Category Archives: life

The Struggle is Real

I laugh a lot. Jokes, my own misfortune, my husband’s consistent silliness, my roommates’ jokes, my co-workers’ laments. I am blessed with laughter. But within that laughter lies a new type of anxiety. The world around me is filled with concrete, homeless people, and the mentally ill who roam the streets without help. Trash litters the streets and entitled people behind the wheel of every car swerve around me. Here in the Oakland, gentrification takes over, block by block. And many of the people around me are just as concerned about how their pants fit as they are angry about the political climate.

And I. Can’t. Breathe.

I can’t find the freedom I once so easily enjoyed. Are times changing? Is it my current city and surroundings? Is it the constant protesters outside the windows of my office? Or am I struggling to look for and find my God who has been so easily spotted in the past?

I have been spoiled. Spoiled by community, safe places to live, a family who loves and adores me. I have been spoiled by good friends always ready to listen, to pray or just to be with me.

Where is my God?

Am I too weak to find Him here? Do I not have the strength and the faith to be a leader amongst the heaviness that keeps me up at night? Do I just need my mommy, literally and figuratively?

I thought I was strong enough. I thought my faith was deep enough. But faith was never meant to be practiced alone.

Where is my God?

I was taught to see You in the homeless man. In the road-rage-filled hipster trying to get to his organic leaves. I was taught to see you in the beauty of the sky, in the sound of the waves and in the depth of my heart.

Where is my God?

And why can’t I find you in those things? The heaviness of the world around me crashes in and I am not strong enough. I do not have enough faith. My God is by my side, I know this, for without this deep understanding I would have given up, gone home, crawled in a safe place. But I can’t see my God. I can feel Him close, but one gust of the wind and I live in fear.

Where is my God?

Fear my car will get broken into, again. Fear my husband won’t make it home from work because of an accident or crime. Fear that the big earthquake will finally take us all. Fear that I will be hurt or my family will suffer.

Where is my God?

How can I find You again? How do I experience you in THIS place? Where I am now, where I live and breathe and with who I am surrounded.

I can’t breathe.

But I can. Everyday I get up and face the day. I walk in and out of responsibilities with the strength I have left. I contemplate going home to the ones I miss so wholeheartedly that it hurts constantly. I ask my God for help – for reassurance, for whatever it takes to make it through the day.

I am surviving.

But I want to live freely. Here, where I live, while I am here.

I want to breathe.

And I do. One step at a time. One prayer at a time. One exhale at a time. I breathe, with my God offering me each next breathe.

But the heaviness looms and my energy is sucked up by staying above water. How do I go on?

I stop. I wait. I ask. I seek.

I breathe, and hope, and take my next breath.

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There is a Season….

Can you feel that? Can you see that? Taste and smell it? The winter has turned to spring. I saw it with my own eyes this morning. The buds on the trees are bright green. The warmth of the sun has already tinted my skin and the fresh air is littered with scents of new growth. And, people are smiling. For no reason except they are outside and it doesn’t hurt anymore!!!! The season has changed.

I think about life in terms of seasons so often. Because it’s every changing. Sometimes with the climate seasons, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Some may call it a cop-out, an escape or maybe even an excuse.

I call it freedom.

Freedom from perfection. Freedom from measuring my life according to yours or his or hers or what society tells me to.

And I find it so helpful. Because it helps me stay present to the life I’m living. It helps me not live in the past or be filled with anxiety and anxiousness to get to the future. It gives me freedom to live freely within each set of circumstances I’m offered.

And yet I am so affected by my surroundings. I am so easily influenced by the attitude and passions of those around me. Easily encouraged or discouraged by connection with others. Energized or depressed by the weather.

But even though my circumstances can dictate my mood. They can’t take me out of the game of life. I am content. I am content with who I am. I am content with what I have. I am content with my God.

Some days a miserable and hard and uncomfortable. But there’s an acceptance I can have when I have the right perspective and think of my life in seasons. And ask God, what *this* season has to offer. Can I find growth in the suffering? Acceptance of those around me who are different than me in the discomfort? Time for continued education, meeting a friends needs or re-focus on the direction I’m heading?

But right now I can say I’m happily unemployed. And I expect that soon I will be happily employed. Does it help that the weather is beautiful? Yes. Does it help that I have friends to spend time with? Yes. Does it help that I have some much need time to run, rest and write? Yes. Does it help that I’ve been here before and I have experienced the journey being so much better than the destination? Yes.

I won’t hurry through the days and hours worrying and being anxious about my future. Because just like winter turned to spring and just a few months ago my unemployed life turned into a working life and just like my single life turned into a life with someone. This too will turn into something. And I’m so excited to see what that something is.

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Spring, I Need You

I can appreciate winter. I think. I can appreciate the downtime and slowness that winter offers, for a time. But, now, I’m done. I am ready for sunshine and warm days. I need to come outside when the air does not hurt my face.

