Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peace, Hope, Love, and Abundance

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." -Hebrews 1:3

If you're looking for hope, hope is with us
If you're searching for love, love is here
If you hunger for peace, peace is waiting
It is Heaven's gift and it is near.

You're ashamed of your past, yet He wants you
You've refused Him before, still He waits
You're afraid you will fail, but He'll help you
If you only take a step of faith.

Come to all you long for
Come to all you need
Come now and see,
Come receive God's only begotten Son -

My challenge to you is this: take a step of faith this year and go out on a limb with our Lord, into the life and purpose for which He created you. Ask Him. Listen for what He answers. And then go for it. Step into the center of His will for your life. Live for Him.

"I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." -Jesus, John 10:10

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Flight Risk

"Everything that's worth doing, you're going to want to quit at least once." -my dad

So tell me this: were you ever just going about your business, trusting God with things, hum-diddly-um-dum...and then suddenly something opens up in front of you like a huge gaping maw of potential and your knee-jerk response is "Holy crap!" and all you want to do is turn around and flee as if your life depended on it?

No? Just me?

Up until now, I can't say I've ever really been much of a flight risk to the people in my life. I don't really bail on things. God (seriously, God) has put a tenacity in me causes people to literally have to shove me out and slam the door in my face if they want me out of their lives. And then, usually, I stand outside on the doorstep expectantly until they open it again.

But then, it happened - I found myself smack in the middle of a situation where I was stuck been gleeful excitement and pure, utter terror. I couldn't explain it, but I literally wanted to just run. Run out, get in my car, drive away, and never look back. It was a very new feeling for me.

And why?

Because I just kept thinking, "There's no way I can live up to this. I am SO not good enough." Over and over and over again. "Holy crap, I am SO not good enough!!"

And so, rather than step up and try, I wanted to flee.

But I didn't. For the record, I could have. For what I think was the first time in my life, I wanted to. Oh my gosh, but I wanted to just totally flake out. Sorry, Charlie, but I can't do it. That sounded like a much better idea than having all my shortcomings inevitably thrust under a spotlight - which, if I didn't run, they surely would be sometime in the very near future.

I knew, though, that'd I'd have been in, shall we say, very big cosmic trouble if I ran. See, that would have been pretty much the opposite of Respecting the Blessing. Spitting in God's face. Sneering at His gift. Rolling my eyes at His love towards me.

So I didn't. I stayed. Sometimes I felt like the hand of God was literally pinning me to the chair, but by Heaven, I stayed.

As I thought about it over next few days, suddenly a lot more of my life started to make sense. Why people often push me away or flee. Why people flake out on me. I admit - I often expect a lot. I invest all of myself and, apparently, that makes people feel guilty, like they have to do the same. Well, dang, no wonder they run. That's a lot to ask. Mind you, that's just who I am; I'm not asking anything of anyone else consciously. But now, I got it - because it got real up in that place quick, let me tell you.

The thing is, I am not a confident person. In fact, I'm probably the most insecure person you'll ever meet. (I try to make up for it with enthusiasm and witty comments.) Now, what is insecurity, really, but fear that you're just not good enough? Yep, that's me. I suspect that a lot of other people feel that way as well - we just don't talk about it. It's too deep. It's too much. It's something we don't want to admit to ourselves. So instead, we run. It's easier that way.

If I'm being honest, insecurity is probably my deepest-seeded sin, and one that constantly comes between me and God - and then me and the people I love. It's a maddening, vicious cycle, and I'm my own worst enemy. All the time. God and I, well, we're working on it.

I really wanted to run that day, but I couldn't. I knew it would have been a huge act of disobedience. I knew I couldn't have lived with myself. I would have allowed my own sin to ruin an incredible blessing God had given me - one I've actually been wishing for pretty much my whole life, in fact.

Now, wouldn't that have been a terrible shame?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

28 Things*

*Like "27 Dresses", but with less tulle.**

**But probably the same amount of cheesiness....if not more, let's be honest.

So, I turned the big, gulp, 2-9 last week. Climbed into the ride and strapped myself in for the last year of my 20's. The Last Hurrah. The Final Farewell. This is it, people.

I'm now the age of Jane Austen's oldest heroine...which, I suppose, means I have one more year during which to somehow Get It Right. Heaven only knows if that'll happen. Seriously - Heaven. Only. Knows.

But I figure, I must have learned something throughout this past year, right? Goodness, here's hoping. To that end, I decided to make a list. I admit that some of these span slightly further back than a year ago, but not too much - this past year was pretty darn eventful.

And so, in pretty close to chronological order, here are 28 Things I Learned During Year 28.

1. Real smiles are the best ever.

2. Apparently, I act blond sometimes. But shhh - when it makes someone laugh, it's intentional.

3. When God points out someone for me to minister to with a cosmic neon sign, pretending I don't see it is just prolonging the inevitable.

4. My emotions display themselves unashamedly spread-eagled on my face no matter how hard I try to hide them. Every time.

5. It's possibly not a coincidence that it rains every. single. time I step foot onto the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'm just saying - my hair NEVER looks right at that place!

6. What I dislike in other people often directly correlates with what I dislike about myself.

7. God actually really does know what He's doing. I know, shocker.

8. I sang "It Is Well With My Soul" as a duet with my best friend on Good Friday and it was possibly the purest, most raw form of emotion in art I've ever expressed.

