Since 2014 hit, I’ve really felt that this year is truly new.  I know that sounds so simple and stupid even, but in my own life I have had such an incredible sense of a distinction between the old and the new.  Especially in the midst of trying to sort through a ton of heartaches and struggles, I’ve kind of felt like God has sealed them off behind a door and said, “It’s okay to mourn, it’s even okay to question, but you don’t have a right to handle that stuff anymore.”

This sense of “new” started about two months ago.  I remember going to a worship night and the pastor’s wife speaking about the New Year, and making some prophetic declarations, and I was energized on the inside.  She said that 2014 was about letting go, that there were things God would not let us take into 2014 with us.  It was a time of exiting– opening new doors, and closing others.  She quoted from Mark 2, where it says you can’t put new wine into an old wineskin or both the wine and the skins will be ruined.  Her words were painful but promising all at once, especially as she spoke of letting go.  There have been tons of things I’ve known for awhile now that I need to relinquish control of, but I’ve resisted simply because the fear of the unknown was greater than the hardship of holding on to old, hurtful things.  It’s so funny how I’d rather maintain anger and grief and unforgiveness than be empty-handed!

 As I sat in my seat just battling internally, she said that God takes away so that can establish something new.  Those words made a ray of hope I could hold on to, because they came with a promise.  God will not remove something without generating something new in it’s place.

It’s all so telling– we are in LOVE with certainty.  It’s why people stay in dysfunctional relationships on and on.  It’s why we shrink back in fear from any kind of change, even when the need for it slaps us in the face.  Because holding onto a dying or broken thing is at least known.  It’s actually quite creepy if you think about it!

So I feel like this year is really about me getting established in more of who I am, and just letting green leafy life replace a rubble I’ve sat comfortably in for quite a while.

I’m also having to let go of longstanding ideas about myself and my identity.  I never realized how much faith I had placed in my ability to be well-behaved until recently.  As long as I made okay decisions, and avoided big shortcomings, and maintained an image of being “super Christian” I was fine.  I’m seeing now how bogus that is.  I’m seeing now that God isn’t after good behavior– He is really after my heart.  He is after my affection, and wants me to rest in His!  I’d grown used to punishing myself by sitting in shame when I felt I didn’t measure up, or when things in my life got messy.  But God has forgotten about my sin, so why should I remember and sit under the weight of it?  It’s dead, it’s a dead thing.  It makes sense that Satan is called the Accuser– I think we often talk about guilt and condemnation as if it’s from the Lord, but it’s straight from the pit of Hell.  God calls us clean.  It’s the Accuser who calls to mind all the ways we can never be good enough.  

In this latest season of disappointment, I have often found myself asking God to make me like various Glorias of the past– “God, why can’t I be more like Glo in Europe?  Or carefree ice cream shop Glo?  Or happy-go-lucky leading youth band and wearing Coheed & Cambria shirts Glo?” (I still wear Coheed & Cambria shirts, just FYI.)  About a week ago, I feel like He fairly clearly told me to stop aspiring to be something that is already gone, and to stop acting like who I am now isn’t good enough to Him.  His perspective of me hasn’t changed, it’s only my perspective of myself.  I also felt He informed me that by asking to be restored to a version of myself from the past, I was selling Him short and what He wants to do.  “You wanting to go back to your best times is shooting too low!  You don’t have a grid for where I’m taking you!”  While this revelation was exciting and faith building, it doesn’t take away the blankness of the present unknown, but it’s a promise.  So if I can just live free while I wait.

And wait.

And wait, ha!

Living moment by moment is hard.  Trials are tough.  I know in my case, I feel like they have taken a warm innocence away, at least temporarily.  I still believe for good things, but right now that belief takes the form of me looking the mirror many days and saying “You’re fine Glo!”  When we are shell-shocked, we withdraw, or I know I have.  I want to be like a kid again, who just runs to their dad without thinking.  Who follows and dreams with abandon.  And it’ll happen.  But I know I have to be willing to position myself to be built and established in new things.  There’s more and better than what we can wrap our minds around.  It has to be so.  I can’t settle into skepticism and the belief that everything is simply degenerating until you die.  That kind of outlook is protected from the shock of disappointment only because it assumes it from the get-go.

So for this year, let us lay things down!  Let the yoke be easy!  Let us agree to let ourselves be taken by pleasant surprise!

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” — C.S. Lewis

-Twentysomething doing this thing called life Glo

Advertisements

It’s weird trying to play catch up after such a long silence.   Although I’ve got nothing on the 500 years between the Old and New Testaments. Soooo here we go.

I will not recount specific details from the last year and a half, other than say it has been the most challenging season of my life.  Every aspect of my life has been hard, very hard for a while now, and I am just beginning to see the silver lining.  My health, my emotional and spiritual well being have all been tried to the absolute limit, honestly to a point I didn’t know I could even withstand and pray I never will have to again. My closest relationships have been tried and tested.  Visions and dreams and callings that had been stowed securely in the deepest, most precious and protective corners of my heart felt pulled out into the harsh sunlight to dry out, and the places in my heart that once held them have ached and grieved at their absence.  I told some friends, you often hear the phrase “bent but not broken,” but I can’t relate to that.  I’ve felt like a prototype that didn’t turn out right and has been totally discarded and is being rendered again on the drawing table.

