Sunday, March 30, 2008

on jeanine and friendship

'It's time to go.'

I have said these words before; once upon a time before I left Duvall for the City of Angels. They are hauntingly familiar. A season of my life is quickly coming to an end, and I more than most know what it feels like to buckle up and move forward; I know what it's like to pack up your life in flimsy cardboard and packing tape. I know what it's like to leave ones I love behind and to chase after the future with all that is in me. To be honest, there is always a part of me that is thrilled with the prospect of adventure and with the opportunities of what is to come.

But leaving for me is not so easy this time.

This year has been more up and down for me than most years I can remember; my spiritual life has been fighting for air while the flesh and humanity in me cries out for what is momentary. Jobs have been temporary, friendships I thought were deep at times have proved to be fleeting, and overall there has been an inconsistency that I had never before experienced. Throughout all of that, though, there has been onething that has stayed constant and true, and that is Jeanine.

I usually tend to avoid talking about people by name when I write, because I think usually the lessons learned in life are more important than attributing them to one specific person. But her heart and her character continue to overwhelm what I know as normal or preconceived, so I suppose part of me deems it necessary to recognize that spirit in her; to glorify the woman that I have been blessed to know and live beside this year.

Friendship with me is not always an easy ride, mostly due to my spontaneity and wanderlust, but she took it in stride, and counted it a blessing more often than not to fight my demons alongside me. There were many sleepless nights when I couldn't fight fear any longer and would crawl in bed beside her; there were days when all I needed was a shoulder and a sleeve to cry my heart out on. There were many trying moments; relationships in life fell apart and, more often than not, the plans that I made for my life proved to be futile.

There were all of those things, the tears and difficulties. But above
all else, there was permeating joy. I suppose more than anything I just wanted to remember; to make note in my mind of those everyday moments with her heart that changed me. I never want to forget, you know? I never want to let go of lessons learned and memories made.

Tonight our smiling faces flickered in the glow of candlelight, and our
seemingly dysfuntional family came together, probably the last time before my move, to celebrate one another and to dwell on what is good and beautiful and true, especially in Jeanine. We raised our glasses to friendship and to blessings; to recognizing that true and unconditional love is blind to flaws and wrongdoings. There was laughter, teary eyes, and lessons on packing with aluminum foil instead of newspaper.

This year held so much for both of us; conversations by the light of the fire, flickering shadows on the walls and watching the snow falling in the light outside the sliding doors. There was Christmas in October. There were autumn leaves and Friends marathons, moments of family crisis and spiritual healing. There was decorating for the holidays, our haphazard attempt to tie a tree to the roof of my car; birthdays and hard days, and sometimes they were one and the same. I remember tears and laughter, struggles and victories; I remember lighting candles, and days when my head was heavy and there was a bath drawn for me to wake me up for work that morning. I remember hand-scrawled notes left on my dresser, to remind me that God is good, and that every day is a new beginning.

It is with gladness that I know it is not the end; that I know our story remains unfinished and beautiful in being undone. It is with a smile that I look forward to days to come; that I know the day will arrive when we will 'remember when,' and revisit these times that our lives seemed broken but new. I will miss crawling into bed beside her, and I will miss our neurotic Tessie-dog making sure we are safe from harm. I will miss having someone ready and waiting to hear each new song that I write. But most of all, I will just miss my Jeanine, my constant... my mentor and friend.
I have been blessed with our season, and it is time to go.

There are friendships in life to look back on and only remember the life-changing moments, the hightlights. But there are others still that make the most of the journey; when every day is a highlight and every moment has the potential to be life-changing. I am proud to say that ours is the latter.

I love you J. I can't wait to see where our paths take us.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

on sight and provision

My heart is overflowing, but somehow there aren’t words to say. I wish sometimes that emotions were tangible enough to spell out on paper; that I could take you to where I have been and have you know my heartbeats. It is hard to write your footsteps in black and white, but I have been given a voice, so I will do my best.

Jehovah Jireh.

