Wednesday, August 31, 2011

holy wow

"I believe that Jesus is calling for people to be a nobody for him — people who would forsake the “American dream” to be a part of bringing gospel hope to the nations. People who don’t mind if they are not recognized, respected, praised, or promoted — as long as the name of Jesus is cherished, exalted, and adored. People who understand that Jesus didn’t come to this world and die on a cross so that we could have a comfortable suburban life and enjoy going to our local church's corporate gathering on Sundays."

These words come from Michael Oh via his post on John Piper's Desiring God blog. You can read the post in its entirety here.

I felt sharp conviction upon reading this. I've had 21 years now to craft my idea of the "American Dream." The desire to attain and possess is a giant part of my sin nature...In high school I would lie in bed at night writing 100-point lists on "How to Create a Lovely Life." Even when Jesus came became central in my life, seeking after Him ran parallel to seeking after this perfect life. I never really considered another lifestyle. I was an intelligent, college-bound Christian...what could possibly stand between me and moderate wealth? I was certain that both Jesus and a BMW was in my future.

Later in his post Oh says, "We must realize that we have absolutely no right to tell God, 'I’ll do this for you, but not that.' We must understand how globally worthy he is to be loved and adored, how incredibly hard the task of making him known is, and how great are the sacrifices needed to see that happen."

Sure God, I'll go all out for you. As long as I can continue to craft my life as I see fit.

I'll live in New Orleans, God, if that's what you want for me. I'll give you that much I guess. But in a pretty area of the city, and not only a pretty area but I want my house to be pretty, too. Preferably new made to look old. Gated communities and subdivisions are your options, God. I will also requre a fancy DSLR to take beautiful pictures of my perfect life. Oh and I would also like to be skinny and fit and two inches taller. And kind of a hipster, but also ridiculously glamourous. Please one, just ONE pair of Louboutins? Also everything Olivia Palermo wears? Which reminds me that I NEED a walk-in closet with a chandelier. Are you writing this down God? Santa Claus Jesus, are you there?

And's funny. And it sounds lighthearted and playful. But my heart can attest that it's true.

How utterly ridiculous is all this?

Who am I to say to God: "Here is what I will do for you. That should be enough. Don't ask me for more, please. Ok thanks bye."

Who am I to say to Him who created me, gives me my every breath, and charted all my days: "I know better for my life than you do."

Who am I, a nobody, marred by sin, to say to the One who calls me his precious daughter: "I need other beauty, other luxury, other loveliness before my eyes. You are not enough to satisfy my desire for perfection."

This longing for perfection is insatiable outside of letting God be its answer. He defines and embodies perfection! And he is desperate for me to come to Him. I KNOW this.

I just need to know that I know that I know it.
Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

carrying capacity, new orleans style

When we moved to New Orleans last year, amazing grace and comfort were waiting for us; we had ready-made insta-friends from our beautiful Young Life community. Put in microwave, open top to vent, heat for thirty seconds. Done! We loved people instantly and we were so grateful to be loved back instantly. Their presence breathed incredible peace into my heart and made me believe we could make a home here.

We had left behind another incredible community of folks in East Lansing, Michigan, that we loved desperately. Just thinking about them puts a HUGE silly grin on my face; if you ever hear me speak about this time, you'll think I'm looking back through rose-colored lenses. Except everything was actually totally 100% rosy all on its own! It was a time saturated with joy and vibrance and hilarity and honesty and deep, deep love, all happening by the hand of God. So many good people.

Somewhere in the middle of my time there, I wrote about the curious existence of a carrying capacity within the realm of human relationship. I was basically exploring the idea that you simply don't have the capability to be besties with everyone. I felt there were too many people in my life I wanted to know and love well, and I just...couldn't. There was not enough time. It made me kinda sad.

To be honest, I think I thought then that I was at a unique time in my life. College was practically 24/7 playtime, so there was plenty of time to pursue friends. I thought maybe that's why my friend circles were ginormous. Maybe whenever I became an adult the carrying capacity problem would disappear. I mean, do adults even hang out with their friends? I wasn't really sure.

But I was sure that 1. I loved and held dear those friendships that were deep and real, and 2. I constantly met people that I wanted to have deep relationships with, and 3. those relationships just can't always come to fruition.

In fact, deep relationships can really only happen with a few people in any given season. And for the first few months in New Orleans, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend all my time with our cozy circle of insta-friends.

But six months later, it's happened again. MEGA FRIEND CIRCLES!

