everyone has everything.

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so, i would say in a run-off between which of the ten commandments i break most frequently / have had the hardest time with, jealousy rates fairly low (under, like, murdering and such). it’s not that i’ve NEVER been insecure or jealous, it’s just not the thorn that pokes my side often. for the most part, i am comfortable in my own skin — flaws, talents, and all.

in a bible study this past year, we were discussing something (clearly, i’m good at remembering the particulars) and one of the girls mentioned feeling like she sees other peoples’ lives and her takeaway sentiment being that EVERYONE has EVERYTHING. i laughed hysterically (because i’m nothing if not mature + composed in bible studies). it seemed so dramatic. so trivial. so TRUE. we vowed that this would be our hashtag henceforth. #everyonehaseverything

but isn’t it true? in times of longing, doesn’t it seem like EVERYONE has EVERYTHING you want… you’ve prayed for? in this season, this has been one of the HARDEST things for me to overcome. i look around and see so many people succeeding and thriving at amazing things. their jobs, relationships (engagements, marriage, friendships), motherhood, cross-country moves, etc. it seems like everyone has it together, has more friends, has a greater purpose. on my really dark days, the devil is pretty good at asking me “did god REALLY say you couldn’t have that, too?”. on my really dark days, i’m keen to eat the apple or at least envy the one someone else is chomping on. and social media really isn’t the problem. it only magnifies the lie that your life would be better if only your circumstances were different — you had blonde hair or a cooler job or what-have-you.

i can feel it eat away at my soul. where once there was joy, confidence in who god made me, vision for my own path — i’ve instead become entangled by wishing for something other. my jealousy not only diminishes the work god is doing in me but degrades those i’m jealous of. they become a measuring stick, a stat: have a job; in a relationship; are pretty. i don’t have the benefit of perspective and knowledge of their inner lives, i instead degrade them to what i want them to be and i dehumanize them in a way that is shameful.

my jealousy disconnects me from people. instead of cheering them on wholeheartedly and rejoicing in their victories, i secretly envy the discrepancies between our lives. but jealousy serves as an even more dangerous force than we realize. in the bible (and in the here and now), jealousy uncontrolled leads to murder, stealing, gossiping and so much more. the bible literally calls it “unspiritual and demonic” (james 3:15). yikes! it follows to say “where jealousy and ambition exist there will be disorder and every vile practice” (james 3:16). jealousy will always lead to more sinfulness. so, while it may seem like a harmless afterthought to harbor bitterness and envy in our hearts, i pray we purge every evil thought from our minds. after all, these are human beings made in god’s likeness. and eternity hangs in the balance when we decide whether we will care for ourselves or for them. jealousy is choosing yourself each and every time.

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lessons from the carseat.

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(photo cred: unsplash)

a few months ago, i wrote a blog post about how god used one of my favorite kiddos to teach me a lesson. to speak to me using my own words to a child. i think maybe this should become a series because mostly i’m just like a little child pretending i’m grown + have no need for a father. for this series, let yourself imagine a graphic drawing (or actual photo) of me in a carseat in the back (long legs n all) and god in the drivers seat mostly shaking his head and in all probability – cursing while i act like… well… a child. moving on….

this morning, i took my nieces on a VERY urgent donut trip (as is every donut trip). it was pouring rain but worth the trouble so we went to the store, were driving back to the house to eat them and my niece inquired whether i had gotten her chocolate milk. i had not. i didn’t realize she wanted any and told her that. she wasn’t thrilled and was feeling pouty about it. i told her that i was sorry, that i didn’t know she wanted it but that we got DONUTS and we should be happy with what we did get and not unhappy with what we didn’t. the pouting proceeded as did my mature attitude about it ;). a few minutes later when we were closer to home, i tried to get her attention to explain to her why it was unnecessary. she was having none of it (touche, sister. when i don’t get chocolate milk, i’m not pleasant either). i told her we were taking another loop until she had a better attitude about the fact that she GOT chocolate donut (WITH SPRINKLES!) and not being sad that she didn’t get chocolate milk. i explained that i knew it was disappointing and sad but that sometimes we don’t get things we want but that we can’t just pout about it. we should focus on what we DO have and not on what we DON’T.

then it hit me. (the donut did. from the back seat. she threw it at me. ok i’m lying.) i’m so guilty of this.

