It’s January and as I reflect on 2016, I realize that I spent the majority of the year FAH-REAKING OUT. Mondays became Mourndays. It was rough. It was ugly. It was a lot of tears. (Okay, when I say majority of the year… I mean from August onward).

Here’s what happened: my personal career and insecurity in not being able to contribute something to the world got wayyy in the way.

  1. God’s gift. Somehow in the middle of my senior year of college and my husband’s Master’s programs…. a little contraption showed a plus sign on its screen and we have a little boy coming our way in May. We’re naming him “God’s gift” (Theodore), because that’s what he is. You see, my little gift has humbled me… to the point of happy tears welling in my eyes at this moment. Every time he moves and kicks, I become ever more convinced that this little boy has an enormous destiny. While I may be unsure of my “next steps” as Anna, I am confident in my steps toward holding this little one and loving him with all the love the Lord gives me to give. I pray it’s an outrageous amount. Like an embarrassing amount.
  2. Mourndays. It was something about my Mourndays (not quite sure what, ha) that got my husband thinking I would rather him deviate from his calling in completing his degrees and our two years living overseas for his practicum. But, today I am rooted in confidence in Danny- He studies hard, thoroughly absorbs what he learns & loves me selflessly through it all. I can answer “I have absolutely no freaking clue!” whenever I’m asked what my plans are after graduation purely and excitedly because I know that when Danny does collect his diploma, it will be the best day… a day signifying that God’s grace sustained him to carry on throughout the many days I wanted him to throw in the towel and find a “career.” Silly woman. We are going to live a life of ministering to people on behalf of Jesus and he will provide the means for our survival. Duh. (I wonder if Danny would be embarrassed if Theo and I walked up there with him?????)
  3. Friendship. Obviously, I was wrapped up in a bit of a selfish frenzy for about 6 months which gets quite straining on relationship, if you can believe it. I focused on making new friends in all the new places I was occupying, but with that I let my fox hole friends fall through the cracks. No bueno. I need them and they need me… why would I mess up something good just to have something new?
  4. Goals. My focuses for 2017 mostly include zero busyness (I’m so over it) and one hundred percent rootedness. When I get busy, I tend to focus on fruits (seeing the byproduct of my frenzied activities) and ignore my roots… But, that’s a backwards mentality. With my focus being directed toward roots in the Word, roots in marriage, roots in friendship and roots in family, I can see the byproduct of my life being something worth living for… So, that’s my focus for this year.

Don’t worry, dear little blog, you will receive much more attention this year than last. I pinky promise.

The Cure for Humans Averse to Change

img_6415.jpgHello, you. Yes, you, human who is averse to change. There are some of us who deny it and then there are some of us who readily accept it… but, even still, to every human being on the face of the planet change is rocky.

And sometimes (do you ever do this?) I get really obsessed with one part of my life story until I can make sense of it. For instance, recently, I have been attempting to make sense of how differently my life looks now as compared to how I envisioned it at the conclusion of my first career assessment– a senior in high school readying herself for her college career.

Now, as a senior in college, life is far more complex than I ever imagined it would be. My plans never feel like firm footing for the shifting pieces constantly rocking my little world. Even if, for some crazy reason, a plan goes smoothly.. then undoubtedly the transition from that plan to the next will leave me breathless and stumbling for pieces of to remake my identity.

Regardless of this current life meeting my past life’s vision for it, I am on a fast-track for learning and that I can stamp with the word good.

How can I do that? During worship this morning, Spirit spoke to me. He put the pieces of me back together. Little me, bringing my concerns of incessant failure before the throne, having been burdened by the heavy, heavy load of them for weeks now, melted as he spoke. 

Anna, you look to your situation for strength, your “accomplishments” for a solid base, your meticulous plans for security, your “income” for stability, your house for homey-ness. Yet, don’t you get it… those things will always, always be shifting from now until you come Home. Jesus is your Rock. He is your Life. 

My God goes to extreme lengths & I would not put it out of the realm of possibility for him to rock my world little-by-bigger throughout the past 4 years just so I could get it. He is my Rock, my Refuge, my Rest. You see, it’s Jesus who ultimately reigns over my life and just like he’s the one who provides the meals we eat & clothes we wear, he is also the King who oversees every event’s detail. He knows. He is not shocked.

That’s why the unforeseen no longer shakes me. Praise Him. He is the cure for humans averse to change– he is the Unchangeable one.

It’s November. I haven’t written enough, so I’m going to write a list.

