Getting Back to It!

Well, hello world! It’s a pleasure to see you again. Yes, I am still alive. Much more so than I was last November when I posted.

The last nine months have been a journey. I have sort of felt like Frodo traveling through Middle Earth. Setting out, I have (literally) traveled much, gained deep friendships, lost my way, and found it again in greater clarity. I most feel like Frodo because all throughout this seemingly long season of seeking vocational, spiritual, and relational clarity I have many times succumbed to the whisper that the fog will be forever; the end is only to begin again. But God, in His grace, has sent a multitude of ‘Sams’ to remind me that I have PURPOSE, to keep going, to finish, to endure.

I love the Lord of the Rings because, at the end of it all, the root story is about friendship. It isn’t about a deep romantic love, the fall and remake of a city, or Frodo’s heroism. It is, simply, about friends. 

To be honest, I would be embarrassed to share the number of times in these months I have exclaimed in my heart like the Psalmist, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever?” (Ps. 13:1). Will you bring me clarity? Will you show me my skills? Will you bring me out of this season.

I am sure that my loving Father heard all of those cries, because, He cares. He is a friend to me. But look at the undercurrent of those questions, and the undercurrent of what the Psalmist was really asking.

“God, will you HELP me? God, do you CARE about me? God, can you SEE me?” – aka, God, are you and I still okay? Are you watching over me? Is our relationship so fickle that you would walk away from me?

Circumstance is the biggest lie that we fight, every. single. day. It’s because it is the realist thing that we can visibly see, touch, smell, hear. Our experiences are so real, as are the pain, hurt, suffering, and moments of hope and happiness we feel. My circumstances and lack of clarity in many areas of my life have led me to question the authenticity of God’s love and faithfulness to me, which is the true root of all the other questions I mentioned.

I want to keep this short, because I am certainly not through this hard season, although God is graciously giving me glimpses of the end of the road. My encouragement is for those of you who have, like me, forgotten to look up. God has not forgotten you, dear one. He cannot. You are the treasure of His heart. He has not abandoned us.

The obvious questions is: “How do you know that?”

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 2:18

The most eternal, the most heavenly, the most REAL thing is the cross. The greatest event in all of world history was done for you. Meditate on its realness today. Take your eyes off of your circumstance, bring your crying and words to him, but look at what He did for us. 

Friends, He LOVES us. He shed His blood without a word to have you with Him forever. Do not doubt His love or plan for you today.

 

 

100 Things I’m Thankful For

This past weekend I was sitting around at a “Friendsgiving”-themed party shamelessly indulging in laughter-inducing, silly conversation when a close girlfriend of mine smiled at me from across the coffee table and said, “Nat, you’ve got to start blogging again!” And I thought, “Gee wiz, I do. I miss that.” So, hello world, I’m back from another mini hiatus. 

This blogger’s “1,300 Things to Be Thankful For” Series inspired today’s post. Over the course of one year she wrote 1,300 things she was thankful for. Thanksgiving week is the perfect time to practice “being thankful always.” So, in that spirit, I wrote down 100 things I’m thankful for. It encouraged my heart greatly and reset my perspective. We have so many blessings to count, so much goodness in our lives, if we would just open our eyes to see it. Enjoy, and then sit down with a hot drink and make your own list!

1. Candles burning in every room of the house.

2. Laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.

3. Pumpkin pie flavored ice cream.

4. A fresh out of the toaster Bruegger’s Bagel dipped in hot chocolate.

5. Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath.

