Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…

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my vanilla life

To be honest, my life has been pretty normal the last few months. Vanilla with a hint of French Vanilla swirled in. Tone on tone. Monochromatic. It’s been a nice break from the roller coaster of the months leading up to this point. Life has been fairly predictable and manageable. But if I’m really being honest, I don’t like it.

While I don’t enjoy the drama that accompanies a roller coaster type of life, I do enjoy the variety and challenges it presents. It was a couple weeks ago I asked God to show Himself to me in my normal, every day life. The days when things feel mundane – that I would see His fingerprints. The days when I’m bored – that I would sense His moving under the surface. The days when I don’t have plans – that He would orchestrate divine encounters with people. I began looking and expecting to see God.

So often I turn to God when I’m in a low place: when there’s a big decision to be made, someone is sick, I’m caught in a difficult moment or I’ve fallen short. Or I turn to God when things are going well, praying that I can stay on that mountain peak. But most of life is walked out in between those two extremes. Our life is a pendulum swinging from one side to the other. The majority of it spent in every day life in between.

I am tired of feeling like the in between days don’t count for much. This is the time when life gets lived out! These are the important days when character is molded. (The difficult moments at when it is tested.) So I’ve been asking God to show up in big ways in my regular days. I’m looking for His work in the mundane, in the chance encounters, in the small conversations. I’m purposing to take advantage of the opportunities that pop up each day to share His love. I’m actively looking for His fingerprints on the things around me.

Do you know what? He is showing up.

As I’ve opened my heart more to Him and genuinely sought to see Him around me, God’s been faithful to come through. I’ve been able to pray with groups, speak life over strangers, be an ambassador of hope to friends, spiritually guide my peers (even when I only realized it when I was told). God is using me.

I haven’t felt equipped for many of the situations He’s opened up, but I was open and willing to walk in faith with Him. I am walking into situations not necessarily feeling “called,” but knowing in the moment that He has orchestrated it and is equipping me at the very moment that He’s also calling me. It’s a powerful feeling!

I’m at a place I never imagined I would ever be. Fourteen years ago when I began following Jesus I had no idea where I would be or what that decision would mean. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The opportunities it’s given me are beyond my imagination. And it keeps getting better. Each day is something new. (Even the vanilla days.) I blink hard, amazed at the responsibility God has given me and how much He trusts me to be hope, grace and His hand extended to this generation. And all I can do is lean into Him, trust Him for the future and keep asking Him to swirl some chocolate into my vanilla life.


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when the grocery store trumps texting

When I was growing up I remember seeing people in the grocery store who would run into friends and stand in the produce aisle in a long drawn-out conversation. They would block the path and carry on like they were the only ones in the store. It was mildly annoying.

I’m officially one of those people. And I’m ok with it.

I love living in a town that is small enough that I often run into people that I know. (Granted, I prefer that I don’t run into them immediately after I’ve left the gym when my hair is a mess and my make-up is smeared. I digress.) I love the seemingly random meetings. I love the quick conversations about the weather or what is in each of our carts. I love the longer conversations about the important things in life: family, health, love, death, faith. I love that in those conversations a greater connection is formed. It creates something that extends beyond the cubical walls, the church doors or the espresso machines.

So much of our world is impersonal and spent behind a computer screen. True connections with others can be hard to form when our preferred communication method is email or Facebook. I’m just as guilty as the next person. It’s easier to send a text rather than make a call. But what do we lose in the process?

My grocery store run-ins fill a void that technology can’t. It’s a salve to a part of my heart that wants to read facial expressions, see a smile, hear a laugh, share a tearful moment. They are encounters I think about for several days because there was an exchange of care one for another. These run-ins are moments I cherish and enjoy every minute of…even as I block the aisle and am oblivious to the irritated shoppers around me.

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The Girl Scout song stuck in my head

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver, the other is gold.

A circle is round, It has no end.

That’s how long, I will be your friend.

Yes, that me and my Girl Scout friends. Don’t you love the ’80s hair and fashion?!

This Girl Scout song has been rolling around in my head for over a week now. It’s a song that so many of us sang when we were tween girls, but its lyrics are just as true so many years later. As we grow older we make new friends based on more than who is in our neighborhood, in our classroom, or in our Girl Scout troop. We make friends who have activities and interests in common with us – friends who will stand alongside us through big decisions and small choices. Our friends are silver and gold in our lives…precious commodities that we must to be diligent to care for.

With Facebook so prominent in our lives it’s interesting to see how some people abandon their childhood friends completely, while others never leave their side. Some of my high school friends’ best friends are still their best friends from high school, while some have completely abandoned their friends from childhood.

For most of us, it’s a balance.

There is something special about my friendships that have remained over the years and distances. It’s a bond that can only be recreated with time. I have a handful of friends that I’m still in touch with that I’ve known since I was in elementary school. I love these gals like there are my sisters. We see each other every 10 years or so (thank goodness for email, phones, text messaging and Facebook stalking!). But a special bond exist that allows us to pick up the conversation as if we’d seen each other the week before. It is comfortable and easy and familiar…like home. I wouldn’t trade these friendships for anything!

Then and now: (above) with Denise and (below) with Mel…ok, these are both old pictures, but we were too busy talking the last time we saw each other to snap a pict!

Then and now: (above) with Meghan and (below) Carrie. Forgive me for the horrible middle school picture, Carrie…we’ve come a long way!

There’s is something equally as special about my friendships that are newer. There is a freshness that makes it exciting – learning something new about the other person each time I spend time with them. We connect on a level of shared interest – faith, dance, food, exercise – and a deeper appreciation for life grows from there. I embrace these friends like a sunny day: happy they are in my life and looking forward to more!

Some of my closest friends from across the country.

I love the balance of my friendships. I delight in catching up with “old” friends and adore spending time with new friends. It truly is the best of both worlds: one group that knows my history and past…and the other that  knows my present and dreams for the future. For both, the relationship is a circle…it has no end. I wouldn’t want it any other way!

More friends and fun times!

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moving past status quo

I was doing a little lunchtime reading and prep today for the Young Professionals group I lead and couldn’t resist sharing a quote from the book we are reading with all of you. We are journeying through “Why Holiness Matter” by Tyler Braun…it’s an excellent book written by and for a fellow young professional. I love the conversation this book has spurred within the group and would be delighted for you to join the conversation!

In the final chapter of the book Braun challenges his readers about whether they would pursue holiness if they knew the full cost.

“The most difficult times in life should drive us toward relationship with Him, allowing His holiness to shape us. Too often we stop short of engaging in relationship with God forcing ourselves to stay in the status quo of life.”

Isn’t this so true?! It is so much easier to keep our fingers on the problem and try to do it all on our own strength, even when we say we are giving it over to God. It’s an interesting trick we play on ourselves – a lie we tell ourselves that we trust God to work but we never actually let go. We stop short of actually walking out our faith and engaging in relationship with the One who can change the status quo.

So today I ask you, where are you stopping short? How can you move past the wall and engage in relationship with God? Are you willing to sacrifice your control or is the cost too high? I’d love to hear your thoughts!