Friday, December 16, 2016

16 Things I Learned in 2016

My sister Leslie mentioned to me recently on our podcast, The In-Between, that she was trying to take the end of this year to really reflect on what she learned in 2016 and to remember the goodness of God throughout that process.  So she got me thinking, and over the last couple of weeks I've been jotting down the lessons that I learned this year.  I came up with 16 because of course I's 2016!

1.  Ask for what is actually in your heart.

I feel like this was the lesson that God kept reminding me of over and over throughout 2016.  I realized that I often preach to people to dream big and to believe big, but when it came to my own prayer life I definitely kept things to a more minimal level.  I tend to pray for others (my girls, Josh, my job, etc.), but one day I was walking and thinking about some ideas I had for myself when I heard the Lord whisper, "What do you want?"  I immediately knew what I wanted, but the prospect of actually asking for those things felt daunting.  I felt selfish, prideful, and began to wonder if what was in my heart might be too much.  That walk was a turning point for something inside of me this past year, because with each step taken I dealt with some wrong beliefs that I didn't even realize I was holding.  It was a walk where God unveiled my fear of asking for big things, and it was a walk where the ask turned to surrender and surrender turned to hope.  It's been a year of realizing that much of what is in my heart comes from Him and therefore it's not prideful or selfish but rather visionary and powerful.

2.  Parenting strong-willed kids only gets easier if I remain consistent.

For some reason I had hopes that when my little one went from three to four, we would magically experience a transformation in our strong-willed child.  And guess what?!  That didn't happen.  So we have been regrouping, trying to become more consistent in our parenting, discipline, and rewards, and slowly we are seeing changes.  Thank you Jesus!

3.  Buckingham Palace is as regal as I imagined.

Buckingham Palace was open to visitors when I was there this summer, and I literally gasped as I walked down the red carpeted stairs into the great ballroom.  It was magnificent and solidified my love for the royals.

4.  I should not be the navigator when my husband is driving on the opposite side of the road.

Speaking of England...we learned that a great way to bring out marital strife is for my husband to drive on the "wrong side" of the road while I tried to navigate our group through skinny, winding roads on the English country-side.  I finally turned my duties over to someone else on the team and peace was restored.

5.  Doing hard things is always worth it!

I've done some hard things this year, and in the process I almost always wanted to give up, but when those things were complete, I was reminded that the best things are always hard but always worth it.

6.  Having a nephew is pretty awesome.

This little guy is my first nephew to live in the same city as me...and I'm smitten.

7.  Starting a podcast is fun, but also some work.

I started a podcast called The In-Between with my sister Leslie, and I am absolutely loving it!  I feel like every story matters, and I love creating a place to share the stories of some of my favorite people!  We are learning much and have plans to continue to improve, but the journey has been a favorite for me in 2016.

8.  Sometimes the best way to meet a need is to help others connect.

For years, when someone came to me with a need I felt a pressure to find a solution or to meet that need myself, which inevitably caused me to feel overwhelmed and want to hide when I saw another person coming my way.  But this last year I've tried to help foster relationships between people.  I've learned to become a connector, so when I hear about a need, especially when I know I don't have the skill set to meet that need, I try to connect people with others.  A few times those connections have flopped, but on other occasions simple introductions have turned into true friendships or working relationships.  And I don't have another to-do on my list!

9.  You don't have to finish bad books.

I've stopped reading a lot of books this year, which is has given me more time to finish books that I've loved (like these two).

10.  Watching those you love hurt is hard, and often the best thing you can do is show up for them.

2016 was hard for a lot of people that I love.  A divorce, an unexpected death, and illness have been present in our family and in the lives of friends that I love this past year.  And probably the only helpful thing I did, that I learned from my parents, was I tried to show up - to sit, to listen, and to be present in the pain.

11.  Never underestimate the power of a Blood Orange San Pellegrino on a hot day or a Vanilla Latte on a cold day.

This was the year of drink flings for me.  And I'm expecting this love affair to continue into 2017.

12.  Making space for people to find rest and fun is ministry.

Probably one of the best decisions I've made in recent years was to quit our annual missions conference and instead make space for the missionaries we partner with to find rest, friendship and laughter.  This was hard because in many ways, Christian church culture told me that a big conference was the definition of success.  But after a few days in the mountains with true heroes of the faith, I realized it was definitely the right choice.  And as a result, I'm rethinking all sorts of methods of ministry and asking myself what do people actually need.

