Why?

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." ~Romans 1:16

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

thank You for the beauty of that night

The room was dark, except for the light of a lamp on the end table next to me, and the Christmas tree by the piano.  It was very late, or rather, early, close to 4am.  The three of us were snuggled on the couch, talking and laughing, but making sure to do it quietly, as the rest of the house was asleep.  Two other sleepy girls were on the couch next to us, out like lights after a long night.

In the hours prior, we had whispered stories and shared our hearts.  We all had so much to tell, so much to share.  And in that room that night there was a trust, a safety, a refuge, a beauty that was so powerful and real that none of us ever wanted it to end.  Old friendships were deepened, new ones were formed, and a deep, earnest hope for the future was born.  And what the three of us had together, right in that moment, we imagined we would have for years and years to come.

But that wasn't what the Lord had in store.

The year we brought in together turned out to be very different than we hoped.  It was long, and hard.  All three of us faced challenges and heartache like we had never known before.  And not one of us expected any of it to happen.  In fact, if we had known that night what we would walk through together and separately in the months ahead, I don't know what we would have done.

And now, one year later, each of us are bringing in the new year at different homes with different people.  But even though we won't be together, we've all expressed the same thing to each other as this day approached - We are thankful for the beauty.  We are so grateful we had that night together.  We are different people because of it.  We are marked by the beauty it held.  We carry it with us every day.  And while we wish it could have lasted forever and we're very sad it had to go away, we will never forget it.


So thank You, Father.  Thank You for the beauty of that night.  We will never forget.


 
 

Friday, December 6, 2013

unfair

Have you ever been wronged?  Have you ever had something done to you that you didn’t deserve?  What did it feel like?  Did it hurt?  What was it that made it hurt?  Was it just the offense in and of itself?

Or was it because the way they treated you was unfair?  Did the unfairness, the knowing you didn’t deserve this, heighten the hurt and deepen the pain?

And how did you react?  Were you angry?  Did you lash out?  Did you say things you regret?  Did you live in a place of self-pity for a while? 

Or did you respond in kindness?  Did you choose to love them even when you’d been hurt?  Did you choose to forgive them even though they didn’t deserve it?

It’s hard to do, isn’t it?  To give love and forgiveness when everything inside you is broken, screaming you shouldn’t have to do this?  It doesn’t seem right.  It doesn’t seem fair.  Indeed, it is unfair.

On the other hand, have you ever wronged someone else? Have you ever done something to someone that they didn’t deserve?  What did it feel like?  Did it hurt you, too?  What was it that made it hurt? Was it just the remorse you felt about the offense in and of itself?  

Or was it because they forgave you that made it hard to deal with?  Did the unfairness, the knowing you didn’t deserve this, heighten the remorse and deepen the regret?

And how did you react?  Were you sad?  Did you run away?  Did you feel awkward and unworthy?  Did you dwell in a place of shame for a while?

Or did you respond in thankfulness?  Did you choose to accept their love even when you felt like a destroyer?  Did you choose to accept their forgiveness even though you didn’t deserve it?

It’s hard to do, isn’t it?  To accept love and forgiveness when everything inside you is broken, screaming you couldn’t possibly accept this?  It doesn’t seem right.  It doesn’t seem fair.  Indeed, it is unfair.

Forgiveness is a funny thing.  It’s hard to give and hard to accept.  Why?  Because a lot of the time, we give the love that is easy to give and accept the love we think we deserve.  I mean, let’s be honest – How often do we love when we’re scared, weary, or have been hurt?  And how often do we accept it when we’re scared, weary, or feel unworthy?

But the thing about forgiveness is, no matter whether we’re on the giving or receiving end of it, it is a choice.  We have to CHOOSE to love recklessly and forgive without conditions.  We have to CHOOSE to accept love fearlessly and accept forgiveness without protestations.  Even though we know it’s unfair.

And WOW is that hard to do.  Like, really hard.

But the good news is, we don’t have to do it by ourselves.  We have the ultimate example of this in Christ:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”   Romans 5:1-11

 


Sunday, November 24, 2013

a part of my soul

Sometimes I wonder why I blog.

Sometimes I worry that the only reason I do it is for attention.

Sometimes I worry that you guys think that, too.

Because being seen - it's a small part of this deeper thing that we all crave - being known.  And I think there's a healthy want of this, and a not-so-healthy one.  I want to be in that first category.

To be known is a deep longing in all of us - weaved into our very natures since the beginning of time. Think about it - God Himself is relationship - and since we're created in His image, it's no wonder we long for this.

But because we're sinful, fallen human beings, living in a post-Fall world (which means everything that was originally good got twisted into something it was never meant to be), we confuse our longing for relationship with our longing for approval.  We buy into the lie that the attention and approval of man is not just good, but necessary for our happiness.  (A complete and total SHAM.)  And once we believe this, we begin to operate under this idea and everything we do is affected.  Including the way and reasons why we share about our lives.  I'm almost always an extremely open person when it comes to my thoughts, feelings, opinions, ideas, hopes, and struggles.  But lately I've been asking myself - why?  What is motivating me to be so "honest?"  What is it that I really want here?

I want to believe that this place I've crafted, here in this small corner of the internet, probably seen by only a small few, is here for a reason bigger and better than, "Hey, look at me!"  I want to believe the creation of this blog had a deeper, more beautiful purpose.  Or even if it didn't back then, that it does now.

