On Mother’s and Compassion

There was some point during the course of my first college heartbreak that I realized that my mom wasn’t going to be there to pick up the pieces and make me feel better—it was all on me. This certainly cultivated a dependence on faith in times of mourning, but I’ll be honest, it was an isolating realization.

I was a little embarrassed to have to admit to myself that I wanted my mommy, but it was true. And that season of my life was important—that realization that I was on my own and that was okay. Maybe not my ideal at the time, but okay.

That was a big season of change and transition—moving out of my parents house, cultivating friendships in a brand new community, learning to care for myself. But never once did it really enter into my eighteen-year-old brain to think about the amount of change my mom was experiencing through that season.

Even in moving back home, there were bumps to weather and boundaries to set with four adults living in a single space as opposed to what had been two adults and two children only a few years before.

Brenda Yoder’s Fledge was an eye-opening read for me and I’m grateful.

This exploration of letting one’s children grow up and handling the transition with grace was relatable and knowledgable. Written from a mother’s perspective, Yoder does not shy away from being honest about her own experiences, while giving practical advice for those trying to settle in to an empty nest.

I’ve been thankful to have stayed local and have a healthy relationship with my parents as an adult. Yes, my mother and I have had our challenges—like most mother’s and adult daughters. (Hey, ma!) Reading Yoder’s book gave me an appreciation for the challenges my mother walked through in my late adolescence. Even though I couldn’t express it at the time, this book has certainly given me a dose of compassion for the road mother’s walk when letting go of their children.

If you’d like to pick up a copy (don’t forget, Mother’s Day is coming up!), get one here.

If you’d like to enter to win a copy, show Brenda and I some love on social by clicking the button below!

A winner will be randomly selected next Monday, March 12. There are multiple ways to win, so be sure you click your way down the entire list!

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On Turning 25

ywsy97_rk1o-brooke-larkToday is my 25th birthday.

I’ll be honest with you, I have been dreading this birthday.

I’m sure 25 will be great!

There are already things in the works that have me so excited. I have started a new job with a company I am passionate about in an industry I’ve dreamed of working in. I have booked a flight to Italy with a dear friend and am so excited to have adventures in Umbria and Tuscany. I am exploring  conferences and learning experiences. I have a great pile of books to work my way through. I have finished the first draft of my novel and am resting for the month before I tackle edits.

This is a season rich and rife with possibility.

And still, until recently,  I was dreading this day.

My parents got married when they were twenty-five.

As a kid, I just thought that was the age at which one got married. Like going to Kindergarten at five. Or getting an American Girl doll at eight. (I basically thought everything happened by age and it was all a right of passage. What can I say, I’m a sucker for structure…)

I did eventually learn that this was not the case in life. Everything happens within God’s timing—I really do trust that. It’s just that from a young age, I thought life would look really different.

My good friend—and now boss—was telling me about a blog post she read that unpacked the ridiculousness of a bucket list. This inspired my friend to make a 50 before 50 list.

She showed me the pages of her notebook filled with things she always wanted to experience, or learn, or accomplish. Things she no longer wanted to do “someday” but wanted to make time and space for in the coming years.

I loved reading and seeing how this breathed new life into the season ahead. I wanted some of that.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been jotting down ideas for my own list—my 30 before 30. And It’s all over the map (sometimes literally), but it’s made me really excited for what God may have ahead in the coming months and years. It ranges from big adventures:

  • Exploring Italy
  • Going with friends on a spontaneous roadtrip
  • Learning to rockclimb

to small pursuits of maturity

    • Read a Russian novel
    • Find a workout routine I actually enjoy
    • Learn to make sushi

and small risks:

      • Take a dance class
      • Go for a nice dinner by myself
      • Learn to give and receive grace

A wise pastor in my life has always called one’s twenties the decade of dreams. Where God has gifted us dreams, there is no need for dread. Dreaming small and big dreams for the half-decade ahead has been a good chance to reflect on ways to pursue Shalom in my life and my community. It was has been refreshing to pray to dream God’s dreams and to think on what brings me joy.

