The Monday After Graduation

So I officially graduated this past weekend.

I’ve been done with school for a year–save a left over class this past fall–so it felt a little weird. Throughout the weekend I was asked by friends “Can you believe this is really happening?” and I wasn’t really sure how to respond. It didn’t feel like my graduation. It felt like I was there to support my friends and I had to wear are really weird hat as I did so.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to get some closure and walk with the people I started school with. As the provost announced “I present to you the class of spring 2014” I could only feel a little saddened because that wasn’t me. It was odd and detached, but still emotional and I really haven’t processed through that if you can tell from my rambling…

But as I was thinking yesterday afternoon, I realized that there are now hundreds of people in that class who now don’t know what’s next. They reached the point of the map I did last year and realized they have to chart the rest of the journey.

That all said, this is a open letter to those who woke up this morning realizing that they have no idea what to do with the rest of their lives.

Hi, friend.

This post is going live at noon. I’m not sure if you were up before then… probably not. Good for you.

Now you probably aren’t sure what to do now that you’re at your parents house. With no job. No money. No idea. I hope this doesn’t bring on too much panic. If so, go get a paper bag. Breathe into it.

Alright. You good? Good.

Know that even though you don’t know what’s next, God does. This season is going to require a LOT of trust. And trust is hard. It means you’re not in control anymore. It means that you recognize that your way is not the best way, but that the will of someone else is greater. It means you’ll probably walk down some hard roads, take some rough spills, have to look around and wonder where on earth you are in life.

There will be plenty of rejection letters and interviews that lead no where. Plenty of bills coming and not a lot of cash. Plenty of pressure felt but the question of ‘What are you doing now that you’re done with college?’ I hate that question. I think it’s safe for you to hate it to.

Know that it will take time to get your feet under you and get established. Know that it’s okay that you’re not using your degree as you act as a barista, a sales person, a factory worker, a whatever-you-need-to-be-to-pay-back-the-loans.

Also find a way to do what you love. Spend your nights doing that thing. Pay the bills and live with passion. Don’t waste this season because despite the confusion, the sense of being lost, there can be great beauty. Find community, talk with a mentor, be known. Learn who you are and spend time in the word.

Live big, feel small, and keep your hands open for what God may bring your way.

This is a hard place to be, but you can thrive here. I know it.

Praying for you, friend.

Congratulations on your accomplishment! Here’s to the hope of your next one.

–Lex
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I Live in My Parent’s Basement with 50,000 Cats…

The title is what it says.

No, I did not get a cat. I will not get a cat. Gross.

In the house my parents recently bought, there is a huge bathroom in the basement where me and my sister’s rooms are. And the walls are covered in cats. Lots of cats with staring eyes and odd facial expressions.



I love our new home. There is plenty of room to entertain people and I’m really figuring out how to make my space my own. It’s wonderful.

But the title is what it says. I live in my parent’s basement with 50,000 cats.

Not exactly living the dream.

Here is a close-up of my lovely cat friend. I think
the hearts beside the names signify some sort of
rating system, though I’m not sure why Fat Cat
is better than Calico Cat…

‘Tis the season for engagements. ‘Tis the season of remembering that those engagements are not my own. ‘Tis the season for discontentment and materialism and poor-me-ness. ‘Tis the season to forget what this season is truly about and wallow in self-pity and loneliness.

This season is not about me. Not the Christmas season, not this season of life, and not life in general.

And yet I feel entitled to pout. Pout because I live in my parent’s basement with 50,000 cats. Pout because I am alone at Christmastime. Pout because I have been alone for a while. And pout because its just easy.

Honestly, I often hold a negative view of singleness because I am lazy. Rather than seeing each season as the classroom God has placed me in, I wine and belly-ache, trying to get my way with no avail. I am wasting what God has given me in the hear and now.


Rather than spending this time investing in the friendships, opportunities, and time he has given me, I allow myself to sit and do nothing. By doing nothing, I get bored. My days become filled with discontentment, loneliness, and honestly too much Netflix. Rather than investing in a redemptive friendship, I watch White Collar reruns. Rather than deepening my relationship with God, I deepen the butt divets on my couch seat. Rather than taking time to better myself and my craft, I piddle away my creativity trying to formulate witty tweets and statuses that will garner numerous retweets and likes. I am wasting this season.

I am not seeking God more fully, I am not growing in community, and I am not becoming a better writer. I’m hardly traveling beyond the basement!

If this is singleness, then yeah! This is shit!

