No Control

The god of Control tricks its way into our lives with things we believe to be true.

But they’re not.

They’re lies.

And I’m so done believing in them.

So many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus keeps telling his followers things that make no sense to them. He speaks with authority and control. His power is something that leaves people speechless and changed. I was reading today of the cost of following Jesus in Matthew 8. It’s so ironic that I stumbled on this passage because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately.

You see, I’m a twenty something girl who’s struggled most of her adult life without a boyfriend.

To so many, they would say this wouldn’t matter to them. For a while I truthfully believed it didn’t. It didn’t matter to me that all I focused on all day was schoolwork and getting A’s in every class. I didn’t need or want a man. I knew I didn’t need a boy to tell me I was pretty. And I so wanted high scores.


And I got them. Deep inside, part of me thought I had controlled my value. I was the A student. I got perfect grades. Why wasn’t this making me happier? I wondered so many times as I studied and aced another test.

What did it all matter if I didn’t have anyone?

You might also think that if you’ve never been in an actual bf-gf relationship, like most of the world has been, then your heart has never been broken. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

The truth is that I ended up being the girl who locks herself in a bathroom stall and cries about not having anyone. I remember moments when the pain cut into my heart and reality mocked me, the reality crushing in when I found myself alone on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the semester, watching and listening to stories of the perfect guy, the perfect date, and the perfect relationship.

Then the scene switched to the end of my senior year, when several friends became engaged to be married. And then after graduating, the volume of marriages and happily ever afters increased. Along with the brokenness of feeling valueless and worthless and to be completely truthful I felt unloved and not beautiful enough to ever be the girl a great guy would choose to marry.

To understand it, you’d have to walk in my Nikes. And feel the sting of rejection and loneliness. You’d have to grasp what I believed as I scrolled through social media and the gap between what I thought I needed in all of my friends’ fairytale romances and what I saw in my own life that just couldn’t be breached.

Most of us single girls on a good day are happy enough.

 We’re happy that we’re loved and valued and remind ourselves (if we love Jesus) that Jesus loves us and died for us. He gives us value and worth that nothing in this world could ever measure up to. But if you look closer, there’s a brokenness that we, or at least I, veil behind a mask of self-sufficiency. Especially being single and twenty something and you happen to still glance at your facebook feed as it blows up with diamond rings, fairytale weddings, and happily ever after families peering out from you in perfect snapshots.

And you catch your breath when you realize that those were your dreams once as a ten year old playing with your little cousins. You hoped that someday that would be you with all of that joy. And somehow you have arrived at life without it.

Which was part of what I thought I’d find when I moved to DC. I thought I’d find security and value in a job and a career. I thought, as I interned on the Hill, that I’d someday find a great job that would provide value and meaning and purpose to my life. I thought that through the friends and career that I worked tirelessly to pursue, I would accomplish all that I wanted and a man didn’t need to be in the picture.

I would be completely satisfied and content with taking the reins.

If you know me, you know that’s not where I’m at. God’s ways are higher than mine. I used to view valleys and deserts as empty, atrocious places where nothing fun happened. But then He came and wrecked my life with these things that have happened this past year.

I don’t know all His reasons, but my soul knows this: He is the only One who satisfies. I’ve ached and searched and tried to control how I can get value and attention from my job and comfort and worth from trying to figure out my life my way.

None of those things satisfied me except Jesus.

Which brings me to Matthew 8. In this chapter, a teacher of the law approached Jesus, telling him he would follow Jesus wherever he went. In response, Jesus tells him that “the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” And then one of his disciples mention about burying the dead, to which Jesus replies “follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

As I read this, I realized how much I want to control my relationship with Jesus. Even back then, the disciples and teachers of the law had their own perception of following Christ. They imagined that they could follow Him their own way, and He would give them everything they wanted in their timing, and their happiness would result in all that God was giving them in their way and in their timing. And that it wouldn’t cost them comfort. That it wouldn’t cost them everything. Especially their control.

