Wednesday, October 27, 2010

so...i need new running sneakers. ask anyone who has seen me running, or who has seen me getting ready to go running, or has gone running with's clear. and it's been clear for oh, at least a year. the tattered brown "champion" shoes that i run in were never intended to be running shoes in the first place. when i purchased them quite a few years ago i simply wanted a "classy sneaker" instead of a chunky running shoe - because i did not EVER see myself as one taking up the running hobby. as i started this new college adventure however, i slowly began to recognize what a joy running is. what wonderful stress relief it is! not to mention peaceful and beautiful and life-giving.

as i began to run more and more times a week, for further and further distances, my shoes quite obviously became excessively tattered with each additional mile. i'm not big on spending money however, and i never was a girl who loved to buy shoes, so putting off the decision to buy new shoes was never a difficult one to make. and at this point, these shoes have been with me for so long, we've been through so much together, so many adventures we have shared!- how could i just toss them to the wind? but today as i ran i looked at those sneakers i pulled them over my feet for another brisk run i again noticed the lack of rubber between my socks and the ground, i tied the laces fraying at the end and glanced at the little (little may be a relative term...) holes growing on the outside of either though my feet themselves are defiantly digging their way out of the poor little brown shoes, deciding on their own that running barefoot would be better than foolishly tricking myself into thinking that my feet are protected. and as i ran my usual loop, more than once i whimpered as i felt a sharp stone digging into the ball of my right foot. (this has become such a problem that my foot continues to hurt for a day or so after a run with too many stones in the path of my right foot...) to anyone else it is apparent, i need new shoes. i need to stop making excuses and let these little guys go - for they are of no use to me and in fact often bring me more pain than anything...

but... this post is about more than running shoes. these thoughts don't end with my realization that i need to make a sacrifice and shell out some money for some good shoes so that i can continue running and not hurt myself, possibly hindering my running future unknowingly. in fact, this trail of seemingly irrelevant thoughts are ironically quite relevant to our relationship with God and this never-ending adventure that we find ourselves in. let me explain . . .

this morning i read this verse:

"Teach me our way, O Lord,
and i will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that i may fear your name."
Psalm 86:11

that 3rd line gets me: "give me an undivided heart" as i consider what that might mean i picture myself standing before God grasping onto my ancient brown sneakers. i see my stubborn heart, my heart unwilling to release my grip on certain things in my life, too afraid of losing the comfort or the pleasure that things bring me. i hear my voice making excuses, oh so many excuses! 

and you know what's ridiculous? the things we often hold onto are NOT helping us, they are not bringing us joy or life by any stretch of the imagination - and in fact they are hurting us, just like my tattered sneakers. and what's even crazier... is that our defiant act of holding onto things, refusing to sacrifice and let go causes God even greater pain. and that hurts my heart. that blows my mind. and yet... it's so easy to continue to hold our little brown sneakers tightly to our chest like rebellious children. it's easy to cling to them, to their memories, to their comfort, to their familiarity. it's much harder to lay them down and pick up whatever it is God intends for us to have. when we're holding our old sneakers it's rather difficult to realize that God wants to offer us something far greater, something that will enable us to continue running farther and more gloriously than before. He's dying to offer us a brand new pair of sneakers that will support and comfort and help us, and yet so often we just settle for sore feet because it's easier. it's more convenient. it's safe. . . (or so we think) 

so i've had this picture of an open hand before God in my head recently. it is so fitting. it's what i long for. a hand open before God acknowledging that everything i have has been given to me. acknowledging that everything given to me is simply on loan, and i must learn to be a good steward of it. an open hand that offers every part of me up to God, not just the parts i want to. an open hand recognizing the fact that God gives and takes away, and that's ok. an open hand that offers generously what i have been given, to others. living with open hands before God, this is what i long for. 

a heart undivided, a hand open. 

daily it is a task of untying our sneakers and laying them before God - recognizing and trusting that what he has to offer us is far greater. it's laying down of my plans, my dreams, my hopes, my desires, my worries, my doubts, my fears, my inadequacies, my sins, my relationships, my life...knowing that in Him i can trust. 

so here's to running with a lighter step and a joyful song, because with God my feet are secure. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

home things. . . 