But I have fallen for the grand lie. You see, I have not been doomed to singleness and a life among the cats. I have been blessed so completely with opportunity up the wazoo!

This is the cat I can seen from the shower. Notice his
disturbed facial expression. I call him Peeping Tom Cat.


Here is the truth:
My parents are wonderful God-fearing people who have encouraged me to live my dream and pursue the calling I believe God has given me (aka. writing.) My parents are sensible people who understand that writing pays nothing…. sometimes negative nothing. As such, they allow to me live in their house RENT FREE as I pay off my schooling and pursue a job in the publishing industry. Let me repeat: I live in an awesome house, complete with pool and cat-laden bathroom RENT FREE.

As such, I have an opportunity to gain experience in my field of study. I have a splendidly patient supervisor who wants me to learn and make industry connections. God has equipped me for this position in oddly comical ways and has provided wise counsel exactly when I need it.

I have time in the evenings to work on the novel I’ve been itching to get to for the last three years. I have a chance to host small groups in my home and grow in relationship with the word of God, the people of God, and the spirit of God.

Because I am living rent free and have a wonderful job that helps me keep the loans in check, I can begin to save to travel. I have the chance to invest my time, treasure, and talent into so many things that I would not be able to be as devoted to if I had married right out of school.

God has blessed me with the season of life that I need right now to become who I am called to be. I am not settled yet. I am not all he is going to make me. I am not ready to be married and it is not until I get off the couch, and out of the basement, and into his word that I begin to realize there is more to this season than my wants and desires. There is a God who is shaping me to be his servant no matter what lies ahead. 

I live in my parent’s basement with 50,000 cats.

Title is what it says. I live there as God trains me to go out and embrace his will. I won’t have the company of the cats forever. Time to devote to my writing won’t be so generous in the future. The quiet moments with my Father won’t be as easily gained.
I need to enjoy and embrace this season while it is here. This is one chapter of many more and the next one can’t begin until this one is written.

It’s gonna be a good chapter. I can feel it.

The Cardboard House

My family has lived in the same house since I was nine months old. And now we are looking to move.

It’s weird. I cannot imagine not living here. The change will be exciting… Just weird.

To get ready for showings and make our hundred-year-old house look more spacious, we have begun to pack up our closets and storage areas. At the moment, it feels like everything is in boxes. The rooms are filled with them. We made countless trips to the storage area this weekend. Our house is becoming empty.

And we do not know if our house will sell that quickly or what house we even want to buy. My parents just feel it is time for a change and God is opening up the doors.

My dad is saying that this is a chance to step out on faith and just see what happens. It’s scary. The unknown is beckoning. It’s a hard call to accept. It will be great to have a larger room and spaces to entertain in. But for now, all we have is boxes.

It’s those seasons of unknown that bring about the greatest opportunities to trust. It is there God has met our family in wonderful and mysterious ways. It is there we have grown close with each other and with Him.

So yes, I am a little sad to move. Many of my evenings this month have been spent strolling down memory lane, flipping through old notebooks and photo albums before they go into boxes. So many things have happened here. Many memories I will always cherish.

But the new is exciting. The new will provide adventure and many many more memories. The new is filled with God’s blessing as well as his lessons for the four of us.

So here is to packing your world in a box and going on an adventure with nothing but faith… and boxes.

Worries of an Infidel

It’s not only wrong to worry. It’s infidelity.
–Oswald Chambers

The truth of this statement makes me one of the most unfaithful people I know. Worry is my most time-invested hobby. Wish it wasn’t, but it is.


It starts out with something as simple as “I’m going to be finished with school in four months.” It’s a simple fact. Not a fret, not really even a worry. And then I really start to show off. 

“Well, that means I’ll have to get another job.” My inner-fretter replies.
“Yes. Yes it will,” I confirm.

“But I am not qualified for another job. At least not a better one. At least with this one, I don’t work nights or weekends.”The worry-wort inside my head clucks her tongue in disappointment.

“Yeah. That is nice. I might have to give those up. That would suck.”

“And then I wouldn’t have time to be with my friend’s or even do my laundry! I’ll be friendless and my clothes will stink of sweat from two weeks ago.”

“I don’t want to be smelly and alone,” I say, the dread beginning to sink in.

“Well that’s probably how I’m going to end up anyway. I’m done with school. I missed the love boat. I’m going to die smelly and alone whether I like it or not. And now I’ll have a job I’ll hate on top of it all!” She becomes hysterical.

