Things I Want < Things I Have

April 19, 2015

So oddly enough it seems I only have a truly bustling social life once every few months. This weekend was one of them. Shopping with my sister Friday afternoon, coffee in South Side in the evening with a friend, then we got hungry and went out for wings afterward. Saturday was brunch with friends at a fantastic Pittsburgh diner, then a beautiful bridal shower for a friend from church...and an impromptu stop in an antique store where I found what I think is a third edition of Little Women. Copyright 1896. It's a beauty--and my third copy.

It's raining softly outside now, a traditional roast chicken Sunday dinner is in the works, and my grandmother's coming over. And have I mentioned it just smells like spring? It's so wonderful. I even took a cat-nap this afternoon--proof that this weekend was draining for this introvert.

It was bitter-sweetly draining in another way, this full, blessed weekend. In the course of twenty-four hours, my lack of relationship status slapped me in the face in the midst of smiling wide and being oh-so glad for dear friends who have great guys in their lives. Now don't get me wrong--I'm not the type to wallow in my singleness day in and day out. Honestly? I don't think about my singleness every day. I admit to thinking of the guy I'll marry/praying for him every day--but this weekend was just a lot.
I'm not so self-absorbed I turn eevery conversation with my non-single friends (aka the majority) to my singleness. That's not me. And I love being kept up to speed about all the details of burgeoning romances and firsts. I really do--I'm a hopeful/hopeless romantic. My pain level hasn't been bad at all this weekend--grateful for cortisone shots!--but my heart's been sore. Worn. A bit tired.
via Ann Voskamp
But this is how great God is--time with Him in worship at church, and the tail-end of the sermon just cut me right to the quick. How near He is. How He sees me--trust me. Stark difference in how I see myself/my life. Down in junior high, the pastor spoke about David and how God looks at the heart and sees us with such value, even when what we see in the mirror or in our circumstances doesn't seem all that hot. 

Thriving now means not letting the things I want make me forget the things I already have. Wonderful friends, a great job, a bright and full future with not one but two gifts upcoming in 2015 I did not see coming. Listening to the Voice of Truth, speaking truth to myself, owning my life and letting myself cry it out once in awhile because it's healing.

Currently | April

April 15, 2015

 

Linking up for this month's Currently over at Dearest Love 

Possibly the slowest binge-watcher ever with this show


In grateful-bliss over our spring weather

Happily crocheting baby blankets like this pinned pattern

Counting down the days to May 1st, when this sequel comes out

Dreaming of Gettysburg even more with the recent anniversary of Lee's official surrender at Appomattox, marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's end.

Listening to and possibly dancing to this catchy song 

Still hard to believe this show, a guilty pleasure I cannot recommend, just aired it's finale less than a month ago. Fitting ending number. Gives me goosebumps still.

Loving our middle-school Roots youth group where I get to hang with some cool kids once a week.


Tears are prayers, too

April 12, 2015


This sums up yesterday for me. 
Living with chronic pain from my hip dysplasia for ten-plus years, I can honestly say I don't think I've ever prayed that God take it away. I can honestly say I've never even thought to pray that, or even for God to make a way to lessen my pain. My resentment was the big struggle those first years and moments up through now. The age-old, Why, God? 
I wrote that struggle and the deep levels I went through and came out of closer to God, in my book through the main characters.
I recently went into a doctor's appointment thinking I'd hear the same thing I had assumed--first mistake--since my diagnosis. Both hips replaced at an older age.
Long story not over yet, that's not exactly the case but what God dropped into my lap Friday afternoon is huge. Scary-huge. Reality-shaking news.
Friday, I was told of a tremendous opportunity not without a need for incredible blind-faith in a myriad of issues surrounding it. I like to say God dropped my job in my lap almost four years ago, and He did.
But this...this gift is one, while not officially decided, is one I am knocked on my butt blindsided by.
Hence my tears.
I can't go into tremendous detail, but I have confidence that when I am able to share in full, it'll all be to the glory of God.
I dampened my sweet dad's shirt Saturday night as the congregation sang, God is Able by Hillsong. I've never lost it in church as I did Saturday night. And you know what--that's okay. 

God is on our side
He will make a way
Far above all we know
Far above all we hope
He has done great things
For the Lord
Our God is able
For the Lord
Our God is able

You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book? Ps. 56:8

I've cried plenty of times. Especially when wrestling with resentment and questioning and I'm not above admitting it--plain old ugly anger. And all our tears, from the ones of heartbreak to the happy tears, God sees. He doesn't judge us for them. Far from it. 
And for this stubborn, tries-to-stay-strong-too-much girl--that's freeing right there. 
It's His grace.
It's Jesus.
 We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15&16
The shortest and one of the most impactful verses in Scripture, is only two words:
Jesus wept.
Our Lord and Savior wept. He asked that the cup of suffering be taken from Him as He faced going to the Cross. But He finished with, Not My will, but Yours be done.
Half the time, I confess to skipping past the first part, asking in full faith that God is able, to have the cup of suffering removed. I skip right to the big sigh, the downcast eyes and tired heart that prays wholeheartedly, Not my will but Yours be done.
There is to be a balance of bold questions asked in faith, but on the same scale, a counter-weight of surrender that breathes out utter trust in our Heavenly Father that He holds our whole world in His hands.