I don't just want people to see me.  I want people to see me and know me and "these songs I sing" - so that they might be known, too.  Maybe you reading this blog and seeing where I struggle and Who I hope in - maybe that will be healing to you somehow.

I want this blog to reveal a part of my soul that you probably wouldn't be able to see otherwise.  I mean, I can't have 3-hour coffee dates and pour my heart out over tall caramel mochas with everyone.  But here - here in this little corner of mine, filled with words and stories and an honesty so purposeful and scary that sometimes I almost don't do it - here I can give you little pieces of what you would hear if you were sitting across from me at a coffee shop, sipping your iced latte and listening kindly to my ramblings, or what you would see if you were a fly on the wall in my room after a long week, or in my family's kitchen when we're all home from work, or a page in my journal.  If you were any of these places, you'd see a part of my soul that not everyone does.  But you can't be.

So here's to sharing our souls via words on a page.  Words meant to be more than pretty.  Words meant to be true and real and honest.  So that we might be known - together.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

the best day

A few mornings ago, my mom came into my room.  I had just woken up and was still a little groggy.  She had a question for me.

"Syd, do you want to go see Shrek in Milwaukee with Dad on Saturday?  It's almost sold out, but there are a few tickets left.  Would you like to go?"

I hesitated.  I was so tired, I could barely process general information, let alone such a cool offer.  Plus, this was looking to be the first free Saturday for me in a long while, and I was looking forward to staying home and doing nothing all day.  Another drive up to Milwaukee on my day off?  In my grogginess I replied, "I don't know, maybe. I need to think about it, I guess."

Thankfully, after thinking about it for a little while, I was hit by how stupid it would be to pass up such a cool opportunity.  First of all, my mom was so kind to think of this for me.  She knew that I'd been hoping to see it, but had quietly given up on the idea due to my crazy schedule.  But she found a way to make it happen.  That is so like my mom - to see my quiet desires and make things happen for me, even when I don't ask for any of it.  It's a picture of what Christ does for us.  Also, this wasn't just a chance to see a great show, but to spend a day in Milwaukee with my dad.  He and I hadn't had a daddy-daughter date in a long time, and after a few especially difficult weeks, this was exactly what my weary heart needed.

A few nights later the three of us sat in the living room, Mom at the computer reserving the tickets, and Dad and I on the couch chatting eagerly about where we should go to dinner.  I was getting more and more excited.  This was going to be wonderful.

So, this afternoon, Dad and I hopped in the car and drove up to my favorite city. 


We were going to my favorite part of Milwaukee - the Historic Third Ward - and to a theatre that was filled with memories from long ago, where I had performed with First Stage in Seussical  back in 2006 - my first experience with that beautiful show (that would lead to 4 more and counting).


We got into the theatre and the buzz was infectious.  Little kids everywhere, and chatter and excitement filling the space.  I sat down and took it all in - it was like coming back home, both to this space, and to theatre in general.  Sometimes I forget how passionate I am about this art form and the capacity it has to touch and change lives.  Having seen the show on Broadway in Chicago a few years ago (and having loved it), I was excited and curious to see what they would do with such a large-scale musical in such a small-scale space.  I also knew a few of the people involved, as the title role was being played by a professor from Carthage, and three recent Carthage grads were also in the cast and crew.  I flipped through my program and waited eagerly for the show to begin.

 
The show was fantastic - both Dad and I were so impressed with the vocal talent, character work, and technical aspects.  The set and costumes were so incredible, and the quality of the production as a whole was just so good.  I smiled and laughed the entire show.  (I mean, when you've got a song about burping and farting... this show does not disappoint, let me tell you.)
 
While Dad and I were really excited to see the show - we were also really looking forward to dinner!  He had recommended a place called "Pizza Man" that he remembered from his college days in Milwaukee.  Apparently it had burned down years ago, but they rebuilt it to be even better.  We looked at the menu and some pictures online before we went and it looked like a really cool place, so we decided to go.  Also, we're Roviks, which means we never fail to get excited about a good pizza place.
 
As we drove through downtown Milwaukee to get to the restaurant, I was reminded how much I love city life.  The hustle and bustle, the lights, the people - the energy is really something.
 
 
 When we got to the restaurant, it was packed, and there was an hour and 25 minute wait. But we were both committed and wanted to stick to the plan, so we decided to wait it out at a Starbucks right down the street.  Pre-dinner coffee certainly couldn't hurt.
 

Dad ordered a spiced apple cider, and I got a caramel mocha, and we sat and talked together.  It was such a sweet time with him, discussing life and theatre and faith and theology and redemption.  We got excited about heaven together, and I was reminded of God's goodness and faithfulness to me.
 
Soon, Dad's phone buzzed (It was the restaurant texting us to let us know our table was ready - Yay for 21st century technology!) and we ran back to "Pizza Man" together in the light, drizzly rain.
 
We looked through the menu and quickly decided what pizza to order.  As we waited, we continued to chat and enjoy the super cool atmosphere.  It's a really neat place!

 
Look at this awesome chandelier made of colored bottles!  It hangs above the landing of the stairwell - the restaurant has two floors, and we were sitting upstairs. So cool!

