Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Importance of Journaling

Today is my last full day of fall break.  It's been so nice and relaxing.  The five-page paper that I had to write today seemed easy considering all the relaxing I got to enjoy.

I filled up a journal today and started a new one.  That's always bittersweet, isn't it?  When I flip through the old one, I can tell the most honest and heartfelt passages by which ones were the messiest.  I can also tell which ones provoked growth and which were purely for the sake of venting.

A lot has changed since I started that journal right at the beginning of the school year.  To follow the timeline forward through the past two months is to laugh at worry over things that turned out just fine and to see the absolute grace of God in granting this fool a good life.

Journals are like people.  No two speak the same way, and each one has it's own life and personality.  The journal that I just started is already more artistic than the last, because my writing bug has returned and I want to fill it's pages with observations and the deeper parts of my emotions.  I want to write not only prayers and little thoughts, but I want to also search my heart and try to relate it to Scripture.  I also want to give a good account of my days so that I can look back and know why I was feeling the way I was at the time.

My new journal is still unfamiliar to me.  I don't know the exact feel of it's pages or it's tone yet, even though it's the same size and brand as my last one.  But it's still a bit of a stranger to me, and a cold one at that.  It needs an ink stain more, or a teardrop, or a coffee spill.  But these things take time.

I want to pray all over this new journal.  I want to see real change and growth over it's pages, even more so than the last one.  Even on the pages that are just to-do lists, I want to be meaningful and intentional, and I want it to be beautiful.

So many things in my journals I will never share here on this blog, and that's the way it should be.  Some things I will share with only my closest friends, and some things I won't share with anyone but the Lord.  Sometimes I'll just jot down song lyrics that lifted my spirit or made me think, and sometimes I'll write my own poetry.

Maybe some days it'll be a mere account of events, and sometimes it'll be a joyful experience that I'll barely fit onto three or four pages.  Sometimes there will be sorrow that I can barely make to flow from my pen.

But journals are special books.  There's something about them that can't be conveyed with typed words, and I really believe that everyone should own one and carry it everywhere.

Buy a small one.  Big enough for your big ideas, but small enough to take with you.  Write every day, even if it's just a paragraph.  Put a date on everything you write so that you won't forget, because twenty years from now you will.  Doodle if you have to, but get your point across.  It doesn't have to be pretty, but it will be beautiful as a whole.

Be brutally honest with your journal, for who is it to judge?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Haps

I'm on Fall break right now, and so I made the trip to come stay with my sweet mama for a few days.  I'm loving our time together, and it's been such a great blessing!  We've been very relaxed and have so enjoyed each other's company.  I don't think I'll ever take for granted time with her ever again.

Talk about a Proverbs 31 woman, y'all.  I couldn't be happier that she's mine and Will's mama. We love her to bits.  So proud of her.

Otherwise, I'm just having a time of sweet refreshing before I go back to studying hard and getting back on my school/work schedule.  I'm in a coffee shop again.  Don't laugh.

Here are a couple of tidbits for you to give you a little overview of what my life is like at Covenant:

  • I work facilities to help pay for school, which means that 15 hours a week, I clean one of the buildings on campus.  I love my job!  Cleaning toilets and windows isn't so bad when you work with awesome friends and are filled with laughter, even at 7am.  Plus, my boss is such a light and frequently invites us into her office for a chat and some chocolate-covered coffee beans.

  • I'm an English major with a minor in education.  For my introduction to teaching class, I get to go off campus three hours a week and student-teach English at a public high school.  I can't give any detail for confidentiality reasons, but I adore it.  I am so aware that teaching is my calling, and I get so excited every time I go.  Plus, I get to dress professionally, which y'all know I love.

  • My friends are so solid.  I'm on a pretty regular schedule, and so I always know who I'm going to eat with for each meal depending on the day, and there's always someone up for hanging out at night, be it for deep conversations or laugh-fests.  I love them all so much, and they make me feel so normal!  Everyone has issues and we're all just making it by with the Lord's help.  What a blessing they are to me, especially after being so lonely for the past two years.

  • I've found a wonderful church home and I'm planning on getting more involved as time goes on, and I'll probably transfer my membership there at some point. The church is like the one I grew up attending in a lot of ways, but it's also a bit different and I just knew that it was my place.  It was immediate.  I had prayed for a while that the Lord would make it a clear decision, and almost as soon as I walked in the door, I knew.  I get excited to go to church every Sunday, and I can't wait to go back next week!

