Sometimes in life the unexpected happens. Like you go to an event when you really don’t want to go because you have a cold and you’re tired but you go anyway because you care a lot about the person hosting it. And you also have a special position on their campaign team and they could potentially be chosen to be Mayor of the city. So you decide to go and after a nap you put on real clothes and even surprise yourself at how well you clean up. The new gear puts an extra pep in your step and you think, “The night won’t be so bad after all.” But still, you don’t know how true that statement will be. Because your expectations are minimal that you would actually meet someone and have a good time and something normal like that would happen. So you make it to the event and scan the crowd (which is sparse because its still early) and you see some familiar faces. You make small talk with a few but its clear there’s no one there for you to really connect with. But then this guy engages you in conversation with himself and another guy. Then the night flies by with you and the one guy conversing, until all of a sudden you’re sitting at a table with him 2 hours later, enjoying the interaction. And at the end of the evening you make your exit because the cold that you’ve been fighting for days is getting to you and you have to get up for work in the morning. So even though you’re enjoying the convo, you leave, pausing a second to see if he will make a move. But he doesn’t, so you leave, telling yourself, “It’s cool cuz that’s the norm.” But to your surprise he exits behind you. Runs after you, actually, just to get your phone number.
Sometimes in life you will actually meet someone face to face, not online (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or on social media (nothing wrong with that either) but in real life. And the guy will get your number, actually follow up immediately and not play the 3-5 day rule (wait 3-5 days to call). And he will keep following up. Letting you know he’s interested. Taking you out. Giving you quality time and attention and respect. And even introducing you to his friends.
Sometimes stuff that you think only happens in the movies actually happens in real life. And even though its not perfect (far from it) and doesn’t look anything the way you thought it would (does anything ever?), you recognize–it is a blessing.
Because it’s hard to find quality people to connect with. And it’s wonderful if that connection happens organically.
I admit I can be an impatient person. Even after all these years and all the tests God has used to develop patience w/in me, it is not my preference to wait. But in the world of getting to know new people and developing relationships, I have come to value a person that takes their time.
This summer has allotted me with several occasions to meet new people but no matter the person, the outcome was the same: things moved fast. There were frequent phone calls and text messages and connections made, but always a tone of urgency and even insincerity. This time however I am intrigued to have a different experience. In the short time of our meeting, he takes his time. There is careful balance of showing interest, but not diving in too deep. It is nice when someone can correctly match the emotions and physical boundaries of a relationship with its developmental stage. I have been in so many situations where that was not the case and for that reason I appreciate it all the more.
I heard it said recently that women lose their mystery quickly these days. As Christian women that can be easy to fall into because many of us do not get pursued often so when it happens we can get so excited that we give away too much too fast (I have always struggled in that area). Then afterwards, often the man does not feel the need to earn what has already been given. He does not feel the need to rise to the occasion, because instead we lowered ourselves to it.
I’m trying to learn from my past mistakes. All things are redeemable with God and He makes all things new. I want to use this new opportunity to value myself better, stay true to my identity, and enjoy the slow building in the hopes that taking our time will produce something a little bit more longstanding.
I’m in the midst of visiting longtime friends in a city I’ve been to so many times over the years, but it’s never really stood out to me in and of itself. Instead it’s been the people here–the women here– who have touched my soul in such a way that when I visit, they are all that matter.
But on this particular visit the present collides with the past and as Hope and I sit in a church and listen to those old gospel songs I have flashbacks of our college choir that we warmly refer to as MUGS (Miami University Gospel Singers). I remember those early days when we sang and belted out our love for Jesus and I was on a high of the Holy Spirit.
We left that sanctuary of praise only to make a visit to the hospital. I watched her care and serve and do what I know would be difficult for me. I think of our dreams and hopes for a future that morphed into a present that wasn’t at all what we expected. I think, “So this was my life. To be with these women. To spend 15 years on a path of surrender with these women. To face hard things and difficult situations, but to face them together.”
My friends are amazing. Parents are ill though we are still young and life is fleeting. We make memories together. Some of these are painful, but others are joy, inspite of the pain.
I’m so grateful for their consistency and this gift of friendship. That as a 19 year old I developed covenant friendships that stayed with me even through my shortcomings and fallen nature.
My friends are worthy. They are go getters and dreamers and doers of those dreams. They are a multifaceted group of talent, love and hope. They are my cheerleaders and I am grateful to have that kind of support system in place when life is never what you expect it to be. When the naive hopefulness of the 20s gives way to the slow dawning realization of the 30s.
They are still there. And I know that is nothing short of the grace of Elohim.
