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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This Is Home

So, apparently no one at home knows anything about my life unless I tell them about it. Weird, right? I’ve decided to start writing more about both significant events and the day-to-day hum drum of life. And maybe just give a quick review of the last few months…

So, I started working at The Bridge in July, right? We moved into our new building (The Bridge’s first building to call its own since its founding in 2004) in November, and it’s been a party ever since!


By the way, that's my head directly in the middle.

And It only took me 3 months to get my picture and professional blurb submitted to the website.



"The Bridge! This is Reagan, how can I help you?" Reagan graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a B.S. in psychology in January 2010 and started working at The Bridge that July. Her roles include office administration, working with the youth, and heading up the Bridge Brew coffee project. She loves a good theological discussion and hanging out at Starbucks, and you could probably find her doing both at the same time when she's not in the office. In addition to being a Jesus and coffee enthusiast, her passions include quoting Elf, updating her Twitter, and correcting your grammar.”

Here is the office where I do all my administrating:

That's my computer screen in the bottom right corner.

This is the youth group with which I volunteer on Thursday nights and lead a small group for high school girls:

Here is the coffee of the project I am heading up:

And here is the Starbucks where you can find me 3-9 hours of the week:

I currently live in the basement of a lady named Lisa. She is a professor at Anderson University, a member of The Bridge, and one of the leaders of Celebrate Recovery (a Christ-centered 12-step recovery program offered at The Bridge and many other churches – for anyone with a hurt, habit, or hang up. I have those, so I go.). She also has 2 daughters.

This is a vertically-positioned panoramic (sort of) view of where I live right now:



But soon I will be returning to my original basement at the home of Reagan and Andrea, the worship arts director and children’s ministry director (respectively) at The Bridge. They have 3 wonderful children and a lovely home.

My week sometimes includes going to Zumba with my friends Kylee (family life pastor at The Bridge, married to Phil – high school pastor at The Bridge) and Libby (2nd grade teacher, married to Gabe – middle school pastor at The Bridge). Zumba is a dance workout that is neat/hard. But I only go about twice a month, so I wouldn’t really know.

Thankfully, this picture is a misrepresentation. There are rarely any guys who attend. And I wear a whole shirt.

Things are going pretty well with Bridge Brew coffee. All in all, my basic dream in progress is this: The Bridge Brew coffee house will easily stand out and attract people – people who may not otherwise enter the doors of a church. It will be another tool The Bridge can use to be “all things to all men,” as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22. A coffee house is a classic respite for those who want to relax, share, connect, and develop deeper relationships: a community living room. Bridge Brew will certainly be a place for those things, but it will also be a tool for outreach. We want to use profits to foster ministries already offered at The Bridge. Eventually, we would love to offer some free skills classes, Christian education classes, and/or counseling services that people can attend while enjoying their beverages. We want it to be a place for people to feel safe and loved. Because, really, we don’t want it to be just about the coffee, but about Jesus and the expansion of His kingdom.

I feel pretty out of my element trying to create a vision and plan for a business, but God has really blessed it (and me) with people who actually know what they’re doing. A guy named Bill, who is married to Marcia (the video coordinator at The Bridge), has roasted his own coffee for the last 6 years or so and was eager to jump on board as the official “roastmaster.” Donette and Sonny and their family, my relatives in Connecticut, graciously donated an espresso machine and many other coffee house items and pieces of equipment. And now Natalie, the owner of Mounds Mall in Anderson, wants to somehow partner Bridge Brew with her coffee shop, Maxine’s (which would help significantly with our funding). So basically, I haven’t done a thing, and things are running pretty smoothly!

[Begin shameless plug.] We have been selling 14 oz bags of fresh-roasted, fair trade, organic Bolivian coffee at church each Sunday for $7. People are all about it, and it’s been fun getting to connect with some other coffee lovers. If you are interested in buying some… let me know! [End shameless plug.]

So, what are my plans for the future? you ask. I don’t know. Right now, I want to stay in Anderson until I decide not to stay in Anderson anymore. It may depend a lot on how Bridge Brew is doing, or I may hand that off to someone else and pursue an actual career. I’ve wanted to go to seminary for awhile, and I could do that AU for a significantly lower price while working at The Bridge. I love learning and theology, but I don’t have a practical vision for that yet. I’ve also thought about going into teaching, which I’ve wanted to do for many years. So I may go to school up here and get certified. But I may not. This topic has hoarded a lot of my stress for the past couple of months, so I’m trying to make it a matter of prayer rather than one of worry. Like I’ve said so many times before, I’ve seen God do the impossible and unexpected in the midst of my planlessness… or when my plans get screwed up. I don’t expect anything less now. I’d just rather do the right thing the first time. In any case, for now, this is home.