  • I have three lovely, hilarious, and sweet roommates.  I might do a post on them one day if they don't mind, but they're dolls.  It's not easy to get four girls to get along well, but we've conquered the tension and have been smooth sailing for a while now.  Love those ladies.

  • I cut hair now!  I cut one friend's hair, and then a roommate's, and then suddenly I had several other people asking me to do the same, even a guy friend.  It's so much fun and it relaxes me a lot.  It helps broke college kids, and I love doing it.  Tell your friends. ;)

I'm a busy, busy bee, and I love it.  When I'm busy and when I'm surrounded by a body of believers, I flourish.  I'm so happy at my school, and I owe it all to the Lord.  How blessed I am!  I don't deserve a lick of it.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." 
Romans 15:13

Monday, October 8, 2012


I crack my knuckles.  Yellow leaves and foggy air swirl past the window of the Starbucks that I love so dearly. A sweater is warming my skin and a hot latte is warming my soul.  This weather and these smells are reminding me of my past.  It's a recent past, technically speaking, but it feels as if it's been a lifetime.

Nostalgia rips through me.  Belgian memories circle about in my brain and my heart does hurt a little.  But I'm so different than I was then.  I am not running anymore.  I'm done searching.  The fruitless pangs of uninhibited sorrow are over for me now.

I've been at school for a couple of months now.  It feels longer than it's really been and I just know that I'm at home.  I'm steady.  I am happy. I have friends on every side.  Such a far cry from my life in Belgium!

There are so many adjustments I've had to make.  Luckily, over the summer, I had plenty of time to readjust to living in America and to grieve over my broken family.  The mourning continues, but it's different now.  It's no longer hopeless.

Friends, when I was in Europe, I was essentially a dead woman.  My heart was so numb to everything and I was desperately alone.  There was so much I couldn't bear and so I simply did not.  I was crashing into a pit straight on, and there was nothing to hold me back.  I tried to read my Bible and I maybe had bits of spiritual feelings here and there, but it did not count for anything.  I was dull and dim.      Desperately more dank than the dirt that my boots wedged between the Belgian cobblestone.

But I have come alive.

My school, Covenant College, has a motto.  In all things, Christ Preeminent.  The beauty of that is that it's not an empty phrase.

Covenant threw me headlong into the Word.  Chapel three days a week, encouragement to attend church, godly people at every turn, and professors who emanate the Gospel in every aspect.  I don't know quite when it happened, but I was convicted.  I knew, almost immediately, that I didn't have what these people had, and I was stunned.

My head was stuffed with Christian knowledge and I had always called myself one, but I wasn't.  I just wasn't.

The thought makes me hurt, but now it also makes me laugh for joy.  Because, readers, the Lord softened my heart, and so swiftly.  If it weren't for all the pain, or better yet, anguish that I have experienced, I don't think I would have realized the depth of his blessings and the vastness of my need for Him.

God is jealous for me.  He weeps for me.  He rejoices with me.  He gives me so many new blessings daily, so much so that I can't even document them all.

My heart, though still scarred and often sorrowful, is whole.  I love my God and can't imagine why I ran from His great love for so long.  Now I crave to read His Word and there's a song on my tongue to praise Him.  And none of this is my doing!  He pursued me hotly and convicted me.

And then he made me to feel his grace poured onto my head like a waterfall.

I want nothing more than to talk about Him to everyone.  He is my strong salvation and stole me from a sort of death.  I am fully alive and I can only attribute it to Christ, for my own attempts had all failed.

I thank God for my circumstances, I thank Him for my time in Europe, no matter how painful, and I thank Him for my school.  I thank Him for my friends, for my mother, and for my brother.  I thank Him for sweet family and for professors that want to know me and who care for me, and I thank Him for simple mercies like the desire to write again.

Wretch that I am, the Lord wants me.  What greater hope can there be?  How can I not sing for joy?

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, 
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life; 
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
ar your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:9-11

And so I smile at my sweet friend next to me and she smiles back.  She goes back to her studying and I know that I should do the same.  Yes, I even thank God for midterms.