currently :: vol. 2

I grabbed this currently list from Amber Thomas last month, and I’ve decided to bring it into the blog on a normal basis! Here is what’s been going on since the beginning of March.

loving.

Sharpie pens. Possible new writing opportunities. My job. Warmer weather. My iPhone — mainly for Spotify, texting, Instagram, and Snapchat. Rifle Paper Company journals to write my sloppy, sometimes lovely thoughts in.

Right now, my bed. Maybe it’s because I’m finalizing this post after 11:30PM on a Thursday night.

contemplating.

What photographer I should choose / can afford for my senior photos. The season is quickly approaching!!

deciding.

Honestly? What dress I should wear to a sweet friend’s wedding Friday night.

smelling.

Lilacs! They are never in bloom for long and they are so refreshing and beautiful.

writing.

 

Not enough, but everyday at some capacity.

All the usual places.

“How’s Book #2 coming?” I am in sole-research mode. Translation: I am feeling extremely discouraged and over my head, but having my nose in the books is a heck of a lot of fun and I haven’t given up yet.

reading.

Flannery by Brad Gooch.

It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke.

There are a few others I’ve touched recently, a few I have finished, but I’m committed to these two at the moment.

watching.

The Intern. You must, must, must look up this movie. Rent it, buy it, whatever — but you must watch it. It has instantly become one of my favorite movies. You’ll see why, my friends.

GREY’S ANATOMY. Always. Forever. It has my heart, even though it drives me crazy.

The Princess Bride. Twice in one week. I was forced to watch it the first time, and liked it so much more than I expected to.

listening.

 

Anthem Lights. JT. Christina Perri. Hannah Montana Movie Soundtrack. TSwift always. Dean Martin.

craving.

Mac & Cheese. Taco Bell. Chick-fil-A. Pizza.

But I’m being healthy and eating tuna and brussel sprouts instead. It’s been extremely hard and boring this past week as I have been at it awhile and have lost around 9 pounds, but it’s worth it. So, I am sucking it up, drinking more water, and keeping at it. Send help!

remembering.

I’ve been having a lot of flashbacks to ten year old me lately. Blame it on the Hannah Montana Movie Soundtrack. I don’t know whether to be happily nostalgic or terrified.

wishing.

For more writing time during daylight. I’m usually too beat when it’s super early or super late to get anything worth reading down on paper, so all my writing is done in twenty minutes increments which is by no means ideal. Any tips out there? Other than sacrifice and dragging myself out of my bed an hour earlier in the morning?

needing.

To reread HB’s most recent post. That girl is on fire, and I loved her thoughts on the church and toast. Go check it out for yourself at her website.

wanting.

To watch You’ve Got Mail. It’s been months and this is not okay.

eating.

Like I said, tuna and brussel sprouts. Praise The Lord for avocados.

drinking.

Water and coffee. I’m sorry if these food columns are boring you.

feeling.

ABOUT USHER AND JB’S REUNION. OH MY WORD. I had tears welling in my eyes. For those of you who don’t know — Usher is my favorite guilty pleasure. I love dancing in the car or writing or running to his music. He discovered Justin Bieber when Justin was under 15, and because I most recently fell in love with Justin also, this video from JB’s concert in Atlanta was so sweet for me.

Here’s the link: CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE FEELS

I totally understand if you think I’m crazy and don’t get it. Shake your head. Let me have my sappy moment. Continue on.

working on.

Getting back into the habit of writing for More Love Letters in addition to corresponding with my pen pals. It’s something I am so passionate about, and something that I never want to become too busy for.

It’s your turn.

How are you surviving April?

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for the girl who wants a love story.

Rejection comes in a thousand disguises, but it almost always feels the same. That guy that you never thought you would care for might dismiss you and reduce you to a smirk with no more hellos. When you see that old face again you might feel like his ex-girlfriend from high school that wore his jacket, made him better, and the girl under his arm will never know you were a faded name on his timeline.

If you’re reading this and your heart is healed, Praise Jesus! You can read this from the other side. But this one goes out to my girls that are broken and ashamed to admit it. This isn’t a post about staying pure or who should initiate and it is surely not about bashing men. This is for those of you hanging out in the woods of confusion and for those of you who are sick and tired of the friend zone.

You might be feeling something like Hannah Brencher describes in her book If You Find This Letter: “I didn’t like watching the wife tuck her head on his shoulder and watching him make tiny circles with his fingers on her back. I didn’t like how this scoffing little voice barreled into my head. ‘You? You think you can have that? You cray, girl. You. Are. Just. Plain. Cray.’ The voice never left me, even as I got older . . . and wonder if I would ever get to marry someone who would take my hand before dinner and pray with me about all the things I already knew human hands were never equipped to fix.”