Alright, I think that about covers it for the time being. You’re welcome, family – now you won’t have to ask any more questions!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dirty

This comes from one of my favorite blogs, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, in her post "The VWM gets censored.... kinda..." It talks about the divisions within the Church, the dysfunction of the body, the refusal to live up (or rather, "live down to") to what Christ created it to be. It's a refreshing and convicting picture of Truth.

I’ve always felt that part of the problem with the church is that is has no feet. We are a giant, wobbly, disjointed body with no feet. If we were a real person, there would be a documentary about our hideous existence. And the freaks that like documentaries about that kinda stuff (me included) would Netflix it, and watch in stunned silence because it would be so totally grotesque to see the Church, all deformed and lumpy, and barely able to speak with her own mouth because even her lips were at odds with each other. We would find out that she was indeed born with feet, but that she hated the idea of any part of her body getting dirty so she used her hands to chop them off. With her misshapen head lagging off to one side, she would slur that she tried for years to make her feet act more like hands, but that they were always a mess, always covered in filth. And even though it was their job to touch the ground, to stand in the dirt, even though they were designed for that, it made the rest of her body so uncomfortable that she let her hands whack ‘em off. Then the feet would come into focus in the background, severed, and floating loosely in a pickle-jar behind her, doing no good for anyone...

Where is my love? What is this pride?

Are you afraid to get dirty?

I am.

I keep trying to picture what it would look like for me to be a truly humble person. But I guess that's where I keep going wrong. Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest write all the time on how the truly humble person never thinks about being humble. He simply walks in the footsteps of Jesus.

And Jesus got dirty.

Photo found here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hosanna (2)

Eyes be opened.
Christ is revealed.

Photo found here.

Some days, I feel like it's all I can do to keep my eyes open - to see what God is doing. Not what He did yesterday or what He will do tomorrow or what He may do by this time next year, but right now.

Eyes, be opened!

I've found that Christ often reveals Himself to me in conversation with other people. I love "talking Jesus" with those who know Him well, who have found peace in the midst of their own struggles of life or theology. He reveals Himself to me when I'm wrong. When I'm shocked once again at my own arrogance. When Francis Chan metaphorically punches me in the face with phrases like, "If I really believed that God 'sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,' why do I do anything other than pray?"

But some days are valley days.

Hosanna. Save, I pray. A cry for salvation.

Eyes, be opened! Salvation is already here!

Christ is revealed. So why am I still looking?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hosanna (1)

Today, my heart is a little heavier than usual. There is just a lot of suffering in this world. This isn't news to anyone. Over the last couple of weeks, though, I have felt overwhelmed with the pain just within The Bridge congregation. Broken families. Impending death. Seemingly small decisions that turned worlds upside down. The burden of those in ministerial leadership - feeling the need to carry the weight of those who depend on them. The knowledge and understanding that I could never pray enough. I can't do anything. I am the helpless, leading the helpless.

"Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am, for Your kingdom's cause."

Photo found here.

Hosanna, yes. God has been doing incredible things in my life. But there is a time to mourn. That time is now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Right as Rain

As is my usual Wednesday routine, I am hanging out at Starbucks before Celebrate Recovery at 7 tonight.


This is me and Marcia at Starbucks. She wanted to put a straw in her hot beverage just so we could take this picture. What a team player.

I worked this morning, mostly alone, which was actually really nice. And there was a thunderstorm, which was also really nice.


This is not a picture of the office after it rained, but I once took a picture of a place after it rained, and I really liked it. This is the picture that I took and I really liked.

It's been a great week so far. I'm learning to be content, to appreciate, to say thanks. To be excited about the future without the accompanying feeling of anxiety. It's refreshing. It helps that I have a new book to read.


I'll be honest, though - I hate that I love it.

I'm getting really excited about The Bridge coffee business that is currently in the works. We want to start roasting and bagging our own coffee and then grinding and selling it on Sunday mornings to start raising money for the shop itself. Things should start happening in the next few weeks. We are, however, still trying to come up with a creative/clever name that doesn't include the word "grounds"...