9. Just being me produces far better results than huffing and puffing and striving to be someone else.

10. I got my first paid writing gig this year, writing ad copy for websites. While it was great to be paid to write, and I wouldn't sneeze at doing it again...it kind of felt a little bit what I'd imagine prostitution would feel like. Not that I know. Because I don't. Really! Wait, what was I talking about again?

11. What Any Sane Woman Would Do is never what I do.

12. When God closes a door, He opens...oh, wait, you know that one already? Well, it's totally true.

13. God is not, in fact, turning men celibate to keep me single...although for a brief period this summer, it really felt that way. More on that later. Good story, actually.

14. To get anywhere, I have to give 100%. Not 70%. Not 80%. Not even 90%. Even though I've gotten away with it in the past...no more. Everything God gives me deserves 100% of my effort and commitment.

15. The jackpot is totally, incredibly, fantastically awesome. Every single time, in fact.

16. Every person you really love will make you cry. I often think about how many times I've made God cry. It knocks the wind out of me.

17, When God blesses you, humility and maturity are the best resources. Otherwise, people get bitter. People get bitter anyway, but it's harder to be jealous when the person you're jealous of is gracious. Hopefully.

18. During an agent/customer role-playing game at my corporate call center job training, after hearing me be the "agent," all the men in the training class exclaimed, "Whew! I'm buying whatever you're selling!" That pretty much made my...well, up until now, really. And that was two months ago.

19. Shhh - I'm not a hardcore salesperson. But I am an actress.

20. My favorite thing ever (which I knew before this year, but still) is, once I get to know someone, letting them see a little more who I really am by saying things that shock them. That shocked, incredulous laughter is the best thing ever.

21. Three words: Respect. The. Blessing.

22. I am no longer a Renaissance Faire virgin. But, unsurprisingly, I'll be better prepared and even more, ahem, in character next year.

23. When your pastor calls you Bridget Jones, well, that's pretty much your sign.

24. The fact that so many people I've met over the last few years have opened up to me, confided in me, shared with me, let me pray with them, and have come to me as their spiritual point of contact is at once overwhelmingly humbling and incredibly gratifying. My Lord is so good. All the spiritual bottom-kicking I've taken this last decade is starting to bear some amazing fruit. It's all Him.

25. However, I am not a spiritual Yoda, not by a long shot. I need just as much Godly succor as anyone else. And someone to keep my head on straight...pretty much all the time, in fact.

26. Christian Scientists are all really, really nice people.

27. There is a huge difference between someone for whom you feel like you have to be better and someone because of whom you want to be a better version of yourself.

28. Five words from a fake nun were the biggest cosmic cream-pie I've experienced yet.

That's my wisdom from this year, folks. I hope it spoke to you in the way you needed it to most. Tune in next year as I begin a new decade - and hopefully, I will have learned even more from the incredible things my Lord is about to do in the next 350-odd days left of this one!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quit Yer Wailing!

My toy poodle does this really annoying thing when I take her in the car with me: whenever I put the car in park and turn the key to shut the engine off, she SHRIEKS and WAILS and YELPS as if she's being brutally murdered. Every. Single. Time.

Why? Well, I can only assume it's because she's afraid I'm going to leave her in the car alone. FOREVER!

Meanwhile, of course, I've never done that. I always jump right out and get her out of the car with me. If I do leave her there, I run into a store for maybe five minutes. She's never alone for long, and she's never in danger. Ever. I've established a pattern and level of trust with her now that she really shouldn't be scared anymore. She knows I'm not going to leave her. She knows I'm always going to either get her out or come right back to her.

And yet still, every time, she yelps and cries and wails.

As I pulled into our parking lot after walking with a friend and turned off the car's ignition to the familiar chorus of her shrieking in fear again tonight, it startled me into realizing...how often do we do that with God?

How often do we shriek and cry and wail and whine at God when we know He'll never leave us or fail us? It hit me with a wave of shame tonight that I do it all the time. I'm doing it now, actually. Wandering around wailing to God, "Daddy! DADDY! Daddy, please! Please don't leave me alone in the car! DADDY! DO YOU HEAR ME?! YOU PUT ME IN THE CAR; DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE HERE! PLEASE!!"

Fact is, He's never left me alone in the car. And if it's felt that way, it's only been for a few minutes. He always comes back. He always comes through. He always knows what He's doing. I'm never really in danger. Ever.

Every time this happens, I say to Lottie, "Shhh, little girl! I would never leave you! Don't you trust me?"

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5

Um. Yeah. Oops.

I stand in spiritual humility as a direct result of shrieks from my poodle. And there's a sentence I bet you don't read every day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holding the Line

So, when I'm not frantically scribbling things in my writing notebook, or flinging myself on the floor wailing at the wide-eyed volunteer actors at my church to "GIVE ME MORE!!", or scheming up my next pratfall to elicit a laugh from someone...I'm sitting in a cubicle at a very large company, using my sweet pixie voice to convince customers to purchase the services the company sells. No, I'm not a telemarketer. Ahem. But yes, indeed, I'm a salesperson.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a customer who was interested in possibly ordering one of our services. I'd done the work. I'd put in the time. We'd gone over all the pros and cons, all the features and benefits, even what my company's competitors offered. I really believed that from what the customer was telling me he needed, our service was the best fit for him. I'm not peddling junk here. Plus, I made him laugh a few times, which seemingly always helps.

But he was still a little waffly. As they are.

