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.

"Remember
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.
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.  


Saturday, July 18, 2015

rambling, unedited thoughts.

You know how sometimes you want to watch something, listen to something, read something, and you know it’s not the right time?  That’s how I’ve been feeling lately about a lot of things.  I feel this longing in my soul, like I’m desperately searching for answers, and I’ve really been wanting to watch Eat Pray Love.  I remember watching it several summers go, and then it was on repeat for months after that.  Every time I watched it, I felt myself grow, felt longings be satisfied, felt myself heal a little bit more.  I don’t know why, but I will always have a special attachment to that movie for that reason.  And lately, I’ve been so desperately desiring a repeat of that.  But every. time. I try to put it in?  I feel this pull…like someone is physically pulling me back.  No, the pull says.  Not right now.  Listen to me.  Search for me.  Listen to my voice.  Strangely enough, I’m listening.  I felt the same way the other day when I wanted to spend my lunch on the computer, looking at wedding stuff, and I felt the pull again.  No.  Not right now.  Come be with Me.  Spend time with Me.  Listen to my voice.  So, I did.  I listened.  Instead, I went walking and I listened to worship music, and there was nothing profound or magical about it.  It just felt good and right.  It made me realize that I’ve been missing Him.  My heart longs for you, Lord.  My heart LONGS. 

I’ve also been thinking about human love a lot lately.  Like, what it is to LOVE someone.  I’ve been ruminating over all the men I’ve ever loved in my life – wondering why I loved them and realizing that it was always for a million different reasons or even no reason at all.  How is it that people take up room in our hearts?  How is it that they literally become part of us?  Like, that feeling of heartbreak – of unrequited love or a closed door – when the person is gone or they’re not who they used to be, and you feel your body physically yearn for them.  And I don’t mean in a sexual way.  I mean, you physically long for who they are – for their soul.  Their thoughts, their laugh, their presence, just having them next to you…how is it that humans can hold us captive in such ways?  It can be painful, but at the same time, it’s really just so beautiful.  Thinking about it makes me think that I wouldn’t change a single person I loved.  I would never go back and rewrite history to make me not love someone.  There must be some holiness I am peering through these days because I feel like I so perfectly see those people how I once loved them, and it makes me happy to know that I had the chances to make memories, to share laughs, to create pieces of history together…and even if no one else knows about those pieces of history?  I will.  I will know.  I’m so happy for that.
i'm sure it seems odd that i would be thinking about any of this over the course of my engagement.  but i can't help but feel there is a purpose in it.  there is this feeling of purging, of coming to terms with closed doors, and embracing the fact that they're closed.  instead of feeling melancholy about what's past, God has made room in my heart for me to rejoice in what has been and where it has led me...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

stream of consciousness.

this...is a collection of my thoughts over the past week.  it's going to be long and i apologize in advance. :P

***

life...has felt so strange lately.  i have cried almost every day, felt unbelievably stressed out...there has been grief, and yet, there is also thick, tangible magic in the air.  i feel it.

i am changing.  growing into myself.  i love how, every summer, i come into a place in which i life where i actually really like myself.  not that i don't like myself during the rest of the year, but in the summer?  it feels different.  like, the striving ceases and i become more fully alive.

some of my favorite things lately have been drinking wearing Birkenstocks and drinking kombucha and eating (mostly) Paleo.  enjoying the taste of tofu tacos and falling in love with lemon Moscow Mules.  finding the perfect pair of shorts and embracing the fact that they're one size up.  packing up boxes and purging old things.  getting sun in my backyard while i read The Magician's Nephew and hippy magazines that talk about meditation and yoga and how focusing on the spot between your eyebrows reduces all the tension in your face. going for runs on my lunch and staying off of social media.  in the past couple months, i have barely been on social media, and i just realize that my whole perspective has shifted since then.  my comparison and stress levels have gone done, and my joy has gone up. 



in other news: i finally scored my wedding dress, we're thisss close to finding a venue, i got my official engagement ring back from the jeweler, i scored the prettiest black kimono with roses on it annndddd i got this amazing cocoa butter lotion that makes me smell fantastic.  also, i have a new nightly ritual of drinking vanilla chai lattes before bed and it makes me so happy.

***

other happy things that have been going on:

i'll start with the 4th of July weekend.  it was nothing i expected and nothing short of perfect.  

