Saturday, September 12, 2015

running with wolves.

mornings have often been my favorite time of my day...and today is no exception.  it's about 10:45am here in California.  it's an overcast morning with coffee and open windows and birds chirping outside.  there are boxes and books and papers scattered across my room...messy, but oh so good.  

i haven't written in awhile because life has felt nothing short of chaotic lately.  work has been incredibly busy and the Indian summer heat has been thick and exhausting.  i spend my afternoons after work at the gym to avoid the heat, and then come home, make dinner, and sweat while i pack and work on wedding details and talk with my family and friends on the phone.  some days, i feel accomplished - like i'm making progress and setting the right boundaries.  other days, i feel like i'm barely keeping my head above water and those are the days that i walk through in a perpetual state of self-talk.  if nothing else, the past few months have been a great challenge for me to set boundaries, to learn how to say no, to make priorities for myself, to learn how to regulate my emotions, to not take things so personally...and honestly, i have to say that i think i'm doing pretty well.

that being said, i have been thinking a lot lately about bravery and fearlessness.  i read this quote over the summer:

"I don’t think we can be a people-pleaser or an approval-addict AND be brave with our lives. Perhaps that’s why fearlessness or bravery starts with our identity first...

I believe that bravery is born in the quiet and ordinary moments long before it’s seen by anyone else. Sometimes it’s as simple and devastating as the moments no one else will ever see – the moments of daring to be honest with our own self, of laying down our excuses or justifications or disguises, of asking ourselves what we really want, of forgiveness, of honesty, of choosing the hard daily work of restoration, of staying resolutely alive when every one else is just numbing themselves against life."

as soon as i read that quote, i started thinking about wolves.  shortly after that, i saw a book titled "Women Who Run With the Wolves."  i have no idea what that book is about...but it made me think, "I want to be a woman who runs with the wolves."

i started thinking about the word "Wild."  in high school, i would say that that would've been the perfect word to describe me - in the best way. i  wasn't wild in the way that i was drinking or going to parties or smoking or sleeping around. i was Wild in the way that i wasn't afraid.  i talked to everyone i encountered.  i made friends in random places like Taco Bell and while driving down the street.  when i fell in love, i fell in love hard and without hesitation.  i made a habit of climbing mountains and of driving to Lake Tahoe at midnight to sit and watch the moon hover over the water.  i drove fast and i laughed loud and i prayed fiercely and i never worried about the future.

i also started thinking about Twilight.  people make fun of Twilight a lot, and i totally get it.  but in a lot of ways, the Twilight books actually saved me.  because of Jacob Black - the character in the series who also happens to be a wolf.

following high school, i had a really hard time.  i got into a really bad relationship that left me completely broken.  i felt like a walking shell of a person most of the time.  but when i started reading Twilight, i felt...hope.  i was never a girl to have crushes on celebrities or fictional characters.  but Jacob was different.  first of all, the book series took place in the Washington mountains, which is the most magical place i could think of.  and second of all...Jacob was amazing.  He loved Bella with a warmth that i only dreamt of having in a man.

"He’s like a drug for you, Bella. I see that you can’t live without him now...But I would have been healthier for you. Not a drug; I would have been the air...the sun."  i remember laying in bed reading those stories, weeping, because all i wanted was Jacob...the wolf.  i never thought i would have a Jacob...but he gave me hope in those moments when i felt like i would probably spend the rest of my life alone.  i wanted to be Bella - a girl who truly did run with the wolves. :)

and then i remembered this tattoo that i dreamt up a while ago - something i still think about from time-to-time.  i thought about having it put on my left side, on my ribcage next to my heart.  it would be drawn up in bright, vivid greens and blues and oranges and reds...a wolf, howling at the moon, surrounded by pine trees and mountains, with roses in its ribcage.  and  in delicate font underneath, i would want it to read, "Fear Thou Not."

and even if i never get that tattoo, i want to always be reminded of what it means to me.  that i am a wolf.  that i have the capacity to be wild.  to be brave.  to take risks.  to be loyal to my pack and to have the courage to walk alone.  to enter the woods boldly, as if i already own it.  to not fear about what man might think about me, but to be more concerned about God thinks about me and about whether or not i'm being honest with Him and with myself and with the people i love.  

