pushing and preparing

Dear friends, I write to you new.

This summer has been one of breaking and building; of moulding and mending; of metamorphosis and rebirth. I have been silent through my transformation, because there was too much turmoil in my soul to get any one thought out.

Twenty is my age of new-ness, and it is the year I’ve decided to come into my own. You won’t see a different person just looking at me, other than a couple pounds lost in an effort to make 20 healthy. I will laugh at the same jokes and follow the same blogs and love the same bands. But beneath all that, I am new.  I am peeling back all the layers of who I am in Christ and deciding who I want to become in Him. I am letting Him push me into strengths I didn’t know I had and bring out desires and passions that have been hidden away.

I am saying, “speak, your servant is here,” whenever I feel a nudge.

That’s scary. You know? Because this is God I’m saying that to daily, and who even knows what crazy things He’ll tell me to do. It’s terrifying. But it’s the kind of scary when you’re at the top of a roller coaster, when you’re almost going over; when you can’t see past the break yet; when your body is screaming “no no no it’s not too late to back out!” except that it is, it’s far too late, and besides how amazing will this be?

This summer has been a summer of anticipation. Especially this past month of officially being 20. It is on the air in every breath I take, and I feel it in every step when I’m walking across campus, and I feel its tingle in my bones making it hard to sleep when I lay down at night. I’m feeling it acutely as I’m writing this tonight. It’s in every sip of the youthberry tea I just made, and the whale I have hung on my wall is whispering it to me. That incessant push. That need to go and do and tell.

He is telling me “Get ready,” and He is telling me daily and not telling me what for.

He’s showing me little pieces of the plan. He’s giving me just enough to not go absolutely insane. Just when I thought the need to go and get the heck outa dodge that I’ve had all summer would make me lose it and just run away, He let so many tiny “accidents” lead me to the opportunity to serve using my photography passion in Jamaica to help a budding women’s ministry. And now His push towards some kind of leadership is about to drive me crazy, and part of me wants to ignore it because that idea terrifies me but part of me is saying “but how undeserving are you, that He’ll have to shine through so much brighter than you,” so I wait. I am saying “here am I” and I am making myself available.

I am on the cusp. I am at the top of the roller coaster. I am on the brink of…something. Something big. But as scary as that is, it is the most beautiful feeling I can imagine. Because this year, 20, I am stronger and braver and brighter. I am bolder than I’ve ever been and I am donning my armor and filling up my heart and I am stepping out, stepping onto the water. I am ready, and expectant. Daily, I anticipate Him and His nudges and His whispers and His incessant push. I hear it now, “get ready…” So I wait and I anticipate.

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tornadoes sirens and lightening strikes

Ok first, that title is somewhat misleading because I will probably only mention the tornado siren that went off tonight twice (including this) in this post but I’ve never heard one outside of a test so I was excited (yes, about potential death and destruction) about it happening.

In case you’re not from the US and stumbled upon this, or just didn’t look outside tonight and were oblivious to the sounds of thunder and lightening  (lightening doesn’t have a sound, Kait…) thunder and rain, this is what the whole middle of America looked like tonight.

Yes, that is just central Texas, but the storm stretched from Nebraska down to CTX so it was straight down the US.

I was sitting in Taco Cabana with the wonderful girl I’m going to live with next year and a plate full of fajitas, and was prepared to knock out some homework. The clouds were this beautiful, expectant, rain-heavy, dark-periwinkle blue color that was so wonderful I almost (almost, because I was starving post-workout) stopped to take a picture of them. But as we got our food, it took less than five minutes for the clouds to go from that beautiful blue shade to such a dark green-grey that it almost looked like midnight at 8 in the evening (which was sunset tonight; so it should’ve been pink, not black). We hightailed it back to campus, and right as we were near my building the tornado siren around the corner started wailing.

I love storms. SO much. I think they’re ridiculously beautiful and they ALWAYS put me in a worshipful mood (because hello look how majestic and powerful and wonderful they are and how much bigger and better  is God than some storm).

So of course, being me, I was like “dur hur, time to write a cheesy post about storms and strong towers and foundations, because duh” …ok and because I felt the Spirit nudging me to look storm verses up. As if I’d really make that connection on my own. I’m an oblivious idiot most of the time so He has to nudge (punch?) me hard when I need do do something.

And I started reading about how He’s our stronghold (in Isaiah but obviously a recurring theme). And I started reading a few psalms about dealing with tempests (because David was a poet so why not use a fun word like tempest). And of course the parable about building on the rock foundation.

I was reading these verses about how God protects us not just from the physical storms around us but from the spiritual tempests we weather too, and I was listening to the thunder’s drum-beat and the rain’s steady patter against my window and watching the lightening paint purple and blue streaks across the dark clouds, and simply marveling… When God told me to call a family member. And I knew her family was dealing with their own storm. And I knew that it was a storm I had faced before, and I knew the the images and emotions in that storm’s winds and waves. Because I’ve faced the waves that are tossed higher than my head by rape. I’ve felt the power of the wind blown by eating disorders that will bowl you over. I’ve seen the burning power of the lightening strike that is the electrifying decision to finally end my life. This storm is a familiar one. The scars that line my arms and body may be from my own hands and a razor blade, but they are really from the feelers that lightening bolt sent down before its big strike.

And all the little pieces of my testimony, that at the time were soul-crushing and all encompassing… I made it through. I would never wish most of my story on anyone else. And I wouldn’t say that I’m glad it happened how it did, but I am thankful that it happened, because now I do have that testimony. Because God can use it for incredible things. Because my past pain means that I can understand others’ pain, and help them find the healing I have. Because my twisted testimony can bring so much glory to God.