 
Also, the silverware was HUGE. Like, for real. It was as long as the diameter of the plate!

 
Dad snapped this picture of me - clearly I was excited to eat some pizza! (Note the super cool chandelier behind me.)
 
 
Then - the pizza came. It. was. delicious.
 




 
(Again, notice the crazy large silverware.)
 
After much pizza consumption, we left, with stomachs and hearts full.  We headed back to our car - thankfully the rain had stopped. 


 
As we drove home, I was filled with gratefulness for such a fun day with my dad.  I was so glad God worked it out for us to have this special day together, and so thankful that He didn't leave me in my grogginess and indecision.  If He had, I would have missed out on a whole lot of beauty.
 
Thanks, God.  Today was wonderful.  And it was all from You.





Saturday, October 26, 2013

filled with hope

Have you ever been over-stimulated?

Like, your day was FULL.  And not of bad things - good things!  In the middle of it all, you were smiling, laughing, soaking in each moment and its richness, and feeling thankful for what you have and where you are.

But then, it hits you.  That overwhelmed feeling.  That, "This is good, but wow my head is spinning from it all," kind of feeling.

That hit me today, as I left a long, fun, colorful weekend of musical rehearsals and headed off to the next part of my day - a bridal shower for a new friend.  I arrived and sat down, feeling like 20 deep breaths wouldn't help.  (They probably would have helped some - I should have tried it.)  I was also really tired.  "I could literally fall asleep on the floor right now," I joked to a friend.  Truthfully, I don't think that was too far from the truth!

Then, a sweet woman who I'd recently gotten to know and who was sitting at the table in front of me turned around and greeted me with the sweetest smile and happiest voice.  I took her hand and squeezed it affectionately.  I hadn't seen her in a while and had forgotten how much I appreciated her demeanor and heart.  "How *are* you??" she asked me with great interest.  "You have a lot going on right now, don't you!?"

We proceeded to chat about my crazy schedule as of late --- and I was just so encouraged.  Our conversation lifted up my weary heart and soothed my anxious soul.

"Oooh, why??" you ask may be wondering.  "What did she say to touch your spirit so??"

Well, my answer for you may not be what you'd expect.

First of all - she was excited to ask and hear about me.  She was genuinely interested about what was going on in my life, even after knowing me for only a short time.  Second, she not only asked, but also made observations, and affirmed me.  That is, she seemed to already know a lot of what I was going to say.  Perhaps she follows me on Facebook, or reads my blog, or has chatted with other women that know more of my current situation.  Truthfully, I don't really even know how she was so aware of my life.  But she was.  And it touched me.  It felt so good.  It was so affirming and comforting and just really wonderful - to be known. And not just known, but valued - because she wanted to know more, and took the time to find out.

And then, third, as I continued to share, and began to uncover just a little of some of the more raw parts of my soul - she related to me so well.  I didn't even have to go into much detail before her kind eyes smiled back at me and from her mouth came kind, gentle, and unassuming words of encouragement and companionship.

I use that word - companionship - because that's what she was to me in our moments together today - a companion. A friend. A fellow woman.  She spoke with me, not to me, and with a kindness and respect and understanding that was so meaningful to me and really touched my heart.  And when I say "understanding," I don't mean that she spoke this like heady, wise stuff into my life.  I mean that she communicated to me that she understood what I was going through, *without ever having to say "Ohh, I understand."*  She just made me know that she understood and related by her demeanor and tone and facial expressions and other choices of words.

And she didn't preach at me - not once.  She encouraged - she spoke wisdom - but not in a, "Oh, honey, just do this and you'll be fine," kind of way.  She didn't give me some quick, Christian-ese answer.  She never once told me what to do.  Rather, she spoke wisdom through her gentleness.  She demonstrated wisdom in the care she took in her replies.  She chose to be a friend and just relate with me.  She had joy and excitement about what is good in my life right now, and she responded with sweetness and hope to the things that have been rough lately.

Maybe that's what it was - the hope she exuded.  I think sometimes we forget that hope can be communicated with more than just words.  Or even perhaps without words at all.  It's one thing to tell someone, "Everything will be alright."  It's entirely another for your whole being to exude that.  For everything about you to say, "There is hope."  Because you believe it.  Oh, how often does my mouth say "there is hope" and my heart believes it not!  But her heart did.  She was filled with hope.  Hope was in her, and it radiated out of her like sunshine on a cloudy day.  It made me close my umbrella of fear, shake off the water droplets of worry, and look up at the sky and see that it wasn't so gray after all.

I am so grateful for my encounter with her today.  I was anxious, running on empty, and ready to burst into tears after a day that had been good, but just a bit too much.  Walking into the church and seeing all the women, the last thing I wanted to do was put on my "I've got everything together" face and make conversation.  I was a quiet mess.  And this sweet woman met me there.  She poured into me the peace and love I needed to go on.  She communicated the message: "Oh darling, you are known, and life is still beautiful and good.  You are going places that are good and exciting, and I'm excited for you.  Someday you will see how where you are right now was exactly right.  And darling - your time will come."  Her joy for me gave me joy for myself.  Her understanding and encouragement about my busy-ness and accomplishments made me feel validated and brave.  Her peace about what lies ahead gave me peace about what lies ahead.  Her restraint from treating me like a problem to be solved or a case to be examined and diagnosed, and her decision to love me so well despite my imperfections - all in about 10 minutes time - was balm to my dry and weary soul.

