Thursday, April 25, 2013

Five-Minute Friday: "Friend"

Yet another Five-Minute Friday link up!  Forgive me if it sounds like mush, I've been writing a term paper this week and my brain is rather like smashed potatoes right now...

I’ve prayed for you since I was in the fifth grade; feeling out of place and awkward, feeling misunderstood and weak.  I prayed for a spouse, yes, but I also prayed for you, sweet friend, sister in Christ. 

My heart ached for that one who I could share laughter of ridiculous things, share embarrassing moments without fear, share the kind of prayers that can only take place between friends.

Tears, joy, goofy, nerdy excitement!

I prayed for you and God said “yes”.  How many times has He said “no”?  How many times have I not understood?  His promises are great, His gifts are kind, and He gave me you as a friend.

Like a missing half of a whole, the second puzzle piece, you are often the mouth of God to me, speaking His truth in love and mercy.

Shared tears, shared joys…shared wine! 

How can I tell you what you mean to me?  How many wounds your friendship has healed?  How happy I am to have been blessed with you. 

Sweet friend, how I cherish your wise words, your brutal honesty, your inappropriate jokes that always make me laugh on a cruddy day. 

Thank you.  That’s all I can really say.

Five Minute Friday

Office Oddities

One thing I can say about my job without the slightest hesitation is that it’s given me many entertaining (Painful?  Embarrassing?  Terrifying?) stories.  From spilling the contents of the whole puncher all over the floor to rude solicitors to ridiculous questions (Random employee: "Why haven't I gotten my pay check?"  Me: "Did you maybe change your address?" Random Employee:  "Well...yeah."  Me: "Did you send us an e-mail to that effect?"  Random Employee:  "No."  Me (internal dialogue):  "I'm so sorry, my telepathy's on backorder..."), my job as a receptionist/administrative assistant has taught me a lot and given me many laughs.   

Today’s office oddity?  Having to literally unscrew a document in order to scan one of the pages.  Apparently, the company in question cares highly for the safety of the contents of said documents…

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


So, last week I did my first link up called Five Minute Friday.  My problem was that I misread the prompt the first time and wrote the wrong one.  When I realized my mistake I wrote the correct one and decided to post the first one this week...which worked out great because I have a term paper to write, a portfolio to complete, hogs to be fed...all that jazz, so read and enjoy!


Right now I’m in the after.  After rejection, after the “no”, after the relief.  It’s equal parts pain and grief.  In many ways I am happy to be here, happy to stay in Texas close to my family, happy to continue on with the local church that I’ve grown up with, happy to be in the house I prayed for, happy not to have to make tough decisions…but…

In many ways this after hurts.  It makes me feel lost.  As if I’m not enough.  It feels like a rejection of who I am and not just what I do.  It makes me cry out to God and ask for direction and wisdom, a verbal word.  I can’t see the bigger picture and I really, really want to.  This after does not feel fair.

But this after reminds me of the “yesess” amidst the “nos”.  No to my dream job; yes to a house; no to a new start, yes to three very good friends I know I’ve prayed for since junior high.  In this after I find myself blessed yet still longing, and realize that this is the promise of the world, the promise of the Lord.  Joy will be found on earth, but it will be mixed with longing for the ever after. 

And when the veil is drawn away, when the earth and it’s pain are gone, that’s when I will see the true happily ever after of fairy tales; one not mixed with despair and disappointment, one that will bring me face to face with the Savior, that will provide answers of solidity…the big picture, the explanation for this present “after…”

Thursday, April 18, 2013


This is my first time trying a link up so bear with me.  The challenge is Lisa-Jo Baker's Five Minute Friday where you write for five minutes, no editing allowed.  Today's topic was "Jump".



Standing at the edge of cold, wet concrete, the green water below looks so far down.  Countless others have done it before me, all successful, all safe and sound below.  No limbs broken.  Red marks from the slap of water acceptable wounds.

My heart is in my throat.  If I don't jump I'll look like a weenie.  That's the best word my seventh grade mind can come up with.  I'm a bit sheltered.  

"Jump!  Jump!"

The voices encouraging me bounce from wall to wall on the bridge.  The sound of cars overhead nearly drown them out.  A louder voice, one only I can hear insists that if I don't jump I won't be able to show my face again, I won't have a place among them, they won't be my friends.  As always I'll be on the outside of the circle, whispers of taunts floating around me, the words "weird" and "dork" echoing loud and clear...

"Jump!  Jump!"

I take a breath and step off into oblivion, the cool water shocking my senses as I plunge into the darkness.  I come up to cheers, to friends.  The voice is still there, still murmuring like the water lapping the concrete walls, but the other voices, solid and real, drown it out.    

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Harsh World in Which We Live

“What a harsh world you live in.”  Lord Grantham

“We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do.”  Tom Branson

About a month ago I got into Downton Abby.  Friends had been encouraging me for almost a year to watch the show and when I finally gave in I was hooked.  The dialogue above struck me immediately but as I had a few other blog posts lined up I delayed in writing about them.  I planned to write about the state of American culture, specifically in suburbia.  I’d planned to write on our talent at escapism, our self-medication, our worship of comfort and subsequent flight from pain.  I’d planned to talk about how easy it is for us in the U.S. to ignore, escape, numb ourselves against the difficulties of life by means of entertainment, drugs, and activity.  I wanted to encourage myself and others to face hardships with open eyes and flee from slipping into comfortable oblivion in which we avoid conflict and stop our ears to the cries of our own souls and those of others.

Then came Monday.  Stories of the explosions in Boston, images of bloodied runners and paramedics, the realization that someone I knew was in that race… Pain became difficult to ignore as the media flooded with information, heartache, horror.  I cried reading the story of the eight year old boy killed at the finish line, of the war veteran who assisted with the injured, remembering like echoes Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech,  the day the planes crashed into those buildings my sophomore year of high school…

“What’s going on in the world?”


