Exhibits 1-6


I haven’t clicked the “write” button up on the top of the WordPress homepage for a while. And part of that is that I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be writing right now, which sometimes leads me to not write at all.

This is surprising, because I kind of thought I’d be a blogger for a long time. Perhaps it was a season that is ending.

My Saturday mornings are often times of reflection. It’s when I can rake up all the thoughts that have fallen to the ground during the week and examine them before I put them in the yard waste container or press a few between the pages of a book (YES that is a fall metaphor, because there is no better metaphorical season and I’m milking this for all it’s worth).

Seth and I went to the driving range last night, which is in itself such a strange sentence. Mostly because I never pictured myself as the kind of girl who goes to the driving range on a Friday night, much less dates a guy who wants to take her to the driving range on said Friday night, EVEN LESS enjoys going to the driving range and was the one to suggest it.

Who am I? What have I become?

I picture God chuckling as I think these things, because he’s surprised me so many times over the past few years, taking the vision I’d cast for myself and blurring it. Then he redirects my focus, sometimes gently, sometimes not. And here I am. I imagine the same will be true in a few years. This is the life of faith.

I’d like to give a list of all the things I’m surprised by in my life right now. It’s a way of reminding myself how little happened that I wanted/expected but how the disillusion of those plans brought me here.

  1. If I expected to be working in publishing, the last place I expected to find myself was in a Sales department. My year working Phonathon, short stint as a cold caller, and dislike of upselling or trying to get someone to open a credit card at my retail job all pointed me away from that field. Yet, here I am, working in sales support and both enjoying it and doing a decent job.
  2. As a teen, I found my church to be less life-giving than I wanted. I was ready to move on, even though I really loved a lot of the people there. I wasn’t growing there and thought, after college, I’ll go find somewhere else. Well, God both changed parts of that church and changed parts of me, and here I am, helping lead worship at the church I started attending when I was 8, with a lot of those same people. Totally unexpected.
  3. Speaking of leading worship, I learned not to see myself as a leader after high school student government burned me out. I do not like wrangling people. It exhausts me and feels fruitless. This opportunity to lead at my church, however, though it involves some volunteer wrangling, has been life-giving. It has also been difficult, stretching me and requiring me to adapt and let go of my need for human approval. Among the many things in my life that aren’t about me, leading worship tops the list. Partly because I didn’t expect to be doing this, I didn’t expect for God to refine and shape me in ways that equip me to lead people in worship and to work with a team of people to do it. I’m amazed as I look back just a year at all God has done in our group of leaders and in our church.
  4. Speaking of that group of leaders, this may be the thing that has surprised me the most: I DID NOT expect to meet a single guy at my church, based on the demographics of young marrieds and older marrieds and older singles who propagate my church. I was resigned to and pretty much content with not meeting someone at church. Like, who was there to meet? Also, it’s fine if the rest of the world is a hunting ground for a spouse, but like, really, I should be focused on God at church. And isn’t it just so nice to get to develop these wonderful relationships with the people who are there? These were my thoughts. The church in general does not (typically) attract singles, even less single guys around my age. Also, I find very few single guys in the church that I’d want to be with. (To sum up, there are so very many reasons why this should not and could not have happened) But there he was, at my church, interested in being on a brand-new worship team and offering up his many talents. There is a much longer story to tell here, but reader, I’m dating him. And still amazed at God’s good work there.
  5. On another note, I did not expect to still be doing laundry at my parents’ house. I was going to be more independent than that. I was going to use! quarters! and be! independent! But $$ add up when you wash a lot of towels and clothes and sheets. And sometimes you just need to go see your parents and have an excuse to stay there and get sound advice while your clothes are in the dryer.
  6. I also didn’t expect that I’d still deal with anxiety. This could be a much longer conversation, and the ways God has taught me and refined me through this are many. Most days it’s hardly there and the things I’ve learned about coping and thriving bring me through. Some days it rears its ugly head. I take the meds every day, and sometimes I remember to try to cast my anxiety on the one who cares for me, even in the most irrationally anxiety-producing situations. God has made me brave, not the kind of bravery that looks like bravery, but the kind of bravery that looks like normal living.

I could go on. I will, I’m sure, at some point.

This is not to say that I wasn’t disappointed that some of the other relationships in my life didn’t work out or that I wasn’t dismayed to find I needed to go back on my meds or that I didn’t cry a few times from the stress of starting something new and feeling like a failure.

All of that happened.

And more.

