Young and Free

Laying back on a crash pad, dusty white hands behind my head was just what the doctor ordered this week. As I gazed up at my husband who was climbing a high bouldering route, I felt “normal” for the first time in a long while. Climbing was fun, too. I worked through about five easy-ish routes and called it a night because one of my fingers was throbbing from a cut I earlier gained. But I didn’t care, for I felt young and free.

I felt as such because I was enjoying an activity of my “prime.” And I was on a date with my handsomely rugged husband, watching him kill it on the wall. And there were many seemingly young and free individuals surrounding me in the cozy rock gym. I took the stairs to the loft, washed my hands in the giant metal sink and perused the “Resting Place.” A substantial wooden table with its chairs sat in the center of the dimly lit room. One wall housed bookcases of comic books and adventure magazines. I took a seat on a couch opposite the books, letting my thoughts continue to trail.The diapers and rice cereal and spit up and pulled earrings were behind me for now and I was in heaven. It wasn’t but a few minutes before Dave joined me. He often checks in on me and I like it. I appreciate how he constantly derives how he can be helping me and seeks to understand how I am doing. I need it these days.

You see, motherhood hasn’t been a walk in the park. Don’t get me wrong, I adore spending my days with Alisan. She is cute and easy to love, especially with all her new little babbling and baby tricks. Being a new mom has been rough in the aspect of T-I-M-E. I wake up early to her screaming her little lungs out and by the time I gently lay her to sleep at night, there are counters to wipe. By then, I’m more than ready to hit our creaky, government-issued bed. She and I do have a ton of fun in between. I break up the feedings, laundry and errands with long walks around town with the pup, lunch with friends, story time at the library, Bible study… It’s all so very fun, it’s just that I can’t always do what I used to. With a baby attached to me like a kangaroo, I can’t go to a yoga class whenever I’d like. I can’t hike a hill and read a book. I’m not able to do a great many things because…nap time….and nursing. I’m not complaining. Regrettably, I sometimes I do complain because sometimes I get sad. But when it comes down to it, I gladly give up my age old pleasures for the honor of raising a daughter. Gosh, that’s weighty. And God gave me this specific job for this specific time and this specific (little) person.

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Back to time. Thursday nights are special. Every other Thursday evening, Dave and I date like we’re still dating. We climb, we coffee shop, we walk the beach. I’m grateful for those three hours and our dedicated babysitter. It’s been remarkable for our marriage and I might could write another post about this another day. On the opposing Thursdays we have alternating personal nights. Those are good too. This weekly routine has been essential for us. It’s just one night a week and doesn’t feel like much sometimes, but I get to look forward to it with so much excited anticipation. I feel young and free. I feel like myself. Extended moments to journal and drink a cold brew is all I sometimes need to rejuvenate my mind and get ready to get back to it.

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Yes, I’m a wife and mother. These are my roles. I understand there are seasons and that I’m growing up. I am learning to embrace all this season has to offer. Caring for a little human, cooking healthy meals for my family, clinging to the Lord’s promise of peace during fussy spells, praying dangerous prayers for my family, learning to better love my husband and learning to make bread rise (two takes last week, both failed) only scratch the surface!

My life is beautiful. But it’s wonderful to step aside and reflect, connect with my husband and my Father. I’m grateful to Dave for being my biggest fan when I feel insufficient and overwhelmed. Who said having one kid is easy? 🙂 And I’m grateful to God for walking with me up the stairs to the nursery and down the street to the grocery. Your quiet whispers keep me focused on that which is of true importance.

I may not be getting any younger (the silvers atop prove this), but I can confidently can say I’m becoming more free. Whether I’m out on the town on a Thursday night or trying to squeeze in time with the Lord during morning nap, my soul is exploding all the more, with each passing day. His love is at work in me beckoning me to indulge in and share of His freedom, if only to my babe and pup that day. Before this turns into what looks like one of my journal entries, I’ll call it a night.

