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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Third Thing

I can't take full credit for this blog.

The words are mine, yes.
The thoughts are mine, sure yes. 
But the wisdom? I cannot take credit for it. I've got some great people in my corner who look me in the eye and say we believe in you! here's some wisdom! let us help you as you journey on! 

Every time I write, you get a glimpse into my people. You're welcome.

One of these people asked me the other day what my third thing is. 
What's your third thing, he said. 
What's the thing that you're neither achieving in nor competitive at? What's your place, where you can relax, your outlet? Besides 1) work and 2) school, what's your 3) thing?

my third thing!

So I started thinking about this third thing (to help with the hard thing). And what sometimes happens with these kinds of thoughts and these kinds of prayers is you often just stumble into the answer and find yourself face first in it. It's the way God sometimes works. Like, for example, how another one of my people gave me a cookbook suggestion a few weeks ago and I started sitting down and meal planning and looking at recipes and it all came together my third thing! 

I have never been much of a meal planner. Or a cook. I just never made time for it. Girl gotta eat, but girl don't think ahead on what to eat. It made for an exhausting (and expensive) and confusing (lol) lifestyle. But the times that I did make time for it, I found that I loved being in the kitchen! I love the activity of it, the task of it, the idea of it. Music on, hands busy. I delighted in it. 

I wasn't making time for the things I delighted in. 
What a tragedy. 

I've taken on meal planning/cooking/baking/time in the kitchen as my third thing. It's teaching me discipline, time management, how to relax. It's giving me TIME, time to take the thoughts of the day and swirl them around, keeping some and throwing some away. It's giving me an excuse to buy another moleskine and create another schedule. It's giving me time to decompress after a work day. Time to cushion and breathe before I start school work. IT ALSO GIVES ME FOOD AND SUSTENANCE SO I CAN SURVIVE. There's also that. 

And the more I think on it, the more I think this is really important. If my third thing doesn't win, if I don't choose my third thing, I choose apathyor fear. There's a lot riding on the third thing, and oh man, that gives me so much freedom. 

So, I'll choose to spend an hour and a half in the grocery store and shop with purpose (holla at Kip Green, who roamed that store with me like a boss). I'll choose to cook ground beef at 9:00 at night (because sometimes, people, that's what it takes). I'll choose to smell all the things - garlic! thyme! parsley! cilantro! 

It's what I'm always learning. I am doing over and over again, am reminded over and over again, to take time to do what I love. To do the things that fill my soul, that I delight in, that bring me rest and peace. A place I can hit the pause button on all the things and breathe deep and free. Writing is another one, because you know I'm all about that. I've found myself in this sweet, desperate place where I am willing to do what the third thing takes. Pursue it, sacrifice for it. Because the measure of its worth is invaluable. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Faith over Fear

Hey! It's me, just talking about the mind again.

I had a weird end to 2014. Weird may not be the best word to describe it, but I'm going to go with it. Leadership is hard, it's really hard, because it shows us ourselves and I found myself running head first into MYSELF the last few months or so. I love being stretched and learning new things and having what I previously believed challenged and all that comes with it. But, come on. My Narnia people, you know in the Last Battle when they reach the new Narnia and the unicorn keeps saying come further in, further up! closer to the King! I had a lot of further in, further up this year. 

It's weird, but then somewhere along the way, I thought too many hard things now, too many hard things ahead, too much going up. And I just kind of .. stopped. It was fear winning over faith, but hey, a girl gets tired every once in a while. Amen? Real or not real is exhausting. Filtering words and actions through the armor of God is draining. Running through the ringer and exposing all that ick just flat out takes higher strength. Further in, further up is a tough climb. Can I get an amen? Leadership is hard? TRY BEING HUMAN IS HARD. All defenses are down and it's very, very confusing. Isn't it, though?

Is it possible to back out slowly in your own journey, hands feeling for the exit? 
yes, yes it is.

Cue the mind.
You all heard me talk about Unbroken in my last post. That story stirred something in me that I think I was so desperate for. You all heard me go on and on about the raft scene (THE BEST). There was something Louie said and believed on the raft, as him and his friends were floating into desperation and uncertainty, not knowing if and when rescue would come. He believed that no matter what happened to their bodies, no matter what happened physically (sunburn, lack of food, no water, sharks), they must not lose control of their minds. It was a muscle, he believed, that would atrophy if left idle. 

