Tag Archives: God

Faith

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After all, how else could I have survived the last four years?

Sure, there’s laughter. Laughter is one of the best survival tools ever implemented by man. Laughter is why this blog began. In person, at least, I’m really good at getting people to laugh. I’m even pretty good at getting myself to laugh at impossible or difficult circumstances.

But there are some things even laughter does not help or heal. And that’s where faith stepped in.

I was stuck in Croatia the day they joined the EU. Stuck in an airport surrounded by people who did not speak my language and could not explain why my flight was delayed, why I could not meet my connecting flight, and how I could possibly tell my parents where I was or why I wouldn’t be home on time, if I got home at all.

Fate could not have delayed my flight and landed me in the line to get my flight rerouted. Fate could not have put me in line behind the one person in the airport who was fluent in English and had a phone capable of calling my parents home number from Zagreb, Croatia. Fate could not have put me on a flight sitting next to an EU representative who was questioning his Greek orthodox faith and would let me open my Bible with him as we searched for answers to his questions.

God could. God did. God always will and always does.

The last four years have been a series of seemingly insurmountable odds. I could not have overcome them on my own. I could not have survived on my own. People will laugh at me, tell me of course I did it on my own, that my dependence on God is some kind of sick self-deprecating fantasy.

But it isn’t.

I didn’t do it alone because I am never alone.

God gets full credit for every last moment of it.

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Fearless

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It’s easy to be fearless until you’re staring down the lion’s throat.

The thing about blank pages is that there are no limits. No limits but yourself. Yet that limit keeps us from dropping so much as a blob of ink on the page for fear that a blob out of place will send our lives into a downward spiral.

The future is our darkest enemy. It has no face, shows only its back, and is hidden by a cloud, darkly.

The future could keep us from doing anything, unless we choose to be fearless.

There are lions in the streets, we cry. But we are the lions.

But God shuts the lion’s mouths. We can walk unafraid. I can walk unafraid. No matter what happens, no matter the headlines, no matter the lions, I can walk toward the future and they won’t bite me.

Fear silences us, but faith lets us sing.

Happy Beginnings

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I married the love of my life today.

I’d like to let the whole world know.

I’d like to let the whole world know that love is very, very real. Love is alive.

God made love because God is love. And God in His infinite mercy and grace decided to give me a taste of His love in my relationship with a wonderful young man. A young man who is much more than I deserve, who is a far better man than I could have ever dreamed up for myself.

God took my wildest dreams and made them wilder. He knew what I wanted and told me, “Let me give you that and more. So much more.”

And He gave me him.

Listen, fellow wanderers: there is hope. There is life. There is love.

And God is always so very good.

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I’m getting married in twelve hours.

The church could not be prettier. The flowers could not be lovelier. I couldn’t have more wonderful people in my bridal party. I couldn’t possibly be filled with any more love.

I am filled and surrounded by joy.

I am so grateful. I am grateful for my parents and my parents-to-be. I am grateful for the people making my wedding happen. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my groom.

I am thankful for my God who loves me enough to shower all of this wonder over me. I can’t understand it. I never will.

But I have never felt so blessed.

I have no regrets, no backward glances, no second guesses. Am I ready? There’s no way to be ready. Not really. Everyone has told me that.

I am deeply in love.

I am deeply in grace.

Ready to not, here I come.

20 Days

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I’m 20 days away from the best day ever.

I am simultaneously ready and not ready.

Emotionally, I’ve been ready for almost a year. Logistically, there’s still a lot to be done.

But are we ever completely ready for anything?

No. No we’re not.

And that’s okay.

If we could be completely ready for everything at all times, then we’d be God. And there’s only one God, and He’s got everything figured out so I can relax into the idea that I don’t have to have everything figured out. There’s something beautiful in that.

I know that for sure.

And I know I love my fiance for sure. And certain. And muchly. And foreverly.

So here we go.

Another Saturday

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This Saturday was wide open. Free as a bird. I have a mountain of things to read for classes, not to mention a mountain of things to write.

Yet there was grocery shopping to be done. And an obligation in the evening. And a sale at Hobby Lobby for wedding decorations that ended today. And a Shakespeare play to read. and a book for marriage counseling.

So all that reading I was going to get done today? Didn’t get done. I did things. Necessary things. But not school things.