Today’s Letter

God and I have conversations in my journal. Sometimes I write far too many of my own babbling words. Other times, I’m willing enough to listen and let Him speak. This tweaked and highly edited version from today might be for more than only myself…

Dearest [Marissa/your name],

Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Inhale and know how lovely you are. Do you comprehend it yet? Keep contemplating, breathing…

Catch a glimpse of how wonderful you are to Me. You don’t fully know right now, but be assured. Have no doubts that you are perfect in My sight. This grace that has found you does not recognize the boundaries you try to establish.

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Look upon me, your most genuine friend and warmhearted Father. Read my promises and believe they withstand your doubts. I wrote them while you were on my mind. You are always on my mind.

Be relieved of the burdens of this day, this week, this year, or as far as they seem to stretch. Today is a new day. Though it may be well into the evening, it is still brand new.

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Step out the door and be thankful for your uninhibited freedom. It is indeed yours. And it is cause for celebration.

Let this joy and freedom you find through celebration carry you today and everyday after. Let everything else be ruined.

He has been teaching me to celebrate each moment because He exists in every single one. He has been showing me  how to embrace the love that is already being poured out on me. He has been helping me see why I exist…for freedom and the illumination of that freedom.

Invitation

Preheat.

Watch four minutes of Downton, Season 4, Episode 1. Poor Mary.

Bake.

The kitchen is dark and cozy. The illumination of my laptop supersedes the glow of the oven light. Right now is the most quietness I’ve known for days. Yes, The Shins are faintly streaming on Pandora and there is the muffled hubbub of cars, planes, trains, and metro close by. Nevertheless, the solitude of this time is distinct.

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I didn’t intend to be awake. No, it’s not intrusively late, but just late enough to interfere with my proposed routine. I was nearly about to crawl into my sheets when I remembered the pan of dough rising. Now I’m baking. No, now I’m waiting while the oven does the work. The decision to make a cup of tea was problematic, for I have already brushed my teeth. Fighting the urge to indulge in a snack is taking all my effort.

30-minute mark. Cover with foil.

I’ve become pretty good at this. I’ve become pretty good at realizing that when something unexpected like this happens, I am being beckoned to listen. It’s a wake-up call every time I encounter a “wrench.” It’s an invitation and reminder that right here is where I want to be, always.

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Tonight, I am compelled to drop all busyness and enter sweet Rest.

65 minutes. Done and Cooling.

Yes, Pandora, I’m still listening.

Eating.

Thank you, Jesus for intervening in big and seemingly small ways. Thank you for your presence even when I fail to recognize. Thank you, Spirit for teaching me. May I exude this thankfulness, revealing Your joy and salvation tomorrow and everyday.

In So Deep

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by God that you can hardly contain your reactions?

Have you ever been so utterly amazed by His goodness that you well up with tears?

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I’ve been in this unsurpassable place a lot recently. It’s His presence. I’m not here because I’m better, more holy than someone else. I’m here because I’m broken.

Somehow, brokenness always seems to equal fulfillment when God is in the picture.

His Spirit pours, showers, RAINS down His sweet mercy upon my heart, soul, and mind when I mess up the “biggest.”

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Truly, I keep on breaking. And when I practically melt, finding myself in desperate weakness, He doesn’t hesitate to straighten my slouch or bestow the greatest satisfaction and joy again and again. He is always more than enough.

I can’t go through a day perfectly, no matter how hard I may try.

But recently, He’s more than enough despite my weakness. He’s more than enough than He’s ever been. Yes, I know He’s always been enough. His immutable nature is, well…immutable. It’s secure, this I know. But for my little being, He’s becoming more than enough, and it’s magnificent.

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It’s as if my life is being stripped to nothing but Him. It’s like my very literal being is hanging by a single string from some unknown place. He, Himself is  that string. It seems so terrible to compare God to a string. What I mean is, there is nothing else attached to me. Just Him, only Him.

I only want more. His depths are where I want to go. Because there He is, always waiting. He is patient and kind and loving and gracious and here with me. He’s here with you.

