"And the greatest of these is love."

Above all things, love one another.

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wisconsin.

i’ve been getting worse and worse at writing recently. i think it’s partly because life has been filling up with less reflective, more time consuming things—hanging out with friends, talking more on the phone with people, going out to restaurants, watching parks and rec on netflix (guilty pleasure oops), flying to wisconsin…

oh yeah. i went to wisconsin this weekend. took off on friday, landed in milwaukee around friday afternoon, took something called the badger bus (i can’t make that up) to madison, stayed at naj’s place. drank peach andre and ate delicious fried rice—cooked by mle. woke up the next morning, walked around the farmer’s market maybe five blocks from where emily lives, ate lots of cheese curds, explored the state capitol, sampled more cheese—fried cheese, dried cheese, aged cheese, new cheese—ate brunch, visited her workplace (epic is unreal. un.real.), and then caught that beauty of a badger bus again, went back to milwaukee. met up with julie/awesome/junebear/whitney and other assorted old friends at a bar, drank, ate, was merry. then attended the wedding of the century. think beautiful people madly in love, think high arched ceilings, regal painted walls, delicious dinner, perfect dance floor. basically, just the most beautiful weekend. 

anyway, there were three moments i wanted to remember from wisconsin. oddly enough, all of them weren’t very “special” per se—not notable, not exciting. just calm, quiet, and beautiful. 

1. walking around madison in the crisp fall air at the farmers market. fresh produce on all sides, paintings and artwork. the sprawl and stretch of tree branches around us, the smell of fried cheese sizzling in the air. it was a bit brisk outside, but too hot inside—the kind of weather that makes you take off your jacket and scarf and then put it back on again and then take it back off, fumbling and a bit frustrated. but the sky was the clearest shade of blue and i ran up to june and hooked my arm through hers even though she flinched away from my overeager physical contact, and we walked around the streets together, naj and molly right in front of us. everything around me felt like fall—the sunshine, the wind, the smell, the crispness of it all. and i remember our legs falling into sync with our steps, caught the glimpse of our limbs moving in tandem as we passed by some store window, and it felt like everything was in place and right. all of it. 

2. sitting on the floor of the bathroom with lauren awesome, talking out all our feelings and disagreements and hurts. she’s one of those friends who i can somehow be upset with, yet totally still treasure and love wholly at the same time. like the love is so obvious and irrefutable that the emotions, the anger, the frustration, none of that can touch the care i feel for her—or from her. we sat in the bathroom (she was in the bathtub lolz) because everyone else in our hotel room was asleep, and the tile was cold beneath my flimsy sleep shorts and i’m sure she was uncomfortable with porcelain and metal spout pressed into her back, but we talkedtalkedtalked about everything: about boys, about jobs, about uncertainty, about heartache on my end and hearthope on hers, about best friends and about old friends, about how things change and how hard it is to deal with that sometimes. then we prayed for people on our hearts—held hands lightly. she suggested we pray. that alone almost made me cry. then we started actually praying and then i actually did cry. but it wasn’t like i was sad, it was more like i was so….grateful? can you cry thankful tears? because i think that’s what those were. 

3. last thing, i swear. outdoor walk after a sunday morning brunch with julie june awesome. we meandered our way around milwaukee, into public markets and weird decor shops. finally found our way to one of the lakes. plopped down by the waterfront, on the very edge so our feet dangled over. just sat around, lazy and full and happy, and basked. again the sunshine was unreal—the leaves, the color of the fall reflected in the water pushed up against that searing blueness of the sky. the skyline (what little skyline there was, lolz midwest) in the background. we didn’t even really talk much, just kind of bopped around and tried a few selfies and lounged in our full bellies, but it was so…peaceful? so right? so wonderful. 

i think that’s what i’ll remember from this weekend in wisconsin, this magical journey to madison and milwaukee. 

the people. my people. years and years can pass, and we’re still each others’ people. the people and how happy i feel when i’m with them. 

(also, the wedding was beautiful, but this is already a novel and i’m tired and my arms are out of shape and this much vigorous typing has made them sore, so……goodnight :). 

