Monthly Archives: September 2015


Do you ever want to skip the little jobs because they’re just “fine” without being done? I really struggle with that, especially when it comes to cleaning. Cleaning is not by any means my favorite thing. (Actually, most things that a “good” housewife does aren’t my favorite things. Good thing I’m not married, heh.) On Tuesday I was cleaning up after hours at my job and I checked the coffee grinder area to see how it looked. For some reason static electricity likes to fling the grounds every which way, and it tends to be a mess. At the moment it didn’t look too terrible. I mean, there was coffee on the counter, but it was nothing like usual, so it was fine, right? I almost walked away, and then this thought poked me, “It’s fine, yes, but is it excellent?” The next thought was a snippet from one of those Sunday School-type songs – “Be excellent at what is good…” It stopped me in my tracks. I gave in, cleaned up the grounds like usual, and then drove home pondering what had just happened.

The fine vs. excellent thought kept coming back to me throughout the rest of the week, bugging me when I was tempted to skip little things. It bothered me when I was cleaning the shower and wanted to skip the grungy shelves because they’re so annoying to clean. “It’s not excellent! It’s not excellent!” I think God is working on my habit of laziness/procrastination. Somewhere along the way, I remembered Colossians 3:17 which says,

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Whatever you do. Doesn’t matter if it’s topping off the goat water tank before it’s desperate for a refilling or doing your best on an assignment you have to turn in. How would you like for Jesus to come and take a look at it, and you’ve only done a “fine” job on it? I think that being “excellent at what is good” doesn’t just refer to the big things in life. It applies to the everyday tasks just as much. We should practice living life with excellence in every area, consciously choosing to go the extra mile and do things well. It’s not a gift that some have and some don’t. It’s simply a constant choice, which trait you want to build into your character, laziness, or excellence. We all want to be known as excellent, but what do our choices say about us? I know for sure I need to practice choosing better.

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How Did We Get Here?

September 20th yet again. This time of year always causes me to look back on life. It seems like everything in life dates back to September 20, 2012. This last week I was walking through the apple orchard and it suddenly occurred to me that it was “that” time of year again. The time of year when there’s just a few leaves on the ground and fallish smells in the air and I stop and wonder at how different things are than they were before my sister’s wreck. I stop and remember the chaos following it, the emotional rollercoaster my family survived together, and the miracles God provided exceedingly abundantly above what we dared to ask. This year as I walked through the stickery weeds in the orchard, I had to ask…How in the world did we get here from there?

How did I end up with two sisters married, another in college, and a brother who’s half my age but tall enough he reaches my chin? How did I end up working half-days in an adorable coffeehouse, diving into a huge art course, and trying to hold things together at home? How did I end up knowing I need to make changes before I destroy my digestive system altogether, but no energy with which to do it? How did I end up wasting so much time? And how in the world did I end up with this much selfishness and pride and trouble saying things I shouldn’t? Three years can do crazy things to a person.

When I look at where “here” is, I’m not altogether proud of it. I’ve let things slip that I shouldn’t have. I’ve forgotten which are the rocks and which are the diamonds in my life. I’ve wounded and scarred my own family with words I never thought I would dare to utter. I’ve brushed off and neglected friends, instead clinging to the ones that “get me” the most. I’ve let mental and physical exhaustion keep me from being the person God wants me to be. I think it’s good to look back on your life now and then to realize how different it is from what it was…and sometimes how different it is to what it should be.

And yet, there’s so much from the last three years that I’m so crazily grateful for. I’m grateful for God’s miracles, and how persistently He chased after me and loved me during the deepest struggles I’ve faced in my short life. I’m grateful for how He’s led and stacked one lesson on another, opened one door after another, and made me get out of my comfort zone so ridonkulously many times. I’m grateful for His patience with my selfishness and pride, and how He’s eager to teach me to let them go in favor of loving and serving Him. I’m grateful for His patience in teaching me to trust and obey even when I’m scared to death to take the leap. I’m grateful for these messy, hard, unforgettable three years. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am – and while where I am has a huge amount of learning and changing to do before it’s anything admirable, I’m grateful for it too.

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After all These Years

I didn’t want to write this post, because I hate being vulnerable. However, it seems God intentionally left me with no other blog-worthy ponders this week so that I have no choice in the matter. *Deep breath* Well, here we go, then. I apologize if it’s a little choppy. I’ve never tried to put the whole thing into words at once.

