Glory be

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Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.

For the last few weeks I have been quarter-life crisising. There is a restlessness in this season that I’m trying to push away, but it continues to linger.
There is a feeling that I should be farther, should be traveling more, should be getting more education, should be living somewhere else, should be able to get up early enough to make a real breakfast rather than eating yogurt while sitting at stoplights on the way to work. But that’s not where I’m at. I’m eating yogurt at the stoplight since I woke up late due to watching House of Cards until two in the morning. Because I’m an adult.
Everything has felt a little mundane. I’ve felt a little too settled in the unsettledness of my life and I’ve been sure how to reconcile that. I know I’m not alone in this.
There has been a lack of glory in our worlds.

 

Isaiah 6 describes the seraphim singing the words above. Holy is the Lord Almighty— the earth is full of his glory. This is the fallen earth their singing about. The restless, unsettled, yogurt-at-a-red-light world.
And they are singing of His glory on it.
I was at a conference this past week, where a speaker was unpacking this. God, in his mercy, allows us to experience his glory on earth, but in our fallen nature, it is so easy for us to miss it.
If you’re like me, you spend so much time rushing and grasping throughout a day, that glory is the last thing on your mind. I use so much energy just trying to make life work, that taking the time to be silent is not even a regular happening. I’m worn and lost and empty.
And yet, we are invited to see God’s glory even on the earth.
Not only in the beauty of creation, but in a coworker’s ability to design something lovely using the words you’ve written. In a friend’s gift of hospitality taking away some of your concern with a cup of tea and a listening ear. In a songwriter’s work giving word to the ache you thought you were alone in feeling.
We are invited in to glory all the time, but we are too busy to look beyond face value. We would rather focus on what’s broken than be grateful for the small mercies and little beauties put before us on a daily basis.

I’ll unpack this a little more in the weeks to come, but for now, let me know in the comments what taste of glory you’ve tasted today.

A Triumphant Entry Into Longing

I wasn’t really prepared for what I walked into in yesterday’s Palm Sunday service.

I mean, I was. It’s been relatively the same service each year since I’ve attended this church. And not in a bad way.

The cast of the Easter play the church puts on every year reenact the triumphal entry with the kids in the front. There’s always the little girl mesmerized by the people in the audience who haven’t been out there in all the rehearsals. There are the little boys who wap each other with their palm branches and their mothers can’t get to them until the lights go down, so their reveling in the freedom.

 

It was beautiful to observe the reenactment of the joy of Israel. The celebration of their long awaited messiah arrived at last! But paring that with the tragedy of what was to come.

They would reject God because he had not come in the way they thought. He would be condemned and killed to atone for the sin of the world but then rise again in glory.

And yet the people of God missed this. So often I miss this.

See, on walking into the service,  I became hyper aware of all the young families sitting around me. And also heavily aware of my longing for my own family one day.

I think in the feeling of longing, we’re tempted into our own pity party. I could have sat there questioning why. Why wasn’t I dating anyone? Why were so many people around me getting married? Why couldn’t I be one of them?

In the asking of ‘Why,’ the answer I tend to always gravitate towards tends to be that God is holding out on me. That God is not good.

My Eve-and-Israel heart spirals into discontent and bitterness starts to grow. I reject the beautiful character of God and totally miss what he may be trying to do in my life and the lives of those around me.

Sitting in the service, my heart was being pulled into what could be, but I was being called into a greater narrative.

And perhaps this was exaggeratedly pronounced yesterday morning. But in entering into that tension, I was entering into a beautiful time experiencing the character of God with his people.

I’ve said before that longing is an invitation to experience what we truly long for.

Yes, I may long for a family and someone to share the joys and struggles of that with. Yes, I want to give as well as feel that kind of love. But I’m being invited into a deeper and more beautiful love. All my needs have and will be met by the larger story I am beckoned into.

I can let my own longing try to feed itself, or I can look to the source that satisfies all hunger.

And that is the point of the passion week we are entering into. We mourn how sin and the desire for things to be our own way separated us from God. We celebrate how he came to fill the unmet longings and bring us into relationship with Him.

May you seek fulfillment in Jesus in this passion week.

The Investment of Waiting

Last week I threw out the question of what it means to wait actively. I don’t think it’s really quite fair for me to ask you a question and not answer it myself.

So what is active waiting in my world?

After wrestling with the concept this week and some really great conversations over coffee, I came to this conclusion: Waiting is not the word. Waiting still seems to imply a sitting still, a holding of breath for something.

