State of Being

Over the last year or so, I have been constantly running, or else trapped in a web of guilt for not running.Yesterday, I stopped running. 

I stopped feeling guilty for not running. 

I “unplugged”.

I spent the better part of most of the day outdoors, in mild exercise, and my soul finally had a moment in which to realize it was parched.

We live in a constant motion society. We are stressed because we can’t stop “doing”. And if we’re not “doing”, then the heaping amount of guilt we place on ourselves stresses us out further. 

When did I start believing that motion equaled value? That perfection was the same as happiness?

When was the last time I took some time and space to just be?

I know I am not alone in this. Scores of women (and men) feel like they are constantly busy but never seeming to get anything done. 

What ends the vicious cycle? We all have the same amount of time in a day. That never changes. We all have jobs. We have dishes that need to be washed, laundry to do, homes to clean. We each have relationships to maintain. The list can go on forever if we let it.

My question is this: is the life I want to create for myself a priority? Or do I want to allow myself to become a victim of time and circumstance?

I sat outside today and began reading Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect….for only the fifth time since it was released (last year). I’ve never made it very far into the book (due to a constant state of motion). But it is exactly what I need at this time. Like Shauna, I am on a quest to “leave behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living”.

Because we only have this one life. And I don’t want to waste it on barely living. 

The Four Loves in Oxford

“Sometimes there is that gradual sidewise sliding towards it, until you find yourself immersed and all you can think is “I didn’t mean for this to happen”.”

Quixotic

Over the past few weeks we’ve had many interesting discussions in Oxford. Most over the works of C. S. Lewis. Things like Miacles and The Four Loves. Speaking of which, I have developed a strong storgē for Oxford -a familiar, comfortable love.

The best mistake I have made so far was neglecting to get a bus pass the day I arrived. And the day after that, and the day after that.

Being forced to walk everywhere hasn’t made my legs the herculean pillars of marble I was hoping for, but this way I have oriented myself and discovered so much of this city. Walking gives yourself not only the freedom to ask “I wonder where this leads?” but also to answer that question.

I’ve learned how I can live alone and how I can’t. How lucky blessed I am in some particularly good relationships. If I could transport them here…

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At The Water’s Edge

This is where it all begins.

Newness. Hope. Peace.

Ross Barnet Reservoir

At the water’s edge.

That is where God has always met me. I am in awe of the power, majesty, and beauty–the breathtaking beauty–of water. It reminds me of who God is. Amazing. Awe-inspiring. Majestic. Untamed. Unpredictable. Wholly fearsome, and yet, at times utterly calm.

This weekend I ran away. Or I ran after. I’m not really sure which it was.

I was running away from something that I completely feared, yet desperately wanted. I was scared of what I was feeling, what might happen, what might not happen. And yet I hoped so completely. And what I realized, this weekend at the water’s edge, was that it is not something to run away from. It’s not something to run after.

It’s just something.

Something that I had to give over completely to God. I surrender all. All I am, all I hope. At His feet, I lay it down, and I leave it at the cross. No matter what may or may not happen in the future, Jesus is my all. He’s all I need. He is all that I want to want.

And I’m still working on that. Far too often, I want what I want, and it isn’t Him. Whether that’s a dessert, more coffee, an individual, a friendship that doesn’t fulfill, a relationship that I don’t have, a community that I haven’t found, a house that doesn’t fit into the budget, a talent that someone else possesses; I am too often focused on me. Instead I want to wholly depend on Him. To wholly trust in Jesus’ name. And to want Him above all else.

So this weekend, as I ran away, God knew the struggle I was facing. As it happens, somehow, I managed to run straight into His arms. It wasn’t where I thought I was going. But I do think it was exactly where I knew I really needed to be. Subconsciously, maybe; but part of me knew that.

I think part of me knew that I was running to the water’s edge after God.

And just as He always does….God met me there.

And so today as I drove away from the water’s edge, my heart cried out; my spirit yearned, tears fell. And an agonized cry sprung from my lips: Yes Lord. Yes. I choose You.

 

This Is The In-Between

I don’t post regularly because I’ve struggled with what to make this space. I’ve been told that I need to pick a focus–mommy-blogging (not a mommy, so this wouldn’t actually work), single woes, health, travel, become an expert in something and share, movie reviews, foodie, etc, etc….there’s a place for it all. Just make sure it’s only one subject. That’s the advice. And they’re probably right.

