Thanks. Again.

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In one of those yuck moods that warrants a thankfulness post. See this if you don’t know what I mean.

I’m thankful for this blog.
I’m thankful that I’ve written in such a public forum and for the impact it’s had in my life and others’ lives over the past two years.
I’m thankful for Africa and how God got me there.
I’m thankful I have a record of some of the highlights of my trip.
I’m thankful for coming home. And the rough transition it was.
I’m thankful that I couldn’t immediately mesh into old ways, and I’m somehow thankful for the struggle I felt in 2012.
I’m thankful that God pushed me, seemingly against my will and sensibilities, into a psychology major.
I’m thankful that I somehow better understand people and each of our intricacies and similarities now.
I’m thankful that He never gave up on me.

Thankful that so many people have never given up on me.
Thankful to have the most incredible support system.
For parents who encourage the impossible and love the unforgivable.
For two churches who have changed my life.
Thankful for one that I ran as fast as I could from, the same one God has pursued me through over and over again.
Thankful for one that I ran quickly to, the one that I’ve pursued and quit time and time again.
Thankful for a new opportunity to learn and grow and pursue Him next year.

I’m thankful for friendships.
With people like a guy friend who teared up (in the most manly way) because our friendship has meant something good in his life.
And girl friends with bright futures, ones that have held me in hard times, sisters (metaphorically and literally) that have my heart pulled across state lines and sometimes time zones.
I’m thankful for new relationships and breakups. Because they both teach us something crazy about ourselves. Thankful for reconciliation and friendships. Thankful that it all really does work out in the end.
Thankful for awkward silences and silly faces. For being the big sister that I’ve always wanted to be and that hopefully she needs.
Thankful for my family of constant cheerleaders. The ones that think I’m fantastic even when my life feels like it’s falling apart. Thankful for the ones that will love me no matter what. Even more thankful because I know now not everyone has that in their lives.

I’m thankful.

Thankful for you. For whoever you’ve been. For whoever you’ll one day be.

Because I’ve chosen Jesus and He’s what I get.

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It’s not even 9p.m. and already my head has found its not-so-familiar-lately place among feathers and dreams on the bed I’ve spent the past two weeks paying the minimum toll to. And my friends have begun again with the jokes about me always wanting sleep. And I feel not-so-much like myself and more like the girl I was back then.

Back when my world was out of order and Jesus was just another thing I scheduled in, like lunch dates on a busy Tuesday when I really didn’t have time for the surface conversation I knew was coming because my tongue wouldn’t let me go where my heart so desperately ached to be.

Back when stress was a constant because my joy was found in the things I did, the activities I loved (and often hated). Back before I ripped my heart in two, away from the good things I had with the small inclination somewhere deep inside that the life I was meant for wasn’t just “good“, hoping upon hope that the Lord would come through, not fully believing that He would. (And in case you’re new here, let me just tell you quick. God has come through. Big Time.)

Today is different. And I’m tired because for two weeks I’ve allowed myself to be pushed back into the busyness. A busyness that isn’t bad, but isn’t me… at least right now. And I reflect and see that the Lord is not only good, but He is faithful and just and merciful and so much more than I deserve. And I thank Him for reminding me of who I want to be today. Reminding me that tomorrow He might have other plans, but right now it’s learning to be still. To sit before Him and simply be.

And I’m so thankful for conversations with the woman who has given me life, and not just on that September afternoon 20 years ago, but again and again as I’ve cried my eyes out to her and she’s held me, sometimes only metaphorically as the distance has made it physically impossible, as my heart has felt broken over and over again.

I’m thankful for the percieved breaks because I’m realizing they aren’t breaks after all. That the tears in the muscle that provides life to my body have only lead one by one closer and closer to Jesus. That the line they know I hate so much and yet continue to say “Your eyes look beautiful when you cry” actually has some validity behind it. And maybe it’s metaphorical. Because I learned in Africa to look for spiritual lessons in every situation, even if it’s peeling potatoes.