So, thank you so much sweet friend.  You cared for me today in a way that I was not expecting, and I am so grateful to you.

And to you, dear reader - remember this: When you encounter someone who is dry, over-stimulated, weary, burdened, in need - remember that they don't need you to fix them.  They don't need you to give them the answer to all their problems and worries.  (And even if they did, you couldn't give that to them, anyway.)  Oh no, the best thing you can do for them is listen, relate, and care about them, and the best thing you can give them is hope.  And I'm not talking about the preachy kind - but the lived-out kind.  Meet them where they are, love them, let them share, and show them through your hope the hope that's to be found in Jesus - our Only Hope.




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

go back go back

I remember the day it started.

It was a beautiful November morning. I walked into the tiny room, hoping like I always did that I was in good form and that progress would be made.  And I was.  And it was.  And it felt great.  I was in such a good place and it was exciting.  All my hard work was paying off.

And then the words came.

"Okay, so let's talk. You are sounding really good.  These kinds of roles will be great for you.  But if you want to play them - you'll need to get in better shape.  You need to lose 20 pounds."

The words rolled off her tongue like nothing.  And they hurt.  A lot.

I went from feeling so accomplished to feeling so defeated.  I wasn't what I should be.  As I was, right in that moment, I was not enough.

It was also my birthday.

Fast forward to about one year later.  Same room, same purpose - get better at this thing that will very likely be my livelihood.  I was tired - I had just run from an hour of dancing to this, and was operating under little sleep.  It was the middle of the semester, and my plate was full - like always.  It was only a make-up, so I sang through my rep quickly and braced myself for the comments.  I knew they were coming.  But I didn't know how brutal they'd be.

"Okay, let's talk. You look pale. And you say you're in all these dance classes, but they're not helping.  You're not taking care of yourself.  You need to stop doing so much for other people and take care of you."

I was stunned.  Who was she to tell me how to live my life?  I wasn't here for this.

But typical me, I smiled, and tried to bear it with grace. (read: I let her walk all over me.)  And I also started to wonder if perhaps she was right.

I left, frustrated and confused and hurt once more.  I still wasn't enough.

Fast forward a few more months.  My room, long past my bed time.  Me, in the thick of the struggle - staring at my foreign reflection - grappling with the anxiety - and wondering where *I* had gone, and how I'd wound up in this terrible place.

It was a lonely place, ugly and dark, marked by anxiety and secrets.

It certainly didn't happen overnight.  Oh no, it had to have happened gradually - over time.  And over time, it escalated.  Now it was so bad - I couldn't leave my house without going through a rigorous process in front of the mirror.  I had dug myself into a hole, and I had no idea how - or if - I could get myself out.

At the time, my life had changed form a bit, and now there was a newer, kinder, and very thoughtful voice speaking and asking hard questions - "What's going on here?" he asked - But I couldn't handle it.  I was too raw.  I was still in the thick of it.  I was still on the battlegrounds, but totally unaware that I needed to pick up a sword and start fighting.  So the words - though they were spoken with love and care - pierced me, and wounded my pride.  I felt embarrassed and undesirable.  I'd been trying so hard to be put together, to be right, to be worthy - but in reality I was all wrong.  I was building a balloon house on a paper foundation.  All it took were the winds of care and the needle of help to knock down my unstableness and deflate my false sense of security.

I wish I had seen was what was happening at the time.  But I didn't.  It took me a long time after that to realize I was wrong - my choices, my thought process, my heart.  All of it.  Totally wrong.

And recently, I realized why.

I believed the lies.

You see - it is all about what you believe.  And I mean really believe - with your whole heart.  Those beliefs motivate and instruct your daily choices and habits.  And mine were getting really bad.

This world is going to tell you all kinds of things - things that, if you're not rooted and grounded in truth, you will be all too receptive to.  You will hear them and not even realize you should be fighting them off - let alone what strategies to use to do that.  You will be rendered helpless by the brutal attacks on your appearance, your worth - your identity.  Believing the lies will paralyze you.

And I believed.  I believed it all so blindly that my body, heart, and soul were ALL damaged in the believing.

And here I am, years later, standing in the ruins, picking up the pieces, trying to find the remains of the girl I used to be.  I find little pieces here and there - and there are probably more - but right now they are so hard to see.  Because they are buried.  Buried under years of secrets and lies and guilt and shame and plucking and powdering and lining and shaping and covering and covering and covering and covering...

Will I ever find her?  Will I ever get her back?  Oh, those are questions I ask myself everyday.

And if I do, will she be strong enough to change her ways, and wise enough to start listening to the truth, not the lies?  Will she go back to the ancient past and latch her heart to the ancient mast and hold on for dear life to the Hope that so desperately wants to take a hold of her and never let her go?

I can hear Him whispering.... Go back.... Go back.... You'll find your Way. You'll find Me - The Way. Just go back....






Thursday, September 26, 2013

you did it

We sat across from each other in the coffee house, our eyes not quite meeting, feeling watched by all the people around us.  I held my hot cup of chai tea and tried to smile. He was a great guy, but the chemistry just wasn't right.  This was just so awkward, and we both knew it, deep down.