  1. My husband tells me often, choose to be a Warrior, don’t be a worrier.
  2. I’m ever trying to defy the lens from which I look through to be beyond my current situated-ness, but too soon it shifts right back to me, me, me. The world is bigger.
  3. Long-term time goes slowly, but minutes fly by… my goals seem decades away from fruition, and yet every day we have Jesus, breakfast, lunch, dinner, class, work, friends, family, phones and a (mostly) clean house.
  4. Wanderlust, wallflower, wishful thinker. But, it’s my own self-expectations that births limitations.
  5. It’s easy to feel small, but it’s the small, unnoticed things, that catch the eye of the attentive and bring such joy. Like the flower, like the leaf, like the butterfly.

The small things matter. When it all seems mundane and messy and sluggishly passing on, remember that it’s the moments added up which change the course of everything. It’s the addition of the small things that make the big things happen.

i admit i’ve been a jonah

This week, my brain reached its max on repeatedly realizing how standbackish I’ve been from the issues consuming this world: the racial issues, the sexual revolution, the poverty, the mental illness, and the downright injustices. What do I do?

This week, I’ve realized how little I’ve pursued my NEXT DOOR neighbors, my community and my city. This week, the humiliating truth of how long it’s been since I actively shared the Truth that irrevocably changed my life hit me like a ton of bricks. What do I do?

Sitting in the midst of my week with these thoughts and these questions, I heard a gentle, disruptive whisper… You remember my servant Jonah? Ugh. Yes. I remember Jonah. Naturally, I decided not to read Jonah… until now.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

As the story goes, Jonah leaves everything behind and hitches a ride on a boat that is heading the extreme opposite way of Nineveh. There, on the boat, Jonah falls into a deep sleep while an outrageous, dangerous storm comes out of nowhere (I almost envision the storm directly targeting Jonah’s boat, emphasizing the fact that God is not happy with THAT boat and no other.) and causes a panic to ensue. Selfishly, Jonah sleeps soundly while everyone else desperately tries to save the boat from drowning– he is blind to his action’s effects on others. The crew shakes Jonah awake, Jonah finally realizes he’s the problem, Jonah does not repent, Jonah instructs the crew to throw him into the deep blue sea.

Jonah would rather die than obey God.

Thankfully, God did not desire Jonah’s death, he desired his obedience. So, He saved him in a very original way– He had a great big fish swallow a full-size man. (Duh.) Yet, in this strange and unusual situation, in the belly of a fish, Jonah had the most beautiful conversation with God… He said:

When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!

Jonah’s life was changed in the belly of a fish, and with his obedient heart, God could use him for his original purpose: Nineveh. With his change of heart, it still didn’t get any prettier… The fish regurgitated Jonah onto the beach and then God repeated his initial request (which Jonah, I’m sure, still wasn’t thrilled to hear): Go to Nineveh.

As Jonah made the journey and entered Nineveh, he decided his message would be one of insanity: “In forty days, y’all are going to be overthrown!” One of the most powerful, corrupt and massive cities was going to be overthrown? Isn’t that laughable? NOPE. People began to repent. Sinners who had lived heinous lives experienced salvation– they believed what God said. 

And who was the one left in disbelief? …Jonah.

He could not believe that such people could turn to God. That even the king of such people would turn to God. After undergoing such a radical transformation, from the belly of a beast nonetheless, he could not believe that God actually could change hearts.

_______________________________________

And I’m so sad to admit it, but I’ve been a Jonah, too. You know, the one who has doubted God can change that heart, that person, that law, that country, that systemic issue, that extreme injustice. I’ve doubted his power and adopted a defeated mentality. I’ve been a sorry excuse for a radically changed story, I’ve been a bad neighbor, I’ve been a person shy of sharing the Truth, and I’ve been a closed mouth when everything inside me said speak.

I’ve run away from my city. I’ve run away from the city God has called me to and missed out on my purpose to exclaim: forsake your regard to vain idols and find your hope in the steadfast love of Christ.  I’ve run, but Christ has caught me in his loving, experienced arms and nudged me back toward my city. He has reminded me that he already did everything necessary and that I am only in charge of exclaiming.

The Power Struggle

People were stepping on my toes. Um, hello, that’s MY toe. Why don’t you stand in your own space. 

If I saw my life as a room, I saw it as four walls composed of people quickly closing in on me. They were all against me. “This is my space, take your sweet self and walk that a’way,” I said to everyone who approached my heart. “You absolutely won’t have it.” I planted my feet, crossed my arms and stood alone. 

Trust. Something I’ve always struggled to surrender. Let me tell you something, that mentality sucks. Realizing this, I tried to patchwork my outward behavior– I attempted to save myself by keeping my feet solidly underneath myself; no toes to step on, now.

But, was it really people who were stepping on my toes? Or was it God who was stepping on my toes? 

Today, I was reading in the Word. My husband subtly (as subtle as the bold feature is) left it at the foot of the bed this morning before he left for work. You see, I have been doubting God’s way on a few issues. Like, what the heck, why do I have to be the one to do _____, ______, ______? Just fill it in with whatever mentally comes because I’m sure that’s something I had been questioning, too.