James 5 uses the metaphor of the farmer waiting for his crops. The Greek word used, ekdechomai, implies waiting with expectation. (That’s right, I whipped out the concordance on this one.) The farmer isn’t just waiting for whatever to happen. He is waiting for fruit. He does what it takes to ready the field and prepare for the harvest.

The farmer invests in his work.

So what does this mean for little ol’ me?

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the purpose of my singleness and where the boundary lines have fallen for me. I’ve also recently been a part of some great conversations on the needs and future of ministry for single young adults. Great things that stir in me a passion and desire to see growth; a longing for God to awake hunger for Him in the hearts of people in this stage of life.

And what is one thing that singles are told time and time again? Especially single women?

Wait.

“Wait on God.” “Good things come to those who wait.” And then my personal favorite, “True love waits.”

But what does that mean? Are we supposed to sit around and do nothing while we wait for godly prince charming to stride in with his Toms-clad feet and Greek New Testament and whisk me away to a mission field in Asia?

Geeze, I certainly hope not.

I have observed a lot of women, who have been told for years to wait, grow frustrated, disillusioned, and bitter. What they have been told to sit and wait patiently for not come. I feel that tension myself,

So what do we do? Ya know, when there’s not much you can do.

We invest. We invest in where we are and what God is doing in us and in our communities. We seek out the input of older wiser counsel. We seek contentment while still pursuing growth. We serve.

So what does this mean for me personally? I want to start to build community with both women and men and provide context for thoughtful conversation. Essentially, I want to open my home for gatherings and encourage deeper discussion through thoughtful, others-focused questions.

I want to continue to study the word and become more firmly rooted in my identity through truth.

I want to explore the gifts I have been given further. I want to write like crazy and learn more about marketing.

I want growth. I want to see God bring it about in my life and want to watch it happen in the lives around me.

And, yes, this may be an idealistic rant of a hopeless romantic, but it is a rant I offer up to the father to do with whatever he sees fit.

We have been placed where we are in life for good reason, whether we see that or not.

So we can allow our discontentment to fester into bitterness. We can allow are hearts to harden as what we may want does not arrive in our timing. If that’s the case, we’re not really usable for God’s purpose.

Or we can enter into the adventure with God, wrestling with the tension of where we’ve been placed and where we wish we were. We can encounter him on a deeper level as we seek in invest in the stage he has intentionally placed us.

I would love to hear any more of your thoughts if you’ve been wrestling with the what it means to wait. Comment and join the discussion.

The 3 Questions That Have Emerged from My Singleness

I am the Charlie Brown of blind dates.

Not that I’m looking to go on blind dates. But as a single girl with a majority of married friends, it seems that everyone has some ‘Nice Guy’ in their back pocket they expect me to want to try on for size.


But the hilarious thing is that every time someone attempts to set me up with someone, they magically end up in a relationship a few weeks later. For real. This has happened a good four or five times!



Probably my favorite was at the beginning of this summer.

My sister had led on a youth trip and had met another leader she thought I ‘just had to meet.’ After some carousing from her, I agreed that she could give the guy my number… mainly because he wasn’t going to call.

And no, this isn’t one of those I-gave-up-on-the-thought-and-then-just-as-I-lost-faith-the-guy-called-and-now-we’re-married posts. Because I was right and he didn’t call… because honestly, that would have been weird. (Hi, your sister sent me your number via Facebook because she thinks I need to go out with more girls…) But this experience caused me to feel a little pressure from home and from myself.

I love my parents and sister, don’t get me wrong. They want good things from me and want to see my life move forward in whatever way God sees fit. But with talk of this around the dinner table, I couldn’t help but feel that maybe I was missing out on something.

I mean, at twenty-two, shouldn’t I have gone out with more people by now? Shouldn’t I have more guy friends that I haven’t gained through marriage to my girl friends? And then of course the age old question of all slightly socially-awkward bookworm girls everywhere: Is there something wrong with me?

Overwhelmed by a sense of impending spinsterhood and the projected baby-fever of my family (alright, perhaps there’s some hyperbole here…) I asked a friend if she would go to coffee with me. She is a awesome single lady in her mid-twenties and I just wanted to pick her brain on how she handled this kind of pressure.

Talking with her, I was able to wrestle with some of the lies within my own heart, as well understand that those in my life wanting me to look for love only were doing so because they themselves loved me. We worked through my neurotic questions together and I came away with some wisdom and a little more gumption to enjoy where I’m at.

So at twenty-two, is it bad that I haven’t dated a ton? Not really. I mean, yeah marriage is a thought in my mind, but it’s not a priority, like say, breakfast tomorrow or something. I’ve got time and God knows what he’s doing with that time be it dating, marriage, or otherwise.