You see, in these few verses Jesus was teaching what He’d been teaching the whole time He walked the earth. He was telling people that we can’t come to God on our own terms and expect God to show up in a mighty way. We can’t come to Him with half-hearted desires for Him. We can’t come to Him expecting comfort in this life or to expect Him to sympathize with how much we want to just stay comfortable instead of stepping out in obedience to Him.

The past few years, I’ve tried to control everything in my life – career, job – and even my relationship with Jesus. But there’s no such thing as both of us controlling how I follow Him.  There’s also no such thing as both of us controlling my career, my job, or any part of my life.

So even in this season of singleness and heartache, I’m reminded of the God who is in control. Whose authority is worth relying on and whose power is enough to turn even the most hopeless seasons into hopeful ones. We can trust Him in the valley seasons because it’s at the end of ourselves that He says – nope, you can’t control this, but I can.

And HE will.

 

 

 

Chinese Lanterns, Sharks and Quirks

If anyone needed to learn step by step how to kill a conversation, look no further than yours truly as a professional. Last night, I went to a White Party or a Midsummer’s Night Dream Party. I’m not sure what was supposed to be dreamier, the boys, the twinkle lights, the Chinese lanterns strewn about the backyard or the drinks, but I never quite figured it out. Even though I bought a fabulous H&M dress, the fit and flare type, I still felt like all the awkward vibes in the world crammed into this swanky Arlington bachelor pad. After a few minutes of striking up short lived conversations where I related my experiences of random jobs and tried to ask questions which quickly sizzled and fizzed out like my Coke, I joined a group of girls on the back porch and admired the gazebo and such, we noticed a wooden shark pinned against the fence, facing the party-goers. As our host waltzed over, he wove his story of how he was cleaning up his backyard when he found it amidst the shrubbery, so he decided to display it for us. Let me tell you, it definitely helped with the awkward for a few minutes. THEN, i got to have some real fun. People started asking me about my career. Which is nothing short of a roller-coaster, and is nothing if not unconventional, chaotic, busy and overwhelming if you think about it too much. I related how doors have been slammed in my face, I confronted crazy dogs, my car breaking down and people bemoaning their broken storm drains and trees crashing into their neighbors’ homes all in the name of local county government. Oh my goodness. Then, after my tirade, of course the guy I talked with had some white collar government contracting IT type job. Of course, right? The biggest thing I learned from last night was that although I have a crazy life at the moment, the humility lessons I have learned have been priceless and I have learned to laugh at myself way more than I ever did growing up. I’ve also learned confidence and refusing to give in to comparison despite setbacks that are no less intimidating than driving into a brick wall.

Regardless, I’m so thankful for life’s quirks. Do you have any quirks you want to share (you or a friend)? Share in the comments!

Nothing Like Weddings

The rain splattering across my windshield, zipping around the city in my Toyota I merge across busy streets and manage (whew!) to not get side-swiped by cars as I merge onto another road packed with more cars practicing their own maneuvering stunts, even before 9am! City drivers turn four short miles into a chaotic trip across town. You just never know who might blare their horn on you as you ease out into the left lane to turn, or when you wait 15 minutes to go 15 feet during rush hour.

Regardless, I’ve survived this city life so far. And I have to say, its been such an exhilarating season. However, the wedding I’m in coming up in August looms in my thoughts. I purse my lips and hold my breath as I imagine the straps of the bridesmaid dress choking my throat in my waltz down the aisle. But more important, I’ve been thinking of the pettiness of weddings. Don’t get me wrong, wedding season is the most fabulous time. Nothing can measure up to the thrill of seeing your best friend in her wedding gown to be, twirling in front of the mirror, her eyes dazzle and plead with you in the mirror. Is this the one? What will he think? These moments suspend in time.

