Friday, January 22, 2010

Memories in the Wind

As I sit here at the front desk of the UCA Girls dorm my mind can’t help but wander. The main doors are wide open and there is a frigged wind streaming through the openness finding its way through the holes in my window cubicle. The breeze comes in spurts, enough to make me cold but not enough to keep me that way. This wind brings with it memory after memory

Sitting outside the 3rd and 4th grade classroom door huddled in a circle of friends trading lunches. Sitting there and eating our food while we admired the “big kids” walking to their next class.

Walking back to the classroom after our lunch break in the gym, laughing from our game of bump, and newly created inside jokes.

Racking leaves and then lying in the bed of them, our heads connected at the center of the circle. Someone taking a picture over the top of us.

Sitting on a picnic bench just outside the classroom appearing to be doing homework but giggling and chatting behind open books instead.

My boss, who is the head dean, and a great friend, just called me from my tiny cell to walk with her outside. I wasn’t sure what we were doing or where we were going. I had a feeling we were going to do something crazy, like spin in circles on the street. Instead we got to the end of the sidewalk and just stood there. We told horrible jokes, that weren’t even the least bit funny, but they made me laugh anyway. There’s something about this crisp afternoon breeze. It brings a little chill mixed with sunshine. I can’t see it, but it’s beautiful. Next time this beauty finds me again, it will now carry a new memory along with it.

It’s a collection.
That breeze, it follows me, every year, every classroom, every school, bringing each time the same memories and adding a new one to it.

Simple moments like these leave me refreshed. I need them. They make my week! They remind me to be thankful. It’s in these moments God reveals himself to me the most.

As I pack up, I dread leaving these beautiful collections gathered by the wind.
Please find me again.

Written 1/20/10

Secrets in a Smile

A few days ago I saw a really good friend that I hadn’t seen or talked to in a really long time. We haven’t actually sat down and had a good chat since the beginning of the school year. I guess we just don’t have a lot of time to really make it a priority. I really miss them. When I saw them the other day, I wanted to say hi and maybe do a brief catch up, but we were both surrounded by other people, priorities, and commitments. But I remember one specific thing. I looked over to where they were and our eyes met. A big grin spread across my face, and the same on theirs. For that brief second we were connected. Our smiles seemed to say, “I miss you, but I’m doing ok.” Relief. Just getting to experience that quick second of understanding makes up for all the time we’ve lost.

Written 1/18/10

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Forbidden Door

They caught me.
I did it.
I went through the Forbidden Door.
More than once.
But they were a little late in giving me my punishment.
A good friend of mine had over heard the R.A.’s talking about my rebellious act. The next day, she saw me go through it, yet again, on my way to class and she warned me of what was sure to come. I never used it again. They fined me a month later.

Two nights ago I made my way over to my favorite staffs house to talk to the dean about my ridiculous fine. I was a little nervous. I was greeted by my favorite teacher who welcomed me warmly and invited me in. I know this is silly, but he looks like Santa Clause, and he is my perfect description of a father. He always seems jolly and as I stepped through the door it was hard to feel intimidated. We went to the kitchen were we met his wife and made small talk. I wondered if they were wondering yet why I came. I finally came out with it and explained my side of the story to the fine. The head dean listened to me carefully and fully agreed with me, this fine was ridiculous. She told me not to worry about it and I felt a huge wave of relief flood over me. I could relax. It was over. After that we made ourselves comfortable on the couch and watched some news about the earthquake in Haiti. During commercials we talked and joked about my improvement in gymnastics, my talk for Student Week of Prayer, my shirt fundraiser for my trip to Alaska, and things like that. It was amazing, and I can’t totally put into words why. It felt like home. I was so nervous about coming because I didn’t want to talk about how I had disobeyed, and probably disappointed them. But after it was discussed it was forgotten, and forgiven. I felt warmly welcomed, accepted, and like family.
I left with a certain joy that can’t be explained. Not only was I excited that I didn’t have to pay my fine but I was excited about this new found friendship. As I ran back to the dorm I thanked God for this incredible blessing in my life. I scrambled as fast as I could up the stairs to tell the good news to my friends. Breathless I told them what had happened. I went to bed that night with a lightweight heart.

As I think back on this story now, I notice something. It’s familiar. Yes it only happened a couple days ago, but what I mean is, it’s a reoccurring theme in my life. I screw up. I disappoint. I disobey. I make mistakes. But there’s good news! No matter how many times I walk through that Forbidden Door, I’m forgiven. Somehow, no matter how big my sin is, His grace is bigger. I walk up to the dreaded house with a heavy heart, ashamed and afraid. But I leave with a new heart, an indescribable joy, and a determination to walk past the Forbidden Door tomorrow.