And I don’t have a lot of guy friends. Should I be concerned? Not totally, but it’s probably healthy to put yourself in some co-ed situations. So I’m trying to get plugged in with the singles group at my church. Turns out about half of the world’s population doesn’t like Pride & Prejudice (ie. men) so I should probably learn how to communicate with them about other things…

So is there something wrong with me? Don’t tell me you haven’t asked yourself this question. It’s easy to ask when the longing is heavy and the loneliness endless. My wonderful friend was able to affirm in me what I want to affirm in you:

You aren’t single because there is something wrong with you. You are single because that is the season in which you are currently placed. Seasons do not last forever. Sometimes it seems like it will, but that is just a lie. You never know what God may have around the corner. That’s not for us to know. Our job is to wait and trust and find joy in where we are, even when it seems like a burden.

You are a beautiful daughter of the king. And that king has planed beautiful things for you, my friend. Be that a relationship, marriage, grand adventures, refusing to become a cat lady… There are endless possibilities and hope. There is always hope.

Alright, so how does this tie into my Charlie-Brown-blind-dating intro? I’m getting there, I promise!

A couple weeks after our coffee date, my friend and I met up again for dinner. She asked me how I was doing with the home/self-imposed pressure.

God has really been working on my heart this summer in the areas of contentment and gratitude and I was able to tell her honestly that I am happy to be where I am. Yes, I would like a relationship someday, but for now I am pleased to be where God has me.

Just as I voiced this, the guy my sister had tried to set me up with walked past the window by where I sat. I watched as he met up with a girl very obviously for a first date. I couldn’t help but laugh and point it out to my friend. Of all the restaurants of all the nights and of all the people. It was just too funny.

And really I could laugh with no disappointment. God knows what he’s doing and I can trust that.

I am finding that I would much rather go on single than be in a relationship I have to grasp and manipulate to make happen. We’ll just see how God responds to that thought.

In the mean time, what are some awkward blind date experiences you’ve had? Any strange set-up hi-jinx in your world?

The Holding Pattern

Last week, I wrote about contentment. This week, I want to talk about waiting.

All summer, it has seemed I have been in this season of waiting. There is a fabulous job opportunity that may or may not come to fruition and I am waiting. It seems like I will always be waiting.

If you’re like me, your brain just doesn’t shut off. I have played out so many scenarios in my mind. How will I react if I get it? How will I react if I do not? Will I cry? What will I do if it is full time? Will that effect my freelance work? What if I don’t get the job and will never make enough to get out of my parents basement? Does that mean I have to take up video games? What if they thought my outfit was awful in the interview? Did the color of my resume paper offend the interviewer? What if? How will I?Hmm? Hmm? Hmm?

The other day I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize and nearly had a heart attack. Could this be the call at last?

… It was just a wrong number.

I wondered if the guy on the other end had been calling ‘Teresa’ to tell her she got a job. Congrats Teresa! I hate you.

Okay, not really.

But it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. It sometimes feels like I’m going crazy! And I don’t mean the phone call.

I am in a holding pattern in which I have no control. So where do I go with that?

God is so much more patient than I. And he actually is in control.

When the buzzing monologue of what-ifs overwhelm my thoughts, I have found taking time to pray has been essential in this season. I am not going to get an answer in that time with Him. I am not really looking for an answer. That will come when the hiring folks make their decision in their time.

When we want something so badly, it is easy to get swept away with worries and what-ifs and miss what God may be up to. That’s usually what I do with my waiting periods. I worry. Until I figure out what’s going on. Then I’m usually disappointed when things don’t go my way or unfulfilled if they do.

The waiting is just as valuable as the thing you are waiting for.

I don’t care if it is for a job, a spouse, enough savings for a new car, dinner, cats to go extinct: the waiting is where God does some of his best work. It is a playground to experience gratitude, examine motives, and encounter the character of the Father.

And, yeah, sometimes it sucks! This summer has crawled by for me. I have a hard time scheduling things over a week in advance because I’m not really sure what life will look like in that short amount of time. I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket like phantom limb, having to remind myself it’s in my purse. I want this so badly, but I am not getting it right now and I have to learn to be alright with that.

I’ll tell you this though: God has met me in this holding pattern. He is sitting beside me while I wait to land. The moments when he invites me to into silence, to ‘Be still and know that he is God’ are what keep me sane. He offers peace. I find that I just have to trust that his way is best. Waiting and all.