I have heard the name, had it echo in the walls of my mind, but it has never felt as real to me as it has this week. Jehovah Jireh… the God who sees and provides. I have slowly been learning the different names of God; names that we can use to see him and his heart more clearly. It has been changing the way that I pray; changing the way that I cry out to him in my midnight moments.

He sees. Not only does he see me in my entirety, in all of my faithlessness and brokenness; not only does he see all that, but he loves me regardless and unapologetically. He provides. As if a gruesome death and humiliation weren’t a big enough price to pay; as if unconditional love wasn’t sufficient for my wrongs… He still provides those basic needs that I am coming to appreciate more each day.

Last night, I cried out on my face for direction. For a way to pay my friend for what she has done in my life, for a way to have finances to survive til a paycheck, for a way to know which job I should pursue, and on top of all of that, for a place to live for the summer. I just want what you want for me, God. Help me seek You out and help me follow through.

Throughout today, every prayer was answered without me doing a thing on my own.

Without discussion, two members of my family slipped me enough money to pay my rent and to get me through til a paycheck. Without searching, I had a phone call with a place to live, followed by a text message of encouragement that I was pursuing the right job. I know that my answers will not always be so easily found, but I am so thankful when He is bold in letting me know I am walking the right path.

Great are His ways, and while I will never understand why I am found so priceless by Him, I am finding that it is true. To Him, I am captivating and I am worth it. He is good, even when I doubt, and he is God, no matter where I am at or what I need for the day.

Jehovah Jireh. Saying and singing a name has never been so sweet.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

on an honest prayer

Father, God,
Sometimes I don’t get it. Sometimes I can’t blog, and I can’t find anything more poetic or true than just talking to you. There aren’t any beautiful phrases in my head that could fit this moment perfectly, and you haven’t really given me any random or inspiring subject to bless me or my readers with, like falling snow or puzzling vacuum cleaners. So, here it is.

I don’t get it.

I don’t get any of this life sometimes… I don’t understand the people you have put in my life, or why… I don’t understand why they hurt me sometimes, and why others can be so uplifting. I don’t understand why you would speak different things into the lives of others that I am somehow not let in on. And sometimes, God, it even feels like you have left me out of the loop; like I’m missing something that you intentionally kept from me. I don’t understand why I would feel called to a relationship when the other person wouldn’t; why I would feel chemistry and they would not… and I furthermore don’t understand what I was supposed to learn from any of these trials lately. Did I not seek you out enough? Did I not hand it over to you enough, or was it just a stupid move in general to seek a relationship through the means that I did?

Why? And why do I feel so forsaken?

Why is it so easy for me to slip into faithlessness? Why is it so easy for me to fall back into the same mistakes, when I have asked you to make me a new person, with new desires and new passions? Even when I try my best to let you do your work in my heart and my life, I mess up. And they aren’t new mistakes, they are the same friggin things I have wrestled with my whole life. I just want to be free God! I just want you to make me new, and to take those parts of me that I don’t know how to surrender, and make them beautiful. Yet, every time I have earnestly surrendered my heart to you, genuinely and faithfully, it is swept away by the world again. I would ask ‘is it my doing or yours,’ but I know that somehow the blame rests in me. It is always me, and it always has been.

You say that like a dog returns to its vomit, a man returns to his folly. Why does it have to be that way? Why do I have to keep seeking out this stuff that I have already tasted and experienced; things I already know don’t mesh well with who I am inside? And why are those things still so attractive to me? After every mountaintop, God, you have given me a valley. Or placed me there, whichever way you want to look at it. And now that I am here, and off of my joyride down the hillside, I just don’t want to lose heart. I just don’t want to sink back to the places I have been and the things that have already damaged me.

So would you help me out? Would you give me some hope? Would you point me in the direction I need to go; with finances, relationships, school… I so badly want to be where you want me to be. It is just so hard to get there sometimes or even just to figure out where those places are. Be in my relationships, stay in my heart, and thank you for not giving up on me on night like tonight, when the doubts are creeping in and my relationships and plans seem to be falling apart.