And I know it takes time. From about December until April, that is a luxury the part of the country I am in is not afforded. I can accept that. Because I expect it. And I know that if I wait, long enough, it will get better. But what I think it completely unfair, is this warm up and cool down thing. It plays with my emotions. Messes with my flow. Not on the days that it’s 70’s and sunny. But now you rip that away and toss things back into the 30’s. Not fair.

I know I sound like a whinny 5-year old but this teasing really needs to stop. I would rather wait one more week, or even two for things to just warm up and stay warm – then to live through this back and forth. Jacket, no jacket – do I get a pedicure – or wait – I want my flip flops damn it, and I want to put away my winter boots for at least 8-months (or forever).

First world problems I know. I have a winter jacket – good ’til -5 degrees. And I have flip flops – good as soon as it hits 70 degrees. I am blessed, taken care of, my needs are met. But the cold hurts. It hurts deep. It hurts my face and my work out routine. It hurts my fingers and seeing friends. It hurts my toes and my mood. It makes me sad.

So I will pout a little bit longer, stomp a feet a few more times and suck it up for a little bit longer.

Rescue me Spring.  Please  I am waiting for you.  I need you.

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A Quick Reflection on Fixing, as Yet Another Year Passes

Every year I tend to blog on this day. To share what I’m feeling and to make a pitch to love on my parents, sister-in-law and nephew a little bit extra on this day.

It’s been 8-years since my little brother, Devin, passed away suddenly in his sleep.  And this year is no different, and I don’t feel like I have anything to add.

I still miss Devin. I miss his face and his smile and his voice. I miss knowing he was always there for me. I miss his young wisdom and his big love.

And I still want my parents, sister-in-law, and nephew to feel an overwhelming amount of love and grace and peace today. I still want to take away their pain, to help somehow to carry their burden, to lessen the hurt.

But I can’t fix it. Really in life I can’t fix much. I know this. We all do I think. We all know we can’t fix the other person or their pain but so often we want to and in that want sometimes we hurt them more. So this year, I want to say sorry for the hurt I’ve caused wanting to fix it.

Pain is uncomfortable and hard to watch others experience. My head has known this for a long time, but my heart actions can’t always stay in that head space. You could say I’m a bit of a feeler. And by a bit I mean I pretty much feel everything. And I can deal with my own feelings, but I don’t want my love ones to have to sort through theirs. I’m not sure why either, because I really like feeling and so maybe they are ok feeling theirs. But it’s taking me a while to get there.

And so this journey of figuring out how to love my family in their pain and not try to fix it has been challenging.

My friend the other day said that he felt like the pain he was facing in his life was a gift. And while that sounds so crazy, I totally get it. Because in that pain I have found Jesus in such a deep and tangible way. I have received His love and grace in ways I wouldn’t have known I needed with out pain. And I can see how pain, done well, is a gift.

So now I want to let go and pray that my loved ones receive their pain today as a gift. A gift that their Maker is so close and loves them so much that He won’t leave them alone for a moment in that pain. That in that pain He is drawing them in. Holding them tight. And creating something beautiful out of that pain. Because pain done well, can help others carry their burdens. I don’t want to take away from the hurt and sadness. It is real, it is unfair and I don’t think it is what God wants for us. But He does want good for us, and I think knowing that feeling and working through the pain leads to more good than we can even allow ourselves to comprehend.

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Finding New Wisdom, After Another Year Goes By

Each year it’s different. But each year it’s the same.

This year felt different when I had to tell my roommate what today is. And I cried. Last year I remember being at work and having to tell people. And I cried. Telling people is hard. On a normal day, telling people my brother died isn’t so hard. This day,  the anniversary of his passing, it’s hard.

Maybe it’s the trauma of the day it happened. Maybe it’s knowing my parents are hurting especially hard this day. Maybe it’s thinking about my sister in law and knowing it hurts her and I can’t fix that. Maybe it’s thinking about my nephew never getting to meet his Dad. And maybe it’s just because I miss him.

I miss his smile. I miss his hugs. I miss his words of wisdom. Yup, I said it, my little brother had some good words of wisdom. Mostly along the lines of protecting me from boys who broke my heart or not being afraid to live life to the fullest. Because that’s what he did. He lived.

Devin was a daredevil, a bit of a risk-taker. I’d like to think I get some of my risk-taking guts from his example. I often think of him when I’m making life decisions and think, WWDD? (What would Devin do?) Dev just went for things all out. He lived life “out-loud” with his whole heart.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been waking up with this idea to live my life “out-loud.” And for the most part I think I do. But I want more. I’m not quite sure what all of it means just yet, but I think Devin was a good example of living life “out-loud” and I want to keep learning from that.

He might be gone, but his passion for life lives on. I’m so thankful he was my little brother.

This is the first year in a while that I don’t live at home. It’s hard to not hug my Mom and Dad today and not be there to spend time with them. I know it’s hard for them.

And so as I ask every year, please pray for them. I know they hurt, I know their lives will never be the same, and I know they will always miss my brother in ways I can’t understand.