I hope that if you are finding yourself in a holding pattern as well, that you find God beside you. Take some time today to enjoy the silence with him. Please enjoy as you loosen your grasp on the thing you are waiting for and offer it to Him with open hands.

The waiting is just as valuable as the thing you are waiting for.

I promise.

What is Contentment?

I’ve been living in a state of limbo for some time now.

In previous posts, I’ve talked through job loss and the struggle in waiting for that next something to come along. I have the prospect of an opportunity that I’m supposed to get an definitive answer on any day now. It has been a long waiting process that has given me a chance to wrestle through some things with God.

Like contentment.

At the start of this year, I told you guys that was what I wanted to seek this year; godliness and contentment. Shortly after that, I was laid off from my dream internship, turned down for a couple promotions, and left in this state of waiting and hoping.

So how is one supposed to be content when nothing seems to be right. When you’re not happy. When you’re not satisfied. For some reason, this is what I believed contentment to be. Happiness. Satisfaction. And if not those things, fooling yourself into believing you were those things.

What on earth is contentment if not satisfaction and happiness?

This was the question on my heart. If I was supposed to be content, why wasn’t I able to make myself comfortable with where God had placed me?

I ran across a quote from Sinclair Ferguson that helped me wade through my confusion.

Christian contentment…is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord and to be totally at his disposal in the place He appoints, at the time He chooses, with the provision He is pleased to make.

That was it. Contentment was my calling. Contentment was what was supposed to come from trusting where God had me for the length he had me there. It wasn’t happiness. It wasn’t satisfaction. It was trust. Trust that this was the destination for now. Trusting that it was the best place for me in this season.

It is so hard when we are not in the place we thought we would be at this point in life. There is so much ambiguity in this post-grad, pre-whatever stage. I have a hunch that there is a whole lot of ambiguity in live in general.

And it’s not fun and it’s not easy, but it it good. It is good to realize you are not in control. It is good to realize that you must rely on something bigger than yourself. It is good to seek contentment when it seems like the farthest thing from your grasp.

So it’s been two months of waiting to see if this job opportunity will come to fruition. And yes, I want it to come to fruition. But I know I will be okay if it does not. God has a plan. He will place me where I need to be and not a moment before I need to be there.

And I am surprised to say that that is something I can be content with.

Is there an area of your life where you haven’t been seeking contentment? Have you been struggling with the meaning of that word?

Joy and the Shepherd

I accompanied a friend and her wonderful family to a wedding a couple weeks ago and had such a splendid time. Everything was so beautiful and the reception was such a blast. I love dancing like a weirdo with great friends. I had not seen many of her family members in a while, so there was plenty of catching up over dinner.

While describing to her mother where I am at in life, I found myself feeling like a cheese-ball. All I could talk about was even though this season was pretty ambiguous, things were actually really great and God had been so faithful. I kept repeating how great God was in this midst of the unknown. If I was hearing me talk, I would probably have rolled my eyes. (Inwardly, of course.)

Except that I was being totally honest.

 Which was a shock to me. I was happy. No, not happy–Joyful. God has been so wonderful in the midst of all my I -don’t-know-where-my-life-is-headed-this-is-so-confusing meltdowns. He has allowed me to be angry with him and to pray through that to a place of peace and trust.

I’m not going to lie, this has been one of the most difficult seasons. It has been–and continues to be–an inward struggle. What will I choose today? Contentment or worry? Trust or control? I don’t often choose correctly. But it’s a moment by moment choice. I am always welcomed to choose to turn.

The pastor at my church spoke this week, using his grandchildren as an illustration. Last year he challenged them all to memorize Psalm 23 and to reflect on the question ‘Who are you tempted to follow as your false shepherd?’ And this wasn’t just a question they had to answer once, but think on for the entire year.

I’ve been thinking on it for the past week as I meditate on the Psalm. Who am I tempted to follow as my false shepherd?

As God and I have been wrestling for the past couple weeks, it has become very apparent that I demand control. I want things my way and in my timing. If I cannot manipulate to make that happen, I fret about all the possible outcomes and dream up ways to compensate. I become consumed by what I cannot control or have or make yield to me.

I hold a death-grip over what is not mine.

But the Lord is my shepherd! I am just a sheep. It is the shepherd’s job to provide for his sheep. To lead them beside quiet waters, to make them rest in green pastures.

He is making me rest in green pastures in this stage of limbo. To slow down and rest in what he provides and nothing more. And it’s hard. I want to get up and go and make my way. But I am just a little sheep.

I must hand over my want for control and rest up. To take in God’s grace and the wisdom from his people and his word and prepare for the unknown next. So I have begun to open up my fists and let go of what I have wrongly grasped.