god is trying to tell me, “hey kid. i know you want the CHOCOLATE MILK. I GET THAT YOU ASKED FOR IT AND I SAID NO. i HEAR you complaining and i SEE you pouting. (no seriously… every day i’ve been telling god “hey…. still not happy here. still not my plan. thanks, bye”) but you get a CHOCOLATE DONUT. WITH. SPRINKLES. for god’s sake (literally), be happy for the things i HAVE given you and AM doing in your life. stop pouting or we’ll take a few loops around until you get it.” and still, i demand my own way. i think that if only i had the thing that i asked god for and want, i would be content. if i had the chocolate milk or the job that i want or the boy or the situation, that i’d suddenly be okay. and maybe i would. temporarily. but god is looking to sustain me long-term. he has a far greater plan than the chocolate milk and the chocolate donut. he is doing a more wonderful work (however terrible the means) than i could think up. while it’s difficult to trust him (especially for my wayward self), i have to live every day walking confidently in what IS and clinging to his promises of what eventually will be. here’s to enjoying the chocolate sprinkled donuts of today and hoping for the chocolate milks of the future. or some such theologically deep thing. below is a quote from cs lewis to make up for all the damage i did above. you’re welcome.

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” //  cs lewis, the weight of glory.

buoyant hope.

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72 weeks ago (or about a year and some change if you’re not a math whiz like me), i posted this instagram with the full caption below:

“GUYS. I must tell you a cool story. After a personally difficult semester in the fall, I felt excited for a new start this year as God graciously has been realigning my priorities and heart. Yesterday, after my party I read a letter from@vgoneal expressing prayers for this year to be one where i felt light + weightless; in a word, BUOYANT. Today, I was going to doodle and pulled a quote that i had saved in my notes from a recent book i had read. The quote? “HOPE MADE HER BUOYANT”. I thought it was such a beautiful coincidence. Then, I read a status that @binduthota had posted about MLK jr on his sufferings and God and how they intertwined to change him. As i was looking for something else to doodle, i pulled it up, reread and this quote caught my attention “When the chains of fear and the manacles of frustration have all but stymied my efforts, i have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the BUOYANCY OF HOPE.” // The unlikelihood of 3 unrelated things fitting together so seamlessly points to one thing; a God that cares INTIMATELY about the details of our hearts and lives.”

 

for 72 weeks i have intermittently come back to this prayer. to feel a weightless, buoyant hope. and i often wondered if these were empty words. i haven’t felt light or carefree. i haven’t felt the weight lifted in quite awhile. i wondered if i misheard god. if his promises really weren’t reputable.

until now.

it’s not that everything is peachy keen and shimmery. it’s not that all the things that pain my soul have disappeared. its that in the middle of it, god has been revealing his purpose and his kindness to me. i have, after a long endurance of suffering gained character that leads to hope. i feel buoyant. i feel alive and giddy. i feel like the whole world is before me. and after feeling so much darkness in the past few years, this is and can only be the work of god. he has given me hope in a future — a future i couldn’t have imagined, wouldn’t have pursued had it not been for this time of silence and waiting.

do you have a word from the lord? is it one that you keep hidden in the back recesses of your mind hoping you didn’t actually emit it to the world? didn’t it say it too loud? do you have a hard time trusting his word? his sovereignty? or will we be like abraham, who, “after waiting patiently, received what was promised”?

when looking up where that verse was, i was reading it for context and to see what the rest of the chapter said (read below) and almost cried at the beauty of the word of god. of his faithfulness and promises. he can be trusted. he cannot go back on his word. he swears against himself because there is no authority above him. what an unshakeable and steady god we serve. his promises are unchangeable, as is he.

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it says “we who have run for our very lives to god have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go”. amen! hallelujah! we have a god who sent his son for us who is literally running ahead of us to take our place, to take the permanent post of high priest for us. we have an intercessor, a redeemer. we are allowed to hope because of his work on the cross. we get god’s promises and jesus, too. we get it all because god is gracious and kind to us. because he chooses to bless us.

so, if you’re waiting on the lord — if you are exhausted with hoping, if you are distrustful that his word will be true for you — look to sarah (genesis 21:1), look to abraham (hebrews 6:15), look to anyone in history, look to me. god will never take back his promises. if he has given you a word, a promise, a prayer — he will be faithful to complete it. as mlk jr so eloquently put it, “[when the chains of fear and the manacles of frustration have all but stymied your efforts, you will feel the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope].” onward, friends.