So here I am at 25. I am not married and my long-lost third grandmother did not come out of the woodwork to tell me I am a princess of an obscure but charming European country.

And you know what? I’m really okay. Not just okay, I’m excited.

How are you pursuing joy and growth this year?

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Bible College Spinster: Uncoated, Plain, and Holy

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On the first day of sixth grade, I watched Amber walk into Spanish class and was more than a little surprised. Her once curly hair was now straight. She had turned in her clothes from the girls section for juniors and, well, she had filled them out.

I could not say the same for myself. I was still using a hairbrush after taking my hair out of braids, making it an unfortunate triangle shape…And I’m still not filling anything out…

She was glossy. I was frizzy.

Pretty much the story of my life.

But I think that might be the story of all of our lives.

We prefer to be seen with a gloss over our lives. We pretend in conversations, we cover it with a filter online, we avoid anything that isn’t easy, breezy, beautiful.

It’s much more comfortable and requires much less vulnerability than the alternative.

But I’m really bad at gloss. I’m clumsy and talk too much. I’m neurotic and think too much in social situations—which just makes for too many awkward stories to mention.

But I couldn’t show that. I couldn’t be seen as incompetent, unwanted, or not enough. Somewhere along the line, faking having it together became the name of the game. I was pursuing gloss over substance in the off-chance that the gloss brought fulfillment.

I’m calling it.

My life is frizz, not gloss.

In my line of work, paper makes a difference. I have co-workers who have to think consciously about the kind of paper we print things on. (Stick with me, I have a point!)

I have found that I tend to like when things are printed on uncoated paper. It feels flat, sturdy, and real. It’s just the ink and the paper and the result is beautiful.

Glossy paper feels oily and can’t be touched, lest you leave your fingerprints on it. Sometimes the sheen makes it hard to read, and, to be honest, it’s a little outdated.

And isn’t life this way?

We cannot keep up with untouchable gloss. We weren’t made that way. We can’t fake who we are, at least not for long.

We were created to live uncoated, plain lives. Taking the risk to be who we are and bloom where we are planted.

When I am insistent on being seen through gloss, I loose sight of who I am and what my purpose is. I become really great at loving myself and not caring about those around me I am called to serve.

Who you are—your frizz, your quirks, your imperfections—they were given to you so intentionally. Even your broken pieces are meant to bring greater glory to your creator. And it is out of this being that you have been equipped to thrive in the context where you currently find yourself.

That, my friend, is holy ground. There is not higher calling than to be yourself. There is also no other place that leaves us as vulnerable.

This is the risk we take, but it is also the freedom we find in living uncoated, plain, and holy lives.

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Dear Church: A Letter from a Twenty-Something Young Professional

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Dear Church,

Thank you for noticing that there was a lack of programming for twenty-somethings in your (little ‘c’) church. Thank you for rising to the challenge and creating a group for post-college adults, or singles, or young professionals, or “emerge,” or whatever you’ve decided to call that thing.

I say that without an ounce of sarcasm.

But here’s where it gets tricky, because do you know what I want? What I’m really hungry for?

It’s not meeting in an abandoned warehouse you rented, or the basement of the coolest club, or some space in your building where you repurposed and installed Edison bulbs and hooked a record player up to the sound system. It’s not throwing the word “authentic” around as many times as grammar will allow in all its various forms. (Seriously, stop it.)

It’s people.

I want the people.

Do you know how easy it is for me to live my life day-in and day-out without anyone knowing how I’m doing? How I’m really doing?

And sometimes I don’t even know how long its been, because I’m so used to it.

I can sit down at some brewery where you host your pub theology event, but discussing what may be wrong in the church in light of politics doesn’t let me know where you’re at in your soul and it sure as hell doesn’t do anything for that ache in my chest to be known and accepted.

Because you want to know what millennials want?

It’s the same thing you want! Love, acceptance, understanding, knowing they are not out alone in the darkness, that there are people there to catch them when it feels like they might spin off in the oblivion.

We just want to know that what feels like the end of the world right now is not.

We want a place at the grown-up table and a stake in the conversation that Jesus started two thousand years ago.

We want you to know that we could care so much if you’d just give us permission to care!