Ethan and i both had Friday off, so we drove down to base to have a barbecue with his Marine buddies and their wives.  we spent the afternoon drinking beer, while Ethan barbecued carne asada and Mexican corn for the whole gang.  i got to know the guys a little more...we laughed and told stories and i even got in a solid tan. ;)

on the actual 4th of July, we had big plans to escape town, but instead, we spent the day relaxing, barely going 4 miles outside my house.  we kicked off our day by heading to our favorite fancy coffee place, where we ordered mochas to-go, before heading directly over to little cafe right next door. we sat outside in the sunshine - the only two people in the entire place - and held hands and talked and ate delicious mushroom crepes for breakfast, then had a lemon + raspberry crepe for dessert. ;) after breakfast, we went back to my house, where i spent the afternoon laying in the sun in my backyard, drinking my kombucha and reading my books while Ethan played his bass.  in the evening, Ethan barbecued more carne asada and corn.  i joined him in the backyard, rocking my Birkenstocks and drinking more kombucha like the hipster i am. ;) we listened to music and watched the sunset behind my fence.  right as dinner was finished, the sky turned dark, so we slipped out into the front yard to watch my neighbors light fireworks and to see the illegal fireworks being shot off in the distance.  Ethan came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me, and we talked about future 4th of Julys...decorating our little home in American flags, family barbecues, and lighting off fireworks of our own.  above us, the stars began to appear and firework smoke gathered in the sky.  it was one of those moments where i knew i was exactly where i was supposed to be.  after fireworks, we went back inside to have dinner, and before we ate, we took shots of whiskey, toasting to, "Always fight for freedom and to always speak the truth."  during dinner, we watched Phantom of the Opera, where i sang along and cried (as always).  it was the most simple 4th of July and, yet, unbelievably magical.  



on Sunday, we went out to LA to spend the day with his dad.  we spent the first half of the day at the shooting range, where i shot my butt off. ;)  the second half of the day, we spent at P.F. Changs, where i drank Moscow Mule after Moscow Mule.  dinner was followed with ice cream which was followed by seeing Inside Out in theaters.  Inside Out SLAYED me, which is probably another blog in itself.

all in all, it was a most magical weekend - one that needs to be documented because it was one i never want to forget.

this past weekend was just as magical.  my mom came down to visit to help me find a wedding dress, and we ate and drank and shopped and had the loveliest time together.  on Saturday, i took her to my favorite coffee place for lattes and breakfast sandwiches before we began our day of shopping!  truth be told, it was a long, exhausting, emotional day - of driving and dressing rooms and salespeople and crowds and slipping in and out of dresses, taking pictures, figuring out what we liked, what we didn't like...  My mom was an unbelievably good sport, though.  she was supportive of what i wanted and understanding of what i didn't want.  she helped me dig through racks of dresses, helped me sort through pictures, helped me process the whole experience... And, at the end of the day, we found my dress! :) it was the most surreal feeling - one i don't think i've quite processed yet.

the dress i picked is so sweet and simple, which is what i wanted!  but yet, i felt guilty - like i should want something more grand, more extravagant.  i guess that i expected i would put on MY dress and i would instantly become more beautiful, more confident...i expected that i would instantly become PERFECT.  i think part of me was a little sad to realize that, no matter what dress i'm wearing, i'm still me.  but, the dress i picked is truly everything i wanted. so, we made it official...i said yes to the dress!  and the saleswomen at the shop gathered around to do a little ceremony for me...they made a speech, i closed my eyes, made a wish for our marriage, then rang the "Yes to the Dress" bell loud and proud!  after that, my mom and i went into the dressing room and hugged and cried.  it was so, SO surreal, but i was unbelievably grateful that she was there for that moment.  mama and daughter...it was so special - a moment i wouldn't trade for anything.  after our long, emotional day, we detoxed with fancy ice creams - Sea Salt Caramel for her and Rose Water for me - and ended the day by watching Singin' in the Rain. :)

on Sunday, we got fancy coffees again and took our time at the coffee shop, talking about God and family and the condition of the world and dreams and plans for the future.  we spent the rest of our morning at the mall - successfully finding her a mother-of-the-bride dress and a belt to match. :D then, in the afternoon, we looked at venues and wedding details and were able to fine-tune all the little wedding things i had been ruminating about.  after that, i drove her to the airport.  saying goodbye is hard...always.  no matter how many times we do it, it never gets easier.  at least we know that it will be sooner (rather than later) when we'll be able to see each other again.

all in all, i'm so thankful that i get to call this woman my mother.  she's quirky and hilarious and encouraging.  she's hopeful and faith-filled and fun.  i'm just so lucky to have her in my life - both as my mom and as one of my best friends.