I don’t know a lot, God. But I know that I love you; that I want this thing between you and me to work out, and that I want my life to be for you. I’m for you.

Would you help me live that way, think that way, and breathe that way? Because at this point, that's all I can ask for.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

on lingering snow and mountaintops

At the top of a hill where drifts of snow still linger, my car came to rest.

We didn't know why we had come; maybe it was just to get away from all the noise and flashy lights. It is tiresome sometimes, this fast-paced world we're in. But now the world was at our feet. Senja and I exchanged glances, and rolled down the windows; felt the breeze brush our faces and dance in our hair. Soft sounds from the stereo melted perfectly with that moment. The world of city lights at our feet, and another world of lights in the sky above us.

I live for moments like those.

When I try to count the stars and get lost in the beauty. When the only light is the moon, and staring at the heavens feels like catching a glimpse at the face of God. When you have a friendship that is deep enough for silence, and real enough to know that sometimes there aren't words to speak.

I am blown away when I open my eyes to the wonder around me. That I know the Creator of it all intimately, and, more impressive, that He knows me better than I know myself. He knows my fears, my loves, my passions and my struggles. And the stars in the sky? That number I can't count to because I run out of fingers and toes? Those are the number of His thoughts about me.

It's always hard to leave a mountaintop in your life. I whispered to God that I would like the superhuman ability to stay in this moment forever; to stretch myself out under the expanse of sky and rest in knowing He made it all. But softly in my mind, I heard Him whisper that it was time to go.

I'm starting to realize that most of our lives will be lived in the valleys below; that mountains will be hard to reach and I might not always end up standing on top of the one I planned to scale. But I think He gives us mountaintops to prepare us for the valleys and the shadows; gives us glimpses of the Heaven that is our Home so we know what we are fighting for.

I wanted to linger a little more; to be surrounded by the traces of snow that are fighting the spring and to feel God brush my face in a breeze again.

But He's calling. And it's time to move forward.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

on praising in the storm

My cries broke the silence.

There was a plea in my heart for another way… another way that somehow the plans I had for my life could succeed, despite the Godly hesitancy and the reasons why… or in this case, why not.

A nearly empty room, my legs tucked under me in an armchair… back at home in my parents’ house, the familiar being twisted around the unfamiliarness of that night. I buried my face in a blanket, and cried out loud:

God, what happens when I don’t understand You? When I want to encourage and nothing I can do gets through? What happens when the desires of my heart are not what You have for me, even though maybe they could be good for a season? What happens when my job feels like a train wreck, my education is a joke and what hope I have for relationships sometimes doesn’t match up with Yours? What happens now, God? You said you would give me the desires of my heart. And tonight, I am not getting what my heart wants and longs for. I know Your plan is bigger than mine, and that you can see the horizon better than I can… but why would you bless me with something for a season only to take it away? Why struggles and why pain? Why can’t I make sense of any of this, even though I’m seeking You?

I think more than anything, God wants our honesty; our open prayers and questioning, our fears and our failures and our beauty. I spent the week with an amazing friend, who mentioned this morning that without some of his struggles and ongoing issues in life, that he would turn to God less. That in a crazy way, he can be thankful for those things he wrestles with; that if we never struggled, and if life were perfect on its own, we would have a more incomplete picture of who God is. I think that is beautiful and true.

In some ways I am learning to be thankful for the things that turn me back to face the right direction, and the One who is Direction. To have joy in the midst of whatever is going on inside of me, whether or not my heart is in pain. I am thankful for all I am learning, and all that He is teaching me through others; thankful for joy and hope, even when they seem fleeting and out of my grasp. I am thankful for weeks like this one, when I am drained emotionally and physically, and when my heart is tired. When I am drawn to look at the goodness of my God; at the way He waits to hold me in the midst of nights like these.

I am thankful that I am incomplete; that the beauty of me and my life is that we are both being pieced together more each day.

There is tomorrow. If nothing else, I can rest in that.