“Things are getting worse and worse.”


“This makes me sick.”


We do hide ourselves so well from pain, but moments like this remind us that we can’t forever run from it, remind us of the harsh world we live in, of the universal effect of sin.  My heart breaks for Boston right now, but even in my horror I don’t think I feel the pain like I should.  The pain is over there, far away.  It’s their harsh world beyond the computer screen, past the radio waves, in Boston and this breaks my heart further still.  It’s easy for me to forget the harsh world in which I live, all too easy to stick my head in the sand and click to the next episode of a TV show on Netflix.  So I am praying for my numbed heart, for a greater compassion for that which feels far away, for a greater compassion for the groaning around me, and most of all for those right now in the midst of a horror I can’t imagine. 

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [a]saints according to the will of God.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Living in the Longing

The bride is beautiful, but then she always is.  As the doors of the church open to reveal the girl in the white dress and immaculate hair at the other end of the aisle a smile fills every aspect of the groom’s face.  All rise in honor, most eyes focus in on one point, many hearts swell with uninterrupted joy…but some hearts find themselves breaking a little, some feel the sting of guilt as they wish themselves in her place, or at least a place similar to hers…


“If I ever get married-“

“When, when you get married.”

Cue internal eye rolling, obligatory thanks with accompanying smile.


I’m so happy for them, really I am, but dark thoughts crowd my mind, bumping together, insisting on my attention.  Why isn’t it me?  Am I being punished?  Will I always and forever feel like some sort of awkward planet orbiting around the very edge of the circle while others decide what category to put me in?  Am I just meant to be a third, fifth, seventh wheel?


“A friend of mine got married at forty, you’re still young, don’t worry!”

I do worry.  I don’t want to be forty when I get married.

“You’re desire is a good desire and God says He’ll give you the desires of your heart!”

Is that really what scripture teaches?  Really?


I should be thankful for what I have, count my blessings, trust in the God Who I know to be both good and sovereign, but it’s hard.  Sometimes suffocating.  Sometimes painful.  Often lonely.  Occasionally heartbreaking.  Periods of guilt mixed with longing come flashing through like waves I can’t beat back.  They throw me quite literally on my face in angry, tear-filled prayers.  I fight the lies that flood my head, I claw at the truths of scripture, I still hurt.


“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; ‘I have overcome the world.’”  This truth echoes through my mind as I curl up in a lounge chair in the back yard of my parent’s house.  Out there, in the dark, far from glaring city lights, stars poke through the black of the sky, a thousand grains of salt on a dark table cloth, the visual promise to Abraham regarding his offspring, the overwhelming expanse that baffles me with just how big the universe is and how small I am. 

For a few moments, the oppressive weight lifts from my body, floating into space like the steam rising from the hot tub.  The promise, assurance of pain remains, a shadow extending forward into the future, but the burning reminder of the suffering servant plants itself firmly beside me, and in that moment of remembrance I am strengthened.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

"No One is Righteous"

Harry:  “[Michael’s] a righteous man.”
Susan:  “He seemed nice enough to me.”

Harry:  “No, not self-righteous.  Righteous.  The real deal…he lives his ideals…”

I read this conversation in a book recently, and it struck me immediately.  The man presented is kind, and brave, and pure.  He fights evil (very obvious, very frightening evil), wears a white cape with a red cross on the back, wields a large broad sword, and gains his “power” from his “faith”.  Also?  He doesn’t use foul language, is always truthful, and takes promises very seriously.

But I have some problems with Michael.

My first irritation with him was his demanding that the main character not swear.  This reminded me so much of myself back in high school, thinking I was standing up for my beliefs by demanding much the same thing of my friends.  The problem?  This reeks of legalism and sounds a lot like what the Pharisees were all about.

“Why aren’t your disciples washing their hands before they eat?  Dude, they’re going to hell!” (Matthew 15…ok, maybe they didn’t use the word ‘dude’…)

My question for Michael here would be, “What good will it do Harry not to swear?  Will it do him any good at all, or does it just make you feel better not to hear harsh words?”

My second problem is less to do with Michael, and more to do with the conversation.  Harry calls Michael righteous rather than self-righteous because he lives his ideals, he’s not a “hypocrite”, he doesn’t say one thing and do the other.  Now, I grant you, if this was possible, if Michael really could live out his ideals then we could certainly say he had integrity, that he was not a hypocrite, but could we really call him righteous?

Not according to scripture. 

“There is none righteous, not even one.”  Romans 3:10

“Why do you call Me good?  No one is good except God alone.”  Luke 18:19

By human standards, Michael might look pretty good, just as I thought I did in high school.  No foul language, honesty, hard work, washed hands…but according to God’s standards?  How utterly short we fall; mixed motives, setting ourselves as the standard for what is good, ungracious thoughts…And it goes deeper still.  Created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) we are meant to represent God, to live for Him, and to enjoy Him.  Going a moment without fulfilling this is unpardonable rebellion against the One Who breathed life into us.  None of us can claim our own righteousness; none of us can claim innocence, on our own there is no hope.

Of course this isn’t the end of the matter.  We don’t throw our hands into the air and say “to hell with it then!”  Instead, we place our trust on the only One Who did fulfill the law perfectly, Who was righteous Himself, the lamb lifted up.  Our only means of obtaining righteousness is to ask Christ to give us His, and so abide in Him.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

This is the only way we can avoid self-righteousness and hypocrisy; to claim the righteousness of another and ask Him to sanctify or make us holy as He is holy.  We will never be this on our own.  May we remember this and be greatly humbled.