“be brave and courageous. wait patiently on the lord”

3 months.

3 months can fly by in a flash. it can drag on for eternity. i’ll let you guess which of the two has described my past few months.

three months of searching for answers, hoping for them, desperately needing them. and finally, i’ve resigned myself to one day having them. no longer bent on hoping, no longer believing my efforts have mattered. i have tried — by god, i’ve tried. i’ve done everything i know to do — talking about it, spending time alone, with god, with wise counsel. i’ve tried giving every anxious thought over, i’ve attempted to keep hoping when it seems futile. i’ve begged, i’ve cried, i’ve sat silently hoping to feel something. i’ve raged and asked nicely and tried to discern the best way and decided to move. and then the door that may seem a crack open, has slammed in my face yet again. what do you do when no answers appear?

silence seems to meet me the loudest.

i’m often crippled by decisions. choosing where to eat, what to eat at that restaurant. what decision to make, when to make it, what it will turn out like. when it comes to the big decisions — which job do i apply to? should i move on with my life? is this relationship a wise one? where should i move? — it’s near impossible for me to feel like i’m making the best one. i always put so much pressure on THE decision, forgetting that god’s grace will carry me along as he gives me the wisdom to choose. this time around, i have been struck dumb yet again by the inability to choose. it felt like i had both endless options and none. finally, after feeling some excitement about potential job, new city, things i actually love, i decided to just make a faithful choice. it seemed that some pieces had the stamp of god, had the scent of something holy spirit led. so i started planning for this. after months and months of feeling that he’d make it crystal clear, i decided to take a step forward in faith instead. i felt hopeful and excited for the first time in a long time. so i attempted to take a few steps in that direction. what was i met with? the door slowly swinging towards shut. while he hasn’t said “no,” it doesn’t seem likely to work. and after being strung out on sadness and sick with sorrow, i simply can’t handle another “no”. it doesn’t just seem like a door shut to an opportunity, it seems like a door shut on my soul. barely hanging on, the sliver-thin string has been snapped off in front of my face. i know god must have purpose in it but i no longer care. it seems like the endless “no” is reverberating in every facet of my life and i’m distrustful that god really and truly cares about me.

i know one day it’ll all make sense and all of that cliche stuff i’d tell someone else in my position but right now, none of it seems true. in this moment, it seems like i’m in a desert — the path behind me dry + desolate; the path in front of me empty + uncertain. but since i’m in the desert, i know i can’t stay here. while i’d like to lay down on the ground and hope that someone will rescue me out, i know i have to keep moving forward in faith that god will lead me to an oasis. there will be life again. i know this and, ultimately, i trust this. but in my everyday struggle, it’s a fight to move ahead one. step. at. a. time. kicking the dust up as i go, often crawling, often crying out the last sustenance i have in the hopes that i’ll reach the thriving place soon.

shifting sand

life is uncertain. be alive for any number of days and you know this. one day you’re pregnant, the next you’re not. one moment you have someone you want to marry, the next day you’re single. one day you have a father, sister, mother, brother, friend, the next day you’re attending their funeral. you expect to go to work and now you no longer have a job. you expected this friend to be forever and now you no longer speak. the uncertainties work in reverse as well. the infertile with a baby. unexpected to live with a hopeful diagnosis. jobless for years to a dream job. we are constantly inundated with situations we’d never choose, could never imagine. but what if all our hope is in the imagined things, the things desired and planned for? we are like fools. we are depressed, disheartened, disillusioned. we are a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears (james 4:14). we are simple, silly builders building our house not on the rock that is steady, unwavering, forever, but on shifting sand (matthew 7:24-27).

life’s uncertainties can be riveting, exciting, fun. they can be heartbreaking in the worst ways. they can change the way you view others, the way you view god. you can lose your faith over the gap between what you planned for your life and god’s apparent will for it.

the beauty is that in these moments, we can cling to the rock. we have this sure anchor, firm and secure (hebrews 6:19). he does not change like the shifting shadows (james 1:17). he will not budge, will not break. god is the only trustworthy place to take your dreams, to take your damaged heart. in the midst of one of the hardest seasons of my life, god is reminding me that he is my safe place. know how i found out? because when “the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house…it fell with a great crash“. the house i had so lovingly built, decorated with knick knacks of my own making and that i had invited people into has come crashing down around me. a crash of sizeable proportion. one that has left me temporarily homeless, clinging to the wreckage. i pick up my prized plans from the pieces of what’s left and i have been trying (without success) to put them back together.

