Value in the Mundane, Worth in the Normalcy

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I made a new discovery the last time I looked at my collection of short stories.

Every short story I’ve ever written, from the time I was seven or eight up until the last one I wrote have the same common theme.

I wrote my very first story about a dog who gets lost and has to find his way home. When he gets home he is so relieved to see his own bed.

My second story that was somewhat substantial was about a princess who decides that there is more to her life than her palace. She gets on a boat and ends up in a dance studio in Italy, where she eats bread, cheese, and pasta until she misses her parents and life. She goes home and is finally satisfied with what she has. I can’t tell you why dance studios, bread, cheese, and pasta were my definitions of Italy, but hey, it could be worse.

Some of my more recent, grown up short stories are about normal people trying to be content without a grand adventure. These stories feature plain, normal people like librarians, parents, and teachers.

All of these stories have the same concept: finding worth in the life you live, not the one you wish you had.

Finding worth in our boring, intensely normal lives can be quite the challenge. How can we be content without adventure, suspense, something new?

Clearly this is something I’ve been thinking about for much longer than I thought. How does one find worth in the life they live now, instead of pining for a life that will never come? Or what if the life they wish for does come but they are too busy looking at some other life that they miss it?

I don’t have the answers to this question. I have ideas, but no real answers.

I think a big part of being content and satisfied is perspective. I feel like I always end up talking about perspective, but it is so vital. When you realize that the life you live right now could change drastically at any time, it makes you enjoy everything that much more.

Remind yourself to enjoy where you are. Some people are so anxious to get to the next part of their lives that they miss out on what is happening to them right now. I know we all know those people. Maybe we are those people. If we aren’t careful, we will get to the end of our lives and wonder how we missed out on so much.

Don’t spend your time comparing your life to someone else’s life, or even to the ideas in your head about what your life should be, Enjoy what you’ve been given.

Sometimes finding worth in my life means journaling about the silly, mundane things that happen. Sometimes it means taking pictures of the things I see everyday because one day, I won’t see them everyday.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive to improve your life. I am not giving myself a pass to sit still and not work at making my life all it could be. I am however, giving myself the ability to take it easy, to relax, to not worry so much about what my life could be and instead, focus and enjoy what my life is.

Find something in your life that you think is mundane and make it beautiful. Understand that the life you are living right now is one of value. Enjoy where you are right now, because you won’t be there forever.

 

 

 

 

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The Perfect Perspective

photoI have always known that perspective is an important thing to have, but recently I’ve been reminded of this lesson.

I’m not sure about your life, but I can tell you that there are things that happen in mine that feel like they will never end. Sometimes I feel like David after the dentist when he asks, “Is this gonna be forever?!” We have this feeling of desperation and helplessness when it comes to situations that we cannot change.

When it comes to these situations, these things in life that we just have to get through, I’ve learned that perspective is key. If I can remind myself that this situation, whatever it is, isn’t forever, it is much easier to get through.

If I said the phrase, “And it came to pass”, you would probably think about the Christmas story. I once heard a comedian use this phrase in the context of perspective. It came to pass. It didn’t come to stay! It WILL pass. It might take a long time, but it will pass.

Take a moment and think about your life in the context of eternity. ETERNITY. As in forever and ever. We can’t even wrap our human, finite minds around the idea of forever. The Bible says that our life is like the morning dew, there a moment and gone the next. If our entire life is just this tiny speck in the realm of eternity, how much does this one situation that feels like forever really matter?

I’m not saying that our situations won’t affect us. And I am certainly not saying that God doesn’t care about the things that happen to us. Quite the opposite of that actually. One of the most beautiful things about God is the fact that He does care about everything that happens to us. The fact that He cares about the little speck of eternity that is me is a huge deal; the fact that He is invested in the things that happen to me, that is life changing.

To find the perfect perspective, we have to look up. Looking behind us makes us regret the past, looking forward can make us worry about the future. Looking up reminds us of the One who holds our past, present, and future.

One of my favorite bands, Gungor, released a song that I just love. It’s called This Is Not The End. You can listen to it here. It talks about how this, this situation, this life, this semester of school, this illness, it isn’t the end. God has more for you, and He has it all under control.

No matter what you are going through, good, bad, ugly, or even worse, know that God has you in His arms. And know that this is not the end. Your life is a speck, but it’s a speck that God loved enough to send His Son to save. Take comfort in His love and care.

 

 

Journal Entries

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Last night I found one of my many, many journals. I read through the past five years of my life via late night ramblings and early morning prayers. Journals are so interesting. Even back in 2012, I had some pretty solid thought processes. Here are a few of my favorites.

“I’ve realized recently that while I am in the middle of something it feels like that one thing is my whole world. But there is so much more.”