Now, this is a painful, awful, terrible place.

But I found that it can also be an incredibly exciting place.

In my brokenness I have had no option but to ask God to rebuild me from the ground up.  False notions, false beliefs, about my life and his grace and what I have to do to earn it, false beliefs about what is required for a happy life– all of those have caved and left me open-handed for truth to enter.

My trust in the Lord has never been so tested, whether He is really enough, where He is really good, whether He IS at all.  I have never felt so much like running from Him in my life.  And in fact, the spiritual darkness that has wanted to bury me was one of the main things that have kept me from it, because it made it impossible to deny the spiritual world.

The meaning of “faith” has been brought to a whole new level.  Previously, faith had usually resembled for me a feeling or sense that welled up inside, like river waters rising.  It had a momentum of its own that made it simple to believe God’s word was true– for my life, for this world.  When disappointments come, it kind of pulls a plug, and the tendency is for all of that water to just drain out.  So the momentum is gone.  Rather than floating in the lifeboat, it suddenly feels like you are simply dragging it along behind you.  And for the first time in my life, faith has had to truly precede feeling.  I can not tell you how many times I have talked, out loud, to myself, just saying “Gloria, you are okay.  You have a purpose.  You will NOT stay in this rut you are in now.  This WILL be a just memory, and what’s more, it will be a testimony.  This is just today.  You are okay.”  I have said those words, I have recited scripture, when I have had .001% feeling behind it.  Sometimes for days, just hoping for the feeling to follow.  Waiting to feel close to God, to feel purposeful again.

And it’s happening.  It really is.

During one of my hardest days I was talking to a spiritual mentor of mine and he said, “Gloria, I know it seems cliche, but you know what people say, that is really is darkest before the dawn.” And that is proving true.  I am watching God come in and heal and restore and redeem and redefine and rebuild in such a way that I am going to be better than I was before all of this hurt and disappointment.  I’m not quite on the other side, but I no longer feel like I’m dragging a yacht across a dry ocean.  Progress!

I was listening to the radio and a Bible teacher was talking about Genesis 15, where God is telling Abraham that he and his wife would bear a son despite their old age.  He explained this scripture in a way I had never heard before.  God brings him outside and tells him to count the stars if he can because so shall his descendants be.  Then it says that Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.  I had always read this to mean that Abraham  believed God for descendants that rivaled the star-studded sky he saw.  But if you go to verse 12, which is after the Lord tells Abraham to look at the sky, it says “Now, as the sun was going down…,” the implication being that the sun was still up when Abraham went outside.  This teacher surmised that when God told Abraham to look at the sky, the stars were not even visible because the sun was still up.  So God was telling Abraham, “Hey, look, can you count the stars?  You can’t even SEE them!  But you know they are there, and if we stand out here a little longer, you will see them.  That is how your descendants will be.”  I love how this interpretation of that scripture elevates the faith of Abraham to such a greater level.  Because it changes the basis for his faith from 50% God’s word, 50% what he saw to 100% God’s word.  Incredible.

And I was so struck when I heard that because that is how I had felt for such a long time.  And I wondered if I was stupid or crazy for it.  Praying, day after day, speaking truths, day after day, in cold hope, without fiery belief.  But that too is faith.  And if what the Bible says is true, God more than smiles on that.  He credits it to us.  He returns it to us.  And he multiplies it.  Because that’s what God does, he multiplies.  He meets our meager unbelief with blessing and causes our faith to rise up again.  But we may have to take blind steps, MANY blind steps.

I can feel it happening in my own life.  I feel the cool drops of life refreshing my spirit.  It’s not quite a flood yet, but the flood is on the way.

I love the story of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 for this very reason.  You should read it.  I love that the first Ezekiel has to tell the bones to rise and take on flesh, and they do, but they still don’t have breath.  So then he has to prophesy breath, but the army has no hope so Ezekiel has to tell them that the Lord will raise them up and put his life and spirit inside of them.  It was a multistep process of faith and action upon faith and action.  Or at least that’s the way I see it.

I wanted to write this down because I thought it could be really good for my continued healing and rebuilding.  But also because I want to share the avenue of hope I have found, that God really will step in through the smallest open door and bring hope, even when we feel we have so little to build.  I’ve wondered why this last season has been so bad.  And I’ve yet to get answers, and honestly, I’m not sure it would really matter if I did or if I would even like them.  But I do know that I am learning to rest my trust fully on the Gospel.  I can’t put it in my feeling, can’t put it in my plans working out, can’t even put it in my awesome spiritual disciplines, cause I tried that for awhile and ended up beating myself up for not being “into it.”  God’s sufficiency does not decrease with my feelings of insufficiency, and the full redemptive power of what Christ has done is ONCE and FOR ALL.  That means that He has made a way for me NOW to be free from the disappointment of my past, present, and yes, EVEN MY FUTURE!

