Sunday, April 9, 2017

For One Another

“You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Since the last time I wrote about the blooming relationship God planted in my life last year, a lot has transpired. Matthew and I knew even then, in the early stages of our relationship, that we loved each other. Neither of us could imagine life without the other, and we knew that neither of us wanted our relationship to end. Ever. So, within a couple of months of dating, we started talking about marriage, and forever. By the beginning of this year, we were both already committed to forever together. On January 2nd, after we spent a long weekend with my family in Colorado, he got a tattoo of an infinity symbol, designed to appear like a penguin too. He knows how much I like penguins. Also, penguins are monogamous for life. This symbol of his permanent love and dedication, as well as my love and dedication (I would never have allowed him to get that tattoo if I wasn't 100% sure that we were permanent), was an outward statement to the world to declare just how sure we were/are about each other. A little over a month later (on February 11th), he asked me to marry him. I said, "YES", without a trace of doubt, and with certainty in every facet of my existence. We will be married in a little over a month from now (on May 20th). I will become his wife, and stepmom to his beautiful daughter. Our lives will be forever joined, and the next chapter will be started.

For some, this seems fast, too fast. For us, it feels as if time slowed down, and somehow the immensity of everything between us remains impossibly contained in time spaces that don't seem large enough to hold all of it. Never before has any of my human relationships felt so absolute and divine. I've experienced the ultimate relationship that a human can experience, in my relationship with God. I've experienced friendships that were so authentic that it made me draw closer to both that person and God. But I've never experienced something with another human being that connects my soul with theirs in the way that Matthew and I are connected now. He is my best friend. He is the love of my life. He is my protector, shelter, and leader.

I've never been more sure that God designed someone specifically with me in mind, and brought that person into my life. I would choose Matthew, and he would choose me, an infinite number of times, in an infinite number of lives. Even so, it's clear that God chose us for one another.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


God blesses me all the time. He has been blessing me since before I was even born. I have seen evidence of His blessings in my life during both good and bad times; during both the easy-going phases, and the most onerous phases. In have seen it while living through these moments, and I can see it in hindsight, when remembering the moments I've lived through with Him by my side.

This year has been another busy year. All of the things a 27 year old (now 28) would be doing; working, studying, dieting, exercising, not dieting or exercising, saving money, spending money, traveling, staying home alone, going out with friends, spending time with family, being in a friend's wedding, going to friends' weddings, seeing people greet new little bundles of joy into their families, and figuring out who I am now (just to name a few).

This year, I was mostly focused on trying to keep balance in my life, trying to be content with my life, trying to challenge myself in areas I needed to be challenged, trying to practice patience, and trying to draw closer to my LORD and Savior.

I made some slight improvements here and there, spent too much money, didn't save enough money, and feel content most of the time, but still find myself practicing impatience more than I'd like to admit. I got to see some new things, I progressed in my journey to getting my degree, I learned new things and made strides in my occupation. It was a great year, overall.

About two months ago, God did something that I wasn't expecting. At the time, I questioned whether I was ready for what He was doing, but I didn't (and don't ) question whether it was Him doing it. No matter how much I thought I was ready, before God orchestrated this new thing in my life, I was suddenly faced with the reality of it, and it scared me. God brought someone into my life who has been blessing me with his sweetness and authenticity ever since. God's timing in this event was perfect (although I wouldn't have minded not being in the middle of a full-time semester, if I'm honest). With each day that passes, I realize more and more that because God's timing is perfect, and because he orchestrated this, HE will equip me as necessary to navigate these new waters. I don't have to worry or be scared, I have to trust Him.

I can't know what the future holds, nor do I want to. But this Christmas season, as I reflect on the past year of my life and look ahead to next year, I am so struck by the personal, intentional way that God has handled my heart and soul this year. I've been praying for patience for a year. I've been trying to intentionally draw closer to Him. He blesses me even when things are not this happy, but right now, I'm in awe of the complete joy that He fills me with each day.  For the past two months, every day I wake up reflecting on what God has given me, and filled with gratitude, I pray that he will continue to draw me closer to him as he also allows me to feel so much happiness because of the man he placed in my life.

I imagine next year will be similar to this year, except I will have a very special man in my life now, God willing. I'm at peace with my life with or without this man, but with him I am also filled with happiness every single day, to the point that I often wonder if it's sustainable, or even real. I'm blessed by God all the time, and this particular blessing is something that took me by complete surprise. I hope that I continue to move to a deeper relationship with God, as me and Matt continue to connect with each other in our new relationship.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

We Do Not Construct It or Reconstruct It.

In 1887, college professor Henry Drummond said regarding absolute truth, “Truth is not to be found in what I have been taught. That is not truth. …Therefore, let us dismiss from our minds that predisposition to regard that which we have been brought up in as being necessarily the truth. …If that were the definition of truth, truth would be just what one’s parents were—it would be a thing of hereditary transmission, and not a thing absolute in itself.”

Truth is a thing in itself. We do not construct it or reconstruct it.

In 1992, the Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy said in a ruling, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

This concept of liberty is the opposite of absolutism, and it's the very thing that is turning societies into aimless masses of less-liberated individuals; seized and contained by our individual purposelessness, rather than strong individuals amalgamated together with a clear purpose and direction as a whole. If we truly believe we can redefine our reality based on what we want our reality to be, our reality loses all meaning. If truth is everything, it is nothing. Our reality becomes less and less real, the more we attempt to assign our own conception of reality, rather than seek and accept the truth that already is.

“Truth is no longer seen as objective and is no longer limited to its rational dimension. Now, truth is viewed as subjective and one is free to tap into emotions and intuition to find it. …Today, propositional truth has taken a backseat to personal truth. Propositional truth asserts that our truth claims can be stated and analyzed into logic, otherwise they are false. …The answer to conflicting truth claims is not to rebuff the idea of absolutes, but to instead find out what those absolutes are.” Todd Ahrend

Truth is not reducible to what my concept of existence is, thank goodness. Truth cannot be adjusted to what I mean it to be, thank goodness. The thing about truth is that if we try to conform it to our will, we don’t actually change it. Truth, by definition, remains absolute even when we attempt to call it anything but. Because truth is absolute, and we can’t actually conform it to our will, things begin to fall apart when we try to squeeze it into the space we want it to fit, or try to redefine it. We do not change truth or fit truth into that small space of our perception and concepts of existence; we squeeze ourselves into smaller and smaller spaces; we lose our intellectual grip on reality; we become meaningless the more we intend to create our own meaning.

“The result of an understanding of truth void of absolutes is that it leaves no comprehensive categories of experience or knowledge. Because it rejects the idea of a singular grand story—a metanarrative—that explains what is true and gives meaning to all life, there is no overarching purpose wherein one’s own experience can fit and find meaning. Instead, one’s own experience is the only absolute. …One of the tragedies of the 21st century is that this very popular belief system leaves little to live for. Ravi Zacharias states: ‘There is no center to hold things together. Or to put it differently, there is no metanarrative to life, no overarching story by which all the particulars can be interpreted… Life needs a story to understand the details. Life needs to hold tighter at the center if we are to reach to distant horizons. But our culture neither owns a story nor holds at the center.’” Todd Ahrend

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Heart Not Stilled

“Have you ever wanted something so badly that you just lose perspective of it?”
Rodrigo, Mozart in the Jungle

It’s Christmas break, 2015/2016, and I’ve spent most of my time during this much needed break spending time with the people I love, and pondering all of the directions I’m moving in. I have recently felt the Holy Spirit teaching me patience in many areas, and I continue to be reminded daily of my reliance on His guidance in some difficult decisions I need to face, and directions I am being pulled in. Yet, I struggle to quiet my restlessness, to slow my pace long enough to pray and wait on God’s lead. I have spent the past year in full-fledged busyness, trying to work on productivity in work and school, and intentiality with people, among other ventures. I don’t know anymore what adaptability and performance looks or feels like without directing my attention and energy in several directions synchronously.

How can I pause and reflect without losing ground in some area or another?
How can I calm my mind long enough to sit in awe of God and speak to him about my cares and concerns when my mind never wants to slow?
How can I be still and know that He is there, and not be sorting through something or pushing forward, even in my mind, when I am forced daily to compartmentalize so many directions and move in all directions at once?

It’s not that I don’t have the desire, it’s that I haven’t been able to figure out how to stop my mind long enough to fulfill the desire.

How did I get to this place?

