Sunday, August 31, 2008

a frustrated peace

"What do you want from me?!"

That is what I silently screamed towards heaven as I walked around my neighborhood on this sweltering Sunday afternoon. The sun was beating down on my bare neck--a feeling I'm not used to, and I could feel the heat radiating from the asphalt I was walking on.

I took a walk just to get some exercise. But it ended up being a time with God. I spent a half an hour walking around questioning God, imploring God, pleading with him, bargaining with him, yelling at him, and agreeing with him. In the time I was out there, I somehow managed to go through it all. You know, those full circle conversations where you pretty much end up where you started, but you feel completely different about it? A frustrated peace--that's what I ended up with.

For over a year, I've been wondering, "What on earth am I doing in this world?" And I finally dared to ask God that question. I came to him stomping my foot asking why I'm here, what purpose do I have, and when am I going to start feeling like my life has meaning? I vented to him that I'm someone with so much ambition, but little direction.

The conversation started with God because of a job opportunity that I desperately wanted, but it was short lived, and actually, never there in the first place. I just want to work in a church or a ministry organization. That is what I want, and that is what I've been passionate about. It's why I'm getting this degree and why I've chosen the classes I've taken. You don't take ministry classes to become a bank teller! That's what Finance 101 is for!

There was a position that I thought would be open in my church because the person previously filling it left. It's a job that I would have loved to have--something I care about and in my home church. I was ecstatic, because for over a year I've desired to be on the staff at Clay. But alas, the position was not open, it was being absorbed by existing staff members.

I felt .so. .dejected.

Again came rushing in the feelings of "Why am I here? What purpose to I have? Am I just taking up space and oxygen?" and hence the frustration of a girl-transitioning-to-woman silently screaming under the shade of her neighbor's trees:

"What do you want from me?!"

And then it dawned on me.

One of the streets in my neighborhood was "repaired" a year or so ago. The cracks and potholes were filled in, but not very well. It seriously is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, because it looks like a drunk man went over the road with the asphalt machine. There's tons of swirls and zigzags going in no particular direction. This is what it looks like:

I was walking on this road in the midst of my frustration when I stopped and thought about how much this is a picture of my spiritual life. I have been so desperate to serve God, yet I've completely failed to even maintain a true relationship with him. I have been one of those people that finds the measure of their faith in the amount that they DO. My spirituality has been measured in the songs that I sing for the youth group, or the "Christian classes" and what head knowledge I learn in them, or the ministries that I long to be a part of.

I don't think that any of these things are displeasing to God--when they are manifestations of your love for him. But they become an obstacle when they take the place of a relationship with him. For how can I serve a God that I don't know?

What does God want from me? That. Exactly that. He wanted my half hour of venting, of pleading, of questioning, of requesting, and even my bargaining. He just wanted me to talk to him for once, and to open my heart. Today, God didn't necessarily want my ambition, or my ideas, or my passion for church ministry. Maybe tomorrow he will! But today, I felt that all he really wanted was for me to stop and start getting to know the real reason I am here: to be in communion with God. All other things flow from that foundation.

So walking the little hill back up towards my house, did I have this glow of peace and rest surrounding my heart like all the "spiritual" people say you should have after a conversation with God? Eeehhh... yes and no. It was a frustrated peace. I didn't end up feeling like everything was a-ok, like none of my cares mattered anymore, like all my frustrations had been solved, or that I no longer wondered what I was going to end up doing with my life. But in opening my heart to my Savior, I did feel like I found my purpose for TODAY.

I felt like I was reaching the beginning.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Josh is gone for another weekend, so I'm here at home with some down time. I'll be glad when Summer is over so I can take my fiance back from Cedar Point, but I know in just a few weeks, I'll be forced to hand him over to Notre Dame football! *sigh* Men.

I think I have this awful addiction to doing things to my hair, and I starved myself of that for too long, because I recently cut it all off, and now I'm dying what's left of it. :-) I couldn't stay away from the hair dye for too long--it's just too fun!

I went to the store and found all sorts of indulgences and good things, like honey nut cream cheese and latte fudge sticks, and I also bought Mona Lisa Smile for $5. I think it will be a fun evening, albeit by myself.

Also, I completely cleaned my car! I finally got all the junk out of there, including the trunk, and vacuumed the whole thing. My mother helped me out, and it turned out to be a fun time. I ran the battery so I could play the new Jon Foreman EP's while we worked. It feels so good to have a completely clean car again!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


So I got my hair cut today....

Alicia from Nicholas J Salon next to the Chocolate Cafe cut my hair. I love it! I'm definitely a "regular" now! I've already made an appointment with them for a trial run for my wedding hairstyle!

I keep swishing it. :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Impossibly possible....

I can't speak it into existence yet, because there's only been one conversation, and there's many more to be had. I'm not sure if anyone entirely knows where it's going yet. But a really exciting opportunity in my church *might* be in the works for me. That's more than I really want to say! But I have a hopeful and a prayerful heart. I've been wondering what God has in store for me for so long as I sit through ministry classes, sociology classes, and as I spend time in my personal devotions. As I've watched my peers develop and begin to take their place in this world and explore the waters, I've wondered about my own hands and feet and what they have to offer in God's Kingdom. Where will he lead me? I've wondered when I'd stop spending my time in retail or behind a teller line and begin to really blossom and begin to feel like my passions and my studies had a purpose.

