Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the waiting room

You know what it's like whenever you have an appointment of any kind. It doesn't matter if you show up early, on time, or always have to wait. I've spent my fair share of time in doctors' offices, dentist offices, hospitals, waiting for an oil change, appointments on school visits, and other times when I have to wait. You wait for your food at a restaurant after it's ordered; you wait for a ride to pick you up; you wait for the train or subway; you wait for a package in the mail; you wait for an answer to a question; you wait for results from a test; you wait for the phone to ring.

Waiting rooms can be some of the quietest places on earth. Sometimes it's silent in there and you feel strange just coughing or scratching your arm or crossing your legs, because you might disturb the silence that everyone seems to be so awkwardly accustomed to. So you flip through a magazine that is probably from February of 2005 and has been touched by all kinds of hands with germs, or you tap tap tap your fingers on the chair to the annoying Chris Brown song that's in your head because you just heard it 4 times in the car on the way there, or you text anyone and everyone in your address book on your phone just to say hi because you're bored. If you run out of things to do, you balance your checkbook (quietly), reposition yourself in your seat, and twirl your hair (if you're a girl) or clean out your fingernails.

Sometimes waiting rooms are some of the noisiest places on earth. There are babies crying around you, kids throwing temper tantrums, elderly people complaining about how long they have to wait (I don't blame them...they don't have much time!), TV screens with CNN running the latest news (or at my dermatologists' office, a video advertising their own services including everything from laser surgery to breast reduction...which is awkward to watch in a room filled with people), or teenagers with their iPods blasting so loudly that you can hear it across the room. You can hear the conversations between the people behind the desk nonchalantly discussing what they did last weekend, and you can subtly hear the LiteRock radio station playing in the background that is drowned out by everyone who is sharing their entire cell phone conversation with you...including the person on the other end.

...and all you want to hear is your name being called.

And then, sometimes, your name is called, and you're escorted into yet another waiting room. You sit, now in complete solitude, wondering when the door will open next and who it will be and how long until you'll finally be back outside again to breathe in the fresh air smell instead of the oh-so-common waiting room smell.

...all you want are answers.
...or to ask more questions.
...or to find out results.
...or to know what's next.

I find myself so often in the waiting room of life. Sometimes it's quiet around me and I don't want to make a move, afraid that I'll disturb the peaceful sound of life going smoothly. Sometimes I'm bored out of my mind and just want to move on to whatever is next. And in those times it's fairly easy to hear a voice calling my name. Sometimes it's busy and fun and noisy and I find myself adjusting to that...raising the volume of whatever is in my ears with my own speed of life. I rush around from one thing to the next and drive as fast as I can to get somewhere...only to hurry up and wait once more. And in those times, it's usually difficult to hear a voice calling my name.

I've found that being in the waiting room is just a part of following Christ. If I make a move without following His lead, I'll probably regret it. If I wait for His lead, I'll find out that it's all worth the wait. I don't know what I'm waiting for right now, but I feel like I'm in a waiting room. I'm watching, observing, listening, looking, and trying to battle the virtue of patience. I don't know what's next for me in life, but I know no matter what, it will be worth the wait. I know that God's timing is always better for me than my own, and sometimes that's just easier to say to others than to believe for yourself. I'm trying to enjoy this time of see what it reveals, to find out what doors open, to see what relationships will come, to see what heart changes may come, to find out what I'll be doing 5 years from now, to enjoy this time in life. The "twentysomethings" are such a bittersweet time. I love it, yet I hate it, because it always leaves me wondering what's next. But I've always loved surprises, so I'm looking forward to being surprised.

So I'll sit...and I'll wait...
both patiently and impatiently.

But I refuse to miss out on life just because I'm waiting for what's next. So I'm challenging myself to learn to live fully, even as I wait.

Are you waiting for anything? What are you waiting for?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

thoughts on writing and then some pop culture ranting...