It’s not about how your building looks or how up-to-the-minute your band is. It’s about what it’s always been about! Caring about people.

I’m really bad at this! I’ll be the first to admit it. It takes time and vulnerability and sometimes the people that are available to you aren’t the people you’d like to share your life with. But God put the people in front of us that he did for a reason.

And, maybe, Church, God has placed young adults in front of you for a reason. Not just so you could create an over-grown youth group for them, but so you could ask them how life is going and really listen. And maybe so they could ask you the same question and you could tell them honestly in return.

Because we just want to know that someone cares enough to be honest with us. We just want someone out there to know how we’re doing—how we’re really doing. And to not be afraid to share themselves in that way too.

So again, thank you for creating a space for us in your programming. But can we have a space in your life?

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Books for Those Wondering ‘Now What?’

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A sweet friend who recently graduated asked me to write a post about what being in that position was like.

I blogged a lot during that season of life. (Some of which you can read here, here, and here.) The truth of the matter is, it still feels like I’m in the middle of that season. It’s only been three years since I’ve been out of school.

I’m still waiting for someone to figure out I’m a fraud, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we’re all waiting for that. This has been three years of riding on God’s grace and taking each opportunity in stride.

I’m definitely no expert, but some dear voices have spoke into my life. I’ve had some wonderful guides in this no-mans-land and I’m so grateful.

Some of these voices have been writers who’s words have come at just the right time with a message I deeply needed.

So, for anyone out there who’s trying to figure out what on earth is next, here are some of the books that guided me along my way so far.

Life Together—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Life TogetherLeaving behind my college community meant investing differently in relationships. Friends were no longer just down the hall or across campus, They were across town or out of state. It was going to take more of an effort.

Being in close community is something I have to be more intentional about, but it is something I need. Bonhoeffer unpacks a beautiful vision of what community in the church is supposed to be. The first chapter alone is a game changer and is full-to-the-brim with  encouragement and challenges for those establishing a community.

Anne of Green Gables—L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green GablesOne of the beautiful things about finishing school was being able to read what I wanted. I began reading childhood favorites. It’s been so fun.
Anne of Green Gables was a beautiful reminder of what it means to live in wonder. Anne’s curiosity and imagination are aspects I want to emulate in my adulthood as a creative. (Plus this Rifle Paper Co. edition is BEAUTIFUL!)

Five Aspects of a Woman—Barbara Mouser

The new Bible College Spinster series is coming for a search for what it means to be a well-rounded and thriving single person. Part of what has been important to me in the search is being a woman.
Hands-down, the most influential book in my time out of school has been the bible study, 5 Aspects of a Woman. Mouser’s in depth look at what God intended in creating woman has been a huge encouragement. I recommend this not only for women, but for men as well. I learned so much about my brothers in Christ while pondering the implications of this great book.

All Groan Up-Paul Angone

All Groan UpThis season of life requires a sense of humor. It also requires some brutal honesty.
Angone provides both in this great book on what on earth this season of clueless and tension is all about. “Groan” is such a good word to use for what those post-grad months (and years) feel like. He unpacks what he took from his own journey and shares them in such a graceful and loving manner. In a time I was shrugging my shoulders about my life, a friend passed along an excerpt of the book and I went right out and purchased my own copy.
If I was wealthier, I would buy this book for all my college grad friends.

East of Eden-John Steinbeck

East of EdenI was looking for a book to wreck me and this book fit the bill.
This post-grad time is the perfect time in life to grapple with Timnshel. (Which is not just a Mumford & Sons song, people!)
This book is deep and difficult, but when you’re suddenly without homework, you have time for deep and difficult. Or at least you should make time for it.

Surprised by Oxford-Carolyn Weber

Surprised by OxfordI’ve been wondering if it’s time to look at grad school and, honestly, I’m still on the fence. But for anyone wondering if that’s next on the docket, Weber’s memoir is so good. And even if you’re not wondering that, it’s still so good.
She describes her testimony—which takes place during the first year of her master’s program…at Oxford. Part spiritual memoir, part bookworm feast, part romantic-comedy—it’s just a fun book.

