doors

You know what’s hard?

Being 30 years old and (sort of voluntarily) unemployed.

It’s hard because I have spent a lifetime aiming toward responsible. I got good grades, went to college, got even better grades, got a great job, went to grad school, got the very best grades, passed the comps with the most outstanding score possible, got all of the wonderful recommendations. I networked and interned and I bought a car and paid my bills and worked 40 hours a week like normal people do.

And then I woke up one day and realized, “I cannot do this anymore.”

Not the paying-my-bills part. Not the working-40-hours part. But the job. I couldn’t do the job.

It was my excuse, my crutch. “Sorry, can’t do that ministry. Work, you know?” Or: “I’m so sorry I can’t meet after work. It’s a crazy time and I just need some down time.”

I let work become the driving force in my life for saying a loud, resounding No to anything that made me fearful or uncomfortable.

So after four years at what was, in reality, a really great job, where I had lots of opportunities to be great and a boss who was totally on board with motivating and inspiring, I walked away. I did literally the most irresponsible thing I could possibly do at that time. It wasn’t easy.

I was walking away from job security. I was leaving behind a boss who cared enough to work with me to make me better and coworkers who I’d spent years developing relationships with, people I genuinely liked because they were great. But even with the trepidation I felt at all of the unknown, I had to do it because I couldn’t do it anymore. There were some other opportunities than came to me in the aftermath of leaving but I had a lot of down time.

For once, I felt like I could be brave enough to say yes to many of the doors I had spent time shutting before God had done some cleaning up in me. Things like:

Volunteering at the Pregnancy Center.
That Friday morning Bible study.
Being wholly, utterly dependent on God’s provision.

When I let my no become my yes to the things of God, I saw my life change immediately. I’m not saying I got everything I wanted. I didn’t win the lottery. No one paid my car off for me or wrote me checks every month to cover my bills. I didn’t land my dream job. But I had this deep, amazing faith that comes from literally having nothing but God.

I have been, of course, applying for jobs. Until April 15, I was working for a tax firm, which is probably the most fun job I’ve ever had. It was totally refreshing after four years of stress and helping to basically recreate a falling-apart program. I laughed so hard I cried more than once. I so desperately needed that break and I’m so thankful for God to providing it for me.

And here I am… newly turned 30 and unemployed because that job ended on tax day. Oh, I’ve been searching. I’ve had many interviews but am still waiting. But God is cooking up some good things for me. He is reminding me that sometimes He firmly shuts doors, but He also holds them open, too. It’s too much to explain here, at least for now, but He is reminding me again and again…

I am here. I am real. I am walking with you as your learn to trust in Me. I am God, and I’ve got this.

Whatever may come next, whatever job He provides for me, I cannot and will not let work become my out. God is my God and He will provide if I honor Him.

Advertisements

Good reads indeed

It has been too, too long since I’ve shared what I’m reading. In this case, too, too long translates to three months… Yikes! I definitely hit a reading slump at the beginning of the year. And then I was working at a tax office with a crazy schedule that didn’t really allow me time to read much during the day but I’m back. Here’s what I’ve finished since my last post on books way back in January!

forgotten garden kate mortonThe Forgotten Garden was my second Kate Morton book and while I enjoyed it, I think I might have enjoyed The House at Riverton more, simply because the plot to this one seemed more wide-open. That said, I really did like this book a lot. It’s a historical mystery: a small girl is sent on a ship headed to Australia in the early 1910s. She has no traveling companions and when she arrives at the dock, the dockmaster and his wife take her in as her own. When she turns 21, her parents tell “Nell” the truth and it upsets everything in her world. She attempts to find out who she is, but before she can, life intervenes and she ends up caring for her young granddaughter. It’s this granddaughter, Cassandra, who picks up the mystery to discover Nell’s secret life. I definitely wanted to keep reading this book — I hand to know what happened! I love books that are just too hard to put down and this was one of them. I can’t wait to read the other two Morton books I’ve got sitting on my bookshelf!