for the past few months, i have lain in the rubble. comfortable with the likeness of what i wanted instead of joining the Builder in what he’s building for me in its place. he is not building the house i thought i wanted but the one i actually need (and i’m sure, will actually be what i truly wanted after all). my sights are set too low, my faith too weak. contrary to boasting in tomorrow, in what city i will go to or what job i will have, i should instead be content to follow in his will day by day (james 4:13-15). i’m not there yet but every day i pray i rest in him more. “as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” psalm 61:2

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(for a more eloquent, shorter, and far better analogy, read this quote from c.s. lewis’ mere christianity)

mothered.

to my mother who has — more than anyone else in my life — sacrificed, served, prayed for, affected, and loved me. my words will never be enough but they are something. thank you for laboring for me from the beginning. i will need you until the end. i adore you. can i crawl back in your pouch yet?
to all the others who have mothered me, you are countless. when thinking of how many amazing women have advised me, prayed over me, pushed me to higher heights and loved me in the depths, i am overwhelmed with how lucky i am. it’s rare and i don’t take it lightly. thank you for giving me your time, your energy, your care. i’m deeply grateful. you are all mothers in the best ways.

———————-

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

when i was a child, mothering felt more like smothering. any advice given or sideways look was taken as a personal assault.  when i was a child, i talked like the child i was: loud, inconsiderate, foolish. when i was a child, i thought that mothering was easy, something i could easily improve on. when i was a child, i reasoned away my mother’s wisdom and love as if it was something trivial, something everyone had the benefit of experiencing.

when i became a (wo)man, i put the ways of childhood behind me. mostly.

mothering is laboring from the first second your child is born. it is a labor of love quite literally. mothering is arduous work in the middle of the night. it is correcting and rebuking all the live long day. mothering is saying no when you want to say yes. mothering is second-guessing all your decisions and having to decide anyways. mothering is doing the hardest work you’ll ever do and that you’ll never be thanked enough for (even on mother’s day). mothering is (i’m told) having part of you live outside your body forever. sometimes the best mothering is silently loving your child. sometimes it’s yelling. mothering is showing up for work every morning at 6 am (or was it 3 am?) and never getting a lunch break and working the graveyard shift that night. mothering is, in short, difficult. in length — terrifying, painful, and the most sacrificial thing you’ll ever do.

mothering is instinctual. it is listening to the small, still voice directing you as you go. mothering is a work of art, unique to you and your giftings – sometimes flailing paint haphazardly, sometimes doing minute work that will take years to complete. mothering is ambiguous and uncertain in equal proportion. you’ll have to blaze your own trail.

mothering is giving your kids the life you wanted. it is saying “yes”, “yes”, “yes” with joy at the delight in your children’s faces. it is love unimagined, euphoria beyond what you could have comprehended. mothering is holding that baby at one month and wondering that you have her whole life ahead of you. mothering is holding that baby at 17 years and wishing you’d appreciated the last 16. mothering is recording every laugh, the first steps, the first real wise choice, their putting their whole faith in god and storing it away on diskettes and cds and dvds and usbs and in your mind and whatever saves the memories for you forever. mothering is a free fall of love and banter and friendship. mothering is playing with abandon, creating little humans that become big ones. mothering is a joy, gift, pleasure, your best job.

to all you who mother (and smother) it is a gift. not everyone gets that privilege — to mother or be mothered. i pray today would be a day that we recognize the amazing, arduous job our mothers have done. however imperfectly, however painfully or however precisely and perfectly — we have been mothered. happy mother’s day to you all!

picnic romper [style post]

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(romper: old navy | shoes: target | bra: sponsored by bandaid)

the papparazzi is at it again. this time, i was caught clothes-less next to the pool and i had to grab the nearest picnic tablecloth to cover up. how embarrassing! but i figured if julia can pull it off, so can i, right? (<- terrible life motto and categorically untrue)

in real life, i popped out of the shower, put on as much makeup as my face will hold in 90 degree heat and here i am. darling, ain’t i? my hair is also strategically hiding a huge pimple from sight though i have told everyone i’ve come in contact with about it. the only thing worse than having an elephant in the room is if it’s on your face and no one acknowledges it. good news is, it’s on it’s way out.

i know you’ve all missed my style posts and borderline inappropriate commentary. happy weekend!