When The Fog Lifts

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The mark of this season seems to be newness.

Newness of life means new places of risk, which means new places of letting go, which means new places of trust. The recovering independent-spirited-middle-child in me wants to fight it … and the thrill-seeking adventure lover in me kind of loves it.

I’m not sure how the month of August went by so fast, but alas, it has come and gone. Along with half of September. I hope none of you blinked, because you probably missed it. As I was sifting through my journal a couple of weeks ago, I saw this pattern of God doing new things in every area of my life.

New things in my marriage. New things in my friendships. New things in my family. New things in my career. New things in our journey to church plant.

I don’t know if everyone else’s life is like mine, but it seems like when it rains, it pours. Good or bad, once one new thing happens, it seems like it penetrates every little place of my life.

It felt like in the first half of 2013, we were just following a pace car, knowing that the true acceleration point was coming, but still able to just get ready and set. And now, all of a sudden, everything is moving fast and it feels like we’re covering a lot of ground in a little bit of time.

Honestly, at times it feels like we’re moving so fast that everything around us is just a blur. It feels like maybe eventually the ride will stop and we’ll get out and look back and realize we came a long way since the last time we saw things clearly.

And maybe that’s the trusting part of this journey — knowing that when I can’t see, God can, and He is directing my steps anyway, so why am I so concerned with knowing where we’re going all the time?

This past weekend I took a really short trip to Charlotte to surprise my best friend at her engagement party. The last few months have been a bittersweet journey of learning that the day is coming when her husband steps in as best friend and I take the next place in line in her life. In a strange sort of way I feel like learning to release her must be a tiny glimpse of what parenthood feels like.

I think the hardest part, if I’m honest, is that the more I see God doing new things all around me, the more I can’t figure out how it will all fit together. It seems like all the paths I thought were supposed to go to one place are diverging into all different directions.

But He said it would be good. He said he was working all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

This is a promise, right?

So maybe listening to His voice doesn’t always require understanding. Maybe this is what He means when He says it’s the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search them out. (Proverbs 25:2) 

Back in January, I felt like my year was off to a foggy beginning, and what time has shown is that this was the grace and favor of God on my life to conceal things for a time. And now the fog is lifting, and things are looking different than I thought they would. I remembered that in January I also felt like God said this would be a year of new perspective.

So I boarded a plane back to Texas on Monday morning at 6 a.m., and as we took off, I could see the sun rising behind Charlotte, backlighting the skyline so that I could just see a silhouette of the city. A sweet prophetic picture of the dawning of a new season, where we can vaguely see the outline but are not yet able to see the details.

And a little bit later, in the air and flying over who knows where, I looked down through a layer of hazy, translucent clouds. I could see roads crossing, separating and coming together. I could see a river winding in and through all of it.

It reminded me that when we’re on the road, we can’t see everything. We see the fork in the road right in front of us, but we don’t see the crossroads that happens miles later.

This aerial view was a sweet reminder that it’s all part of a bigger picture. Sometimes our paths cross, and other times they don’t. Sometimes we’re on a winding road and other times we’re on the fast track to the next place. But He is the river of life that winds through it all.

My job is to keep dreaming with God, but He is the Dream Weaver. As I learn to surrender and submit each little dream thread to Him, what I can’t see is that He’s weaving it all together into something beautiful.

Suddenly with this perspective, letting go is a lot easier. I’m not sure when I’ll get to know in full what God is doing with these things I hand over to Him, but it’s OK. I’ll see the fruit of it later when the fog lifts.

Thoughts on Traveling vs. Arriving

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Out at sea, waiting for someone to say there’s land ahead.

Stuck on a turbulent flight, praying for the moment when we reach clear air, or better yet, a runway.

Traveling on a winding road that I think is getting me somewhere, but I’m not quite sure.

These are the analogies I would use to describe what this season of life has been like. It’s been a lovely adventure, but a chaotic one. Yesterday marked my first full week in Waco since May.

The dust is starting to settle from the summer, and I’m finding a resting point in the journey, but I’m learning that that’s just what it is — a resting point in a journey.

I’m learning that stability is more often a goal than a reality, and that maybe movement is better than a stand still, because then at least you know you’re headed somewhere.

I’m learning that perhaps life is more about traveling and less about arriving.

I’ve always loved traveling — experiencing new places and people and possibilities. Maybe that’s because my parents are adventurers, and we were always looking to what was next because my Dad loves a challenge, so he rarely said no to a new opportunity. And the older I get, the more I realize that I’m wired just like him.

But sometimes I get a little adventured out. Sometimes I need a pit stop to refuel and rest (as does everyone), and last week, I thought I was getting that.

I was supposed to have three days off from nannying, so I woke up on Wednesday ready to spend some extra long time with God, run some long-overdue errands, clean up my house, and have Thursday and Friday just to spend time writing and catching up with friends.

Then I got a message saying one of the boys had gotten sick and had to stay back from visiting grandparents with the other two. I was now needed to keep said sick boy, for the next two and a half days.

I cried.

Then I went to get laundry out of the dryer, and my sweet “let me lift some of your burdens and do the laundry for you” husband had put my favorite white shirt in with five pairs of blue jeans. Needless to say my shirt was no longer white. 

I cried again. (It’s ok babe, I really do forgive you)

My pit stop had quickly turned into a “run on fumes and hope you make it to the next gas station” sort of situation.

I finally pulled myself together, prayed, and moved forward with my day. Because when we abide in Jesus, He is in this place, which makes His response, “I have graced you to travel road you’re on.”