The problem is, that’s not me. I’m not a one-type-of-thing gal. I get bored with one thing and need to move on to the next, so that eventually I can come full-circle and land on my first interest. And then start the wild ride all over again.

I love food. I have recently learned a passion for health. I am a film-buff, and nerdy fangirl. I love writing, and animals. I enjoy natural living to an extent, and I crave community. I am a Christian, trying to navigate a rocky, single, totally confusing and heartbroken world.

So what should this space look like? That’s just it–this is the in-between. The space “that is not what it was, and not quite what it’s going to be.”

I needed to be reminded of that. This space is for life, the “messy and uncertain. Disillusioned and hazy.”

And it’s certainly not what I thought it would be.

But it is also beautiful.

It is a space for hope and new beginnings. A place where I can share myself…with myself. Someplace where I can hash out my life and try to make sense of it. And if no one ever reads my words…that’s okay. Because I’m not searching for fame.

And so it will reflect who I am. A wide assortment of crazy, practical, and refined. This is where I record my journey through the in-between.

 

 

Seek and Move

You take charge of your own life. If you’re not happy with it, do something about that.

If you’re not happy with your health–don’t complain. Don’t look for an easy fix. Take charge–plan a physical routine that will challenge you; learn how to make meals that are tasty AND good for you.

If you hate your job, do something. Interview for a new one. Or examine why you hate what you do–is there something you could start doing that would help? Is it a mental problem that you can fix with thinking positively about people/circumstances? How about the way you treat your co-workers?

What about your social life; tired of sitting at home with Netflix every night? Find people to hang out with who will challenge, encourage, and inspire you. Or look at how you can challenge, encourage, inspire, and seek out those relationships you already have but aren’t utilizing.

We are not victims of circumstance, as much as we’d like to tell ourselves so. Things happen, life gets messy. Time flies faster with every passing day. Our problems get bigger and more complex with each aging year. Our happiness is not dependent on whether or not things are going to plan…but instead upon our mindset. Choosing to be content, to be happy, will carry us far. Choosing to act, to pursue that which we want will actually get us much further than complaining about it.

This is what I told myself last year. It got bad–the desperation, the realization that my life wasn’t what I wanted it to be. And though I wanted to blame circumstances, or even people, for the way it looked…in the end, I had to make a choice. I had to move. I wasn’t happy with my health–so I got serious about it. After ten years of “trying” to lose weight, I lost thirty pounds and felt amazing. But I worked really hard for it. I was struggling at work–only to realize that my mindset needed to change. Constantly juggling three to four jobs was wearing on me, and I was letting each of them slip a bit at a time. I’m still learning to prioritize, to schedule better so that I don’t run into the same problems I have for years.  I had a co-worker tell me the other day that I was one of the nicest people to work with (if you know me, you probably snorted your drink out your nose at that–nice does not come natural to me and is a trait that Christ and all of my family and friends have been trying to build in me for years)–I have to make a decision each and every day to ignore gossip or slander, not to complain about others, and to find and point out the good in them. Crazily enough, it does get easier to do with every single day (it also helps that I work with an amazing crew! So most of that sort of thing comes from outside influences. And I’ve never actually hated my main job–it’s been the odd ones that come and go that got to me). I’m still working on the last; I am making more of an effort to reach out to those relationships I do have and to cultivate new ones. Far from perfect yet, but each day I make myself find someone to interact with–whether it’s a phone call/skype, a text, or a quick stop by their place. I’m still learning. But I am forming habits that are slowly changing my life into what I want it to be.

But ultimately, achieving the life you want–if moving in opposition to God’s will–is not going to be pretty. It might not be impossible. But is that really what you want?

There is nothing so stabilizing as the Word of God. Nothing so secure as His presence. When I think of what I want my life to be, He is ALWAYS there, at the center.

Seek Christ and the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you. Seek Him first. But in the end, you have to act. Your soul needs to rest in Christ. Your body must take physical action…or your feet will remain in the exact same, worn out, dirty spot that they have always been.

Coming Home

I didn’t expect to come away with so much.

