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i love soy lattes, laughter, people, Jesus, & this beautiful life.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

i think this means we are growing up

Love is a beautiful gift, the carries with it the great burden of hurt and heartbreak. When we choose to love, or be loved, we also choose to risk hurting and being hurt.

I'm learning this right now. I've thought a lot about choices recently. How everyday we get to choose what we want to be about, how we want to live. I would say that I want to choose joy and love everyday. Somedays though, if I'm being totally honest, I choose contentment and selfishness. I choose to make things about me, or not fully accept my invitation to live into the life I was made to live.
We have a deep human desire to be chosen. By God, by society, by friends, by success, by a boy, by family. When I look at the list of God, society, friends, success, boys, family, I know which one really matters. Brokenness clouds over perspective though, and so instead of finding our value in God, we seek things that the world tells us matter, or love that is fleeting, instantly gratifying, and conditional.

Jesus CHOSE US. He chooses us every moment of every day. God chose to love and so with it his heart breaks when we hurt, and we break his heart when we don't choose him. Jesus literally endured immense physical pain and hurt to demonstrate his love for us, when he could've stopped it all. But he didn't, he risked pain and suffering to demonstrate love as it was made to be. Love is not always easy, or simple. God chooses to give love and blessings and meaning and protection that can only come from him, while also promising to learn our sad heartbreak songs and sing along. While promising to never leave nor forsake us, knowing full well that we will leave and forsake him time and time again, simply because we are human.

Kara and I decided last night that the past few weeks have been extra hard. Not bad, just complicated and hard. We came to the conclusion that this probably means we are growing up. It's what we've wanted all our lives and its moving in on our selfish ways and desires. And it is teaching us and challenging us. Life is going to be rough, and messy and not about us. That we will have to choose what we want our lives to really be about, and again and again to choose to live that out.
I always say the best things in life are the most difficult. I believe that because the hardest things I've gone through have brought the greatest transformation and blessings. So here's to growing up. To graduation, to real relationships and real choices. All that are hard and scary. Here's hoping believing that the risk we take when are passionate and when we love selflessly, bring goodness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

where joy comes in

**this post was written in December but neglected and forgotten about in the midst of finals week... until now!**

I find that there is a usual theme of the way I feel during finals every year... mostly chaotic, out of order, insufficient, tired, and there always seem to be a lot of jokes about being a hot mess. Yesterday though, things felt different. It was chaotic and daunting but I felt this overwhelming sense of what really mattered and that things will be ok.
I live in a house with three other girls, whom I love love love dearly. They are my best friends, my confidants, my home team, my sisters. Yesterday I sat in the front room while Kara and I hurriedly finished our respective papers minutes before the deadline (#senioritis) and Christi crammed in some last minute studying before her final. The night before Christi and I sat around the kitchen table until 4am (hey sleep deprivation) and studied. In both of these scenarios I felt the presence of God. I felt thankful that I was given true friendships and people who love me and people who stay up with me to study and then also put up with with my weirdness due to exhaustion. And not even just put up with me, they join me and they love me. When I am overwhelmed or need to vent, and when I am excited and need to celebrate, they meet me where I am and love me.
Christi and Kara and I walked to our finals at 1 yesterday and it was freezing cold. We left the house too late and ran around grabbing the essentials before pulling on boots and parkas and our backpacks and leaving quickly. On the way we just started laughing about maybe life in general, maybe just finals week, but how life is funny. That morning in the front room, and the night before in the kitchen we had laughed so hard. And we had also had some of the best conversations we'd shared in a long time. About God and new love and success and the future and how life is scary.
I think that in the midst of when life is happening, when life is crazy and things seems to be a little disjointed, joy comes in. Joy comes in to bless us in the chaotic. Like a little message from God saying, "this life is hard, this life is crazy, but I've made it gorgeous for you to enjoy."