hobbitA few months ago, when the first movie in this trilogy came out, I went with friends to see it simply because I didn’t want to be left out of a group outing. If I had known that the movie was a) a trilogy and b) three hours long, I probably would not have gone. I mean, my attention span is not much longer than a paragraph! When I saw this skinny book on my parents’ bookshelf a few weeks later, I was so mad. How in the world would this be nine hours’ worth of movie? So I read it simply to justify my silly rage… And dang it! Because I surprisingly loved it and can’t wait to sit through six more hours of movie. This is Tolkien’s tale of what happens before the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In The Hobbit, we meet Bilbo Baggins and travel with him and some dwarves as they journey to take back a mountain castle kingdom from a dragon, and in the process we meet Golum and see the ring for the first time. After reading it, I definitely understand how this had to be turned into a movie trilogy — there is so much action and adventure packed in these pages that it would be a travesty not to expand on Tolkein’s writing! (And yes, now I want to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy!)

sparklygreenI do not know how I found The Big Mama, aka Melanie Shankle. But I do know that adding her to my Google Reader has made my life a lot funnier than I ever expected because every.single.day she posts, I laugh. So when I heard she was writing a book about parenting, I was really excited. Not because I’m a parent but because I think Melanie is just so real and fun that you don’t have to be a parent to relate to her. This book proves that to be true. She is tender and real and hilarious the entire time as she shares stories about meeting Perry, her husband, and their daily life with their only daughter, Caroline. (Maybe I like it because Caroline reminds me so much of a Texas version of my Charissie girl!) This was a quick read and I could see it being totally perfect for a mom’s book club.

 

faultinourstarsI have never read any John Green before. Please don’t sue me. But this book has gotten such amazing praise from pretty much every single review site and newspaper and magazine so when I had a coupon code for a new book site (bookworm.com), I grabbed it along with a new other books. It’s the story of a teenagers Hazel and Gus, both cancer patients to varying degrees. They’re sick but they want to live these normal, ridiculous teenage lives — knowing that they fully cannot ever be “normal.” To be honest, I liked this book but scratched my head when it came to the outpouring of praise. I’ve read much, much stronger young adult fiction and while I thought this was good, I’m not sure that it deserves all of the awesomeness that’s been heaped upon it. I will tell you that I cried. I knew what was coming — after all, it’s a book about kids with cancer; what do you think happens?! — and I did appreciate the way the characters seemed real to me. One thing to nit-pick: why do YA authors think that it’s necessary to have teenagers in LUV to have sex? That was the biggest WHYYYY in this book for me. It would be been a great story without any sex.

storytellerI am a big Jodi Picoult fan but honestly her last few books have fallen short for me because the plots just seem too formulaic and contrived. I think her writing is strong but the plots… oh the plots. Anyhow, I got The Storyteller as an Easter gift and I flew through it. I mean, stayed up all night even though I knew I’d regret it at work. Sage works as a baker and her world is rocked when she befriends an old German man named Josef. He tells Sage he has a story to tell her and that he needs her to take his life. Josef is a former SS guard and Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. Sage must balance hearing and seeing her grandmother, finding out her story. I seriously thought this book was PHENOMENAL. I stayed up reading it and in the very middle of it, I had tears running down my face. And the ending… maybe I should have seen it coming, but I did not. I would HIGHLY recommend this one!

All right. I have read more but I think that’s enough for today! Don’t want to overwhelm anyone with too many books in once place. Happy reading! What’s in your library right now that you’re working your way through?

Fifteenth summer vacation

Most people know that I studied English in college with an emphasis — really, it was more like a minor — in creative writing. My focus was writing tortured stories of teenage girls and women, still the audience I feel most compelled to write for. But today, as I was cleaning out our storage shed to actually make everything fit (which was its own special game of moving Tetris), I came across a bunch of poems that I’d written while I was in college.

I hated my poetry class. I mean, I truly hated it. Once, in fact, I walked out of the class in full-on tears because I was frustrated with the teacher. So needless to say, it put a major damper on my love of poetry. And then the following semester, after I’d had a few of my poems published in our school’s lit journal, my fiction writing teacher told me that I was a very good poet.

I shrugged it off because a) it was a college lit journal, not some national journal or magazine and b) I hated poetry. Seriously hated it. And c) of course they were decent poems — it wasn’t like I was submitting my crappy stuff.