“And I’ll be smelling and alone, working a job I’ll hate while living in my parent’s basement!!!!” I say, rising to her level of panic.

“I will have to buy a cat because it will be the only creature that can stand to be with me!” she cries.

“But I hate cats!” I moan.

And then we cry, eat our feelings, and watch Titanic for the ten billionth time because it is the only movie we can identify with in the current state of our life.

And that’s how I waste my weekends.

Alright, not totally, but it is not out of the ordinary. (Though Titanic is not usually my movie of choice. I find myself hoping it won’t sink this time and I am continually disappointed.) So much of my time becomes wrapped up in what is going to happen and the thousands of ways it can go wrong. The present is not a place I can often exist in because I am consumed with worry over the future and sometimes the past. Very little of my self-talk is concerned with living in the present and trusting God with the future.

I ran across the Oswald Chambers’ quote yesterday in my quiet time and was struck by the truth of the statement. I worry all the time. Something God tells us not to do. But not only am I worrying when I’m not supposed to, I am not trusting him.

Worrying is my way of taking control over my circumstances. I give up His peace that I may try and make some peace of my own. Only I’m fooling myself because I cannot possibly control everything in my life, nor can I bring a sense of peace to my circumstance. It will never happen.

It is only when I am trusting my father with my life that peace comes. Even in the midst of hurt, turmoil, or loss, his peace is there because it is not bound by circumstance or logic. It just is.

So this week I am going to try and focus on faithfulness. Worrying is not a hobby I should feed. It’s prayer and trust I should be investing my time in.


Praying your journey is blessed by peace–not worry,
xo,
             –Lex

Trust and Tubing

I have live in Michigan my entire life. Born and raised in the Great Lakes State and not once have I been tubing until this year. Sad but true  and to be honest, I have never felt like I was missing out on much.


I felt forced into it. I was leading on a church trip, house-boating on Dale Hollow Lake, and one of the students found out I was a tubing virgin. This was apparently a crime, so I was soon caroused into my swimsuit and forced into a life jacket that was a bit too big. If not uncomfortable. Standing at the stern of the houseboat, waiting for the speedboat to come pick me up, I couldn’t think up one decent reason for plunking out of this. 


But it was too late and the student I was going with just had to tell the driver that it was my first time tubing. And that was met with a devilish smile and a “Oh, we’ll make sure it’s a good one then.”


Crap.


That was along the lines of what I was thinking as I swam out and climbed onto the tube. Or at last it had four letters and the same general meaning. I crossed arms across the tube with the student, white-knuckling the handles. She assured me doing it this way would help us keep each other on. I didn’t think the ninety pounds of her was going to keep all five foot ten of me on anything.


And then the boat took off. And it was fun at first. Speeding up, turning onto the main lake. And then we actually started going.


Crap.


This was not what I had signed up for. I felt rigid on the tube, trying my best to keep my knees on the flying circle and my swimsuit bottoms on my hips. My jaw kept beating onto the tube no matter how hard I tried to hold my head up. My teeth were clenched, which probably didn’t help the repeating blows. My toes felt like they were going to be ripped off my feet as they bounced into the water with each run over the boat’s wake.


Did you know giving a thumbs up does not mean that you are doing okay? That it actually means you want to go faster? Because I did not know that. It also didn’t help that some punk kid on the tube next to ours yelled to the driver, “You drive like a lady!”


Crap.


My arms were about to tear out of my sockets and I imagined flailing off the tube and not having arms to swim with. We flew continually back and forth over the wide wake of the speed boat. I began to slip over the side of the tube. I could hardly work my way back to safety as we whisked all over the unforgiving water. I could hardly feel my arms. I think I pulled a muscle in my neck. I think I peed a little. 


They probably don’t recommend this in any manual in small group leadership, but all I could manage to shout to the girl next to me was, “I hate you! I hate you. I. Hate. You.”  I couldn’t think of anything else. This was becoming a test of survival. What ever it took, I had to stay on this tube or else I was going to die!!!!!

And then the ninety pounds shoved me off the tube.


I hit the water with a smack and skidded a bit before coming to a halt. 


Checking immediately to make sure my arms still worked, I then shoved them beneath the water. Where they there? I felt around my waist. My bottoms had begun to fall, but were in a reachable, fixable distance down my legs.

And the boat turned slowly to come retrieve me.


My arms began to relax, turning to rubber, humming with soreness as I began to paddle back to the boat. Relief filled me as I realized I was going to live to see lunch. My life was not over!