...Groundsy Grounds...

Suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.

My residence has changed in the past couple of weeks, and it's been a great transition. Not that I didn't enjoy living with the former family, but there's something that's kind of fun about living with a bunch of single women (specifically, a mother and her 2 teenage daughters) again. It makes me miss my college roommates, though. I've done a little decorating in my new room/cave, and it really is feeling like home.

Speaking of feeling like home, it's fun to recognize people in Starbucks now. Since there are no legitimate coffee shops in Anderson, this place is sort of the hub of Anderson pastors. There's an older pastor - always in slacks and a tie - who frequently meets with his parishioners here. He must come here almost everyday. He walked up to me once while I was reading The Shack and commented on what light summer reading that must be. Friendly guy. But I really ought to start learning the names of the baristas, considering how many samples of Via concoctions they've served me.

Things are going well. God is faithful. He consistently and graciously reminds me that there is no need to be anxious about the future - to be thinking and planning, yes, but not to feel overwhelmed. To cast it on Him.

Last week, I was airing up one of my tires at a gas station, and a young man in fatigues walked up to me and offered to change it because it looked flat. Since I'm a helpless female and those kinds of things, I obviously let him. We made a little small talk, and I learned that he was 24, had been in Iraq, and had lupus. I asked him if he went to church around here, and after a pause and an interesting look, he told me he used to go but hadn't for awhile. He said he'd gotten some questions answered recently, though, and he may go back. I was a sheep and didn't ask any more questions, but I told him where I worked and when we had our Sunday services. I've been praying for him ever since. I never even got his name. But it would be incredible to see him there. To witness what God does in his life. To be a part of the work.

That's it for today. Hope all is well for you, wherever you are and whatever you do.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Shall Be Released

I'm trying to develop a more "it's whatever" attitude toward life. Not that I want to be apathetic and aloof, I just want to stop freaking out about everything. A coworker said it best when she observed how much of her time she spends being crazy. It's my J(udging) on steroids.

On the other hand, another coworker wondered aloud today what it would be like to see me get excited about something.

I wasn't excited about coming back to Anderson after being in Oklahoma for a week. I loved being in a place that was familiar--safe--where I didn't need to be in charge of anything or accountable to anyone. Where I could just breathe. And be. Where I really could be "it's whatever." I came back feeling really detached and... alien. Frustrated. But the week has gotten better and easier each day, and once again I am adapting and becoming content with someplace "new."

Today I realized that, in the last 13 months, I have "lived" in 4 different states: Alaska, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Indiana. That's sort of a big deal, right?

We had our Bridge staff retreat Wednesday and Thursday this week. We went to a lake house that had 3 balconies and a pontoon boat. I learned how to knee board. I talked about how I hated looking ridiculous. I decided that I wanted to make my job more meaningful than taking messages and writing reports. I don't really know what that looks like right now, but I do know that acknowledging the problem is the first step.

I don't have much to say for this week. Maybe next week will bring profound new revelations.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Home

Well, it's Wednesday again. I'm currently (1) in Oklahoma (2) missing my Snuggie. It's always so cold in my house.

And, just in case anyone was curious, I DID put a hurt on a few Johnnie's onion rings... and a lot of other food. To make this post a little more interesting/colorful, I have decided to include pictures that I didn't take.



I also didn't order that entree, but it looks pretty good, doesn't it? They have the best cheese...

Anyway, I have also done a lot of sleeping.



I sleep in a bed--I just really liked this picture. And it really resonated with my faux-Asian heritage.

My mom and I have been watching a lot of this show.


We got each other all 10 seasons for Christmas! We were very surprised.

I have also been visiting little babies: my cousin Griffin (3 months) and best friend's son Joel (4 weeks). These are not them:


This evening, I caught a glimpse through the window of the most spectacular sunset I had ever witnessed. I quickly jumped in my car and drove the mile or so to the lake by our house. It had the most incredible pinks, oranges, and golden yellows... breathtaking. I couldn't get any good pictures in time, but it may have looked a little like this:



This Saturday night is the Taylor Family Shindig, in honor of my homecoming and the first-of-the-season game of our favorite team:


On Monday, I return to the world of 30 mph roads and being the church office mom... But things will be good there, too. Any maybe I'll even be ready for it. But, for now, I'm content to soak up as much time as I can with the fam and continue eating more than my poor tummy can handle. I'll regress to and turkey sandwiches and Ramen Noodles when the time comes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grace's Amazing Hands

Today isn't too unusual, as far as Wednesdays go. Except for the fact that I drank coffee in the morning. I usually don't drink coffee in the morning. I would rather be moved gently and soothingly into a state of wakefulness by a cup of hot tea, not punched in the face by a cup of coffee. But today I opted to be punched in the face, and I never looked back.

