unplanned

Nothing of the past few years has gone as planned.

I broke my ankle at camp, came home, then turned around and went to AUSTRALIA (the next summer–not with the broken ankle). Um, hello, so unplanned. But then God, in His kindness, let me spend two sweet summers at camp.

I graduated a year later than planned. No harm, because it meant that Kaila and I became BFFs. And let’s be real, y’all, God blessed be greatly through that whole process. And still does.

I moved to a city where I knew NO ONE. Again, not a problem because I love Charlotte, my OBC family, and ALL that God is teaching me here.

I sit at a Panera tonight, totally unplanned, because my internet is out. I brought a ton of work home to do, and then brought it to Panera, to hopefully complete, yet here I am pounding away on this space I’ve neglected for months. I feel as though–no, I know God is teaching me something about my plans because hardly anything has gone the way I’ve planned these past few years or specifically the past few months. Sometimes it’s been big things (i.e. those above) but other times–and honestly the ones that have impacted me the most are the ones like tonight. The middle of the nights where I wake up sick, the dinners I have to cancel because of said bad internet (I’m looking at you, AT&T), the lazy Saturdays that get postponed because of babysitting or dinner offers, the books that don’t get read because of the books that are more appropriate for the time being, the household chores that don’t get done because of phone calls or friends who just need to listen.

The things that I tend to view as not important because they weren’t written down in my planner but the things that God calls so important.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately–this need to be and do all the things yet somehow still connect with our Savior on a real basis and be open to all of the plans He has for my life. I’ll be honest–I don’t think I can and do and be all things to all people. I’m not that egotistical. But I do struggle with doing all of the things I’m called to do, all of the things I’ve planned to do. Especially when they aren’t always the things He’s planned for me to do.

In our student ministry equipping hour (Sunday School for those of you who grew up in the 90s, like myself), we talked about our daily fellowship with Jesus. And, as always, when I’m the one teaching/facilitating/leading small group discussions, I feel as though I get so much more out of it than those who are listening to me do. We ended our time talking about the things that distract us from fellowshipping daily with Jesus. For them it was a mixture of friends, technology, pets, etc. One of our students just said, “life” and I wanted to hug him because YES.

It all distracts me. Finances. Friends. Family. Fellowship. Community Group. Volunteering. Working. Insurance. Writing. Reading. Watching The West Wing. Going/not going to the gym. Traveling. Painting my nails (that’s so dumb but incredibly accurate). Shopping. Spending quality time with the people God has placed in my life. Ironing my clothes. Meal planning (my you pick two from Panera was definitely not scheduled for tonight). Podcasts. Visiting friends. Reading blog posts and articles. Serving at church. Preparing for anything that I feel the need to prepare for.

Everything distracts me.

We all have these grand plans that we go through life making. From the time we can talk, we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. I’m guilty of cultivating this lifestyle–it’s something I’ve asked my students each year that I’ve taught (and maybe we’ll write about it tomorrow during writing time). We dream and daydream and desire a life that is written by us. A life that has a beginning and a really sweet ending. A life that doesn’t involve hurricanes or terrorist attacks or cancer or miscarriages or even something like singleness. Because, for me, I know that’s what it boils down to.

Singleness is hard. But what is harder for me is accepting that my life may never go the way I’ve planned it to go. Never. 

I’m not going to sit here and write a sad and sappy post about how I might be single forever. I’ve played that pity party card one too many times. I don’t know whether I will or won’t be single forever. But what I do know is that I won’t. 

Those two words–really the words, you won’t, have been going through my mind for the past 48ish hours. I was praying on Saturday, trying to get to this place where I blocked all of those ridiculous distractions out of my brain and just listened to God, but of course I only had about seventeen minutes to do so. But, God, in His infinite wisdom, used those words to teach me something. Something that just started to make sense as I sat here and typed.

You won’t live a life you’ve planned. You won’t know what’s next. You won’t do everything on your to-do list, in your time. You won’t. 

But He will.

I know it can be a bit of a cliche, especially in the Christian circles, but remembering that it is all in His hands is such a sweet comfort. It’s a promise that I forget so often, but I want to remember more and more, to mediate on each day. He is sovereign. He’s got me.

Even if–no, when this life doesn’t go the way I’ve planned.

So, there’s that. There’s where I’ve been the past two/three months, trying to learn exactly what God’s teaching me all through fighting distractions and living a life that is so unplanned.