Ever since I was around fourteen I struggled with wanting to get married and having to wait. I’ve covertly mentioned it plenty on here as “loneliness”, but never really opened up about it. I struggled with myself, wondering if it was discontentment, if it was wrong for me to want a man of my own so badly that sometimes it almost physically hurt. I fought thoughts of a certain young man like a cornered and desperate dragon, but the battles left me so exhausted that I wanted nothing more than to give in and dwell on him more than I should. And I did. I spent countless hours crying alone, begging God to take this away from me, then turning around and feasting my mind on thoughts I knew did not line up with my prayers. Then the thoughts would leave me feeling more miserable and I would run back to God crying about how much this hurt.

Sometimes I forgot for a short while, and I went on my merry way until someone mentioned the forbidden name, or something reminded me of him, or I heard a romantic song or watched a movie. Then suddenly it crashed in on me again, like waves of suffocation. Repeat the vicious cycle. Try to forget. Give up. Cry. Curl up where no one could see I was miserable. Somehow I couldn’t let anyone know, because they might laugh at me, or tell me I was silly to like him, that it was an impossible situation and I might as well forget about it. How could I forget? That’s what I had been trying to do for how long now?

Then at the beginning of the year God made sure to take ‘him’ far away where I would most likely never see him again. It hurt. I cried, alone as usual, but life kept on and I slowly learned it was okay. I still missed him. It still ached. But somehow He helped me to surrender him after all this time. But then something would remind me of him, and it would hurt again. I tried to run away from the reminders. To this day I’m wary of romance movies and love songs.

Recently we took a road trip out of state, and on the way back home, we drove through the town I knew ‘he’ was from (though he didn’t live there anymore). My dad even mentioned him. And for the first time, I realized, it didn’t mess with my brain the way reminders like that used to. It didn’t hurt like it used to. I didn’t slide into a puddle of misery. I was okay with it, even. That’s when I realized…that the emotional chains I’d been living in for so long were slowly loosening.

In the last couple weeks God has been opening up new and exciting doors for me to walk through, and in the process of my excitement about where He was taking me, I realized something – I was completely happy just serving God where He led. I no longer felt like I needed a guy of my own to be content. Playing piano at the nursing home, working at my favorite little coffee shop, writing (mostly) kid’s story stuff, and preparing to head into serious art training – doing the things I love, and seeking to serve God and “dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness”…it’s enough, in a way it didn’t used to be. I’m not so afraid to stay unmarried for years and years anymore. After all this time, He’s freed me. After all these years of wondering if it was even possible, I’ve found that it is – you can be content and joyful in your own adventure. Even when you’re pretty sure all your friends are conspiring to all get married at the same time, you can sincerely rejoice with them without feeling sorry for yourself at the same time.

It doesn’t mean that the enemy won’t try to drag you back into the old muck and misery, but once you’ve tasted freedom, you don’t fall for the old lies as easily anymore. You know the freedom you have, even when you don’t feel it right at that moment, and that gives you the strength to say NO to the old thoughts, the old lies. And after all these years, I’ve come to a point where I can say that and know it to be true. Praise God! Even the pain of the journey is worth what you find on the other side.

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What’s Your Name Mean?

Have you ever read one of those books where there’s this horrible character that makes you despise his very name, even when it’s not in connection with him? Or where a good character makes you not dislike a name quite so strongly as you usually do? (Childhood memories of Joey Brill vs. Frank and Joe Hollister…) Why do they do that? Why do we sometimes love or despise names based on the character of someone who has that name?

My theory is that it’s because a person’s character becomes our perceived definition of their name. I may not know what your name really means, but I know what your character makes your name sound like to me. As I was pondering, Proverbs 22:1 came to mind:

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

Some translations say “a good reputation”. That got me thinking. A ‘good name’ is just the meaning that your life says your name has. Your behavior, your character – they’re the real definition of your name. It doesn’t matter so much what definition came with the name when you received it, but what definition your life makes for the name. What meanings are you and I choosing for our names? Way too often I suspect my name probably means “easily irritated” or “too busy for you” or “too scared to speak up”, and it’s not cool. I don’t want to be known for that! What about you? What’s your life say your name means? And if you don’t like what it means, what are you going to go about it?

As for me, I think it’s time to hit this one with prayer. I don’t like a lot of what I see in my character, and I know (from experience, heh) that I can’t change what I see without God’s help; but by His power my name can become something that gives Him glory. So, what do you want your name to mean to the people around you? The God who parted the sea and brought rivers of water gushing out of rocks can also provide the power to overcome bad character qualities and give you a new name. A “good name”.

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