To the lover of the third world.

delight yourself Hey girl,

You, yes you. You, who has spent more than your fair share of time this week staring at pictures of sweet brown kids who lie on ratty beds halfway around the world. You, whose bank account is dwindling because there’s always another t-shirt to buy for someone else to get on a plane or another organization to support. You, who’ve felt the hot tears burn your cheeks as you make deals with God to allow you to be a part of what He’s doing because He certainly needs you more there than here. You, who begs God every night and tries to convince everyone else around during the day.

You. I know you all too well. I know that your school work has become disinteresting and you feel guilty every time you write a check for another formal or t-shirt or dinner out with friends—because, “shouldn’t that money go to someone who needs it more than you?” I know what it feels like when all of your most viewed sites are splattered with pictures of dark babies wearing worn tattered clothing and how much you would give to just be the one that God allows to fix it all. Just to be a part of the solution, you realize, is your call. But you feel stuck where you are and all you can do is blow up Instagram and Facebook every Thursday with #tbt to the faces and places in which you tangibly saw your part in the kingdom.

I know what it feels like to be you. I know how hard it is. When you feel stuck where you are because college is the next step after high school and you’re afraid that a job and husband and babies and a white picket fence will be the next step after college and somewhere in the midst of it all your dreams will fade. (Disclaimer: Husband and babies and America and white picket fences are not bad. They are wonderful and good. But it doesn’t feel like that sometimes. It doesn’t feel like that could be the good plan.)

I know what it’s like to be there. I know what it’s like to feel and then to not feel anything at all some days. I know what it’s like to repress the desire to jump on that plane because you’ve pounded on every door you could, brought a battering ram to some, and yet they stayed as firmly shut as if you were a tiny wind.

I know what it feels like to think that you heard it wrong. To question because you were quite sure He said “go!” but you’ve tried everything and you’re only hearing all the no’s. I know what it’s like to question it all. To doubt everything. Because He doesn’t show up like you think He’s supposed to. Because it was all so clear for a day or week or month and then, all of a sudden, the faucet is turned off and you hear nothing. And you start to wonder if you’re going to end up like the shriveled up plants you gave up watering when your life became so focused on everywhere but here.
You. I know it’s hard. Almost impossible some days.
But I want to let you know, He’s there.

And I wish, years ago, when I was you, someone would have told me these things. Although I’m sure they did but it’s hard to pay attention when there are literally children around the world dying from starvation tonight and you’re hearing God really speak for the first time.

I want to tell you that He loves you. Not that He needs you or wants you or anything else. He could take care of all of the junk. And HE WILL. But I want you to know that you’re loved. More than anything in the world. Sit and let that soak in. Before you pull out your pictures or find yourself on your knees asking when. He’s on your team. I promise you.

And maybe He has a different plan than the one you’ve been asking. Maybe the best answers are the ones that you don’t see coming. Today, know that you are loved and know that it is enough. Then, know that His promises are true. That you’ve got a hope and a future and it’s bright, baby girl.

It’s so bright. But the struggles are real and the struggles are true. And you need the struggles. Every single one. Like Moses and Abraham and Esther and Sara and Ruth. Like Corrie Ten Boom and Katie Davis and Mother Theresa. The struggles are what make the good times so sweet. They are the places where God makes you who He needs you to be. So just wait. And breathe. And enjoy the walk when it’s a walk and run fast when it seems that you’re supposed to jog. But always remember that you’re loved. Always remember that He’s enough no matter where you are. No matter how little you seem to be doing. In the waiting, He is there.

My advice for you is this. Lean in. To where you are now. To who you are becoming. Lean in. To friendships and coffee dates. To that boy you may be avoiding because he would mess up all the plans. Lean in. Because you don’t have the map and you don’t know who He wants you to be. Lean in because holding on may mean giving up a bigger plan than you’ve ever imagined. Let go. Of all the ways you’re manipulating. Of the late night brainstorming of how you can make your plans work out. Start praying. That your heart would become more like His. Start evaluating your motives and ideas. Give yourself grace. Get to know your family. Learn to ask hard questions. Learn to ask any question at all. And to ask them often. Of your family, your friends, the world. Of yourself. Learn to not be right. Learn to question everything. He’ll catch you, I promise, and you’ll be more who He needs you to be at the end of it. Lean in and let go. He’s never failed before and He won’t start now.