not a new years resolution

I'm not much into new years resolutions, in fact this year I blatantly decided to reject ideas of making any. BUT, I like the idea of a fresh start, renewal of ordinary things, and the hope of the future. So, I've thought a lot lately about what I want my life to be more about. In the past my resolutions have involved losing weight or getting better grades. I don't think that life is meant to be measured by three little numbers on a scale or letters on my transcript. My life is worth more than shallow goals, my value is not meant to be measured by success or failure.
In this season of my life I've become more aware of my fears. Right now it looks like being anxious about graduating and getting a job, or letting myself be vulnerable in relationships. But there are grander themes of being fearful about ending up unhappy, or just merely satisfied with life, or of failing by the standards of the world.
A huge aspect of being a believer is knowing that God says again and again "do not be afraid!" And I do hear that, read that, but so many times I fail to believe or live in the freedom of that truth. God's perfect love drives out all fear. Ann Voskamp writes, "all fear is but the notion that God's love ends." God's love does not end, it is meant to be overwhelming in the best way, it is unrelenting if we are willing to receive his love.
God's love drives out all fear. God delights in lavishing us with his love. He is a loving father desiring to cover us with grace and love and blessings. He is a protector. I'm finding out that my fear, and my forgetting-I'm-loved is rooted in my lack of trust. I admit that I want control. I am addicted to planning, lists, wanting to know what comes next. One of the greatest tensions in my life is that I so long to surrender my life to God and to live presently in his plan for me, but when I'm afraid I revert to desperately clinging to my own plans. Don't we all crave control and a road map to this life? Doesn't God find joy in writing our stories?
Here is what I hope. That my life be more about channeling my fears in a way that allows me to seek and experience God. Fear is inherently uncomfortable and scary, but fear also usually means that something is important to us. For example, I'm afraid of being hurt by those I love, because I value those relationships. And I'm afraid of ending up unhappy, because I deeply long for fulfillment and contentment. These things that I'm afraid of matter to me. It is not all bad. However, I don't want to miss out on the beauty of life because of fear. I do not want to be blind to God's story for me because I'm desperately seeking answers and control.
I want to be more about trusting, and living loved, and less about fear. I want to show up more where I am, not where I wish I were. I want to be present in moments and relying less on the future I know nothing about.
God's love does not run out. That is a promise.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

messy & beautiful

Recently, I have felt constantly bombarded by the reality that life is hard and messy and broken.
There are people I love who are deeply hurting, broken, and struggling. There are broken families and homes, people torn apart by messy relationships, and people turning their backs on God. On the news there are homicides all over Chicago and hundreds of horrible stories.
I think I usually feel and internalize these things more than the average person. I tend to want to fix and make better and I want things to work. I long for harmony. But, I can't fix the world, or the people I care about who are hurting, I can only love them.
I've caught myself saying so many times this week while talking to friends "why is life so messy?" or something along those lines. We need to be reminded of the beauty and goodness in life. I need to know that it will be ok. Because life is hard and messy and full of hurt.
This is how I've been processing. If we look at life on a spectrum we can choose to live in the middle of the spectrum and numb ourselves, refuse to be vulnerable and refuse to acknowledge the hurting and the hard. Maybe this is easier because we just don't have to deal with it. Or we can choose to recognize the ways that life just sucks sometimes and that things are not how they are suppose to be. I think that if we do that, we are also open to experience the polar opposite side of the spectrum. If we understand that depth of the hard then I think we can truly believe in the beauty of the good. We can live presently in the beauty of the goodness and the freedom of redemption when we have felt the constraints of heartbreak and pain. Living in the middle of the spectrum only allows us to experience snippets and pieces. I want life to the full. Life that is hard but life that has depth and overflowing with joy, because I get to live it.
I had my last day of hospice clinical today. I learned so much about life, while walking with and caring for those who are dying. It was a blessing and an experience I will never forget. It was a reminder that I cannot do it alone. I shrink and feel empty on my own, but I am sustained by God's love and promises. And I learned that it is so easy for me to put up walls because I am afraid to feel sad with a family or because I don't want it to be uncomfortable. However, it is so much more fulfilling to live vulnerable and just be uncomfortable. To enter in and to love--  not to fix-- but to just be human and love. The best experiences I had happened when I let my guard down and decided to say real and true things, not just the "right" thing, and when I looked into a patient's eyes or saw glimpses of their story. And how I learned over and over that God is with us, and he is for us. I see him in people's stories, in their tears and in their love for each other. I'm so thankful for that.
I'm thankful that God knows what we need. I'm thankful that I am small and cannot do it on my own. I'm thankful that I get to live a life that doesn't just involve numbing myself to get by, but involves tears and aches but uncontrollable laughter and new love, and sustaining joy and whimsy.
Life is messy, but it is so beautiful. I'm choosing to open my eyes and my heart to believe these truths day after day. Join me? I promise you won't regret it.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