Customer: I still want to think about it a little bit. Can I call back and get you?
Me: Unfortunately, probably not, sir.
Him: But if I buy this, I want to buy it from you!
Me: I appreciate that! I'm sorry.
Him: Hmm. I'm just not sure.
Me: Sir, if you like, I'm happy to hold while you think about it for a minute. I want you to make the best decision.
Him: You can hold on?
Me: Sure! Take your time, I'll be right here.
Him: You're very persistent.
Me: Hopefully in a good way!
Him: *laughs* Yes, in a good way!

Thirty seconds later, he bought the service from me. He even paid upfront - and that hardly ever happens.

Metaphor for life, people. I'm just saying.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Man with a Plan

"Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then." -Mr. Bennet, "Pride and Prejudice"

As I've mentioned before, right now I'm working on being a heroine and waiting for my hero. That is, I'm a (not-quite-thirty-something) Bridget Jones waiting for Mark Darcy to knock on my door and say things like "I like you, very much, just the way you are." Even better - the Harry to my Sally who will finally come running in my direction and declare, "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." Or, y'know, his own version of that sentiment. I'm all for creative liberties.

What I'm learning, though, is that the man I'm looking for is going to need to be more than just hanging out - and about God, even more than just about me. The kind of relationship that God has been preparing me for for years is the Real Deal. The purposeful, Christ-centered, really investing, sacrificial, ministry-minded, leading-to-marriage kind of relationship. A partnership to edify the other person and ultimately bring glory to God through our union. And for that, I'm going to need a man who knows what it means to be, well, all of those things - basically, who has a plan. The plan of being obedient to God when He speaks.

As I've personally learned in many a trial-by-fire situation throughout my twenties, that kind of spiritual maturity doesn't come easy. Work has to be done. You have to wander through the wilderness with God to get to the other side - and more than just once or twice.

You can't be Moses without climbing up Mt. Sinai.

You can't be David without gathering the stones.

You can't be Paul without getting on a donkey pointed towards Damascus. (Okay, bad example.)

What I'm saying is, to win the joust, you have to actually pick up the lance and get on the horse. Maybe not in that order.

See, now, I know I'm, um, unique. I know I'm a lot to handle. I know I'm pretty much dynamite packed into a tiny, 4'10" curly redheaded package. It's been that way my whole life. The general consensus I've heard from several sweet young men now is, "You're not like other girls." I take it as a compliment. But even so, what ultimately tends to happen is that men take an interest, get close to me, and come to realize that they're not quite ready for me yet.

It can be maddening, especially when the man has a razor-sharp wit that I have to run to keep up with and a laugh I'd voluntarily do pratfalls for just to hear again. Really, Lord?

And the answer I get back from God is, "Shhh. Just trust Me."

I don't know how long it will take. I don't know who it will finally be. God won't tell me. But I will say this: when God spoke to me about this during one of my own many wilderness periods, back in London in 2006, one of the things He said was, "It will be hard, but it will be worth it."

He wasn't lying about the first part. So I'm pretty sure the second part will be true, too.

In the meantime...pratfalls can be lots of fun if you know how to do them well. And you all know, I don't do anything halfway.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

When the Dealing's Done

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom will I send? Who will go for us?" And I said, "Here I am. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8

So, here's the thing about me: I don't do things halfway.

(I may have mentioned this previously, in fact.)

What I mean is, when I invest in someone, as in for real invest in them, it's more than just cooking what they like to eat and finding out what makes them laugh. That's just what I'll admit to. But it's so very much more than that, what God calls me to do when He plants someone in front of me to invest my emotions and prayers into. Behind the closed doors of my church when I steal inside to worship alone, in the darkness of the hours before bed when I'm laying everything out in front of Him, in the songs I play in my car and on my lunch break at work when I hide behind the building and meet my Lord there. Praying for God's will, for that person's relationship with Him, for direction and clarity and blessing and love and purpose and strength. Praying as God has spent the last ten years teaching me how.

Recently, in one of the most unexpected turn of events in my life thus far, God planted someone new in front of me in whom to invest. Getting to know this person has been an absolutely incredible adventure so far, and I can't wait for more.

This time, though, I hadn't really been investing the way I should've been.

Why, you ask?

Well, it's simple: because I was afraid.

Investing in someone like this, like God has me do, is a lot of work. It's exhausting. It's emotional. Also, up until now, it's ended with God using me in that role for a season and then saying, "OK, now it's over." (I always end up seeing His timing and will perfectly afterwards, but the whole process can be a humdinger.) And right now, I have no idea what God's will is, so I was just sort of spiritually...chilling. Just hanging out. Going with the flow.

If you know me at all, your reaction to that last sentence was probably "Ha!" And you'd be right.

Because that's not me at all. It's not in my nature. If I'm acting that way, that's fear. And where is fear from?

Oh yeah. Not God. Not in the least bit.

Yet, still, I was afraid. I was hedging my bets. Not really ready to lay my cards on the table. That's right - I was playing poker...with God.


But then (because there's always a "but then" with me and God, right?) - I visited a new church a few nights ago. One of the members shared with everyone that his father always used to say, "Either get out early or commit to see it through and give it your all. Don't do anything halfway."

Well, bugger.