My heart has been heavy lately with so many things that I'd love to write about, but I just don't feel like sharing them with the world. I know that people read this from literally around the world, but I have no idea who, why, or how. But I love that somehow God uses things like blogs, despite the funny name they've been given, to connect people's hearts. Complete strangers can read the thoughts of someone else and find themselves laughing, crying, or just thinking alongside someone else. I think that's just a beautiful thing, and that's why I continue to write on this...some things nonsensical and whimsical and pointless and some things I share are teachable moments I've experienced in my own life. No matter what I'm writing about, I love the expression because sometimes writing just lets me feel a little bit more like myself.

(warning: mental whip-lash...)

But then there are moments like right now when I just have to unload all of my nonsensical thoughts on pop culture just because I can. And right now I feel like I have to get these little tidbits off my mind:

a) If I hear Chris Brown's song "With You" one more time I might actually puke. That may be an exaggeration, but it may actually happen. The song is stuck in my head right now and I'm going insane, because I can't even understand the words. just a "hey little shawty" and a "withyouwithyouwithyouwithyouwithyou" every now and again. And might I add to this list of songs I might puke if i hear again the following: Usher's "Love in this Club" and Ray J's "Sexy Can I"? Oh, and Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" but keep reading for more thoughts on her...

b) The entertainment world must be out of stuff to talk about, because I think I heard at least 5 times the other day that Jordin Sparks had to cancel on the rest of her tour due to her vocal cord something or other...WE KNOW ALREADY!

c) I'm still not really sick of singing the echo parts on Flo-Rida's song "Low." In fact, my 5-year-old niece called me last night singing it...which may not be a good thing?

d) Mariah Carey needs to stop making music. Why? Because it's all awful. Sure the girl's got range, but her songs need serious help. Maybe "someday...hey hey..."

e) Re: American Idol. Every Thursday morning it seems America is mystified by the results of the prior night's show. At this point America, who really cares? By now we should all know that every one of these people is going to be offered some kind of record deal, and haven't we learned our lesson that it has nothing to do with their most recent performance? So honestly? I don't care who wins. They're all good at this point. I can pick favorites, but it just doesn't matter unless I feel like texting or calling until my fingers fall off. But there's no reason to get upset about it.

f) I'm completely intrigued by the people in Eldorado, TX and how their cult works and how these ladies are brainwashed. I really wish I could help them somehow...they need some serious truth spoken into their lives, because they've been lied to for way too long.

g) I'm so happy that Brothers & Sisters is back. I feel like it's a family reunion with me and the Walker family.

h) I need to find something to do with my life. I clearly watch too much TV and listen to the radio way too much. Please someone help me find something better to do?

Whew! OK, I feel better now...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

life lessons

It is amazing the lessons we learn about life from its very counterpart--death.

Sweet little Regan Faith Mills passed away this week, and at the oh-so-young age of only 6 years old, Regan was tougher than I will ever be. Without using words or gestures, Regan's life speaks volumes to what God can do in a life. She was a living miracle in the short life she lived, and she taught many people how to wait and hope and trust and listen and be content and just BE (see her momma's blog for more on that...).

Last night was her visitation and today was the funeral, which were both difficult times. My heart aches for my dear friends (and often, mentors) Brian and Chantell, whose hearts are deeply hurting even though they've known this day would someday come. No matter if death is expected or sudden, it is never an easy thing. And in these days when everyone is around, it's not easy, but it is certainly easier to handle your pain when there are people there to share it.

In the line last night Chantell and I shared some tears and words that have remained in my mind...she said that she had been thinking of me this week since I've been through the loss of my dad over a year ago, and we briefly talked about how much different it is to be on the receiving end of the hugs and words in the visitation line. It's easy to go through a line and show love and support for people but then be able to go back home to a normal life. We both said, "I wish I could be one of those people."

But the truth is, life is never the same after you lose someone close to you. Sometimes it just feels lonely, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. No one can ever fill the void of the person who is missing. Jesus is certainly there to bring hope and comfort, and often people around you can do the same, but the void will always be there, because it's supposed to be there. That person had a specific role in God's purpose in his or her life, and only he or she was meant to fill it. And when they're gone, no one else can fill it. But we have to take comfort in knowing that they, as Keith Ray put it in Regan's funeral service today, have said yes to Jesus' invitation to join Him. And that's a much better place than right here.