A year ago, I was still feeling new to my job that I started in September 2014. Besides facing the daily challenges of work (and loving it, by the way!), I was attempting to compartmentalize my academic studies to only when I was at home, which was brief spurts of time during evenings and weekends. Even with a full-time job, and a full-time academic schedule, I was also working on refreshing my faith by joining and attending a local Perspectives class. Through that class, my mind and heart were opened to a world of possibilities, fears, concerns, questions, doubts, hopes, and insecurities. I started exploring what my life would look like if I focused on investing in people more, and especially if I began trusting God in some brand new ways. I honestly feel that I poured myself into those goals, whether I reached a destination of some kind or not. All of that was during the first 5 months of the year. In time, I finished my academic semester, Perspectives concluded around the same time, and was getting my feet on the ground at work. I was refreshed, reawakened, and simultaneously exhausted.

By summer, I was ready for a break, but I decided I would continue my academics with a summer class. I had momentum; I didn’t want to lose it. Somewhere in the middle of summer is when it happened to me though. I was going along on my journey, and it hit me all at once that I felt like I couldn’t slow down. I was missing things with people I wanted to be spending my time with. I was so determined to do well in work and school that I began to take myself too seriously in both areas. I was skipping going to church or seeing my friends and family because I needed time to study, or sleep, or do my laundry. Because even simple chores like throwing dirty clothes and some soap into the machine, felt taxing to me. My priorities were all screwy, and I felt that I was to blame. It was my fault for choosing to take a summer class. It was my fault for thinking that I could focus on self-improving, and succeed at it, while also investing in people. Throughout this part of my year, something inside of me yearned to disconnect from everything. The busyness that I started my year with was suffocating me. The hopes of growth that I had in mind at the beginning were now doubts and frustrations that blocked my ability to find pleasure and joy in the simple things I had once cherished. Everything was something scheduled, everything was mundane. It was like I had begun a marathon without preparation, and I was beginning to notice that I could no longer control my legs or feel the fire in my lungs; I couldn’t stop going, I had no capacity for adjusting my pace, I had no reference point for how I was supposed to handle my new experiences.

Then, with little intermission, my summer responsibilities turned into my fall responsibilities, but by that time in the year, it didn’t matter to me anymore what the season was. There were days or weeks at a time that were completely dictated by deadlines, which, really, when you think about it, equaled months, and even an entire year that was dictated by deadlines and schedules. By that time, I was used to telling people I couldn’t see them because I had to write a paper or study for an exam. I was used to reading textbooks on my lunch break, then spending hours every night studying, and looking forward, not to the weekend, but to the X’s I used to cross off the many assignments I had on my calendar. In September, I heard the pastor at my family’s church was offering a systematic theology class, so I prayed about it for a few days, even though my mind was made up: I would take that class too, because it sounded like something I needed in my life, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. It’s funny how the choice to not miss one opportunity can lead you to miss other things; like free time.
(I should insert here that even though I sound resentful of the burden of deadlines and schedules, I also believe that those things are good for me, because without them I can get overwhelmed with not knowing what to do next. The issue I was facing in the crux of the semester was not a lack of abundance; it was the weight of abundance in every direction. I was overwhelmed.)

The blur of the year ended with the blurry end of the fall semester, some quality time with friends and family, and a whole lot of consideration about what’s next. For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself feeling unsettled by the lack of busyness I became accustomed to for at least the past 11½ months. Which, brings me back to my opening questions:

How can I pause and reflect?
How can I calm my mind long enough to sit in awe of God and speak to him about my cares and concerns?
How can I be still and know that He is there?

(Notice this time I wrote each question without an excuse at the end.)

 My impatience with myself, my life, reaching goals, crossing items off to-do lists and calendar pages, has brought me to this place. My ability to pause and enjoy has become overshadowed by my impatience. My ability to be hard working and successful without compromising my time with the people I love has been tinged with impatience. My ability to sit before my Lord and Savior and lose track of time has been lost to my impatience. My capacity for appreciating the abundance in every direction is hindered by an anchor of impatience. Already, just a few days into 2016, I can feel myself being pulled in many directions, with the weight of impatience in every direction. My prayer and my hope for this year is to embrace the power of patience. In relationships, in health goals, in financial goals, in my academics, in work accomplishments, and whatever else 2016 brings, I hope that I can re-learn patience unceasingly. A year from now, I want to be able to reflect on all of the rewards and blessings that came from trying to be patient in all things. A year from now, I would love to look back and see evidence in my life of waiting on God to lead and guide me, of responding to that guidance with more patience, and action. I want to have that discipline overflow from my prayers; into my mind, into my heart, into my attitudes, into my emotions, into my behaviors, into my actions, and into my relationships.

 “…And the vessel was not full, the mind was not satisfied, the soul was not calm, the heart not stilled.” From Siddhartha (pg.7), by Herman Hesse