Nothing can match the cartwheels in your stomach as you fumble with the buttons on her dress, as you giggle with the other bridesmaids, the tension builds as you weave down the aisle and grip the bouquet, holding your breath as they exchange vows. The joy is palpable and love is the backdrop to a new life. And you realize that her life is changing and you are changing too. Change can be so painful, but in that moment all of those late night DIY projects, rude remarks from the bride about your real life schedule conflicts, and stifling the screams building up after each time the bride unloads her drama filled life with you: Bridesmaid #3 went on a weekend vacation when I had a wedding thing planned that weekend. What is this? Is she that selfish? Does she think I labored over cleaning up her wedding venue for nothing? Anyways, my hopes are up that this wedding season will be a learning season (what wedding doesn’t teach you something new about yourself – I can’t believe I have that kind of stamina to stay up past midnight and paint crates, my toenails and paste flowers to center piece vases!), and a fabulous one too.

From One Girl to Another

Its funny how when you have a lot of time on your hands you tend to think about your life. Compare and contrast goes on a ton and while I try to make light of it, I can’t argue away a dozen bug bites, doors slammed (literally) in my face and gripping my car wheel as I try to “drive” it in neutral so my boss can jump my car. To be honest I never realized that living on my own would be so challenging. From paying rent and gas, stressing over money and my Mac that crashes every other minute, to freaking out and making last minute swerves on the highway, I am definitely learning a lot. But the biggest lesson has been that these trials  God has allowed in my life make me desperate for Him. As I sit for countless hours in front of a computer screen, applying to jobs that I don’t hear back from, as I network and knock doors for this campaign, I find how little strength I have on my own. God gives me strength for every step. Each hour he gives me life is my opportunity to be his girl and live a life for Him. And when I mess up He is still there drawing me back to Him. What I find most baffling is His mercy and grace towards me even after my rudeness, even when I get too distracted and too caught up in this world. This season hasn’t been perfect but I’m so thankful it hasn’t been. I’m so thankful for the awkward small talk and for finding who my friends truly are when I’m not successful or popular. It’s a humbling experience but maybe that is exactly where God wants me, where He wants his kids. It’s so tough and such a long journey but tonight I know I am in the arms of the One who knows me and loves me and has died for me so I can live with Him forever. I hope you think a little of Him tonight and when you do, be overwhelmed that His mercy and grace have led you to a hard time of your life. Maybe it’s not supposed to be a place where you mope and eat Ben and Jerrys. Maybe it’s a place of growing- a humbling place of learning and drawing closer to the one who loves us all and calls us by name.

Wedding/Life Balance

IMG_2304 Last month, I snapped a picture of my close friend’s bridal shower room, pre-shower. The day consisted of awkward small talk, delicious brunch fare: quiche, blueberry muffins, french toast casserole, fruit, and bagels, and the ever present behind the scenes drama (let’s be honest – it’s not a REAL bridal shower without this.) Despite this, as every bridesmaid (or most every bridesmaid) can attest, the happiness of the bride at the end of the day was worth the sweating over the stove for hours in the early morning, Target runs for mini muffin tins and a scramble in Victorias Secret to find a fabulous gift.

A month out, I am still dashing glances at my refrigerator at the wedding invite, grimacing at the awkward small talk that will most definitely take place and cringing when the ill fated questions pop up into conversation. The positive part about not having a full time job/ full time boyfriend out of college is you become creative in phrasing what you’re doing with yourself. I’ve made job searching sound like a full time career (which it is), I’ve stressed over the crazy mess of dates I’ve turned down and then belted “The More Boys I Meet” as I cruised down the interstate with my sister and friend. This is truly a season like none other.

On the drama side of things, it’s important to point out that when you meet a fellow bridesmaid with a super successful career, it’s important to keep said relationship as polite as possible. This will happen. When it does, please laugh, I need to take my own advice. Just laugh at yourself when you find yourself comparing your own career with other 20 somethings. Yes, you WILL meet a girl your age with the husband, career, child, home that you want ASAP and you will meet someone else in a not so ideal career, with a not so ideal part time job working not so glamorous hours. The important part is your reaction and treating everybody you meet (NOT just at weddings) with respect and kindness.