So, when your heart is aching – keep it simple. If you’ve been hit, it’s okay to feel like a complete wreck. Don’t cover up with too many accessories and leave the empty phrases at home.

Read the rest of this post over here on The Rising!

shutting up and listening: part one

HB has written, “To know someone else is to shut up and listen.”

As I embark on the #Effloresce2016 Reading Challenge, I’ve been playing those ten words in my head every time I sit down with my Bible in my hand.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “He [Christ] did not go to the cross to ornament and embellish our life. If we wish to have him, then he demands the right to say something decisive about our entire life. We do not understand him if we arrange for him only a small compartment in our spiritual life. . . . The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one’s bread; on the contrary, it is bread or it is nothing.”

I’ll be honest: we’re not even two weeks into the reading plan, and I’ve already wanted to neglect my Bible 75% of the time.

But, after even a few days of opening my Bible when God is the last person I want to spend time with, and skimming over the stories I know all-too-carelessly, an earnest desire is budding. It’s not some new text that I didn’t hold in my hands last year. It’s the same ol’ bruised me with a book that looks like a lot of other books, but a book that people find life in as they find truth hidden in its pages. What I’ve found as I begin to take action on all my new year’s resolutions is this: The more I make myself open the Bible first thing in the morning, the more I want to open it at night and sift through the questions, the verbs, the parallels. The more I make myself run, the less I dread stepping on the treadmill and on the scale. The more I meet my goals and take chances and learn how to depend on God, the less lies creep in telling me that the kind of abundant life I’m pursuing could never fit me. 

 

Any time spent in the Word is good, and better than nothing, but if we’re not regularly in the Word, we will not be healthy Christians.

I went weeks without opening God’s word in the fall of 2015, and my mind and my life reaped the consequences. I was hiding from God, and I was angry at Him, so I hid and I kept the pages clamped shut unless I was at church.

There will be days in 2016 when I slip. There will be times when I feel like hiding instead of confessing my sin and allowing myself to be forgiven. Our dirty flesh isn’t wired to sit with and adore Him — but by His grace, we are able to.

This is what we all need to remember when we continually choose a screen over Christ, and when we choose lies instead of the gospel: He didn’t come to ornament our comfortable lives. He transforms our whole life or He is nothing to us. Either we believe that He is worth our time, and our humiliation, and our repentance that leads to salvation and joy, or we don’t.

We aren’t going to know Him if we don’t shut up long enough to read His Word. We aren’t going to ever hear Him speak to us unless we stop screaming curses to the sky and get on our knees. We won’t hear Him if we don’t quiet our pride. We are never going to know His voice if all we do when we pray is heap up empty phrases.

So, my message for you today is simple: let’s shut up.

And not give up on our Bibles.

march books: layers and letters

7. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters And Papers From Prison.

This baby took me months to finish. Dietrich is my favorite theologian that I’ve discovered so far hands down. I fell in love with him through Eric Metaxas’ biography on his life, and I’ve been reading his work ever since. That being said, this book was worth the dry spells – it was all the recorded correspondence he had with family and friends while in prison, after all. But there were some deep thoughts not worth missing. I highlighted every nugget of wisdom and note that he scribbled that I somehow related to. I learned about family, working through spiritual dryness, perseverance, and true joy. 

 

 1 Samuel surprised me. Like I’ve said before, my Old Testament knowledge is dusty. I have three favorite parts in this book: Hannah’s prayer, Jonathan and David’s sweet friendship, and Abigail. Hannah’s prayer is one of the first time that a woman’s relationship with God is mentioned in the Bible. So not only was the beauty, desperation, and surrender of the prayer beautiful to me, but also because she seems to be one of the first women that was truly close in relationship with God. Jonathan and David worked together as a team, accomplishing much and it is said that their hearts were knit together. I’ve always wanted a friendship like that. Abigail was described as “beautiful and discerning” and that is proved throughout 1 Samuel. The collection of these characters spoke volumes to me. 


 8. A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

I’ve previously read one of Emily’s other books, and I’m a regular blog reader of hers. Her style is simple and elegant. This book woke me up in several ways – through the pages, Emily encouraged me to do what makes me feel alive – what my calling is – whether there is an audience or not. She also encouraged me to know that even the stuff we don’t love to do, but must, are being used for good as well. For me, the application was straightforward after finishing the last page: stop talking about what you want to do someday and just do it. Discover your art. Most importantly: haters gonna hate. (AKA hard critics will always be lurking around) Come alive. You’re creative for a reason. Don’t be so afraid of your ideas. 