Pepper In My Teeth

It looked scrumptious. The plate held vibrant hues of green, red, yellow, and purple. My tomato and avocado omelette was worthy of an Instagram upload.
Shortly after Andrew (my terrific tattooed waiter) slid the plate onto the slab of pine did tragedy take a toll. Instinctively, I reached for the pepper grinder. I inherited the “excess pepper trait” from my grandfather. Not a moment after I began vigorously turning the grinding mechanism, the darn gadget split in two. Pepper balls coated the formerly alluring platter and rolled onto the table.
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My cheeks turned pink for all but fifteen seconds, surprisingly. Normally, my blushing is endless. Having accidents like this pepper “catastrophe” is not uncommon for this girl. I should cut Revlon powder out of the daily routine and save twelve dollars a year.
Searching for a sympathetic soul, I tried to play it cool. The J.Crew couple at the table next to me didn’t offer a glance. They had been quietly snickering since before I ordered my green tea. A waitress came my way when she saw me sweeping up the black beads. I declined her gracious offer for a re-make. The wait staff was overwhelmingly kind and the manager also offered me a new omelette. Three offers later, I still declined. They insisted on fresh avocado, and I had no choice but to oblige.
Scraping the food was tedious and I munched on a couple of balls, but I couldn’t waste it. I hate wasting food. The extent of my “food saving” may be repulsive by Western standard. I eat whatever I drop on the floor. I don’t think twice about finishing Sophie and Mia’s leftover waffles. If I don’t like something, I smile and swallow. Liver in Uganda once each week was one of my greatest feats.
When did this happen? When did I become a scavenger? It began when I started internationally traveling. It is only honorable to eat what is in front of you in third world places. They often kill their only goat for you.
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Even Jesus advocates conservation. In The Book of John, He tells the disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
Jesus doesn’t want anything reusable to be thrown out. This extends further than the food category. Clothing, recyclable papers and plastics, furniture. Why should He discriminate?
This concept goes further than tangible materials. It is not His wish to see a life wasted. He desires for us to live with full purpose.
More than hoard, we should savor. Savor is more palatable, like my tomato and avocado omelette. We need to use what we have been given to its abundance.
The Apostle Peter (if you believe he wrote the book) asserts, “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
We were not meant to waste time by wondering. Life has exploratory phases, but we must not waste too much time. We have great things to do. Let’s discover those gifts and step into savoring abundant life through relishing in them. He has given us the task of distributing His grace.
I can still taste the pepper in my teeth.

Seeking Still

Life is often hard, but we generally make it out to be more difficult than it has to be.

At least, I do…

If there has been a single theme in my life, it has the pursuit (and lack thereof) of Jesus. And then there’s a little floundering. And then, there’s desperate pursuit again. It might very well be the theme of your life, too. Maybe you’re better at the pursuit. Maybe, more frequently, you find yourself staggering.

You know that verse that talks about all of life coming down to just One thing? It couldn’t be more true.

I always learn this. Every time, I learn that searching out my Father’s heart in everything is in fact everything. He is all.

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– Recently, I’ve been having some weird dreams. If I revealed them, I might be admitted to a mental institution. Maybe not, maybe dreams are supposed to be that strange. Either way, I am not particularly fond of these dreams. A few days ago, I was drowsily getting ready for work immediately after waking up from one of these bizarre sleeping experiences. I talked to God about them and was urged to pray for meaningful dreams. Then, He revealed to me that He will only give me dreams from Him if I seek Him. And maybe some will seem to be obscure, but He will only give me meaningful ones. The thing is, I really believe Him.

– -For many months, I’ve been wanting to write more. I’ve had many failed attempts of regularly pounding on my keyboard. And I’ve lacked inspiration. What I’m finding (in fact, I knew it all along), is He is my inspiration. He told me He would give me words to write if only I seek Him fervently. I believe Him about this, too.

– – – I can’t abstain from the relationship subject. I play it off really well, I think. People think I’m satisfied being single. Many times I am! But there are so many instances in which I ache. That’s the only word for it…ache. I somewhat despise this subject because it makes me uncomfortable. But if I’m honest, it weighs on me increasingly more as time carries on. The only solitary thing that can relieve the angst is resting in Him, seeking His face. I fully credit this remedy. In His presence, I find how to “tackle” this arena. Because sometimes, the accompanying self-pitying thoughts require an aggresive blitz.