Immediately, this happened:

God: *raises eyebrow*
Me: *ignoring*
God: Ahem.
Me: ...
God: AHEM.
Me: What?
God: Did you hear that?
Me: Yes...
God: Well?
Me: What's Your point?
God: You know what My point is.
Me: But I don't know what Your WILL is!
God: So?
Me: So...I'm trying to do Your will!
God: No you're not. You know what you're supposed to be doing, and you're not doing it!
Me: But...but...I didn't know...
God: Don't you get it? What you're really saying is that you won't step up until I say yes.
Me: I...what?
God: You're holding out on Me.
Me: No, I'm not!
God: Yes, you are! Is that really how you're going to treat this incredible blessing I've given you?
Me: No, Daddy! I didn't mean to...
God: And anyway...why should I say yes before I know you'll say yes?
Me: But...I...
God: You should know by now that's not the way it works, my dear.

No, that's not the way it works.

And so, this is me, laying my cards on the table. Stepping up. Here we go. No matter what God's will is in the end, I have to invest for the time He's called me to it. I don't have a choice. But I can do so confidently, because I know He'll be there to catch me no matter what happens.

Because ultimately, more than anything else, His glory is, and always has to be, first.

Here I am, Lord. Use me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Green Paper and the White Horse

As a girl who's still waiting for her Prince Charming to drop to one knee with a diamond ring in his outstretched hand, I've had a lot of time to think and learn about relationships. And, as a girl (er, woman?) several years out of college and my parents' house, I've thus had several years now of trying to make it on my own.

Finally, after years of struggling, two months ago, God blessed me with a great job in a growing company that promises security and opportunity and ample rewards for my hard work. It's incredible, really. I wake up every morning with praises on my tongue as I drive to work.

But as I position myself to really begin what appears to, at last, be my career - at least the first part of it - I can't help but wonder: am I shooting myself in the foot when it comes to relationships?

As I've watched others get into relationships, engagements, and marriages, I often see the earning of money being heartily shouldered by the husband. I've heard phrases from women like "He just wants me to make enough to pay for gas" and "I'm so happy he only wants me to supplement what he earns." It's made me wonder: is that what men want?

What I'm really asking is: is being self-sufficient a turn-off? Do I need, instead, to be a damsel in distress? Do men want to be able to ride in and save a woman who can't take care of herself in order to really feel like a man?

Now, I've never really been much of a "career woman" in the classic sense - in the sense of blind ambition, money-hunger, and choosing one's career over one's family - not in the slightest. I have passions, and drive, and yes, ambition, but it's not because I want to be the CEO or to puncture the glass ceiling with my Manolo Blahniks. (That's a designer shoe, gentlemen.) I want to minister. I want to use the gifts God has given me to share His love with others. I want to do what I love, and love what I do, and show His love everywhere I am, no matter where that is.

But yes, also...I want to be able to make a living.

My parents worked hard to provide well for me and my sister. We've never wanted for anything. Because of their drive, we went to good colleges. We have cars. We never have to worry that we'll be homeless or hungry. In these frustrating years after college that I've been struggling, I have had the security of knowing that my parents will always be there for me with not only emotional but also financial support. It has been an incredible blessing, and I want to be able to provide that same security for my own family, if God blesses me with children of my own. If the economy is this bad now, what will it be like in 10 years? 20? 40? I shudder to think.

So, to that end, and also because I'm a grown woman and I need to, I work. I work hard, with God's help and grace. I praise God for the opportunities given to me, and I show Him respect by taking advantage of them. I want to advance in my new company. I want to make a career, a living, out of this job that I've been given - unless or until God calls me to something else. I don't want to be an albatross around my future husband's neck; I want to be someone he can rely on throughout his life rather than yet another burden for him to shoulder. What if he loses his job? What if the worst happens? I believe that being a help-meet means not just being an assistant, but a partner.

But does that attitude, and that ability, and my new job and career, make me less attractive to a man who wants to gallop in on his white horse and save me?

I hope not.

Because here's the thing: I still need a man to be my hero. I need him to be strong in the Lord, a spiritual leader in our home. I need him to claim the Biblical authority he is meant to and be fully committed to the well-being of our family. I need him to be close enough to Jesus that he listens to Him about everything. I will need him to help teach our children, to minister to our elderly parents, and to help guide our lives in such a way that will constantly bring us further into God's will.

I need him to be strong enough to be able to handle the strong-willed woman I am.

As I was thinking about all this, about being a Christian woman and working and what does that mean?, I got the bright idea to, duh, go to the Bible. Here's what I found:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night. -
Proverbs 31:10-18

Well, then. I think I'll pretty much just keep doing what I've been doing.

If you want the truth, ultimately, my goal is to live in such a way, in all areas of my life, that 30 years from now, my husband will say to our children, "I praise God that I was lucky enough to marry your mother."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

When The Shoe Doesn't Fit

Anyone remember this post, about the lovely pink Nine West sandals I had my eye on back in the spring?

I waited and waited, and sure enough, they went on sale. When I checked back in at Nine West a few weeks ago, they were an incredible 75% off. That's more like it! So I excitedly asked to try them on. I expected it to be a shoe love affair that would last for a cork-heeled lifetime.


Mind you, I've been wearing heels for well nigh on 15 years now. I know how to carry myself in platforms. But when I slipped my feet into those sandals that looked so perfect on the shelf and took a step, I nearly toppled forward and landed nose-to-Nine-West-floor. I could barely even hobble around in them - the arch was too high, the angle was wrong.