 9. The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart by Deborah Digges

This book of poetry was easy to read – and not in the best way. Deborah does have a way with words, but I believe I only finished it so quickly because it was small. I’m happy to get my feet wet in poetry, but this was not my favorite collection. However, it was a big part in my writing my first poem this month. 

 10. If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher

I cannot measure how much Hannah Brencher means to me. I found her as I was browsing Instagram last fall. Her organization More Love Letters (click here for more info) inspired me as I wrote my first adult Sunday school lesson in February and her writing is stunning. Hannah has a new honesty that her followers can’t get enough of. This book released at the beginning of March and I read it as fast as I could. She tells her stories of how she traveled – and still travels – through depression and how founding More Love Letters has changed her life. I learned a lot about myself in this book. I found that I was a lot more afraid of letting go and what people thought of me than I was aware of. However, the application for me after I finished this book was hazy because there were so many components that it brought out in me emotionally and spiritually. But I began by writing a letter to a stranger – my first letter request – and dropping it in the mail the next day. I knew that that was the first step to discovering what was next for me to face, to tackle, to chew on. 

 These books took some energy out of me (as if I could afford that). I considered only reading fiction during the next few weeks, but that plan lasted forty-eight hours before I grabbed another biography from my bookshelf. I just can’t get enough words in me about how other people lived their lives – what they regret deeply, their friendships, how they remained in relationship with God, what made them who they are, and the legacy they’re leaving behind. Also, I think I’m allergic to reading one book at a time. I must always be at least reading two: one nonfiction, one fiction. Currently I’m reading four.

The bottom line is this:

What I’m learning is leading to bigger things. What I read this month I may not fully comprehend for my own life until October – but I’m taking baby steps where I believe the Lord wants me today. I’m writing. I’m loving God and loving my neighbor the best I know how. In the meantime, I get to read stories – true and fanciful – that teach me about myself and how to better do those three things. I hope that I am always, always thankful for that. 

gaps. 

There’s a gap when you’re gone that I can’t seem to replace.

Some Christians make me feel guilty for feeling this – any kind of emptiness. I need to just get over all those brothers and sisters in Christ that just don’t want to be considered mine anymore.

But, if we could fill every gap on earth, would it still be earth?

That sounds like the New Jerusalem to me.

So, I might not be able to fill the place you leave when you’re not here. But He’ll rest with me here in the unknowing silence. I’ll wait.

Substitutes repel us; we simply have to wait and wait; we have to suffer unspeakably from the separation, and feel the longing till it almost makes us ill. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1943

It’s okay to feel like you’re missing something or someone. Because you are.

We’re inching towards the Day of all days – but we’re not there yet. God is our portion – but we’re still human. We still enjoy earthly pleasures too much, we’re ‘too easily entertained’. But yet, God still gives.

We ought to find and love God in what he actually gives us; if it pleases him to allow us to enjoy some overwhelming earthly happiness, we mustn’t try to be more pious than God himself and allow our happiness to be corrupted by presumption and arrogance, and by unbridled religious fantasy which is never satisfied with what God gives. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1943

and, finally… what I’m trying to tie a bow around and make pretty for you to read:

It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; he doesn’t fill it, but on the contrary, he keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas Eve 1943.

So, what do I want you to remember, when you click that red box up there in the corner and leave me alone to my thoughts?

  • your gaps won’t be filled by trivial things. they will just be entertained.
  • numbing the world’s pain won’t make it go away.

But this most of all, the phrase that keeps playing in my mind on repeat as I finally “get over it”:

You’re worth more than substitutes and clenched fists.

You can’t cling to people, jobs, or situations longer than they were made for your life…and that thing you use to try to fill their place? It’s just a matter of time until it leaves you emptier than you were before.

Smile because it happened, because there was a reason. A divine reason. Just shake your head at why it didn’t continue (you may never know and that’s okay, even if it takes seven months or seven years to admit to that).

And never forget that you’re worth more than the lies you tell yourself.

Punch a hole in that dang roof, dust those shelves, and water those darling flowers. Just because you’re clean doesn’t mean you won’t miss it. Dust anyway.

Because there are some even-better-for-you friends to love on, a gap still remaining that won’t last forever, and a whole lot of life waiting for you once you decide what’s really gone is not worth your crying-tears time anymore, but rather just a respectful wave from time to time.

I wave and whisper, “Even if it seemed like nothing…thanks for being a comforting and protective dotted line on this short, moon-lit walk home.”

Some people are dotted lines and other people are destinations. Some people get you somewhere and some people are just a place to be, all in themselves. But you cannot force those dotted lines into destinations. It doesn’t really work that way. -Hannah Brencher, If You Find This Letter.

To my destinations – you’re out there, I know it. Thanks for always staying.