Thursday, October 30, 2014

The beauty in the shabby things.

Maybe it's because I went to art school and have learned to look at all things as a form of art...but I have to say that I've really come to appreciate the things most of us try to avoid or fix.
Like messy hair. My hair will never naturally conform to society's standards of conventional beauty, but I like my hair best when I've been outside and it's been blown around by the wind. Or when I first wake up and it's crazy.
I don't really mind little kid finger prints on windows or mirrors...or pretty much everything, because let's face it...little kids like to touch everything!
I like worn in furniture. Where you can see that someone found their sweet spot because it's the most worn in spot on the couch.
I love hand-me-downs. They're one of my favorite things. First of all, they're free...but additionally they're often perfectly worn in. They're soft, they make me think about the people who originally liked and bought them.
In our culture that loves trends and fads and new, shiny things I just find those old things to be so real and so refreshing. There's something comforting in them. To look at objects that have witnessed so many memories makes me appreciate them for being durable and constant. To see the evidence of life and learning in the trail of fingerprints left all over the house...seeing how the wind managed to style your hair after playing and enjoying the outdoors....there's something to those worn in things. They are evidence of a life fully lived and that is beautiful to me. I love the reality of it. I have lots of memories as a kid of exploring our farm and playing in dirt that led to messy hair and bruises and scars. There is photographic evidence that proves that I've been cleaned up and dressed up nicely too, which was fun. But the memories I cherish and the feelings of childhood that I wish to recapture most are the ones that involve the makings of messy hair, holey jeans, and the feelings of being carefree and beautiful just because I was enjoying myself so much.
The story is the beautiful thing. The history and meaning that is recorded in the daily messes we make and the wear and tear of our belongings is something I want to appreciate. Rather than viewing something as old and shabby I hope to always view it as well loved and used. Because that's how we are meant to be treated. Who wants a life that consists of being admired from afar and being untouched so as not to be spoiled? I would much prefer the grittiness of life as long as it's accompanied by love and meaning. I'd rather get old and worn in with lots of stories to tell than to be forever chasing youth and perfection.
What would you prefer?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Running away

 This past weekend I reached a breaking point. I had just completely had it. Physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion caught up to me during what happened to be a very busy weekend and it took me out. I rarely find myself unable to contain my emotions but this weekend got the better of me on several occasions. While I slept as much as my schedule allowed me to (not much) I was never refreshed. So on Sunday, after trying desperately to nap but being unable to quiet my thoughts I decided to run away someplace quiet and outdoors.
I went to a nearby park and found it to be completely empty. The luxury of having the whole park to myself was such a gift. I bundled up and went out to one of the benches and just sat...and waited...and thought...and prayed...and cried...and then did it all again. Nature, while fallen, is so whole. It just is what it is. It doesn't have to think about what it's doing it just exists and brings glory to God as a result. It's the closest thing to perfection that I can find on earth and that is why I find getting outside into more secluded places to be so restoring. It points me back to the Perfect One who made it. Sitting there in the middle of such a beautiful day I felt so incredibly broken...angry, passed by, wrong, hurt, many things that weighed me down and emotionally and spiritually exhausted me. And I wanted to know why I felt like that and if it was true. Am I really worth being loved? Do I belong anywhere? Am I ever going to see my prayers answered and my hopes realized? Is God playing a game with me?

