Monthly Archives: June 2012

June IdentityStorming: Lydia Walker

 

IdentityStorming is a monthly segment on Unfading, at least for the rest of summer. It’s like brainstorming, about identity. We ask questions, link ideas and get to know each other better. Sometimes we’ll feature famous people, sometimes they’re only locally known in our small town in Tennessee, but what they all have in common is some wisdom about how to find our identity in Christ. This month’s guest is Lydia Walker, a singer and songwriter from Clarksville, TN. For more info on her, check out her website http://www.lydiawalkermusic.com. We most definitely recommend her music, “When I Dance” on her new album “Beloved ” is one of my new favorite songs.
Many thanks to Music by Dan-O at DanoSongs.com and http://www.wordle.net.

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Fiction Fridays: Soldiers Don’t Cry, Part Three

July 10, 2009: Just call me “Sergeant Pudding Butt.”

I wasn’t thrilled when I saw Mrs. Lisander’s blue Volvo pull up into my parents’ driveway at six-thirty in the morning…Clay sitting in the passenger seat.
“Be a good soldier,” Colonel waved at me as I hurried past him and Mom on my way out.
“Sarge, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you want to work in the Children’s Hospital. We love having volunteers.” Mrs. Lisander gushes as I climbed into the backseat.
“Thanks, Mrs. Lisander,” I muttered.
“Hey, Sarge. Nice pink scrubs.” Clay smirked as he glanced over his shoulder at me.
“Great to see you too, Clay,” I muttered. I wanted to point out that it wasn’t my choice to wear the regulated pink scrubs and shove him out of the moving car…but that would get back to the Colonel and I’d be in multiple levels of trouble when I got home.