But oh so sweet.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, friend. Sorry for the rambling, but these thoughts just needed to get out. 
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He has said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled
Fear not, I am with you; oh be not dismayed
For I am your God and will still give you aid
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand
When through the deep waters I call you to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless
And sanctify to you your deepest distress
When through fiery trials your pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be your supply
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake
How Firm a Foundation, Norton Hall Band arrangement
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empty.

Almost all of the walls are empty, free of mirrors and paintings and pictures. So many pictures packed away. The built-in bookshelves in the office? The ones that make that room my favorite in the whole house? Other than one shelf that holds the rest of the books I’d like to read in the next couple of weeks, they’re empty. Only a globe sits on the bookshelves in the living room–because how do you pack that anyway? Lots of my clothes are currently serving as the padding in between frames and glasses, winter shoes are in a box, and my dad keeps asking when he can come take the dining room table and pack it away in their house.

The house feels empty.

But, how can it? How can this place feel so empty? This is home. My home.

I specifically remember sitting on the spare bedroom bed in this house when my grandmother still lived here. I was in seventh grade. My parents were out of town to celebrate their anniversary. It was fall break, and our youth group was doing our version of Extreme Home Makeover at a house downtown. I can’t remember the details, but I was upset with my youth pastor about something. He told me to pray about it, and I did. That night, while sitting on that spare bedroom bed, I came across Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” That verse hit me like a ton of bricks that night, and the Lord used that moment to soften my heart and give me the grace to forgive my youth pastor.

That happened in this house.

It was just the beginning. The beginning of four years of college that would come where I would live in this house. Where I would learn and grow.

Where I would watch one of my best friends (who was my roommate at the time) fall in love with the man whom she would marry a couple years later.

Where my small group girls would come over and crawl in my bed with me on Saturday nights. We’d laugh and cry and stay up way too late but somehow we’d manage to make it to church on time the next day.

Where I would come home after a summer in Australia to a house full of friends who were there to surprise me and welcome me back to Augusta.

Where I’d cook my first Thanksgiving turkey and cram twenty or so people–the same people who came every week for a Bible study that semester–into my dining room so we could have a Friendsgiving.

Where I would read hundreds of books, experiment with countless recipes found on Pinterest, write more lesson plans than I’d ever imagined writing, and put off ironing so many times that I realized that ironing is truly my least favorite chore.

Where I moved in on June 10, 2011, incredibly bitter and frustrated at God that I wasn’t getting to spend the summer at camp but in hot Augusta with a broken ankle to boot (pun intended). I never could’ve imagined all the sorrow, all the confusion, all the joy, all the changes that would come over these past four years.

This house may be empty (well, almost) now, but oh, the memories that are there to fill my heart from these past four years. I’ll cry when I drive away from this place later this month, not because of the emptiness of the house, but because of how good God has been in this place. How full I feel in the midst of all the empty.

It’s March?

I have written on this blog exactly two times this year. Two times. At the record I’m going, I’ll be good to write once a month. Hey, that’s probably a realistic expectation based on this year so far.

Anyway, the past two months have literally flown by, and they have been incredibly full. I could sum it all up like this: two trips to Asheville, a trip to Charlotte, eight full weeks of student teaching with one holiday (plus two sick days, but we’re not counting those), weekends full of working at Bath and Body Works and cooking for the week ahead, weeknights full of babysitting, four mandatory seminars, processing the death of my grandfather and ALL that encompasses, afternoons full of telling myself to go run but IT’S JUST SO COLD OUTSIDE AND WE DIDN’T EVEN GET SNOW, and nights lying in the bed wondering where God’s going to take me next on this journey.

I graduate in exactly 67 days (not that anyone’s counting or anything like that), and other than two trips in May that are planned already, I’m not sure what my life is going to look like after May 8th. THAT SCARES ME TO DEATH.

Those of you who know me well know that I am a planner through and through. It’s in my nature to plan, to figure out the details of things, and to like to just generally know what’s going on next. I’m good with details. There’s something I’m absolutely confident I’m good at, and it’s planning. Except for when I’m having to trust God with the plans.

Deep down, I know. I know He’s got me. I know that He’s going to provide in His time, His way. He always has. He always will. But, there’s this part of me, this part of me that Satan knows all too well when he whispers thoughts of doubt that cause me to question God. In all of my 23 years of life, I’ve never not known what’s going to happen after the end of a school year. I’ve never not known how my summer is going to look–even after the one where I broke my ankle.