But today, while I was cleaning out my shed, I came across a handful of poems that I’d written, which made me look through bunch of poems I have saved on my computer. All I can say is:

Man. I hated that class, but I love writing poetry.

I wanted to share a piece but decided not to pick some of my favorites because they’re the ones I would share any time. So this is one that I wrote while in college.

– – – – – – – – – –

Fifteenth Summer Vacation

You are my ocean,
seaweed tangling around my ankles,
wet and bubbly,
sand exfoliating my skin, the
smell of hot, dry summer days, and the
rush
of water rising through my spine as my
board makes its way to the shore.

You are the cloudy haze, the
islands I distantly swim to in dreams,
a chilled Corona angled in
the sand at high
noon, the salt sticking to my sunglasses,
water rinsing cool my legs
as I crack back the green pinstripped
lawn chair and sip in the day.

You are a sand dollar, its belly a cat’s tongue,
a seastar, five ways at once,
a season, the fluid
lines of sand
that wave to me, a
jetty, a pier, a picture on a postcard
and the fairgrounds
when the fireworks explode on the 4th of July.

You are a red tide, phosphorescent,
the way green divies to yellow-meets-blue at the horizon,
the smell of wet sand going down the drain,
crab shacks and sunsets in a beach house,

a sunburn that glows like a red tide
spanning my shoudlers,
peeling away to reveal something soft,
the squwak of a chased-away seagull,
rocks tumbling against the bones in
my legs, my shins
becoming sand,
a sand castle built from a red
bucket washing back.

30 on 30.

So, it feels a whole lot of weird to be writing this, but…

HOLY CRAP I’M 30 YEARS OLD.

I’ve been talking about turning 30 for YEARS. So many years, in fact, that last year, at a birthday potluck at my apartment, my friend Eva gave me a gift and a card that explained that her journal (the gift) was all about introspection and your 30s are a great time to figure out who you are and where you’re going. I turned to her and said, “Eva… I’m 29. I won’t be 30 until next year.” We had a good laugh because she said, “I seriously thought you were turning 30 because you have talked about it so much in the last few months!”

The truth is, I did talk about it. A LOT. I wanted turning 30 to be no big thang. I mean, it’s just a number. It’s just 30, right?

But the truth is: turning 30 is a big deal.

It’s not a “OHMYGOSH WHAT WILL I DO WITH MY LIFE I’M NOT MARRIED I DON’T HAVE KIDS WAH BOO ME” big deal. It just is a big deal because God has given me 30 amazing years full of ridiculous laughter, some serious heartbreak, and a whole lot of love mixed up in it all. I’ve been reflecting on what 30 means to be for the last few weeks and I wanted to share 30 things I’ve learned over the last 30 years.

(By the way, 30 doesn’t look like a big numbers until you write it eleven times in just a few paragraphs and a title. It’s like a fake number to me now. So I guess I’m a fake age which takes all the steam out of actually turning 30. Mission. Accomplished!)