I’m a little relieved that I have arrived at a point in my life where not everything has to revolve around my grades. Yes, school is a responsibility, but it is a responsibility I have chosen for myself. Grad school was not required. Grad school was my choice.

Everything I do is a choice. Even my responses to circumstances are a choice. Pursuing and accepting a new job was my choice. Getting married was my choice. My church involvement is my choice. Scheduling time to work out is my choice. These life decisions are as much my choice as the items I put in my grocery cart today. I will take these choices home, consume them, and let them shape who I am.

Everything I do is my responsibility. Every action I take, I will have to give an account for. Whether it’s five minutes reading an article on the benefits of coconut oil online or whether its four hours chaperoning a dating outing.

The question is no longer “will this activity take time away from my studies” but “will this activity glorify God?”

That’s infinitely more important.

Heavenly Mansions

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I miss green, open spaces.

When I was smaller, my family and I would visit some family friends who live up in the mountains. They had a small house built into the side of a mountain. You had to drive through a creek and down cow trails to get there. The setting was calm and green and peaceful. Our friends were peaceful people who enjoyed good food and good conversation. The daughter in the family was two years younger than me, and we’d climb all over that wild little mountain, getting muddy in the creek, playing at being Robin Hood and Little John. We made a promise to each other that we’d never grow up. Not really.

My heart hungers for green, open places.

One of my non-genetic sisters grew up on a farm. The farm is located in the middle of nowhere–a nowhere surrounded on all sides by crawling, smoky urbanity. To get there, you take a series of windy back roads through forests with houses scattered here and there. Then the trees part, you see open fields and languid cows and a house floating on a sea of grass, anchored to a couple of ancient-looking trees. Step inside the house, and despite its modern amenities, you feel like you’ve stepped into an alternate time zone, where clock tick slower and you might just be living in a different century. There’s no road noise, just the occasional lowing of a cow.

My soul starves for green, open places.

Three years ago, I flew to Croatia and drove into their remotest villages. The hills are steep and rocky there, but still wildly green. They are dangerous hills best admired from a distance. Grass and vines eat old shells of farm houses alive, but the new houses are bright red brick and brightly colored stucco and sing little tunes of optimism to the passerby. Even in the larger villages, there’s little road noise. Everybody walks. Even the river is silent. Children run barefoot in the grass and plunge their brown legs into the water, their laughter making the loudest music the town will hear that day.

At night I dream of green, open spaces.

God talks about mansions in heaven. But I’m content without a mansion. I’ll change it for a tiny house and a heard of goats and a garden on a green, wild little hill. Where I can walk in peace and feel the wind on my face and know that all is well with eternity and me.

He Arose

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I have unquenchable hope. Want to know why?

The Son of God came to Earth as a man. He died on my behalf. Three days later, He rose again.

And He still lives.

Call me crazy all you want. You can think whatever you want of me. Throw things at me; throw me in jail; cast me out–I won’t change my mind. This is one thing i won’t be “open-minded” about.

You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart. And no one can take me out of His hands, and no one can take Him out of my heart.

The end. Happy ending. Grace extended, full and free. Eternal hope, eternal joy, eternal peace all wait for me.

And that’s enough for me.

The Deep Breath

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Dear God,

You’ve helped me before, and I believe You will help me now.

You know my weaknesses and built my strengths. You know where I am. You know what I’m fighting. My struggles are not too small for You. Your grace is sufficient.

I have too much happening in my brain to be productive and successful. You know what to do to quiet my mind. Please quiet it.

I need Your help. Now, and tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.

You are good. You are powerful. You are love.

Thank you for being my Friend.

As always,

Rizzy

Empty House

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It’s amazing how much doesn’t get done when the roommate isn’t here.

There can’t be enough said for the virtue of having another person in the room while you’re working. The power of immediate accountability is perhaps the only thing that will keep me on task for the next few months.

When no one else is in the room, I only do half of every task. I empty half the sink. I put away half of the laundry. I scrub the sink, not the shower. I write in half-paragraphs, leaving them to do other tasks and then returning to complete them.

I tend to forget that God is watching.

God is my friend, and He is the ultimate accountability. I think that if I remembered this more often, I’d get a lot more done, and the apartment would be neater. I only have so many minutes in my life–and I waste so many of them. Remembering God is with me at all times, guiding my steps even in my most quiet moments, reminds me to keep working for the sake of making Him smile.