On another note, I just moved and I am ACHING to write about my experiences in my new place and this new area.

My last words of advice are this: don’t let people’s opinions of you or your unsuccessful seeming career weigh you down or discourage you from going to weddings. Go to them anyway. Embrace the awkward.

Bridal Showers and a Bridesmaid

 The past few days have been full of getting ready for my close friends bridal shower on the 6th.  As I threw myself into decorating and baking, I want to share my musings with you. 🙂 

1. Commit but don’t over-commit to baking. Case in point: I had to make three batches of muffins and two batches of quiche.  Everyone enjoyed the quiche, however, the party goers barely touched the muffins. When so many girls band together to contribute food, make sure you don’t bake over 60 mini muffins! Bagels, yogurt, homemade applesauce, French toast casserole, fruit pies, quiche and custard is plenty for 30 women!

2. Don’t excuse yourself from the shower just because you make a last minute vacation. Is this a good excuse? It might be. Does it strain your relationship with the bride and cause her to hold a little grudge against you? You better believe it. Take my advice, cancel your plans and go. Your BFF will thank you later.

3. Don’t freak when people ask nosy pointed questions about your job situation. It doesn’t matter if you work at Macy’s or if you’re a college student and out of a job, if a nosy woman approaches you and asks you what you’re doing, answer with a smile. She’s trying to make conversation. Believe me, small talk is tougher than you think! I used the words “I’m excited” a dozen times on Saturday but I’m sure the only one who noticed was me! 🙂

In all, the shower was a hit. The bridesmaids teamed together to organize and record the gifts while keeping the bride happy with taking pictures, giving her scissors to open gifts and signing a journal type guestbook with words of advice!

What do you like to buy the most for bridal shower gifts? Lingerie? Dinnerware? I once bought a fabulous cutting board for a friend at her shower. I love cutting boards and wooden spoons. Tell me your thoughts in the comments!:) 

Oh and by the way, here’s a picture of the favors table:  

 

Post Wedding Part 2

Let me set the record straight: not every girl in her early 20s sitting by herself during the reception dance party wants to be pestered about her future wedding possibilities. Newsflash- most of these girls will glare and snap at you if you mention it or if you comment that she appears sad. No I am not sad thank you very much as another cute couple strolls into the dance floor and swing each other around in effortless bliss. I.Am. Not. Sad. Or depressed. And no I don’t want to cry on your shoulder and talk about it for hours.
Listen, it’s a wonderful feeling getting swept away in fairytale dreams of happily ever someday but when you’re in the middle of your brothers wedding reception, soaking in the mother son dance, emotions flying around your stomach like firecrackers, now is not the time to remind me of my nonexistent love life.
I digress.
I never knew I had so many emotions or that they would all crash in on me as I wove home on the highway with my sister and her friend. But I battled tears thinking of all the changes that had just stalked in: my brother was married and I was moving on, I no longer had his wedding to anticipate or plan for. Now all I had was a handful of pictures, a sparkly gold dress and dried flowers from the bridesmaids bouquets.

Follow Aimee Rebekah’s board Inspiration on Pinterest.

Post Wedding Musings – Part 1

My brother finally got married last weekend and I have to say that besides the stressful: we have to get to the rehearsal dinner in fifteen minutes and we’re already running behind schedule, it was such a wonderful weekend.

To start off, my sister, her best friend, Megan, and I drove together to Charlottesville.  While Megan controlled the directions via her GPS, I maneuvered across highways and around roundabouts (whoever thought those up likes to cause chaos on the highway purposefully. LIke what am I doing – do I go in a circle or straight. There were so many options. Not everyone has a GPS, people! But I digress..)