Photo found here.

This week has been marked by a beautiful state of acceptance. Acceptance of what was, is, and is to come. An acceptance that drives me to move forward and to do so with grace. It's nice to be friends with reality, for once.

I read a devotional yesterday that talked about seeing the big picture as a mountain. If we get too focused or discouraged by each individual cleft or foothold--however insurmountable they may seem--we forget the glory of the summit we are to overcome. Each hurt, habit, and hangup is only a stepping stone to the blessing to come; the fulfillment of the promise that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil 1:6).

Photo found here.

I can honestly say that I'm really excited to see what God is going to do--for the glorious redemption of the ridiculousness of the present. I can feel something brewing. Maybe it was that coffee this morning (HA). Maybe it's a stirring in the innards of my soul. I don't know. I can see His fingerprints in so many different areas right now, and I know they will only become more apparent the more I keep my eyes open. I think the key is to always be looking.

In other news, and on a much less spiritual note, I will be making the long trek down to Oklahoma on Saturday. I'm starting to freak out a little bit, as I've never driven by myself for more than 5 hours. And this trip will be at least 12. So say a little prayer for me, if you remember. But I am really excited to be home for a week, despite the drive. It will be great to see everyone again. So, next time I update this, I'll probably be drinking a Sonic cream slush and putting a hurt on some Johnny's onion rings. Mmm.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Say Thanks

I'm going to try to start blogging more often. The more I write (and the more people tell me how awesome I am at it), the more I enjoy it. And the less I have to verbally update everyone on how things are going. The less small talk, the better.

Today I am going to write "thank you" notes for my graduation cards/gifts/money. Those kinds of things always feel like a chore, and I often wonder how much they actually mean to the people who receive them. But I'm also reminded of how ungrateful I usually am. About everything. So quick to chastise God about not turning all the stoplights green; so slow to even acknowledge that He gave me the ability to wake up this morning. This is a pretty cliche epiphany about which to write, but it's important nonetheless.

I have a friend who writes "thank you" notes all the time. She thanks God for beautiful days, her sunglasses for their reprieve from the sun, and her grandpa for reminding her that she is able to bear children. I feel like I would never have the time or energy (or desire) to go that far, but it's an attitude I'd like to adopt. Who knows, though. Maybe one of these days I'll decide to do that too. Baby steps.

Thank you, Starbucks barista, for making my drink (almost) just right.
Thank you, sun, for giving us a break today.
Thank you, "thank you" notes, for challenging me to do more of being grateful and less of not being grateful.

Also, here are the cards I almost picked...


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Keep Breathing

Sometimes life is dumb. But God always stays with you in His dealings. Stay in it. Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Even when you can’t see the finish line.


“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”

Psalm 77:19


God has a purpose for each and every seemingly hopeless experience. Sometimes His way takes us through the valley of the shadow of death; sometimes He simply allows us to lead ourselves there. But He works it all together. All of it. Redeeming each and every broken and limping step it takes to make it to the end. For His glory; for our good. The struggle isn’t pretty. The fruit of it is beautiful beyond measure.

Keep breathing. Hang tight; live with open hands. The battle is the Lord’s.

Photo found here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Not) Swallowed in the Sea

That's the song I was humming as I clicked "New Post." Not much to tell about it yet, but maybe it will tie in once I wrap this up.

I'm currently sitting outside Starbucks, sipping an iced soy toffee nut latte, and skimming over my Xanga entries from 2004. It's been a good and crazy ride over the past six years. Thankfully, I don't wear my heart on my WorldWideWebbed sleeve as much as I used to. Unthankfully, I don't record the details of my life as often as I once did, so I have to rely on longterm memory (which is always an unreliable reconstruction, as cognitive psych will tell you) in order to let everyone know what I've been up to.