That truth still applies to my life every single day. Perspective is a rare quality that I am constantly searching for. With perspective comes peace.

“TTYL”

Why did I ever, ever think that TTYL was necessary? If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that TTYL is NOT okay.

“If I don’t learn to be satisfied with Christ alone, I will never be truly satisfied, no matter what I gain. Boom. Done.”

Being convicted by your past self is a strange thing. Being content is not something that the culture teaches us, but it is so important. Attempting to always have the latest and greatest is a dangerous game to play. It never leaves you satisfied. Only God can do that. I also really enjoy the fact that the phrase “Boom. Done.” is a part of my journal on a regular basis.

“I got a really expensive sandwich.”

I wish I was making this sentence up, but this is in my journal. This was my, “I’ve never been in an airport alone before and I am flying home from Costa Rica solo and I don’t know what to say to myself” post. So full of wisdom and proper grammar.

“One of the most dangerous things a person can do is think about what might have been.”

Regret and guilt are not from Jesus. Don’t look backwards and wonder and wish and change your mind. Look forward and hope and plan and dream.

“It was so good, and it had ice!”

That random statement basically sums up my mission trip to Baja in 2010. We did manual labor in the desert for two weeks. On our last day in Mexico we went to a restaurant and at this restaurant they served ice in their beverages. I think a few members of my team cried with joy.

“I’ll wait. I always wait. Quietly, but not still.”

Sometimes when we ask God for something we take ourselves completely out of the solution. If I ask God for a solid friendship with a person, but never put any effort into that relationship, what am I doing? I believe in waiting on God to move, but I believe that God wants me to move too.

“I’ve learned this past year that I don’t have my life together. At all. But I’ve also learned that most people don’t.”

I still don’t have my life together, and that is still okay.

If you don’t journal, you are missing out on seeing yourself grow and change.

Journal entries are snapshots of emotions. In my journals you can see the times that I’ve had to stop writing because I’m laughing. You can see the wet spots from the tears that have fallen while pouring my heart out on a page. You can feel teenage angst and frustration. In my journals you can see me. My journals show my journey, and I love watching my past self grow.

Sisters

When I hear the word sister, three images immediately pop into my head.

There is this one:

sister-sister-posterI mean, if you didn’t watch this show in the 90’s, what did you do?

This one:

haynes-sistersI can’t tell you how many times I’ve sang this song and wanted that rocking blue dress, complete with that feather whatever-you-call-it.

And this one:

FAVThis one is my favorite because this picture is a picture of my sisters. My sisters are the best, let me tell you why.

My sisters make me laugh

When God made my sisters, He gave them this special ability to make me laugh, especially when I’m grumpy or sad. No matter the situation, each one of them can say something to make me feel better, even if I don’t show them right away.

My sisters drive me crazy

Not only did God give my sisters the ability to make me laugh, He also gave them the ability to drive me up a wall. I only have one button, but boy, the three of them know how to push it. And I love them for it. It means they know me.

My sisters are always around (figuratively speaking)

My older sister lives in a different state with her husband, but my other two sisters and I still live at home. I know that that won’t always be the case. But I know that at any point in my life, I will be able to pick up the phone and have a conversation with any of my sisters about anything. That is a great feeling.

My sisters know me, and love me anyways

If there is one thing that is hard to come by, it is full knowledge of who you are and acceptance of you anyways. My sisters and I have that. We see who the other is, their gifts and talents, their flaws and insecurities, and accept each other unconditionally. Even when we are at odds with each other, I know that my sisters understand me and love me anyways.

My sisters actually enjoy my presence

Believe it or not, my sisters and I like to hang out with each other. Maybe it’s because we were forced to be each other’s friends earlier in life as loner, homeschooled kids. But now, we genuinely enjoy each other’s presence. Sure we still get into fights; doors are still closed quite forcefully, and music is still turned up to volumes that are beyond listening capacity, but for the most part we like to be around each other.

166516_418280948252274_2111334063_nGod knew exactly what He was doing when He gave me my sisters. They make me laugh, scream, cry, think, and enjoy life for what it is. They are the friends I get to see every day (except for you, Alleson!). They are the most frustrating people I know, but also the most exciting. The best part about having sisters is that we get to do life together. We’ve grown up together, and we will continue to grow up together.

When it comes to sisters, I’m pretty sure I hit the jackpot.

Memories

Have you ever had that moment when you are completely floored with a memory? Just the other day I was in the middle of a scriptwriting session with my boss when my mom knocked on the office door (my mom and I work at the same church in the same ministry, so this isn’t out of the ordinary). My mom then showed me a text she got from a very, very old friend of ours, Mr. Mark Shipley.