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– – – – I dislike when I get caught up in debatable things that don’t have eternal significance. The things taking hold of my mind do matter and are worthy of attention, but ultimately, they will never be in the same league as what really, really is important. A lot of my friends (aka: young adults navigating the beginning of “real” life) seem to struggle with this as well. In searching for a meaningful, advocating life, we find ourselves with more and more questions about justice, truth, and well…truth. This is so often the particular thing that causes me anguish…formulating questions. I believe it is essential to wrestle through issues, but God is teaching me to seek Him first versus trying to figure out how to save the world.

“In the seeking, You will find me. I will teach You what you need to know.” -God

Hard things, hard questions, hard feats will always come our way. And I’m thoroughly convinced that the more we follow Him, the more difficulties we will know. He wants to use us to do unfathomable things that will usher in His Kingdom.  But I’m also certain we will better be able to steer through these obstacles because we recognize He is with us.

Out of everything I’ve learned in my quarter-century life, the most paramount is that seeking Him is the only time I am satisfied.

And furthermore (if I can add an appendage, but an essential one), when we seek Him, we find Him. He does in fact respond like He promises.

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Let’s keep seeking.

Or maybe we need to begin pursuing Him once again.

May we be encouraged. He is waiting for us! And He’s always ready to lavish the most undeniably extraordinary love upon us.

“In Your light I will find all I need is You.” -All Sons and Daughters

This Is My Prayer

God must think I’m crazy.

There are always a million (okay, maybe only 57) things running around in my brain simultaneously. I used to talk to myself a lot, oftentimes aloud. The talking was more a narration of what I was doing in the moment and what I next needed to cross off the task list, all the while pouring out any accompanying feelings.

Truth is, I still talk to myself. Kind of. I’ve learned to exchange most of this babbling for praying. More simply, I talk to God about all these notions instead of spitting them right back at myself. That does no good at all. It’s better this way. I sometimes sing in that raspy voice in the midst. Sometimes there  is a lapse where I try to listen. And then I talk some more.

need to do this…cast all my cares on Him. He cares, I know He does. The more I talk to Him, the more I believe in His veritable love for me.

Maybe I am crazy. That’s why I need my Dad. He says He loves my words.

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But yesterday, I had less words to say. I yearned for simplicity. I was tired and sickened of my own babbling. After all, hadn’t I been saying the same things over and over for days, months, and years? I know God takes us right where we are, no matter the day or the condition…be it a frenzy, serenity, or somewhere in between.

Out of the blue yonder, the Spirit brought The Lord’s Prayer to the forefront.

When I initially think of this passage, I think tradition. I think of all the times I’ve been to a Catholic service for family christenings, funerals, and first communions. I think of my high school cross country team huddling together at Brandywine Creek State Park before a huge invitational. I think about the nice settings in which it was said, and not necessarily the true meaning. I’m sure the scripture held weight in all those instances. After all, it is the Word of God. But yesterday, it became truer than true.

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I quoted it line by line. It went a little something like this…

Our Father in heaven,

God, Father, Dad,

hallowed be your name,

Your name is great. YOU are great. I lift you up above everything.

your kingdom come,

Let me see your kingdom here in this place.

your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

That’s all I really want, whatever that is.

Give us today our daily bread.

Thanks for the Apple Jacks.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Forgive me! And give me the humility to forgive where I have not.

And lead us not into temptation,

Keep my thoughts pure. Keep my motives righteous.

but deliver us from the evil one.

Keep me with You.

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I’ve come alive again.

Hallelujah.

Quit Dreaming

The other patrons in this spot must think I’m a straight lunatic.

My facial expressions incessantly alter as I gaze into my computer screen. I gaze like a momma deer in the Shenandoah Mountains. There’s no doubt that a few noises have accompanied these expressions as each picture slides before my eyes. I simply can’t help it. Every photo brings new and greater emotion. The memories which these photographs hold touch the deepest parts of my soul.