I have to remind myself daily, sometimes hourly and minutely, that He’s got this. I think of all the unknowns in my life and how He’s made something beautiful out of them. Camp? Wow. I could talk for days about how He made beauty from ashes there. Australia? Again. Such a reminder for me of His faithfulness in my life. My birth family? All the answers aren’t there yet, but He has been so sovereign, and I know He will continue to do so.

So, why do I continue to doubt His goodness and faithfulness when it comes to a job for the fall? Because I’m human, I guess. I’m not sure. But, what I am sure of, is even in this messy, BUSY season, He knows it all. He hasn’t forsaken me once, and He never will. That’s the hope I’m going to cling to for the next 67 days PLUS the rest of my life.

as sure as the sun

This semester has been long. This semester has been hard. This semester has been defeating. This semester has been nothing like I imagined it to be. My life has been nothing like I imagined it to be.

I’ve come to terms with some harsh realities this semester. The life I had planned for myself isn’t the life I’m living, and on some days, that makes me so very mad…at God. It took me a while to admit that, and it’s still very hard to write. Why should I be mad at God? What right do I have to be mad at Him? Because my life is different than I planned? No, not at all. He even PROMISES us that He has plans for us that only He knows. Why should this be at all a shock to my system that my life has gone differently than what I expected?

If my life had gone according to plan, I would have gone to Auburn, and I would be engaged or seriously dating someone by now. I would be graduating on time, I would weigh a little less, and I’d probably be driving a newer car right now. If my life had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t have broken my ankle or gone through the endings of long friendships. I wouldn’t be going to a different church than my parents, I would have a higher GPA, and I probably wouldn’t be studying to be a teacher.

However, if my life had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t have been able to meet and make some of the best friends I could’ve ever imagined. I wouldn’t have worked at camp with the people that made last summer so incredibly special, and I can probably guarantee I wouldn’t have gone to Australia. If life had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t have met my birth dad nor would I have seen him and his wife get baptized. I wouldn’t have been able to see Jack grow up or be there on the day Joe was born. I wouldn’t be in the education program with some of the sweetest girls ever, and I wouldn’t be growing more in my faith because I’ve had to really make it my own in this past year.

It’s hard to remember the times He’s been faithful when you’re walking through things that seem hard, or even are hard. Compared to a lot of my friends, I haven’t had “big” struggles this semester, but I’ve still had struggles. PRAISE JESUS, He finds them equally important. It’s easy to think that He doesn’t care or that He doesn’t see. But, oh, friend, He does.

God is not overlooking some of the details in your life. God is orchestrating ALL of the details of your life. – David Platt

I recently bought the album “As Sure As the Sun” by Ellie Holcomb. Honestly, the only reason I bought was because it was going to only be $2 after I used two coupons at Family Christian. That had to be two of the best dollars I’ve ever spent. The lyrics of the first song absolutely blew me away, and I was hooked.

As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night / His mercy will not end / His mercy will not end

While it’s hard to remember or even “see” His faithfulness, the rising of the sun is such a clear and perfect reminder. Each day it rises. Each and every single day, that sun comes up. And each and every single day, God is just as faithful as He’s been and as He always will be.

“Let us acknowledge the Lord, let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear. He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” -Hosea 6:3

This is one of the Scriptures that the song “As Sure As the Sun” is based upon. As I was at camp last weekend, I noted how everything seemed to be in full bloom. The last time I was at camp was in January, so everything was dead. But, in April, things were blooming and beautiful. It was so apparent that “the spring rains [had] water[ed] the earth”. God’s faithfulness was so evident to me in that moment. I’m praying that this will continue to be the case, and that God’s faithfulness will be as obvious to me as the rising of the sun.

felicity

felicity: the state of being happy

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While finishing a project in the wee hours of the morning (and being the only one at Panera when they opened), does not exactly fall into the state of “felicity”, the rest of this week definitely has. After turning in a HUGE project (what a weight lifted off my shoulders), I was able to enjoy Holy Week. It all started with an unexpected phone call from Watso (whom I get to see this weekend) which was bliss. Add in a cancelled class, a phone date with T-Foss about her recent trip to the land down under, a birthday party for my favorite boys, a coffee date with Caroline, Easter lunch with my family, enoing at the canal with Kaila, and dinner with some of my favorite Augustans and this week was just wonderful!

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LOVED celebrating Jack + Joe. (Didn’t manage to grab a pic of Jack 😦 ) Graham & Casie threw a great party, and these boys smiled the whole night. So fun getting to love on them!