Photo by Bethany Brown

Once we got to the hospital and I met with my supervisor Dr. Summit, I found out that my job was going to be pushing the library cart to the children’s rooms. I rarely read for fun. How was I going to help these kids pick out books to read?
It was no surprise that the first room I went to the kid wanted my recommendation for a good book. Poor kid. I looked at the stack on the cart and muttered, “Well, this looks fine,” as I held up a Dr. Seuss book.
“I’m ten, not two,” the bald boy replied sarcastically.
“Fine, um, how about this?” I held up a thin paperback book…the first in the Chronicles of Narnia series.
“Sure,” he shrugged and took the book from me.
“What are you in for?” I asked him, just because I wanted to stall before I had to go to another room.
“I have acute leukemia.”
“What’s that?”
“A bone marrow cancer.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. Chicks dig bald boys,” he raised his eyes in an attempt to make a flirty face and I burst out laughing.
“Call me when you’re eighteen, okay?”
“My name’s Zeke.”
“I’m Sarajayne but everyone calls me Sarge.”
“Like Sergeant? That’s cool. My dad’s a sergeant.”
“Really? Mine’s a colonel.”
“Is your dad in Iraq?”
“Not right now but he was a few months ago.”
“Mine’s in Iraq. That’s why I’m alone. Mom has to go back and forth between taking care of my little sister at home and visiting me.”
“It must get lonely, huh?”
Zeke looked down at the cover of his book and shrugged. So much emotion was revealed in that little movement. Poor kid.
“I have to roll this cart to all the rooms on the floor. Once I finish, I’ll come back and hang out with you until I’m told to do something else. How’s that sound?” Normally, I would have high-tailed it out of there so fast but something in his sad brown eyes made me go beyond myself and offer my time to him.
“Sure.”
I went on to the next room and the little girl there was easy, asking for a fairy book. Several kids turned down the books, while others were so young that their parents just asked for picture books. Many were bald like Zeke, and others were in casts or and then there were those that looked perfectly normal but the masked tension in their rooms told me that something was wrong. Most kids had parents who stayed with them.
I parked my cart at the nurse’s station as I’d been instructed and checked Zeke’s room. He was still alone, lying in bed, staring out the window with his book in his lap.
“Have you ever read this book before?” he asked, holding up The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
“Yeah, I had to read it for class once.”
“Do you think Narnia exists?”
“I wish. Wouldn’t it be awesome to meet Aslan?”
“Yeah. I like Mr. Tumnus.”
“He’s cool too. You remind me of Peter.”
Zeke’s face turned a cute shade of pink but didn’t say anything.
“I wish my dad could be here,” Zeke said, still not looking at me.
“I know how you feel.” I thought about Beaker, wishing more than anything he was here to tell me what to say and do. This was his area of expertise, not mine.
“Last week, that wish foundation group came to get my wish. I asked for my dad to come home. She said that wasn’t the type of wish they could grant right now.”
“Huh, I’m sorry.”
“Sometimes I hate being an Army brat.”
“Tell me about it,” I sighed as I pulled my legs up into the chair.
He continued to talk about the different places he and his family lived but my mind wss racing on what I could do to bring his dad home.
“Zeke, what’s your last name?” I asked after a lull in the conversation.
“Winston. My dad is Sergeant Roger Winston.”
“That’s a cool last name,” I smile.
“Good afternoon, Zeke. How are you today?” Dr. Summit smiled as he walked into the room.
“Fine, Dr. Summit.”
“Zeke and I have to do some tests. Could you step out for a little while?” Dr. Summit asked as he turned to me.
“Sure, see you around, Zeke,” I waved before I hurried out and ran smack into Clay who has just finished picking up the breakfast trays. Plates and empty cartons exploded into the air and I landed on a pile of spilled pudding. Once the commotion died down, I look to see that a fruit cup landed right on Clay’s head, bits of mango clung to his dark brown hair.
“I’m so sorry,” I blushed to my roots as I made an ungraceful attempt to stand up but fell on his feet. He only laughed as he helped us both up and began the process of cleaning up the mess.
“It’s the obstacle course all over again,” he laughed. Great, he just had to bring that up. I had to resist the urge to wipe the pudding off my backside and throw it in his face. He helped me get all the food out of my hair, leaving it to me to get the pudding off my pants. I bent to help him pick up the trays but he raised his hand to stop me. “I’ve got this.”
“Thanks,” I muttered.
“At least you didn’t lose your pants this time,” he winked. I rolled my eyes before I walked away, forgetting about the pudding still stuck to my backside.
“Hey, Sergeant Pudding Butt,” Zeke laughed when I walked into his room for the second round of books. I looked back at my pants and rolled my eyes. Sadly, the name stuck and soon all the kids were calling my Sergeant Pudding Butt…even Clay. Unfortunately for me, their good-natured ribbing did nothing to distract me from Zeke’s problem. There was only one answer.
I had to go to the Colonel.

The Fairy Tale?

Photo by Bethany Brown

I have on a hat. I am standing in the War History section of a bookstore in a hat reaching for a copy of Mein Kampf. It is a book by Adolf Hitler and I have always wanted to read it. Of course the fear of labeled a Nazi by the bookstore clerk behind the counter always stops me. Yet, on this day my courage has been called out and I try again to make it from just glancing at the book to making the purchase. That is how I meet you. You see me and approach, asking if I am buying that book. I begin babbling and trying to explain that I am not a Nazi and I see you laughing. You say something amazing about never having the guts to buy it yourself because you’re afraid of the judgmental clerk and, after that initial shared fear, you ask me to coffee. For the next three years we go on dates, one of which is the magical February 15th moment we you give me daisies and Reese’s cups and tell me you love me every day because you know I really do hate Valentine’s Day. Then, on a Thursday while lounging in sweats watching every movie Mel Brooks ever made, you ask me to marry you and I say yes and we live happily ever after…

Pop! Yep, I just burst my own bubble. Why? None of that ever happened. Ever since 10th grade that has been my fairytale. Girls you know that one story that you tell no one because it is the fairytale way you plan to meet your Prince Charming. The truth is it most likely won’t happen this way and for me I know that it will not happen this way. How, you ask? I am wearing a hat. I don’t do hats. But if it is in God’s plan for my life for me to have a moment that changes my life where I meet someone with whom I spend the rest of my life, the memory of that meeting will be so much better. No matter how much it differs from this fairy tale.