So, a lot has changed in the last month. I decided to stay in Anderson until at least December and be the receptionist at The Bridge Community Church. I quit working at the daycare. I'm single. I have the opportunity to head up the coffee shop "planting" in our church's new building. My best friend had a baby. I finally tried a Ricker pop.

I feel like I should explain, so the story is this. The Bridge staff offered me a job, and I saw an opportunity to do things I was passionate about. Not things for which I needed a college degree, but things I know I enjoy and can do well. It's funny, because I remember talking to a few of them at the beginning of the summer... They asked me questions like "What do you want to do with your life?" and "What are you passionate about?" I remember explaining that I wanted to get paid to do all the random things in ministry that have no job title: help behind the scenes, lead small groups for youth girls, etc. And now I'm getting paid to do those things. I saw this opportunity as an open door to help out with things the church needs - things no one else has time to take care of: organization around the office (something that's been lacking for the past few years) and connection within the youth groups (small group ministry). A lot of the things I do right now seem miniscule and tedious, but I think things are improving in the big picture. And it's great to be a part of it. The people at this church ARE the true Church. They live out love. They take interest. They say words, and they mean them. I'm learning how much I don't really love people... and they're showing me how to love them. It's humbling and life-changing, and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. AND I get to help run a coffee shop in a church, which is a whole other dream and blessing in itself.

It's all a little overwhelming, but it's all awesome. And God is redeeming all the changes, transitions, accomplishments, failures, and things in between. And it's beautiful, and infuriating, and glorious to be proven wrong once again. More than anything, it's a blessing to be able to talk to other people about it. For them to look at me with admiration/wonder/skepticism ("you're not dating Joel, but you're staying anyway?"), and for me to be able to tell them how incredible God has been through it all. How, as Lisa Pay puts it, "He graciously orchestrates train wrecks" in order to bring us to our knees. How I'm learning what faith looks like. How I really believe that this is where I'm supposed to be. How, at least for today, I've "arrived." And it's really cool.

And I'll definitely be ready for tomorrow's changes when tomorrow comes. No, I never aspired to be a church secretary. And no, I don't believe this is my life's ultimate calling. But today, this is where I am. And for today, that is all I need to know.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lost?

I feel like I only ever write when I'm frustrated with my life. Maybe that's the norm. I've spent most of the day alone, which is refreshing every once in awhile. I'm an introvert, so "being still" with myself/God/a book/seasons of LOST on DVD is my time to recharge. But it also gives me a lot of time to think.

Over this last month in Anderson, I've been doing a lot of thinking. I think a lot anyway, so that's not unusual. And I've met a lot of people here who try to help me think more clearly. And that really is a blessing. But I still feel as directionless/tired/ineffective as I have for the last year, and that's really frustrating. More than one person has told me that God has me in this (metaphorical) place for a reason. I'm a planner, so the only way for me to start to living by faith is to have my plan slowly and painfully pried from my aching fingers. And gosh darnit (I try to say cuss words only in my head), it is painful.

I've started attending Celebrate Recovery at The Bridge Community Church here in Anderson. It's a group of people who gather together for worship and a time of personal sharing. It's pretty neat to see people gather together and be real about who they are and what they're going through. As I have begun to share what's going on in my life, I have found that I live in a lot of fear and need to control. (This is as recurring theme in my posts, I've noticed.) And it's not like I'm afraid of dying. I'm afraid of the unknown. I'm afraid of failing. I'm afraid of walking into a situation without knowing the sequence of events and the outcome that will ensue. I'm afraid of starting something I shouldn't, or being unable to finish. I'm afraid of being passionate about something I'm no good at, or being good at something I'm not passionate about. I'm afraid of doing something, but I'm afraid of doing nothing. I live in the limbo of mediocrity because I refuse to do anything at all.

I don't want to live like that. And I haven't given up hope. I feel like God has placed certain passions on my heart, but I'm still discovering what those are. I haven't lost my drive to go out and "do stuff." I still want to serve God. I still want to impact lives. I still want to live outside of my own "self." But I am feeling overwhelmed with all that I desire to conquer and even discerning what the first step is.

Honestly, though, today was a good day. I witnessed other people serve and love just because. I sat on a swing in the rain, admiring a beautiful scene of fireflies and the twilight fading into darkness. I was real with God. And I ate cookie dough.