And what have I found in the handing over?

Joy.

I wish and pray for the same thing for you, my friend.

So what about you? Who are you tempted to follow as your false shepherd? I would love to hear in the comments or by email! Tell me your story!

The Fashion Pieces That Will Never Make You Look Dated

I’ll be the first to admit it:


I love playing dress-up. Never gave it up. I’m not a great fashionista; I just like clothes.

Trying out new trends, trying to recreate classic looks, experimenting with what I already own; that’s really fun for me.

I’ve also subscribed to a couple fashion magazines. Harper’s Bazaar is currently the only one I get now, but I find it fun to flip through and see what’s new.

Let night I ran across an article advertised on their Facebook page that made me curious:

5 PIECES THAT MAKE YOU LOOK INSTANTLY DATED

I thought, ‘I’m twenty-two. How dated can my closet be?’ Woe to the arrogant because the first thing I saw made me just a little bit sad.
I have this favorite pair of round-toe nude pumps that I wear with practically everything. Weddings, presentations, a night out,… delivering the mail. They may be my favorite running shoes. Seriously, I wear these things everywhere.
So what is the first item on this list?
Yeah. Round-toe heels.
Joining my beloved pair of pumps where a few items that I don’t own, but I was still surprised by. Studded leather jackets, harem pants–which should be on this list–things that only a few months ago they were telling people to buy.
So a few weeks ago, this magazine was praising people for wearing pairing their harem pants and studded jackets. Now, they are “dated.”
How is a girl supposed to keep up? And should she?
I’ve talked about how I have struggled to try and find my significance in what I wear and how I look. It’s silly rules of fashion that keep me living in fear and discouragement. I am not on trend. But is my worth still intact.
Well, yeah! It would just be silly to consider myself unworthy just because a magazine that means nothing to me doesn’t like my shoes.
Here is what I say: Find what works for you. 
Wear what is flattering on your body and makes you feel confident. Love what you own and has served your style well. Be timeless–not necessarily trendy.
You have a beauty to offer, my friend. Don’t hide under harem pants (for the love of humanity, please!) but instead under what makes you feel best… even if that is a pair of harem pants, I guess. You were created to be the crown of creation, made in the image of a beautiful God. Your clothing does not change this. No magazine can degrade that… only if you let it.
So I’ll keep on wearing my round-toe pumps with pride. What piece in your closet gives you that confidence boost?

Why is the Rug Gone?!

A few weeks ago, I had written about heading into the next chapter. About my dream internship and moving on and growing up.

…And then I stalled out.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, some things fell through at the company and there was no longer a job for me there.

The wind was knocked out of me.

I was back at square-one. Back at my old job. Back in that stage I was ready to be done with.

Even three weeks later, I am still a little stunned. I’m not really sure where to go from here. The rug has been ripped out from under me and now I just feel stuck.

It is in these moments that I feel more than a little confused. What was the point of  going through that if the experience wasn’t going to be substantial? Why did that even happen, God? 

I’m lying here, back to the floor, rug now askew, and I have nothing. No idea, very few prospects, and empty hands.

Remember when I said I wanted this year to be about godliness and contentment? God answers prayer.

So I’m here. Back where I started: job that’s not my favorite, future uncertain, and loans to pay. Am I going to thank him for this. Am I going to learn to trust him in this. Because I have a job in which I get flexible hours and work with some awesome people. Because I have a God who has promised to fill my needs and guide me in a story he is writing to his glory. Because here is not such a bad place to be “stuck.”

I have been given a talent here. Am I going to invest with this little and prove myself faithful for more? Am I going to be obedient and learn to live fully where I am placed? Is there really anything else I can do? Godliness and contentment. That I what I have asked him for. This is how it is being given to me right now.
So I can scramble to get the rug back where it was, or I can trust it was moved for a reason.

I really feel God calling me to stay put for a month or two. Some opportunities are arising that I would not have been able to look into had I still been at the internship or another job. (Don’t worry, I’ll let you know once they’re set in stone.) I have more time to devote to my novel and was just given a wonderful plot twist only yesterday. I have time to invest into my small groups and writing group and my friends. I have been given an opportunity to enjoy what I have been given. Even if it was not given in the way I would have preferred.

So, yes, the rug has been ripped out from under me, but with purpose. Even if the purpose is not yet clear, I am going to trust that I have been placed where I need to be. I’ll tell you how it goes from here.

xo,
        –Lex

P.S. Tune in Thursday at noon. I’m trying something new and want to know what you think!