"well, i've been awaiting the sunrise
to open up my eyes
to see what you have, you have for me.

but still i am drowning
in a sea of lies
and whether to compromise myself.

but despite who we could be,
we're still waiting...
assuring to appease..."

i heard these song lyrics while running along the river trail last week, and i realized how afraid i've been.  how few and far between are the times i take risks.

i am not a risk-taker by nature.  but all these thoughts of wolves made me think of who i could be...of who i WANT to be.

so a couple weeks ago, i applied for a management position at my office.  twice, i talked myself out of it.  but i had people approaching me, telling me i needed to apply.  i started reading the interview questions obsessively on my down time at work.  i started losing sleep over it.  and when i did sleep, i dreamt about the job.

so, i applied.  i cried the entire weekend before my interview, while i prepped my resume and rehearsed answers to the interview questions.  truth be told, i was terrified.

but, i did it.  i interviewed and i said what i felt and thought and believed.

the results of the interviews still haven't been announced.  but it was funny because, as soon as the interview was over, i felt a rush of peace wash over me.  and i feel nothing but peace about what's to come.  whether i get the job or whether they choose someone else, i know that i did was i supposed to do.  and i'm so happy that i was a wolf.  i took a risk, i did what i was terrified to do...i reminded myself that fear has only served to stop me from being alive. 

i know in life that there are seasons for everything.  i don't think every season for me will be a season of bravery, of wolf-hood.   i think there have to be seasons of fear and doubt in order for us to learn and grow and, ultimately, to rise again.  to realize what we are made of.  

and it's funny because i am about to start a new adventure...2 weeks from today, i will be preparing to say, "I do."  to committing my life, my hopes, my fears, my being, to another human.  6 years ago, i was weeping over Twilight books, wondering if this season would ever come, praying i would get the chance to risk love, to run with a wolf like Jacob.  then, at the beginning of this engagement, i seriously doubted about whether or not i would have the strength to do it.  i trembled with fear and wept in moments of doubt.  what if we screw this up?  in many ways, it would be so much easier to play it safe.  to never get married, to never apply for that new job, to stay in the same house i'm at now.  those are places where i know what's expected, where i can be comfortable.  but as i prepare to step into this new season - marriage, a new home, and an unknown future - i feel ready.  ready to be a wolf.  ready to be a woman who runs with them.

this season is a chance for me to be wild again.  and i don't mean wild in the way that i have to give up all my belongings to travel the world or to go skydiving or to swim with sharks.  being wild and courageous and brave looks like giving my life, my heart, my dreams, my being, to another human.  to opening myself up to things like bills and babies and to holding hands through every hard and good day.  it means giving myself openly to the people I love - to offering things like food and arms and a listening ear and a merciful heart.  it looks like never chasing the norm simply because it's the norm.  it means learning to be okay with myself - to learn that things like my body or lack of college degrees don't define who i am.  it means asking for grace and offering apologies for mistakes...but never for the space i take up.  it means looking past the world's definition of what matters and to looking straight into God's eyes and allowing Him to declare the meaning of my life.  Running with wolves, in this season right now, means walking forward with open hands – ready to accept whatever life, whatever God gives me.  It means that I am ready to be nothing more than an empty vessel, ready to be filled.

i'm stepping into the woods boldly, as if i own it, and i feel complete peace about all of it.

i am ready to be a wolf.

Dear God,

let me be a wolf.
let me not tremble with fear.
let me take risks.
let me step bravely into the world that You made, knowing that You own it.
let me hear Your voice calling me deeper into the unknown.
let me listen to Your footsteps and follow them into the wild.
remind me of who i am.  of who You've called me to be.
let me be a wolf.  let me be a wolf.  let me be a wolf.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

sabbath thankfuls.

there has been so much good this week.  

i had lunch with my friend, Jen, every day at work this week.  we ate spicy chicken and teriyaki and lots of rice, and prayed a lot.

then, there was National Geographic ON SITE.

okay, not THE National Geographic, but we started calling it that at my office because i kept seeing huge yellow butterflies, baby turtles, a heron, 9 fuzzy baby ducklings waddling everywhere, and a baby hawk who i can hear all day through my window.  she does this little screech, then swoops down to dive bomb leaves and tramples them to death.  it's pretty adorable.  i think she can also see her reflection in the window because she pecks and pecks, tilting her head to the side, as if to say, "who is this?''  i can literally watch her all day; we're practically bff's.