If you are discouraged, I just encourage you to give him to rest on all that He has already done.  Stop trying to muster feeling up to it, stop being yourself up for your doubt, and every day choose to trust him more than you trust the weight of your pain and disappointment.  He WILL meet you there.  He WILL credit it to you, He WILL multiply it.  He will do the heavy lifting.  He hasn’t forgotten you.  Rest in the fact that you, in your weakness, are poised to rise up in his strength.

Truthfully, I have not always been known as the most efficient decision-maker.  I’ve wrestled with committing to a decision and then sticking to it confidently.  There have been some pretty important decisions on my radar lately, so given my shaky history in this area and the fact that the last series at church was on decisions, the topic in general has been on the brain.

One of my biggest vices in the process of making decisions is my tendency to make decisions based NOT on my reasons but rather on the expected outcome. So instead of deciding FROM a place of confidence, I wind up deciding TO a place of uncertainty…makes no sense.

Today I was journaling and had a realization once again of how we misunderstand our own nature when we make decisions that way.  First off, projected-outcome-based decisions are fear based in a way, which is a tendency we should be free from in Christ.  But also, decisions made with expectations like that set us up for disappointment.  Frequently we’re seeking fulfillment via a certain thing or person or circumstance and missing the root of the dissatisfaction that pushed us to make a decision in the first place.  This is a disservice to those involved in our decisions and it is a disservice to ourselves as we impossibly seek to be made satisfied by a thing or person that is not guaranteed nor designed to bring about our satisfaction.

Classic example: the ol’ fishing apology.  This usually occurs in a situation where you feel that you have been wronged, so you apologize in hopes of getting an apology in return.  80% of the time, desired apology is not given, and bitterness threatens to set in.

What we’re talking about is assumption-based decision, and it’s a dastardly little thing masked as careful calculation.  But assumption truly makes an ass out of you and me and everyone in between.

So what’s the answer?

Mike Ashcraft talked about clarity versus certainty during the Decisions series.  Clarity is deciding based on what God has made clear already, whereas certainty is along the lines of assumption-based decision– deciding in order to produce a certain outcome that is ironically not always certain at all.  Certainty is based on what is likely in logical terms while clarity is based on what God is ACTUALLY doing.

I just think about Jesus rubbing mud in a blind man’s eyes made out of spit and dirt, how outlandish and even offensive the thought is, and yet that was God’s chosen method of healing.  Or the way God brought Jericho down, after seven days of marching.  Just goes to show that power is in Him, in His timing, and not our ability in the flesh.  Certainty would not have led to vision for the blind or the fall of Jericho.  Clarity, however, an obedience to God’s direction in the moment, did bring those things about.

Obedience, godly decision-making, truly feels like a stab in the dark.  God can in the present moment compel us to do something that seems to work against the outcome we want.  But acting in response to Him is the surest guarantee we have for making decisions that will bring an outcome that makes us more alive, because it is by His spirit, not by the might of our reason, that his perfect will is birthed in our lives.  And when his will is birthed, we are most satisfied.  Really.

Decision-making has been a struggle for me historically but God is showing me the freedom we have to decide from the desires of a renewed heart when He hasn’t spoken clearly, and the wisdom of deciding from trustful obedience when He has spoken.  Because in Him, dirt plus spit can equal restored sight.

I encourage you to decide FROM the place of your identity in Him!

Oh man.  Another entry from the town of Wilmington, NC.  I read entries from less than a year ago when I was planning on closing the Wilmington chapter of my life and I laugh out loud.  I’m still here, very much here.  I am starting to cherish it, though.  I have moments of “What’s the next thing, Lord?”  But then I have a good beach day and I don’t ask again for another week or two.

I never explained why/how the Nashville move lapsed.  No blown up engine this time.  Just a strong check in my heart that it was not what I should have done at the time.  I was in the parking lot at my church and broke down in tears, the heaving kind of tears that give you a headache and make your face look swollen.  I called my mom and told her I couldn’t do it, that I just didn’t feel like it was right, that God was brewing things right here so why on earth would I just leave with no solid reason or rhyme?  The hardest phone call was the next one, to my best friend RL who was to be my roommate in Nashville.  I expected a tongue lashing.  I could tell she was disappointed a bit but she could hear my heart and hear that I really didn’t feel like it was right, so she gave her support.  And with a sigh of relief, after telling everyone in my world here that I was planning on leaving in a matter of a month or so, I settled once again back into Wilmington, this town that has been The Wait of my recent life.

I feel like Wilmington has been and continues to be (at least for the immediate future) necessary preparation for something.  And that’s what has finally given me peace about being here.  Even though I feel like I’m in a holding pattern, I just feel like when the holding pattern’s over, I’ll be a heck of a lot farther along than if I would have went against the Lord’s leading.  It’s a backward way of thinking rather than a forward way of thinking.  The world says X event + X event = a certain success.  Our future really is just the product of “good life decisions” in our past.  But as my dad’s friend Doug told me once, God calls to us out of our destiny, not our past.  In other words, we are being drawn to something and are not merely the product of where we’ve come from.  But in order to make it where God wants to draw us, we have to wait on His voice.  I’ve finally come to realize that it truly is a very small voice.  You have to zero in on it if you want to follow it, because there’s a crap ton of other distractions and opinions out there.