Bittersweet-Shauna Niequist

BittersweetProbably the hardest thing to learn in this season is that things do not go your way. More times than not, things just won’t come together the way you planned and sometimes that is painful. Being turned down for jobs, or even not getting an interview. Waiting for a significant other. Looking for healthy community. There will be times we don’t get what we’re looking for.
Shauna’s look at beauty and brokenness side-by-side was like medicine to my heart. I read it after exiting a pretty toxic community. Her vulnerability spoke right to my ache and I’m so grateful for the healing that came from this book.

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!

Why ‘Preppy Bohemia’?

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of Postcards from Preppy Bohemia! Thank you so much for embarking on this journey with me. I have been humbled by the support, encouragement, discussions, and inspiration you all have provided. You are such a blessing and I am so grateful for every reader.

Exciting things have been happening around here. If you haven’t noticed, I now own my own domain so this blog is officially preppybohemia.com. I’m beginning to line up some guest bloggers for a more steady stream of diverse voices around here. There may or may not even be some new short fiction coming your way. I’m excited to take on these changes with you.

That all said, why on earth have I entitled my blog ‘Postcards from Preppy Bohemia’?

The name came mostly out of my musings on the stage of life on which I wanted to focus my blog. I’m wandering the no-man’s-land of post college. I don’t have roots nor do I really need them at this point in my life. I’m a bohemian not bound by location, responsibility, or rule of this world. I am governed by a higher one and He’s the one guiding this journey that seems pretty senseless at points. So there’s the ‘Bohemia’.

So ‘Preppy’? Well, I’m kind of a priss. I love girly things. I love order and beauty. I’m particular about my clothing, my personal spaces, and life in general.

So, yes, the name is kind of a paradox–the ordered girl in a disordered world. I love that tension and am really enjoying how it plays out in this stage. This blog documents the journey of a wandering priss. Each post is a letter to you, describing where I am coming from in hopes that you may find yourself here to, or perhaps you already have. These are snapshots of the prepster trying to maneuver Bohemia with poise, grace, and a little humor.

So what have I learned so far? I’ve learned that I am not in control. At all. No power whatsoever. That it is okay to desire something. That is is necessary to hold that desire out to the Father. That sometimes the posts you write at one in the morning on Monday become the ones with the most heart and the one’s God uses to do his work because it came from the core of the heart and not out of vanity or desire to go viral. That those who read faithfully have been more of an encouragement and taught me so much about this crazy blogging world than I ever anticipated and that I am so grateful for every single one of you.

This is what Preppy Bohemia is to me and I am so grateful to be going strong into a second year. Thank you thank you thank you!

May we continue to enjoy the journey together!

xo,
         –Lex

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

Dear Freshman: The Three Things I Learned My First Semester of College

Many college classes are starting up again. I know many freshmen who are preparing to leave home for their first semester and I wanted to share some thoughts on the journey ahead of you. 


Now, I won’t lie, my first semester of college was one of the most challenging times of my life. But here’s the good news: Your first semester is always the hardest.

Here you are, living in a completely new place. You just packed up your belongings and moved into a room the size of your closet… with at least one other person. A stranger. Most of your friends are scattered all over the state, if not the whole country, and you know no one. Well, maybe a few people, but not everyone you have relied on for the last four years of your life… if not your whole life. You are living with strangers. You are sharing a bathroom with them… if not the rest of your hall… and you have never had as much homework in your entire life. It’s scary. Suddenly, you feel small. And you don’t really want to admit it, but you also feel lonely.

My church had warned us all–as it does all their graduating seniors–that in the next stage of life, we were going to experience LOAD. It was an acronym standing for Loneliness, Over-indulgence, Arrogance, and Depression. I figured I’d probably struggle with at least one of them, but not all… that was the arrogance talking. All three were at my doorstep everyday. It was hard. And it all came on so suddenly.

So here are the three things that got me through:

1.) Patience
Not a virtue as much as it is a necessity. 