It is good to know I am never alone. Because judging by the state of this room, it’s probably a good idea not to leave me alone for very long.

Life Goals

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My Adventure Buddy and I were talking about houses. We’re getting married, so talking about buying a house is a very normal couple thing to do.

But we’re not a normal couple. So we’re talking about buying a Tiny House.

Tiny Houses are growing in popularity among those who are done with huge rent and tons of superfluous stuff. Most of them are fitted with wheels so they can be hauled behind a truck like an RV. There are Tiny House-friendly camping spots where you can stop to hook up your power and water for the night. You basically take your whole house with you.

But they’re real houses. Sinks, ovens, bathrooms with showers, all the comforts of home in one 100 square foot space.

We want to travel. Not just travel, but spread the Gospel as we go. Just because we want to travel doesn’t mean that we don’t want four walls and a roof, either.

There would be a lot we’d have to learn to live without. Air conditioning, for example, which is something of which we are both particularly fond. I am the kind of person who attaches great sentimental value to things–just little harmless things that I’ve had around me for years which I inevitably would have to get rid of. AB travels light and hangs onto very little, so the learning curve would be for me.

So here’s my prayer: that I learn to let go of all the little things that hold me back from following God’s purpose for my life. Even if He decides we never get a tiny house.

Open Letter to Those Who May Criticise My Choice to Attend a Christian College

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Ah. So my opinions are invalid because I attended a Christian liberal arts university and am therefore extremely closed minded. I see.

Sweetie, let me tell it to you straight.

At my Christian liberal arts university, my professors were intelligent men and women who were respected in their fields. Most of them had doctorates, and many of them had doctoral degrees from secular universities. I had teachers who were well-recognized professionals in their fields. I had a published novelist as my creative writing teacher. An experienced stage actor as an acting teacher. A linguistics professor who conducted research for her doctorate in a small jungle community where she learned their language and invented a written version based on the language’s phonology. A German instructor who backpacked in Germany. A theater history teacher who attended dozens of acclaimed productions and wrote theater reviews for a newspaper. These professors chose to teach at my university because they loved the students and wanted to do everything in their power to help us become people with firm convictions and hearts made for serving others.

At my Christian liberal arts university, I was assigned to read and evaluate Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Plato, Freud, Derrida, Foucault, Hobbes, Eliot, Ovid, Shakespeare, Woolf, Mansfield, Rabelais, Bronte, London, Hawthorne, Stowe, Barnes (yes, Djuna), Porter, Twain, and Marx…to name a few.

At my Christian liberal arts university, I was encouraged by my professors to seek out people whose worldviews were vastly different from my own so I could learn from them and understand their perspectives. This way I could learn how to get to know a person as a person instead of writing him off because he believes differently from me.

At my Christian liberal arts university, I was required to take classes outside of my specific field of study so that I would recognize the importance of being mentally well-rounded. I took a general science course that taught me the terms and concepts behind areas of science that are the subject of hot debate in the news. I took a computer science course that taught me how to use software I had never explored before. I took an art history course that showed me the progression of ideologies through the ages that influenced areas of art outside of writing.

At my Christian liberal arts university, there was an unusually stringent dress code that fell more closely in line with the dress expected of business executives working in large companies–or the dress code of anyone who is trying to make a favorable first impression. This dress code prepared me for all the of the dress codes I could possibly face in my professional life (because not everyone is lucky enough to work for Google or Pixar or other companies where jeans are allowed). This dress code taught me to dress in a manner that shows I respect others and shows that I respect myself.

At my Christian liberal arts university, I lived in a dormitory where I rubbed elbows with young women from all over the world and from all different family backgrounds. I met and became friends with girls from China, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, the Bahamas, New Zealand, and Mexico. I was blessed with roommates from different parts of the U.S. as well as different parts of the world. Their wildly contrasting worldviews, backgrounds, personalities, and preferences were as much a part of my education as my classes.

At my Christian liberal arts university, I was told I needed to travel. I needed to leave the country at least once to see how other cultures operate.

At my Christian liberal arts university, I was taught to be kind, to put others first, to be loving, to be forgiving, to reach out, to work hard, to think before I act, to explore what I have yet to explore, to be willing to go and do things I had never planned to go and do. Most of these principles I was taught by example.