God has shown me A LOT about timing lately.  The timing of events in our lives are as important as the events themselves.  I just read in Acts when God gave Peter a vision of animals and told him to eat.  Peter protested because the animals were unclean and the Lord said “What I have made clean, do not call common.”  And that was it.  That’s all God gave him.  And then the Bible says that Peter was perplexed.  God had offered no explanation, simply leaving Peter with a confusing vision about animals.  Afterward, some Gentiles who had been sent by God came to Peter asked him to go back to their town with him, so Peter went and the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit.  It was then that Peter realized that these Gentiles were who God was referring to when he spoke of the common being made clean.  Social prejudice could have kept many people from having the opportunity to believe, but God had prepared Peter’s heart through a vision that made little sense at the moment.  I can see how God has done the same thing in my life.  He has spoken truths and dreams into my heart that haven taken YEARS to develop into fruition.  Some of them haven’t bloomed yet, but I’ve seen enough to rest in His timing.

It’s crazy how identical circumstances can feel so right or so wrong depending on the timing.  How well you feel settled or not settled in a town (i.e., my life story), or the timing of a relationship forming or growing, or pursuing a certain job.

That’s why success can’t simply be measured by circumstance.  Timing and will, the Lord’s will, has to be taken into account.  He might have you preparing for years and years and years in seemingly low circumstances so he can launch you at the right moment.  But the world’s time table is different.  We want a ladder and we want to climb it at our own rate according to our own understanding.  So we gain success, but we give up our dreams.  The success is limited and shallow.  We miss out on being fully who God intended for us to be simply because we would not wait on Him and His timing.

I think about Joseph, being sold into slavery and being imprisoned after being falsely accused of trying to rape Potiphar’s wife.  All after God spoke to him and told him he would rule over his brothers.  What the hayill.  I see this over and over again in scripture, God speaking an explicit dream or vision to someone but not bringing it to fulfillment until years later.  This fact is at first annoying, but at a closer look it’s reassuring.  If God has spoken a dream to you and if you are willing to wait on Him to prepare you for its fruition, big things WILL happen.  If you insist on success as defined by the world and the world’s timing, well then THAT will happen.  And it will be small.  Tragically small in the realm of possibility and the bigness of what the Lord has destined for you.

I was talking to my brother Stephen about this recently– God already has the conclusion and He exists outside of time, but inevitably we have to live in the unfolding of that conclusion because we are subject to time (or at least the illusion of time…I’m not sure time even exists, but that’s another entry entirely…I love a good metaphysical controversy.)  It’s a relief, to know that we really only have to rest and still ourselves to hear his voice and He’ll bring our dreams to us in His way.  It isn’t logical.  Logic has a formula for success.  But God makes kings out of shepherds, and heals people with mud made out of spit and dirt, and makes a carpenter the savior of mankind.  It’s not logical.  It doesn’t fit into our normal way of thinking.  The fruition of our dreams will only be as radical and big as our willingness to wait on them.  Timing is key.  Timing is bigger than circumstance alone.  We don’t move farther along by following a checklist for successful living– we get there by resting in the risk of waiting.  And the Lord will bring our dreams to us if we wait.

If we believe we are renewed in Christ, that we are ever regenerating once we begin to walk with Him, then that means our life is a constant revelation of the fuller, wholer US.  Though our body is growing older, our spirits are becoming more fully awake.  We walk in the hope and promise of newness.  The world is trying to beat the inevitable decay of this life, which is what drives their career/retirement decisions.  We are being made new though, so we don’t have to be driven by a sense of fear or beating the clock.  Once again, we are being called TO something, not just trying to run FROM inevitable, encroaching death.  No, we run towards newer life, the unfolding of our dreams.

We are becoming more fully alive!

Today I was driving, my thoughts wandering off randomly and unrelated as they often do, when I started thinking about The Spice Girls.  Not one of the better representatives of the British Invasion in America…I thought with bewilderment at their fame gone by.  Then, Oh my goodness…I think I remember trying to convince myself that I LIKED them when I was a kid. First off this was appalling because they were largely underwhelming in all areas talent-related, secondly none of them are role model material, and thirdly (and perhaps MOST appalling) was that I didn’t even enjoy their music, but the power of my peers’ interest compelled me like a magnetic force to at least attempt getting swept up in the catchy beats.  And as I kept following the rabbit hole of my thoughts, I was transported to a time when that was a common feeling– the feeling of wanting to like something so at least I could blend well with those around me.

So many of those kids whom I held on the highest of pedestals have since been proven “jes like the rest of us” in the stark light of reality, and yet held such a sway over me when we were younger.  The kind of shoes they wore, and their fabulous hair, and yes, the wretched music they listened to, floated in my head like a level of enlightenment I should strive to attain.

This pressure is real as a kid.  No wonder we finish our high school years feeling like we might die if we don’t soon “find out who we are.”  We’ve been trying to be things all along we weren’t even sure we wanted to be.

So I wondered which of my genuine preferences throughout life had been stifled as a result of my sworn allegiance to stay in the life boat.  When did I find out what I actually liked and disliked, what moved me and what didn’t?  How much unearthing is left?