But this hindsight into the ways God has shown his grace and worked in my life to bring me to a place where I am growing and learning is helpful. Because the dreams I have right now might not come about. But I know that God is faithful. He’s faithful to guide the path and bring us to the place where he wants us.

And he has to be the one to do it. If you need proof, see exhibits 1-6 above.

Finished products


In today’s news, for the second time in two weeks I stood in front of an automatic door that wouldn’t open. Automatic doors are supposed to be like the puppies of inanimate objects – even when you feel invisible, they see you and respond. Not this time. It was the same automatic door though, both times. So I’m wondering if maybe I’m not the only one it doesn’t see.

Either way, I know my humanity isn’t determined by a door.

Speaking of humanity, I’ve been remembering lately a poster that hung in the music room at my elementary school. It was posted on the door of a cupboard at the back of the classroom by the sink, so only visible to the teacher at most times.

It had a picture of a little girl on it with a plaintive, pleading look on her face and her hands extended. In bouncy letters above her it read, “Be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

I’m sure those teachers needed to be reminded that the raucous, distracted, squirmy kids in front of them weren’t finished becoming future contributors to society. Not that it wasn’t totally obvious that they weren’t done developing but it wasn’t obvious that we’d all end up being contributing members of society.

I’d like to make a poster of myself some days, wearing a sundress, with plastic beads around my neck and glitter and glue on my fingers, reaching out with the same saying above me.

“Be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

Meaning, I know you’ve probably already been patient, because here I am at 22 still needing to ask you to be, but could you keep it up?

I might need to make these posters for other people in my life, too. Not like I just have to deal with so many people that require patience, but actually it’s everyone who requires patience and grace. None of us are done cooking.

I don’t know if the people who made that poster had some idea that God would be finished with that little girl pictured when she got a little older. They probably just knew how much patience can be needed with little people. I’m sure most of us who have been walking with God for any length of time could attest that we’re just getting started. There really is no finishing while we’re living this life on earth. I’ve never met a finished product. I kind of hope I never do. I’m not sure I could handle it.

I did think at one point that I would make it some day, that my insecurities and hang-ups and impatience and failure would one day take a backseat and I’d be the polished, kind, gracious, whole human being I always pictured I’d be. But I’m finding more and more that I’ve brought the same me on the whole journey that I’ve always been. The changes are small, so minute I hardly know I’ve changed til I get miles down the road.

I’d like to see that poster with an elderly person on it. Yeah, still not finished. Patience still requested. That might be a good tattoo, if I ever wanted to get one, just smack it across my forehead.

Surrender and testimony.


Last Monday, I had breakfast-dinner with some friends of mine in my same stage of life, the do-I-have-my-life-together-and-can-I-pay-my-bills-when-I-graduate stage of life. I came in with a bowl of strawberries to eat with the pancakes, and when they asked me how I was, I said I was trying to trust God in the face of uncertainty.

They looked at each other and sighed. Them, too. Thanks for saying that.

Then we ate pancakes together and talked about the way life is right now.

Why is trusting God so hard? The words are easy to say (most days), “I trust God.” But in practice that should look like not worrying and obsessing and telling people that you have no idea how things are going to work out.

Maybe I have a hard time surrendering my problems because I want to feel they’re legitimate. I don’t want to surrender my worry because I want someone to tell me, That’s normal. It’s okay to feel that way. 

I do want that. I want someone to empathize with my struggle, to say I’m not weak for being overwhelmed.

But when the God I serve is the one who parts seas and raises the dead to life and has provided for my every need at the time when I needed it (not just when I thought I needed it), my worry isn’t valid. My situation is a concern, but obsession and worry is a waste of my energy and my testimony.

If I walk around telling the people who ask me how I’m doing that I’m waiting for God to show me how to work out my situation, that’s healthier for me and gives them an opportunity to watch how God works out my situation. (Also, apparently sometimes when you’re stressed, your sphincter (like the entrance to your stomach) can get a little small and make you feel like you’re going to throw up… Liesel’s anatomical addition to the conversation)

Now, to practice this. If you see me, I’ll tell you I’m waiting for God to work it out, and I’ll take a deep breath while I say it. And you can tell me what you’re waiting for God to work out, and we’ll take deep breaths together and remember that it’s worth it.

Five loaves and two fish.


Today has been a loaves and fishes type of day. I came to the day with a sack lunch, and I remember telling Jesus something like, “hey, be a part of today.” No matter what the exact wording was, there was an invitation issued.

Jesus is present in my everyday life even when he doesn’t feed the five thousand, but my goodness, when he does? I’m tired from all the excitement of my day.