I couldn't believe it. Those sandals that I'd thought would be so perfect...weren't.

I handed them back to the salesclerk forlornly. It wouldn't have made sense to buy them.

But then, a few days later, I was in a discount shoe store with a friend, and, amidst the clearance rack of uninspiring flats and end-of-season flip flops, in the last place I expected to find a pair of sandals that would delight me like the pink ones...I saw them.

A gorgeous shade of green. High heels. Similar to the Nine West sandals, but better than I could have imagined. Perfect, really. And best of all, they were about the cost of a Happy Meal.

I tried them on. Despite being a size too big normally, they actually fit! I couldn't believe it.

They came home with me that very day.

It just goes to show...when God says no to what you thought you wanted, more than likely, He's getting ready to bless you with something even better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cosmically Cream-Pied: My Suffering For His Glory

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -1 Corinthians 10:31

I think one of the most difficult concepts to grasp about God, not only for non-Christians but for Christians, too, is that He does everything for His glory. When you know God as Abba, Daddy, creator and lover of your soul, it’s hard to understand that He would do anything else besides pet you and snuggle on you and give you balloon animals to play with. Which, don’t get me wrong, He’s pretty good at that sort of thing – the grace, the unconditional love, and the peace that passes all understanding. He’s there when you need Him and He’s the only one who will never, ever fail you.

But He still does everything for His glory.

And if you ask in earnestness to be used by God, He will, in fact, use you for that very purpose.

It was March of this year. I had just started at a new job. I was one of six women in my department - the youngest, the most naive, the quietest. It was my fourth job in a year and I was burned out. But if there was anything I’d learned in that year, it was that when God put me in a job, there was always, always someone He wanted me to connect with and minister to, to love on, and in doing so, show His love. I mean, obviously we’re meant to do that with everyone, but God usually had specific people in mind when He planted me in a new job. This time was no different.

But this time, darn it, I didn’t really want to.

I knew from the moment I met her what God wanted from me. It was as if there were a big neon sign pointing down from Heaven saying “Here she is - show her you know Me.” Bright. Blinking. Obvious as a neon sign can be. But it wasn’t going to be at all as simple as marching up and saying “Hi, I love Jesus, how about you?”

She was a veteran, having been at the job for over thirty years. Have I mentioned I was the newbie? The temp? The young wide-eyed innocent, like a sticky-fingered kindergartener trying to learn to sail the boat she’d been captaining for years?

I knew what God wanted. But I was weary. Frustrated at the uncertainty of still being a temp, exhausted with my new schedule and my 45-minute commute, overwhelmed with the newness of my responsibilities. I wanted to take a pass. I just wanted to come in, work, make my pittance of an hourly wage, and go home and collapse. My life was tumultuous enough anyway, and God certainly knew it. Believe me, I reminded Him regularly.

But there it was. The neon sign. Blinking. Unmistakable.

For two months, I tried to ignore it. For two months, I inched around her quietly, keeping to myself, trying not to be too much trouble. Even though, all along, God was saying “Ahem” and throwing out no small amount of pointed stares and even more pointed fingers.

Yet I kept quiet.

And then something happened that sent everything shattering down around me: for the third time in my life, I got my heart really broken.

Now, much as I try not to, I usually wear my heart centered very visibly on my sleeve. In the evenings, I nursed my broken heart by watching Bridget Jones’ Diary on repeat with whitener on my teeth while obsessing about ways to (organically!) enhance the redness of my hair and whining ad nauseum to my very obliging male friends. But during the day, under the fluorescent lights of my office, I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t wipe the “I’ve-been-hit-by-a-mack-truck” expression off my face, and my coworker immediately noticed.

“What’s wrong, honey?” she asked.

And so, instead of deigning to obey God for months before, now, I just went to mush. I told her the whole story, poured out my misery and confusion and general wretchedness. She listened and sympathized and offered me grace and encouragement. And then she shared with me some of her own heartbreak, and I responded in kind. We connected not on a level of here, let me minister to you but we’re both broken and need our Lord to heal us.

That afternoon, after we’d so deeply connected, I sent her what I thought was the simplest of gestures - my favorite Pslam in an email. As I was on the phone with a customer, she came over and hugged me, crying. She said it meant so much to her, and she printed it out and pinned it up at her desk. From that day on, she began calling me her “angel” - the person who connected her to God.

There is no way in the world that I will ever take credit for that. But my goodness, was it humbling.

One week later, I was moved to a different team, on a different floor. And three weeks after that, we all lost our jobs. I didn’t know then, but it had been my last chance to do what God had been prodding me to do for months.

God does everything for His glory. He let my heart be broken - for His glory. He let me be miserable and wretched and confused and flailing - for His glory. He knew that it would break down the wall and get accomplished what He wanted to get accomplished. I’d asked Him to use me, and He did.

And you know what is so unbelievable to me? That day, the day of tears and shortness of breath and the world spinning and nothing making sense, when my sweet, precious coworker called me her angel and shared with me the kind of heartbreak she’d been through, I went into the bathroom, stared at myself in the mirror, and thanked God for letting it happen. For letting me get my heart broken. Because more than anything else, I realized, I want to show His glory, too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Post-Collegiate and the Restless

For all of you who are older than 25 but not yet firmly entrenched in the minivan-driving, late-night-feeding, extracurricular-activity-juggling stages of your lives, those of you who left the hallowed walls of your undergraduate institution anywhere from, say, three to fifteen years ago…do you remember what it used to be like?

