Saturday, December 27, 2008

Resolve [revisited]

Every once in a while, I take a turn through my old blog entries. I find it fascinating to see what was rolling around inside my head back then. Tonight I looked back and found an entry from one year ago. I believe I was sitting right where I am now (on my bed at my parents' house, far away from the lands of Oklahoma). I had compiled a list of New Year's resolutions. Here is what they were, and how I feel I did with each of them:

As ever, draw closer to God. (Successful. Except I have realized that He draws closer to me far more often than I do to Him, for which I am incredibly grateful. He is so very faithful.)

Be more intentional with others. (Successful. I moved in with three other girls for this very purpose, and found myself pulled into a beautiful community of Christians. Honestly, though, I still fight to let myself know and be known. Don't we all?)

Read (and actually finish) a decent number of books. (I finished one. It was worth it. My list last year was a bit lofty.)

Try to write a novel. (I wrote my heart out, but not for a novel. I have a lot of life to live before I think I can offer something novel-worthy.)

Hone my photography skills. (Successful. I made some investments into equipment and took opportunities to get experience. I am loving every minute of it.)

Journal more often. (This one was up and down. Lately...not so much journaling.)

Get some art on my walls.
(Successful. I started painting a lot more and nearly all the art in my room at our house is my own.)

Play more shows. (Not so successful. I played one. But, on the other hand, I started leading worship for sets at every Burn that I could. It's a make you/break you sort of experience to play the 2 a.m. set and to realize what it means to have an audience of One. Needless to say, it changed me deeply.)

//

Now for (a few of) the 2009 resolutions, for those of you who care to know.

Go to Africa. I have plans that include Uganda and Kenya. More on this later.

Tell the stories of others more often. One of the reasons I have been relatively silent in the "blogosphere" lately is because I've gotten tired of hearing my own voice. After taking a few steps back to examine the creative aspects of my life as a whole (writing, music, photography, art), I realized that I need/want to spend more time pouring myself into art that tells the story of others. Again, more on this later.

Learn to tell my story better. I know this may sound like it conflicts with the last resolution I listed, but in truth, they are inseparable. As I learn more about the stories of others (and most importantly, how they weave into God and His Kingdom), I will hopefully learn to tell my own story in a way that is humble and effective. I realize this all may sound a bit transcendent. That's probably because it is.

Stop trying to keep my best foot forward. It is not worth the time and effort to try to maintain a perfectly agreeable image with others. Real community and relationship are forged in the fires of the nitty gritty.

//

There are, of course, the more cliché and nonetheless important items on my list. But enough of that.

What are some of your New Year's resolutions for 2009?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Art of Broom Pushing

It was the part of the morning where the sun started its climb higher into the sky. Its slanted rays burst through the windows, cutting a path through the haze and dust of the gym where I stood. The grogginess of my altercation with my alarm clock that morning lingered still. With dust mop in hand, I began my usual routine.

Push. Pace. Pray. Repeat.

It was my favorite part of the day. Solitude and a simple, humble task at hand. Time to think and pray and come fully awake before the rest of our daily tasks of housekeeping at the camp would commence. Even though my days of scrubbing toilets for Jesus are about a year-and-a-half removed now, I cherish that season of life. At times, I even long to go back to making minimum wage and spending my afternoons off traipsing along the shores of Lake Michigan with friends. There was something sacred about that time.

Nearly every summer for five years, I found myself at that camp. Pushing a broom. Scrubbing a toilet. Getting new towels for mothers with impressively messy children. Many times, it was a place of healing. Something about working through the mundane, and often disgusting, tasks of housekeeping gave opportunity for God to teach me a thing or two about service, humility and obedience.

Many-an evening were spent sitting on the beach, listening to the waves and watching the sun paint the horizon as it set. We would take late night walks, listening to the wind rustle through the dune grass and watching the moon dance on the water. I could reminisce for hours about the memories made in that place. And as insignificant as a job like housekeeping may seem on a resume...to me, it was deeply impacting. It is integral to my story.

Push. Pace. Pray. Repeat.

Sometimes God puts us in a place where we are over-qualified for our position, just to teach us to slow down and to embrace the season. He sets us in the midst of a situation where what is expected of us is far less than what we are capable of doing. Sometimes, He calls us to push a broom before we take that dream job or go overseas to be a missionary or start that project that has been burning in our hearts for years. Sometimes He even takes us out of our present accomplishments and reduces us to that place of simplicity, just so we can get past ourselves and back to Him again. Just so we can hear Him speak.

Push. Pace. Pray. Repeat.

Against the backdrop of many irons in the fire and more than one dream coming true in my life, I long for that place of simplicity again. A season where things are stripped down and relatively uncomplicated. In the same breath, I realize that we are prone to spend too much of our lives wishing for something more. Something less. Something different. So instead, I choose to be all here. All now. Entirely present.

Being content regardless of circumstance is much more than just a lesson learned. It is an attitude of heart adopted. A lifelong pursuit of something far greater than our own gain. Infinitely beyond our grasp. It is giving our lives away for an end entirely impossible to reach by human hands. An end that can only be accomplished through God’s plan, orchestration, wisdom and grace. And, when the time comes, the willingness to let it all go and begin once again.

Push. Pace. Pray. Repeat.