I don’t know why this kind of insecurity propelled me a lot as a kid.  And truthfully, it didn’t cause me to conform completely.  Even back then, I knew my soul couldn’t survive full conformity.  But this is a common case– the case of being unsure of even what MOVES us because we’ve been so worried about convincing ourselves to chase after things that don’t interest the core of us.

I don’t want to get too deep here.  I guess I just want to reiterate the importance of drawing conclusions, of thinking, of confidently holding on to a conviction even if it’s the only one like it in a million.  Because I knew it deep down all those years ago that I thought the Spice Girls sucked and the reason for their fame was as unintelligible to me as foreign languages are to a monoglot.  But in order to spare myself from the hells of a lonely lunch table, I found myself singing such phrases as “If you really really really wanna zig-ah-zig-aahhh.”

I hope I can raise my kids to stick to their guns.  Because easy assimilation into a crowd means the world in school for most kids, and even many adults.  But in reality folks, the lunch tables mean nothing.

“There is just one life for each of us; our own.”-Euripides

Oh blog. I wonder who reads this thing. My parents.  My second mom, Mama Debbie.  And other random readers who have found themselves here after a long, bored Facebook carousal.

Well, I haven’t written in a while. A lot has changed in the last few months I feel. I’m a little less existential in my musings these days. In fact, I simply don’t muse as much. I resist activities that might spark too much musing, including the reading of Russian novels, which had previously (as some of you who know me well may know) been a staple on my list of life enriching activities. These days, I am at peace with things like complimenting my girlfriends on how cute their shoes are, or spending half an hour choosing bronzer at ULTA, or reading an article in People instead of reading War and Peace.  These are rather new acquisitions to my person.

I could just be lazy, but I don’t think that’s it. Really and truly. I could be lazy in denial, and in that case I pray for a revelation, but I have just realized that I want to take full advantage of this chill time.

On a deeper level, most of my life I’ve fought where I’ve found myself. And I just don’t want to do it anymore.

Pastor Mike is using Jeremiah 29 in the current series at church and it has really stuck with me. God leads his people into exile and tells them to build homes, families there. He tells them to look out for the welfare of the town and people– their captors! And in looking out for the town’s welfare, they will look out for their own, God tells them. It really challenged me to invest wherever I am. I think we sometimes justify our level of service or involvement in a particular area based on whether or not we want to be there. If we are somewhere we don’t want to be then God must not want us there either, so what’s the point.

The Bible very frequently demonstrates the OPPOSITE! God very often LEADS his people out of their place of comfort! Why do we often believe that his way is that of least resistance?

I embraced Wilmington with some trepidation after feeling with almost 100% certainty that God directed me here in the Fall of 2009. But I embraced it. Now a year and a half later with a move to Nashville just a few months around the bend, I am so glad I was willing to make Wilmington home. I feel that I have grown here because I have put down roots here for the first time. I’ve been unsure about whether or not I am really ready to move to Nashville, but over the last few days I feel an urgency to do it and do it soon, because the word that keeps coming to my mind is “accomplish.” And not in the sense that I hope to accomplish certain things when I go, though that is certainly the case. It is because I can see things that have been accomplished in my heart during my time here, and I can also see ways that God has used me to accomplish things in other people here. I feel that if I leave, I have finished my “exile” well (as much of an exile that this beloved beach town can be). I had no idea what the objectives were in my coming here, and now by accident, it seems I’ve accomplished them. I have seen my community grow, I have seen my own faith go through growing pains and coming out on the other side of them, I have seen friendships change, I have seen my gifts develop, and well…frankly, I’ve grown up.

I have tons more confidence, a trait which I will need the more that the “real world” rears it’s ugly head.  I feel better equipped to rear an ugly one right back.

I had a pretty bad faith crisis not too long ago.  It’s incredible to think about it now that it’s over because I remember wondering what it would feel like to trust God again.  I’d forgotten what surrender felt like.  I wanted to seize full control of my destiny.  I wanted freedom from authority, particularly invisible authority.  And it was terrifying.  I sat in my car crying, feeling desperately alone.  I asked a friend to pray for me.  Asking her felt like planning my own intervention.  I felt like it was that important.  And as she prayed the light changed.  It was incredible.  I felt my mind change.  I woke up the next morning feeling totally restored.  It was amazing.

Things like that make me excited.  Excited about what God has recently done, what I expect he’ll do this year.

I get insecure sometimes and become a little afraid of failure.  Little things can trigger it.  I read an email from an old college professor telling him of my plans to move.  “So I guess you didn’t get into grad school?”  he more or less wrote.  It was like a needle prick.  But only a needle prick.  That’s an improvement.  A year ago, a simple question like that could have sent me into a tailspin.  Same with seeing certain relationships paraded on Facebook.  Oh the beautiful family.  Oh the trophy wife, the handsome husband, the perfect marriage, the dream jobs.  I don’t compare myself to people like I used to.  In fact, I’m able to be happy for them.  I still have to stop myself from scoffing at comments left by girls on the walls of old flames and would’ve-beens, both because that’s creepy and also because it does tempt me to spiral into a ruthless self-critique.  But I’m done feeling like the red headed step child.  I make myself feel that way.  God hasn’t made me that way.  He wants me to have his fullness more than he wants me to get the things I want when I want them.  And this is a truth that is finally being imprinted in the fabric of my heart.