We have known Mr. Mark since I was three or four years old, and he has been there for some major moments in our family’s history. He and his wife, Kaye, were my best buddies when I was a little girl. Mrs. Kaye was my absolute favorite person alive. So much so that I called the two of them Markaye and Morkaye. Mr. Mark was just more of Mrs. Kaye to me.

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The older I got, the more I appreciated Mr. Mark and Mrs. Kaye for who they were, devout Christians. Mrs. Kaye would go on mission trips all over the world, and I was so inspired by her. We moved from Illinois to Florida in 2004, but my best friend Rebecca and her family lived near the Shipley’s, so eleven year old me knew they would be taken care of. 1

About four years ago, we got a phone call from Rebecca’s mom, telling us that Mrs. Kaye had passed very suddenly from a blot clot in her lungs. Just like that, Mrs. Kaye was in Heaven with Jesus. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was in shock for a while. There just was no way that Mrs. Kaye wouldn’t be waiting in Peoria next time I went to visit.

We weren’t able to go up to the funeral, but we got a recording of it in the mail from Rebecca’s mom. It was mentioned in the service that I always called Mr. Mark Markaye, which of course made me cry. Mrs. Kaye impacted me more than I realized at the time.

So here we are, four years later, and my Mom gets a text from Mr. Mark. He had randomly remembered one day we ate at this little restaurant. It wasn’t a mind-blowing, big memory, but a quiet, simple one. It was one that brought smiles and tears to me and my mom. This is when I remembered that memories are so, so precious. 4I was young for the majority of the time we had with Mark and Kaye. I remember feeling very safe and loved when I was with them. They were like a third set of grandparents to me. But the time we spent with the Shipley’s is a time that I know we all cherish. Time is fleeting, and we don’t know how long we have to spend with people. This is why it is vital that we take advantage of the time we have been given.

Memories are funny things. They can make you laugh so hard you cry and cry so hard you laugh. They can make you feel happy and sad. But I believe that even the saddest memories are better than no memories at all.

Mrs. Kaye lived a full, Jesus loving, people caring, always smiling life.

Make memories. Take pictures. Be where you are. Don’t waste time on silly, little things that don’t really matter. Laugh with your friends. Cry with them too! Don’t let life just pass you by. Make your life count.

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Why Marriage Isn’t The End

I was recently able to spend some time catching up with a dear friend of mine. In our time together, sipping frappes from McDonald’s, we talked about how many of our friends are in serious relationships/getting engaged and married. My friend and I, who are so very similar, decided that while marriage is something to look forward to, it should not be seen as the end goal. There is so much more to do than get married and have kids. For the past month, I have spent more and more time thinking about that conversation. Here are a few things that have been running rampant in my brain about why marriage shouldn’t be seen as the end.

    1.   Marriage will not end your insecurities.

I think many people, myself included at times, believe that marriage will solve the problems they have. That cannot be true. What is a relationship if not messy? Marriage is the joining together of two imperfect people. I believe that my insecurities are only magnified in relationships. I don’t think that we can expect anything less in a marriage.

    2.   If marriage is seen as the end, you will be disappointed.

Will marriage be wonderful? I’m sure it will. Will it be an exciting adventure? Absolutely! But if I look at marriage as the thing that will make my life what I think it should be, I will end up disappointed. Too many girls are brought up on books and movies that end with a wedding. Life does not end when you get married. A beautiful adventure begins, one full of joy and heartache. If marriage is the sole thing we strive towards, aren’t we just asking for disappointment when it isn’t all that the romantic comedies say it is?

    3.   Marriage is not my reason for living.

Women who see their only purpose on Earth to get married and have children sell themselves short. I’m not saying that I don’t want to get married and have children one day, I do. I eagerly anticipate those days, but I don’t sit around and long for them to come. The reason that we are alive is to give glory to God and point people to Jesus. That is our purpose. When I get married, my marriage will give glory to God and point people to Jesus. When I have kids, the way I parent will do the same. But until then, I plan on making sure that everything else I do, whether at school, at work, in the car, or at the grocery store, gives glory to God and points people to Jesus. I want my life to count.

Marriage is not the end all. Jesus is.

I don’t want anyone to walk away from this post and see it as some sort of bitter rant against marriage. I promise it isn’t. One day I plan to get married and have children. But in the meantime, my life is going to give glory to God and point people to Jesus. My relationship with Jesus is more important than any relationship I will ever have. It isn’t that I hate marriage, I just love Jesus more.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Love is Patient

Wow, first off let me apologize for my lateness when it comes to posting. I just got a new job and it is taking up a lot more time than I thought it would. Right now though my job is taking a nap (I’m nannying a ten month old!), so I have a moment or two to blog.

