Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Churning Sea

I am always entertained with stories about people seeing “signs” in their lives and listening to how they interpret them. Sometimes I think that things aren’t really signs at all, but a person’s desperate grasp at whatever they need at that moment, whether it be encouragement, a justification for doing (or not doing something), or simply a little reminder. I’m reminded of the movie Serendipity with Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. I know you ladies out there know what I’m talkin’ about! She believes in fate and lives her life looking for signs. It’s a cheesy, romantic, often frustrating movie, but in the end, it’s mushy and heart-warming – fate brings them together.

I’m not talking about fate here, nor am I talking about a love story with a happy ending. But what I do want to share with you is a little story about signs. Little hopes of encouragement. Little reminders. And not from the universe, but from God.

I’m assuming that if you’re reading this blog post, then you likely read my recent Restless post. If not, welcome to my blog and you can find the Restless post just a bit further down the page. I’m still struggling with the things that I mentioned in that post, and I’m still not in sync with God, but I’m getting there, and He is slowly working on me.

I was working in the Cayman Islands last week. The location doesn’t really matter other than that it was an island and was surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Work was going just fine, I had a good team to work with, the food was tasty – I mean, what more could you ask for? I’m living in my own little world down there, staring out of a conference room window at the Caribbean all day, and thinking that there could be worse places to be working. I was feeling relatively happy and wasn’t really angry at God, but wasn’t buddy-buddy with Him either. Just kind of cruising along and minding my own business.

Then it happened. Or rather, they happened. Signs. Reminders. Little hints of encouragement. God.

As the week progressed, I began paying more attention to the water. It was getting a lot more agitated. There was no more calm, clear, turquoise gorgeousness. It was heaving and hurling and churning.

A churning sea - Sign #1.

I’m riding in the taxi van with my two other team members on the way from work to the hotel, same as I had every other morning and evening. Uneventful. And I happen to notice that the taxi driver had a bumper sticker on her glove compartment that said “Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.”

Bumper sticker - Sign #2.

A couple of minutes later, I happen to look at her driver’s seat and notice that she has a t-shirt pulled over the seat, and it’s one of those Senor Frog’s t-shirts (which sounds silly in this story), that very clearly stated on the back “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”

Random bar t-shirt - Sign #3. At this point, I just have to smile.

In continuing with the nightly routine, we all went upstairs to our rooms for about an hour before meeting up for dinner. I had brought my daily devotional book (My Utmost for His Highest) with me, but hadn’t turned a page yet. Remember, I’m just happily cruising along, minding my own business. Then I decide to have a look at the devotion for that day. And it said this: “You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed in you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in over activity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come.”

Daily devotion - Sign #4.

Fate was not at work here. And I’m not going to pretend that my life turned upside down because of what I have labeled as the “four signs.” But for me, in those moments, on that one day, God knew that I needed something to grasp on to. He knew that I wasn’t having conversations with Him, and He was finding ways to have conversations with me anyway.

Micah 6:8 is one of my favorite verses. That it was stuck to a glove compartment in a taxi van on Grand Cayman Island could have just been coincidence, and very likely was. But it made me smile. The t-shirt from a bar with the statement about “finding your prince” was likely just a souvenir gift from someone to the taxi driver. But it reminded me to be patient. That the sea grew wilder with each day was, in all honesty, a result of the tropical depression that was in the Western Caribbean. I know that. But it reminded me that life is lived out in cycles. That one day it can be smooth and calm and beautiful, and in the next instant, it can be a churning sea, tossing everything around and rearranging what used to be your normal, and making it into something new.

And that devotion? It’s funny how words can speak so powerfully to you one day and be mere words on the next. That day, those words encouraged me to just hang on. To not stop believing in the might and power of our God. And to not let myself get caught up in a routine, or in my current status in life, but to get caught up in Him.

I don’t believe in fate, I believe in God. Some people would say that what God plans for our lives IS fate. But the problem with that is that we have the choice to screw it all up with the decisions that we make. So in the meantime, I will keep on trudging along, trying harder to keep myself focused on Him and not on everything around me. And by doing this I can hopefully be better prepared to handle the stress and strain that is sure to come and toss my life around, just like a churning sea.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Put Together

Someone said to me a while back, “Lisa, you always look so put together.” And I know that she meant it as a complement. She said it with a big smile and a hug. Really, it was a sweet thing to say and it came from the goodness deep within her.

But I’ve been a bit troubled by that statement ever since. Not that it came from her, but that I hope that I don’t come across that way to everyone. And to be honest, I’ve heard that a few more times since then. But I guarantee you, I am most certainly NOT always put together.

On a majority of weekends, there is a high likelihood that at some point during the weekend, I will resemble a hobo. You know, those people who meander around Central Park with pigeons on their shoulders? Ok well, maybe I don’t have pigeons on my shoulders, but I’m usually wearing a mix match of clothes that most people would not be caught dead wearing in public. And the people at the grocery store often get to see this side of me.

Or catch me up at my parents during the holidays. I usually stay in my flannel pants all day. I eat breakfast, lunch AND dinner in them. And if I do have to leave the house, there’s a high likelihood that I may not shower for the outing. So you can imagine how not “put together” I am at times like that. Or take a trip with me, and I promise you, that by the end of Day 2, you will know without a doubt that I am not always “put together.”