I feel very blessed.  I am part of an incredible team of musicians at my church, Port City, people who are excellent at what they do but also care about how Christ is developing us individually and as a team.  I have amazing friends who will still be around in ten years.  I can see a dynamic God working daily in the lives of those around me.  And so I can feel good about closing this chapter of my life in Wilmington soon.

Though the Wilmington chapter is only gonna be on hold temporarily I expect.  I will always come back here.  Wilmington has truly gotten into me.  An Ode to Wilmington blog soon to follow.

So that’s where I am.

A few days ago, my mom used the story of Ruth to demonstrate a lesson about Providence.  Ruth gleaned in a field, to her a field of no particular significance, and it happened to be the field of Boaz.  God pours out incredible provision in the midst of our seemingly insignificant details of out life.  So she told me basically to go out and glean and expect something great, just as God gave that field great significance.

2011!  The year of great gleaning!

I just want to lather on the gratefulness good and thick for a moment. Here’s to:

caffeinated beverages.

friends that are truly like surrogate family.

the right music at the right moment.

fall weather and it’s corresponding wardrobe.

electricity.

toothpaste.

the sovereignty of God.

down comforters.

scrambled eggs with hot sauce.

opportunity.

being given two and three and nonillion chances.

divine appointment.

all things flowing.

pumpkin spice flavored anything.

the occasional enjoyably awkward circumstance.

knowing we have been made for the EXTRAORDINARY.

sleep.

My alarm went off at 6:15 this morning. It felt like my first day of high school or something comparable. An exciting, ominous unknown. I walked to the bathroom in the partial blindess of my contact lensless eyes and decided I should kick the day off with the shower. Though I could not predict much of what the day would unfold, I COULD exercise control over my hair.

You see, I have only once before had a “real job.” And then I was over my head. I was a middle school teacher for three months, and collapsed under the weight of the realization that it wasn’t the career I wanted. Not even for another day. Three months after a daily fight with that realization, I quit.

Today, as I showered and packed my lunchbox– yogurt, a peach, an almond butter and raspberry preserves Ezekiel sprouted grain wrap, and curried rice with, ahem, burnt cashews and raisins– I wondered about how this phenomena would feel again. To feel gainfully employed with a full time schedule. Like a woman on the cusp of falling in love for the first time in years.

Except no love for me. Just the glory of being a temp. A temp assisting in medical records at the UNCW Health Center, that is.

I was not really nervous at all today as I walked in to meet the Health Center supervisor. The office was more or less what I expected. Women with names like “Sue” and “Tammy,” buzzing like bees between piles of papers and telephones, while doctors in white coats studied charts and strolled from patient to patient. “Baby,” “Honey,” and “Precious” were often drawled to address coworkers and patients. This is cute I suppose, but it became confusing. I would have to turn often to see whether or not I was the “Sugar” needed in certain cases or whether the generic salutation was intended for one of the other women. I’m all for the sweetness, but an intonation system in which changes in pitch change the word’s meaning, like those used in certain Asian languages, would be helpful.

I wasn’t too nervous when the supervisor showed me the polychromatic walls of medical files that would be my job to pull from and replenish. But the nervousness finally did set in when I was given my first real task. It seemed so simple: To find twenty medical charts and stuff them with corresponding lab reports. Only twenty.

I started in the medical records room. Found about four. “Ahem, [Supervisor], I didn’t find very many.” “Did you check in the nurse’s station?” “Oh my, well no I didn’t!” Found two more. Six out of twenty. That seemed pretty good. I brought them to the supervisor to be processed, but before I could even hand them over she said “No no! I’m not going to process them until you’ve done them all.”

Then the panic started to kick in. “Um, is there anywhere else the rest could be?” “Check in the doctor’s offices.” The doctors intimidated me, floating through the halls in white coats. The supervisor showed me their offices. She even drew me a map. Cautiously I walked from office to office, map in hand. It felt strange rummaging for folders in a professional’s office. One of the doctors mistook me for a student. Another seemed taken aback when I walked into her office to check for folders. I returned only a couple folders richer.

I walked past the offices probably three more times. With each new lap, I grew increasingly nervous, as I remembered the supervisor’s words– “No no! I’m not going to process them until you’ve done them all.”

I finally gave up and admitted it to her. “Listen, I don’t know where else they could be.” She asked a staff member to help. I watched in disbelief as she found almost all of the remaining folders in places I’d already looked. “Oh wow…I looked there! Man! I just…I mean…I can’t believe I didn’t find them!”

I felt miniscule. It’s finding folders, Glo. Not earning your M.D.

But I pressed on. I knew that if I made it through lunch, I could do this thing. I was asked to do all sorts of small tasks. I don’t mind being a gopher. I think I like the burdenlessness of it. You are told what to do, mostly, so you don’t have the pressure of deciding.

I sat outside on a bench eating my lunch, grateful I’d survived half the day. I’m a temp. I’m a temp. I’m an OFFICE TEMP, for crying out loud. So strange. My creative brain was in uncharted territory.