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Gypsy village, Romania *

The adventure encapsulated in each image continues to reel. Each one plays in my brain and I’m there once again. I’m winding at unruly speeds through the mountains in Nepal, preparing to say goodbye to my teammates because at any moment, I foresee being in heaven. My feet are trampling rapidly on red dirt roads lined with thousands of green banana trees overlooking Rwandan countryside. I’m lost in Bangalore in a tuk tuk without a friendly soul to aid in navigation. It’s past dark and all I want is to be within the safety of the compound. I can see the tip of Everest. I’m submerged in the Nile, anticipating heaven all over again. I’m wandering through Dracula’s castle. I’m being chased after by a crazy lady in Uganda for a mile. I’m drinking my fifth tin cup of chai. I’m eating mangosteen. I’m eating pigeon. I’m eating liver. I’m eating something I can’t identify.

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Wedding crashing in Phnom Penh

The events in the snapshots range from from elated happiness to heightened fear and to somber tears. They take me back to the precise places. I can see the faces. I can smell the street fires, bodily waste, and spices. I can feel the weight of my 65 liter pack and the surrounding spiritual heaviness. The anger arises, for the injustice burdens my spirit yet again from this high-rise table against the coffee shop window in the western world. I sense the entrapment of the youth, widowed, street merchants, and stray dogs. I look into their eyes as I look into this screen.

Stephanie May

Gypsy village, Romania *

The cycling scenes continue. They’ve actually never stopped. I see them everyday. Not a day creeps by that I don’t reflect on each and every nation. This extraordinary excursion to far-off places has already been lived, but it lives on in this brain every single day.

I can hardly deny these seemingly dubious occurrences. Friends, they happened. And I’m reminded tonight…tonight as I sit down to write on this anniversary.

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Safari, Ruaha Nat. Park *

And even with so many varied memories and recollections, there always seems to be one memory which is in my limelight. Tonight, the forefront is occupied by a particular scene taking place in November of 2011. It was another warm, Nepal afternoon in a surrounding village. I can’t tell you where I was located. It was somewhere in the southern region along the border of India. My team and I had traveled quite a distance to get there from our base town of Haripur. Right now, I’m going back to the rickety shack and my eyes begin to swell. I’m there. Dirt, brown skin, bare feet, crowds, goats, and six white, young Americans.

Before I delve into the story, let me describe where I am today. It’s late July of 2013. I look out the coffee shop window for the hundredth time. This time, there is angst. My eyes follow a gentleman in about his sixties whose left arm is linked into the arm of a younger, stalwart man. He’s edging along sluggishly with little hope of making it across the intersection before the light turns. My medical switch (if I have one) turns on and I try to evaluate why he’s moving so slowly. A lot goes through my head before I catch the problem. One of his legs is clearly shorter than the other. His left sneaker has a distinctly higher sole…by no less than six inches.

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Nepal *

And so, it was autumn in Nepal. The women’s vibrantly colored, flowing clothing made the blue sky even bluer. After the pastor explained why we were there and what were doing, a man from the recently flocked crowd urgently rushed toward us, his young daughter cradled in his bony arms. My team and I were shifting our heads back and forth, awaiting an explanation as the man and the pastor conversed. Soon, the pastor nodded his head and helped the girl wobble up to a make-shift wooden platform. As she plopped down, I saw the situation. One of her legs was noticeably shorter than the other. Immediately, we were asked to pray. Wes, KayLynn, Christian, Stephanie, Kacie, and I each placed a hand on her leg and simultaneously spoke out in a chorus of petition. This was a first for us…praying for healing so boldly during ministry. We had no other option. This was why we came, after all – to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Then, I remember sweet Kacie praying a valiant prayer. What happened next was both astonishing and slightly predictable. We watched as the delighted little village girl arose and walked, unhindered down the wide, dusty path. The pastor called her back up to the platform. I was still taking it all in when I looked down at her petite, outstretched legs. If I needed any more confirmation of the miracle it was right in front of me. Her legs were of identical length.