There was great comfort–after the melodrama had cleared–in realizing that the driver and another passenger in the boat had been keeping an eye on us all along. Their intent was not to throw me off the tube (Though I strongly suspect  that yes, in fact, it was…), but to take me on a ride.


I felt like a cheese-head as my ever-connecting brain began to knit the parallels here. See, I have recently come off of a year of, well, crap. A lot of loss and struggle, but God was present in it all. Tough to find in the moment, but in hindsight, so ridiculously present, I can’t believe I missed it. For a lot of that season, it felt like I was holding on for dear life as I was jostled, beat up, and thrown around. I was tired and scared. But I made it. Because God was watching. Because he cared. And it didn’t just end when I didn’t like where the ride was taking me. It didn’t end because of his lack caring. No. He cared too much about me and my character and my relationship with him. He wasn’t putting me through that season to throw me off into hopeless oblivion. He was taking me on a ride. 


He promises he will not put us through more than we can handle. He does not promise he wouldn’t bring us up to the screaming edge of the cliff, but he has told us we will not topple over the edge. It is in those moments, looking desperately over the cliff’s edge that I begin to see God clearly. Because I’m not distracted by me or my wants. I am given a full view of his love. I am shown how deeply and vastly he desires relationship with me, desires my trust.


So it is safe to say I am never tubing again. But I am thankful for the living metaphor. The feeling and the reminder that I can trust even when my arms can’t take it any more. When I’m flying off into the unknown, not even knowing if my pants are on right. God’s got it. Both in the physical and the metaphorical… though I think the pants are my responsibility…


Trust, Truth, and T-Straps

I have a shoe problem. I love them. Heels, wedges, flats, docksiders, flip-flops, I love them all. I cannot go out of the house unless I have the exact right shoes for what I am wearing. I deliver 200lbs of paper in heels, I trapes through ice in silk flats. Heck, I’ve had to jump into a three-foot snow bank in a pair of suede pumps because I could not outrun a snowplow! (It’s a long story that was emotionally scaring… It may show up as a vignette…) If I have too much of anything other than books, it’s shoes. There is just something about that new pair. They make me feel new as well.  A new outfit or fresh pair of shoes makes me feel lovely in a way nothing else can. Admit it: Doesn’t it feel fantastic when you feel good about what you’re wearing and everyone you see is complimenting you? They know you look good, you know you look good, everybody’s happy.


We all have a deep-rooted lie that we believe. It sits in the gut of our soul longing to be proven false, but in this broken world, the lie seems to always prevail. The lie I believe is that I am not lovely. The complete opposite in fact. If I can boil it down to one word, I believe I am repulsive

Because I believe this about myself, I feel if anyone truly gets to know me, they will be horrified and leave. I think I am unworthy of relationship. I believe no one will ever find me beautiful. So I must do something so no one will find out I am broken, ashamed, and ugly. We try to cover up our lies in a lot of ways. One way I try is through clothing.

If I have on the right outfit, if I am on top of the latest trends, if I am unique and stylish, no one will notice I am ugly. I can cover up what I feel is a lack of physical beauty with clothing. If I can’t be beautiful, at least I can be stylish. In this way, clothing becomes my coping mechanism. If I feel ugly, bloated, or unfeminine, I can go to a store and buy something that does make me feel lovely, willowy, and sophisticated. I believe that somehow, someway, if I have the right outfit, I will magically have a date to wear it to. If I figure out how to wear my hair with that new dress, I will meet prince charming and dance the night away. I feel in my core that if I look the right way, everything I have longed for will come my way and all of my fears will be no more.

And I am ashamed that I do this. Because the fact of the matter is how I look – how I was made is not in my realm of power. No one can find out the “truth” about me, so I have to have control in order to maintain the facade I’ve created. Clothes I can control. Everything else, I can’t.

I am not in control of the fact that I am not in a relationship right now. I am not in control of what job I will have in the next year, or where I’ll live in the next two. I cannot control where my friends move to or my ability to travel to see them. I cannot control who I am, where I have been placed, or what I have been called to.

I can trust. That is what I am in control of in the here-and-now. That is my only responsibility. I am capable of nothing else if I cannot trust.

When I am able to trust in the Lord, everything seems to make sense. It has order, though I am not controlling the show. I am at peace because I am resting in truth. I do not need that new pair of heels because I am being truly fulfilled. He is able to reveal who I really am to him and what that means in the call to serve others. Finding lie-cover-up in clothing serves me and only for a short amount of time. By trusting in Christ, I am able to be who I am made to be. Breath-taking, peaceful, and compassionate. I am able to be the vessel he needs to love others well, not the drain sucking down whatever love and affirmation she can get.

