Grown Up life

Wowza, it’s been a while since I sat down to blog. As of late, it seems like almost everyone is jumping on the blog-wagon, so I figured hey, why not me too?

And then I realized why not. BECAUSE MY LIFE IS BORING. It makes me so sad. My life didn’t used to be like this. Really. I used to have adventures and make new friends and laugh everyday. Instead, now my daily routine has turned into this: wake up, work, come home, run, shower, eat, watch an episode of Lost, go to bed at 9:30. Seriously, it’s pathetic. 

So I decided against the whole blogging thing for awhile. I mean, what do I have to say that anyone else cares about? Nothing. But then an idea came to me.. What if instead of using this blog as a “show-off tool,” I use it as a motivator? So that’s my hope for this blog.

I’m not going to preach at you, or give you advice or tell you how to live your life. Honestly, this blog isn’t about you. It’s about me. That might sound harsh.. but it’s pretty much true.  I’m going to use this blog as a way to inspire me to try new things, visit new places, meet new people. I want to take risks and be bold. I’m starting a new season of life. I just graduated college and have my first full-time “big-girl job.” I’m figuring it all out as a go. And during a new season of life, it’s important to take risks. That’s what “change” is all about. I plan on blogging about everything- I want it to represent my life in many ways. I plan on covering everything from design ideas, inspirational quotes, a dream log (oh lord), an adventure journal and much more. So here we go. I’m in for a wild ride.

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Travel is fatal to prejudice.

-Mark Twain

Trapped in Perfection

We are all trapped in perfect lives. Surrounded by beautiful things, lavish parties, gourmet food. we try to be “humble” about these things. We swear we aren’t rich, but rather average, middle class, “normal.” Yet when we get a glimpsed of the truly impoverished, we are slapped in the face by our own wealth. And we do everything within our power to forget these images. We fill our lives with business, with things, with petty, shallow relationships. Yet in the quiet moments, in the moment of stillness, these images come back to haunt us. They whisper in our ears that this is not how life is supposed to be. That while we have too much, we are missing so much more. No matter how hard we try to escape the whispers, they are forever branded in our hearts, in our souls.

I am trapped within my own perfection. I lead the “perfect life,” the American dream. I go to a private college, have an internship at my dream corporation. My parents have been happily married for 25 years. I have two younger siblings and a froofy little dog. We live in the suburbs of a large wealthy city. My parents make a lot of money, they drive nice cars. They bought each of us kids a car when we turned 16, a nice car at that. I am beautiful, skinny and well-liked. I have fun, I party, I have lots of friends.

Yet something is missing. And as much as I know this is true, I banish it from my mind.

I am hurting. But I have been hurting for so long I don’t feel it. My heart is hardened. I don’t cry, as much as I try. I don’t let anyone in. They push and shove, trying to break my walls down. I look curiously at them and quietly walk away. It won’t happen. Because when I did believe the words, as beautiful and delicious as they were, I left bitter and broken, swearing I wouldn’t let myself fall into the trap of lies ever again. So I haven’t.

So instead I fill my life with my internship, shopping, drinking and going out with friends. I want to feel again. But I’m so terrified of pain, of false words and promises, that I instead feel nothing.

Then out of nowwhere, there are moments where I remember, where I feel, where I’m alive. It hurts, but it feels so good to, to feel.

I look up. Time seems to stand still. The car in front of me isn’t moving, and I can’t stop. I’m going to crash, I think to myself. And instead of trying to stop, I let go. I close my eyes, push back and brace myself for what I know will be one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life. I hear a noise, louder than anything I’ve ever heard. My body is being thrown. Then it’s quiet. I look down and my car is stopped. Everything is stopped. I stumble out of my smoking, ruined car. Traffic moves around me, yet people are running to me. Tears start to pour down my face. Not for my car, not for my body, but because for the first time in months, I can feel.

I want the brokenness back. I’d take back the pain, the anguish, the hurt if only to know that my heart truly does still exist. That I’m still human. That my soul isn’t gone.

Who is he?