–Hallie

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Life: Backwards and Forwards.

life-can-only-be-understood-backwards-but-must-be-lived-forward

How ever true and deep does that quote feel in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Sandy Hook tragedy and the Aurora Colorado shooting and… and… and…

It feels like I’m living on edge lately. Knowing the next tragedy is right around the corner. Feeling like it’s personal tragedy that’s coming. Wondering Worrying about the future. Knowing our country can’t handle the state it’s in for too much longer.

We’re too broken, too crushed, too divided, too sad.
We’ve raised a generation of people unable to deal with the world around them. Individuals that resort to violence because they see no other way of getting their demons out.
And this is absolutely no excuse for the horrible tragedies that were caused by people and have rocked our country again and again. Absolutely not a suggestion that the pain that has been caused by these people is not real and alive and burning like a bonfire on a cold night.

But it makes you wonder, you know, when three national tragedies have occurred since last July when I sat in the breakfast room of a Georgia hotel at the end of a long week of praising Jesus with High Schoolers and heard on the news the sheer terror in a movie theater thousands of miles away. It makes you wonder where we’ve gone wrong. Makes you wonder where we’re headed.

And I refuse to be an apologist, with words that stick like a bandaid when your wound is full of gangrene and what you really need is an amputation.
What you really need is to be cared for. To be loved.
And all the words in the world and the conspiracy theories and “positive thoughts” don’t mean much to the mom who lost her son just minutes after he hugged his father on his best-day-gone-so-very-wrong.
And it doesn’t matter so much who did it if we can’t stop it from happening again.
Because the pain will keep on coming if we’ve lost the strength to defeat evil.

And a day, for sure, is coming that Jesus will destroy the evil in the world, once and for all.
A day is coming where loneliness and hatred and fear and just straight Satan will no longer cause the devastation that flashes across Twitter and burns straight into our hearts.
A day is coming where we will no longer be afraid.
Where the only thing to fear will be not knowing Jesus.
And I assure you that will be something to fear.

But what about today?
The day after. The day before.
When America is again in shock, wondering how this could happen in the home of the Brave.
Wondering what it will take to get back to normal.
What it will take to feel secure again.
Because the list of places we can feel safe is getting smaller and smaller.
And kids sit with anxiety in classrooms where their attention is less on the subject and more on the possibilities.
And I don’t go to the movies as much anymore because I know I’ll continuously glance at the door below that glowing Exit sign, trying to convince myself that I’m in Clinton, Mississippi and things like that just don’t happen here.
But noone ever thinks it’ll happen to them.
Rare is the day that any regular person wakes up and thinks, “Today, I will make national headlines,” or “Today is the one that will change my history.”

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

And today that means I’m praying for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Today, it means I’m hugging my dad a little tighter and planning more time at home.
Today, it means I’m soaking up memories with my best friends who will soon be dispersed across the south.
Today, it means I’m reflecting and loving and understanding.
I’m praising Jesus for the now because I can’t control my tomorrow.
It means I’ll be scared but not defeated.
Anxious but overcoming.
Holding onto the one who holds it all.

–Hallie

2012.

2012.
You have been a year. You have been a weird year.


You have entwined into my being a true understanding that if it’s not eternal, it’s not of much worth.
You have taught me the power of patience.
You have taught me to live and love life in situations that I don’t love.
You have taught me to be wrong, oh so wrong, and to admit it graciously and repetitively.
You have taught me to speak. Boldly.
You have taught me fearlessness in the midst of great fear.
You have taught me to get out of situations that aren’t right. To chase ones that are. To let go. To let God.
You have once again reminded me how powerful He is.
You have changed me in ways I didn’t want to be changed.
You have grown me beyond where I wanted to grow.
Made me accept and forgive beyond what I was willing.
You have shown me joy. Of children and adults.
You have shown me love. Beyond my wildest dreams.
You have loved me well. In conversations and in actions.
You have taught me to sit back. To let go. To give up.
You have reminded me of Mary. So many times.
Giving up all the craziness of life to do what was “better”. Even when that made no sense to anyone but me.

You have taught me how to fail.
I have lost a school-wide election, ended a relationship, and have no real plans after May.
You taught me to lose. That it isn’t about being the best. That it’s more about love than I’d like to imagine.
Plans are made perfect in the last moment so we can learn to depend on God in each one.
You have taught me that being like Christ is always better than being right.
You have taught me to cling to Jesus. With everything I am.
You have surprised me over and over again and reminded me just how much more I still have to learn.

You have been a year.
A year of growth and dealing with the pains of not yet being “there”, but being good with whatever “there” is today.
Thanks 2012. I owe you.

