Monday, March 16, 2015

Lake Michigan in March

It's melting! You can walk out on the leftover ice mountains and see and hear the ice swishing around in the water. Pretty soon we'll be able to go out without coats and boots on and we can actually play in the water instead of thinking about how dangerous it would be if we fell off the icy cliff we were standing on and into the water. I went out to see the lake again with my friend Hope. It was an encouraging and rejuvenating way to end a Monday and begin a week.

Later on I ran a couple errands and I wished I had stayed at the lake long enough to catch the whole sunset. It was possibly the most glorious one I'd seen in ages. The colors were so was amazing to drive in such a sunset. I wish I had been able to take a photo of it so I could share it and remember it. 

A party

On Sunday my dear roommate turned 25. This roommate has a twin brother, who obviously also turned 25. We took the opportunity to gather up family and friends and celebrate with them.

I actually planned this shin-dig and let me tell you, I need more practice in throwing parties! It was a very simple party, but I loved that despite my lack of planning party activities and only having simple cakes and ice cream and snack foods I still saw lots of laughing and story swapping happening. We did use sparkler candles though so that was kind of exciting. At least for me. My sister is awesome at noticing people and finding ways to create celebrations or give gifts that reflect how well she knows that person. She really has a talent for making people feel known and special because she finds ways to add details and touches that can be simple and elegant but very reflective of whomever she is blessing at the time. That's the kind of host I want to be too! Actually, both of my sisters are incredibly thoughtful at gifting others. They are able to show that they really pay attention to what people like and what makes them feel comfortable and valued. I want to be a hospitable person and a I want to be a person that fosters community and really knows others. Maybe more parties should be in my future. :)

Beauty, Brains, and Self-worth...or the lack thereof.

I had an a-ha moment a few months back that God does not look at me the way I look at myself. God doesn't look at me and say, "you're ugly," "you're not smart," "you're not worth knowing or loving," "you will never overcome the things that hold you back," "you will always live with regrets because you don't know how to move forward and you will never figure out how..." And a whole myriad of other things I think about myself. The fact is, God designed me and because He is perfect I think He must have been pretty happy about how He made me. Is it wrong for me to look at myself as part of God's creation and say, "you're a screw-up...there's nothing good about you?" Isn't that finding fault with God's sovereign choices to give me the appearance that I have and the personality and mind that I have? I know that I have the ability to change a lot of things about myself. My weight, my style, my activities, and so on and so forth. However, I can't change the person I am. I can't make myself be interested in things that I'm not naturally interested in. I can study them and appreciate them for what they are but they won't make me feel animated or excited. I can work out, diet, and change my hair color and learn to apply makeup really well, but I'll always be 5'2, and I'll likely always be pear-shaped, and it will take me some time to do even basic math. I will always have naturally curly hair and my face will always be a bit asymmetrical and I'll be much more interested in dancing than in playing a sport.

I know we all struggle with accepting who we are.  Maybe we believe that if we aren't constantly working on improving ourselves it means that we are vain or lazy. Some days I feel strong and happy. Some days I can't stand looking at myself and avoid mirrors. Sometimes I can't eat in front of people because it makes me anxious. I feel inferior when I don't look the way I believe my culture says I should look. I feel like I need to be ashamed of my appearance and my personality too sometimes. But I want to challenge myself to stop living by the standards of my culture and to hold myself to a standard of godliness. It's not godly to be so dissatisfied with who God made me to be. I can't look at myself and tell God that He made a big mistake on me. If He saw fit to make me and He loves me then I need to start honoring that and ask Him to teach me to humbly appreciate and enjoy myself. How can I give my appearance and my personality back to Him in thanks?

That whole thought is difficult for me to put into words and I wish I could express my thoughts more eloquently. But I guess I'll just say that I ended up taking the above photo of myself and looked at it honestly and thought to myself that I must be pretty. Not because I look like I belong on a magazine cover or in a movie and not because I can compare myself to other girls and rate myself as more or less attractive. I must be pretty because when I erase all the standards set up for me to achieve and only view myself as part of God's creation I realize that I was made in the image of a glorious creator. I bear His image. I'm part of His beautiful earth. When I remove the opinions of the masses and focus only on the opinion of the most important being in eternity He says I'm good enough for Him. I cannot ever figure out why I struggle to let that be enough to allow me to be happy with myself. Whose opinion am I valuing more than God's?