– – – – – – – – – –

  1. God’s God and He’s got it. Seriously. This sound cliche and all, but at the very foundation and core of my soul, I believe in the absolute truth of God and the Bible. Hook, line, and sinker. It’s not a lie, it’s not a pretty fairytale — it is legitimate truth and reality. God is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do — and that includes waiting on you as you have to figure out life and throw the world aside it find Him. I am so thankful for His promises and the reminders of Him that my friends gave me over the years and He waited for me to wake up and realize that it was Him who was calling me after all.
  2. Read the Bible. If you believe or don’t believe, even if you’re uncertain — read it anyway. Read it and ask questions, and don’t stop until you get answers. His truths and promises are in there and He’s given it to us as a guide. And if you don’t believe, then know what you don’t believe. Don’t let silence be your only argument.
  3. livethequestionsLive the questions now. I read this as part of a quotation once and it has stuck with me. Do not be passive with your life. If you don’t know something, life your life in a way so that you can find out the answers. Don’t settle for something because that’s what you’re told to do. Wrestle and seek until you have lived the answers into being, and then, live the new questions that come.
  4. Say I love you. Say it a lot. It never gets old. I love telling my family and friends that I love them because I do, and you know what? I want to show God’s love to this world, and if I can’t tell the people to whom I am closest that I love them, how can I show the world?
  5. Love passionately, even if you know loving means risking loss and pain. I will never look back on my life and think, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t loved that person.” Is it hard to look back and see friendships that have ended or people who have left? Yes. It’s terribly hard. But it is never so hard that I think, “I wasted my time there.” Each person I’ve loved has changed me and shaped me and taught me a lesson about what it means to be a human being and a Christian.
  6. Wear perfume every day, not just the special days. There’s some silly little email that was circulated around years and years ago when people sent those spam emails and it’s true. I don’t spray it on just when I’m going out. My Clinique Happy makes me happy and you should feel the same way. Don’t look back with regret at a bottle of perfume gone bad from lack of wear. Wear it and love it!
  7. Laugh hard and laugh often. I laugh every single day. I’m (ahhh!) 30 years old and I have laugh lines near my eyes and where I have baby dimples. I thought once upon a time it would bug me to have those things, but you know what? I’ve lived a relatively happy life and I’ve experienced so much joy. It’s that joy that has helped to sustain me during times of struggle or heartache. Those laugh lines are proof that even in the broken moments, I have found reason to go on.
  8. Laugh at yourself. It’s hard to do, but life is never so serious that you should take yourself too seriously. I find that if I can laugh at myself, I a less apt to be worried about others laughing at me, which means in the long run, I don’t care as much about whether people like me or not. Do I want to be liked? Sure! But I want people who love me as my goofy, dorky self, and if I can laugh at the (often ridiculous) things I do, then I’ve got a thick skin and I can find people who can love and accept me as kind of a weirdo — because I accept myself as a weirdo.do the hard things
  9. Accept challenges. Do the hard things. Seek them out, even. If I only ever did easy things in this life, I’d be doing what everyone expected of me. Life is hard and I don’t want to cop-out by skipping over the things that make me uncomfortable. The hard stuff is hard but here’s the thing: it’s called scaffolding. You’ve gotta get out of your comfort zone in order to grow. And the more you grow, the more difficult the new things you try should be. I don’t ever want to be totally comfortable — and neither should you! Life your live so that there is always some aspect of it that pushes you.
  10. There’s always time to reread your favorite books. I once read a quote in a magazine by one of the magazine’s staff members and it said, “Life is too short to reread books.” No way, totally, fundamentally disagree. I have read my favorite books dozens of times and some of those I own in multiple formats (ebook, real book, and audiobook) so I can access them whenever, wherever. Those books are just as much a part of you. So read and reread if it brings you joy.
  11. Dogs are the best pets in the world. We will never get enough time with them, but like I said in #5, I’ve never looked back at a dog me or my family has lost and thought to myself, “It’s a shame I invested my love in that dog because it’s gone now.” No, I am instead filled with joy as I think about the laughter, slobbery kisses, and snuggles those animals brought to me life.
  12. Drink a lot more water. Unless you drink only water, in which case, can you teach me how to do that? Because my love for Diet Coke borders on obsession and addiction.
