Our lifegroup went on a retreat this past weekend to Bakersfield. If you’re from Orange County, you probably immediately had some snarky thought in your head about Bakersfield. But seriously, it was so great. We stayed on a ranch in the middle of nowhere (as in, there was no cell service).
Time away is so necessary.
Time away with friends is so healing.
I was reminded again of the power of vulnerability. Isn’t it just so crazy how up until the moment that we share something, it feels like the heaviest, worst, most unbearable thing ever? But once we have shared it and realize that the earth didn’t fall out from underneath our feet, the freedom comes almost instantly. And to be in a community of people who will step in and fight for you through truth and prayer? It feels almost too good to be true.
We are wildly undeserving of the grace we have received.
Every year, around the end of September, the world sighs. Or maybe it’s just me.
Summer is officially over as of yesterday. This is my fifth week back to work (I know, I know, we teachers are so spoiled with summers off). Things can feel a bit slump-y.
But then, something magical happens. It’s called Returning Fall Shows. To me, it’s a certain sign of grace.
I just…think that whoever decided that shows would come back at the beginning of Fall is the most brilliant person ever. I know it’s not just me, because I see people posting on Facebook about their shows coming back. It’s just fun to have a little something to look forward to at the end of a long day…a story to get pulled into, a character to connect with.
There are actually only two shows that I’m super excited about this season. One is Parenthood (which I’ve blogged about before), and the other is the Mindy Project. Parenthood was so good last season. Yes, I only started watching it because Lauren Graham was on Gilmore Girls back in the day, and yes, the show has some annoying plot holes and inconsistencies at time, and, yes, it’s creepy that Lauren Graham and Peter Krause are dating in real life but they are brother and sister on the show but MAN, way to tug on our heartstrings with every episode, writers of Parenthood. I think Colby cried during just about every episode.
And…I can’t really say enough about how much I love Mindy Kaling. She’s smart, hilarious, successful…you go girl. Great addition of James Franco on this new season. I legitimately laughed out loud 5-10 times during the season premiere.
Shows that I was previously into but have kind of lost their luster for me are New Girl and Downton Abbey. I know, blasphemy, right? But seriously, all of the things about the characters of New Girl that I used to find hilariously quirky, now I’m like, grow up. Let’s see a little character development.
As far as Downton Abbey goes, I don’t want to ruin anything for those of you who haven’t watched yet, but I’ll just say don’t get too attached to any of the characters, because they ALL DIE. For the love of God, don’t kill Bates. Please don’t kill Bates!
I don’t always read the ESV study Bible for pleasure, as I’m more of a Message Version kind of girl for my daily devotionals. But today I whipped the giant Bible out because I had a question, and I ended up finding so much comfort and peace. Verses 5-7 are familiar. They read:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
I don’t know if the writers of the ESV study Bible hoped to inspire people by their extensive footnotes, or if they just simply wrote to illuminate the meanings of the scripture to the best of their ability. Either way, my heart swooned when reading the footnote here.
“The next section describes those who make the journey to Zion to worship at such a sanctuary; they are blessed. Their strength is in God, to sustain them on the way; the highways are in their hearts, which probably means that they actually want to go (pilgrimage was obligatory, but should never become mechanical or burdensome). The location of the Valley of Baca is unknown; it seems to have been a dry place, but the faithful pilgrims make it a place of springs (which probably means that they delight in this valley as much as if it were well-watered, being so happy to be on the way). These pilgrims go from strength to strength (i.e. they keep on finding new levels of strength for the journey), until each one appears before God in Zion.” (emphases my own)
Seriously, how encouraging is this? A reminder of the reason for the pilgrimage, the joy that can be found in the journey, and how the Lord provides the strength we need to press on. May I delight in the valley as much as if it were well-watered and continue to seek the Lord to find new levels of strength.
“For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Ps. 84:11)
With promises like that to hang on to, let’s keep going.
Don’t be greedy with the universe, she said to me.
But she didn’t say it in the mean way. She didn’t say don’t dream big, don’t want things, don’t think you deserve.
She meant: look at your life and trust it. Notice how you have forever been given what you need.
Notice how, while you’ve been railing and ranting and wanting, enoughness has gathered around you like stones around a fire,
How, while you’ve been making lists of what should be wishing the set and costumes were different, there was a whole other play happening on another stage.
The real life.
Witnessed when you hand a dollar to the woman behind the register in the color of an orange in the magic laugh
Never calling, just crackling, speaking in tones — the real life
Cup your hands and ask for it. Start looking. Sweetness. Honey in a bowl. Nectar.
-Tara Sophia Mohr
I’m coming out of my cave and starting to blog again. Welcome to my life (almost) post-grad school!
I started a new journal today. It’s the little things in life that can bring such joy.
I spent a long time today looking through old journals. Sometimes you have to look back and remember where you came from to help you know where to go as you go forward.
“God’s grace is so outside the lines of our understanding that we can only stand in awe and wonder. Christianity is not about learning how to live within the lines; Christianity is about the joy of coloring. The grace of God is preposterous enough to accept as beautiful a coloring that anyone else would reject as ugly. The grace of God sees beyond the scribbling to the heart of the scribbler.” -Mike Yaconelli, Dangerous Wonder
The past 10 weeks of my life were insanely crazy. I was busy to the point that I had a Word document with everything I needed to get done each day to stay on top of my life. This past Friday, I conquered the comprehensive exam that will allow me to move on from my grad program (now to wait till May 15 to get the results). I woke up Saturday morning, slowly moved to the couch, and continued to veg there for a couple more hours. The feeling of not having things hanging over my head was strange. Those hours I had spent the past week studying now I had at my disposal.
It’s hard to find the balance between too busy and not busy enough. Not busy enough can lead me to majorly waste time. There’s part of me that is letting myself enjoy that feeling of freedom (even though I still have classes to attend and others to teach). I’m relishing in the ability to wake up on a Saturday with no real plans and to spend 3 hours picking out plants with my husband for his garden (even though I wore entirely the wrong shoes for that activity).
I think if I had my way, I would just stay home all the time…drinking green tea, sitting in front of the fireplace, reading, cooking, cleaning, crafting, having deep talks with friends…maybe it would get old. I don’t think it would.
I changed jobs about 4 weeks ago,which is part of the reason I’m not so insanely busy anymore. When I was on the cusp of making that decision, I was really nervous about making another job change, pushing myself into another transition. I felt guilty because I didn’t feel like telling my boss that I was “too busy” was a really good excuse because everyone who works there is crazy busy. As I cried on the couch to Colby, wondering if I was making the right decision in switching jobs, he was able to affirm me in who I am. He reminded me that some people like being busy and find a lot of worth and value and calling in being busy in their work environment. That’s just not me, and that’s okay. Yes, of course, God created us to work and not be lazy, but God created me to be the type of person who wants to leave work at work, and above all, to have time to be interruptible and to be there for people and to soak in God’s presence.
I’ve been reading the classic book by Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God. I’m still working on the idea of recognizing my communion with God in every moment, but this prayer from Bro Lawrence is helping me realize it and pray toward it.
“O my God, since Thou are with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.”