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*

Indubitably, I think of that specific miracle, here on this night in northern Virginia because of that gentleman.

And of course, I wonder. I wonder why things are different here. I wonder why they’re colorless in comparison.

And then I think deeper into how I’m living my life. It’s a simple question that if I’m honest, I often never fully answer. God is still here. He never changes. He can move.

I’m here too. I’m here in this charming, yuppie little city of Alexandria. I live a few miles away from Washington where people are climbing their ladders of success. I run in the morning. I work long days. And like tonight, I sip coffee in the evenings in places like this, dreaming and planning for what will come next.

Transitions. We all have them. They seem to make up our lives. On this evening, I’m urged to do something, anything. I’m urged to pray more, to increasingly listen, to walk closer. And even more than these constituents, I’m urged to do more.

There are people all around. So, while we’re waiting for the next big thing, let’s do something. And let’s not fret about what that big thing thing may be. Who knows? That very thing might be a dream waiting to unfold right in front of us.

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As I sit here in yet another coffee shop on a rainy evening in the comfort of my new hometown, I come to terms with this concept again. I watch the cars, busses, and taxis pass by on the wet streets alongside brick sidewalks lined with chic storefronts.

I want in, here in America. I want to do things and stop the incessant dreaming. I don’t want to stop dreaming altogether, but it mustn’t override the miracles that can happen.

Maybe one day, I’ll consider my time in Virginia the greatest adventure . . . greater than any near-death experience under fierce rapids in Africa.

It’s scary…going out on a limb for the things of God, for advancing His kingdom where we are. But His perfect love is promised to diminish every last ounce of our fear. Let’s take each day, one day at a time. Let’s see what’s around us. Let’s stop dreaming and live His promises for us, for others . . . today.

Let’s see His power at work, here by His Spirit.

*Photos by Stephanie May

Get Your Blood Pumping

Every morning, I curl op on the couch and read with two-year-old Amelia before her morning nap. I treasure these few moments. Not only do I get to memorize large segments of renowned classics such as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” but I am able to try out all of my “best” voices. Sometimes I even contribute additional sound effects. This usually depends on my morning coffee intake. My audience likes these complimentary add-ins, I think.

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This little girl is simply too adorably charming. She is captured by stories, the twists and turns. She always comprehends more than I think her young mind can handle. Her facial expressions when the wolf chomps up the Gingerbread Man or Cinderella marries Prince Charming are endearing. An aside: For the past few weeks, she’s been walking around saying, “I marry you, Rissa.” She scours for beaded necklaces in her toy bin (I’m not sure when they replaced rings) and requests that we dance. Then, we’re deemed “married.”

Before I tell a thousand more stories about this darling girl, I will write about one particular thing she has been doing. This one thing has got me thinking.

Yes, we still read “The Grinch” in the summertime. I would vouch to say it’s her favorite book. Recently, she’s also been pulling “Jack and the Beanstalk” off the shelf. Some of the current library books include “Edward in the Jungle” and “999 Tadpoles.” They’re all cute reads. Ah, ok… they “were” cute first few times we read them. Now, I have developed an aversion. Like I said, I’ve memorized much of Dr. Suess’ Christmas story. Too much is too much, but I continue to fake enthusiasm. We read these books time and again. And at the close of every story, Amelia does something peculiar. Thumbing backwards through the book with her little fingers, she asserts, “I want this page again.” These are the precise pages she chooses…

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-His little reindeer dog, Max, and the Grinch are on the verge of slipping off the snowy cliff in their ramshackle sleigh.

-The giant is chasing Jack down the beanstalk after Jack has obsconded the harp.

-Edward is about to be gobbled up by a crocodile in the make-believe jungle behind his family’s farm.

-A slew of the baby frogs have innocently hopped onto a sleeping snake. Father frog is wide-eyed in the distance, about to lose his marbles.