***

not to bring this happy party down, but in the name of honesty, i have to admit that i've cried almost every day for weeks.  so much of it is grief and fear and the desire for perfectionism and the processing of old wounds that have yet to heal.

the first thing that comes to my mind while writing this is my dad.  as of right now, i have decided not to invite my dad to the wedding.  it was an unbelievably hard decision, and i'm still having a hard time with it.  truth be told, it has been slightly devastating to think about.  the reason i decided not to invite him is because i have weighed all the options and, at the end of the day, my dad is not a consistent or a safe person - not just for me, but for my whole family.  i want my wedding to be a time of celebration and joy, and i don't want one person attending who will make the people feel any discomfort or lack of joy.  i also feel like having him there, and not walking me down the aisle, will create more grief and longing in my heart.  and on our wedding day, i want nothing less than celebration and joy.  at the same time, right after i made the decision, i had a dream that my dad found out that i got married without him there, and he cried.  it was devastating, and it made me question my decision.  fortunately, even the strongest of dreams can fade quickly, and i have stuck with my decision thus far.  but, that doesn't make it easy or less painful.

another thing i have been struggling with is the idea that this wedding is supposed to encompass some type of perfection.  on Saturday morning, before my mom and i went to try on dresses, i was in a "glass case of emotion" (name that reference! ;)) and my mom pointed out the very thing i needed to hear, which is that i am expecting every part of this wedding to be perfect.  as i mentioned above, i felt the same way when i tried on wedding dresses - i expected that i would look perfect and feel perfect when i tried on THE dress, and i was disappointed to discover that i am still me.

i don't think i realized that i felt that way until i talked on the phone with Ethan later, and told him i found my dress.  i started to get really emotional, and told him that i was so afraid that he would be disappointed when i walked down the aisle...what if i don't have the WOW factor?  what if i am less than what he expects or wants?  of course, he was sweet and understanding as always, and reassured me that i would be nothing less than everything he wants.  i know i needed to hear that, but part of me can't help but feel worried.  i know that i need to rest in the reality this wedding represents a marriage to each other, which means loving each other always and in every circumstance - not just because i do or don't look a certain way on one day of our lives.

all that being said, part of me can't help but feel afraid for what's to come.  i know our culture has contributed largely to this feeling, as marriage is often portrayed as something inconvenient and painful and easily disposable and just too dang hard.  and i do have fears about our future fights and disagreements.  what if resentment builds between us?  what if we grow apart?  what if there are things in each other that we don't see now that we won't be able to live with in the future?  what if there are things we can't get through?  the one thing that carries me through these paralyzing questions is realizing that none of them have anything to do with faith in God.  i am continually trying to walk forward with fears that are based on Ethan and my human abilities to make this thing work.  the blessing in all of it is that i know my heart is open to what God has for me in this because i constantly feel Him beckoning me back toward the throne, opening my eyes to the realization that i can't make any of this work on my own.  i desperately need Him to help guide us through this next huge season full of unknowns, and i am so thankful that He has provided me with people and songs and moments in my life that are little reminders of, "Hey.  You need me.  Let me carry You into this.  Let me give You strength.  Let me be your Source of Life.  Let me be your Peace in the midst of all your fear.  Let me."  and again, it comes back down to the reality of what His love is, and really TRUSTING it and RESTING in it.

it's so funny what engagement has done because i think i expected it to be a magical season full of ease and bliss.  and instead, it has been hard, eye-opening, heart-wrenching work.  but i've seen God moving, heard Him whispering, seen Him opening doors, felt Him giving peace...and those are the magical moments, the moments where i am, AGAIN, emotional - overwhelmed by Who He is.

on Friday, when i was driving to go pick my mom up from LAX, crawling through traffic, i had put in Prince of Peace by Hillsong.  and i kept pushing Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.  i was so immersed in worship, so overwhelmed by how He made me feel through that song, so hungry for more of Him.  and i found myself asking, "Who are You?"  it was the simplest, but hungriest of questions.  in that moment, i wanted to know the deepest part of His soul. i wanted to SEE Him.  and at that moment, i felt my body be overcome by overwhelmingly immense peace.  it felt warm and delicious and all i wanted to do was close my eyes and rest there forever.  of course, i was driving, and maybe i could've said, "Jesus, take the wheeee-eeeelllll," but i decided to play it safe, so that my mom wasn't stranded at the airport. ;)  in all seriousness, though, i think that moment in the car perfectly sums up my relationship with Him these days.  i am hungry and He is HERE - moving, speaking, offering Himself.  growth can be painful, but i'm so happy that He thinks i am worth growing.

***

the space in between the asterisks were things i wrote several days ago.  i'm doing better now.  i feel more joy, more peace since then...i have been praying, running, resting, reading, eating good meals, talking things out...things feel better now.  i was tempted not to post all the thoughts i wrote out at the beginning of the week, but for the sake of being honest, for the sake of processing and preserving this season, i am going to go ahead and hit Publish. :) so, there you have it.

now, i'm off to exercise, watch The Office, and go to sleep early.  it's Thursday after all, and i'm anxious to get to my Friday. :)

good night! <3