1. showering without flip flops on.
2. finding hummus and grapes in the refrigerator!
3. brilliant orange flowers outlining the front yard.
4. baking.
5. making apple sauce.
6. harvesting potatoes and peppers and tomatoes with my dad.
7. collecting leaves.
8. pressing said leaves.
9. coloring.
10. watching my dad use a chainsaw like a pro.
11. skipping through the woods.
11.5. child-like.
12. driving stick shift.
13. drinking tea, eating cookie dough.
14. familiar roads.
15. the most brilliant sunsets.
16. sleepovers with sisters.
17. central market ! 
18. pumpkin scone. 
19. sam lewis park.
20. grown ups who fly kites. 
21. holding hands in prayer. 
22. friday family movie night.
23. mom, dad, leah, zach, kayla, grandma, and pop pop. 
24. round robin.
25. rest.
26. noticing life.
27. the best nachos in the world.
28. homemade guacamole.

...someday when i grow up i want to have a garden.
i want to learn how to grow my own food and cook it well,
for lots of people.
(this year i have been volunteering at a local garden and it brings me more joy than i could have imagined.)
i love playing in the dirt.
i love conversations that take place while picking peppers.
i love  learning how things grow.
i love learning that broccoli turns into a flower if not picked in time!
i love how everything grows so differently.
i love how colorful and beautiful food can be.
i love how creative you can be with food.
i love coming back to school and making food with friends new and old.
i love riding sandy (the tandy) to and from the garden.

i am really interested in the culture of food,
this clash of food and community that is so... GOOD.

harvesting vegetables is like a treasure hunt,
but better.
because you get to EAT the treasure.
(instead of putting it in a shiny box somewhere to collect dust.)

hurray for life!
life not just in this flesh that walks on the earth,
but life that lives in the soil!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

perfect timing.

and just when my soul was all worn out, 
once more You surprised me with your unfailing love. 

God never ceases to amaze me. 

earlier this semester i had been praying for a life lived in awe, a sense of child-like wonder at this world and the God who created it - and slowly i have been seeing this prayer answered. although often times i am really slow to notice prayer answered, and normally someone else has to point out to me exactly what it is God is doing in my life because i tend to be too blind to see, i tend to forget what i ask for and then foolishly fail to return praise and thanks to the Giver of all good gifts. . . but let me back up, God's timing. it's blowing me away these days, how exquisitely perfect it is. 

it began in October with the Dress Project. (an experiment in simplicity, anti-consumerism, a month focused not on materialism but living on less. a month where you commit to wearing the same dress every day...) leading up to this project my feet were often getting tangled in the messy webs of comparisons. comparing myself to others is something i easily fall into. and leading up to October it was consuming far too much of my thoughts...and then October came and i realized that for the whole month i was committing to wearing the same dress so i was going to have to stop worrying about what anyone thought of me and realize that the only opinion that really matters is God's. timely? indeed. 

(October Dress Outfit Number Who Knows What)

God's perfect timing continued as i walked into chapel this past Monday morning... the message delivered was all about plans, our plans vs. God's plans and how we must hold "our plans" loosely before God knowing that his plans are perfect and he has our best interest in mind. i sat in awe as my heart has been wrestling often with plans and what mine should look like for the upcoming year... the prospect of spending my whole junior year away from Gordon is frightening and exciting and something that i think i really want to pursue, but is that what God also desires for me? or are those selfish longings? this is what was wandering in the hallways of my mind leading up to this chapel. my heart was overwhelmed with gladness as i was reminded to hold my plans loosely, to place them before our God and allow him to do with them as he pleased - trusting that he will organize them perfectly or possibly discard of them completely depending on what his desire is. and as we read Pslams 121 i was again reminded that whatever God decides to do with my "so called plans" will be GOOD and PERFECT; it may not seem like what i want at the time, and it may not even appear good to my little tiny eyes at first, but i cannot see very much at all, so it would be silly of me to complain when all i can see is this moment right now. how delightful that God not only knows my little thoughts and questions but cares enough to speak to me about them! it boggles my mind that he knows my musings and desires so intimately and longs to give me peace . . .  

