24

I turned 24 today. On Sunday we had a family celebration where my mom had arranged a beautiful plate of desert topped with two adorable numbered candles…2 and 3. My sister laughed and insisted of course she was wrong, I was turning 22! I delivered a glance that managed to telepathically deliver the correct answer to her mind, but not without a full expression of shock…”24?!”. Yes, well, I think we all felt that way…24?!

I’m the baby of the family, but the baby is now 24. So I guess we’re all old now. It’s an odd thing to celebrate an age like 24, so anticlimactic, and in a climactic year as this. It feels like a mirage to celebrate milestones when life feels every bit like a tub of molasses pouring out slowly on the table as it does a chaotic battle I can’t keep my eyes off of. It is a calendar year every bit fast as it is slow, and I believe only those who have lived through it will know the full truth of that seemingly contradictory statement.

But regardless, I am 24 now and quite obviously, I’d rather like to reflect on my insides this year than the chaotic molasses battle carrying on outside.

I’m quite proud of my insides. 23 was a year that stretched me. I learned the humbling art of disappointment and carrying on, heart ache and carrying on. I feel very much more like an adult than I did when I legally became one at 18, or when was legally granted the noble honor of alcohol consumption at 21. This isn’t the kind of birthday that “I can’t believe”…I very much feel that I’ve aged to 24, lived 24 years. This year, I feel as though I’ve arrived to adulthood- as we all do in our own timing. I just so happen to have been introduced to our trademark indications of adulthood before actually showing up myself- graduation, employment, investing, unemployment, employment again, grieving & heart ache, budgeting, learning, re-learning…you get it. And now that I’m here, I’m a little relieved- as though I just completed a turbulent landing from one land to another. I don’t know all that is ahead, but I’m sure as hell glad to be off that rickety little airplane that got me here.

I know there is more- more pain, more trouble, more expenses, more failures, more awkward conversations, more grief, more “I don’t want to’s”, more frustration, more confusion…I know there is much more ahead. But I do know this, quite confidently, that I will manage, and I will carry on- this past year of life has taught me that. And I might even become more kind, more open, more intelligent, more eloquent, more thoughtful, more grateful, more gracious, more talented, more able…I will manage, and I might even become more than what I’ve been. I do feel today, at this age of 24, old to some, and so young to others, that I’ve been tested, put through a bit of the fire, so that I might be here today at 24. Stronger in some places, achy in others, with a mind full of ideas, dreams and faith that have carried me through. I’ve survived some things I didn’t care to go through. I’ve performed better than I expected, and still I’ve been disappointed more than I’d have cared to be. This great act of getting up, I’m learning it’s beauty. It’s gotten me this far, into this 24 year old body I am quite grateful to be in today. It is a blessing to be 24 today, November 17, 2020.

Wild

photo via Church’s

What happened to the wild in me than ran past mirrors
And rolled and jumped and kneeled and lay flat in the grass
Unaware to the dust and grass and bugs that collected in my tangled hair 
She dug her toes in the clay mud by the creek and laughed at how squishy it felt
She ran wild, that girl
She nudges me past the threshold of my front door
Out into the grass
Into the dirt 
She reminds forgo my shoes
and creep my toes back into the muddy clay
She ushers me away from the mirror
To greater heights
Or down to my knees and into the grass
She whispers to me to outstretch my arms as I run down a trail by the river,
Cool wind on my face
And I can, for a moment, forget the weight of my body hitting the ground
And instead I can be wild
Wild like I once was,
And wild like I ought to be


Young and wild are words often intertwined
I wonder how scandalous it would seem to be wild now

I’ve Been Learning a lot About Love

And how it endures
And how it stores up a life like a treasure box
And how it ties and binds people together like a language all of otd own
How it’s sacred and mysterious
And it is the only thing of miraculous value we have to give

How it presses on
And it lives in us along wiht our hearts and lungs and blood cells
And despite everything else around us, this love we receive, we get to keep, and carry with us always

I don’t think I knew that

rising

It’s the magnificent art of rising again

Dusting off your pants

Bending your aching knees and lifting yourself up, despite the pull of gravity you’ve sadly become familiar with

You rise

Again

And however small your rise, its magnificent 

Careful not to minimize it

That achy feeling that comes with it, its yours

And now you know you may fall again 

photo: Elfride Nutiu

Unpacking Grief

I was talking to my discipleship group recently about how I was processing a recent loss. One of my friends remarked how they admired how well I was handling it. I had been hearing that a lot lately, how surprisingly well I was handling it given how objectively upsetting the circumstance was. I laugh at that comment a little, because I feel like I haven’t done anything exceptionally brave or special.

I responded by explaining that it seems as though God has passed me my grief in parcels. To unpack one at a time.