DevTizBabies

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One More Time

This song has been shouting loudly in my head the past week or so.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3ll-5zwe3c0

As I hang out with friends, one more time, doing our favorite things, one more time, walking out of familiar places, one more time, running my favorite routes or with my favorite people, one more time, my heart aches with grief yet celebrates the good that has passed and is to come.

Today, after I pack all my stuff in a trailer to be shipped across the country, I will get in the car and begin my two day journey to Madison, WI. The chapter I’m closing is a tough one to walk away from. Life is good. Love is abundant. Community is vibrant and Jesus is surely alive amongst us.

But there’s a new adventure ahead of me. New people to meet and love, new places to call home, new favorite things to do, new favorite places to run, and new crazy things to do with Jesus.

Worcester you have a huge piece of my heart.

Madison, here I come!!!

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Walking Away and Looking Back

Today I am thankful.  Today I am full of unexplainable joy.  Today I smile. 

But the following blog entry is from where I have been.  It was a few months back.  It’s what I’ve left behind and learned from a series of events.  I’m forever grateful for failure and disappointment. 

April 4, 2012

I’ve made some risky life decisions lately.  I like making risky decisions, I like taking risks, I like adventure, I like living by faith.  This time some decisions I got to make, others were made for me and they were all heartbreaking.  Heartbreaking in the best sense of the word.  I’ve been hurting.  Deep, intense, cry out to Jesus just to breathe; pain.  It’s good for me.  It’s hard.  It feels like it’s almost over.

I don’t like it when I don’t write for a while.  Sometimes it’s because I’m busy, sometimes it’s because I’m just a bit down.  Sometimes it means I don’t have a lot to share and I’m in the midst of pain so the words won’t come out.  That’s where I’ve been lately.

Things end, things change.  It happens to everyone.  We all have seasons.  Life is a rollercoaster.  Sometimes we’re on the top; sometimes we take a big leap to the bottom.  It’s good.  It’s where we grow.  It’s where our character is tested, broken down and made new.  It’s where we get on our knees and cry out to God for relief.  It’s where we find ourselves.

A few things have ended for me recently.  The relationship I was in, ended.  And in step with that I ended my employment with Straight Ahead Ministries.  There is a strong team working to open the coffee shop/community center that I know God will work through to bless the Main South area and every kid who walks through the door.  And I hope to head over there and volunteer at some point, but not yet.

The ending of the relationship I was in was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been faced with.  My heart’s desire is to find that special someone to team up with and live this life with.  And I’ve given that search to God.  Asking Him to bring my best friend into my life so I wouldn’t keep giving my heart away.  The relationship I was in seemed to happen so organically.  It felt like God was leading us together.  I look back and I see God’s hand working in each one of us and in the relationship and I see opportunities I could have walked away.

I have learned a lot from the relationship and from the ending of it.  I look back and think, maybe I should have walked away sooner, maybe I was holding on too tight, maybe I wanted it too badly.  And then I think, maybe he wasn’t ready, maybe God has something better, maybe my job was just to love him while I had the chance and then to let him go when he walked away.

I’m thankful for the insight I have into the situation.  God has blessed me with clarity so often in my life.  I know He will reveal just what I need to know about a situation as I need to know it.  I need to have confidence in those revelations and not look to others to confirm them.  Don’t get me wrong, wise counsel is important and I will continue to seek it, but one of my biggest lessons in all of this is to have confidence in me, in what I hear from God and in my decisions, without needing everyone else’s approval.

I will admit I’m scared.  I want to love again, I want to connect with someone, share life with them and let them into who I am.  But my heart has been broken.  It’s healing but it’s fragile.  Maybe that’s right where it needs to be.  More guarded than before.

Part of me feels like I’m back to the beginning.  Back to where I was before those “big dreams” fell into place.  I am and I’m not.  I am in the sense that I don’t have a job, a partner in life or big project I’m working on.  But I’m not too.  Because I have renewed hope, I’ve healed and worked on things through this suffering and I’ve found new strength in Jesus.  And I’ve been humbled.  I’ve laid it all down before Him and He’s shown me some of my “weeds”.  We’ve ripped them out.

I have direction from God to keep pursuing church planting, I have hope that He will bring my partner to me in His time and I have faith that the right job is right around the corner.

Life’s goal should never be to avoid suffering; it should never be to avoid pain.  It should be to embrace suffering, to embrace pain, to cry out to God and say thank you for this.  Thank you that in this pain I can cry out to you Jesus and you will rescue me.  And it’s that rescue; it’s that love from Him that is more than enough.  And in this pain, in this suffering I say thank you and pray that His glory is revealed.  I ask God to use this pain for His good and to not waste a single tear.  I know He won’t.  It’s His promise.

7/2/12

Update –  I am back with Straight Ahead Ministries, working in the café.  You should come by sometime…it’s a great place to be and I’m so thankful God let me go back!

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