Maybe tomorrow all my deliberation will stop oil spills and save earthquake victims, but not today. And that's okay for now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Better Days

Sometimes you just have those kinds of days. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean.
Those days when everything seems to go wrong.
Those days when you aren't really sure where God is.
Those days when you just aren't really feeling like yourself.
Just those "freaking out" kinds of days.
Yuck.

Here is my haiku in tribute to this less-than-awesome Tuesday.

Tuesday, you were dumb.
I said cuss words in my head.
Better tomorrow?

Praying for discernment and peace. Clinging to 2 Timothy 1:7 - "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." Hoping for the good kind of change. Mustering up the willingness to accept the bad with grace.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jaded

Every now and then, I listen to sermon podcasts. Today, I listened to one by Matt Chandler, the head pastor of one of the Village Church campuses down in Texas. The message was entitled "A Change in Perspective." He talked about the idea found among many churchgoers that there is a sort of "sacred-secular divide" - that God is only concerned with things like church, theology, missions, etc., and that everything else (business, politics, agriculture, art, psychology, etc.) is only of concern to us humans. But Chandler refutes this idea with Scripture such as Genesis 1:28, known as the "cultural mandate": "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it..." He made men to be creators and doers and women to be their helpmates in those tasks. He created the world to function in a certain way, thereby demonstrating his interest and sovereignty over it. Isaiah 28 talks about how God designed agriculture to operate in a certain way; if it is done the wrong way, things won't grow. Romans 2:14-15 discusses how His Law is so prevalent that those who aren't even educated in it tend to live by it: "(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)" The entire book of Proverbs is itself a testament to the wisdom God has imparted to us concerning all things, not just the "sacred." Solomon wrote of wisdom in relation to business, right conduct, good manners, economics, war, etc. 2 Corinthians 10:5 speaks of taking "captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Why shouldn't this include thoughts about education or art? Didn't God create those too? God is the God of everything! He delights in knowledge and beauty and physics. He created those things for us. He wants us to delight in them too.

I'll admit that I have found myself silently judging Christians who major in things like business or fashion or political science - things I wouldn't consider "holy." I have wondered these things about myself as well - was my failure to major in something like ministry or Biblical studies somehow displeased God? Is anything else worthwhile to Him? And I've let myself feel guilty about these kinds of things. I've let lies about God seep into my way of viewing and interacting with Him, turning Him into a frustrated, sighing, legalistic kind of God whose only wish is that I would stop screwing up more stuff. This view has manifested itself in the way I view and do my devotions, my perspective on the purpose of church, etc.

Slowly but surely, however, He is revealing Himself to me in new and profound ways - ways that are freeing rather than oppressive. God doesn't desire that we constantly struggle under the weight of conviction and worry about what He thinks or might do if we turn the wrong way. He wants us to delight in Him and the gifts He has given us. He wants us to use those gifts for His glory. He wants us to live in love and be thankful. And that's the kind of God I want to know better.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Magic Moment

Tonight I had a conversation with a friend (we'll call him Joel) about being "in the moment"--specifically, how to define "in the moment"/when you know you're "in the moment." At first, I really couldn't think of a quality description to give it. It's one of those things that you know you have when you have it; otherwise, you can't quite put your finger on exactly what "it" is. Because no two "in the moment" experiences are the same. You can never really repeat the same one, and you always find it difficult to explain to someone who wasn't there.

After much discussion, we decided that an "in the moment" experience is essentially defined by one word: intimacy. It's that point where you are deeply sharing with someone else, whether it's your feelings, a memorable experience, or basically some kind of meaningful connection.

But you don't have to be with another person to be "in the moment." You can be by yourself watching a sunset--in which case, you'd be experiencing intimacy with nature, God, or even yourself. You're connecting. You're becoming aware of the beauty of creation or of the things that are really valuable to you. You're at peace with the world and with yourself, if only for that brief instant.

I'd really like more of these in my life, I think.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dreams Be Dreams

Sometimes, I realize that I have weird expectations. For example, whenever I come home after being gone for a long time, and I walk into my room, I either expect or sincerely hope there will be some sort of surprise for me on my bed. I can't explain it. But I know my sister does the same thing. I think I'm usually looking for a letter or package. Or something my mom got for me at the store. Regardless of what I think it will be, I always get a little excited to walk in and turn on the light. Obviously, I'm almost always disappointed.