When I was in college, I certainly didn’t view it as the best time of my life. Actually, I viewed it as pretty much an extension of high school with a bigger cafeteria and more papers to write. I was still not part of the “in crowd” – only now, the “in crowd” was made up of the theater and music kids who looked warily at a writing major with the hairy eyeball similar to that of zebras sizing up an antelope trying to fit into the herd. Nobody cared that I loved directing or that I’d done it in high school to great fanfare in my tiny hometown. My hair was still frizzy. I still couldn’t find my budding pubescent ideal of a suitably artistic, poetry-reading, brooding boyfriend to save my soul. (There’s probably more than one reason for that, by the way, but I digress.) I still bought my jeans in the juniors’ section and my makeup from Wal-Mart. It was all just a bit of a letdown in the “I can’t wait to get out of this cow town because I’ll FIT IN when I go to college, dagnabbit!” department.

I wasn’t popular. I didn’t like swigging beer out of a red plastic cup amidst cigarette smoke and bad rap music in a frat house living room. I didn’t really fit in anywhere, much as I tried. (This is a pattern that I’ve found has stuck with me up until this very moment.)

In my now late-twenties wisdom, I’ve deduced that we usually can’t see the forest for the trees until we’re at least a few years out of the forest.

But despite all that, in college, my goodness, did we think. And why did we think? Well, largely, because we read.

There was a time when I could tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Regency-era and Victorian British literature and how those characters mirrored and related to life. I knew what I thought about stuff, like how you can’t teach someone to write, you can only teach someone to write like you, which I subconsciously channeled on a weekly basis to my writing professors as they ripped apart my short stories in workshop class. My friends and I took honors classes called “Thought,” “Thought and Civilization,” and “Thought and Social Sciences” (only at an expensive liberal arts school, I’ll tell you), where I was introduced to topics such as racism, gender equality, sexual stereotyping, and a host of other controversial subjects that had never even been brought up in my small-town high school. I had to defend – and thus further examine and delve deeper into – my faith. No longer was I a rebel because my family were Democrats; now, I was different because I was far more conservative than most of my classmates.

Because of these classes, my friends and I sat around and talked. We debated. We discussed. We read. We wrote. We thought. We engaged with each other intellectually and emotionally in a way I’ve not really experienced before or since. While the year I spent in England pursuing my Master’s degree in screenwriting was the most creatively challenging of my life, it still wasn’t the same as the years I spent thinking about the meaning of life with my fellow, largely clueless – because, let’s face it, we were 20 – undergraduate companions.

And now…what? Now, we’re all a little older, we’ve lived a little more. Our faith and wills and strength and work ethics and loyalties have been tested. Largely, we’re much more qualified to talk about the meaning of life after having, y’know, lived it a bit than we were when we sat in our dorm rooms digesting bad cafeteria food and sticking toothpicks into Peeps to recreate the Arthurian legend for fun on a Friday night.

But we don’t.

It’s been coming on me in ever-increasing stages. The ennui. The listlessness. The feeling that snickering little elves are sneaking into my grown-up apartment every night and sliding past my toy poodle at the foot of the bed to suck my brain out through tiny straws and replace it with a cardboard cutout of itself.

Now, the hot debate between me and my grown-up friends is which flavor of Sunchips is the best, or which grocery store is running the most deals this week. Did you know that high-energy washers and dryers can cut down 60% of your utility bills for a family of four? If you’re interested, a friend of mine can rattle off sales tax percentages in five different states. A couple years ago, for about a month until we got preoccupied with silly things like paying rent, my best friend from college and I became accountability partners to make sure we were both actively reading books and not just the nutritional information on food packaging. The last time I inquired if someone liked Jane Austen, the answer I got was, “Well, I liked the movies.”

Has it really come to this?

My turning point came this weekend when I (very temporarily) forgot that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley had written Frankenstein and could not without the aid of Google remember who had written Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both of which I wrote papers on in college. I felt humiliated in front of my also well-educated friend on the other end of the phone line. I am smart, I swear! If my favorite professor could see me now, I dread to think what his reaction would have been. I totally shamed him.

That was it. It was the end.

I might not be the most glamorous, or most effervescent, or (gasp) the wittiest girl all the time, and even though I long ago mastered how to properly curl my hair, one step in the rain or humidity will be my undoing…but I know my literature, thank you very much.

An hour after that ill-fated Google search, I was nose-to-binding in the library. An hour after that, I was lugging a stack of seven books through the front door of my grown-up-apartment (the most I could comfortably carry out by myself).

Since Saturday afternoon, I’ve devoured two of those books. So far.

And let me tell you, friends, this is just the beginning.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Kiss that Stopped the Music

I'm a couple weeks late on posting this, but it was just today that I found a video of it online, and, as the old saying goes, a picture's worth a thousand words. My meager rambling couldn't do it justice, so I refrained from writing about it until I could show it. Until now.

As I've written before, I'm a bona-fide, unashamed Gleek, mostly because of these two characters. Some of the histrionics the other characters and plot lines can be off putting at times; but sappy, ridiculous, and controversial or not, this show does emotion, depth, and love well - and not just between these two characters, either. (The relationship between Kurt and Burt Hummell is a prime example.) But these two are my favorites.