"So I've been thinking about school," he began, after taking a sip of his hot chocolate. "I mean, my mom wants me to go to Moody, but you know I've also been thinking about law school. I mean, I know it's eight years, but I would definitely be able to provide for us that way, and I think that..."

He went on, discussing the options, the expectations, the things that might be beneficial for me.

But never once did he mention what HE wanted.

Now, I knew what that was.  He had briefly mentioned it a few other times before.  It was his real dream, and I knew it.  But he couldn't admit it.  He was very kind, deeply generous, and thoughtful.  He put everyone else before himself.  And I admired that.  But this was one of those rare times when that wasn't actually the right or healthy thing to do.  He just couldn't see it.

"... and where I go to school is important because if it's far away then how could we -"

I finally interrupted. "Stop. What do YOU want?" I looked right at him and kept his gaze.  This was important.

He look back at me, both surprised by my interruption and afraid to answer my question.

I repeated my question. "What do YOU want?  Not what your mom wants, or what you think I want you to want, or what you think is potentially good for us. YOU. What do YOU want?"

He took a breath and shyly stated, "I want to be a commercial airline pilot."

"Then do it." I said.

"But I - " he tried to interject.

"Do it! You can do this! If you want to be a commercial airline pilot, you go and be a commercial airline pilot.  Do what you love.  Chase your dream - not someone else's."

After a long pause, he responded.

"Okay." He smiled and took another sip of his hot chocolate, and we sat together in silence.


It wasn't another week before we broke up.  But even after parting ways, I always believed in him.  I knew that as long as he kept fighting for what HE wanted, he could do it.  And as the years went by, and I watched the updates from afar, I saw a man who was fighting for what he wanted.  And he was winning.

And then today, as I scrolled down the webpage, the update of all updates apeared. My eyes got larger and my heart skipped a beat.  There it was.  He had done it.

You did it, friend. You did it. I am so proud of you and happy for you.  I always knew you could. From afar, my heart celebrates with yours.  I know God will use you and your gifts to bring glory to His name.

So proud.  So happy.  Friend, you did it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

beautifiers

I really like pretty things.

Like, a lot.

I mean, just check out my Pinterest; I have a board dedicated to just that. http://pinterest.com/srovik/oh-well-thats-pretty/

I often wonder what it is about Pinterest that hooks people - especially us ladies. Why do we spend literally hours pinning and re-pinning pictures like this:

 
And this:
 
 
 
And this:
 
 

What is it about these images that affects us and makes us log on and re-pin again and again?
 
I think it's that they speak to a part of who we are, and who we long to be. We were made to want things like this.
 
Now - I want to pause and clarify.  I don't think we were made to spend countless hours on the internet scrolling through images until our contacts are practically glued to our eyeballs. (guilty.)
 
But I DO think that we were created with something instilled in us - a longing that has yet to be fulfilled - and that longing is for beauty.
 
Male or female, young or old, rich or poor - we ALL want to experience beauty. And we do, in ways both big and small. Think about the last sunset you saw, or the last time you witnessed the marriage of two dear friends. Didn't something inside you sigh? Didn't you long for more?
 
I think Pinterest, especially for women, is an outlet - a small way to experience beauty, whether that be the pictures of sunsets, or dresses, or table designs for wedding receptions. Things that are beautiful touch us. We want to experience them and be associated with them. But I think women especially were created with the desire not just to see and experience beauty, but also to make things beautiful. Whether that be our homes or our relationships or the food we eat - seriously - the other day someone complimented me on the way I scooped my ice cream, and it made me feel like a million bucks! Why? Because as women, we long to bring beauty and joy and light and hope and peace to everything we touch. And this is because we were MADE to long for this and MADE to do this. We were created with this desire tucked into our hearts. It's a part of our chemical makeup. It's a part of our design.
 
A GREAT book that informed most of this post is Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge. SUCH a good read that delves into this way better than I can. I highly recommend that you read it, like, as soon as possible. I hope to read it again soon.
 
Now, you might be thinking, You know what? I hear what you're saying, but I am capable of so much more that just keeping a home or scooping ice cream into perfect little circles. I have skills and talents that I wish other people would see and encourage and validate - things that go beyond the "housewifey" and the "pretty."
 
And to that I would say: Right on! I'm so glad you do! In fact, I never doubted that for a second. And also, I'm right there with you. I'm happy you are passionate about life and have found things that you're gifted in - I have, too. I'm also glad that you are not too quickly put into a box - I'm not either. Because too often, we as women - especially within the Christian community - are made out to be one thing: homemakers. We are "supposed" to be wives and moms, cooking the meals and cleaning the house and changing the diapers and doing it all in an A-line skirt, pumps, and a string of pearls ala June Cleaver. But here's the thing - this is not what I am advocating with this post. In fact, ladies, if anyone tries to tell you that ^^this is what you're made for, feel free to politely but firmly say something like, "Actually, while wife and mother are two very high callings made by our great God, I was made for even more than that! I was made to be a beautifier. And I can fulfill that calling in so many different ways."
 
You might get some weird looks, especially seeing as how I may or may not have just made up a word. But go with me on this one. First, I want to reiterate that wife and mother really are two HIGH callings created by God. Many women find fulfillment in these two things alone (and ultimately in God, of course) - that is - they wouldn't necessarily say there are other things they're specifically passionate about, as in, some sort of career or creative outlet. And that's totally okay!!!! Go them! They're doing what they're made to do! Yay!
 