Another expectation of which I've recently become aware is that I will receive some new and previously hidden revelation from God, one that has never before been revealed to mankind in this present age. Not that I want to go start a new denomination or religion or anything, but I do find myself thinking that one day I will have a special epiphany. And I will feel closer to God than ever before. And I will be wise and legitimately able to impart my insight to others. And life will suddenly make sense.

I've "lived in the future" since I was a little kid. I particularly remember reflecting on the significance of important holidays or events, such as Christmas and the Olympics. I always thought, "By this time next [year/Christmas/winter Olympics], I will have [this] and will have done [this]. I will have [this] all figured out, and I won't have to worry about [this] anymore." Or I'll do the same thing with a certain future age. "By the time I'm [this] old, I will be awesome and have it all figured out. I will have arrived." It really isn't healthy. But I think I'm becoming better as I age (now that I have everything figured out, obviously). I was a senior in high school last winter Olympics. Now I'm a "senior" in college. It's crazy to ponder how much has changed since then and how much will change by the time I'm... wow, almost 26. Will I be married? Will I have 2.5 kids? Will I have a dog? Will I still be living at home? Ha. No, but seriously.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lies and Fear Go Hand in Hand

So, I have to be honest. I really don't enjoy blogging. Actually, I really don't enjoy writing. I enjoy the action of copying and pasting all of my wisdom and insight into the blog box and then clicking the button at the bottom that says 'Publish Post.' I don't particularly enjoy editing that particular post 16 times before submitting the final draft, but it does give me a small sense of accomplishment to know that I have just exposed another part of my life and soul to the rest of the world. It's a little freeing, in a way. Being able to be held accountable for the things you say and think. Getting feedback, knowing other people are thinking the same things, or just the fact that other readers now know you a little better than they did 5 minutes ago... These are the things that make writing worth it. At least that's how I convince myself to keep it up.

Lately, I've been thinking about fear. It was the topic of Pastor Dave's sermon on Sunday, and we talked about it again at the college group gathering last night. Fear is something that, when embraced excessively (or obsessively?), leads to a lot of false perceptions and beliefs. These can be delusions about yourself, the danger, or God Himself. I've never really considered myself a 'fearful' person. I'm just realistic. Right?

Over the past few months, I've started to become afraid of more things. Some of this downward spiral has to do with graduating college and desperately searching for the next step. Some of it has to do with unfulfilled dreams and expectations. And some of it has to do with the rose-colored glasses I am slowly but surely learning to remove. One of my biggest fears right is that my life won't be meaningful. That I will be a wallflower forever. That the world will be no different after I am gone. That God will look at me and say, in the words of Francis Chan, "Wow, well done. Well done. You lived the safest life possible. You didn't slip. You didn't fall" (
see the clip here). I don't want to live a life completely void of risk. I want to take chances and make mistakes. I want to witness the seemingly impossible. I don't want to bury my talents. I want to be sent out into the harvest field.

On the other hand, I'm fearful of failure. I don't want to try anything too crazy because I don't want to fail. I don't want to put my heart on the line because I don't want to get hurt. I don't want to say what I really think because I don't want to be criticized. When I want to make myself feel better about being wildly mediocre, I just compare myself to other people who are even more boring than I am. As if I'm trying to justify my wasted breath.

Sometimes I'm afraid of my ability to hear and understand God - that I'll misinterpret what He says to me. Other times, I'm just afraid I'll disappoint Him. Which isn't unusual, really. At other times, still, I'm afraid that God will ask me to do something I don't want to do. Like be homeless. Or eternally celibate. Or a customer service representative. Now, I know God isn't a big, mean bully who just loves to watch us squirm. But this fear is somewhat legitimate. Just think about Moses, when God asked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Or Jesus, when God told him to give up his life. At the same time, though, it's key to remember that God will never move you out of your comfort zone without a greater purpose. He doesn't delight in our misery.

It's a vicious thing, fear. In a way, though, it compels us to flee stagnation. It keeps us from making careless choices. It makes us think about things like meaning and purpose and the character of God. The key is to find the balance. Clearly, I don't know exactly how that's done... But I can take comfort in the fact that God is bigger than my fears. My life is a small and seemingly insignificant blip in the span of eternity, and people have had bigger problems before I came along. And really, even if I screw up, God can work through that too. He won't waste an opportunity to teach me, even if it's in a little less comfortable of a way than I would have preferred.