My world got darker and darker. Bitterness made my heart hard. Resentment was becoming the air I breathed. Darkness, bitterness, resentment– those are merely pitstops in my world. Territorial. Dominating. I was in spacial discord with God. He was actually the One stepping on my toes.

DO YOU GET THE UGLY PICTURE YET

It was the perfect storm when my ugliness intersected with the Holy Word of God for me to finally hear the truth: kratos “To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 4.11 “To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 5.11 What was I in a spacial fight with God over? (selfishness, really)

kratos: strength, power, might, dominion. Peter talks about holiness, grace, submission, hopefulness, suffering and marriage. HELLO, every question I’ve had and taken upon myself to answer…there you are I guess… there you are under the kratos of Christ. 

You see, what I demanded to have under my dominion turned right back around and ruined me. I cannot have these things on my own. The only way I can breach subjects like holiness, grace, submission, hopefulness, suffering and marriage with understanding is when I am inserted into the dominion of Christ, when I am bowing underneath HIS Lordship.

Strength looks pointless, power looks cumbersome, might looks strong-armed and dominion looks strange under ME. But, UNDER CHRIST, strength looks comforting, power looks relieving, might looks restful and dominion looks natural.

Father, I relent. You have proven to have the plan over my life, you have proven trustworthy and true. You are worthy of my full devotion and full submission. Give me the strength to submit to the hard things and rest in you regardless of the way you answer my questions. Refresh my heart with the beauty of your love so that I can be a vessel of that love to others and forgive me for the times my hardness of heart has not reflected the beautiful God that you are. 

An Injustice Complex: The Ramblings of a Young Married Woman

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It’s almost 10am on a Monday morning… the last thing I should be doing is typing on this blog, BUT my fingers have thrown caution to the wind and are typing regardless. These probably won’t be deep thoughts, because I’m quite tired and quite weary, but the Lord is doing such beautiful things I wanted to write regardless.

So, we’ve acknowledged this isn’t how I should be spending my time AND that whatever is produced won’t be very deep– here we go!

I get asked often and by all sorts of kind, caring or just inquisitive folk how the marriage is going. Because you can always count on me to answer truthfully, I’ll say the first month of marriage was difficult, really– it was. Adjusting to the whole “team” thing was tricky. Before, when I was moody and needed alone time, I’d grunt a hello to whomever I needed to and would jet off to my personal room where I could personally close my door. It doesn’t work that way any more. What’s mine is his and, now, everything is ours. Like the youngens we are, it was a bit of a struggle learning how to run our 600 sq. ft. household (and it continues to be, as we have a thermostat with a mind of it’s own and loose electricity so often I’ve quit resetting our oven clock!). How do adults even manage? (I find myself asking that quite often.) Of course, there were other interesting aspects to grow accustomed to about marriage, but I’ll save such a conversation as that for those who aren’t just innocently reading my blog.

The most rewarding aspect of our marriage? We love, love, love our home. Not only does it provide endless entertainment for a woman who adores redecorating, but it absolutely provides endless opportunities to meet people, reach people, learn people and love people.

I think that’s basically the point of my post today… hospitality. The next few thoughts will be rough: disclaimer. Really, it’s difficult to hold a passion so dearly and nix the  judgment that wells in your heart when others don’t share the sentiment (whatever that means). What I’ve realized is that when I get self-righteous over the lack of hospitality in the Christian community, I have made an idol over one of my passions. I have taken my god of hosting others, adopting them into our little itty bitty family and raised it higher than the God who has called me in obedience to serve.

That’s my problem. I get, what I call, “an injustice complex” (disproportionate concern or anxiety over something) where whenever things don’t happen the way I feel God has called it to happen, I either A) dwindled into a depressed attitude of pessimism or B) become infuriated and take up the responsibility I feel has been tossed to the wayside. Either way, scenario A and B dishonor God and stain my heart with the impure motives of my sinful nature.

I have no solution besides repentance for my impure heart & simultaneously, offer open, seeking hands to those who need it. {Proverbs 31:20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.} 

PRAISE the Lord we have been CALLED out of our former lives and into the light of HIS glorious life. Now, we are thickly laced with a heart to serve & welcome others who are still blinded to his amazing Grace into our homes while never ceasing to share our homes & hearts with the family of Christ.

Saltiness

You know that taste– we all do. The taste of something too sweet.

You can enjoy one bite, but having a second bite leaves you doomed for cavities. You can have one slice, but having two or three more slices leaves you defenseless to a stomach ache. You can indulge yourself, but often times you’re left with regret. 

That’s how I feel about sweetness. It’s not all that great.

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” Matthew 5:13