If Coryell and I have a free evening, we have to have a serious conversation about who to call. Sometimes I just want to eenie-meenie the whole situation and not worry about the outcome. We have friends we wish we could see every week that we've hardly seen all summer, the insta-friends we want to see all the time, friends we see weekly at YL functions we wish we could just hang out with, and individual friends we want to spend time with. Not to mention family and friends in Michigan we're dying to skype and call and vidchat.

Last time around, the existence of a carrying capacity was a huge revelation for me. Since then I've been painfully- and increasingly- aware of it. Now I'm learning that not only does it exist, but it's okay that it exists. Some weeks I won't see my best friends. A month might even slip by without seeing them. Sometimes I will meet someone new and have to bite back the conventional, "We should get coffee sometime!" and it's okay because it's not who God has set before me to love at the time.

He has set before me first and foremost Himself-- then my husband, then family, friends, ministry, and community. And that is an order I can handle.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

hello sweet monster.


Today is my last day at the office and HOLY WOW does it feel good! Goodbye frigid office and incredibly uncomfortable "ergonomic" chair. Goodbye 5th floor vending machine, you steal my quarters, we are not friends. Goodbye forced unpaid lunch, I really kind of hate you. Goodbye papercuts and headaches, not a big fan of you either. Goodbye temperamental copy machine and filing cabinets, see ya never.

Hello...whatever is next! Something that feels like freedom and fresh air and dreams.

Grateful for both the peace in my heart and wild, wild excitement for whatever lies ahead.

Monday, August 15, 2011

how to be rich

I am getting ready to take a step into a Dream. It's honestly such an exciting step that it feels more like a skip or a hop or a jump or a leap or a Reverse 1&1/2 Somersaults in the Tuck Position dive. (yes I Googled that came up with that by myself)

The Dream step is BIG. Leaving my cushy office job is a risk and I know it. Taking a job sewing hems and fixing buttons is less prestigious and I know it. It pays less and believe me do I know it. People don't understand this decision, and I know it.

But ohmygosh am I excited. Because the Dream step is just that- a step. The Dream is a step to the Big Dream. And the Big Dream is a stepping stone to the Biggest Dream. And the Biggest Dream...well, frankly, if I think about the Biggest Dream right now I find myself cowering and shrinking back from the impossibility of it all. It's such a lofty, rich, extravagant dream. It seems so perfect, almost unattainable. Soooooo I am focusing on what is right before me! C.S. Lewis said it well:

Exhale. That idea just breathes assurance into my heart. I can take a step. And then someday, another one.

So, without further adieu: all of the Dreams, each step explained and laid out to the best of my ability.

Right now the first Dream means this: I am quitting my secure, reliable, salaried, comfy, albeit boring and dull 7-5 office job. Sound the Hallelujah chorus. I am taking a job with an alterations shop, where I will be hemming pants and the like. There, I will become familiar with diferent fabrics, use new machines, and sew more straight lines than you could ever imagine. Additionally, this job's loose schedule will give me time in real life to plan, research, practice for, and execute the Big Dream.

The Big Dream is that in a few years, I would operate my own business out of my home. I would love to work as a seamstress (like my lovely Aunt), hemming and re-purposing and re-fashioning, old to new, drab to fab. Making whatever people ask me to make: bridesmaids dresses or drapes or wedding gowns or slipcovers or baby clothes. Perhaps creating and selling my own little line of whatever I want on Etsy or Big Cartel. Fueling my business (online and otherwise) through a blog. Writing and working and creating to my heart's content.

And all of that is lovely but is only a gateway to doing what I love most, to the Biggest Dream: Being freed up to serve my family well. Enjoying life with my wonderful husband and the little ones we will have running around someday. Having the incredible luxury of staying home with my children. Being able to work from home as I stay and do life with them. Continuing to join my husband in ministry, serving both our church and Young Life, inviting people into our home and loving whoever God sets before us.

And we will never be rich, and my job may never be glamorous, but this seems to me to be the richest, fullest, most priveliged and luxurious life possible.

Friday, August 12, 2011

a heart issue

"If you're fixing the moral issue but you don't address the heart issue, then you'll never be free. You can't see the problem as, 'I cuss too much. I'm not a good enough husband, I'm not a good enough parent.' Can I tell you the most freeing news in the world? You're not! That's right, you do stink! In fact any acknowledgment of your guilt is shallow and incomplete. You are far more guilty and far more of a failure than you think you are. The reason that's such good news is because Christ has made provision for your shortcomings. So when you understand it's not a moral issue but a heart issue, you'll understand and long for a Savior rather than trying to be your own savior."

-Matt Chandler, Pastoral Prayers Pt. 2, 5/15/11. Full sermon available here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

on the Big Dream and the Importance of Cheese

Cheese and I have never gotten along very well. (Of course not real life cheese, gouda and I are BFFs obvs.)