This might not be it. But it gives me hope that there is a plan somewhere, somehow, for little old me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Learning the art

I've been in this internal struggle lately, and it has been over learning the art of graciousness. I choose the word "gracious" for several reasons...

The biggest theme I've had impressed upon me by Christ lately is that of my attitude and how I display it to the world--particularly via my tongue. The past several weeks, I've been trying very hard, but I daily see myself failing.
I know that I tend to make a big issue of the little things in life, and my lack of stress management causes me to "fly off the handle" about things I could have brushes aside or handled better. I do this a lot with Josh, and I even did it again last night! It's awful that you can look back on recent arguments, and all you can see if sheer stupidity.
There's some people in this world that I don't like, either just because our personalities clash, or because they've legitimately done something to hurt or offend me. I've tried very hard to be a gracious and loving person and find the good in everyone and to not speak ill of them or to groan when I find out they're going to be around. Being pleasant is not always easy.
I remember a girlfriend I knew in high school. She was seemingly perfect. Innocence and Christ-like beauty just radiated from her porcelain face. I don't remember her ever getting in trouble with her parents or complaining about them to her friends. I wish I could have done as much. I don't remember her ever gossiping, really, and she never spoke a word of malice to or about anyone. I do remember trials in her life where I'd seen her cry, but even then, her composure was always that of grace and peace, and maintaining a sense of joy about her. She never flirted with anyone, and was always respected with the highest regard because of it. Like I said, it seemed she was PERFECT in grace and in word.
I've always envied her and wished I was more like that, but I keep failing.

The book I'm almost finished with now, "Stepping Heavenward," is one that I can identify with closely. It seems that, although written in the 1800's, it was written for me. It's in journal style of a girl turning into a woman and records her entire life and her quest to be more like Christ and learn what it is to be a Christian. It seems that her chief trial is also being good to others, being gracious through unpleasant things, etc. I've been identifying with and learning with this fictional character as I read the book.

And lastly, there's this beautiful woman who comes into the bank. Her face is marred--I think she was burned, because her skin is a patchwork of slightly different colors of browns from the skin grafts that cover her entire face. I don't know her story, but every time she comes into the bank, we all ask, "How are you doing today, Gracious?" And without fail, her reply alway is, "About near perfect!" with a wide and genuine smile across her face. Miss Gracious, if only I could have a heart half as beautiful as yours....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Longer engagements seem to be increasingly popular, but I think that an engagement over a year long is still considered to be a bit drawn out by most people. Well, Josh and I are in that category. By the time we get married, we'll have had a 16 month engagement. That being said, on this day last year, is the date that my beloved proposed marriage to me and I accepted him. :-)

Remember those two chairs and small table I bought at a garage sale? Yeah--slow going. It seems that it's either too hot outside to paint or I'm too worn out from other activities to get to it. But small progress has been made. I'm still really excited about them.

God continues to bless us as we get ready for our life together! His mother saw that we'd registered for a china set, but instead of us most likely only getting part of a set and having to buy the rest of it, she has offered to let us have her china set. She said that she's only used it once and would love to see it put to good use. I was so happy and excited, for it's a really beautiful pattern! It's called Savannah, and here's a picture of it:

My last semester of classes are starting up on the 28th. It's weird that this is my last year in school, and it's not even a whole year. I have a feeling the time will fly by very quickly. It's going to be so different this year. So many of my friends have graduated already, or their married so I won't see them so much, and Roe will be all the way in Africa--I'm going to miss her so much.

I've felt an increasing loneliness for friends lately. I never did find that "group" or that "niche" of girlfriends that you hang on to throughout the college years. I think it may have been partly due to the fact that I didn't live on campus, and that always made me a bit on the outside of things. But I haven't lost all hope! I love the friends I do have and I cherish them dearly, but I'm still holding out that there's a group of young women out there that I could really relate to and find friendships with. Josh seems to think I'd do really well in a book club, and I'm sure I would, but I have no idea where to find one. There's not a whole lot of 20-something women in my church either, for is there was, I would certainly love to join a Bible study or something with them. But, alas. Who knows what life will bring.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Proverbs and the Tongue

I opened my Bible last night, not really sure where to start reading. Ever have those days? So I just opened to the place the little ribbon was placed and I found myself somewhere near the beginning of Proverbs. I read several chapters, but a common theme stood out to me. I kept noticing verses about speaking beautiful words, and how the words that we speak are a reflection of the heart, and how good and evil and easily reflected in the tongue of a person.
It got me thinking about where I set my mind and what reflections I may be expressing to people. Even if I'm not discussing evil things or things blatantly not beautiful, I wonder if just the way I speak in my day to day conversation reflects anything that shouldn't be in my heart. The essence of Christ should always be on my lips, no matter what I say and don't say. I sincerely hope that when I speak, people will see me as a lady, and one whos heart is set after following Christ.
Good lessons to remember.

Josh and I are beginning to read through The Sacred Romance by Ben Curtis and John Eldridge as a sort of couple's devotional/conversation time. I'm really excited about doing that together, I think it will be really healthy and meaningful.