I know because a few wise women have told me.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be offering the insightful bits of wisdom I have learned from interviewing several of these lovely Christian women who fell in love with amazing men and have spent  years learning the ends and outs of a real ever after. There will be no room for Prince Charming and only the reality of what happened when these women fell in love. These are real moments and words from these women and no flowery ideas of a magic moment over Almond Milk in the grocery store or a romanticized reach for fries in the cafeteria line. Who knew that when Betty went for the curly fries she would meet the love of her life in John, the football captain? Or that when Susie reached for the Almond milk, she’d meet Frank, the only other lactose intolerant guy in the store? Pop!

These women share the secret to happy relationships and spoiler alert: it is Christ. In the end, we will have discovered that The End is really only the beginning and that happily ever after is a lot of work. I hope you join me on this once apon a time journey.

Coming soon …

Lydia Walker
photo from http://www.lydiawalkermusic.com

I thought it’d be good to pause today and tell you what to expect in the next week as much funness is coming up. I like knowing what to expect, having a plan, don’t you? Some people like it more than others. Then there are those of us who start breaking into hives when they don’t have one…AHEM but that’s a subject for another post! Right now … THE PLAN:

First of all, I want to remind you those of you who are budding writers that Teen Tuesday for July is coming up soon. The deadline to submit a piece is the second Tuesday of each month, in this case , July 10. The chosen post will go up on Unfading on July 17. For more info about how to submit something, see the tab at the top of this page.

I know I should go in order but I’m too excited to wait to tell you about this one … this Saturday we’ll be debuting a segment we’re really excited about! (Yeah … we’re excited about everything, but this one’s extra special). We’ve been doing some video interviews with some ladies that have a lot of knowledge and wisdom about Unfading’s central theme, Identity in Christ. Some of them you may have heard of, we’ve got a couple of authors and a singer lined up for this summer and I can’t wait for you to meet them! This month (drumroll please) Lydia Walker! Lydia’s a very talented singer/songwriter. She’s an alternative folk singer/songwriter from here in Tennessee, and she’s been songwriting and performing since she was 12. I really love her music and recommend it, it’s got a lot of depth to it and is very soothing and peaceful. Tiffany and I got to meet her when she came to our church for a concert not long ago, and she’s also very fun and relaxed to be around. Come back and see the video of our interview this Saturday, but meanwhile, check out her music here.

The rest of the schedule (keep in mind, things change around here a lot. Names of posts, subjects of posts for that day and just about anything else I tell you here could easily change, which keeps all of us guessing!)

Thursday, June 28: The Fairy Tale? by Tiffany Taylor- do you know how you want to meet Prince Charming? Do you have your wedding colors picked out yet? This post is for you!

Friday, June 29: Fiction Friday- Just Call Me “Sergeant Pudding Butt,” by Kimberly Grace, Part 3 in the  Soldiers Don’t Cry series

Saturday, June 30: Interview with Lydia Walker!

Monday, July 2: Does my name matter? by Bethany Brown

Tuesday, July 3: Some thoughts about Freedom, July 4, etc. from one or more of out contributors

Wednesday, July 4: Happy Fourth of July! Some more thoughts about the holiday, and plans for the next week.

Thanks so much for joining us here! And as always if you have any ideas that would make Unfading better or cause it to help you more, don’t hesitate to contact us (tab above) or comment in the comments section below.

Summer Smarts

Photo by Bethany Brown

Summer is absolutely my favorite season! I love being outside and enjoying the warmth and beauty of creation.  Some of you may be working outside all summer at camps or outdoor jobs. Others may be working inside but I’m sure you’ll get outside on your days off. Whatever your plans are, summer can be a fun but dangerous time.

To keep your summer fun, ministry and fellowship time from being ruined (or at least made a lot less enjoyable), here are some tips to help you stay safe this summer.

1. Do things with a buddy. You may be a really great swimmer, but even great swimmers get cramps at times and need someone to give them a hand. Also, grab a friend to exercise or go to the mall with- it is safer to be in pairs and more fun too.

2. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! As a pale person whose best friend is very tan and never has to wear sunscreen, I have learned this lesson the hard way. It may not be the coolest thing to stop and apply your sunscreen every 2 hours but it will be worth it when you aren’t a lobster later and in all your fun vacation pictures. There are lots of neat sunscreens out now that are in spray form or can be put on when you are still wet- it makes the process much easier. Also, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to reapply.