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surrender.

it’s been a long time since i’ve sat down to write with the intention of sorting through my jumble of thoughts and emotions. it’s a lot easier to ignore the tangle and shove it deep into my metaphorical mind closet, go about my day with it straining against the doors but at the very least still contained. 

here’s what’s on my mind: i don’t know who i am and what i want to do with my life. 

pretty typical mid-twenties-quarter-life-millennial-crisis blahblahblah. i don’t care if it’s overdone, i want to write about it all the same. 

it’s been really stressing me out. all around me my friends are getting married, starting new relationships, stepping forward in their career, moving to new cities, settling in and growing roots and showing progress. and i’m not……not stepping forward? not moving to new cities? not growing roots? but i’m also not sure what my end destination is/will be, so it’s kind of difficult to say that there’s forward motion. how can there be progress when you don’t know what you’re working toward? i feel like i’m in limbo and on some grey cloudy oblivion—teetering, because i know something big has got to happen soon, but still, for right now, just teetering. and i keep thinking and thinking and thinking about all the options and paths and the widespread maze that lies before me with what feels like endless options: law school? public policy? teaching forever? writing? dropping everything and becoming a minister? professor? non-profit work? housewife?!?!?! legislator?!?!?!

anyway, the unknown is difficult. we all know that. i’m not here to talk about that. 

i’m here to talk about three separate conversations i’ve had with my friends recently. 

one of them is going through an eerily similar situation to mine. same age still single really loves Jesus in a short term teaching job but isn’t sure if it’s where she wants to be forever. i ranted to her about how difficult our life stage was, and how i’ve been asking Jesus for an answer about this career thing—and how He’s been completely silent. like, frustratingly, intensely silent. this is the first time in my life that i’ve been willing to listen to what He has to say before i make a decision and He picks now to be quiet?!?!?!

she looked at me with these deep blue eyes and smiled and said something so wise. (not verbatim, probz dramatized because i’m me.)

"grace, you’re a planner and a dreamer and a doer," she said ."so am i. i wonder if maybe God’s staying quiet for a reason. maybe if you knew, you’d just get to action and start moving in that direction, maybe you’d stop asking Him and talking to Him, maybe you’d stop listening. maybe He’s quiet on purpose so that you keep coming to Him."

that’s annoying as heck. but very, very wise. 

she went on to say something else that wasn’t annoying: “and grace, for right now, i feel like God’s just telling me to be here. be here with Him. just love Him, live for Him, be with Him. the rest will figure itself out.”

i liked that part very much. 

fast forward a bit and i’m talking to her older brother in a long car ride about basically the same thing—how i don’t know where i am and where i’m headed and what i want to do or who i want to be or where i want to live or who i’m going to marry or what my priorities are and it’s confusing and i’m frustrated. 

he, older brother of the family, is equally wise if not wiser. he kind of hmmmm-ed at me, and then said something that helped me a lot (classic. and of course, also not verbatim, probz dramatized). 

"grace, it’s like one of those habits from the seven habits of highly effective people. ‘begin with the end in mind.’ a lot of people live their lives climbing ladders and then, once they’re at the top, realize that they don’t want to be on top of this wall after all. you need to figure out what your end is first before you can move towards it."

that was exactly, exactly what was going on. i didn’t know my end—and i didn’t realize i didn’t know my end until i talked to him and he diagnosed it. this second conversation clarified everything. 

okay, last conversation—with a friend that i care about very much. we were on a walk in the metroparks and discussing our futures, as we are apt to do. he’s a wonderfully intelligent person with ambition and dreams and this amazing knack for quiet analysis. this conversation surprisingly isn’t dramatized or misquoted. 

"i don’t know anything about my life," this friend said. "except this: i want to love God and serve Him and His church."

it’s hitting me now, after all these separate conversations with all these separate people whom i love and value deeply, that i’m making something so simple very, very complicated. right now, i’m a teacher. i’m a Christian in a church. i’m a single, independent, free young woman. i love my friends, my students, my family, my Jesus. 

i should be content in this. 

the end goal will become apparent as i keep walking. the details will fill themselves in. after all, i have a Lord and a God who has never let me down yet. why do i not trust Him after all that He has done for me?

and furthermore, as i’m going, i should just love Him. just be with Him. just continue to trust trust trust listen listen listen. and it’s easier said than done, but i should just learn to love His presence and sit quietly at His feet. 

because it’s true, what my last friend said. 

i don’t know anything about my life except that i love my Jesus and want to serve Him and His church. 

the rest will figure itself out. 

He is a God of mercy with a design. it’s about time for me to surrender. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBZvEjDkQw0