I don’t know how many times I will need to think, say, or write that it feels strange to sit down here to make it not true.
It feels not only strange, but hard. I remember when only the latter was true. More importantly, I remember when I felt it was worth pushing through, worth working through all the muddle of my brain to formulate words into phrases into sentences into posts, voilà.
And now, trying to fight through the hard is harder than ever, because I’m sorely out of practice.
This summer has been a good one. It wasn’t at all what I expected when it began, and I’m glad for that. I needed it.
The high school ministry at my church takes a lot of the summer off, which I really appreciated. It gave me greater flexibility in making plans with my friends (most of whom are teachers, so this summer was an active one for us all!) and also afforded me the chance to get some rest on a weeknight that through the year is permanently booked.
But I also missed the high schoolers, because they’re a funny, vibrant, flowering people. They’ve got their dreams ahead of them and yet so many expectations. We expect too much of teenagers, I think. They are only learning themselves, and yet we expect they can accurately map out the next few decades of their lives. We who have passed through those years ought to know better than anyone how futile that can be.
And yet, what opportunity! For the student who uses high school and college as a foundation for their character and passion, it is a valuable eight years. For the student who shortsightedly squanders it, there’s so much ground to make up afterward. And in some ways, I see myself there, because I avoided the discipline of deciding what I wanted to do with my degree until… well, still.
That word that haunted my 2014 and floated recently into my head, I see you, and I am still trying to figure out what to do with you.
The past few weeks have been an EXERCISE, y’all. I don’t think I have ever needed peace in the midst of desperation and anxiety more. I’m not at liberty to speak about it, if only because I silence myself. I will break my peace when I can; for now, I breathe deep and pray.
I am trying to focus on what God has given me to do now: we are shortly beginning the school year with the youth group; I am leading a girls’ small group this year (I have freshmen! I’m so stoked); I am helping to facilitate social media promotion and engagement for our church’s fall missions fest. There are good things happening at Highland Park; there always are, for God is moving still.
I’m planning to write through #Blogtember with Bailey next month, as well as room with her, Kristin, and Margaret at Influence in three weeks. M and I are going 4 for 4 as Influence roommates. I’m excited to add Bailey and Kristin to our mix this year! I hope both of these September activities spark my heart back to my little cyber space.
“Love’s to Blame” just came on my iPod, followed by Sara Groves; one of my favorite songs and one of my favorite artists. I have let my music languish for years now. God and I wrestled earlier this summer; I remember thinking, I want to serve in music. But I don’t want to put myself forward, so I won’t move until someone else affirms me in this. And then God Himself said to move, so I have made small steps forward despite my fear. I want to make a joyful noise, and not just in my car on the way home, savvy?
I read a lot. In fact I read nearly all the time. I sat down with Kayla Aimee‘s Anchored the day I got it from Amazon and I didn’t move until it was finished. I never do that. I have been pre-ordering hard copies of books from Amazon for a few years now and they inevitably travel from a shelf in a warehouse to a shelf in my living space. I have a bad habit of prolonging the reading of books I know I will love.
You need to read Anchored if you haven’t already, not only because Kayla is stinking hilarious, but because she has a beautiful story of walking with God through the valley. We need to keep reading and listening to and telling that old, old story, of God’s faithfulness and goodness, so we don’t forget when we, as we will, walk through the valley ourselves.
I also dove into books about topics both old and new: the former includes the Holocaust and historical fiction; the latter includes a memoir of life in Iran, contemporary fiction placed in Africa, and an account of the Turkish slaughter of Christian minorities in Smyrna in 1922. I am currently reading Booker T. Washington’s memoir and account of the growth of The Tuskegee Institute. I’ve wanted to learn this summer, to stretch moccasins not my own, and I want to keep doing that as we close out 2015.
It’s still summer, so it feels silly to reflect on it already, but I want to prepare well for fall, and I think that requires evaluation on what went well the season before. There’s so much to be thankful for, to lay humbly at Jesus’s feet, to keep learning and doing. I’m excited for it.
Now tell me, though our coffee’s cold and the autumn breeze is starting to flare, what have you been up to all summer?