3. Summer is a really popular time for parties. Never, ever, ever get in the car with someone who has been drinking. A lot of times, people who have been drinking don’t realize that they are not okay to drive. Be brave and speak up when you don’t feel safe. Call a parent or another trusted adult for a ride instead. Also, keep an eye out for drivers who have been drinking- they may be driving slower than usual, not have their lights on, be swerving or driving too fast. Steer clear of these drivers by pulling over in a safe place until they pass.

4. Wear your helmet! I know these can ruin a really cute hairdo, but they are so important. Every summer, helmets save lives of those on horses, bikes and 4-wheelers. Pulling your hair back into a low, loose bun can help prevent dreaded helmet hair.

5. Tell someone where you are! In the summer, it is really easy to wander from the pool, to a friend’s house to the mall. Then, you get a panicked call from your mom when she can’t find you! I’ve been there! Put your parents’ mind at ease by shooting them a text when you leave or arrive somewhere. It makes them worry less and keeps them aware of your location if something goes wrong.

This is by no means a list of all the dangers of summer- just a few! What do you do to stay safe in the summer?

Remember

Photo by Mary Sue Brown

Eucharist , Holy Communion, Holy Sacrament, Last Supper, Lord’s Supper, communion, the Sacrament. Whatever you call it.

Yesterday we celebrated it at church and I realized that I don’t understand what it really means. I’m willing to bet you don’t either, because we live in a culture that’s so completely removed from the foundations of this rich tradition, and really from any traditions.

And whether you use wine or grape juice or Black Currant Fanta (as they did in a church in Africa I had the pleasure to visit).

What I’m wondering is, when you tip that cup up to your lips and let the (usually) purplish-red liquid trickle down you throat … what does it mean to you?

Because I’ve always gone to churches that practice “open communion” or letting any professing Christian take part  regardless of denomination or church membership, for years it was just a recognition of the fact that  I was a Christian.

But my dad, as my pastor, always talked about the importance of having our hearts in tune with God before taking the bread and cup. It comes from I Corinthians 11:17-31, when Paul finds out that the church in Corinth has been getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper, eating their own meals and ignoring the poor. He says to remember why they’re there, what Jesus did for them. This tells the real meaning, the basics, which is great. Except that because I was so young the first time I heard it, I latched onto the first part, the part about being right with God. And so, even though I already had God’s forgiveness, I would try spend those few minutes of silence dad of prayer over the bread or cup  frantically praying away any sins I’d committed recently.

To be fair, this was not at all what my dad was suggesting. And as I’ve gotten older, his preaching and others’ on grace has helped the panic fade. All he was saying was, “stop, remember why you do this before we start. If you’re not walking with God right now, take this chance to come back and commune with him.” Hence, I think, one reason for the word communion.

And I knew why, I really did. But I didn’t KNOW. I thought I did. This morning while I was reflecting on the cup in my hands a bit of history about the meaning of the cup came back to me.  But I wasn’t sure I  remembered right, so I had to go looking.

Oh boy.

I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Or what I was letting you in for. Because there’s no way I could go into it all in one post.

In fact here’s all I’m going to say about it today. That cup means you are TREMENDOUSLY loved. Written in that amber liquid is a story that started when the first squirt of juice rolled down Eve’s chin from that forbidden fruit and won’t end till the last drop of blood on earth is spilled and we get to see the Epilogue. And it’s center is love.

Jesus said “Do this to remember me as often as you drink it,” I Corinthians 11:25.  Remember what I did for you, how I love you, how I want you near me.

I didn’t really get this until my one afternoon of research, which told me I need to know more. So I’m going to be learning and sharing with you what I find along the way. Maybe you could help me out. What confuses you about communion? Do you have any  questions that only seem to come up when the church gets really quiet in the midst of the passing of the cups? What are some things you already know about its history and meaning? Suggest those things in the comments and I will do my best to work them into the posts as I go, and learn the answers where I don’t know them (which I expect will be a lot).