When we finally got to the hotel, we were so exhausted from our four hour car ride, we sprawled out in the hotel lobby, munching on avocado and strawberries. We tried to soak in a few minutes of downtime before, whoosh! We were up again, greeting our sister-in-law to be’s mom and family as their family and friends swarmed the foray. As soon as we entered our rooms, we threw on rehearsal dinner attire, I scrambled for my USB for the powerpoint (more on this later) and off we went to the rehearsal!

Except, at the rehearsal, there was nothing to do except meet new people, as friends and family mingled and the wedding coordinator pretended to coordinate the mock ceremony (which lets be honest was vague, especially since they didn’t even play the music for us to get in the mood.)  Anyway, the rehearsal was all done in 15 minutes, as soon as the bridesmaids dashed down the aisle and back, without the flower girls (should they have practiced too, um yes!).

Next, we all scrambled to get on the road to the Local, a fabulous restaurant in Charlottesville. The not so fabulous part though was the street parking. Oh and the valet parking? I had no idea this was an option. So of course, my family and I parked a couple blocks away, scurried inside the restaurant where guests were already mingling and I had to get the powerpoint set up! At this point, I started to freak out, since my brother’s laptop was barely charged and I had to do a run through in the back room while my mom tried to introduce me to a few of my brother’s fiance’s relatives. Well! After the bartender asked if I was over 21 and needed a drink, and I told him to get me iced tea (which had a weird flavor, but was delicious), I finally got his computer to run and did a PPT run through. To my surprise this worked too and I finally sank into my seat at the end of the rectangle table, exhausted, on edge (it could still all fall apart, despite my trial run) and hungry (it was 8pm by that time!)

My dad gave a fantastic speech, welcoming and thanking everyone, gushing over how wonderful my brother’s future wife and her family were. He seemed nervous, my dad who is the life of every party, nervous? Then, for the next hour and a half, we enjoyed each other’s company, shared stories and laughter, everyone enjoyed the powerpoint slideshow with pictures of both of them growing up, poses with friends and at the end, poses of them as a couple.

I learned through this experience that stress doesn’t just come from work, it can come from people you love too. The best part about it is, you find out what everyone is really like under pressure. People get angry and upset over the smallest things – where are the decorations, did you remember to open that box? And then, the backed up traffic added to the pressure of us needing to be on time to everything and of course arriving fashionably late. *cough*

Finally FINALLY it’s Spring

Over the past few months, I have had to endure the frigid PA weather. Even though I’m usually pretty good at bundling up with scarves, a warm coat, even an extra pair of leggings underneath, I was hardly prepared for -9 and -11 degree temperatures from January to March. Seriously. It lasted that long here. On a delightfully sunny February afternoon, I attempted to risk a short walk down the street. Just to escape the confines of my home was all I needed. However, when I ventured into the brisk winter weather, I found that I could barely keep enough space between my hat and my scarf to see. This ended my attempts at outdoor excursions into the great outdoors.

Now, though, spring has finally come. Along with its lovely flowers and tree blossoms. Everyone says how the world comes alive in the spring, how it makes you feel more open to every possibility. In some ways it does all of this for me. I start to shop for sandals and bathing suits. I decide to walk my dog in flip flops (even though its still 50 degrees outside and windy). And then! I realize that although this season is very low key for me (being a recent college graduate I haven’t exactly landed a college level job yet), it will soon usher in summer. Summer with all of its bold sun, bugs ready to bite my legs, my friend’s wedding and a delightful trip to Florida….But I’m still stuck in spring, when I’m still trying to hope and believe that the cold will end (I wore my winter coat yesterday), in more ways than one.

However, I did find time to make a random batch of Digestive cookies. They sound weird, but they are actually a British tea cookie. Delicious. Similar to a sugar cookie, only I like them better.=) I found them on Food52. I really like that site! So many good ideas!

 

Well that’s all for now. =)