This is a question I’ve asked myself since my early teens. I feel like I’m always on the lookout. Who is he? Where is he? Is he in front of me in line at the grocery store? Is he sitting next to me in class? Is he facebook chatting me? Is he singing next to me at church? Frankly, it’s pathetic. But if I’m being honest, it’s a question that is always, always, lingering in the back of my mind. And I feel like I’m not the only one. As a single, 20-something girl, I want to know who my husband will be.

I’ve been reflecting a lot about this lately. Why do I feel this way? This is not how I want to live my life. Was I made this way? Partially, yes. As a woman, a human and complete extrovert, I was made for relationship with others. I hate that sometimes. I wish I could live all alone my whole life and be completely satisfied. But I can’t. It’s not possible.

I also think, besides being made this way, our culture has infused into us this idea that if we aren’t in relationship, our life is not worth living. Turn on the radio for 10+ minutes, and I guarantee you that 3/4 of the songs will be about relationships with someone of the opposite sex. Flip through channels on the TV, and almost all will deal with relationships with someone of the opposite sex. Flip through some magazines, pick up a fictional book and guess what you’ll see? Yep, something to do with relationships with someone of the opposite sex. It’s like I can’t get away from it.

And while I may be made for relationship, it doesn’t mean I was made to get married, at least not right now. So why am I so anxious about it? I think partially it’s fear of being alone for the rest of my life. I think partially it’s feeling of inadequacy. But here’s the thing, THESE ARE ALL LIES!

I am not inadequate. I am good enough.

I will not, contrary to common misconception, be alone for the rest of my life, even if I don’t get married.

And, I already am in a divine romance. I am already loved.

I already have my boyfriend, just not in the way our culture sees it.

Who is he?

“I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.” -John 4:26 (msg)

I am he! I heard this verse last week at Catalyst, and it made me audibly gasp. This is who I’ve been looking for! He’s already here, right in front me, in line with me at the grocery store, sitting with me at class, singing with me at church. I no longer have look any further or wait. I’ve got it!

I know it sounds so weird, but I really believe that Jesus was made to be my boyfriend. Scratch that, that I was made to be his girlfriend, that I was made to be the bride of Christ.

One of my favorite blogs, the Good Women Project, put it this way:

I’m living this adventure of seeking God and keeping my eyes only on him. He’s been showing me crazy things and taking me to places I never imagined I would go. I am completely fulfilled in him. I don’t need anyone else and I love that.

We are not independent beings. We were created to fill a hole in our heart. But what most people don’t understand is that it can’t be filled with a guy or girl. It is to be filled by God, our creator. When hole is filled, you will know it. It’s the most fulfilling thing out there.

So I already have my partner. I’m not saying I don’t want to get married.

That is one of my greatest desires.

But it doesn’t control me.

It’s not in my hands, it’s in His.

And that’s better than my plan could ever, or will ever, be.

live

Live and live well. Breathe. Breathe in and breath deeply Be present. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now. On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and feel the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun. If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool, autumn day to freeze your lungs and do not be alarmed. Be alive. Get knee-deep in a novel and lose track of time. If you bike, pedal harder. And if you crash, then crash well. Feel the satisfaction of a job well done- a paper well-written, a project thouroughly completed, a play well-performed. If you must wipe the snot from the your 3-year old’s nose, don’t be disgusted if the Kleenex didn’t catch it all, because soon he’ll be wiping his own. If you’ve recently experience loss, then grieve. And grieve well. At the table with friends and family, laugh. If you’re eating and laughing at the same time, then you might as well laugh until you puke. And if you eat, then smell. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven. And taste. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of life. Because it is most definitely a gift. 

Kyle Lake

Catalyst Day 2

Today was the final day of Catalyst 2011. It was just as incredible as the first day. While there weren’t as many big events or fun crowd things as there were the last time I attended in 2008, I feel so renewed and refreshed.

This morning we heard Mark Driscoll speak on the topic of fear. “Fear not” is the most common commandment in the Bible.

  • Fear is vision without hope.
  • Feat isn’t always rational, but it is powerful.
  • Feat in the mind causes stress in the body.
  • Fear is about not getting what we want, or losing what we want.
  • Fear preaches a false gospel and turns us into false prophets.