  13. Read lots of books. You don’t have to read 80 books a year. I’m just weird like that. But reading is so good for your intelligence and your imagination. Even if it’s just a few books a year, always be reading a book.
  14. Social media can be awesome but do not sell yourself to it. It is an addition and most people are using it for the wrong reasons. Whatever you do, do not compare yourself or your lives to those of the people you see on facebook, twitter, and Instagram. We don’t usually post the crappy parts of our lives (and often with good reason) — so we are only usually seeing a small part of people’s lives. Connect with old friends and with new but don’t let yourself fall into the trap where you feel like you have to document everything online. Live socially, not social medialy (that’s a word I just completely made up, in case you didn’t know).
  15. Don’t ever let yourself get too busy for your passions. Mine are writing and speaking to groups of people and let me tell you, some of the happiest moments in my life revolve around those two things. If you think you’re too busy — stop and make the time.
  16. Likewise, be passionate about something! You can’t make the time for your passions if you don’t have them. For me, I love Jesus, writing, and reading.
  17. If you’re friends with the same person over and over again, you’re doing it wrong. What I mean is this: if your friends all look the same and sound the same and don’t have any variety, it’s time to wake up and meet some new people. Enjoy a diverse set of friends! I love that I have friends from church and college and everywhere in between. My life would be so very dull without their differences.
  18. Love a band or a musician. Seriously, you should just give in and love Celine Dion, but if you don’t, seek comfort in someone else’s voice. I know so many people who have one band or artist that is their favorite, and it brings them a lot of comfort and joy and rocking good times (also… be careful not to spend 57 in a 45 zone when you’re listening to your favorite. Hypothetically speaking, of course.).
  19. Smile at people. It bewilders them but it also gives you the chance to spread a little kindness, and goodness knows we have ample need for more kindness in our world. I charge you: bewilder them.
  20. Make your car payment on time. Or else. Let’s not talk about how I learned this one int he very hardest of ways, but seriously. Pay up.
  21. Know that your friendships will change. I have loved friends hard (I pretty much love everyone in my life hard… there’s no middle ground in that area for me) and it has hurt deeply to see those friendships end, some almost suddenly. But I know that’s just how life is… some for a reason, some for a season, some for life. All have had a reason, many have seen their seasons end, and there are a few that I’m sticking with for life. Don’t feel mad at yourself if friendships end — I think that’s normal. We grow and we change and that’s just life for you.IMG_6919
  22. Get enough sleep while you can. I suck at this. But I also know that I require nine hours of sleep if I don’t want to be crabby. I feel the best when I’ve gotten enough sleeps multiple nights in a row. It’s good for your body. I wish I could have convinced by college self of this simple but true fact.
  23. Spend your money wisely. I’m not saying be miserly and sit on your hoards of gold. Just spend it thoughtfully.
  24. Invest in people. People are what fill this world, and whether you believe in the same Christian values as me or otherwise, you have got to spend time investing in them. Share your time, talent, and treasure with others. You do no one any good if you live a life where people are left by the wayside.
  25. Embrace technology but do not let if define you. I love some of the amazing things technology can do, but sometimes it seems to overwhelm me because of my perceived need to have the newest phone, computer, or other gadget. I think my generation is one of the first to not experience great technological advances, but one of the first to experience as much advance all at once that it has. It’s only going to get crazier. So unplug and enjoy life sometimes.
  26. Live life as thought you’re here. Because you are. We don’t get enough time on this earth, so make it matter while you’re here. There are no second chances at life — once it’s gone, it’s gone. Make your years here matter now.
  27. Take it easy on yourself. What “they” say is true — we are our own worst critics. Don’t spend your years beating yourself up. Spend your years knowing who you are and finding your value in who He’s made you to be, not your past or the moments where you’ve “failed.”
  28. Fail spectacularly. I will never advise someone not to fail. Take chances. Make mistakes. Mess up. It’s okay — you’re at least doing something. Fail with passion and succeed with triumph.
  29. Do not spend your life angry. There is enough anger in this world. It’s one thing to have passion, it’s one thing to be worked up for a cause — but passion and being for something can so easily turn into unrighteous anger. Do not let anger be the ruling emotion of your life because it will only make you hard and bitter.
  30. Above all else, break the rules.

