Tag Archives: Grace

26 to 26: Birthday.

Today the countdown ends.

Today is my birthday.

I always feel like birthdays are supposed to be a big deal, like maybe some insanely life-altering moment is just around the corner. But birthdays are just that—days. Normal days filled with normal hours and ordinary minutes and common seconds. They tick away just like average Fridays.

I’m not sure what I was thinking today would be like when I started all of this. I guess that I imagined that I would wake up to a kick in the stomach and a neon “26” looming over my bed. I guess that I thought that life would feel different or time would feel different and really none of that is true.

In reality, I took a nap and carried grudges and brushed my teeth, all like a normal day.

Yet today has been a time of reflection on this journey that I created for myself. I have learned a lot along my path to 26, seeking out and uncovering lessons in the cracks and crevices of the daily grind.

I have felt full and empty; lonely and cared for; hopeful and disheartened. I have laughed and cried and regretted words spoken and actions taken.

It has all been an adventure for me. At different times, this journey of “26 to 26” has felt like both a burden and a privilege. It has forced me to express my feelings and confront some of my fears. It has forced me to cultivate writing as a discipline.

As I bring this series to a close, I am thankful that God does not finish with us until the day we finish this race set before us. I am thankful that life leads us down roads and alley ways lined with lessons in grace and forgiveness and selflessness and humility. I am thankful to be walking down those roads. Even now. Even when they seem too hard, too narrow.

Today I had breakfast with some of my lovely lady friends (the best!), snuggled with my pup while catching up on The Walking Dead (too cute!), noshed on a delicious (gluten free & vegan!) chocolate raspberry cupcake from Esselon Café (drool!), at a dinner of Riceworks chips (glamorous & health conscious!), and finished the day out with a massage (yesssssss!)

It was quiet and lovely.

As I look upon today and the last 26 days, I feel full. Full of so many things: memories, gratitude, dreams, love. I feel nourished in a way, like in leaking words into the blogosphere there’s been some fullness attained, some vision realized.

I want to thank all of you (aka my gramma, Auntie Chris, & Aunt Vicki) who have read along, learned along with me. I am so grateful to have had you all there, cheering me on, nodding your heads in support. I love you for more reasons that just you reading my silly blog.

Another year older, another day wiser. Here’s to making 26 count for the Kingdom!

Cheers!

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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: A Weekend in Maine

My roommate moved out at the end of August and, with that, seemingly opened the floodgates of change in my life. Good, messy, hard, chapter-turning change.

And she also just up and got engaged married.

Emilia and I made the trek up to visit her in central Maine this weekend. We knew that she’d be in the area for Thanksgiving but we also knew that the likelihood of us getting any one-on-one time with her was just about 0%.

We left early on Saturday morning and arrived just after 10. We spent the entirety of our time together in our pajamas, drinking coffee, laughing, sharing, and listening all huddled around her parents’ wood stove. It was beautiful…and wonderfully warm!

Friends! Coffee! Yoga pants! No showers! It’s the perfect weekend!

Don’t worry. I’m learning things all of the time and this weekend was no different. Here are some old, and one beautifully new, lessons I’m (re)learning:

Now after planning to be gone for the weekend, at nearly 26, I should have been responsible and done my dishes before I left. However, I am irresponsible and I hate doing dishes so I did not. That means that the soup pot from the beef stew I made last Thursday just sat around alllllllllll weekend.

Heck, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s still sitting around. I don’t want to open the lid and disturb whatever smelly, nasty stuff is going on in that thing.

#1: Do the dishes, Alyssa.

While we’re on a similar vein of “things you do that make you an idiot, Alyssa” I should probably address these food allergies that I have. My body hates…no. That is not a strong enough word to describe it. My body detests, loathes eggs, milk, and wheat.

What to guess what I had to eat in Maine?

Oh, don’t worry. Just a big, ole’ turkey sandwich on soft, chewy bread (wheat) slathered with mayonnaise (eggs) and American cheese (milk).

Oh, don’t worry. My intestines are still feeling the wrath of that sandwich.

I should know by now to plan ahead and pack my own food. I should know by now how disgusting I’ll feel and how my stomach will reward me by torturing me during my all too short little vacation with my friends.

#2: Don’t eat the crap you’re not supposed to, Alyssa.

This last one is something that Miranda said, that she taught me.

She said, “At some point, I made a choice…to love him. I made a decision that was for richer or poorer, sickness or health.”

I guess I’ve never thought about it that way—loving being a choice. I suppose that it’s because I’ve always just loved the people who loved me first. I suppose that maybe it’s because I have a romanticized idea of falling, stumbling into love.

I suppose that I’m probably completely wrong.

Love is a choice. It’s the best choice. It’s a hard choice.

It’s a choice that has to be made on the good days and the bad days, on the wedding days, birthdays, and death days. It’s a choice that you just have to keep choosing.

Love is a choice, a resolution.

#3: Choose love. Every day. Choose it with your family and your coworkers and your friends and your enemies. Make the life-changing choice to love because of and despite of.

 

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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: Do not envy your friends.

credit: Florencia Carcamo

credit: Florencia Carcamo

 

Envy is a dangerous thing.

It creeps in and consumes. Promising to bring pleasure and comfort, it breaks in and steals all joy and gift.

Envy infects and spreads and fills a life, a heart with bitterness and strife.

It settles into the cracks of relationships, driving wedges and filling them with want.

Listen to me close: do not envy your friends.

Do not spend all of your time peering into the windows of their lives, coveting all that they have. We like to peek in and believe that they have found perfect. We inspire ourselves to self-pity. I am the only one with problems.

Do not believe the lie that they have something that you deserve. Do not let shallow hypotheticals and suspicions destroy relationships that run deep.

Do not open the door to bitterness by peering into windows.

 

 

 

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26 to 26: It’s okay to cry.

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credit: a national acrobat

This is one that I struggle to grab hold of for myself.

If you care to read more, I’ve written about my weird relationships with emotions here before.

It’s not that I think there’s anything wrong with crying. Please, yes, cry. Feel it. Mourn it. Own it. It just seems foreign, unfamiliar when the tears shed are my own.

I often times need to remind myself that it is okay to feel things deeply, even when those things are hard to feel.

Even when those things might sting.

Even when those things might not resolve immediately.

I sent a text message on Saturday—a stupid, not-even-for-serious text message—and then proceeded to cry for no other reason than the fact that in that moment, in that one little moment, I felt sad.

Feel it. Mourn it. Own it.

I think that, at the ripe old age of 26, it’s time you know and understand and really believe that emotions are part of the beauty that is your life. Don’t try to take the laughter and joy and warmth without a little of the loneliness and loss and pain.

Enjoy the sweetness of friendship and love after the taste of a few tears and realize just how good those gifts truly are.

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26 to 26: God is in the tremors

Ann Voskamp has been speaking Truth into my life, through her book One Thousand Gifts, for the last three years. I’ve read it and reread it and reread it again. Each time I work through it, whether with my small group or on my own, I am struck by different parts of the text, different principles.

This felt close last I read. I need this Truth in my heart and my flesh and my bones.

‘When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand util I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back’ — (Exodus 33:22-23)

“Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest round, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will Though it is black and w can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then He will remove His hand. Then we will look. Then we will look back and see His back.” –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p 156

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