Destination of my Today

My favorite part of the day is waking up every morning and walking from the dorm into the Ad building. I know that sounds a little strange, but let me explain myself. I love watching the sunrise. The sun use to come up right about the time I headed out the door to school, around 7:12. Every morning it just reminded me to invite Jesus into my day. The sun on my face is God’s good morning kiss, reminding me that he loves me, and he’ll never leave me. As I reach the steps that lead to the entrance of the school, my heart flutters with a thrill. Even after half the year, I get the same feeling as the first day. Walking through those pillars automatically puts me in a good mood. It’s like a dream come true, every day. Each morning the same thoughts rush through my mind.
I made it. I’m finally here. This is it.
Knowing that I’m reaching a goal everyday by going to school gives me the determination I need to keep going. I’ve always admired those “big high school students.” And now I’m one of them, which is terribly hard to believe. When I lived in Colorado I always thought I’d be going to Campion Academy in Loveland. But once I moved to Idaho, plans changed. My destination was UCA. My sister experienced it first, and when I’d come to visit I thought it was the coolest place! I couldn’t wait to be as old as she was and experience all the fun she was having. I made it a goal. UCA was going to one day be MY school. Now, I’m here. I have to live up to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I have to make the most of my time, and create as many memories as I can while living a busy, hectic life. I’ve learned that time flies by faster than I want it to, so I have to enjoy every second of my today. As I walk through the doors, it begins.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sincere Vulnerability

It’s amazing to me what a spiritual atmosphere can do for you. I just got back from my Student Week of Prayer Retreat out at Camp Mivoden. It was amazing. I didn’t realize the spiritual high I’d had and still have until I got back. The moment I stepped out of the car my sermon began. As I walked into the dorm I felt a huge wave of negativity rush at me. I was back to curing everyone else’s problems. Listening to friends rather than to God. It felt so weird to be back considering I’d only listened to God for the past few days. Even the words I shared with the other spiritual leaders while on our trip were focused on God and filled with the Holy Spirit. There’s nothing better than this type of atmosphere.
Even though all 12 of us speakers hadn’t really hung out before this trip, and we didn’t really know each other that well, it felt… safe. It was inviting. God’s presence could be felt everywhere. I learned so much. I learned that ultimately life is all about relationships. And when you’re real with each other, you automatically connect, without having to try so hard. Each one of us told our story. I opened up more than I ever have in my whole life. I told things to the group that I’d told no one before. For the first time in my life, I was completely vulnerable. I uncovered the cuts, scars and bruises. I was real. I was brave. It hurt, but I believe God used me. There’s nothing better than an environment that provides this much love, acceptance and security.
I learned to hear. There’s a difference between listening and hearing. I’ve listened for God’s voice before, but it’s so different from actually hearing God’s voice. I’m slowly recognizing his still small voice. Whole-heartedly giving Him my focus has benefited my relationship and growth in Him.
Everyone’s focus was on God. All day, for 3 days. No one talked about anything besides God and it felt so natural. Coming back to the dorm that’s all I wanted to talk about, but everyone else seemed to find it strange. But that’s what I’d gotten use to. Isn’t it sad that we get looked down on when constantly sharing the goodness of God? But I don’t want it to stop, no matter the consequences. My heart is swelling with God’s love. It’s overflowing with joy. I just pray it never stops.
I believe with all my heart that God specifically choose each person there. I could see spiritual growth in everyone by the end of the weekend. God has worked wonders, and I’m so glad I could be a witness to His greatness.
Thinking about this three day adventure has got me thinking. It can’t be much different from heaven. There will be no held back tears, no pain, no complaints, no negativity. We will feel loved, we will be accepted, God will be our only focus. We will feel safe in our vulnerability.

--Written 01/10/10

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Way it Was

Why do hearts break?
Why do relationships have to change?
Why is it that after not seeing someone for a long period of time the second we see them again, our hearts break a little?
If God is all we need why does it feel like he’s not enough?
Being away from home can get really tough. It feels like some relationships are cut off. When I’m gone, it’s always hardest at first to get over missing people and back to focusing on school. But after a couple of weeks, I feel unconquerable, nothing can stop me... until I come home again. I love those relationships like I described before, a couple posts ago. Those friendships that last a lifetime. I hate relationships that change.
I hate change. Sure, it’s good for you sometimes, and you never know what you’re missing out on until you experience some type of change. Things can be better with change, or they can get worse. Change is a risk. A changing relationship either means you grow together, or you grow apart. Why do we have to grow apart? Why can’t we stay close friends forever? Why can’t change always be good? Why do we have to miss the way things use to be? If God is with us all the time, and he never changes, why isn’t that satisfying? I guess our only option is to cling to the knowledge that God is good. God never changes. God will meet us where we are. God will see us through. He is enough.