First off, my class was cancelled. So I had a whole morning to write and get homework done. What a gift that was.

I tutor an ESL student on Thursdays at the local elementary school to help with reading fluency and comprehension, and we had such a fun session. He wanted to keep working after we’d been together for an hour.

Those would have been blessing enough. My heart was full and happy when I walked home and came in my door. My neighbors downstairs had again been smoking pot, and the smell permeated my kitchen, but I was determined it wouldn’t make me upset.

Then I looked at my email.

For the past two weeks, my birthday campaign with charity: water has been going on, and I started today at $913. Every time someone gives, I’ve been excited. It’s amazing what people will do, given the opportunity to do good. It was already more than I could have done on my own. I hoped that by my birthday in March, we’d be close to my $3,000.

But today, my email told me that someone I didn’t know had donated $600. WHAT. I was dumbfounded, thinking it must have been a mistake.

Then I went to the webpage for my campaign and saw that not only was it a legitimate donation, but someone else had given over $1,000.

THAT DOES NOT JUST HAPPEN.

Charity: water found my campaign (since I was plugging for Taylor Swift to find it and join me) and featured it on their blog today, so I suppose these generous folks found it and wanted to take part.

All I’ve done is set up a campaign and told my friends.

I gave Jesus my five loaves and two fishes, and so far, he’s provided enough money to provide 89 people with clean water for the rest of their lives.

My God does big things with small, ordinary people. He doesn’t care how insignificant we are or how incapable or unimportant we think we are. He asks us to join in, to take a first step and watch him make our efforts into something far beyond anything we can take credit for.

I am amazed.

Faith booster.


“So why should I worry? Why do I freak out? God knows what I need.”

-Jon Foreman

Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

Luke 12:27-28

I should not worry.

Really, I shouldn’t.

How much easier is that said than done? If there was a contest for who could worry about the most things over and over again, then come up with new ways to worry about the same things and new things to worry about in at least ten different ways, I would definitely make the top ten.

I know how to churn my thoughts over and over in my mind and how to imagine the worst possible scenario and the second to worst possible scenario and all the horribly bad things that could happen or the semi-bad ways my circumstances could turn out. Really, I have an amazing negative imagination.

I’m really great at worrying about my finances, and being abroad, there are a lot of ways to worry about that. I won’t get into all the creative ways I worry that I will become destitute before I get home, but there are lots of ways I do it.

I’m realizing as I lay awake at night worrying, though, how destructive worrying is. It keeps me awake when I want to sleep, it ties my stomach in knots, it makes me feel despondent. It makes it hard for me to breathe deeply and to enjoy life.

I’ve told you a couple times before about how God continues to provide for me. And it’s always the day after I finally tell him, “Okay, I’m done worrying about this. I really am. I trust you to provide. I trust you that even if it isn’t money or if it takes more time than I’m comfortable with, you hold me in your hands and are interested in my well-being.” I also like to remind him that I sponsor a child through Global Fingerprints, and does he want her to lose her sponsor?

Yes, that is manipulative. Good eye, dear reader.

It happened again yesterday. Of course, I would have liked to receive my check for my editing work a few days before my credit card bill was due, but Jesus made me wait until the day before. It came, and I was expecting that my rate would have been met.

Not only did they pay me what I asked for… they paid me two and a half times that amount. I have no idea why. I don’t understand. But I know that it was Jesus, saying Remember how you said you trust me? Here’s why it’s worth it. I know what you need. I know that you need a faith boost. I know that money isn’t the only way to satisfy your needs, but here’s my promise that I will provide for you even in the little ways that you humans need, like with money. 

Jesus knows when I need a reminder that He’s worth trusting. Really, I have enough reminders to looks back on that I shouldn’t need new ones. But He knows that I need it, so He keeps reminding me.

I remember whose I am today and why it’s so important that I am His.

Contacts and miracles.


Remember when God fixed my laptop? Yeah, me too. Today’s post is similar to that one because (no surprises here), God is still walking with me.

It was about 9:30am. I had fallen back asleep after my alarm went off because my eyes were tired. It was reason enough to keep them closed a little longer. My friend had texted, asking me to email something to her, so I got up to take out my retainers and contacts before I did that.

Do you know what panic feels like? If not, I’m going to try to convey it here.

I wear special contacts at night. They are the only reason I can see during the day. I take them out when I wake up. I do not have a spare pair of these lenses with me in Austria.

Enter bathroom. Step away from sink with open drain to take contact lens out of right eye.