But what about those of us who feel called to other things - or, if you're like me - other things in combination with wife and mother? How should we respond to that?
 
I mean, it isn't wrong, right? If God gave you a specific set of skills or talents, you should use them somehow, right?
 
.... Just in case you were wondering, my answer to that question is a resounding YES!
 
Use your gifts! Be a soccer player! Be an architect! Be a writer! Be a nurse! Be a movie star! Do what you love to do! We were all created with different skills, and we should use them!
 
But I think how we use them and who we use them for is what's most important.
 
We as women were made to be beautifiers - as the cover of one of my journals says "She makes the day brighter. She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes." We were made to sparkle. We were made to leave something good behind. We were made to illuminate. We were made to encourage. We were made to bring hope and healing and love to dark and broken places. We were made to speak truth into the hearts of those we meet - whether that be with our words or by our mere example. We were made to beautify. And this can look like a million different things and can happen in a million different ways - We are not in a box.
 
The only parameters we do have are these: Our beautifying is not for ourselves. It is for the advancement of God's Kingdom. He was the one who created beauty in the first place. He is beauty. And our lives belong to Him. So, whatever you do, do it for Him and His glory.  (1 Cor. 10:31)
 
And you know, it's no wonder that we, His creation, long for beauty. Perhaps, we are not so much longing for beauty as we are for Him - The One who satisfies every longing and breathes beauty and joy and light and hope and peace into everything He touches. Our God - The Beautifier.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

she had to break it first

I am not God. (CLEARLY.)

So I cannot possibly know why exactly this happened, or what exactly this is all for - what exactly God is accomplishing through this.

But I can make some guesses, based on God's truth, and what I see happening in my life from my perspective.  Here's one of them.


Jesus wants my whole heart.

Not some of it. Not only some of the time. All of it. All the time. And I'm not anywhere near where I want to be when it comes to my devotion to Jesus.  The sermon this past Sunday on Mark 14:1-11 got me thinking more about this.

Mary Magdalene gave her most prized possession - something that was very expensive and could have gained her lots of other worldly things simply because of its monetary value - to Jesus.

And she didn't just give some of it. She gave it all. She poured the entire contents of her alabaster flask full of ointment of pure nard over Jesus' head.

 
But she couldn't just pour it.

She had to break it first.

It was fragile, and probably very beautiful. And once again - it was very valuable.

But, in spite of all these things, she took it, and she broke it. She gave it up. For Jesus.

The imagery of this just hit me now.  How often does God call us to give up things in our lives - even beautiful things - and break them, in order to love Him more fully?

One of the ways He does this is through our relationships.

Have you ever been with someone, someone you love? You value that person. They bring beauty into your life. And you make plans with them. You dream and plan and hope for the future.

And then, in His wisdom and care, God, gently but determinedly, calls the two of you away from one another. He breaks the two of you up and calls you both to something else.

And you're confused, hurt, and angry.  For lots of reasons, but mostly because you are losing something beautiful - something you love and value. And it doesn't feel fair.

And, after the initial hurt and shock, you have two ways you can respond.

1. You can grasp at what God is taking from you, cursing Him and His plan, furious that He would take something so beautiful from you.

Or,

2. Though hurt and very sad, you can look to Mary's example of sacrifice and devotion to Christ, and see the opportunity God is giving to you to pour your alabaster flask of pure nard over the head of Christ. It's costly - it's expensive. And it's painful - it involves the breaking of something you treasure. But you know that God is calling you to treasure Him above all other things. So, trembling, but knowing it's worth it, you allow the breaking. You allow the sacrifice. You allow the pouring out of part of you that you never thought you'd be asked to give up.

And you cry. You weep. You call out to God and ask for His help and His healing as you seek to move forward when everything looks so dark and wrong. You ask Him to make you more like Christ, and to stir in your heart a devotion to Him that's greater than any thing or any person or any place else.

Why?  Because, even though your heart is broken, you know that Christ is more than enough, and totally worth it.

       ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit."  ~ Psalm 34:18

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

the heart of the issue

Sigh... Another day. Wasted. It's well past midnight and I'm still up, and very dissatisfied with the way I spent my day. Again.

Ever find yourself caught in a vicious cycle that you just can't seem to get out of?

I'm in a few at the moment, actually.  One of them is that I can't seem to get my butt into bed before midnight anymore - not because it's impossible but because I choose not to. I waste time all day and then when it comes to the end of the day I'm exhausted and want to go to bed but I can't, because I put off everything I was supposed to do until now.

And there are other cycles - things that are way more personal and harder to talk about, but very real nonetheless. And like my issue with getting to bed earlier, they aren't unfixable. I'm just choosing not to fix them.

Last night (or I should say this morning - it was after 1am) I was up wasting time on YouTube (Blimey Cow shall be the death of me) and got tired of being stupid. I grabbed The Valley of Vision off my bookshelf in frustration - "I'm just going to read some of this." I thought.

So I opened the book and the first words I saw were "Christ Is All" - the heading of one of the prayers.

I read it, and I realized something.

All of the things I'm struggling with in my life right now boil down to one thing: Right now, Jesus isn't enough for me.