Patience. This is a word that I’ve never really enjoyed. Waiting has never really been my thing. I’ve come to realize that being impatient is simply another way of being selfish, of me wanting what I want exactly when I want it.

I can specifically remember one lesson we taught in the children’s ministry of my church that was on patience. This lesson described patience as “waiting with a happy heart”.

Ouch.

I can tell you many times that I have waited for something and outwardly I was fine, but on the inside my heart was anything but happy.

In life, we need patience in so many ways. We have to have patience with the people we do our lives with; the other imperfect sinners of this world. We have to have patience with ourselves in the times when we fail, and I would also say that we have to have patience with God at times.

There have been countless times in my life that I have prayed and waited for an answer, and then, two seconds later when I hadn’t heard the voice of God, got frustrated with His lack of communication. Where is my patience then? Did I ever think that maybe in making me wait, God is preparing me for His answer?

When I think of patience, my first thought is not when I’m patient with my siblings when they are getting on my nerves, or when I’m patient with the friend who will not stop complaining. I think about how patient God is with me.

If you’ve grown up in church, then you have heard that God is love. So you know that everything love is, God is too. Love is patient. God is patient. And seriously, thank God for that! If my God wasn’t a patient God, I would not be going to Heaven.

There have been so many times in my life that I haven’t understood what was happening. Times that I questioned God and what He was doing. I can see God saying, “Just wait, you’ll understand so soon!” just like a father trying to make a child understand something that they just don’t get yet.

 God is so very patient with us. He did not have to have any relationship with us. His life certainly would have been a lot easier without imperfect sinners involved. But God is so loving and patient that He wants us in His life. He desires us. His patience will forever outweigh our sin.

Why does this matter?

It matters because we need to be more patient with others. I need to be more patient with others. Here is how I see it. Love is patient. God is love. My purpose on earth is to be more like God. If God is love and love is patient, then I should be patient too. In being patient, I am becoming more like God.

And shouldn’t that be the focus of my life?

 

The Art of Being Single

Yesterday I found an interesting entry in my journal dating back to last November. I wrote this entry after baptizing one of my precious small group girls. In this post, I wrote about how, being single, I have a lot of time to influence others and work for the Lord. Reading this almost a year later, I laughed at how applicable these words are for me today. Here is a portion of what I wrote.

“I want someone to look at me and say, ‘Yes, she is single. And look at all that she is doing for God. Her commitment to Him is amazing.’ If I can be active, influential, and committed to Christ in my singleness, than my life would truly be worth something.”

I am often convicted by my own words. Being convicted by your own words is a very odd experience. As I read this entry I began to evaluate myself. Am I still as satisfied with being single as I was in November? Am I using my time to invest in others, myself, and in my relationship with God? Am I trying to be active, influential, and committed to Christ in my singleness?

I, not having any real experience, am no expert whatsoever in relationships (relationships as far as boy meets girl. I do have friends, I promise!). I do, however, have plenty of experience in the art of being single. Here are a few things I’ve learned being single, or really just being human (no, I don’t watch that tv show).

My relationship with God has to be number one

I don’t care if you are single, dating, engaged, married, or anything in-between. Your relationship with God has to be the first thing in your life. I know that for me I can feel the difference in my attitude towards others and myself when I am consistently in the Word and praying. I know that this can be a struggle people, it’s a struggle for me too. But it is SO important to make God your priority. Besides single ladies, the guy you want is going to want God to be your first anyways! He certainly can’t fulfill you the way God can, and a smart man already knows that.

My time should be used wisely

I don’t know if your life is like this at all, but mine is constantly moving. There is always something that needs doing. If I am not careful, I can go weeks without doing any one thing on purpose. My dad spoke on this at The Springs just this weekend (http://thesprings.net/watch-listen/message-archive/). He said that we shouldn’t live our lives by default, and I completely agree with that. If I am not intentional with my relationships, they will deteriorate. If I am not intentional with serving God and others, it won’t happen. If I am not intentional with getting into Scripture, my Bible will collect dust. I have to use my time wisely, or else live my life by default.

My time as a single person should be used well

I personally think that the time you spend single should be spent figuring yourself out. I mean really, who completely understands themselves and what they want out of life at age 18? Pursue your own interests, go see places you want to see, enjoy being alone! This is the advice I’ve been given from many a married person. I am not saying that you should go out and be reckless, what I am saying though is that you should take advantage of the time you have without any major commitment to one person or place.

These are just a few things I have learned. I want, more than most things, to be active, influential, and committed to Christ in my singleness. I also want to know that I have used my time well. So that is what I have to say on the matter, for whatever its worth.

Singleness rant on blog: check!

PS. Please feel free to comment and let me know your opinions on the subject of being single. Or if you have any great travel experience, I would love to hear where you’ve been!