If you have never lost anyone close to you, you have no idea. I don't say that to condemn you, because I certainly don't wish it upon you, but it's hard for you to relate. I used to be one of those people. I wish I was still one of those people.

Today was hard. It was hard to see Brian and Chantell hurting because they miss their baby girl. It is hard to see Ryder and Rylee hurting because they miss their baby sister. It is hard to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, because they miss the precious blessing that Regan was and will always be. And it was hard because it reminds me how much I miss my dad. It reminds me of what life used to look like when he was fully alive (and I say fully, because I mean before any of his surgeries and complications when he truly felt alive). It reminds me how real death is and how short life is. It reminds me of how hard those nights were after his wake and funeral and how difficult the days were when all the friends and family were gone and all we wanted to do was jump back into life as usual, but we would never be the same. It couldn't.

I wish I was still one of those people. I wish I didn't have to lose my Grandma Mary and Grandma Shirlye. I wish I didn't have to lose my Dad. I wish my Mom didn't have to lose her husband, and I wish my sister and brother-in-law didn't have to lose their dad. I wish my niece Maddy didn't have to lose her Papa and I wish my nephew Evan could have met his Papa. I wish Brian and Chantell didn't have to lose their baby girl and I wish Ryder and Rylee didn't have to lose their baby sister.

But even as we wish we could still go home and go back to normal, I know that our hearts are more alive, our families are stronger, our hope is a little closer, our faith is more real, and our lives are more blessed because we have loved and lost. And what is even more important in all of this is that our God is more glorified and our praise is even truer.

My heart wrenched today as I watched Brian and Chantell worship God, with arms raised high in the air, in the midst of loss, but in the midst of victory. Because God is good. Even in these times, God is good. But I still wish I was one of those people...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Please pray...

Please pray for Brian, Chantell, Ryder, and Rylee Mills as they grieve the loss of their little girl, Regan. If you know them, you know that Regan's life was a struggle but such a gift and blessing to so many people. Praise God for the life she lived and the lessons she taught everyone along the way. You can refer to Brian & Chantell's blog for more from their heart and journey:

Monday, April 14, 2008

blue skies, palm trees, golden sunsets

How can anyone see these things and not believe that there is a mighty, powerful, creative, colorful God behind it all? I sure can't...

Saturday, April 12, 2008


So it has only been a little over 24 hours now since I left sunny Flo-rida, and I can't stop shivering. Seriously, Illinois, it's the middle of April and we're expecting snow today and tomorrow. Isn't that a bit ridiculous?

Anyway, one of my best friends/co-worker Lindsey and I had the great opportunity to go down to Panama City Beach to hang out w/ all the drunk spring breakers for a week. Just kidding. We went down there for a Christ In Youth MOVE Conference with only the youth group of 400 students from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. In the midst of crazy drunks galavanting down the streets barefoot in bikinis hollering at everyone in sight and riding in the backs of trucks, there were about 400 students plus staff/adult leaders worshiping in an old arcade building. Not the type of venue you'd expect, but we're sure it was the first time an event like that had ever happened in that building. It was cool to sense the Spirit moving in such an odd place. I guess that's how He rolls...

We hung out w/ some funny students, some new and old friends from both CIY and Southeast, and of course spent some good time on the beach. I definitely brought a tan home as a souvenir, so I'm quite happy about that.

The thing that I'm most excited about is just to see how these students will begin to MOVE. I'm excited to see how even I will move. I'm in such a weird stage of life where I'm so uncertain about where God is leading me, and I have no idea which direction I should be moving. But I know there's something stirring in me...I just have yet to figure it out.

I'll post some pictures of the beautiful sunset I caught the other night on the beach when I get a chance...since it's so cold in Illinois for now, those will have to suffice for warming me up.