My twisted testimony can flash out just as bright and just as hot as those electric streaks that danced through the dark tonight. I get the privilege to dance through the dark every day, and touch those people that have been burned by the same terrible lightening I have. But now, instead of that pain, I can be a conductor for the spark that can shock their hearts into beating again.

But I have to be grounded to be able to conduct that life-lightening. I have to be grounded in the Rock, and have that firm foundation, or else the storm that I’m always in will blow me away and drown me again, and then I won’t be able to breathe myself, much less pass on a spark that I can’t find anymore. I have to build my life on the Rock to be able to paint the dark like I watched that lightening do tonight. I want to shine like that.

when still isn’t still

It’s 14 days before my last final of this semester, and that means that my world is exploding and being crazy. I pulled one all-nighter already this week and haven’t made it to bed before 1am the rest of the nights so far. (I am accepting donations of coffee and white monsters and 5 hour energy shots, if you’re feeling generous.)

I had to find time to just chill out or I’d go insane. We’re told to, Be still, and know that [He is] God.” But life is crazy, and that’s really hard to do sometimes. 

Thankfully, being spiritually still doesn’t always mean being physically still. That would be lovely, but that’s a luxury I don’t have today.

Today is my “rest” day this week, so no cardio. Just a resistance band arm workout on the floor of my dorm room. I had worship music pumping into my ears and surrounding me with peace.

That was my little bubble of calm in the middle of this storm. A simple arm workout. 1 minute before I started I was emailing my roommate old papers to use for reference and listening to her essay and reassuring her that no, it doesn’t sound stupid, and yes, I think she’s going to pass it. And not even 30 seconds after I finished my reps, I was in a flurry of texts with my media group about a project and trying to re-film some scenes in time to not fail a project and in turn probably the class. And as can be expected with text messages, there was some confusion that just added to the frazzled feeling of the conversation.

But I have that bubble to draw from. It wasn’t even that much time, but I was “still” with God and my arms are tired in that happy way and my heart is full of Him and the quiet determination that comes from being filled with His strength, and knowing that I’ll get through these two weeks fine, albeit somewhat lacking in sleep.

So whether you’re a mom or a college kid or a teacher or anything that’s making you run around like a chicken with your head cut off like I am, remember to be still with God, whether you’re actually still or not. Blast some Hillsong while you chop veggies. Dance to Planetshakers while you vacuum your living room. Sing along with Ascend the Hill or All Sons and Daughters while you take a shower. But be still in your heart and let God’s presence wash over you and soak into you. That’s all that matters.

Be still, and stay sane.

the pause button

I’m eating Spaghetti-O’s for lunch at work right now, because sometimes you need to feel little again, and kid-food is a wonderful way to do that.

This post isn’t going to be tied into my food like the last one; I just wanted to share my Spaghetti-O joy.

Do you ever hit pause with God? I find myself doing that all the time.

Let me explain, if you don’t know what I mean. Sometimes, I take a mini-break from God. (It’s entirely unintentional, but it makes complete sense because to live for Christ, you have to live completely intentional.) Sometimes, I forget to carve out time with Him. I forget to pray continually. I don’t share a cup of coffee or tea with Him; I don’t pause and take a moment to be in awe of His creation when I see a raindrop or a leaf or a bird. I don’t take time to be grateful. I don’t take time to seek the Spirit and put on my armor.

It’s not that I don’t want it! It’s just that life gets crazy and busy and there are 5000 distractions hurtling themselves at my brain always. But if I don’t live intentionally, I end up subconsciously hitting “pause” on my relationship with God.

It’s always harder to go back to the gym after the holidays than it is to go back 24-48 hours after your last workout. That’s where I’m at. I paused over the Christmas week (dumb right? Christmas! It’s about Him!) and now I’m trying to hit play again but my muscles are stiff and weaker than they were. Stretching hurts more; I’m not as flexible as I was before my pause. And flexibility is a huge thing in my relationship with God. He’s not going to stop molding me, ever the wonderful Potter, but if I’m not flexible with His ways and His guiding and His molding, that continual changing and shaping are going to be a lot more painful than they have to be.

And I need that molding. I don’t like me. I don’t want to be like me. I’m awkward and kinda crazy (not in the fun way) and really really bad at inter-personal relationships. I don’t want to be me. I want to be like Him. I don’t want to be the lumpy finger pot with cracks all over that I am right now; I want to be a pretty, useful vessel for Him. That’s what the molding is for.

I don’t want to be like Zephaniah 3:2, that says, “She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God.” (It’s talking about Jerusalem in context.) She doesn’t obey authority, she can’t accept correction, and she doesn’t have trust in God….all because “she does not draw near to her God.” That’s not a pretty picture, especially for someone (me) realizing that she’s neglected to draw near to God. I want to have an obedient heart for authority (it makes life a lot easier) and I want to be able to accept correction from a mentor or concerned friend without getting angry or something, and I desperately need to trust God. Life is crazy on it’s own, and based on the fact that some big changes are coming my way and I’m also going to school to be in the ministry, trusting God is HUGE.

If you hit pause like me, don’t worry. Whether it was for a week or month or even if it may have been so long and so unconscious that you have no idea when it happened… don’t worry.

The Bible is full of encouragement for us pause-ers.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you….”

Zechariah 1:3 says, “Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Jeremiah 3:22 says, “‘Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.’ ‘Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God.'”

Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

So if you think you’ve paused… It’s okay. It’s never to late to hit your play button.