Don't get me wrong - Jesus is very much so enough.  I'm just not allowing Him to be enough in my life right now. I'm not choosing to believe this and live in the good of this.

And this is making even just everyday life really hard to bear.  Because life is hard. Sometimes it's really hard. And without Jesus, we're just not going to make it through.  We need Him. We NEED Him. And He is ready and willing and ABLE to be our everything if we would only let Him be. In fact, as my youth pastor once said, "Jesus isn't the best way - He is the ONLY way." Jesus isn't just one of many potential solutions to all the things I'm facing - He is the only solution. And not just the only solution, but the perfect, completely sufficient solution. He is everything I need. He is all I'll ever need. Why is that so hard to hold to?

I think part of the reason why it can be so hard is that there are so many things in this world that tempt us and distract us and pull our focus away from Jesus. Not just "sinful" things, but also things that God had made to be good, but we sinfully elevate over Jesus.  Things that at first seem like they'll satisfy us, but then they don't. So we move on to the next thing and then the next thing, desperately looking for something to fill the void, something to treasure. And then we find ourselves in a mess.

This is the heart of the issue: While Jesus is absolutely 100% completely entirely enough, if we don't choose to make Him our treasure and truly believe that He is enough, we won't be fulfilled and we'll keep falling back into sinful patterns and tendencies. We'll long for satisfaction but continue to look for it in all the wrong places.

Jesus really is enough. I just have to make the choice to believe this, everyday. I have to daily choose Christ. And it's really stupidly easy not to. In the words of Andrew Peterson, "Sometimes I take my eyes off Jesus, and you know, that's all it takes."

So tonight, this is my prayer:  Jesus, draw near to me, and help me to see that You are more than enough for me. "Thou hast died for me, may I live to thee, in every moment of my time, in every movement of my mind, in every pulse of my heart. May I never dally with the world and it's allurements, but walk by thy side, listen to thy voice, be clothed with thy graces, and adorned with thy righteousness." (VOV) "Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways." (Psalm 119:37) Amen.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

candles, christmas lights, and a ribbon-wrapped mason jar

I am a home-body, that is for certain.

I like baking cookies, and then sitting down with my knitting and watching "Pride and Prejudice" for the gazillionth time.

I like making my bed (which has a very girly, "Jane Austen-ish" cross-stitched pattern) fluffing the pillows and making everything lay "just-so."

I like sitting down with a good book that I've already read several times.  It's like chatting with an old friend. You mostly know what to expect, but somehow they still manage to surprise you.

I like things to be quiet, calm, and organized.

However - if you know me at all - you know this is not actually what my life looks like most of the time.  I am an extremely busy college student whose life never seems to slow down enough to do these kinds of things very often.  Me and my life could RARELY be described as quiet, calm, and organized.  While I'm in school I am loud, short-tempered, easily frustrated, and stressed.  And my room? It looks like a tornado tore through it, with clothes and papers and books laying everywhere and a mountain of laundry piled up in the corner. (And usually my bed is NOT made.)

The inner house-wife in me dies a little bit every time I come home from school to a messy room and a very long, not-so-homey to-do list.  I long for the simple chore of sweeping the floor, or whipping up a batch of home-made biscuits.  These kinds of things are so theraputic to me. They make me feel busy, but not overwhelmed.  Purposed, but not pressed.

But - that's just not what my life looks like right now.  Right now, I'm a performance major, which means lots of demands on my energy and time in the form of rehearsals and perfomances, teaching and choreographing, sending emails, reading plays, attending the performances of others, and lots more.  Right now, God has called me to a crazy, jam-packed schedule, oodles of homework, and living in a room that is only "just so" when I'm neglecting other responsibilities to make it that way. And if this is what God has called me to - I want to be faithful in it.  It's just a season, and I need to be content in it! Contentment is a daily choice - one I need to start making. 

However - as I eagerly anticipate a different season of life -  there ARE things that I can do to make it more bearable, to make each day a little brighter, a little more beauty-filled.

What this has looked like for me lately: Whenever I can, I light a scented candle in my room, plug in the Christmas lights that my mother so lovingly strung up around my bed because she knew it would make me happy, turn on my "Peaceful" iTunes playlist, and try to do what I need to do, whether it be homework, or laundry, or to wind-down after a performance or long day.  (Though to be honest, I often just wind up relaxing instead of doing my work - I'm still working on my responsibilty!) :)

AND - there's something else that I started just today!

Today I cleaned out a mason jar that I found in a cupboard in our kitchen and tied a sparkly silver ribbon around it. (I love ribbons! It's the Jane Austen heroine in me...) I wrote "2013" on a little piece of paper and tied it to the ribbon, and placed the jar on my dresser. Why?

Well, a while ago on Facebook a friend posted a picture of an idea for thankfulness - finding a jar and writing the things that happen throughtout the year that are especially sweet and special onto little pieces of paper, and putting them in the jar throughout the year.  Then, when New Years Eve rolls around, you can open the jar and look through it, and see all that God has done for you - all the cool things He's caused to happen in your life in the past year.

 
I think this is a great idea - and I think it's going to help me as I seek to be contented and really SEE the blessings that God is showering on me everyday, all the time. It was so fun to write a few things down and put them in the jar today - I have 3 things in there so far, and it's only the beginning of February! I have a feeling my jar is going to be filled to the brim by December 31st.
 