Are you sensing the theme? She chooses that particular point in the story where the conflict has hit its height. I suppose these are the conflicts. Maybe they are the climaxes. I used to have to make those story line plots in English classes. It’s been years and I probably need a refresher. Either way, Mia always wants to go to the page that makes her put her hands over her eyes. She peers through her fingers as I re-read.

Conflict. Conflict breeds excitement. Whether that excitement is pleasurable or detestable, it is sure to make life intriguing and the blood pumping.

We see it in movies and read about it in books. We observe it in our communities. We, ourselves live through it.

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Without conflict, our world would be dull. Our lives would now breed great boredom.

Much conflict is wished and prayed away, rightfully so. Most of it is harder than hard. Sickness, financial instability, and relationship dilemmas are never sought after.

I wish conflict away. I avoid it at all costs. In the second grade, my teacher named me the peace maker of the class. This is a seemingly honorable quality. In the same respect, it’s gotten me into a bit of trouble. Throughout my life, I’ve seen a pattern. Since my note-passing days in elementary school, keeping peace has still been high on my daily agenda. And it’s more than keeping peace with my girlfriends. I admit that I do my best to avoid conflict. When it somehow finds its way into my life…in whatever fashion, I dismiss it. I pretend it’s not there. I walk out the door, purchase a cup of coffee, and force myself to be side-tracked by indulging in a new book. I wish it away…

Problems come and go. The good Lord gives and takes away. And He urges us to remain thankful through it all. Even so, my thankful state has become a guise for avoidance.

The devil sneaks in, but we ought to remain strong in faith. Even if we must put our hands over our faces, we need to turn to that page, reading through the scary predicaments. He has things to teach us. What if we “truly lived” through conflict? What if we truly dealt with it in the way He would have us? What if we sucked every morsel of knowledge and truth, unafraid of disturbing the littlest remaining peace?

I am going to out out on a limb and a branch and say that it could bring immeasurably more peace. In sweeping the problems in my life under the rug, I miss out on a lot.

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I want to face them and live a meaningful, rich story…even better than those in the story books. I’m not saying I want to particularly love hard times. I just want to tackle them well. Conflict produces refinement.

And we know the truth. In all things, we take heart. He has indeed overcome the world. We can do all things THROUGH HIM who strengthens us, who never leaves or forsakes us.

The Labor of God

A few years ago, I spent a month in Mexico on my second mission trip. As I think about it, it has been more than a few years. I am growing up. I am getting old.

The year was 2007 and I was 19. I was experiencing a “spiritual high.” The weeks of traveling and ministering were over. My intern class was spending a day exploring some beautiful waterfalls before driving back through the Mexican country, Texas, New Mexico, and finally, Colorado.

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I was experiencing one of my well-remembered “spiritual highs.” Better put, I had fallen in love with God in the deepest of ways up to that point. I had seen the truth of who He is in action. I saw a glimpse of what would be a journey to the furthest corners of the world. Still, I was uncertain. I didn’t know what to do or where to go in the spring after I graduated from the leadership academy.

God gave some words to my younger self on that precise day.

Swimming in ginormous, aqua pools of water. Surging waterfalls surrounding. Daring young men swinging from vines.

I was watching friends being baptized when He spoke. The dense jungle engulfed that particular pool and all was silent.

He said to my distressed little self, “Just say yes. I will take care of the rest.”

Just say “yes.”

I’ve been trying to respond to life with that “yes” ever since. Sometimes I succeed. More often, I fail.

You see, saying yes boils down to trusting. God’s labor, His charge to us is abiding in His exceedingly wonderful presence.

I’m not condoning laziness. I’m not discounting the fight against apparent battles.

He’s impressed upon me that working hard and fighting for Truth are essential in this brief life. These are obvious. But above these duties, we must adhere to a completely opposite acknowledgement. We must STOP trying.

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His yoke is indeed easy and His burden is truly light.

It’s so cool. He’s so cool. There are more words, better words to describe. But for right now, excuse my apathy in vocabulary. He’s legit.

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Let us step into this rest. Let us jump into uncertainty knowing He certainly takes care of everything when we say, “yes.”