365 days of thanksgiving

I love thanksgiving. It means family and friends around a table sharing a meal and conversation and intentionally gathering with hearts of thankfulness. But today I was wondering why we need a whole day devoted to "giving thanks." Wouldn't our lives be more full if our everyday echoed the ideals of Thanksgiving? I think so. I'm obviously not advising the abolition of Thanksgiving because I think it is a lovely day, but I want Thanksgiving the other 364 days of the year too. Probably without the excessive food consumption.
I hope that I seek to experience the beauty and blessings of everyday. I want to be about celebrating and giving thanks for the little things in life that are really great and also for ordinary things that I so often take for granted.

Monday, November 25, 2013

what i'm learning

The past season of my life has felt busy, overwhelming, and chaotic, but at the same time so blessed, fun, and exciting. I feel like most of life is busy, overwhelming and chaotic but I want to be more aware of the blessings, the fun, and the goodness in every moment.

I've been reflecting on what God is teaching me right now; about him, and also about myself. I know there is always something to learn, always somewhere to grow, and something to hear, but for a while I felt stuck. I prayed to be unstuck and I prayed for God to use me, to show me what I'm suppose to be doing, and to teach me. But mostly to experience him more. And I felt unanswered. I'm not sure I would've said that then, or admitted the scary reality that I was feeling distant from God, but I was. I never said it aloud, and never was mad at God, but I just had a longing for more of him. I felt like my desires for a deeper experience with God were not being quenched. I wanted movement.

Recently however, I've been reminded of God's true faithfulness and his plan for me. I've been reminded that waiting is not bad. Waiting is hard. Waiting for God, or for prayers to be answered, or for things to make sense is always hard. At least for me, because I am a generally impatient person. But that place of waiting is where transformation happens, where hope brews and where I think the roots of true joy and thanksgiving grow.

There is always movement in our lives. There was movement and growth when I felt distant from God and there is movement now when I feel overwhelmed by his presence and transformation.

I think I've also been realizing that we settle- a lot. We settle in various ways for various reasons, but none the less, we are all guilty of settling. And boy-oh-boy, does settling scare me. Kara and I were talking about how so often we take matters into our own hands to get what we want. Instead of being in the place of waiting for what might be, we jump prematurely to where we think we want to be. I say "where we think we want to be" because I think that we don't know what's best for ourselves. I am small and broken, but God is perfect and sovereign. It sounds cliche and overused because we hear all the time that "God has bigger plans for us." But, he does! Maybe even more, he has plans for us on the journey. He has answers to our questions in the waiting and he is guiding us when we don't know-- when I am calling out for more of him. And I think this all scares me because while the waiting is so hard, the settling is so easy. It is easy, but never best. And I don't want to live an easy life. I want a life that is challenging, but meaningful. I want to seek God in the unknown and dance in the joy of his faithfulness and blessings.