But there’s one thing you can do now, without waiting for me to finish my research or to do some of your own, and without waiting for the next time your church celebrates this remarkable tradition. You can sit down and remember. Remember Jesus … what has he done for you? What does he mean to you? Remember. It’s the only instruction he gave aside from “eat” and “drink.” And I think that’s because he knew we could get it, even if were weren’t Jews and didn’t know the whole story. After all, we still have lots to remember.

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Good Gifts

Last night I got to go to a play with my aunt, Summer Magic, originally a Disney movie, recently adapted to stage. It was so lovely, and the best part was that one of the two song writers for the original movie was there! He talked about getting started and meeting Walt Disney for the first time. He (Richard Sherman) and his brother Robert also wrote songs for Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, and he even recently wrote a song for Iron Man 2! And he SIGNED my PROGRAM! Having cut my teeth on some of those classics, I felt a bit like swooning as I told this distinguished man who had the grace to come all the way to Tennessee to see his movie adapted to a play, how much his stories of being young and insignificant inspired me of what can be accomplished! Look at him now!

And now as I sit at my computer, after midnight, still wired from the whole experience of getting dressed up to go out to a play, which was indeed magical with beautiful sets, costumes and wonderful singing, not to mention getting to meet someone  who, though I didn’t know it (since I don’t know my Disney composers) is kind of a hero of mine, I can’t help but realize that it all comes from God.

I recently read the observation that God gives good gifts. He wants to bring us more that just the necessities. He wants joy!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:16-18

What good gifts has God given you? What does it mean to you that God doesn’t change like shifting shadows?

Have a happy Sunday, and spend a few minutes reflecting on this verse, like I have been tonight!

Fiction Fridays: Camp Days Part One

 

With a pair of ill-fitting Chacos and a bunch of stomach butterflies, Bethany gets ready for the first day of camp.

Ever wondered what your camp counselors are thinking on the first day of camp? Wonder no more, but beware! They’re as nervous as you are! Follow my (mostly) true journey as a camp staffer from a few years back, as well as the adventures of some girls just like you.

Week 1 Day 1

I wake up refreshed from my day off and just lay there.

Eleven days of training has zoomed by, but, I feel like I’ve grown at least a year older in my time at camp so far.  But something feels different, something is maybe special about today?  Oh. I stop stretching out comfortably in my lower bunk to freeze and stare at the rip in the bottom of Tiffany’s mattress above me.  Campers are coming today.  Day One.  One o’clock.  Be there or be square and oh yeah your life will never be the same.

I’ll be there to catch it all on tape.  The screaming, the shouting, the excitement.  Buses smashing through paper banners at the gate, sweltering teens lined up for a group picture. A bunch of crazy staffers dressed up for Christmas in the middle of summer. Tomorrow morning at this time, there will be a video of everyone’s first day blaring across the big screens and it will all be due to me.

And I wonder:

Am I really capable of doing my job?

Will campers be psyched for day two of camp when they see this video, or fall asleep in their chairs?

Can I learn to love fourhundredsomething campers in one week the way I’ve learned to love the twenty-six staff I’ve been filming non-stop for eleven days?

Will I be able to spend intentional time ministering one-on-one with campers the way we’re supposed to?

If I do find time to do that, what will we talk about? I never got along with other teenagers when I was one, how will I do it now? I’m definitely not cool enough.

 

As I pull on the Day One shirt, the one that lists the themes for all five days of camp, LOVE at the top of the list, I think about how my attitude has changed since I got here.  I didn’t really want to come.

Somewhere back there in Video Production 209 with Dr. Borchert, I guess it sounded like good experience, and when someone dropped out right before I applied and there was just the one perfect space for me, I thought God really laid out the way for me.  But in the whirlwind week between graduation and driving to training, I didn’t want to do it anymore.  Go to Alabama, where I’ve never been, meet crazy awesome extrovert camp people I was sure I’d never get along with since I’m so quiet and reserved, and make a video every night for campers to watch the next morning, which would keep me up late all over the place since I’m slowest video editor in the world?  No thanks, you can keep that job.  I’m going to stay at home and hang out with my family who’s had a hard year with my granddaddy almost dying and my mom worn out from her job.

I brush my thick, brown hair into a ponytail. I can almost feel the Alabama heat oozing through the window panes. It’s going to feel like walking through water.