I don’t honestly know where this road is going. I have lofty dreams of where I’d like for it to take me, and I keep moving forward every day hoping I’m getting closer to there, but I have a feeling there will be a lot of unexpected pit-stops (or lack thereof).

And this is the nature of traveling. Flights get delayed, cancelled and rerouted. Roads get closed and detoured. It rarely stops us from getting where we’re trying to go, though. It just changes the journey a little bit.

So I feel like my job is just to stay the course. If that means taking care of a sick kid, great. It’s no less valuable than winning a Pulitzer or writing a best seller, because his mom has entrusted me with her three most valuable possessions, and that is a road I am privileged to be traveling in this season. 

Do I hope this road is also leading me in the direction of my wildest dreams coming true? Absolutely. Am I doing everything I can to set myself up for success in that way? Of course. Do I know it will all turn out the way I want it to?

I guess not.

But I know God has it all mapped out. I know He goes before me. I know He has my best in mind. I know I wouldn’t rather travel with anyone else but Him.

So this is my resolve and encouragement on this mundane Monday: I’m not waiting for the arrival with bitterness or frustration in my heart. I’m submitting to the journey and enjoying all of it, because God has graced me to travel this road that I’m on. Like a boss.

Lessons learned from two hours of rock stardom

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My college roommate Kelsey was (and still is) one of my favorite friends to adventure with. We had a “before we graduate” bucket list during our four years of school, full of your typical “college no parents” aspirations…

A list of bands we wanted to see, festivals we wanted to attend, road trips we wanted to take and tattoos we wanted to get. I’m pretty sure that in those four years we knocked out almost all of them, too.

There was this one unchecked item on the list, though: Dance on stage with Girl Talk.

If you’re not really into the electronica/dance party scene, allow me to educate you: Girl Talk is a DJ. At all of his shows, he pulls 20 or so people out of the crowd to dance on stage during his set. They get to shoot the toilet paper/confetti guns, throw beach balls and giant balloons into the crowd — it’s epic.

Well it just so happened that our “last hoorah” festival in May 2012 had Girl Talk on the lineup. It was the weekend before graduation. I was getting married and moving away in six weeks. This was our chance.

So Kelsey and I, with a few other friends, were walking across the festival grounds at Beale St. Music Fest on our way from the Florence + the Machine show (which I highly recommend if you ever have the chance to see her) to where Girl Talk was going to play. As we passed by the stage and headed towards the crowd that was already gathered, we noticed that on the other side of the fence was the group of people they had selected to go on stage.

Dang it. We missed it.

Or maybe we didn’t. They’re not on stage yet. We have to get back there.

So we did what made logical sense, and we ran around to the back, where the trailers and tour buses were.

Lesson Learned No. 1: If you act like you know what you’re doing, people will believe you.

So one of our friends told the security guard that we were supposed to be with the group going on stage, and they let us in. It was that easy.

We got to the crowd, tried to blend in, and caught the last little bit of instructions from the production manager.

“Don’t stop dancing! If you stop moving, we will pull you off stage. You are a part of the show. We will bring you water. Leave your phones back stage. Have fun.”

Seconds later, we were on stage. It was pitch black, you could literally feel the screams of thousands of people, and the whole time I’m thinking, “this can’t be real.”

Then all of a sudden the lights went up, the bass dropped, and the show had started. For a split second Kelsey and I looked at each other like deer in headlights — and then we did what we knew must be done. We danced like crazy.

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So maybe I broke the “no phones on stage” rule for a few seconds.

Lesson Learned No. 2: When you find yourself in a place you never thought you’d be, embrace it. When there’s an open door (or in our case security gate), run through it. When there’s music, dance. (I realize there are probably a few exceptions to this, but you get the point)

We danced for the entire two hour set. Two hours! I’ve never sweat so much in my life. It was a blast. I was busting moves I didn’t even know I had (you run out of ammo after like 45 minutes!). I had adrenaline pumping like never before.

Lesson Learned No. 3: I totally understand now why so many rock stars have drug problems. That adrenaline high several times a week cannot be easy to come down from.

Here’s what that whole experience taught me, in all seriousness. Pushing boundaries can be worth it. I hope I’m pushing all your rule following buttons just by saying that. And hear me when I say, in your relationship with God, let Psalm 16 be your compass. The boundary lines have fallen for you in pleasant places.

But God knows my heart, He lives there. And when there’s a tiny opening for me to do something crazy that I’ve always wanted to do, I’m taking a risk and blowing right through that opening, believing that He left it open for a reason.

Usually taking a risk involves breaking some ideal or principle or rule we’ve set up for ourselves, and we question it because “this is the way it’s always been done.”

A bleeding woman pushed through crowds she wasn’t supposed to be in and touched Jesus. That was countercultural and totally boundary pushing. (Matt. 9:20-22)

Zacchaeus climbed a tree just to see Jesus pass by. How many rich dudes have you seen climbing trees lately? (Luke 19:1-10)

Mary washed His feet with her hair. OK, that’s just kind of weird, right? (John 12:1-8)

But the reward was great for all of these people! They saw an opportunity to do something a little crazy, but worth it, and they went for it without looking back.

I dare you to break a rule today. Don’t break a law or a command, but break a rule. I think you’re all wise enough to find the difference. Break a rule and dance like crazy. 

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Found this photo taken by someone in the crowd on instagram. That’s me at the end of the arrow.