The remainder of the day was spent entering data and an hour and a half’s worth of putting away cards in alphabetical order in the appropriate rolodex. By the end, I was literally talking to myself outloud so I could pull through.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people probably. A temp position in an office. But for me it was pretty big.

It reminded me of what I can and can’t bear doing. I wondered if God created people to do what I did today. Like, if that’s what he purposed for them to do. Not saying there is anything wrong with that. But it’s hard for my mind to wrap around, and even harder for my heart.  Maybe the question of vocational purpose and “what we are meant to do” is mainly a western one.  Certainly the boy in India who sells corn and grows up to marry his niece doesn’t squabble with those questions.  Or maybe he does.

I don’t know.

But whether or not it’s a life reality or just a western reality, it is, in one respect or another, a reality.  So to finish addressing it, I realize that there are a lot of wonderful office jobs that don’t include staring at rolodexes.  But I suppose that today just reminded me to stick with my dreams.  It’s easy to give up, to work for thirty years in an environment different from what you want, simply because it comes with more predictability.  I’m tempted to do this.  Days like today help me snap out of it.

I think the job lasts a week. And I’m grateful for it.  And by the end of the day, I cheered at the increased speed with which I filed away folders.

So I’m happy, just so long as I’m a temp at this.

Well, I feel like a lush. Drunk on the sounds of a jazz playlist on shuffle. I can’t explain how it soothes my soul. Seeps into all the crannies, like butter on a hot biscuit. Oh my goodness. I took a long bath WHILE listening to Billie and Thelonious and others. I used a loofah to exfoliate dead skin cells. I soaked. After my bath, I took the time to moisturize. I didn’t hurry, I slowly and satisfactorily put lotion on, removed trace bits of eye makeup, and made my way to my room. I picked up my phone…”In bed before midnight…this is GREAT!”

Good day today. Sang for student ministries at church, middle and high school. I really enjoy leading worship, but sometimes more than others God seems to place a stronger burden on my heart for the kids. Tonight was that way. I really just thought, “Man, I wonder if their parents show them Christ?”  Not tell them to go to church. But the ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was a stranger and you invited me into your home’ kind of example of Christ. The Kingdom of Heaven, so said Jesus, is like a man who sold all of his possessions so he could buy a field with a treasure in it. It’s an extravagantly all-in kind of a deal.

Today as we sang “The Time Has Come,” I felt my honesty being tested, especially on the bridge– “All we are is Yours, all we’re living for is all You are.”

We sing that a lot. And I’m a seasoned Christian. Heck, I’m a preacher’s kid, which kind of makes me a pro. But it’s easy to fall into a pattern of life as usual rather than adventurously living for Christ. Taking time to love the least of these, have a conversation with an awkward stranger, showing mercy to an undeserving person.

“Today, today, it’s all or nothing” the chorus starts. All or nothing. I want to apply this idea to the parable. Why buy the whole field? Why not just buy the treasure? Now there’s probably an answer related to cultural dealings back then that I am unaware of. Either way, though, I truly think the message here is the idea of whole-hearted commitment. It’s not enough to just have the treasure. Oh no. I’m gonna sweep up all the land around it. Maybe even build a fence around it. This treasure requires desperate measures. An entire displacement of life as usual. That treasure holds the keys to radical love and the deepest depths of contentment. Nothing else can possibly matter aside from my possessing it and all that it entails.  “All we’re living for is all You are.”

I feel like a kid hyped up at a youth rally writing about all of this. “Radical living for Christ! Woo!” You know, when kids get psyched up and hand out soup cans and tracts door to door. That is one way to live radically.  I guess. But the commission Christ gave, so central to the Christian mission that it’s called the great commission, is to make disciples as you go.  I’ve found that as you go acts of love and kindness often take a backseat to less personal, more global (and glorified) efforts.  We scoff at the homeless man with a sign standing by College Rd. while gladly purchasing multiple pairs of Toms.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love it when social justice and fashion mix. It’s a beautiful thing of which I am a consumer.  And there’s a chance the homeless guy will buy beer or drugs or something else we wouldn’t approve of.  But this reason for not giving is both terribly judgmental and purblind. It pays to ask for someone’s story rather than assume things based on their appearance.  And ironically, we worry how a few dollars might be squandered if we give it to them while we justify unnecessary and often irresponsible purchases of our own.  “Well, it’s my money to waste if I want to.”  Whoa there Tiger!  We are MERELY stewards.  Managers.  Our money is to be stewarded for the kingdom.  It goes back to the selling everything to buy the field.

I didn’t mean to go on a rant about giving to homeless people.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to not give money to homeless people.  In fact, I confess that I struggle that homelessness is even an issue America, simply because it seems hardly justifiable given all of the helps and opportunities here.  But the point is, as we go there are opportunities to show kindness and draw men to Christ.  We don’t have to swipe a credit card for a cause halfway around the world for that to happen.  In fact, a truer test of Christlike love is taking care of one’s neighbor.  Those people that daily life dumps on our lap.

All of this is serving as a reminder to myself as well.  Just thought I should make that clear.

