Come at me, bro!

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

-James 1:4

Endurance. It’s a word that’s been fluttering in my heart of late, and a lesson I believe I’m in the midst of learning. I guess it’s a lifelong lesson. It often comes with setbacks, and things not going as you’d hoped or planned. Lately, life’s been throwing challenges at me, screaming “Come at me Bro!” and it’s been interesting, to say the least. My responses have varied, all the way from cowering into a corner, to giving up and giving in to cynicism, to shoving the challenge back at Life’s face.  It’s been emotionally tiring I suppose, the responding (or lack thereof), and it’s felt like a constant fight.

Speaking to a really good friend of mine the other day, we sat and mused aloud about our lives, laughing at the situations we both find ourselves in. One of the comments was that no wonder God doesn’t tell us everything about our lives all at once. Because if He’d told me about some of the things I’m experiencing now, I probably would’ve tapped out (let’s be honest) and asked Him to skip this lesson. 

The fight is CHOOSING to endure. Choosing joy in the midst of darkness, choosing hope in the midst of hopelessness, and choosing LIFE, when things around you are dying. The fight is choosing to fully engage with the life I have- with its complications and pain, and choose GRACE in the midst of that. That grace is a strange place where God is taking me by the hand and navigating me through the mire of life. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing. But there WILL be fruit from this, He promises.

Along the way, I must say- I see now more than ever how good things take a long time. Good (by good, I should clarify, I mean something strong and whole- something that is not easily shaken, and that will bring life) is not built in a day. It’s built in the persevering, in choosing joy in the midst of hopelessness, and in my response to the things life throws at me. The more I’m stretched now, and the better I bounce back and recover, the more I can endure in the future. According to the book of James, this produces maturity. I want me some of that. I am more and more convinced that my responses to the things that happen in life are perhaps more important than the incidences themselves.   

Life will throw it’s challenge at me, and it’s still yelling “Come at me Bro,” in the background of everything I do. I’ve pretty much decided that no matter what, I’m gonna yell right back.

I’m coming.

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Adventure

Your adventure is a thing of glory that stretches out across the sky, for all eyes to behold and be encouraged, energized.

This adventure is prone to uncertainties and lies of inadequacies that you come and trump with Your truth-giving light. But it’s in the turning of these corners, these unknowns and heart-wrenching mountain climbs that I see the truth: Your wild heart, Your mysterious beauty in the treasures You sweetly set out on my path for me to find, to stumble upon, and to taste and see that Goodness is Your middle name.  A name You’re giving to me; a name You’ve drawn on my hand and have fiercely called out of me.

Goodness this indeed will be, and in this goodness in me- others will see something much bigger than I ever dreamed I could carry- pieces of You that come flooding out of me like riverbanks too full to be contained.

And I’ll bubble and burst forth Your song, and it’ll be for the healing of nations, and a balm to soothe gaping wounds.

This goodness is a fruit to be tasted, and all our senses will be opened- so that all will see, and all will hear of the glory of this story that You’re penning right in front of me.  It’ll speak right back to the story You’ve been scripting long before this song You called me to sing.

So while I watch and wait for this story to unfold, I’ll be sitting, and I’ll watch the flowers spring up all around me, and I’ll be singing my song to You, and listening, and watching as You paint me a picture to live in- and this is Your song to me. 

A thing of beauty

There’s a beauty that seeps out of the sadness of letting something beautiful go. A bittersweet catalyst for a move you couldn’t conjure up. Maybe this is how you let your faith live, truly live, come alive and be set free.

If it’s an ache you feel, embrace it. And begin to see it for what it actually could be- a truth, a mystery yet to be uncovered, about a future you know nothing about. It’s not quite in your hands- and that’s the best place for it not to be.

Raise your fist, open it up and let the thing of beauty drift up into the sky like a banner for others to see. Hold it up like a prize- the pain, the sacrifice you make for a picture much bigger than you ever could have anticipated. Give it up and strike up the match, let it fly and look to the sky as you watch a thing of beauty burn.

You are Golden

 It’s been so long since I last wrote, and it’s amazing to look back at these posts and realize how far I’ve come. Another year is passing, but this hasn’t just been ‘another year’. It’s been THE year. Of testing, of trials, of roller coasters and adventures, of mountain climbs and scenery I never thought these eyes would see. There have been battles here that no one mentioned I would have to fight. And honestly, I guess it’s no surprise: I’m kinda tired. Not tired like, “ I’ve had a long day at work”, tired. But tired, like “My soul has been stretched and stretched, filled, and then stretched some more to accommodate something I haven’t seen yet” kinda tired. The waiting to see it is hard then, too.

It’s in this place that the Lord offers a beautiful respite. It comes in the nick of time. Sometimes staying and sticking something through is much braver than running ahead to find other adventures. This is a lesson the Lord has twisted and plotted into so many metaphors in my life this year. It’s a lesson I’m still learning. In the staying, something is birthed, an endurance in me that I never would know if things constantly went my way, in my direction, and in my time. Staying is hard. It means holding onto dreams about leaving, and holding them close enough for them to be warm and grow, but loose enough to let them float away if need be. And sometimes they do. This has been hard too.

 It’s so funny now, looking back, I distinctly remember asking God to make me golden. To make something beautiful out of me that will be solid, tested, and strong (I need to be careful about the things I ask that Guy). And I see it even now, as the light on this year is beginning to fade, and my strength feels like it’s waning. He’s answering me, calling me forwards to persevere, endure and finish this better than we started. I don’t know HOW this is possible, I just know that that’s what He’s asking. I don’t have any doubt anymore though. Because all the beauty, and the mess, and the miracles of this year have proven His faithfulness to be my truth. He’s still here now, encouraging.