But I never break promises, and I signed a contract for this job.  And besides, this is the path laid out in front of me.  By God?  I’m not sure.  But it’s there, what I’m supposed to do, so I’m going to do it anyways. But some days I feel like I really misheard Him.  Like I just wanted the experience at video editing more than I really wanted to know what His plan for my summer was.  But then, why would I have ever agreed to do something so crazy if I didn’t really believe He was ok with the plan? And why on earth did there have to be four whole months between applying and showing up like a vagabond on the front porch steps for training to dull my memory of how God has spoken?

I pull on my Chacos, adjusting the straps carefully, wincing as I hit a blister forming where I didn’t have the straps right two days ago during rec.

But that vagabond learned one thing pretty quick: It’s easy to learn to love people you’re videoing.

Ok maybe that’s not true for videographers on reality TV sets, where they’re drumming up drama. But a bunch of college/young adults who love the Lord and are intensely passionate about turning that love out on others? Yeah, pretty easy. Through the camera lens I’ve already seen these people act like complete fools, making faces, playing silly hand motion games and throwing each other to the ground in Ultimate Frisbee, as well as loving and helping each other with everything from simple to humongous.

They are awesome.

Now if only I can be that awesome.

I sigh as I spray on sunscreen. Are my camera batteries charged? Do I have enough blank tape? Is the staff intro video that taught me to love these people already loaded on the auditorium computer or have I left it on my editing computer?

            Is this day going to be a flop?

            “BETHANY!!!!” A loud pounding on the door stops my questions. Three crazy girls spill into the room, all in Day One shirts, all with colored layers under it showing off how different they are.

I for one can appreciate how different they are. I’ve videoed them all in detail.

“Can you believe it’s time?” ” Want to go get breakfast, they’ve got yogurt, your favorite!” “Are you nervous about making the video? Can I help you capture it on the the computer to save you some time?”

And as I follow their pull toward the cafeteria, I realize. Maybe I’m not the only one who’s learned to love.

Then, I snap out of the safe envelope of their caring with a jolt. Gulp. It’s time for Day One to begin?

Have you ever had to make a decision to love someone, even though you didn’t have much in common? Have you ever been nervous about whether you’ll be able to do a good job? Have you ever second guessed God’s plan for your life? Stick with Camp Days as Bethany explores these problems and more … and share with us about your experiences in the comments below! Also, check out Fuge, the awesomely amazing camp that inspired these stories, which are based on reality with some names and details changed to protect the innocent.

Meanwhile, check back next week on Fiction Friday for the next installment of Soldiers Don’t Cry. Catch up with Part One here, and Part Two here.

Finally, Day One t-shirt on, camera strapped over one shoulder, hanging at the opposite hip, hair in a practical pony tail and sunscreen slathered on, I poke my head out of my room.  Time for Day One to begin.

Dreaming

Dreaming

When I was a young girl, I dreamed

Of princes and riding off to sunsets far away

Happily-ever-after was a dream that would come true

Someday, I knew it would happen, I knew.

When I was a teenager, I dreamed

Of guys that would ask me to dances and take me on dates all around

Showing off a guy to my friends was a dream that would come true

Someday, I knew it would happen and I would be confident, I knew.

When I was a college student, I dreamed

Of guys that would see I was worth fighting for

My friends’ happily-ever-after made me confident my dream would come true

Someday, I knew it would happen and I would be complete, I knew.

When I was a young adult, I dreamed

But there was no man I could see

My dreams had become what I thought was owed to me

Someday, it might not happen, I knew.

When I struggled and fumed, so angry that I might not get my dream

Jesus helped me dream anew, of wide-open adventures that were joyfully free

Now daily I’m choosing to trust in my Jesus and His dreams for me

Each day that I delight in my Jesus, His dreams come true for me, I know.