Bloom | A Grateful Heart

April 6, 2015

Spring is finally here; trees have their buds, crocuses and daffodils are springing up everywhere, but we haven't quite reached the blooming season. It's just beginning. 
And so it is with life.
We just celebrated the Resurrection of the Man who was fully God, fully man, yet did not sin. Who lived a perfect life on earth, only to die because of His love for us. Even though we don't deserve it. Death, where is your sting, now that Christ has risen?
The power of Jesus' Resurrection is not to be missed in the day to day. He died, so we might live, and live life to the fullest.

I stand a new creation, baptized in blood and fire

No fear of condemnation by faith I'm justified

I will rise, I will rise

As Christ was raised to life, now in Him, now in Him

I live

Years ago, I would've taken pride in the fact that I was waiting. For God and Him alone to unfold my love story. Keeping myself pure until marriage. Through out high school I think I just figured I'd be a great stay at home daughter, have a small home business or something, and soon after graduation poof! My guy would appear. 
Now there's nothing wrong with any of that, but for pride. I thought I was oh so holy and deserving for planning on just waiting for Mr. Right, not dating or having a boyfriend until God brought me my future husband. Now I know that this pride was based in immaturity, fear of letting go and letting God, and a stagnant, safe faith that clung more to seemingly proven modes of garnering a husband than God's sovereign will.
Those years ago I thought, much like Rapunzel in Tangled, When will my life begin? When God brings me my husband, and when I get married.
Today I am so so so grateful for only the Lord's refining work in my heart since I started working (*gasp*) outside the home at a job that I love. A job that God provides through--monetarily and with plenty of time to pursue my dream job of writer.
I am far from perfect, and to be honest it's been a real struggle to bloom where planted. Genuinely. I said the right things and forced myself to get involved, stay involved with the young adult group at church, served in a few different areas...but it wasn't until recently that God showed me the deep extent of my pride, and fear. And it was through other Godly people--dare I say new friends--and a fun time of bowling till 1am that I realized it.
I was not blooming where planted. I was begrudgingly doing the next thing, having a negative, assumptive nature and did not allow myself to open up to the possibility of friends here. I had enough amazing heart-friends! Granted, the majority of them don't live locally...
But these people I see once or twice a week are good people. They make me laugh, and if I keep trying and genuinely tamping down my fears and just be me--I'll have fun and make friends. Simple stuff, this revelation of mine, but it's God's illuminating work recently.
So. To bloom. Flourish. 
I'm not waiting anymore. I'm done waiting inactive, complaining and worrying and wondering. I want to be a strong woman rooted in God, flourishing in the life and with the people He's gifted me with, solely because I love Him. I so don't deserve His grace unending that's dusted me off, refined my heart and given me such a great life now.
These dreams in my heart that yawn empty? They're there. They always will be. But God will either fulfill them in His timing or take them away. And I'm fine with that, because that's down the road. It's not where I am now.
Trying to bloom and stand tall as me. Hopeless romantic, introvert, vintage-soul, history buff, family gal, Marvel fangirl, talks with her hands and sometimes too loud, me.
Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

When a Youth Group Lesson Hits Home

March 23, 2015


Sunday mornings I help out in my church's "junior high" ministry that consists of sixty-plus middle schoolers playing fooseball, talking a mile a minute before cramming around tables with their friends for the lesson put on by our awesome junior high youth pastor. 
Yesterday's lesson's focal point was how God never wastes our time. Using the Biblical example of Joseph, we read a part of his story from Genesis and the kids dove into dissecting how Joseph must have felt when he was betrayed by his brothers, and they then related stories as to whenever they felt like they were betrayed by friends...all after the hilarious ice-breaker of sharing about how they feel their time is wasted as middle schoolers. School was the top answer for that question.
As the youth pastor drove the point home of God being ever-near and never letting us down or wasting our time, I sat back and prayed for the precious hearts in the room to be good soil, but little did I know that later on I'd get a small bit of news that drove the lesson home in my own heart.
After church we traveled out to spend the day at my grandparents in celebration of my grandfather's recent seventy-ninth birthday. If you've read my book God's Will, there are two characters named Ted and Judy who have a huge impact on young Kathy and Elliott alike. The characters were named and modeled after my grandparents who I love dearly.
Grammy's smack in the middle. Surrounded by all her daughters and all her granddaughters.
Three generations...and Grammy's puppy, Lucky.