I am glad I have heard His plea for me to be patient in this unpacking process, because I can almost feel the weight of what it might be like to climb up on the counter and open that messy cupboard by myself. I can imagine the mess and discomfort of letting it all hit me at once- all the questions, all the pain, and all the fear.

Instead, I wait patiently. Whether it be day by day, or week by week, or longer. Some days I let myself forget or pretend I have completely forgotten. Some days, now more than before, I don’t feel the weight of it so much, and I savor that, because its a gift. I trust that in time I will know all the little pieces that broke off in the calamity, and I will know where to return them to, or if they need a new place entirely.

Perhaps all this is a nonsense metaphor, but for me right now, it brings me so much peace to know that it is not up to me to put all the pieces back together, or to make sense of the events that caused the fallout. I am simply writing this post because my discipleship group asked me if I’ve ever thought about writing and I shyly admitted I write often, on my semi unknown blog for rambling thoughts. I decided this would be one of the few posts I’ll publish.

Year 1 of Marriage

Turns out, even when you don’t want to, even when it feels like you’re not getting what you asked for, even when you don’t understand or you’re just flat out angry- love requires something, something bigger than you’d like to give. But as it also turns out, the steady, everyday, good morning and good night kind of love lends itself to moments of completely unexpected awe as well. There are moments when I can’t seem to remember ever not knowing this person, and there are moments I see him for the first time all over again. This whole, individual person who lets me depend on me, who allows himself to depend on me.

One year ago I married my husband. I still feel every much as silly using the word husband for my best friend, because it feels so grown up, because we’re still kids in a lot of parts of our heads. That day was this kind of chaos I find myself laughing at a year later. I sit here and try to remember how eager I was to be my husband’s wife and just as everyone does I am humored by the two people who had no idea what the 1st year would require of them. We were, and often still are, blessed with an ignorant optimism about what we’re capable of. Together this year, as a young team, I graduated from college, we added a puppy to our team, we fought to open a coffee shop and finally did, I got a job, lost a job, weathered some storms and rebuilt some parts of myself, this time with someone who was looking out for me a little better than I cared to for myself. It feels like we’ve really finished this first year as a team. We are sending off this first year with some laughs, sighs of relief, well wishes and a little skip jump forward into the next year. I am proud of how we’ve grown and loved this year, but I know I am so much more excited for what is to come.

2019

It’s surely been a while since I’ve allowed myself to sit and write. I think due to the nature of growing up, I’ve ruled out a lot of things that feel self indulgent or unproductive, but I’m learning many of those things are things that make me come alive, so I’m back here on the keyboard.

2019 was the year I was engaged and quickly married to my best friend. There were the pre-wedding festivities with all the people I love…showers and parties, and then the post-wedding quiet that gave us the space to stretch out our arms as married people and learn about this new space we inhabit. It was the year we bought a house and began making it a home. It was the year that “coming soon” was all we could say about the coffee shop. It was the year we decided to get a puppy and name him Mowgli. It was the year I graduated from school and stepped into another new chapter. It was a year that felt a lot like promises fulfilled and also a lot like winding up a jack in the box and waiting to see what would happen next. I don’t know how I’ll remember 2019 10 years from now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll laugh at the two kids who decided to do everything in sight and didn’t even realize it because they were so blindly excited.

Sabbath: Trusting Rest

About a year ago I decided to start fighting for Sabbath rest in my week. I believe our society sees rest as a weakness, rather than a tool for endurance and growth. Rest can often seem lazy or self-indulgent, but I believe the God who created me, created me with limits. And because of my limits, I’ve been given the Sabbath- the surrendering my desire for productivity, the validation of progress and the satisfaction of busyness.

Though it is a gift, it can often be hard for me to set the to-do list down, close out of email, and just be. It’s the one day of the week where God simply invites me to be a human being, not a human doing

We wonder why we’re already so tired when it’s noon on a Monday. We wonder how it’s already Sunday evening and we’re dying for another shot at the weekend, unprepared to dive into our week.

I think my biggest obstacle is my forgetfulness. I can often spend a whole work week relying on myself and my own ability, and I so easily forget my value isn’t tied to the things I do. Thankfully it doesn’t take much more than a moment of stillness to bring me home to myself, to rest in my truthful identity – that I am loved, and I am enough, apart from my works. 

God doesn’t give me the Sabbath because He is rewarding my hard work, and He doesn’t withhold rest from me if I failed to get enough done in the week. It is His constant good gift to me, the thing I always need.

This Sabbath I decided to paint, not for a client commission, or for show, but for me. I wanted to paint so I could let me hands get messy and let my mind get simple. I gave God room to speak, and He met me right where I was, on the floor of my bedroom. As I layered paint, and pushed it around the canvas- I could hear my thoughts clearly, I asked God to begin to heal the parts of me I’ve neglected.