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The Augusta Canal is one of my favorite places in Augusta, and Easter Sunday was the perfect day to eno there. Kaila and I ended the night with dinner with some of the guys, and it was just a taste of freedom + summer. Only one week of classes left!

It’s the People, Not the Places

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting outside of the Science Hall on campus, killing some time after a meeting with a professor and before class started. I was eating an apple and enjoying the glorious weather we had that day (80 degrees only a week after an ice storm–that’s GA weather for ya). There were tons of people milling about around campus. People catching up with friends, a group of guys playing football on the field, etc. I kept thinking how this place–this university–has changed people in certain ways. How people will never forget their 4, 5, 6, 7+ years spent here. How this is “the best time of their life” for some and how it’s just a stepping stool towards a final goal for others. And then it hit me. It’s the people, not the places that make all the difference in the world.

It’s the people who made every one of my years at Augusta Christian so special. It’s the people who understood the woes of dress code and relished in the lunch privileges of senior year that make me love my time spent there. It’s the people who know all the inside jokes and remember every trip we took together. It’s the people who spent hours investing in me, listening to me, and encouraging me during life’s trials. It’s the people who helped mold me into a better person, not the place.
It’s the people who play in the snow with me and celebrate the little things in life with me. It’s the people who came into my life at exactly the right time. It’s the people who I go to lunch with after church on Sundays and who are willing to meet up for light night Krispy Kreme or Waffle House. It’s the people who embrace me because of my flaws and who teach me something new every single day. It’s the people who will make my college experience so special, not the place.
*not all are pictured here 
 
It’s the people who ended up meaning so much to me that I decided to spend another summer with them. It’s the people who evolved into being another peculiar yet special family. It’s the people who understand that hiking up the rappel trail scares me so much that they let me ride in the truck when necessary. It’s the people who you don’t see for months at a time, yet when you get to see them at that special place, you begin again right where you left off. It’s the people who make me love every minute that I get to spend at Camp Cedar Cliff, not the place.
It’s the people that I fell in love with in Australia, not the place. It’s the people who took me to see the native animals and who brought me Macca’s cokes because they knew I loved them. It’s the people who washed my clothes and listened to my struggles as I lived two months in a foreign land. It’s the people who welcomed me into their homes and their lives and gave me a new family in a land 10,000 miles away. It’s the people who make me miss that suburb of Melbourne every single day, not the place.
It’s the people, not the place that make life so beautiful.

Currently…

I ran across this post that I wrote around this same time last year, and I decided to do it again this year to compare the differences!

Reading: Restless: Because You Were Made For More, by Jennie Allen. This book is incredible. Here’s my favorite quote so far: 

“God is accomplishing a thousand tiny purposes at any given moment around us. There is only so much we can know, but we can leave the stuff we can’t know to God and believe He has it all worked out. It may feel quiet, and we possibly even feel forgotten, but God is moving to work out His plans all around us. What is our part? Trust.” 



Listening to: The Art of Celebration by Rend Collective which just came out yesterday. It is FANTASTIC. Hop on over to iTunes and buy it. Also, Tides by Bethel Music is pretty good. It’s only $4.99 on iTunes. You can’t beat a deal like that. 


Eating/Drinking: Baked Lay’s BBQ Potato Chips and anything caffeinated…I need as much caffeine as possible to survive student teaching. 

Cooking: One Pan Chicken Alfredo.  This is one of the BEST pinterest recipes I have ever made. I will definitely be making this one again.

Running: Every now and then…I had a plan to become better at running this year, but let’s be real, it’s not happening. I ran some the other day at boot camp. I have all these dreams of being a cool runner, but I never put forth the time/effort to become one. Maybe one day.

Writing: Lesson plans, lesson plans, and more lesson plans. And reflections about lesson plans. It’s all about lesson plans. 

Feeling: Ready for spring break, a little sad because Hannah + Jonathan  are moving, and sort of old because Jack turns FIVE in a couple of weeks. Five, people, five. 

Wearing: Gap, Old Navy, or JCrew pants + cardigans. #teacherlife

Missing: Camp, Australia, my besties, and free time. 

Wanting: To have my new iPhone…just trying to be honest here, people. 

Learning: How to trust those around me and how to trust the Lord COMPLETELY. 

Enjoying: Good books, evenings with friends, time at work, and catching up with some of my favorites.