If you happen to read this and you share this struggle with me, know that you're pretty or handsome. You're beautiful. Not because I think so, (though I'm sure I would if I knew who you were) but because you were made in the image of the most glorious God. He designed you and He doesn't make mistakes. I feel pretty sure that God looks at us and thinks we're pretty. Because unlike me He doesn't make something and sit back and mock it or exploit how bad it is. However imperfect my understanding of God is I do know that He loves His creation. It's in the Bible.

He loves me. And He loves you too.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lake Michigan in February

If there's one thing I'm glad I did this winter it would be going out to Lake Michigan to see it in it's frozen state. And you'd better believe I was singing the opening song to Frozen in my head the whole time. Because there really is beauty and danger in these photos. Trust me, I almost wiped out on several occasions trying to get out to those icy shards in that last photo. Even when it's crowded (and even with how cold it was that day it was very crowded!) there is something so calming about that place.

The White House

The last few places I've lived (with roommates that is) have always ended up with China Jessica and I lived in the 504...which was basically our room number. In WV my roommates called our place The Grouse House because one of the girls left grouse bones in the fridge which she intended to use for a Native American Studies project. At this residence we call ourselves The White House. Because our house is white (bet ya didn't see that one coming!). A few weeks ago there was a rare occasion where 3 of the 4 of us were home and I got all excited and domestic (for once) and made dinner and set the table all fancy. I think I would have done it anyway, but having the girls there to participate in dinner made it special and inspired me to go all out. I think we should have more regularly scheduled roommate dinners.
Speaking of my cohorts...

I'm thankful for them! :) I always luck out in the roommate department. God blesses me with good gal friends!

A look into my sketchbook

Desperate for warmer weather and to be outdoors!

Inspired by my friend Hope

A quote from a book that was profound and hugely impactful

My new motto for life

Forever my favorite poem

Playing with hand lettering
When I was in college I was inspired and jealous...and maybe even intimidated by my classmates' sketchbooks. They were works of art in and of themselves! I've never been confident in my drawing or quick sketching skills but almost 2 years ago I challenged myself to keep a sketchbook. I've only gone through three, but the other day I looked through them and I'm so glad that I managed to fill them. They are kind of a mixture of sketchbooks and art journals. Not only did I feel a bit inspired to re-visit some old ideas but it was fun and encouraging in a way to go back and read over where I was in life when I drew and wrote the things in those books. Now it's something I look forward to doing each day (or as often as I'm able). They're nothing terribly special, but I like doing something small and creative just for my eyes...and for the eyes of those 2 or 3 people who peek at this blog every once in a blue moon. :)

The Supernatural...signs and wonders

I was listening to a sermon on podcast today and it talked about how the Pharisees who had hardened their hearts against Jesus wanted a sign from him to show that he was God. They wanted him to, again, show a supernatural act to them.

This got me thinking...humans were originally made to be in a very close relationship with God. Before the fall of Adam and Eve they walked with Him in the garden. Surely, the very fact that God created this world out of nothing and put us on it should make us realize that we are faced with evidence of the supernatural every day. While we were created to know God and see Him move we are now surprised by it...even skeptical of it. We've truly fallen very far. How is it we are so consumed with our daily, hum-drum lives that we cannot see how miraculous our lives are? How have I become so oblivious to how intricate our world is?

Even now I feel like letting out a long sigh. I think I must admit that I've dealt with bouts of discouragement for a long time now. During those times I waver between looking for those things in nature and in life that make me stop and think about how even in the middle of a difficult time life is beautiful, or I completely miss them altogether. I went to the Holocaust Museum once and got to listen to the stories of the survivors. One woman talked about leaving one of the camps and outside the walls was a patch of ground covered in flowers. She said she went and sat in the middle of the flowers and found it so strange that something so beautiful had existed while something so terrible was happening simultaneously.

I can't forget that story. When I'm discouraged I try to look for those patches of beauty and soak in it. I'm not that good at it. I frequently soak in self-pity, fear, and insecurity, but I often forget how to be in awe of the miracle that I live in. I went through a period of time where I feel that my eyes were opened and allowed me to take notice of how every little thing in my life is a blessing. Even the ability to feel sadness. The ability to feel anything at all is in itself mysterious to me. But lately it's not so easy for me to be in wonder of the world I live in and the God who made it. I think if I had a wish now...more than to be wealthier, in love, smarter or anything else that causes me insecurities...I would wish for my heart to be soft enough again to notice those miracles and feel that wonder again.