I've not been reading the Bible as much as I should or would like to, but recently the study I'm in is going through the gospel of John. And while I sat there praying and asking why I was struggling with this and why I felt so worthless some truths seemed to be revealed to me. One being that God doesn't call me worthless, ugly, and he hasn't rejected me. Quite the opposite. He died to give me life and worth. He doesn't look at me and see filth and broken and worthless...He loves me more purely and truly than anyone else ever could and He sees me as someone that He can grow and teach and use. Also, in all my brokenness I can't understand why he likes me. Because I have a hard time believing anyone else does sometimes, so how could perfection stand to associate with me? I mess up without even trying. How does pure holiness stand to associate with me? But scripture says the He delights in the godly. And not only that, last week we read in John about the death of Lazarus and how when Jesus finally came to Bethany both the sisters told him: "If you had been here my brother would not have died." That is exactly how I felt this week. "You're in control...why am I" That is an ugly way to come to Christ. But in that story I learned something about Jesus. He was so so so compassionate. He grieved with them. He didn't tell them to stop feeling their sadness and not to question Him. He spoke truth and love. And although He knew he was going to raise their brother he didn't walk in saying, "don't worry, stop crying, I'm going to fix this." He wept with them and walked with them in their grief.

I think that meant so much to me because elsewhere it also says that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence...He lets us come to him and in such love He comforts, rebukes, teaches, restores....and gives us life. I know without a doubt that it is wrong to approach him with anything other than a heart of adoration and worship. But my God is so amazing that He lets me ask, "why?" And when I'm grieving He cares. And when I'm being lied to He tells the truth.

I'm still tired. My schedule is bananas lately and it seems like it is all I can do to hang on. But after having a serious time of confessing my sin and praying to the Lord I felt so much more rested and revived than any nap could have made me. It's like that feeling you have when you're starting to recover from being're hopeful of total healing. It's in sight. The thing is there are questions that are still not completely answered. I'm only given what I absolutely need to know for now. And that is that while I was unlovable Jesus loved me. And while I may feel like I'm floating alone through life sometimes I belong to Jesus forever. He does answer prayers and if hope truly is defined as divine expectation then I believe that in time He will answer my prayers according to His perfect will, not mine. And no, He isn't playing games with me. He's perfect. To believe anything else about Him is to believe a lie. I may not understand Him, but He is so patient with me. I'm at the beginning of working through my questions and struggles. I've only started to identify what they are. They didn't get here overnight and they won't go away that quickly either, but thankfully He is good and patient and loving. There isn't enough room to write all His wonderful attributes and qualities. He's better than anything. Why is it so hard not to be satisfied with Him alone?

I think I've written enough for now.

Golden leaves are my favorite...

Whether the skies are blue and they're shining, or the skies are gray and they're popping, or the skies are dark and they're glowing...

They always stand out in the most beautiful, glowing way. Walking under them is like walking under golden light. Everything seems so vibrant and warm even though in reality it's cold and the leaves are dying. What a paradox. It seems that so many things in life are. Nature hides...or flaunts sometimes, secrets about life and the way God works. After all, it declares Him. And scripture says His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than ours. Earth's funny ways of cycling and aging speak so beautifully of hope and redemption.

Sometimes my alma mater wins a football game...

 And since I never keep up with my alma mater's sports team (or any sports team for that matter), I find out after the fact on good old Facebook. Where people post photos like these that make me hang my head and then scratch it wondering a) what a shirtless man riding a bear has to do with anything football related...even our Mountaineer mascot always wears a shirt! b) why that's supposed to make us look cool, and c) why the heck people are still burning couches when they've been told not to and were warned against it.

Seriously...did someone from the graphic design program make this poster? And looking at the street I recognize the names of all the Morgantown bars...this is what they want people to know of those of us who have gone or go there.

Oh West Virginia University...way to always keep it classy and represent. I won't lie, I did laugh a bit at the shirtless man on the bear riding through the river. Smack my head!

Monday, October 6, 2014


My only nephew...fellow middle child...he is definitely my favorite little boy. He can be so cute I hardly know what to do with myself. He talks so much now and his personality is so sweet and funny and a little bit wily. I usually get the pleasure of having a coffee date with him and his mom once every week or so. He's so fun to watch during those times. Kids take such pleasure in little things. I think they're a great teacher to me in that way. I love seeing him learn and I love seeing his enthusiasm. He's a great little guy. I'm lucky to be his aunt.