Keep trying to take contact lens out. Why is nothing coming out?

Enter panic – knot in stomach, face frozen into fear, all my muscles tense. There is nothing in my eye. Okay. Okay. So, if it’s not in my eye, and I thought it was, where is it now?

This happened once when I first got my contacts in fifth grade. Turns out, I had blinked it out onto a rug in front of our kitchen the night before. We found it there in the morning, safe and sound.

Yeah, but this time, we’re in the bathroom that I share with one of my flatmates. And I don’t have anyone to help me look right now. And I’m half blind because I slept with one contact in.

Sometimes, life drives you to your knees, in a literal and figurative manner at the same time. I remembered the rug instance and immediately got to my knees.

I also remembered that God cares about tiny things and wants me to trust Him. So I got on my knees.

Okay. Okay. I trust you, God. Where do I look next? Okay. Not on this corner of the rug. Right, God, I will check every inch of it again. Okay, it’s not on this entire rug. 

Slight break for panic.

I really do trust you, God. Where is it? Help me find it. Right, I know that’s what you’re doing. Where do I look next? I would have heard it if it fell into the open toilet, right? 

At this point, I’m not even allowing myself to think about if I have a backup plan, because I know that I don’t really. If I don’t find this lens, there isn’t a simple or cheap solution.

Okay. Yeah, I’ll check the other rug, God. I don’t know if it could have flown over there, but… 

Then my hand feels something small and blue and gas permeable. On the other rug, where I doubted my contact could have been. Do you know that feeling of relief that feels like you just jumped into a pool of peace?

Good things happen on your knees.

Waves and water.


I spent some time on the high seas today with Moby Dick, and I couldn’t help but want to be washed, to sit by the waves and watch them flood over my feet, the sand, the shore.

If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.

I want to sit by His ocean because the water always returns to the shore. The tide goes out but the waves still come. The sand might be dry right now, but just wait until 5:00 and wade deeper while you wait.

I want to be aware of how the water laps gently over my feet when I stand at the edge of His ocean, but when I get my surfboard, it’s all around me. When I dive in headfirst or feet first or whatever first, I’m drenched. It gets quiet, and all I’m aware of is how I’m wet and surrounded.

There’s an amazing quiet when you’re underwater. You can’t smell, can’t usually see much, can’t hear, and shouldn’t risk trying to taste anything. You just feel, feel the water all around.

You surface to breathe again, and the air feels different. It tastes salty, and you see the world differently. The water changes your perspective. I want to know that perspective, to swim deep and come up different every day. To only get out long enough to get dry, then plunge in deep again.

I want his waves to come higher and higher on those days that I’m reluctant to get in. I want them to break down the sandcastles I’ve built, the ones that stand between me and the water. I want it to wash the sand off of my feet and my legs, to know that feeling of pure cleanness that I lose immediately after stepping back into dry sand.

I want to swim every day, to drip on the people I meet, and pull them in to swim with me.

His grace, His love, His mercy is an ocean. And I am sinking without drowning, without a struggle. I sink and live.

Oh, the paradoxes of the Gospel.

Stupidity, doubting, and faith.


Let’s talk about the three of those in that order.

First: stupidity.

Stupidity (stoo-pid-it-ee), def: You make a full, large cup of hot tea. You set your laptop on your bed and intend to join it there with your tea. Your bed is one foot off of the floor, so you have to lower yourself a lot farther than your center of gravity is used to. You lower yourself down, meanwhile sloshing tea onto your computer (aka lifeline to home, center of memories, files, and work from years and years).

You have a half second of panic and disbelief, then you grab the towel from the shelf and dab the computer. Oh, no. Ohhhhhh, no. Don’t die, baby, you whisper. No, no, no. Don’t die. I need you. I NEED YOU.

As you’re dabbing, you have the presence of mind to turn the computer off. And by some miracle, you realize it would be a good idea to set the computer up like a tent (upside down) so that the water can all drain out.

Doubting (dow-ting), def: First, you doubt that you could have ever done something so clumsy and stupid. You, who never do anything like this (note the sarcasm there). Then you doubt that God will heal it. Oh shoot, he’s probably going to say that he has a better idea. He’s going to make me buy a new laptop. Oh shoot, I can’t do that. I really can’t do that. And what will I do without my files? Where will I get such a marvelous computer as Matilda? Why do bad things have to happen when you’re brand new to a foreign country? Still, despite all the doubting, you realize that the only way this can get better is by miraculous healing.