His words are from the mouth of switchfoot tonight, and they’re so apt:

“You are golden,

You are golden, child

Don’t let go

Don’t let go tonight.”

Not to get preachy, but…

Can I take a moment to vent? Rant, a little? Granted, it’s been about 8 months since the last time I wrote, and I should be easing my way back into this. But a rant is about as good a way to get back into it as any, I’d say?

Ok, here I go.

So, I have a pet peeve: I don’t like negative people. I don’t like negative people who are negative about ageing. They deflate me. They suck the life right out of the room and make me feel hopeless.  

See, this year I’m turning 24. 24. One year away from 25. 6 away from 30. 16 away from 40. You get the picture. Like every kid, turning 18, and then 21 was always exciting for me, because they brought me closer and closer to adulthood. But then after  I hit 21, I started noticing a trend. People stop getting excited about ageing, and instead start to dread it.  I often hear people say “ughhh, I’m SO old” (yes, coming from a 23 year old), and “well, you know it’s downhill from here”.  Meanwhile,  all I’m thinking is “What DOWNHILL? We haven’t even gone UPHILL yet?”   And I’ve heard these lines echoed by so many my age, that lately, I’ve started to wonder and doubt my positivity around this issue.  

 My teen years kinda sucked.  I was super shy and reserved, self-conscious and insecure. Those years were spent holding myself in all the time, keeping myself caged and quiet. Fortunately, before the end of those years, Jesus saved me and began to unravel me. He set me free. Starting from when I turned 18 up to this very day, I can track back the exponential growth that has occurred in my life every year, and the FREEDOM that I’m living in now, compared to how I lived when I was 18. It’s phenomenal. And every year gets BETTER.  So for me, ageing has been closely connected to exponential growth and excitement. My life has been an upward curve (if we’re to get all statistical about it) the older I have gotten. So it really bugs me when I’m constantly hearing people talk DOWN the process of ageing and getting older, because for me the older I’ve gotten, the bigger the testimony my life has become to ME.

On further reflection, everyone I admire and look up to in their later years in life (40’s-50’s) keep telling me how it’s only NOW that they know they’re being the people God called them to be, and are DOING what it is they were put on the planet to do. They are content, but not satisfied, hungry, but settled, and are faithfully building things into the kingdom that I’m still dreaming about in my 20’s. The Bible too is full of leaders whose lives it seems BEGAN after their 20’s, because God used those years to build and form character. Scriptures speak of going from glory to glory, as we walk with the Lord, which says to me that our worldly perceptions of ageing are warped, and sad to be honest. As far as it looks, in the Bible, the years AFTER your 20s is where all the good stuff is. By good, I mean the stuff that lasts. That changes things.

So I’m trying to get and give a little perspective here.  Ageing  is a beautiful, bitter-sweet process. It comes to us all, at the same rate, but not at the same time.  The only reason I can think of that would make ageing a negative thing is if you feel like you’re in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing (No one could be THAT wrong about so many things). In which case, maybe the problem then isn’t with ageing itself, but maybe a problem of cynicism? Or the unmet (often unrealistic) expectations you set for yourself at the age you are in? Whatever the case, maybe we just need to calm down, and maybe speak more about the GOOD we find in ageing.  I know that what matters, at least for me, is knowing that this year, I’m more free and more relentless in my pursuit of seeing His kingdom come in me than I was a year ago. I love that goal because it’s not something I can do in and of myself, but something I welcome the Holy Spirit to do in me. He’s far out numbered my expectations. The more I welcome that, the more I find that I like where this journey of ageing is going, and the more I look at 25, 30, 50, 60, and embrace them all, because I’m assured of one thing:

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD. “

Preach over, I promise.

 

 

Wherever you are, be all there.

There’s always a scurry around this time of year. We’re all rushing and running around trying to finish things up, meet deadlines and quotas, squeezing in the last bit of opportunities that are to be found in 2012 before it becomes the year that was.

I’ve admittedly been the same. My days have been filled to the brim with thinking ahead, and planning ahead and doing. This is not unimportant, don’t misunderstand me. But I find, that somewhere in all this doing, I start coping, and not really living anymore. There’s always something that needs to be done.  ALWAYS.  Unfortunately, in the process of all this doing and losing myself in all the things that called out for my attention, something obvious (in hindsight, off course) began to happen: I actually began to lose myself.  No new song to speak of, no good reads to report. No beautiful scenery seen.  I run straight past people I love, without even  a notice or an acknowledgement, because I’m off on a mission to get things done.

It’s been getting out of hand.

So I’ve given myself a time out. I don’t WANT to live my life like this: moving straight through the moments in my life, and thinking about the NEXT one, while I’m still in THIS moment. Jim Elliot, a guy whose life (albeit, short) has inspired me offers such wisdom:  Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be God’s will for you.

Lately, I haven’t been doing that truth any justice.

So today I’m giving myself a time out. And it looks like this: Blogging, and writing in general. Writing a piece of music for some beautiful lyrics. Dreaming. Adding things onto my bucket list. Walking slower. Paying attention. Looking at beautiful pictures.

Speaking to some beautiful ladies a few weeks ago, I said something that I didn’t know I was going to say, and that is coming to the forefront of my mind today: Don’t live half.

Ok.

I feel like I hear voices in the back of my head cheering me on and applauding as I say that. Now, to live it.

RE: Stacks, Bon Iver

“This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be
Safe with me”

If I ever write a book, you can bet that this guy will make up a chunk of my soundtrack.

This isn’t much of a video. It kicks in at ’bout 2:27, then cuts out again. But you don’t really need a video for a song like this. Have a listen. 🙂