communion.

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Twenty Five.

November,

What do you think you’re doing here? Go away.

I’ve spent the last six months thinking about my birthday, about how on the twenty-ninth day of the not-fall-but-not-winter month of November, I will turn twenty five.

I’ve let this number terrify me. I’ve let it bully me into a corner of unfulfillment. A corner where I’ve etched all of my ‘I want to’s and By the time I am’s.’ I’ve never actually made a list like that on paper but I’ve thought them- all the things I want or wanted or needed.

I’ve lived so long peeping into the windows of other people’s lives and saying, “I want that.” Coveting. Stealing with my mind. Robbing my friends and magazines and movies and my past of things that I want for myself. Now. I’ve imposed timelines on my own life and that timeline is always now.

But I tell you this, as I approach the beginning of my assent to age thirty, not one of those things is crossed off. My future is the murky and obscure that my lists tried to prevent.

I could let that be a discouragement. I could hold onto it and cry into it and rock back and forth like a child. I could stuff it into a jar with pitiful pleas of ‘why me?’ and ‘why not?’ and carry it in the breast pocket of my soul. I could. I want to. Envy and bitterness- these come easily to me. Almost natural, a conditioned response.

Or I could recognize my undisturbed, uncrossed-out lists as grace. Each item unchecked as an ounce of God’s compassion. I could begin to count the unexpected blessings that I’ve received or the strange places I’ve been as gifts. Undeserved gifts. That God knew and planned for me a life marked by fullness, one that does not necessarily echo the lives of many around me. I could let them serve as a reminder that my story is individually Authored, inexplicably person. That the things I want are not always the things I need and the things I really need are actually the things that I would have thought to want.

So, here’s to twenty five. To another year of surprises and musings, of unexpected twists and challenges. To standing up and growing up. To traveling and learning and loving and growing and baking and changing. To another of breathing and falling on my face and discovering God’s mercies in beautifully new ways.

To another year living in the obscure, chasing the Light.

[“I’ve learned that God sometimes allows us to find ourselves in a place where we want something so bad that we can’t see past it. Sometimes we can’t even see God because of it. When we want something that bad, it’s easy to mistake what we truly need for the thing that we really want. When this sort of thing happens, and it seems to happen to everyone, I’ve found it’s because what God has for us is obscured from view, just around another bend in the road.” – Bob Goff, Love Does p.35-36]

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