Finn, the down-home country boy with the inexplicable charisma and the heart of gold who isn't afraid to stand up for what he believes in - and even sing about it. Rachel, the over-the-top drama queen bound for Broadway who encourages Finn to step up and grow up. Finn teaches Rachel lessons about grace and selflessness. Rachel inspires Finn to be a better man.

Their relationship has always been more than just friendship but not always quite true love - Finn had to get closure from his ex-girlfriend (Quinn) and while he was waffly, Rachel got distracted by another musician (Jesse). But for weeks and weeks during the second season, while Finn was back together with Quinn, hordes of Gleeks all over the country have been crying out "Team Rachel!" as we've seen that these two are just not quite right when they're not together.

And then, the week before the season finale, during a funeral, Finn (finally) has a moment of self-realization, which leads him to break up with Quinn. He realizes he wants to be with Rachel.

To make an hour-long episode story short, they all go to New York for the national show choir championship. This is Finn and Rachel's song together.

It's glorious. It's perfect. It's epic. The song, the kiss, everything. It's the kiss that stopped the music.

We grown-ups in the audience know that it doesn't end when the curtain drops. Real life will set in, even amidst the most scripted, storybook tale of love stories. But for just one brief shining moment, all the girls who have a little bit of Rachel in us can grasp onto the hope that, if we haven't yet, one day we'll have a kiss that stops the music, too.

Monday, May 23, 2011

REMIND you of anyone?!

Something epically wonderful happened this weekend.

"What?!" you ask. Did I win the lottery? Did I finally get a cute, smart, Jesus-loving boyfriend who thinks I'm hilarious? Did the rapture happen and I'm typing this from inside my certainly purple-walled mansion in Heaven?

Well, no.


Last night, a lovely and sweet and precious and VERY SMART friend of mine was visiting and helped me accomplish something I've been wanting to do for well nigh on three years now: he set up my computer so I can use my not-too-shabbily-sized TV as a monitor.

Which means...

...wait for it...

...because everything's always better when you have to wait for it...

...and then it finally happens...

...(or so I've been told)...

...yes, that's right, ladies and gentleman - I CAN NOW WATCH CRAIG FERGUSON'S MONOLOGUES FROM BACK IN 2005 AND ONWARD (which I found years ago archived on a website surely sent to me by my loving, generous Lord) ON MY TELEVISION SCREEN.


As my sort-of-sister and fellow redheaded bestie Kayla often says...CAPSLOCK FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

Here's a little preview - one of my favorite monologues of Craig's EVER. It's from 2008, and if you know me at all I've probably already, ahem, strongly coerced you into watching this, but no one's complained yet!


Also, I should advise: if you know me in real life and you visit me anytime within the next few weeks, be prepared for me to plant you on my big comfy couch and strongly coerce you to watch several of Craig's early monologues with me. It going to happen. It's just a fact. You've been warned. But I'll also feed you - probably cake! - so, y'know...six-a-one. Cake and comedy and my cute dog - there are far worse ways to spend an evening, I assure you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Hole in the Heart, Indeed

It's been a week.

One whole, long, dreadful week.

Seven gloomy, cloud-over-everything days since the precious and precocious squintern Vincent Nigel-Murray was brutally gunned down by that vicious, despicable sniper on Bones.

I still can't believe it.

All right, so, yes. I admit it. I'm an Anglophile. I'm also a Geekophile. And let's be honest - brilliant, adorable actor Ryan Cartwright made Vincent Nigel-Murray just about as endearing as could be. For his blinding intelligence, social awkwardness, posh accent, over-the-top enthusiasm, and everything else that made him the ineffable Mr. Nigel-Murray, he was my favorite character on television right now, and, arguably, ever.

Every Thursday, I'd excitedly turn on Bones to see if he was on that night. I loved his wit, his glibness, his factoids, his charm. His smile was infectious and his childlike wonder irresistible. What can I say? He made me happy.

Now, I may perchance get too involved with television shows, but when that bullet the size of the Eiffel Tower that could have easily taken down an actual dinosaur ripped into his chest and he lay in a pool of blood begging for his life, well, I lost it like nobody's business.

It might be sappy to admit all this, but his death really got to me. I totally went through the five stages of grief for Vincent. It really hit me in the shower last Friday. I got angry. I kept thinking, why? WHY?? They can't just do this! They can't just up and change things. They can't just take him away from me. He made me happy! It's not fair!!

(Now, there may be an ever-so-slight chance that the strength of my reaction is about more than just a television character, but I am choosing not to focus on that right now. Ahem.)

Turns out, the actual reason it happened isn't so tragic at all - the amazingly talented Ryan Cartwright got his own show, Alphas, on Syfy. It's set to premiere on July 11th. I'm cable-less at the moment, but I've got to find a way to watch. I'm nothing if not a loyal -phile!

Bones creator Hart Hanson said that they'd known about Ryan's departure for awhile, so they had to work it into the show's storyline somehow. He said that Vincent was a well-loved character, "so we decided to kill him for the heartbreak."


The hole in the heart, indeed.

RIP, Vincent Nigel-Murray. You will be deeply, sorely missed. And Ryan Cartwright, you are an incredible actor and you deserve all the success in the world. I know you'll be phenomenal on Alphas, and I can't wait to watch!

Monday, May 16, 2011


It's easier to be disappointed than to be forgiving.

It's easier to wait than to move on.

It's easier to return to what you know than take a risk on what you don't.

It's easier to stay home than to dress up and go out.

