musings

To Winter

This might not be the general consensus, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway:

I like Winter.

In general…

1) I’d rather be cold than hot.

2) I love love winter holidays. I mean, Christmas. Come on.

3) I enjoy any reason to hole up in my house, curled up on the couch under a blanket, sipping a warm drink with plenty of snacks nearby as I either read a novel or watch yummy movies.

4) I don’t like to be hot (did I already say that?).

I love Spring and Summer for all the obvious reasons – cook outs and cold drinks, beaches and pools, festivals and walks downtown, birthdays and sandals.

And yet, it surprised me this year that I wasn’t quite ready for the seasons to change from cold to warm. The thought first came to me a month or so ago when the first hints of Spring arrived and found myself wanting Winter to stay a little longer. I thought, Huh, that’s interesting. Haven’t felt that before. I might love Winter.

As I sat on my front steps in the sunshine and cool air, I felt an ache for the end of one season and some apprehension for the beginning of the next.

You see, a lot of change is on the horizon. In fact, Phase 1 started today: my dear friend Melanie moved to Colorado.

Phase 2: My roommate and close friend Linda gets married in June.

Phase 3: I leave Winston, my home for the past 5 years, and move to Greensboro while I finish up grad school.

It’s a lot of transition and it has left me feeling tender and longing for the familiar, for sameness. So as I sat outside that day and felt the seasons changing, I wanted to shout, No! Not yet, I’m not ready! I wanted Winter to stay a little longer, to force me back inside and to the comfort of my warm home. I wanted to slow time and even make it stand still.

But it didn’t and here I am, sitting in shorts and a t-shirt, excited about what’s to come. I knew my heart would catch up eventually.

The end of the season of Winston-Salem and changes in some friendships is bittersweet. It’s natural and good, but it’s hard. Even though different times of my life here have been lonely and painful, and Winter this year was harsh and cold, it was also sweet and lovely and healthy, like crisp air on a January morning. The bitter and the sweet mingled together to form a beautiful song.

So Winter, thanks for coming and reminding me that cold can be beautiful, refreshing and necessary. I know you can’t stay, and I’m glad for that, but you did something in me this year that moved me. You let me grieve and cry and wait and be still. You prepared my heart for laughter and newness. And I will always be grateful.

Categories: musings, seasons | 1 Comment

Clean it out

There has been a janky smell coming from our fridge recently.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened and when I noticed it a *cough cough* few weeks ago, I groaned and thought, I don’t even want to deal with that. I knew there were things in there that had been made and sealed in tupperware, waiting to be eaten with the best of intentions. There were vegetables from our CSA box that we didn’t know what to do with and left them there to rot (literally). I hate how wasteful this makes me, but what can I say, life happened and I got lazy and ate out more and left the country for a bit.

Then before I knew it, I was avoiding my kitchen or even opening the fridge because of that. smell. I didn’t want to know exactly where it was coming from, I just wanted it to go away.

But it never does, does it? Things don’t go away on their own. Bad smells and messy rooms and dirty laundry don’t clean themselves. They’re 1) made by me and 2) waiting patiently to be dealt with. I almost wish things would actually grow legs and walk out on their own, as mothers are known for claiming. Goodbye soup-from-two-months-ago! Have a nice life, don’t forget to write.

Last week I was kind of in avoidance mode, just trying to survive 12 hour days at my internship, getting caught up at work and taking a midterm. I bought food meal-by-meal almost everyday and reveled in the immediate gratification it brought me. Who has time to cook anyway.

But enough is enough. I knew this was the weekend – this was the weekend I was going to get my head right and clean some things out. I knew I needed to be wise and go grocery shopping so that I wasn’t spending all of my money on coffee and muffins and pre-made salads from Whole Foods (seriously, can’t get enough). But I didn’t want to go shopping and put the new stuff in the fridge until I dealt with whatever was going on behind that closed door.

So Sunday night, I made my (fairly) routine trip to Trader Joe’s for my weekly groceries, came home and opened the fridge. I braced myself, squatted down and reached in the back and in the drawers and started pulling things out. Oh, there were definitely groans and gags and maybe some choice words. But all the bad stuff came out and the fresh stuff went in. Afterward I stepped back, sighed and relaxed. All is well in the kitchen.

After, as I was cleaning up, I started thinking again about how metaphorical it all was. This isn’t the first time I’ve mused over the fact that my messes and hidden smells relate to the messes and hidden things in my heart. There are most likely things inside me that have been ignored and not opened in a while, not even with the Lord. Things like feelings about relationships, my romantic desires, annoying habits and real fears. Sometimes I just say, nope, let’s leave that one closed for a little bit longer. It’s sealed nice and tight and I don’t want to know what it will smell like when it’s opened.

But cleaning things out is a healthy process, and the Lord is gracious and abounding in steadfast love. He listens and counts my tears when I finally open a messy drawer in my heart and admit to what’s inside.