The small Christian college I went to had a freshman orientation week… which heavily resembled my elementary school summer camp experience. We were placed in random groups (Free friends!) and forced to do trust exercises and team-building games. It wasn’t terrible. They took us to a ball game and to the beach. It was just… well, I didn’t connect with my group right away.There were also many bonding activities in the dorm during that week. I didn’t feel like I connected with any of the girls in my hall either.  I just wanted to find the sweet bookish girls who could dish out some snark and appreciate Frank Sinatra! There were plenty of people who were nice that I could eat meals with or sit next to in class, but they just… they weren’t like the close friends I had left behind.

But here’s the biz: I had had four years to build those relationships–some of them, much more than that. There was not an instant connection with many of those girls right away. We had to get to know each other and invest in those friendships to get them where they were.

About a month into school, I began to make deeper friendships. I found girls in my hall that liked many of the same things I did. People I could talk with about our shared struggles. Even in my sophomore year, the girls who had been in my assigned group that first week had become some of my closest friends.

It took time and I had to be intentional, but God provided so many wonderful relationships with people I cannot imagine my life with out. It didn’t happen that first week. I didn’t even meet two of my closest friends until the second semester of my sophomore year. 

Your tribe is out there. Just be willing to wait and don’t be afraid to just start talking with people. You never know what they may become to you in the future.

2.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I had two roommates my freshman year. One of them continued to be my roommate all through college and is one of my most favorite people ever. She is one of my closest friends and my polar-opposite in life, but living together just worked. The other roommate was a different story.

We came from very different backgrounds and did not see eye-to-eye on much. In the first month of living together, I was very stressed and overwhelmed, mainly because I had not had to deal with someone so difficult, so closely. 

I didn’t know what to do. The R.A. could not really step in, she could only mediate… and that wasn’t really getting us anywhere.

So I called my dad. I didn’t need him to step in. I was a big girl, I wanted to handle this as an adult. But I just needed his thoughts. His encouragement too. He was able to give me some wisdom and pray with me over the phone. (I also went to a school close enough from home that we were able to go to coffee during that time as well. Not many people have that blessing, but it was something I am very grateful for.)

Professors are a great source of help as well. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you don’t understand something. They are paid to teach students so take advantage of that. Don’t be afraid to make meetings or even just stop by their offices. Professors are great people to have in your corner. And they want to be in your corner. If they do not want to help out their students, then they are not very good at their jobs. Even if your school is very large, I think it is important to form a relationship with at least one of your professors in your time at school.

3.) Pray
I know, right? So predictable. But really. Pray for your roommate. They are struggling through this new stage and are probably lonely as well. Pray for the people you are meeting, as they are in the same boat too. Pray for the friends that you will make. Ask for deeper relationships, opportunities to serve people where they are. And don’t just pray, but invest in those relationships as well.

During my first month of school when the loneliness was at its heaviest, I remember I got our of class early and I went back to my room. I was just so dang alone that I began to break down. Rather than go to my next class, red-eyed and puffy-faced, I decided to spend some time with God. I began to pray that he would bring me a friend–even if it was just one. Someone who I could have a deep and wonderful relationship with. Someone I could hang out with when I wasn’t in class. Just someone who I could feel comfortable being myself with and they with me.

A couple weeks later, I decided to go to a dorm event, even though I only knew my roommates. And then I met her. My soul sister. Like seriously, we had tons in common, it was pretty ridiculous. There she was. That random girl I had been praying for, bookish and sweet and snarky, just like I had asked for. And she loved Frank Sinatra even more than I did. 

This is that fateful night! These girls are some
of the dearest people I met at school.

In fact, that night, I met most of the girls I would grow very close with over the following years. My prayer was meant plenty of times over with the many women I now call friend. I have never laughed so hard, cried with, or made so many memories as with the girls I met in college. God gives good gifts and he gives them in droves.

Just ask, seek, and knock, kid! He tells you to!

Again, the first semester is the hardest. It is also the one in which I learned the most. (And not in the classroom, because my classes were pretty brainless… I mean, it didn’t feel that way at the time, but what I wouldn’t give to have the homework load of my first semester!) It was hard. I cried a lot. I wanted to give up and go home where things were safe and easy. But there comes a time in your second semester that no one can really put their finger on when things become enjoyable. You have your people and a place on campus. You know who you can go to when things get rough and you understand how things work in your new home. You become thankful you didn’t throw in the towel because you are having fun and growing and it is so worth all of the hardship.