the weak are the wise

I remember the night so well. The way I was cold and then hot, calm and then a weeping, sobbing mess. My nose ran uncontrollably. My chest ached and I just wanted to melt into the bed and disappear into a puddle of my grief.

This night wasn’t a sudden thing. No, it was a long time coming. The pressure of my emotions had been building for months as I kept telling God, “No. No. You don’t know what You’re doing. I don’t want to do it that way.”

Every time I heard Him say “Yes. Yes. I do know. And you will do it, even if you don’t know do it now,” I shrunk back a little bit more. For 18 months I’d been doing fine with my relationship with God.

Small group. Check.
Sunday mornings. Check.
Starting School of Ministry. Check.
Reading my Bible more days than not. Check.

I was an A+ box-checker and I felt safe doing it. So when God started to turn me around and upside down, I didn’t like it. More than one night, I sat in my bedroom and cried in the dark, alone. I couldn’t tell anyone what I was going through because I knew they’d tell me what I didn’t want to hear.

“Listen to God already, Krista. You can’t deny it anymore.”

But I didn’t want to. Days and weeks went by and I read the story of Jonah in a book for School of Ministry. I heard the still small voice of the Lord whisper to me, “What will your whale be?”

I didn’t care. I didn’t have time to think about my whale because I was too busy working hard to avoid it.

And then God met me when I was a crumpled, drained mess. He came to me as I cried ugly tears that burned my sunburned cheeks as they rolled down. Really, He had never left. I just had been so hard to Him that He had to wait until I was broken and defeated before He could do anything.

Wouldn’t it have been so much easier to stop where I was when He first called?

Instead, I ran… I hid… I waited until my heart would explode. In my sin of disobedience, God was longsuffering. I don’t know how He does it because I sometimes can’t wait one day for someone to realize they’re wrong and I’m right. Yet God counted the years until I would lose it. And when I did, when the pain and the sheer exhaustion of escape was too much to hold on to anymore, I heard Him again, over the whirring of my ceiling fan and the prayers of my friend as I cried in her arms.

I’ve been waiting, Krista. I’m so glad you’re here.

When your sin is disobedience, there are consequences. Too badly do I wish I could say that summer night was the end of this journey, but it wasn’t. Like a naughty child, I had to deal with the aftermath of my poor decisions.

The first two days after being utterly weak before God, my entire body was restless. I was grieving, hard, for a baby I never got to hold and for a girl who had died with her child. In the matter of one night, I was no longer pushing my anger away.

I was so angry I couldn’t even speak.

I wanted to punch things. Every nerve and muscle in my body longed for destruction. It made sense to me: I had destroyed a life and all I had now were hands and arms and feet and legs to destroy the things around me. I went for a walk but couldn’t be outside. I crawled back in bed, a warm German Shepherd curled into my body. I cried and I screamed into my pillow when no one was home. When an ambulance passed and the dog keeping me company began to howl, I wanted to howl with her. Her feelings – she could at least give them voice.

The pain was much better after those first few days, but it hasn’t left me entirely yet. It’s been nine months. But in those nine months, I have been obedient and God has met me at this place, in this valley as I try to move through the grief process.

Tonight my small group talked about what it means to be free from sin. I’ve been reflecting on it since I left.

I’ll never stop sinning while I’m alive, but I’m free from it.

Jesus’ death has freed me from the need to run from God and made is so I can run to God. It has freed me from the pain of my past. His death has given me the freedom to hear God’s voice and obey – the first time.

Being free from sin is sitting at the feet of Jesus, sobbing and crying out to Him to be with me when I am tired of buying into the world’s lie that strength is a virtue. Freedom from sin is knowing that God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Knowing I don’t have to struggle on my own, independently, to hit God’s mark? Knowing that He is with me always and I only need to turn to Him and say “Lord, I cannot do this. Please do this”?

That, my friends, is freedom. The very idea of it being freedom goes against everything I’ve been taught, but to set down every hurt and burden and tiring thing and say, “Carry it for me” is freer than anything I could ever do, running from Him and carrying it on my own.

I know that I will sin before I fall asleep tonight. But I am not chained to sin. I am chained to God, the author and finisher of my salvation.

We are free, friends. It might have taken me year and tears to learn that, but we are free indeed.

Bigger than

I started this post a few days ago when the world seemed so bright and cheery. But today, after all that’s gone on in Boston and Texas the last few days, it just seems like such a hard thing to write such a happy post in the midst of all the darkness.

I keep wanting to stop myself from posting, but what I have to say is still true, regardless of what happened in Texas last night or Boston on Monday. It’s even more true now than then, because what I’ve got to say is that God is real and alive in every sense.

At the Pregnancy Center banquet last month, I decided to write that I could donate $100 within 90 days. As we prayed before we filled out our pledge cards, God made it clear that I wasn’t meant to donate $100.

He told me to make it $250.

My pen hovered over the pledge box as people were filling the cards out. That was — and still is — a lot of money for me. I had uncertainties about my job situation. I was nervous about committing to donating that much money when that much money is essentially my monthly car payment.

But I filled out the card anyhow, knowing that if God told me to donate that much, God would take care of getting me the money.

Monday was my last day at work at the tax firm I was working at. Around 2:30, our boss started walking around giving people their tax bonuses. For about two weeks, I’d wondered if I was going to get one. I could see how they’d give me one, but I could also see as a temp how they wouldn’t.

Well, I got one. And when I opened it, I pretty much just wanted to sit on the groud and sob.