I've been learning that for basically my whole life, I've been living like the hard things in my life can be solved with a formula. For example "feelings of insufficiency cured with higher grades and a smaller dress size" or "loneliness and a desired to be known fixed with a boyfriend." And so, consequently I've been living my life in an attempt to make it easier by taking matters into my own hands, and while doing that I've sized God down. I've made him smaller out of fear that I might not get exactly what I want when I want it. Prayers become like kitchen orders, and life becomes about selfishly living and failing to acknowledge the perfectly intricate and beautiful plan that has been handcrafted for me.

Moreover, God doesn't work in formulas, he is the best author ever. The stories God has for our lives are filled with trials, hard things, and pain, and they are abundantly full of redemption, unconditional love and grace. Maybe the coolest part of this all is that we don't even have to try out to be part of this beautiful story, we just get to. Everyday I have the opportunity to wake up to my life and play my character in the story God has handcrafted for me. Feelings of "not being enough" are never cured with a number on a scale, or worldly successes, or by getting what we've "always wanted". Joy and fulfillment are not achieved with a list and a set of directions. And thank goodness for that because life would be way boring.

I'm discovering that what we want doesn't usually happen how we pictured. Life is messy and hard. But God works in the messy and broken and he makes beautiful things out of hard things. So i'm waking up to seeing the whole picture and living out the story. I'm sick of expecting my timing and what I've always wanted. Instead, I'm whole-heartedly experiencing the blessings that are in the right now. Chances are the story God is writing is a whole lot better than my simple formula for life.

All God ever wanted us to do is keep dancing, keep living. He will keep writing and I think He promises it. will. be. beautiful.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

nursing + entering in

Nursing school has been rough for a lot of reasons, but mostly I think because I've come to the deep realization of how hard and truly heartbreaking sickness can be. When I get asked why nursing I always say "I want my career to bring me purpose." I don't say that I expected my experiences to personally effect me so much--- every part of me.
I never expected to leave a patient's room and feel overwhelmingly inspired by their immense joy outside their circumstances. I couldn't imagine how much a terminally ill cancer patient would teach me in her final months. But I never expected to have such a deep desire to fix people, and make them well, even when I know I have no control. I guess I never processed it. And I never expected to feel hopeless when I came to terms with the reality that I could not make them well.
What I've really learned about nursing is that it truly involves entering into life with people. Walking through the happy moments of a birth and the terribly hard moments of cancer pain. So much of my life I've spent running away from discomfort, pain, and suffering. We all have. It's part of human nature-- we do whatever we can to protect ourselves from hurting. And in less than a year my job will be about people who are hurting, suffering, and struggling. I've learned that I don't want to run away from the discomfort, because I will not escape it. And really, I don't think it is what God wants us to do. Because with a mindset of fixing I will always be a failure. I believe with God there is hope, healing, love and peace.
There will be a time when there is no more suffering, no more tears, or hurting, but for now I think my job (literally and figuratively) is to enter in to the suffering and stay with the people who need it most. I can only hope and pray that my actions, words, and presence will meet them where they are.
I cannot fix people, I cannot wave my magic wand. I cannot tell the mother of my 18-month-old patient with a chronic disease that will end her life too soon, that I can make it all better. I can, however, be there with them, enter in to their lives for a long time, or just a few hours and love them. Love them in their hurt and their suffering. I learn so much in that place of being present and loving. More than when I numb myself because little me cannot change the hard things.
I've questioned many times in the last three years whether or not I should become a nurse. And then there are days like today. When I see sick patients with big smiles and bigger hearts.  It seems automatic to pray for them on my long walk down the hallway to nurses station. To pray for God's will to be done, for peace for them and their families, for healing, for love, and for God's presence. And for me, as much as I would love to say, praying is not my first reaction to hard things. A truth I've learned is that I cannot do life alone, which means I cannot be a nurse alone. I need jesus, and I need to continually, throughout the day faintly whisper "I trust you Jesus."
I know that I was made to be a nurse when I drive home processing the day with a lump in my throat because of the brokenness and hurt in our world, but a deep and fulfilling warmth in my soul because I know that in the darkness there is light, and I feel that light maybe more then I ever have in my life.