We also heard from Blake MyCoskie, the founder of Toms, David Kinnaman, founder of the Barna group, and Priscilla Shirer. She talked about sleeping through seasons of life, and always waiting for what’s next. I do this so often- “my life will be better when this happens.” Then we wake up one day and realized we’ve missed out on a huge part of our lives. I don’t want this at all.

Priscilla also talked about Luke 24:13. It starts with the two words, “And behold.” Basically, look at this. Stop and notice, because something big is about to happen. I truly feel like I’m in the middle of a “behold” moment. God is telling me that something big is about to happen. I can’t wait to see what it is, but I understand it may not be easy.

Tonight after the conference we went to dinner and talked about the biggest thing we got out of the conference, and our biggest takeaway. For me, the theme of Catalyst was my biggest takeaway.

“Be Present”
What does this mean?  The Catalyst book tells what being present means. Some of them really spoke to me.

  • Being present means wherever you are, you are all there. It’s our responsibility to embrace what God has put squarely in front of us.
  • Being present means when talking with someone, you look them in the eyes and listen. Not looking over their shoulder to see whom else is there. Be all there.
  • Being present is about focusing on and embracing the NOW. Not just passing through a moment to get to the next thing, but instead focusing on the right now, the present, the Today.
  • Being present is about engaging and listening to those right in front of you.
  • Being present means you’re all in when you’re at home.
  • Being present means creating margin that allows for the interruptions and moments of inconvenience, which can be moments when God the greatest work through us.
  • Being present means consumed by Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Because He is Present.
  • Being present means balancing a culture of distraction and consumption with a commitment to solitude and silence.
  • Being present means your staff’s dreams are more important than your own.
  • Being present is about staying. It’s about showing up and never leaving. Having presence in a place, location or contest. Being connected to an address, a neighborhood, a city, a zip code. 
  • Being present means embracing the role that God has given you right now, and bearing fruit in and through your life.
  • Being present means being involved in the community you are located in. Existing in community and not always trying to “create” community. Knowing and loving your neighbors.
  • Being present is being willing to confront things you disagree with and say things that are not popular.
  • Being present means being deeply rooted. Having maturity, and tremendous depth. Not being anxious or overbearing or sporadic.
  • Being present means being in relationship. Incarnational ministry. Creating disciples. Presence demands relationship. Being available to those around you, and casting self aside and focusing on the needs of others. Knowing those around you deeply. 
  • Being present is more than just attending an event. It’s more than just showing up. It’s being part of a moment. It’s a way of life. 
  • Being present means investing in future leaders and understanding the next generation. It is as much about looking forward as it is turning around and looking back.
    Being present can change the world. 

Catalyst Day 1

Day 1 of Catalyst 2011 is complete.

It might have been one of the longest days I’ve had in a long time. Scratch that, it’s been the longest two weeks of my life. Between going through a breakup, not eating for days at a time, getting immensely sick and being completely emotional while preparing my heart for one of the most incredible conferences of all time, I’ve barely stayed sane.

It’s been a whirlwind. I saw the sunset in Iowa. I watched the sunrise in Kansas City. I saw the sunset in Tennessee. I watched the sunrise in Georgia. I spent 18/24 hours in the car. I traveled through seven states in those 24 hours. But I love it. I love seeing new places. I love enjoying God’s beauty. I love seeing how He romances us through His creation, if we take the time to notice and watch for it. I love spending time with friends, mentors and family. I love having deep life chats. I love jamming to Smash Mouth and Nicki Minaj and Hillsong. I love laughing until I cry. I love stopping at every state line to take a picture. I love loving my life.

And I truly believe it’s a choice. Yes, I can allow my circumstances to determine my attitude. I can listen to lies of the enemy and feel sad or bad. Or I can choose to be happy. I can choose to take in every moment. And I’m choosing happiness.