(a photo from the top of a mountain this summer, maybe i'll be in the mountains again next fall...)

and it continues my friends! as of late i have been really convicted when it comes to having a prayer life. i have realized recently that i do not pray nearly as much as i ought. as i am learning in Old Testament about how the Hebrews prayed numerous times a day for many, many things - i am convicted for only sometimes offering a quick prayer three times a day when i eat a meal, and at times that does not even happen. not only this but i have been convicted for praying for "tiny" things. tiny meaning selfish things, tiny meaning - little things that do not expand beyond this campus. THE WORLD IS BIG. and God is bigger, so why don't i pray for giant things? do i not expect God to meet huge needs? am i insulting him by only ever offering little prayers for little things? probably not, but why am i not praying for BIG things? asking big questions and longing for great things to be done? i don't know... so all of these thoughts are floating around in my head and then Wednesday comes around. Wednesday is rainy. Wednesday is the 4th day of rain in a row. Cloudy. Cold. Rainy. everyone is tired of rain. so i'm walking back from the library, comfortably wearing my bright yellow rain boots with a small smile tucked beneath my polka-dot umbrella. i decide to brave the grass rather than the sidewalk because hey, my boots are MADE for this weather, yeah? so i'm walking rather happily across the squishy ground, rain drops falling gently on my umbrella when footsteps quickly approach me from behind. i glance back and see what looks like some kind of professor. (haha) i continue walking not giving his presence a second thought until he nonchalantly sidles up beside me and asks, "do you have a prayer life?" 

"WHAT THE?!" is the sentence that slams into my forehead after bursting out of my brain. How in the WORLD did he know this is exactly what has been on my mind? Caught quite off guard i stumble around for an honest answer as God knows i am struggling in this area... " ummm, ahhhh, yes, kind of..." i admit sheepishly, very uncertain as to where this is all going. He laughs and proceeds to ask me if i can get the rain to stop... haha!  somewhat relieved, i walk away smiling and even laughing at this point - how funny God is! how loving he is that he would place that professor-like gentleman in my path just to remind me that he again, knows and cares about what i am thinking... goodness gracious. 


and today, my friends, today was the culmination of all of those things. today was one of those days that just felt "off." today i have been worn out for no apparent reason. today i have not felt like doing ANYTHING. today my soul was tired and my heart worn. i spent the afternoon frustrated at my lack of energy for anything because this is my free day, the day i get to do whatever i want! gathering up a bit of  vigor i wandered out to find some dirt for my basil plant before trudging over to dinner all alone. i was a little embarrassed going over to dinner with no one to eat with, so i just planned on escaping back to the quiet corner of my room if no random friend was found. to my surprise however, just as i was finishing up at the salad bar, my dear friend nina came up behind me and asked if i had anyone to eat with. "NO!" i shouted with a little too much excitement... and so we proceeded to find a table and share conversation over our meals. and oh my goodness how i needed that conversation and company. after a day of weariness and frustration i was suddenly reminded of the goodness of God, of the wonderful things he has been teaching me and doing in my life. (not to mention getting a glimpse of his glorious work in nina as well!) you know those times that are just so perfect that God's hand simply had to be in it? those moments when your heart receives just what it needed at a time when it could not even come up with a remedy for itself if it tried? you know those times when you walk away from a conversation SO encouraged and so happy you could laugh until you cry? so thankful you want to burst and sing and shout all at the same time? well, it was one of those times.

(dear sweet nina, at my favorite place.)

so as i look back at each of these moments over the past week -- it is so evident that God was speaking to me and loving me through my days, and he continued to do so despite the fact that i continually failed to notice until today. and you know what's even crazier? that he will continue to do so, even though he knows that i will continue to miss so much, that i will continue to live with squinty-eyes 98% of the time, even though i will continue to forget about him and fail to acknowledge his presence, he won't stop pursuing me. . . it's madness my friends. 

so here's to a new week. 
here's to eyes straining to see more clearly, a heart yearning to love more authentically, ears longing to be a bit more in tune, and a mind more aware . . . 

because anything less than all of me simply is not fair to Him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

so my friends, this is the start of a new endeavor. a journey into the world of blogging begins tonight. :) this is a tiny way in which i will attempt to keep those who care and are close to my heart (but often far from my presence.) updated as to what is wandering in the hallways of my mind, touching my soul, and changing the way i see the world. i cannot guarantee it will be updated frequently, nor can i promise that the posts will be eloquent or pleasing to look at...
but i will try.