My jazz music is still going.  I’m in such a strangely hopeful mood.  I think it’s the combo of music, the bath, being comfy, and the Holy Spirit.  I know I’ve got a lot to do.  Gotta make room for that field in my life, get rid of clutter.  But I just feel like something big is coming.  I just think we are going to see change in the community of Believers here.  A new level of passion.  A deeper dissatisfaction with cultural norms.  A desire to love extravagantly.  I want those kids I led today to get rocked.  I want each of them to know they were created for more than life as usual.

Oh man.  Happy Sunday night world.

Well, I came out on the porch to talk to the Lord and instead I’m updating my blog.  Go figure.

Most blogs seem to have a consistent theme.  Travel.  Food.  Fashion.  Mine is erratic.  A public journal of sorts.  Just like the quote at the top of it from my Grandma Josephine, her simple yet poignant observation of foliage, I guess this is a shameless declaration of how I look at things.

Life right now is grand, what with all its uncertainties.  And I’ve changed, a lot.  It’s weird how memories make us, how some richly identify us and others are stranger than fiction.

Baby Glo was chunky.  They called me Thunder Thighs.

Toddler Glo woke mom up in the middle of the night asking for cheese grits.  They called me Grits Gloria.

Little kid Glo was asthmatic and took off her shirt to play football in the yard like her brothers.

Middle kid Glo found a bunch of antique bottles in the woods and broke them against a tree for no reason.

Bigger kid Glo wrote songs and listened to music in her bedroom during her free time.

Middle school Glo was chunky again.  And awkward.

High school Glo was bone thin, then chunky, first preppy then emo.  And awkward.

College Glo was leveling out.  Read Kierkegaard in her free time.  Put her dreams on a shelf, though.  Some awkwardness still lingered.

Post college Glo was lost in the search for legitimate adulthood.

As the current Glo, I’ve let go of identity crises altogether.  And I’ve divided my awkwardness into two categories, almost like good and bad cholesterol.  Bad awkwardness continues to abate in my life, but I’m realizing good awkwardness as a way of helping me get the upper hand in otherwise boring social situations.

I’m just done trying to be certain things.  I’m trying to be real about my interests, real about my desires.  And it’s cool to see God working, bringing my dreams to fruition and tweaking them.  Insecurity has all but vanished, and it’s a beautiful thing.

So, a summary of current Glo’s life:

I still feel called to do music, so I’m pursuing it, but in baby steps.  It’s been a passion– calling, I dare say– of mine indelibly  since I was a kid.  And it hasn’t unfolded at a pace or in a pattern I would have chosen, but I have an assurance that God is brewing something up.  I’m itching so much to record I can hardly stand it.

I’ve moved into a new house with three amazing girls, all with a passion for people and community.  We want to steward our home and hospitality.  We want people to know our door is always open.  We have big things planned.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so that’s all I’ll say.

I’m loving my city more every day.  I remember driving away from Wilmington after graduating from UNCW, just thinking about how glad I was to be out of that place.  I think my disillusionment stemmed from being jaded by pretentious academia, not by the city itself.  I have a newborn love for the people here and excitement for my part in the community.

I don’t get a kick out of reading philosophy and poetry and smartsy things like I used to.  I’m really starting to appreciate simplicity.  Real life.  Though oddly enough, I’m writing more poetry these days.  I’m writing lots of songs, my pen is always at work.  New melodies are always surfacing in my head.

I’ve started enjoying domestic things, which is near miraculous.  I was always the laughably non-domestic of my friends.  I actually LIKE cleaning now.  Vacuuming might be my favorite.  I’m cooking, organizing, and even (this one’s REALLY impressive) making my bed in the mornings.

I’ve started exercising, which is also a gasp to those who have known me for a long time.  Not like P90x or Crossfit or shakeweights, oh no.  I do Jane Austen style exercising.  I go “out for a walk” or take a run.  But still, historically exercising had been for the birds from my point of view.

I’ve started to enjoy the company of annoying people.  Annoying people pose a challenge, a challenge I’ve started to welcome.  I’ve also found that a lot of them are in dire need of something, usually identifiable within the first several minutes of talking to them, and it presents an opportunity to practice compassion and brotherly love.

Jesus continues to be real in more and more ways to me.  He is changing people’s lives all around me.  He is infiltrating more and more the details of my life.

I’m addicted to caffeine, but it doesn’t make me crazy like it used to.

It’s an interesting life phase.

I remember something my dad’s friend Doug told me the day before I attempted to drive to Austin, TX  last Fall, with my clothes and my keyboard in my car.  He said “Time isn’t passing you by,” and “Stop measuring yourself according to the world’s standards,” and “Most people give up on their dreams– don’t give up hope.”

Those words were truly prophetic.  They were meant for now, for these lingering uncertain days, for these days crammed with what feels like barely justified expectation.  I feel like anything could happen tomorrow.  This mystery is growing on me.

I guess it makes sense that we take some of who we were with us and leave a lot behind.  Doug something else the day I talked to him– “It is from our destiny that God calls out to us, not our past.”

It is through the lens of our destiny that we get to see how the fragments all start to fit together.

Amazing.  I love this journey.