we also had a party for our coworker, Martha's, retirement, and celebrated with Peruvian food.  on her very last day, she snuck a "thank you" note under my keyboard.  My absolute favorite part was "Thank you for always smiling and making me feel like you are happy to see me.  Believe me, that is a gift from God."  that part made me cry because if i strive to do anything in this world, that is it.  so that means i've accomplished something in this little life of mine.

on another note...i got my Bible. :)  it is the most beautiful thing i've ever seen.  i haven't really gotten into it yet, but i can't wait to sit down and peruse through my favorite verses and highlight my favorite parts and make notes in the margins<3

other thankfuls from this week include:

an evening with one of my BFFs, Angie. :) we spent the first half of the evening catching up over tacos and beer, then parked ourselves on the sidewalk outside the nearest Baskin Robbins - with shakes in hand - and watched the moon come out while the warm summer night wrapped itself around us.

Friday night grocery shopping.  i normally LOATHE grocery shopping, but this time, i made an experience out of it.  i spent the afternoon after work meal planning.  then, i downloaded a sermon and spent the evening perusing Trader Joe's, listening to worship, and soaking in my favorite pastor's words.  at the end of the evening, i brought all my goodies home and just stared in awe at the abundance.  coming back from Trader Joe's is literally like coming back from a holy experience y'all.  i couldn't help but feel an enormous sense of gratitude for the colors, the varieties, the flavors, the richness of food.  fresh mangos, bananas, cherries, raspberries.  bacon and eggs and broccoli and green onions.  almond milk and creamer.  and as a Friday treat, a 6-pack of Black Butte Porter, a bottle of champagne, and two bouquets: one of white hydrangeas and the other of coral carnations.

it didn't take me long to get into worship mode while i popped open a beer, pulled each item out of my bags one-by-one, propped my bouquets into little glasses and mason jars, all while dancing along to my favorite worship songs.  

on Saturday, i got to spend the day with ANOTHER bff, Yesenia, and we had the loveliest summer day.  we met at a nearby outdoor mall, which feels more like a carnival than anything else.  we had Chipotle for lunch, spent the afternoon browsing shops...but in the evening?  oh, the evening.  it was pure magic.  another holy weekend experience, where we stopped a fancy restaurant and SPLURGED.  we sat outside on the patio, and ordered glasses of buttery chardonnay, appetizers consisting of fresh artichoke and garlic dipping sauce, and huge plates full of the most delicious cheesecake.

we must've spent hours at that place - sipping wine, dipping artichoke, savoring bites of cheesecake, and talking about life.  about meditation and peace.  about how change is the nature of all things.  about the balance of moving forward while also savoring the moment that you're in.  i could've cried at all of it.  we watched the sun move from the rich golden hour of sunset into the warmth of evening in those chairs.  i could easily rank it as one of the best nights i've ever had.

and now, i'm sitting here at home.  the birds are outside, chirping in my feeder.  the laundry is going.  there are fresh sheets on my bed, with a beer to my left and a mason jar full of carnations to my right.  after hitting Publish on the this post, i'm going to color in my new adult coloring book, Animal Kingdom, before diving into wedding stuff.

life is so rich, and i'm trying to realize that always.  there is chaos, and yet there is order.  morning coffee and birds and and fresh fruit and blankets and laughter with the people we love...these are the things that get us through.  and for all of these things, i could not be more positive that i am the richest girl in the world.  

more to come<3



Thursday, July 30, 2015

I will be Yours, oh...I will be Yours for all my life.

this past weekend was all sorts of sweet.

i spent Friday night drinking beer and watching The Office, while also watching the sun set peer through my windows.  on Saturday, Ethan and i escaped town for the day.  we picked up fancy coffees and spent the day out in Riverside exploring antique shops.  in the evening, we stopped at one of our favorite breweries in Fullerton, where we sipped beer and listened to the most amazing live music ever.  then, on Sunday, we researched wedding invitations, did some registry shopping, and packed boxes before ending our weekend with Moscow Mules, board games, and a lil Parks & Rec. ;)

in other news...

i feel so in love with Jesus lately.  this past week, while packing up all my stuff, I stumbled across an entire box of old CDs.  I had a fantastic time perusing through them, and I pulled some old missed favorites out of the stack and put them in my car.  One of those CDs was an old Hillsong album I had that I had originally bought for one song.  but this time around, i decided to listen to the whole thing.  i kept it on repeat for a few days, and one afternoon, while driving home from work, a handful of lyrics from "Lead Me to the Cross" jumped out at me.