It was a check for $250.

Some might call it coincidence. But I don’t. I can’t. I had no idea that I might get a bonus when God told me to pledge $250. And it wasn’t just a random number I thought of that night. I saw $250 in my mind with SUCH clarity. It wasn’t just a silly number I thought.

We live in a world where horrible, heartbreaking things are happening around us every day. We’ve seen that this week in both Boston and West, Texas. That is the nature of sin. We have all sinned and all fall short of the glory of God. But I will be the first to tell you what I know to be true:

God is in the details.

In those moments of terror, God is there. He hears the cries and pleas of people calling out to Him. I can’t tell you why H doesn’t stop these things from happening, but I can tell you loud and clear that He has greater plans for us than fire and bombs. He is bigger than death and destruction and the sin of this world.

I feel like I have spent so long only sharing Jesus when I felt like it was safe and comfortable and I just can’t do that anymore. I stand for Christ and the power of who He is. He is the one who whispers so clearly to me, “I said $250” and then provides. He is the one who tells me “You are forgiven. Now tell the world” and then gives me the venues to do so.

To deny him would be a terrible mistake. Because He is real, and He is here right now.

Baptisms and birthdays

Today has been the most amazing day. I feel as though I have used that word to its limit today, but honestly — amazing is about the only word I can think of that describes it accurately. It will be forever etched in my memory as one of the most awesome days of my life. I wasn’t really that nervous or scared about being 30, but it was a little strange to think that I would be leaving my 20s behind. I knew that today would be special but I never imagined that God forever imprint this day in my life with so many amazing blessings.

 

After a rocking sermon, I got baptized at church. I’ve been thinking about doing it again for a while but I’ve been baptized before, when I was 16, and I really didn’t want to be one of those people who gets baptized a bunch of times throughout her life. But after a talk with a friend, I decided that it would be such an amazing experience to do it on my birthday. Talk about birthday! It was such a special moment getting up there and just being filled with God and knowing that He is changing my life and using me to tell the nations about Him and His love. I feel like I could just burst open at the seams with the message He’s given me to share — and I know 30 is going to be the start to the more incredible things He has yet to come for me.

After that, I had the most delicious dim sum Chinese food lunch with my friends Michael and Megan. My belly was full and our conversation was awesome. I love friends who know me well enough to push me in my walk with God and these two are definitely those kind of friends. It was so nice to hang out with them outside of the house and just catch away (although I spent a lot of time with them so… it was like every day, with food!).

Then the sneaky surprising began. I’ve had some suspicions for a while that something secret was being plotted for my birthday, but I didn’t have the means to nail anything down. I had an idea that this lunch was being used as a ploy to get me to my parents’ house somehow. I’ve felt this way for a few weeks now but for the most part, people were good about keeping everything on the DL. Michael and Megan took me to my parents’ house and followed me inside where I was greeted by tons of people — high school friends, college friends, church friends… I was really only missing my YaYas Kim and Hillary. I was, to be honest, speechless because as we pulled up to the house, I had my one moment of doubt, where I thought, “Um. Maybe I’m wrong.” There were no familiar cars to be seen. I did a quick search for some distinctive cars, like Jaimie’s red Fitt, but I didn’t see anything.

Everyone said kind, gracious words about me and made me feel so important and special and most of all — I felt loved to the max. When I sit and think about the people in my life, I often just do not know what to say. To hear people tell me how special I make them feel and how important I am to them means all the world to me — because I feel the same way about each of them and could not imagine doing life without them. My friend Steph told me that I am one of the most unconditional people she knows — I will care for others just because. It was humbling to hear these words because I guess that’s just how I operate — I do love you because you’re you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t use this as a moment to point back to the One who loves me unconditionally. I’ve lived a life where I have every worldly right to love within my rules and boundaries and comfort zone — but God loves with me a reckless, intense, passionate love, regardless of what I have done or will ever do. So I do my best to love my family, friends, and others that way. I fail at this all time time, but to see that He is at work in me and teaching me to be a little more like Him — I just cannot wait to see what other things are to come.

Thank you for this life of mine, my God. You have given me so much more than I could ever have dreamed of and I am just in awe of your good and perfect works.