Being clothed in trust is what will truly makes a girl lovely, right shoes or not. and still, it is the accessory I always seem to leave the house without. It is a daily struggle to surrender my lie to the Lord and let him drape his truth over me. To know that my longings are supposed to drive me back to him and teach me to trust in his wonderful plan.

I guess this is my attempt at giving up. I cannot make myself believe I am lovely. Control is not something I was ever supposed to have. I have to put my trust in that which is bigger than I. Only God can find the perfect truth to fill the hole made by my lie. It is only then that I can be filled with the truth that I am desired, loved, and beautiful.

xo,
          -Lex

Who’s Planning This Thing?

This May I finished my last full semester of college. I still have one class left and I won’t walk until May of 2014 (long story) but for the most part, life as I have known it is done.
And this is scary to me. I no longer have the pattern of summer, school, break, school, summer. I just have… life…

And frankly, there isn’t really a plan. This is frightening because I am a planner. I keep endless lists, schedule my life from here to eternity, and always have a vague idea of how things should probably go. but not anymore. Right now, I know what is going on up to December. That is approximately six months of knowing what’s up. Then… I don’t know.
And that freaks the crap out of me.

In my mind as a kid, I always figured there was going to be college and then some time and then marriage. I never really wondered what was going to happened in that “some time” phase. It was just supposed to be this magical period of traveling and “finding myself.” Now, there is this big blank void that stretches from now until the end of the world. (Frankly, marriage is a vague dotted line at this point.)

There are so many options, dreams, and possibilities, it just seems so overwhelming. I need a job, I want to travel, I want to invest myself more at my church and my community. I want to stay in my comfort zone, yet grow as a person. Those things don’t happen simultaneously. 
In this stage of life, it seems so easy to be displaced. I’m an adult, but I’m clueless. I have a degree, but no experience. I have dreams, but I have no way to get there, monetarily or otherwise. This is the age of “getting there” mixed with “not yet.” 

It is in this period of tension that God is found. He has a plan, though I have no clue what it is. I have to trust in that plan. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. But in my limited experience, whatever He’s got up his sleeves is better than anything I’ve thought up. I can dream up all the plans I want. It is not until I’ve committed them to God that anything seems to work out.

So this is post-college. I sit here in my grubby running shorts, trying to write, never knowing if anyone will read my fiction, dreaming of the day I can actually be a “grown-up.”

A beautiful prayer from Thomas Merton’s book Thoughts in Solitude has brought me great comfort in these last couple of months:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does no mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doin. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

This has been my prayer for a while now. God is good. God is God. He’s in charge right now, so I guess it’s about time I buckle in and prepare for the ride.
Here’s to the journey!

xo,
         -Lex

Greetings from No-Man’s-Land!

Travelling is one of my favorite things in the world. It is also something I don’t get to do very often. (Alas, being strapped down with student debt does not get you on a plane very easily!) If I cannot travel, I love to get postcards from those who can. Postcards are such lovely thing. You get a small snip-it, a sliver of a moment, complete with a picture of where the person was and what they were thinking at the time. It’s a beautiful blip of a person’s journey and a wonderful gift that they would extend it to you.

So as of right now, I am on a journey. And you are as well and this post is my first postcard to you so that we may share the journey together.

I have recently wrapped up my college years. (For the most part, but we’ll get into that later.) I am in no-man’s-land. That strange place of limbo between college and who knows what. I have reached the end of the map, where there is nothing but ocean and a scrawled message reading: There be monster’s beyond this point.

It’s frightening. It’s thrilling! It is what it is and I have nothing to do but hike my backpack further up onto my shoulders and step forward into the unknown.

I takes guts –  guts I don’t know if I have –  and positivity – which is hard for a sappy cynic to hold on to – and a trust in something bigger than myself – someone I can’t even begin to wrap my thoughts around, let alone my trust. These are uncharted waters. I don’t know what lies ahead here, but we are sure as heck gonna find out.

On the way, I will be posting thoughts, musings, recipes, DIY biz, writing samples, and maybe even some poetry!… (my poetry is not very good so there may not be much of it… I hope you’re not holding your breath…) My goal is to post once a week, on Mondays, with bonus posts showing up on Wednesdays on occasion. We’ll see how this goes.

So start checking you’re mailbox. Postcards are on their way!

xo,
               — Lex