Redemption's hill
Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom."

growing up in church, i've heard those "holy" words so often - words like "redemption" and "ransom."  they become so overly used that you forget what they mean.  but this time, those were the words that jumped out at me.  and all of a sudden it clicked with me...

i am free.

oh my God.

in that instant, i felt like i got a vision of myself as this dirty, bedraggled prisoner.  and a key twists and the lock turns and someone opens the door for me.  i saw only bodies surrounding me - no faces.  and all i could feel was light and bewilderment.  and i stumble into an open, empty hallway, and my mouth is open and my hands are open, with my palms facing the sky, and i'm in awe.  because i know i'm free to go.  i'm free to run through the open hallway out into the world.  i am FREE.

why?  HOW?

and in that moment, i realized that i've forgotten that i'm free.  i don't live that way.  i don't live out what's true.  in my day-to-day life, i feel myself - slumped over, hands out, hoping for rain, for hope, for something.  there is an ever-lingering sadness and a sense of despair, of hopelessness...And it's not that i don't trust God, it's just that i somehow forget.  it's so easy to forget.  but in that moment, i realized how beautifully free i am and how desperately i want to live that way.  of course, since then, i've woken up every morning, wrapped in the same bondage i thought i left at the door the night before.  but i'm trying to remember my vision - to remember how it felt to be in prison and how it felt to walk out of there.  to be able to walk, to run, to laugh.  in my vision, i didn't care what anyone thought, how anyone felt about me...i wasn't concerned about how i looked or where i was going.  all i remember thinking about is being able to be in the sun and being able to eat and being able to run.  to RUN!  i couldn't wait to be alive. :)

since then, things have felt so different in my heart.  i feel this mad crazy longing for Jesus.  every moment of every hour of every day.  i've also been thinking about the Bible a lot lately.  after getting hooked on "Lead Me to the Cross," i decided to download some of Hillsong's newest songs and i immediately fell in love with their song "Say the Word."

Say the word
and there is light.
Say the word
and dead bones rise.
Every start and end hangs on Your voice.
For Your word never returns void.

Written in a billion skies
Speaking to this heart of mine

All that I am with all creation
Hanging on every word that You've spoken
And it will not be shaken
Clinging for life to all Your promise
Hanging on every word that You say

Word made flesh You wrote in grace
Promise kept through cross and grave
Over words of stone You spelled out love

And when You say it is done
It is done

Written in a billion skies
Speaking to this heart of mine
All that I am with all creation
Hanging on every word that You've spoken
And it will not be shaken
Clinging for life to all Your promise
Hanging on every word that You say

this song has been on repeat for me the last several days and permeated my soul so deeply.  realizing everything good has come from His word.  truth.  hope.  life.  EVERYTHING.  and i want His word with me always.

this song also made me think of my mom and brought up thoughts and feelings i've always had about her old Bible.  when she was down visiting several weeks ago, something inside sparked about, and i realized what a deep, DEEP affection i have when thinking about her old Bible.  it was a gorgeous blue color, with silver-gilded pages.  and i remember it being the key part of so many of our conversations.  i remember feeling a sense of comfort and warmth and excitement when she pulled it out.  i remember her softly reading verses to me - the most tender reading of a most beautiful love letter.  that's what i think about when i think about the Bible.  i think my mom made me fall in love with the Bible before i even realized i was in love with it.

so, today, i finally went out and bought a new Bible.  it's unbelievably beautiful - brown with a silver pattern on the front and gold-gilded pages inside.  i left it there this evening, so that they could engrave my name and the image of a dove in silver cursive on the front.  and i can't wait to get it back tomorrow; to hold it close, to carry it with me.

and the cherry on top of all of that was, while standing in line to get my Bible, the song "Called me Higher" by All Sons and Daughters came over the speakers.  and the bridge lyrics sang,
"And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life."

so, i guess, these songs are speaking my heart these days.  "All that i am with all creation, hanging on to every word You've spoken."  and "I will be Yours.  I will be Yours for all my life."

i wish i could explain it more, but to even try will still fall far too short. <3  i am so aware of my brokenness in these moments...but even more aware of how He sweeps His light into the cracked parts and fills them up with more of Him.