And I think it's something I will continue to do.  Because, even when I'm a wife and mom and living the life I'm so excited to live, I'm going to get tired and frustrated and discontented.  (There will be PLENTY of new demands on my time and energy, I know!) And I'm going to need reminders that God is constantly blessing me - that there IS beauty in every season, and every day. So, I will light a candle, plug in the Christmas lights that will be lovingly strung around to brighten the life of my family, turn on the "Peaceful" playlist, and write down the many blessings I receive from the Father - and it will be very sweet, I'm sure.

Friday, January 25, 2013

honesty - a post from the past

I wrote this a while back, probably the end of September.  I was going through a rough season of heartbreak and confusion, and I wasn't trusting God through it.  I didn't post it, partly because I knew it wouldn't be wise for a few reasons... I read it again tonight, and as I thought back to this season and then looked at where I'm at now, I could see God's faithfulness in this tough season. He was walking with me.  And on top of that - He restored my broken-ness and GRACIOUSLY gave me what I was so desperately longing for at the time - a blessing beyond believe that I don't deserve! But - even though I'm in a different place now - I STILL struggle with trusting God.  That's a very real thing for me right now.  And I thought it might be good to share it now, sort of "post-struggle/in a new struggle with trusting God." Because, even though I'm not going through the exact same thing, the heart of what I'm trying to say (to you and to myself!) remains - As Christians we need to be more honest with each other about our struggles and fears.  This kind of honesty can be the catalyst for so much healing. So here it is... a post from the past...


"oh honesty/oh honesty/the truth be told/for the saving of our souls.."
"only the truth and truthfulness/can save us now..."

I love Sara Grove's lyrics - they're so.... honest.

And her song 'Honesty" is, not surprisingly, no exception. :)

It addresses the reality that there are so many things we hide, so many things we just don't share with others because... well, because of lots of things I'm sure, but mostly because we're afraid of people knowing the truth about us. We're afraid that if we're honest and open about our struggles, people will think less of us.

Maybe I should just speak for myself here when I say that I do this!

Recently at school I hid in a bathroom for an hour. Yeah... not my proudest moment. But  "the truth be told," I was scared to face something, so I quite literally ran away and hid.

I know that a lot of people think I've got my life together. And that's not surprising to me. You know why? Because I'm really good at pretending like this is true. 'The truth be told," I actually work at this.

That last post I wrote? The one copied from my journal? Yeah, well, as much as I really did write it all and really did want those things, I haven't implemented any of it, and it's been a month since then. And, "honestly," it's been a tough month.

Why? Well, as long as I'm being honest... This summer was, as I wrote in the last post, wonderful, a beautiful gift from God that I don't thank Him enough for. But it wasn't without it's flaws - - or maybe a better way to put it, considering that when I'm thinking clearly I know God's plans don't have flaws - - would be that it wasn't without it's...unexpected happenings. Wrapped up inside the most beautiful experience I've ever known was a trial - small, I suppose, compared to the horrible things that many people go through daily that I couldn't even begin to understand - but very real, nonetheless. For me, it was, and has been, the hardest thing I've ever gone through.

"here in the hallway/here behind doors/here in the places we wage our private wars.../Oh honesty/Oh honesty.../the truth be told/for the saving of our souls...."

The "private wars" I wage daily circulate around 2 things: my confused and broken heart, and the lack of trust in my Sovereign Creator God. And instead of running into the battle shouting at the top of my lungs: "Yes God! All for You! Even though it hurts, I want You to do what You want in my life!" I've been running away from the battle, my heart and lips asking the same pressing question: "Why God? Can this be right?"

I'm more ashamed of this than I am of hiding in a bathroom for an hour. I've been watching others around me go through hard things and still trust God in the process. I can even account stories of the same type of situation that I find myself in now, that I've either personally witnessed or heard about from other girls, stories of God's faithfulness even when all seemed lost.  But still, something in me whimpers (or screams, depending on my mood), "But all seems lost!"

All is, in fact, not lost. And in my head, I know that. But, "the truth be told," my heart doesn't believe this most days. At least it hasn't for the past month or two.

I feel guilty blogging when I don't have any sound advice for you, reader. But part of me thought, "You know what? Sometimes it's about being honest - not profound. Sometimes it's about opening up and saying, 'I'm not okay.' "

"here in confession/here in our mess/here in the places we're mostly undressed... mostly.../Oh honesty/oh honesty/the truth be told.......

.......for the saving of our souls." -  Such an interesting lyric. Why does she say this? What does she mean? Well, I think she means that, oftentimes, true healing begins when we let people into our struggles, when we finally open up and let someone else see that we're broken.

So, if you haven't yet deduced this: I'm a broken girl with lots of things to give over to Jesus, and lots of things to work on as I start walking with God again. (He's been walking with me this whole time - I'm the one that laid down on the ground kicking and screaming, refusing to go on until He fixed everything - ever done that?)

Honestly... I'm a mess. And I need, more than anything, to trust God and cling to His love as I walk through a season of heartbreak.

And you know what I need from you, dear reader, if I may? "For the saving of my soul," I need some prayer. Prayer that I would, even now, hand the hurt that I'm clinging to so tightly over to Jesus, and start walking with Him, with trust and joy in Him.