So, you set your hand on your computer tent, which is sitting on the towel on your bed. (the tea cup is now on the floor, out of the way) You pray for a good fifteen minutes, pleading as honestly as you know how with God to fix the darn thing and to overcome your stupidity. You promise to make it known when He does. You tell him that you know that he could have a better idea, but you tell him you can’t handle the better idea. You just would like to have it fixed. You tell him that maybe there was a lesson he wanted to teach you by making you buy a new laptop in a foreign country, but you ask if you could learn that another way.

Then you proceed to continue to worry. And you wonder why you can’t just trust God to fix it. You know that God has fixed your phone before, has given you an extra week with Pearl that you really needed. He could give you an extra five months with this machine. You know that God has the power, the reason, and the sense to fix it, but you wonder if he thinks something else might be better (even though you have no idea how not fixing it could be better). You wonder why you can’t just let God have this situation. You want to try turning on the computer.  I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t know that it’s fixed. You try turning it on. It turns on but then goes black. You decide God isn’t ready to fix it but hope he is soon. You really want to trust God.

It’s a computer for goodness sakes. So you text your parents to pray for it, even though it’s a computer and you don’t want to tell them how stupid you were.

Faith (fay-th), def: You calm down and go to sleep. Then you wake up the next morning, eat müesli, drink coffee (the same coffee you have a small victory with yesterday), and tell God that you trust Him to fix it. You trust him because he called you here, and in order for you to stay here and be sane, you need your computer. You remember his words to Peter when Peter was walking on the water towards Jesus and started to doubt and sink, “You of little faith, why did you doubt? ” So you decide not to doubt. He’s faithful. You remember Daniel’s words in chapter 9, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous but because of your great mercy.”

Have mercy on this tea-spiller, Lord.

You get the strong urge to turn on the computer again, so strong that you pour out the small remainder of cold coffee and go to your room.

And it turns ON. It allows you to login, and it stays on. And has not changed since.

PRAISE THE GOOD LORD.

Here’s my psalm for today: Praise the Lord! He has heard our prayers and fixed the computer. His faithfulness and computer savvy, no one can fathom. Hallelujah for connection and for files restored!

Bets.


I paced around our apartment today while I read Plato’s Republic. Paced not because we don’t have anywhere to sit or because I couldn’t sit still but because I’m doing a pedometer challenge. Sitting is for sissies when you’re going up against highly motivated walkers.

I actually don’t know how highly motivated the other people are. I just know that I want to win.

My pedometer challenge pales in comparison to The Actual Pastor‘s run through the Grand Canyon, though. He’s running 24 miles, the very end of which is called “The Devil’s Staircase” (which I wouldn’t even attempt to run if that was my only challenge). He’s doing it to raise money to rescue women in Ethiopia from forced prostitution.

He’s crazy. In the very best way.

Don’t we all want that kind of existence? Where we know that we don’t just matter to our moms and our best friends but that we make a difference?

Do you believe that you can change the world? I’m not asking you if you think that the world can and will change. I’m asking you if you think that you as an individual person can change the world with your dreams and passions.

Do you?

I bet we could.

I bet if we dug down deep and rooted ourselves in a God whose capabilities know no boundaries, we could do something great. I bet if we were willing to risk something so that love could win and justice could reign and the world could know that our God lives, things would start happening.

I bet it would be worth the risk.

Friday boats.


Sometimes you try to write a blog post before you’ve actually drunk any of your coffee, and it sounds like a slightly personal research essay. Then you realize that just because you have a cup of coffee sitting beside you on the desk doesn’t mean that you’ve actually drunk any of it.

Then you realize how much you need caffeine and delete everything you’ve written.

It’s another Friday, which surprises me since it seems like yesterday was Monday. People say that life accelerate progressively faster with each passing year, and it’s true. I’m pretty sure that last week it was June, and the week before that was March. But today it’s September, and what are you doing with your life?

[side note: if you have the hiccups, use caution while drinking coffee. End side note.]

Sometimes I feel like God has this boat that He’s asked me to travel with him on. I’m standing on the dock with one foot on and one foot off, confused look on my face while I yell up to God (who’s on the boat already), “Wait. Where did you say this boat was going?”

“I didn’t!” He replies, and He motions again for me to come with Him. “But it’s going to be great!”

And I stand there, sometimes with two feet on the gangplank or two feet on the dock or one and one. And I’m still not on the boat, because I want to know where I’m going before I get in.

I think this is supposed to be the part where I put both feet on the gangplank, walk up, and get on board. I think this is supposed to be that pivotal moment.

I’ll let you know when I get there.