I think the Sabbath can be the easiest thing for a Christian to rule out of their busy life. That has at least been true for me. It’s hard to make space for it, and it’s so easy to assume you’ll honor rest when life slows down. But friend, this is the time for rest. In the middle of chaos and deadlines and responsibilities, acknowledge your limitations, and acknowledge the gift of rest. I’m so tired of hearing people complain of how tired and worn out they are. I want to see people who rest- people who honor their limitations and the One who meets them there with love. So I hope you don’t count yourself out. I hope you don’t assume you’re the exception. I hope you come to see you can enter your Mondays with readiness and even joy.

 

 

Gold Thread : Looking Back Last Summer

Life lately has been a little extra emotional for this ball of emotions over here. This post is kind of proof of that, but it’s also proof of something a little greater I hope.

I had a facebook memory pop up today, it reminded me where I was this time last year. I was wearing the same orange and white striped shirt I’m wearing today, and I was on top of a mountain. It was perhaps the most beautiful mountain I had ever stood on. I remember feeling it, I still feel it- the most conflicting feeling of overwhelming beauty and intense pain . . .

For someone like me, I can step into pain and really feel it all. I’m made up mostly of emotions and I’ve come to find when I feel, I feel deep and strong. Emotions seldom brush by me, rather they twist around me like a blanket, I can become completely entwined in a feeling.

I can remember standing on that mountain, feeling naked. I felt like my comfort and my safety had been mockingly taken from my hands. I felt robbed. Just the same, I felt overwhelmed with the view I had in front of me. I felt joy in the cool breeze that danced through the warm sun rays on my skin. I felt God in the lush grass that seldom saw many footprints. I felt every bit frail and collapsed as I did held together by something bigger. In that moment, I think I really learned a great contradiction: beauty in pain.

The days to follow were some of the hardest with some of the worst news. Learning one the most valuable people in your life won’t stay with you for all your days on earth like your childlike mind had pretended…well I don’t have words for that feeling, just the feeling that remains with me. In those hard days last summer, life was never more painful, the moments had never been that valuable and just the same I had never experienced so much joy in such small places

I recently heard this quote from a woman named Ruthie Lindsey, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”. I don’t know why this is true, but it is. God met me in a hollow place and he showed me overflowing beauty. He showed me the overwhelming beauty of a smile, and it was only so beautiful because there would be days where I didn’t see one. I saw birds differently, I saw my family differently, I saw flowers and water and food differently.

Looking back at last summer, I see the golden thread woven throughout the most painful memories. A laugh in a hospital room became the very best thing I’d ever heard. Life isn’t all pain, and it’s definitely not all beauty, but I am thankful for a God who can use pain, who wastes nothing- who uses every piece of the pain for beauty.

If you’re walking through something right now & can’t see the beauty, that’s okay, just keep your eyes open and it will find you. And if you need some encouragement in your inbox, send me an email & I’d love to send you some words that might bring some light or hope to your life right now.

with love

The Word of our 20’s

As a kid/teenager, I never really realized how much of my life was mapped out for me. I didn’t realize there would come a time where me and my friends had to choose our own paths and make decisions only we could make. Coming to college and into adulthood has introduced a new word to my life: should. It’s my least favorite word. It is often full of anxiety and shame and all the wrong reasons. I use this word when I feel in adequate or confused- when I’m comparing my path to those of the people around me. Becoming an adult has meant making my own decisions, living my own life and having to accept the fact that my everyday will look different than those to the left and right of me.

I chronically suffer with doubting I’m doing it right. If I see success or goodness on someone else’s path, I often think I must need that to find my own success as well- completely ignoring God’s own unique plan for just me, and believing there is simply one or two ‘right’ ways. In my doubt I begin to think..

“I should do more”

“I should clean my house more”

“Why am I not doing that too?”

“I should I should I should”

Maybe the word makes you cringe like it does for me too. Whenever I hear a friend utter that word, more often than not I tell them, “should is a bad word”. I looked up the definition of this word I’m writing about, and it only reinforces what I’ve found to be true in my own life:

should
verb
  1. used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions

I wonder why we often let obligation and “correctness” be our guide– shaming us into inadequacy. It is truly a word of comparison. So instead of nagging myself with “I should really go to the gym” I want to reframe my thoughts to be more loving and gentle:  “I want to go to the gym to take care of the body I have been given”.

In creativity there is no room for this shaming comparison, yet I often find myself thinking “I should practice more so I can make work like that”. Instead, the thing that will truly bring me into my own best work is working from a place of rest, knowing I don’t need to catch up, or be the same. We each have our own paths, our own best next step forward. ‘Should’ simply has no place as we navigate our own unique and completely personally-written paths.

Thanks for reading this, I hope some of it made sense and you step back and think the next time you hear should come into the conversation.