I went on that adventure knowing that I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I was doing something–going somewhere–that I had never ventured before. I expected to see a new state that I’d never visited. I expected to learn a few new things on writing. I expected to meet my writing mentor. I expected that, without my posse who inspire me to confidence and an outgoing nature, I would hide inside my shell and come home empty-handed on the new acquaintances and contacts front. I expected that I would carry on in my writing just as I had before.

I was met with a multitude of people who “got me”. I encountered a spiritual retreat. I found the natural beauty of North Carolina a balm to my soul.

I didn’t expect to be so changed by it all.

These people, many of whom I knew next to nothing about, impacted my life in huge ways.

One woman I referred to in my head as “worshiper” all week-long. It wasn’t until the last day that I found out her name was Janelle. Her enthusiasm and worshipful spirit ushered me into the presence of God…every single time I came across her.

My neighbor for the week turned out to be a father of three–just like my own brother. Kyle had a sweet wife, and his kids were energetic and well-mannered–a rare phenomenon these days. He turned out to be a multiple-award winning writer; extremely talented and driven. We both write in similar genres and the potential for a writing friendship is something I look forward to. Even though he and my brother look nothing alike, he reminded me so much of him.

On that first morning, I shyly asked to sit at a table with two women who became my dearest acquaintances of the week.
Beckie is the sort of woman I want to be. The embodiment of grace and confidence; driven and committed, passionately following Christ.
And Molly Jo is my soul-sister; the woman who intimidates and inspires me. Who loves me in spite of myself. A friendship that I hope will last a lifetime. I have a feeling it will–she wouldn’t let me give up on it. And I absolutely love that about her–among many other things.

I sat at a table full of men who talked science-fiction and philosophy, theology and fantasy. And I was completely at home, more myself than ever (normally, I would have been extremely uncomfortable sitting with only men). I was thrilled to find that I actually knew what they were talking about, unlike the many tables of women who talked blogging and devotional writing–two things I enjoy greatly but know next to nothing about.

Yvonne Lehman and IThe woman I went to see, my dear writing mentor, Yvonne Lehman, was full of spunk and humor. She was wise and insightful. My heart sang for joy when I saw her for the first time–this woman who had impacted my writing for so long. I owe so much to her, and always will.

This trip brought me so far. And ultimately sent me back home to put into practice the things I had learned (this summer had entirely different plans, but that’s another story).  I wish I could be back at Ridgecrest right now, with the people I have grown to admire and love. My spirit longs for change and adventure. But my soul yearns to be home.

I can hear the music of the tree frogs and cicada’s outside my door. It’s the sound of home. I will always love coming back to the music…but in order to come home, one must first leave.

Adventures

“I am going on an adventure.”

We all know the words that started one of the greatest adventures of all time. And those same words continue to begin adventures, great and small.

My current expedition takes me into the Great Smoky Mountains–a place I loved passionately as a teenager. Even though I have since fallen in love with the beauty and majesty of the ocean, there is always a place for the Smokies–or anywhere, for I truly love adventures and travel.

I will be attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Writing Conference–and I am beyond excited! I am nervous and scared. But also so incredibly happy, expecting great things, that I cannot keep this smile off my face.

The conference does not begin until Sunday, but I decided to take a few extra days to spend enjoying the amazing countryside around. My days during the conference are absolutely packed–so I want to take advantage before and after of the opportunity to see as much as I can. My mom agreed to come with me–a relaxing vacation for her, and a travel buddy for me.

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate to travel alone. I want to experience as much as I can, but without someone to share those experiences, it is almost worthless to me. So, I am quite grateful that I do not have to experience this trip on my own.

Another source of excitement for me is the opportunity to meet my writing mentor–the woman who has coached me through my writing classes for over a year now. She was one of the founders of this particular conference. She is also the woman who has provided me my first publishing opportunity. That’s right, this fall, I will be a published author. It’s only a short in a collaborative work–my contribution is so small, in fact, that I won’t be paid for it–all proceeds from the sale of this book will go to charity. And when read in light of many of the other submissions, my work screams out amateur…but I don’t mind. With hard work and determination, my work will continue to improve. For now, this is a very small step with long reaching results. And I am quite happy and excited about it.