Beloved sisters,

Perhaps like many of you, I grew up watching Disney princess movies to the point that I had them memorized. And perhaps like many of you, I naturally assumed that, if I was a “good girl” who did everything right (and sang beautifully to woodland animals?? LOL), I was owed a Prince Charming. It would just happen naturally. But things haven’t been turning out like that for me, at least not yet. One day, just a few months ago, God challenged me to get out of “Disney princess” mode. He challenged me to step outside of my own dreams and plans for my life, and to work instead on living out Psalm 37:4-5: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” Hear me, sisters, I don’t think God is saying in these verses that He will give us whatever we want if we’re good enough. I think He’s saying to us that when we delight in Him, that is, when we open ourselves up to making His dreams for our lives our own, then those are dreams that will come true. Keep reading this website as together we explore how that looks for us day-to-day. Confession: I seriously struggle with how to do this on a daily basis! But that’s one of the great things about this online community, and hopefully about other girls and women who are your friends/family/mentors, etc. and who are in your life to support you. We’re here to help each other figure out what it means to grow deeper in love with Jesus every day of our lives. So let’s take a step together, ok? This week, let’s write down somewhere some of the dreams we have, whether it be for a kind of relationship, friendship, what we want our families to look like, what our ideal job is, etc. Then let’s take one of those dreams for each day and spend some time in prayer, asking God to help us see whether that’s a dream that allows us to delight in Him, or whether that’s a dream that we need to allow Him to transform. Whatever the answers from God are that you hear, remember that God is love, that you are His beloved daughter, and that His dreams are for you to have a hope and future of love. We can trust His heart, and trust His dreams for our lives. So let’s explore and trust and dream God’s dreams together, beloved.

Quests are Uncomfortable Things

This weekend we went on an adventure, my best friend from high school and I. We rode the bus to Orlando from Tennessee.

The bus was awesome and clean and safe feeling, and we got a break in Atlanta for a couple of hours. That’s when things got interesting.

There we were trekking through downtown Atlanta with roll-on suitcases, heavy backpacks and (for me) Chaco’s that didn’t fit. We were fresh off the bus with four hours to kill and no where to leave anything and my friend Amanda kindly suggested that we save money by walking to the mall that was like 20 feet from the next train stop, rather than hopping on the train and riding there.

Not 30 minutes before I’d been staring out the window of the bus, admiring beautiful Georgia countryside, thinking how lovely it was to be off work and dozing in and out of a nice nap. Now my clothes were soaked with sweat from Georgia humidity, I was thinking the air conditioning and nearby water fountain in my office were somehow preferable to this, and sleep was a thing of the past.

How is it we swing so quickly from contended to discontented? I do it all the time. I’m all smiles and rainbows one minute, depths of despair the next.

And what changed to make me so depressed? Circumstances.

The air conditioned bus became the hot Atlanta street.

The major I was all fired up over when I started college became rather uninteresting when classes started getting tougher.

A friendship lost its luster after distance made it a lot of work to keep up.

My exciting summer camp job turned into wanting to run home at the first sign drama between the staff and long hours in the hot sun.

You get the idea.

I’m no stranger to difficult circumstances, I don’t think any of us are. We all know what it’s like to have them ranging from mildly uncomfortable to major tragedy. The question is, what do we do with them?

Well it comes up in verses that God often brings back to mind in my life because I cannot seem to remember them the first time I’m told.

The first is Philippians 4:4, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”

Being happy may be a fleeting feeling, but this joy Paul’s talking about is something that is supposed to stick with you for a lifetime: if you choose it. If you don’t choose to take hold of it now, it will plague you later that you haven’t grasped God’s joy.

But I find that’s still pretty difficult to do, isn’t it? Some days, there just doesn’t seem enough to be thankful for, and that helps a girl toward discouragement rather than encouragement. So what then? That’s what the later part of the chapter comes in.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phillippians 4:11-13.

And it’s that last part that’s really it, that explains how it’s done. It sounds super hard to hang around and feel the joy and thanksgiving toward God I’m supposed to feel during just a fun outing in Tennessee, or a tough outing in Atlanta, and much of both of them was fun, so as it’s ending with a struggle over the end,we are thinking of ways to make it easier. But we have something much better than comfortable walking shoes and a personal savior. We have his help in every situation, and that’s something that’s worth praising for.

And so, as they like to say in one of my favorite series, The DragonKeeper Chronicles, quests are uncomfortable things, but they sure do teach you a lot.