–Hallie

Messy.

source

A few months ago, there was a day that I was feeling particularly close with God.
I’d just spent a few weeks at Christian camps with middle and high schoolers, and I was on top of the world.
I had the freedom of the summer and the joy of Jesus, and out of that came a bunch of words spilled all over this little piece of my heart on the world wide web.
(That’s how it normally happens, in case you’re wondering, absolutely nothing for a month, and then my fingers can’t help but type. I’m forever chasing inspiration. It’s like a cat, coming and going as it pleases. No care for schedules or emotions. Persistent at all the wrong moments. But enough about my writing process {and my feelings towards cats}.)
I pressed publish and tweeted a link, hoping probably more for a little praise or acknowledgement, a reference to the pride I so often struggle to keep at bay, than to really help someone like I say this place is supposed to do, to really bring glory to the God I say I write for, the one I claim to love so dearly.
I went on with my day, and a few hours later heard my phone ring, alerting me to a text message from an old friend, one who I don’t talk to often, but when his name pops into my inbox, I’m always certain there’ll be a good conversation to follow.
It was a sweet little text, one basically summed up by “I read the blog, and you seem to have it all together.” Kind of a “I want what you have” message. But not in the jealous sense of the words. In the Jesus sense of the words. We talked for a while about life and direction, what it meant to be a Christian, and what we would have to give up or change to get there.
It was a good conversation. One that I cherished not for what I gave but who I saw this person becoming.
It’s fun sometimes to see God work at a distance. It’s fun sometimes to be complimented for how God has worked in your life, acknowledging that it’s nothing you could control. It’s fun to try in all the ways you know how to make sure the glory goes to Him, but also it’s nice to know that someone else thinks you’re on the right track because there’s a moment almost everyday that I wonder.

Well, fast forward almost three months to today. And it’s been a couple hard weeks.
The kind that when you stop at the end of each week, you look to the next week and just know it will get better. Because another thing falling apart just seems ridiculous and mean.
And then you get to next week and a part of life that was going just fine a few days before crumbles in your hand. The part that you held onto, knowing you could fall back on it if the rest of the world fell apart, that part fades away too.
And you’re left with Jesus. And you realize He’s enough.

It’s been that kind of month. Which is good and beautiful because Jesus really is enough.
And there’s incredible peace in that.
But there’s also a lot of mess all around, needing to be picked up, dealt with, or thrown away.
And today I had lunch with a girl friend to deal with the pieces, decide what to salvage and decide what to dump.
And in planning for this lunch, praying about how to deal with the situation, I started planning my words carefully, picking pieces of the story to tell, only the ones relevant to this particular situation, leaving out the parts that might give her a little too much insight into life lately. For the sake of those involved, but also for my sake.
Because if I gave too much, she could think I was weak or less than or, my biggest fear, wrong. And I’ve been struggling against those thoughts. And as we talked, I gave a little more than I planned to.
Told a little bit outside of our immediate situation because I realized without it, the situation didn’t make sense and the context was necessary.
And I shared more of my heart than I planned. More of the hurt than I wanted to give. Was a little more vulnerable than my strong outer layer would let me be.
And out of that, she said these words, “Hallie, sometimes it’s okay to be defeated.” And words that I almost just brushed off, I let sink in. Because they were exactly what I was longing to hear.
That sometimes it’s okay to be defeated. Sometimes it’s okay not to have a clue what’s going on. Sometimes it’s okay to cry. Sometimes it’s okay to be frustrated. Sometimes it’s okay to feel pain. To really feel it. Not to make a good story out of it, yet. Or to point to how Jesus is redeeming it. But to just acknowledge that life is hard. That it is messy. And that sometimes, you wish it wasn’t. And not to complain or whine or be pitied. But to be real. To break out of the “good life” box and to embrace the bittersweet.

And as I sat at that table and poured out my little heart, my old friend walked by. The friend I don’t see often. The one with the text message.
We smiled, waved, and went on with our days, but, just for a moment, my mind wandered.
And I couldn’t help but want to share my life with this friend right now. Couldn’t help but want to show them that I don’t have it all together.
That life is complex and there are days when I really do have my cute face on and life somehow is working out in my favor. There are good days.
But just as often, I find myself at the bottom of a pit that I’ve run into, scurrying from one thing to another until messy is the only word that accurately describes my situations.
And on those days I am just a funny look away from falling at the face of my savior, crying out to the one who holds me no matter what. The one who takes my messy little life and redeems it. But the one who also just sits with me in the mess of it all, looks around and accepts me, laughing or crying.