He’s reminding me each day that He’s the only one that completely understands all of me. And there’s going to be criticism sometimes, because those people don’t see the big picture. And some days the criticism is the type that you take into your heart and allow to begin a direction change, and other days the words are ones that the Evil One knew were exactly what you didn’t need that hour, that day, or that week. And so it’s exactly what he gives.

And the incredible thing is we serve a God that is there in those moments. He takes every situation in which Satan seems to mess everything up, every situation in which the words of the boyfriend ring out true. “Well, do you believe that Satan attacks harder those who are growing closer to God?” A simple question he asked just when I needed it, as if God Himself was speaking through those lips because He knew that, at that moment, those were the ones my ears were most receptive to. And maybe God allows this to happen to give us a reminder of who He is. That He’s still so much better than anything we can have here in this world. And we need to do nothing more than be still and know that He is God.

That God really does have a purpose and a plan. And no matter if I’m dreaming of the future, He is faithful now. And He’s faithful to provide. To remind me in situations where my eyes have the chance of moving away from Him that He is the only thing keeping me going. And I’ve unplugged my IV drip to the world, and I just can’t take it back. Because I’ve chosen Jesus and He’s what I get. Thank the Lord for that.

For the days when I want it to be all about me.

I used to be afraid of pain.

Afraid of getting hurt, afraid of feeling anything but happiness.

I used to think my life could only be measured by the good that went on.

By the blessings, obvious ones, that God put directly in my path.

But I’m finding more joy in pain, or maybe it’s in seeking God through hurt or turmoil.

But no matter what kind it is, I’m beginning to realize that hurt on this ball that we live on just points us more clearly to the one who loves us.

That I’ll never understand the world, and there will always be things that others say God has called them to that I disagree with. But the thing about that is I don’t understand God. And I can’t, at least this side of heaven anyway. I can’t understand why He does things I don’t agree with. But that’s not going to stop Him.

And I’m going to keep fighting for the justice that He has placed on my heart. That heart inside of me, or the soul, wherever that part of me exists, because although I can’t see it, I know for sure it is there. And not understanding is reason number 324 that I’ve come up with just today on why trusting in God is so much better than trusting in man. Because man will fail a thousand times a day, but we were made in the image of one who doesn’t know what it’s like to fail.

I’m beginning to accept that there aren’t neccesarily good and bad people. No, we’re all messed up because of sin. And it’s not my place to determine who is speaking to God and who is using Him for their own purposes.

Because they’re probably thinking the same thing about me. The girl who went to Uganda because she was sick of college. The girl who ran off to play with little black babies because she couldn’t handle the world rushing around her. The girl who “God told” to end many commitments and to be still in a place where stillness is equated with laziness. And then she went to Africa. Like that’s not the most cliche “Christiany” place in the world. Saving baby orphans in a mud hut somewhere. The girl who would do anything to be back there today.

And I relate more to the orphan in the mud hut than the girl with the _T sweats on walking across the quad. And I gossip less about who is dating who and more about who just “doesn’t get it”. “Get” that there is more to life than this green and brick patch of earth in the middle of Mississippi somewhere. And I get angry at people around me adopting from Uganda because don’t they know that’s illegal? And I’m annoyed with the American church because I feel like I’m walking into a rock concert when all I want is to fall at the feet of my Savior and worship Him in silence.

Because this world is too loud and too busy, and there are days when I’m overwhelmed and in need of a hug from a slobbery baby or to feel like I’m doing something to serve Him. Something. Anything. And I beg and plead for God to please send me somewhere where I could live this kind of lifestyle. And He tells me that’s exactly what He’s done.

That the girl walking across the quad needs Him as much as Jane or Gideon or Prossy does. That He overcomes legality to bring justice sometimes. That the hug might come from a best friend instead of a baby. That worship isn’t about the building and the band and the lights or the tarp and the sticks and the clapping, but it’s about Jesus. And He’s teaching me to follow Him, not the crowd. To hear His whispers. To love His people.

Come along with me and begin to see the endless possibilities on the horizon.

–Hallie