It was a low-key, nice time with everyone. Two cousins have significant others now, the majority of my friends are in some way or another which I am so genuinely happy for, getting to watch God unfold their love stories.
When I try to tell well-meaning family members this, they cut me off with, "You gotta get out there and meet people, Meghan Mary." 
Me, inwardly: Yes I do, because I live under a rock and only leave the house for work.
Not the point, however.
Whilst there, I was texting with a close friend and I get a, So there's this guy...
My heart dropped to my stomach and I was glad she couldn't see my face or hear my voice. Between the family members' well-meaning comments I thought I had let roll off my back, this text kind of hit me in a place I thought I was okay with for a good long while, actually. Meaning it had been weeks since I last wrestled with it. 
Some deep breathing calmed my heart and I focused on this friend and the details of, not training wheels but the ride of her life that may very well be unfolding. Her analogy made me smile, and I pray the Lord let it be so.
On the hour-long ride home from my grandparents, I plugged my earbuds in and listened to my worship playlist on Spotify, squeezing my eyes shut against the tears. I could've had a lot to say; I could've been bitter and angry and asked God "Why? When?" a million times...but I didn't. To be frank I was too tired and heart-sore to go down that road. God's doing, right there. I subconsciously realized I didn't have to put up a front of being angry or resentful because, just maybe, I've let go and let God more than ever.
The first song that came on was Hide Your Love Away by Anthem Lights. A coincidence? Yes. A heavenly one.
I just poured my heart out to God in half nonsensical sentences that ride home. Intermittently lifting my dear friend up in prayer and thanking God for His faithfulness and holding me up through everything...even if this single season be quite a while longer.
Listening to Holy Spirit by Kari Jobe, the lyric, I have tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves. Where my heart becomes free... the youth group lesson from the morning came to mind and I almost completely lost it.
God does not waste our time.
There is a purpose for the pain of smiling thru tears when you're so happy and rejoicing for friends, all the while the spot in your heart for one special guy remains empty. I've had friends
Even though I don't know a blessed thing about how my love story God's going to play out, I know He's holding it and working behind the scenes. And with such stark clarity more than ever, I realize and embrace that thank you Lord, that's not all there is to life. A guy and a book contract are two huge desires of my heart, but in the waiting, God does not waste my time here. The weekend came full circle for me in the backseat of our family car, in a way...
I went to a memorial service for a coworker's father on Friday. The man was a believer, and his memorial was the most hope-filled one I have ever gone to. Also the only non-Catholic funeral I've been to, so there's that. But as we sang Amazing Grace and listened to the pastor tell of the man's legacy he left thru his marriage of 65 years and three children, my heart ached for heaven.
I embraced my coworker afterwards and told her, "Your dad's legacy is an amazing one." Her eyes welled and she hugged me back and told me how she just wanted to talk to her dad and ask him how heaven was. How perfect eternity with Jesus was. 
It's a lifelong fight to not get swept up in the temporary trials and worries and hardships of life. It's a mind over circumstance battle to keep our hearts eyes focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and on the surety of eternity spent with Him.
My Lord and lover of my work in progress soul is changing my perspective slow but sure...loving me where I am, but loving me so much to not leave me here.

The Problem of Pain

March 18, 2015

~ C.S Lewis ~

If ever there was a quote that could sum up my "testimony" of sorts, this would be it. We talked about it in small group last night. I kept too quiet, as it hit home. I'm trying to work on being brave and opening my mouth to speak, but for now my fingers and written words will do the talking I didn't do, should have done, at small group.

When I was eleven I was diagnosed with dysplasia in both hips and after countless opinions and doctors visits, we decided the best option was to plan on having both hips replaced way down the line when I'm much older. We first went to an orthopedic doctor because I was limping and I complained of my legs being sore. So, going on eleven years, I have been living with this diagnosed chronic pain that has not gotten better, but slowly and surely worse.
I wrestled with the age-old questions, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and the, "If God loves me, why'd He let this happen?" These questions, spurred on by my pain and limitations, snowballed and, while there wasn't one moment of a turnaround testimony, I had to make a choice. I was raised in a loving, wonderful Christian home but the pain I had to get used to living with was what "planted a flag of truth in my rebel soul." It could have led to "final and unrepentant rebellion" as Lewis talks about. Whether we realize it or not, physical, mental and emotional pain all leave us with a choice.
Pain is something we can't control and something we as humans never choose. But it's a part of living in a fallen world in desperate need of a Savior.
Through my hip pain and countless other circumstances and struggles I've gone through especially in the last four years since graduating high school, I can honestly say I have never "felt" closer to God. Even during the dry spells. Even when I was stubborn and focused too much on the present and didn't have my eyes fastened on my Defender and Provider and lover of my work in progress soul. He has truly "shouted" in my pain and it's a tearfully sweet thing.
The problem of pain, of my pain which just happens to by chronic, physical, is not really a problem at all. It has been an instrument the Lord used to draw me to Himself. To throw myself on His grace and mercy instead of trying to be Superwoman. My "problem" of pain actually was a huge part of why I wrote God's Will
My pain has been getting worse of late in my right hip. The hip that was the better of the two to some degree. It's thrown me for a loop these last few months because it used to be my strongest leg to lean on. I may have overcompensated for my left hip being more painful and now the right is. And this scares the living crap out of me, ya'll. But there isn't so much of a problem with this pain I deal with day in and day out. It's taking me another level deeper into the Lord and His love, and it's also refining away the dross of this sinner's soul.
So you see, this problem of pain is one that planted a flag of truth within my rebel soul once upon a time ago and while I could say I'd trade my pain in a heartbeat, I know it's my burden to lay at the foot of the Cross day in and day out to strengthen my reliance on the Author and Finisher of my faith.