So, they told stories. All kinds of stories. Asked questions, all kinds of questions. Shared memories, all kinds of memories. Because Louie believed the mind was the key to survival. If you lost that, you lost everything. 

And then this, 

"Though all three men faced the same hardship, their differing perceptions of it appeared to be shaping their fates. Louie and Phil's hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work toward their survival, and each success renewed their physical and emotional vigor. Mac's resignation seemed to paralyze him and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Though he did the least, as the days passed, it was he who faded the most. Louie and Phil's optimism, and Mac's hopelessness, were becoming self-fulfilling."

Keeping the mind going, light and free, well it has more weight and impact than we know. It welcomes in hope. It keeps going, even when you don't feel like it, and brings the rest along with you. It is survival. I don't claim to know much, but I do know that. Fear kills the mind. It shrinks it and makes it cold. 


The mind can be restored with even the tiniest of steps. 
Fear can be killed with even the smallest of efforts.

A dear student gave me a bracelet for Christmas. 
It says life is a journey.
Then another friend on Christmas Eve noticed it and said me too. I'm learning that too! He said don't you just want to build a nest right where you are and stay there? But isn't God saying, hey let's keep going? He was speaking for him but I was hearing for me and I heard him.

And that small, thoughtful gift and that small, thoughtful moment .. I'm convinced it changed everything. 

I want to choose faith over fear this year. 

This journey is tough, but I want to fight the good fight. I'm tired, but I want to shed apathy and spring forth courageously. I want to keep learning, yet feel rested. I want prayer to kill pride. I want all the things, but most importantly I think I want standing with interlocking shields in a close defense alongside others. 

I want to stand, stand firm, after the battle.

So I say to you what is sometimes hard to say to myself. 
YOU CAN DO IT. I believe in you so much! You can do this hard thing and your hard thing and all the hard things and you can do it because God is with you. In front, beside, and behind. Let me whisper the reals, that choosing faith over fear is the sweetest and most powerful. Oh, how rich your journey is! Oh, how mysterious life is! 

I am proud of you. I believe in you. Let's do faith over fear together this year.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Good Side of the Flu

Can the flu be a good thing?

I had the flu for like six days. I keep telling people I was like the walking dead because that feels most accurate to my situation. I woke up, wandered to the couch, sat/laid there all day, and then wandered back to bed. It was misery. 

But actually, if I'm being honest, it was time well spent. 

I watched so many movies. Like a lot of movies, like a lot of really good movies. I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and was hyped up for days on the courage of Frodo, the friendship of Sam, the power of good over evil. I quoted all those wise Gandalf responses as Frodo grieves the cards he's been dealt - "I wish this had not happened in my time." "So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." I talked to whoever would listen to me (my mom) - "this is such a big deal that the elves, dwarves, and men are all fighting on the same side, against evil. Do you even know!? This is so huge." oh bless it, everyone loves a movie talker.

Then I read the book Unbroken and my little flu-ridden heart swelled with the power of the human spirit. It is one of the most incredible stories and I flew through the pages (if you have read the book, can we please talk about the whole-fighting-off-sharks-while-floating-on-a-raft scene? I can't even. I had so many physical and emotion reactions to that part. Huge shoutout to my friend Matt, who let me retell that scene in the atrium this morning at church. You're the real MVP). Unbroken reminded me that there are people who have lived and who are currently living who are so extremely brave. They have this incredible spirit within them that won't back down, who fight for things and for people, and who seem to withstand all the unbearable trials because they will not stand to perish. And then toss in faith and hope and forgiveness and redemption and Unbroken is all the things.

So I'd say this flu break revived my love of stories, the real and the fantasy. This human desire we innately have to connect with story, it's incredible. I could literally write so many more blog posts at this point at where my mind is wandering, how story is one of the tools that helps me choose faith over fear this year. 

The flu allowed me to STOP. And then to marvel. 
I can't wait to keep going.