You know, "Life is a box of chocolates/highway/rollercoaster" kind of stuff. It just doesn't do it for me. If we're being real, what I mean to say is that I am a stuck-up eye-rolling snob skeptic when it comes to movies, pop culture, self-help books, the Internet phenomenon that is "quotes"...You name it, I'll scoff sneer gently poke fun at it.

But somehow, in the middle of my officesuppliesfluorescentlightspapercuts9to5-induced coma, that darn cheese got to me. I began tweeting quotes-- Twitter probably couldn't handle all the cheese coming from my account!

But the cheese was good cheese. It woke me up. It made me dream. It tugged at parts of my heart that I had hidden for a selfishly twisted fear of vibrance. And anyhow, I think sometimes the cheesy things are the true things. So let me share with you some of this glorious cheese:

"If you know God's grace, love boldly, live robustly. Swing from the trapeze; his safety net will break your fall." (Max Lucado via his Twitter account)

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

In the words of my dear friend Sara, zing, zing, zing, and ZING.

And the dreams came flooding out. I couldn't stop them. They are many and feverishly exciting, all. And for the first time in my life I'm intent on seeing them through, expecting both victory and failure but frightened of neither.

So what exactly is the Big Dream? My heart knows it in full; putting it into words will take time. Stop by later this week if you're curious; I'll have some more great cheese waiting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

happy resignation day to meeee!

A note of business first- I have made a switch from my old address-- -- to this one, If you have my old address saved in a reader somewhere, feel free to update it!

God is leading me into some super exciting changes. I cannot wait to share them all with you. It will take a while. I have big plans for this blog, which I will unfold and explain over the following weeks and months. Today I'll get the biggest chunk out of the way-- my work situation.

I started my job in April, and to be honest, it has been a long few months. Office life was oddly alluring to me at first. Salaried pay. Dressy clothes. Paid vacation. An official title. It all fed my ego nicely...I am absolutely the youngest in our adulty friend circles, and sometimes that is uncomfortable. Having a "real" job at an engineering firm on St. Charles gave me a strange confidence-- it was a fancy accessory for the adult costume I was stitching together. Upon meeting new people, I could answer the inevitable "And what do you do?" with a simple "I work at an engineering firm downtown"...and we could skip the terribly awkward "Oh, so you haven't finished college?" and "YOU'RE ONLY 21 YEARS OLD?!" Everything was easier.

But with every copy I copied, every scan I scanned, and every file I filed, I seriously felt my brain rotting away. Office work, salaried and steady though it may be, is NOT for me. Sitting in a fluorescently-lit box from 7am-5pm every day? So not my dream job.

God was, of course, ever so faithful through all of these long days. He graciously gave me a work BFF who broke up the monotony of my days and made the whole thing funnier and more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined. We spent lunch hours eating Lean Cuisines and watching Bravo and shopping and getting pedicures. My engineer friends Eeyore and Old Man Potato were certainly entertaining as well. And God also gave me clear opportunities to love co-workers well, and in doing so helped me to see his purpose for this time.

Even so, I have never felt such a restlessness. I would come home with my muscles craving a 90-mile run, my creativity itching to paint the whole house, and my mind craving a theological think tank...but then I would take a nap. And in being so bored and discontent, I stumbled upon a big realization. I am absolutely giddy with excitement.

I can spend my life doing something I love.

I know you are all like DUH EMILY! right now but hold on, let me explain. So 8th grade, Brandon Middle School has us all take a little quiz to see what careers might fit us best. As if 13 year olds aren't confused enough. My results: librarian, garbage man, stewardess, neurosurgeon. In 9th grade we took a personality test- the one with the colors. My results look like a rainbow, no help there! The rest of high school guidance counselors say: figure out your college major so you can take related AP classes to get accepted to the best college with the best program to get the best internship to get the best job!

Whew. Somewhere in there I went from future editor to businesswoman to interpreter to political advisor to Spanish teacher. I went into college confused, and I went through college confused, and I paused college even more confused. Thank God for the pause. Because now I get to pursue doing what I love.

And that, friends, is creating. Yes. Creating. I'm leaving it vague because I don't know exactly what I want to create. I know I love making beautiful things. I know I love writing. I know that I love to sew. And I know God has given my passion in my heart and talent in my hands for a reason.

So in two weeks, I will leave my office costume behind to be myself. Officially, I will be working full-time at an alterations shop. I am beyond excited. I get to gain valuable experience with sewing machines and fabrics. The people are great. The schedule is less demanding. I can breathe easy. All of which means that unofficially, I am freed up to pursue the Big Dream. And that I will talk about soon. Sigh. I am so happy.