I also thought about my desire for consistency and how I struggle with it. I want to be a consistent, committed person. I want to have a clean fridge, a clean room, a clean heart, but life happens. I get distracted and tired. I love to cook and definitely do it more than I used to, but sometimes I go weeks without turning on the stove. I love spending time in the Word and reflecting on Him who made me, but sometimes I choose to do other things and push Him aside. This year I decided to wake up each morning and spend time with the Lord, to continue and further a discipline I started last year. But sometimes I’m groggy and can’t make out the words on the page. Sometimes I just don’t do it and choose to sleep later instead.

Even though it drives me crazy that I’m not perfect and don’t always do or finish the things I set out to do, what matters is starting again. Thankfully the Lord looks at my heart, and in it I hope He sees my desires to know Him and love Him more. My actions might not always reflect those desires, but they are there. I just can’t be consistent on my own. I need help and I’m learning a lot about this. What is the line between discipline and grace? Where do I end and where does God begin?

Maybe the point is to keep trying, keep being aware, keep coming back. When I stumble, I just want to recognize it and ask for help back up. I want to reach out and feel that Strong Hand grab mine and pull me up to my feet and into a warm embrace.

My fridge will probably stink again. I will get overwhelmed and start eating out more than cooking again. I won’t always wake up and carve out intentional time for Jesus. My heart will get stinky and messy again too. But maybe I won’t take as long to clean it out next time.

Categories: celebrating discipline, musings | 2 Comments

Jump

cliff-jumping

Blind dates are kind of like cliff jumping.

I’ve done the online dating thing off and on for a few years and I basically hate it. I mean, I know there’s no one with a gun to my head telling me to go on eHarmony or suffer the consequences. But sometimes I feel like, “Why not? Why not just try?” I am curious enough about it to be uncomfortable.

And sometimes Jesus does things in me and around me that make me uncomfortable.

I hate the feeling of not being in control, of the unknown, and I’ll be darned if that’s the very thing that happens when you choose to meet people you’ve interacted with online. You see a person you like, chat for a little bit and decide to meet, because what if that guy looks all fun holding his niece in that picture but really has a third ear? Meeting a stranger who you might want to date is just part of the deal.

But the anticipation of going on a blind date feels like walking very closely to the edge of a cliff.

It reminds me of when we used to jump off the cliffs at Smith Mountain Lake when I was a teenager. I hated it because I’m afraid of heights, but I loved it too. I knew I couldn’t just sit in the boat watching other people jump, always wondering what it’d be like. I’m sure there are plenty of people who think, “Oh no, that’s crazy, I never want to do that.” They are perfectly content cheering on others from the safety of the boat. I agree that it is somewhat senseless, but I always wanted to do it just enough to be uncomfortable.

When I’d finally work up the courage, I’d get out of the boat, swim to the rocks and start climbing. Once at the top, I’d look down and be almost paralyzed with fear. Why did the cliffs seem so much higher from up here, the water so much further away, the boat so small? But I knew I had to jump. What was the alternative? Climbing back down? I’m sure no one would have faulted me for changing my mind, seeing that some of them would still agree that it’s crazy to want to jump in the first place.

I would stand there, knees knocking, heart pounding, thinking about all the things that could go wrong: What if I don’t jump out far enough and hit the rocks on the way down? What if I land strangely and it hurts like hell? What if I…die?! (Ok, that last one might be a bit dramatic, but I’m pretty sure it made an appearance on the list)

But eventually I would take a deep breath and take the leap. When I finally stepped out and fell to the water, it was exhilarating. The water would catch me, cool and refreshing, and I would bob right back up to the surface after plunging below. And I would be smiling.

Sometimes I’m not always smiling after a blind date, but I’m always glad I took the leap. Because afterwards I have a more complete, albeit still imperfect, picture of a person and can move forward from there.

I imagine sweet Jesus as the calm water waiting below, cool and refreshing, waiting to catch me.

He’s the friend that turns to me, grabs my hand, smiles and jumps with me.

Categories: dating, musings | Leave a comment

Back again

So…that last post was a long time ago. Over two years actually. So much life has happened since then!

I’m thinking of returning to the blog, but I stop myself sometimes and wonder, “why start blogging again because who really cares what I have to say or think?” True. I’m not particularly eloquent or wise or well-known.

But I read a post by a great writer and she said this:

I’ve had a post rattling in my head for months now…but I felt like I had nothing to say that hadn’t already been said 18,494 times. But then I remembered my own advice that I give people when they tell me they don’t want to blog because everything’s already been said—yes, but we haven’t heard you say it, and if you feel called to write it, the world needs you to have said it (both because you’ll say it differently than what we’ve yet heard, and because it’ll change you for the better).

Maybe there are things I have to say that are worth saying because they’re from me.

Maybe I just like writing.

Maybe it’s just fun to have a place to record musings and nuggets from different seasons of life.

Maybe I’m a narcissist and just like to listen to my own voice.

All of those are probably true on some level. Whatever my motivation, here I am, back again. I hope – as I hope for most things in my life – that it is done with intention and thoughtfulness, that it brings glory to the One who created me.

Plus, it’s fun. And I kinda like it.

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