There have been a lot of changes for me this year. I posted a collage of pictures from the summer with the title: “What a great summer!” My friend/old roommate commented, “Was it really a great summer?!” 😳 She reminded me that we moved out of our old home this summer and we submitted to the move, both resigned 😑 . “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” I said, but went on to explain that I was only thinking about the highlights.
Contentment is a difficult thing to practice and I have had my bouts with it. God has put me through certain spiritual obstacle courses to develop me in this area but it seems like my humanity continues to oppose that particular fruit of the Spirit. It takes some real effort to focus on the positive when the negative is still present. I think even though social media can be abused/misused it does allow for us to celebrate the positives and the highlights of life. I can honestly say that even though I find this season very difficult with its changes (and with its lack of change), God has given me many desires of my heart.
And even when I have thwarted his gifts and misused his presents He replaced them with more gifts. More presents. The love He demonstrates is a love I do not understand. I simply can’t fathom His mercyand graceand lovebut I have glimpsed it so much in this season that I feel I’m gaining some knowledge.
This weekend I’ll get to promote the books He gave me. Writings that show how He used very difficult times and made purpose out of them. I’ll also get to visit with some dear sisters who I have been on this journey with for 15 years now. I’ll have more opportunities to experience His love and goodness in the form of community and social events. These are things I have desired but did not know that He would so frequently lavish them upon me.
Even in the midst of heartbreak, pain, and suffering, there is His hand. Leading me and guiding me and ordering steps that have been difficult to take. My own testimony shows His faithfulness and how when we are weak, truly He is strong.
My old roommate and I took a bike ride in Peninsula last week. For the uninformed Peninsula is about 20 minutes south of Cleveland. I had never visited there prior to and it was cool to do a little road trip in the middle of the week. We intended on renting bikes and catching the train back but the next stop for the train proved to be further than anticipated and we didn’t make it in time. Instead of cutting our ride short we opted to go the distance and ended up biking over 10 miles! Not too shabby for a couple of folks who hadn’t biked in years! 😊😏 As soon as my feet hit the pedals the serenity of nature engulfed me and I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness. I know my friend felt the same and we peddled forward with grace and peace.
At one point we stopped for directions and were told that if we kept along the path the next train stop would be about 7 miles out. We kept that goal in mind but as I shared earlier, we didn’t make it. Still, I watched as we passed sign after sign, paying attention to the names of the paths. There were so many! It was clear to me that we needed to stay on our path in order to get to where we were going. It was also clear God was giving me a picture of this spiritual race.
There are so many paths in this life. There are so many arrows pointing this way and that way. Some look appealing and inviting but not all will get you to where you need to be.
In this instance we stuck with our path and we made it back safely. Sometimes sticking to the same path can get boring, especially when you are called to go the distance. It can feel like you are missing out. You can even get weary. But every time I get off the path I end up in pain. I end up functioning as a lesser version of myself and experiencing a shame I know my Father never desired for me.
One thing I’m grateful for is His grace to get back on the right path and to have a friend (or several) to ride it out with.
Thank You Lord for bringing me Lianna and so many who stick closer to me than a brother. Your grace is sufficient and I am not deserving.
One would think grace would be something to be received and understood at the onset of Christianity. If only it were a class you took at the beginning of your enrollment on the path of truth. I would have surely signed up, checked off my checklist and aimed for the A that decorated my academic career (prior to college that is). But there was no class and after 15 years on this journey, I’m led to believe, grace is ever unfolding.
As a recovering perfectionist (recovering because I am at least aware which is the first step to truly recovering) I have spent most of my journey trying and doing and accomplishing. If I don’t do it who will? But what I’m learning is that God will.
God still will. Somehow, someway, even when I fall short and miss the mark and send the text when I shouldn’t, His promises still stand.
He still stands.
I went running this summer and I paced myself up a steep hill. It was hot that day. Too hot for a run but I was determined. Funny thing was that when I got to the hill the sun was no longer my enemy and shade became my friend. Shade kissed me with each step forward and offered a relief to my burning skin as my thigh muscles flexed and thrived. It was in that moment that I had a picture of grace. Grace does not remove the obstacle you are called to overcome, instead it offers the ability to overcome it. It travels with you during the hard parts of life and manifests in a breeze or a cool shade on a hot summer day.
A friend sent me a message from Graham Cooke and I think he had a great revelation on grace. “Grace reminds you of who you are”, he said. That is the training I have received and continue to receive: identity.
Who am I?
Who are you?
Often our behavior reflects our perception of identity. I asked God recently, “Why does this (insert your this) have to be a big deal?” I have asked this question numerous times but this was the first time I had received an answer. “Because you are a big deal”, He said.
We are a big deal. Whether we want to be or not. We are because we are made in His image and He is a pretty big deal.