Today at Catalyst we heard Andy Stanley, Jim Collins, Francis Chan and my new favorite Judah Smith (seriously crushing: he’s a black man in a white man’s body.) We heard the story of Katie Davis, the 22-year old from Nashville who moved to Uganda, and adopted 13 daughters. I was completely moved and convicted by this story. She is only two years older than me, and living a life I can’t even imagine. It’s something I desire though. Something bigger than myself. Something that takes guts and is painful, but so so worth it. And the thing is, is that she’s just like me. The only difference is that she heard God’s call, and took a leap of faith. I want this. All day I’ve been praying that God would place a big opportunity in front of me. And that I would be willing to answer the call and step out in faith.

Jim Collins talked about a BHAG today: a big, hairy audacious goal. I wrote down two. It doesn’t mean they’ll come true, or even that they’re a part of God’s plan for my life. But they are something I dream about and desire.
1. Start a non-profit.
I don’t even know what this looks like or what it means. Maybe I need to work in a non-profit first (but I sort of already have at the church.) I don’t even know what cause I want to work toward. All I know is that for the past year or so, God has been calling me into some kind of ministry, and I feel like that’s non-profit. I’m praying he reveals a cause I’m passionate about and can work toward.
2. Become a public speaker.
This is weird, because I’m not sure I even really want this. But, once again, I feel like this is something God has told me I will be doing in the future. I’m taking a speech class now and doing really well in it. I also spoke a few times this summer and was highly complimented. I don’t want to base a goal solely on words of affirmation, but I do think I have a gift of some sort in that, and I want to use it to benefit the Kingdom in some way.

Although I have these huge goals and a vision, which I believe is essential in life in order to succeed, God also revealed to me today that in order to achieve these huge goals, I must be faithful in the little things. I still remember Steven Furtick’s talk at Catalyst 2008, when he talked about receiving a vision from God. He said “from the promise to the payoff there lies a painful process.” So God has revealed these goals and desires in my heart, which I believe are from Him (Psalm 37:4), so in order to achieve them, I have to faithful throughout the process to receive the payoff.

Collins also talked about setting a sort of pace in your life, a “20-mile march.” He said that it’s so easy for us to get so consumed and passionate about a cause and go so far and do so much, like running 40 miles. But then when winter hits and it’s cold and you’re tired, you don’t do anything. So it’s like tortoise and the hare in a sense. However, when you consistently run 20 miles, not more, not less, you are bound to succeed. This is what I need to practice in my life. Not getting so caught up in something, not too up or down, but just consistent, in order to achieve a goal.

Joel Houston and Hillsong also played at the conference today. They were absolutely incredible. Though I know more songs by their international counterpart, Hillsong United, I was still extremely impressed. They sounds just as good live as they do on their CDs, which I feel like is the sign of a good artist. One awesome thing about Catalyst is getting to worship with 13,000 of my brothers and sisters. We are all there for the same cause: we desire to be leaders in the Kingdom of Jesus. Standing there, pouring my heart out to the Father while thousands of others have their hands raised in complete surrender is truly one of the coolest experiences ever. And it never gets old.

The trick with Catalyst is that it’s a mountaintop experience. Which isn’t bad. It’s good to go up on the mountain sometimes and be rejuvenated and reenergized. The trick is coming back down. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers talks about how we as believers cannot live on the mountain. That was never God’s intention. When we come down, it’s going to be hard. We would so much rather live on the mountain, where we feel so much more intimate and connected to God, where we think life is perfect. The valley is where we are able to put what we learned on the mountain in to place. It is the place where our faith is tested and where we prove our character. As I will have to leave the mountain in a few short days, my prayer is that I would put into place what I’m learning. I’ve prayed that Catalyst would not be an overwhelming, emotional experience. While I do want the Father to break my heart, soften it and mold me, I don’t want to base my words or promises on empty emotions that are bound to change in a few days. From Catalyst, I want the Father and Spirit to teach me practical, real information that I can implement into my daily life. It’s going to be hard. I want to stay on the mountain. But I know that in order to be more like my Jesus, I must be refined. I must be molded.

8 And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
      We are the clay, and you are the potter.
      We all are formed by your hand.
-Isaiah 64:8 

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