If you see me at work, I’ll probably look decent. Likewise, if you see me at church, I’ll probably appear to be put together. And if you catch me at the tail end of a 24 hour flight? You’ll see a side of me that I don’t even see that often. The jet lagged grumpy, frumpy, I-really-want-a-shower-and-clean-clothes version of myself.

The outward appearance

We all know that someone’s outward appearance can leave an impression. But it’s just that, an outward appearance. It doesn’t tell you what’s going on inside. And often times, the outward appearance does not even reflect the true spirit of that person. I agree that there are times when someone is going through something so horrible that they wear it on the outside. But what about all of the other times, when a struggle is more silent? Or someone is dealing with the same insecurities as everyone else? We all have them.

I do like to look nice. And I will admit that I have a passionate love for jewelry, handbags, shoes, and Banana Republic. And when you put those four things together, you can certainly look very put together. But the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:3-4 that “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” So do you understand why that statement troubled me?

The internal self

Those who are close to me know without a doubt that I am not always as put together as I may look. They know of my insecurities, my doubts, my concerns, my struggles. Trust me, I have them, just like everyone else. And I can confidently say that nobody is always as put together as they look.

I don’t mean this as a negative vibe toward this person AT ALL. I love that she said it. I also think it teaches me a good lesson. One that reminds me that I need to be myself in all situations. I need to be true to who I am and what I am feeling at the moment, and be sensitive to the fact that my outward appearance does not always reflect what is going on inside. To be fair, I can’t let it. There are too many times and places in my life when I need to look nice and put together, and I can’t afford to look how I feel on the inside. But the important lesson is that I need to make sure that the people who are close to me know what is going on in my life. After all, they are the ones who actually keep me together.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I love my job. It affords me the opportunity to travel around the world and visit other cities and cultures. And I get lots of airline and hotel points to use for fun, which certainly is a perk! What I also love about my job is that when I’m home, I can have a life. I can plan things and follow through with them, and it’s very predictable. I missed that for most of the early part of my career.

I have a great group of friends, from all aspects of my life. Some I’ve had since college, some are from my early days at work, some are from church, some are by chance, but in the end, they are all important to me and form an invaluable support network for me. I honestly cannot envision going through life without my friends.

My family continues to be a solid rock for me. It’s refreshing to have parents who always want to see me, even if I just saw them the weekend before. And although I don’t see my sister as much as I would like, we have a history that goes back our entire lives, which is something that I don’t have with anybody else. Sure our family dynamics have changed over the years, but we are still a family and we enjoy the new challenges and opportunities that we encounter. Well, most of them :-)

I really can’t complain about my life.

But I’m restless. Utterly, powerfully, and uncontrollably restless.

Literally and figuratively. I can’t sit still long enough to even notice what is going on in my life. I just live it, day by day, trip by trip, and then I look up one day and things are not the way that I envisioned them to be. Or where I want them to be.

I’m restless because I don’t know what the heck my life is for at the moment.

I’m restless because I keep comparing my life to everyone else’s around me.

I’m restless because right now, I’m angry with God. Really, really angry with Him. So angry that I can’t force myself to open my mouth and talk to Him. I’m afraid of what I would say. And part of me wants Him to hurt as much as I feel I am hurting right now. Even though I know that He hurts watching me live my life every single day.

I’m restless because six months ago, I felt so confident in my life and my direction and my dreams. God was working in me and I was passionate about living my life for Him. And then it all just stopped. It all came to a screeching halt. And I wish that I could pin point what it was that caused it. But it has made be resentful and angry and hurt. And restless. Why? Because feeling that close to God and being in sync with Him got me through each day without thinking about the fact that I am 34 and single and nowhere close to being a wife and a mother. Now, without Him, it’s something that I think about every single day. Usually multiple times a day. I’ve lost the confidence in His plan for me and feel so far away from it.

I see couples in a restaurant together enjoying a meal and laughing over their conversation, and my heart physically aches. I watch my friends playing with their kids, or getting ready to have their first or second child, and I get butterflies. Six months ago, I was content exactly where I was. Now, I’m just restless.

And it’s not just my single status that is making me restless. It’s watching close friends of mine go through things that they shouldn’t have to go through. And being angry with God about that too. It’s having almost too much freedom with my time, no one to be accountable to, and endless possibilities of things to do. It’s putting off things that I know have needed to get done for months, or even longer. All of that makes me feel restless.

I’m in a state of unknown right now. I’m way too prideful right now, and I know that. I have far too many expectations of my life right now. And none of them are coming to fruition because they are my expectations, not His. And I know that. And I also know that none of this is going to get better without me completely breaking into pieces and throwing myself on the ground at His feet. I just can’t do that right now. Certainly not on my own strength. I’m being a stubborn, hard-headed child to my Father. And instead of crying out to Him to tell Him that I’m angry, I sit with my lips zipped tightly in my room with the door closed, pouting in the corner. And you can ask my parents – I’m a great pouter!

So friends, my few blog followers who have been sitting for over two months without a new post, can I ask you to just do something for me? Can I just ask simply that you pray for me? Because I’m not doing a very good job of that right now, and could use some help. And hopefully at some point in the near future, all of this restless energy can be aimed towards something good.

Lots of love and thanks coming your way.