At my Christian liberal arts university, I was consistently presented with the same worldview in every class, meeting, production, and function. But I was always encouraged and expected to do my own research, do my own thinking, and come to my own conclusions about what was presented.

But far more important than my education at this Christian liberal arts university was my education at home. I was raised by two fantastic, generous people who loved God, loved each other, and loved me. They always sought to put the tools in my hands that would help me figure out the world around me. Every interest I pursued, they supported 100%. Science? I got a microscope for Christmas. Art? Sets of paints and paper. Writing? Blank notebooks. Literature? Countless trips to the library. History? Trips to museums. They always told me to chase after whatever it was I believed God made me to do. If that was to be a stay-at-home mom, great. If that was to be president, great. I settled on “writer,” and they said “great.” Without their wholehearted investment in my journey, my choices, I would not be where I am right now.

You made a snap judgment about me based on my education, and you’re calling me closed minded?

Fascinating.

Opportunity

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There are two responses to an open door: walk through it, or don’t.

Every once in a while, along comes an opportunity. What tends to happen in college, especially late college, is an uptick in the number of opportunities. Maybe it’s because everyone is asking us “What on earth are you doing after you graduate?” and the answer hidden in the subtext of our memorized reply speeches is “I have no idea.”

From what I’ve gathered, people rarely end up doing the thing they set out to do. Aspiring artists become missionaries. Aspiring English professors become safety auditors. Life almost never takes the course we plan for it, but a better one, and that’s what makes life beautiful.

Every so often, opportunity knocks. And you open the door and decide if you’re going to change the course of your life. Changing course doesn’t happen in one decision. It happens in five decisions, or even a thousand little tiny decisions. Sometimes a decision as simple and ordinary as walking to the right or walking to the left.

It’s the little decisions that determine who we meet, where we go, what we encounter, what subtle influences sway our minds to the bigger decisions: the jobs we take, the cities we move to, the people we marry. Even how we choose to spend the afternoon is important. How quickly we work. How slowly.

There are infinite possibilities, but only one ultimate outcome.

And we agonize over which choice is “right” and which is “wrong.”

The simple answer, of course, is “to do what God wants,” but how vague is that?

Here’s what He wants: he wants us to love Him and to love others. He wants us to spread the Gospel. He wants us to do unto others as we would have done to us. He wants wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives. He wants us to be holy as He is holy. He wants us to forsake our creature comforts to follow Him. He wants us to remember that we’re not here to build kingdoms on this planet, in this world. He’ll do that for us in His own good time, but our job is to remember that earth is not our home.

He doesn’t give us a mystical experience that tells us our specific path in life. But He does promise us that He’ll give us the desires of our hearts. That means He grants the desires He gives. He also gives the desires.

Walk close to Him, follow His law, bear His easy yoke, Allow yourself to be loved by God and love Him back. This friendship is the best there is or could possibly be. And since He’s promised to give you the desires you’re supposed to have when you walk with Him, you’ll know exactly where to go.

And then the doors start opening.

And you start walking through.

And if you have the opportunity to go to bed early…always take it.

GPS

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Every once in a while, it would be great to have a sign.

A big, bright, glowy neon sign that says “TURN RIGHT AT NEXT INTERSECTION” or something similarly helpful.

I mean, GPSs do so for roads and highways. Why can’t there be something similar that works for life decisions? It would save all the agonizing and option-weighing and hair-pulling. You would just know, without the faintest of doubt-shadows, that you were supposed to go right or left, backwards or forwards, up or down.

I mean, you could stick a sheepskin on your porch and hope for the best, I guess, but that may have been a one-time thing.

Just once, I wish that making the bigger choices was as simple as choosing an answer on a multiple-choice test. You know, the kind you had a study guide for and you studied for hours so you know precisely what you should do. There are some things you can’t really study for.

Yes. I acknowledge that the Bible is our Guidebook. It gives us principles, promises, and truth. But there’s never a book, chapter, and verse that says “you should take that class” or “you should say this thing to your friend” or “you should make that appointment” or “that’s not worth your money.”

Nope. That’s all up to faith. And a lot of leaping and trusting. We are not automatons; we were given free will. And it’s not like God will be surprised by our decisions.

Still…specifics would help sometimes.