6. Breakfast for dinner.

7. When you see a balloon floating way up in the sky.

8. The color burnt orange.

9. Realizing you already have all the ingredients for a recipe.

10. The smell of fresh washed sheets.

11. A really, really good Amber Ale or Stout.

12. Hugging someone and starting to let go and realizing they haven’t let go of the hug yet.

13. Bright nail colors.

14. Really amazing sneezes.

15. Bubble wrap.

16. The smell of new leather.

17. The click of high heels.

18. Getting caught up in a really good fiction book.

19. When a wind blows in the fall and you can watch loads of leaves fall from a single tree all at once.

20. Calligraphy.

21. Crunchy foods.

22. Laughing and accidentally tooting at the same time and realizing you’re the only one who heard.

23. Seeing old couples holding hands and walking together.

24. Being just far enough away from the city to where the stars get really clear at night.

25. Black mascara. Plain and simple.

26. Alison Krauss.

27. Coming home to Dad on the back porch just sitting and picking at his old guitar.

28. The way baked things make the whole house smell good. 

29. Friends that give you perspective about yourself you couldn’t have seen otherwise. 

30. Home videos.

31. Seeing a funny movie in a full theatre where everyone is laughing at the same things.

32. When a real wood fire pops and crackles.

33. Putting ruffle potato chips on Turkey Sandwich.

34. Humming to myself.

35. Eating with a spoon tiny enough that you have to savor the meal. :)

36. Showering off in an outside shower after spending all day on the beach.

37. Spending an entire afternoon watching episodes of Gilmore Girls.

38. How siblings, especially sisters, can just “get it.”

39. Getting an unexpected handwritten note or letter.

40. The movie It’s a Wonderful Life.

41. Baby’s skin.

42. The way newborns smell (when they’re not, well, pooping).

43. A litter of puppies.

44. When little kids talk so fast you can’t understand what they’re saying.

45. Talking with complete strangers and realizing you have something in common. 

46. The kid’s cup of vanilla ice cream at Goodberry’s. And how they’d put an extra teddy graham on top if you asked.

47. Horses. I have always wanted one.

48. Chris Farley.

49. That feeling when a drink is so hot that it literally warms your toes!

50. Being able to see the steam coming out of your coffee cup.

51. Having someone tell you something good about yourself and actually believing it for the first time.

52. A/C

53. Dandelions.

54. Fishing all day, finally getting a bite and REELING in that stinker. Then eating him for dinner.

55. Red Wine. White Wine. All wine.

56. Men opening the door or offering to carry something.

57. Having clothes warm enough for cold days.

58. Having enough money to live.

59. Fresh, juicy pears. And honeycrisp apples.

60. Scars with stories.

61. Finally getting past surface level conversation with a new friend.

62. Saying it’s someone’s birthday at a restaurant (even if it’s not) and having the wait staff embarrass them. 

63. Singing my favorite songs really, really loud when no one is home.

64. Taking a risk with total abandon!

65. Thunderstorms.

66. Homemade Kettle Corn.

67. Really awesome smelling perfume. Or cologne.

68. When you hear a sermon and you fall in love with the bible all over again.

69. Appreciating clean humor. 

70. When someone looks you in the eyes, listens and gives you their full attention. 

71. Those silly inflatable giant squiggly blow up gumby looking things that furniture stores use to get your attention when you drive by (anyone?)…

72. Hitting a bulls eye in darts.

73. Running downhill because you feel super accomplished and fast.

74. British accents.

75. How amazing simplicity is.

76. Newborn babies. 

77. Dressing up and going to a musical or play.

78. The combination of sweet and salty.

79. When someone you’ve known for a long time says, “Remember that time you…” and reminds you of something really funny

80. Homes that are clean and well decorated, but inviting and homey all at once. That’s my dream.

81. Bubble baths just because.

82. The smell of burning leaves or charcoal.

83. Cinnamon graham Crackers + Peanut Butter.

84. Being the first one awake in the house, when it’s in total silence.

85. Total silence.

86. When an old song comes on the radio you totally forgot about and still love.

87. White boys dancing.

88. When someone asks you a really thought provoking question that actually has an effect on you.

89. Really clearly answered prayers.

90. When babies stare at you in public for no reason at all.

91. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

92. Smiling at strangers, and strangers smiling kindly at you.

93. Being comfortable sitting at dinner and talking for a long time after the meal is done without pressure to clean right away, go somewhere or end the evening.

94. The London skyline.

95. Putting my toes in the ocean in Spain for the first time.

96. The feeling of really missing someone.

97. The tiny marshmallows in Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate.

98. How the light comes into my room in the mornings.

99. Riding with the windows down and the music all the way up.

100. When you have a really, really awesome dream. The kind that makes you want to fall back asleep.

Gosh…100 was easy. I could list 1,000 more right now. Once you get on a roll you can go on forever. Now go make your own list!