It's easier to be complacent than to grow up.

It's easier to talk to your dog for an hour than to talk to a stranger for half of one.

It's easier to be in the audience than to be onstage.

It's easier to blame the circumstances than to take ownership.

It's easier to retreat than to advance.

It's easier to be comfortable than to be challenged.

It's easier to keep the boat steady than to tip it over.

It's so much easier to do...what's easier.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Saturday Morning Teatime: Team Rachel

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Happy May Day!

It's here, it's here...that shocking time of year...yet again!

Happy May Day, everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

And then, it all made sense.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. -John 20:1-8

Three days later.

Three days after their best friend, their leader, their messiah, their everything...died.

Dead. Gone. Wrapped. Sealed. Not coming back. It was over.

Everything they'd ever believed in died right in front of them.

Towels thrown in. Fat lady singing. Nothing to see here, boys. That's it.

For three days.

Three days of confusion, terror, and heartbreak.

But then...then.

A stone rolled away. Folded grave clothes. An empty tomb.

And then it all made sense.

Because He didn't stay dead.

He was risen!

He was back. He was very much alive. He is very much alive. Because of Him, we have life. We have forgiveness. We have freedom.

Because He's alive, we have forever.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Morning Teatime: A Strange Darkness

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. -Luke 23:44-46

When Jesus died, the whole Earth was plunged into darkness - literally and figuratively.

No one could see.

Nothing made sense.

Jesus was supposed to be their savior.

But He was dead.

Everything was dark.




Have you ever felt that way?

Where am I? What happened? How could this happen?

This doesn’t fit with everything else God said.

I don’t understand.

Is this really the way the story ends?

But it’s not. We know the story.

All we have to do is give it a day or two.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

30 Going on 13

It really started in junior high. As a 4’7” painfully scrawny, be-speckled and braces-clad principal’s daughter who hadn’t grown into her red curls or out of children’s clothes and was more interested in Shakespeare than snogging boys, I knew what it was to be teased and ostracized. Every day was a circus sideshow act of name-calling, pitying looks, and ridicule. So I got tough. I got good at not caring and letting it roll off me like water off a duck’s back. When girls brayed at me like a donkey in the hallway, “imitating” my singing ability, I’d look them straight in the eye and deadpan, “I’m sorry, do you have something in your throat? Cause you might want to have that checked out.”

That attitude carried me through high school and even into my early college years. I was hard as nails. Disappointing, heart wrenching betrayals by so-called friends and my first real love only hardened me more. I lived up to the redheaded temper stereotype and was proud to do it. I was fiercely loyal to people I loved, but break my trust once, and we were done. Look twice at the boy I was interested in, and it was all-out war. I sussed out other girls’ insecurities and failings with one glance and was quicker with a bitingly snarky (and scathingly true) one-liner than anyone else. Dynamite comes in small packages. You know not with whom you mess.

Then God called me to England as a college junior in 2003. And there, He broke me.

After enduring loneliness like I never knew possible, and then finding an incredible church full of the Holy Spirit and genuine, loving Christian friends, I came back from England humbled and softened. It didn’t happen overnight, though - I was broken for a long time. It took another two years for Him to fully strip away (most of) my volatility and split-second instincts to act defensively and push people away. But He did it…because He brought me, and still continues to bring me, closer and closer to Himself. I pray He never gives up on me.

I recently had an experience where I felt like I was back in junior high. It blindsided me a bit, to be honest. Back amidst those girls who shared despising glances and turned their backs to me. Except now, we’re 30. (Well, I’m not, yet. Heh.)

And it broke me all over again.

My heart ached at the silence, the coldness, the obvious dislike, when I wanted so very much to be liked. I bristled at a “joking” comment about my height. I felt awkward, unwelcome, out of place. Worst of all, I felt it creeping back up again - my old hardness, my walls of defense. It wounded me. I know all too well how to play this game…but I couldn’t. Not now, not again. So instead of throwing out biting, passive aggressive comments shrouded in the fuzzy, prickly sweater of sweetness, I bit my tongue. All I had done the whole day before was pray for God to work through me, to speak through me, to give me grace and maturity and peace. And by Heaven, I was going to stick by that - even if it meant I didn’t say a single word the whole time.

Instead, I stood back and listened. Listened to the insecurity. The fear. But more than anything else, I heard myself in their dialogue. Myself, eight years ago. Myself, trembling in terror. Desperately trying to one-up the other girl. Desperately trying to make myself look better. “You stay away from my future husband!” I know I said that at 20, probably verbatim, about my now ex-boyfriend. Myself, striving to do anything I had to do if it meant my own “happy ending” would just be within reach. It shocked and humbled me.

I couldn’t say anything. I went home feeling numb, with pain and yet also with a strange sense of relief. When I crawled into bed that night, I crawled up into God’s lap and asked Daddy to hold me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get angry and jealous and insecure sometimes – a lot, actually – but now, it only hurts. It aches. It’s not right, and God swoops in and convicts me within seconds. I back down from arguments rather than starting them. When snarky comments roll off my tongue, they burn on the way out. If I start getting at all puffed up with myself and my own virtues, God wastes no time in very obviously reminding me of my quite helpless estate and utter dependence on Him.

I know what it is to be that girl. I know exactly how all of that feels. And praise Jesus, thanks to my merciful, loving Daddy and Lord, it’s taken more than two decades, but I’m not that girl anymore.