Best of luck to you friend! Don’t forget to write!

xo,
             –Lex

That Awkward Moment When Faithful Sounds Like Failure…

God does not want you to be successful — he wants you to be faithful.

I heard a speaker say this a few weeks ago and the thought made me stop in my tracks. How contrary is this message to everything else we hear from the world?
At this point in my life, I feel anything but successful. I almost have a degree. I work at the same entry-level job I’ve had for the last three years. I have no concrete plans outside of the fact that I will probably eat dinner at home tonight. I share a mini-van with my mom. I live with my parents in my childhood bedroom. As I sit here, looking at my teddy bear and baby blanket sitting on the bed, I can’t exactly say I’m living the dream.
What do I think success looks like for someone in my stage of life? An apartment, perhaps. Not in my parent’s basement. A car might be nice. A job. One that pays for the above. One I enjoy and have the potential to advance. The teddy bear might still be sitting on the bed…
Today, we measure success in any way we can. As soon as I post something on Facebook, I find myself refreshing the page to see how many likes it has received, as if this measures what sort of friend I am or how funny I can be. We compare schedules to see who is the busiest, therefore the most wanted and important. We buy certain brands, wear certain styles, do our hair certain ways because how we present our appearance will exude the message that we are put together and up on everything in the world of style. All this for the sake of feeling more experienced or more connected. All for the sake of—even in the smallest sense—feeling successful.
Well I’m throwing in the towel on this one, folks:
I am not successful. I’ve got nothing. I try and try and still come up unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and exhausted. Ultimately, I feel as if I have failed.
Ultimately because I have.
And not because I don’t have 700 likes on my status, or I have nowhere to go on a Thursday night, or because my hair only does one of two things: frizz or flop.
Thing is, my calling is not to be successful. It is not to post the most witty comments on the human condition at all times. It is not to fill every blasted second with people and places and commitments. It is not to look my best at every second. I cannot do any of these things.
What I can do is be faithful.
I have been given a portion in this stage of life. The fact that I have the job I do, the home I do, and lack the things I do is not without a reason. I have been placed in this stage of life for a reason. I am in a place where so much is unknown and I feel so aimless at points that I just want to scream. From where I am sitting in life, I don’t see any change coming and that is extremely discouraging. It feels like failure.
Faithfulness sometimes looks like failure. Faithfulness is not usually flashy or glamorous. Faithfulness does not look like a twenty-one year old rookie author on the New York Times Bestseller List. Faithfulness is quiet. It is patient. It looks like praying when the day gets long or monotonous or stressful. It looks like investing hours to master a craft or gaining experience. It looks like taking the time to get to know the people around you rather for dreaming of those who may be around the corner. It looks like giving up an evening to invest in students in the youth group or people in need. It looks like trusting in something bigger than yourself. Most of the time, it does not look like success.
And yet, it is what we are called to. God has called me to be a writer. If I am to trust him with not only that calling, but also my life, I have to trust his plan. I am not going to be a published author right out the gate. In fact, ‘published author’ may never be part of my title. All I have right now is ‘writer’ and if that’s what I am called to be, then I must put in the time and effort to become the best I can.
It is the same with my relationship with God. I cannot expect faithfulness to be an easy calling. I have to put in the time, as with any friendship. A relationship does not deepen because I met someone once. It grows as time is spent and intimacy is built. Trust does not develop without time, attention, love, and patience. The same with God. As I spend time in his word and in prayer, the deeper understanding I am given of his love, his will, and his glory. As that time is spent, I learn to trust little by little. And I fail at this daily, but that is alright. That is part of learning to be faithful. No one said anything worth doing would be easy.
My success in the eyes of my maker does not lie in likes, or busy-ness, or my hair—amen. I am not striving to one day be told “Well done good and successful servant.” Those words ring empty. I want to live a life that is fulfilling and pleasing to him. And that requires faithfulness. In that, He is well pleased.
xo,
                  –Lex