13.  Having my mother-in-law in the same city as our family is better than I could have imagined.

Josh's mom moved to our home town this past spring, and Lubbock loves Marcy!

14.  When you know who you are and what lane you are called to run in, you can genuinely rejoice with others as they succeed.

Many people in my life saw success and positive steps in the direction of their dreams this year  (Leslie and Alan moving the Nashville, Heath and Kelsey getting ready to launch a new campus of COTR, my husband slaying at his job).  And as I've been reflecting, I had an ah ha! moment where I realized that I've genuinely been able to rejoice in their success because of an internal security that I'm right where I need to be.  In years past, I've known that my rejoicing has only been half-hearted at times because I felt like if I wasn't connect to their success that I was somehow left out.  I'm not feeling that anymore, and it's such a relief!  So go on with your bad selves friends, and know I'll stay over here cheering loudly for you!

15.  Hiring a friend to a be a princess at your child's birthday party may just win you the mom of the year award!

As far as Haven is concerned, the REAL Elsa showed up at her 4th birthday party in our backyard, and it was the BEST DAY EVER!

16.  I will always love some good pop culture, and my favorites this year were Carpool Karaoke, The Bachelorette, and binging the new Gilmore Girls.

Whether big or small, what lessons have you learned in 2016?  I encourage you to consider this question over the next couple weeks and watch how it makes you thankful and more focused on what is possible for 2017!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

5 Reasons I Always Fall for the Fall

Can you feel it?  The air is a bit crisper, people are singing the praises of pumpkin spice everything, and my kids are back in school (hallelujah)!  Must mean fall is here or almost here, and just today I was rekindling my love affair with Fall.

If you're unsure about fully embracing this best of seasons, I thought I'd share with you 5 reasons why it wins my heart every year.  I'm trying to make converts here today.

1.  Cozy Everything

Could Fall be any cozier?  With the onset of cooler weather, I feel like Fall beckons us to come inside, pull up a blanket, get a hot drink, and snuggle up for ultimate coziness.  And I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone in this love.  I heard today that Lubbock Starbucks were literally out of Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  People were ranting about it on social media - it was serious!!!  They are bringing in a special shipment so peace should resume shortly.  And at our last community group, we devoted an entire 10 minutes just to discussing the best places to get special fall drinks.

And the smells...ahh!  Breathe it in my friends - fall smells are the best!  I'm burning a Pumpkin Cheesecake candle as I type this.  I wouldn't eat a piece of pumpkin cheesecake, but I will most definitely let it's fragrance into my home.  It's glorious!

2.  Missions Launch

Every October for the last 9 years, I have worked to put on a Missions Conference, Banquet and announce short-term trips for the following year.  I love it!  It's  a season when I get to dream, work on projects that have my heart, and connect with friends from around the globe.  And want to know the absolute best part?  It's when people have light-bulb moments about God's heart for the nations.

When ordinary people begin to see that missions is so much more than trips, sad commercials, or memories of begging God as a kid to please not send them to Africa.  When people begin to see that their prayers make a difference...when they make a connection with missionaries or national leaders in a real way...when they or we...become sacrificial in our giving, our prayer life, and our time - it's what changes things.  And it makes me love the fall.

3.  Fall Fashion

Jeans.  Sweaters.  Booties.  Need I say more?  Here is what I'm loving right now in fall fashion.

I'm loving the booties trend right now, and I just purchased some leopard ones from Nordstrom Rack.  They don't look exactly like these, but they are close.  My mama has always told me that leopard counts as a neutral so they go with anything!

I bought a floral bomber jacket from Zara when we were in London and I just LOVE it!  It might be too much for some people, but I have already worn it once and can't wait for it to get a bit cooler so it can become one of my fall staples!  This one here is from H&M - adorable!

I feel like graphic tees are a little overdone, and yet I want to wear one everyday!  And this one right here from sums up my life.  I'm going to buy this right now.

4.  Fresh Starts

I still think about time in terms of school semesters, and so in my mind, the fall is the beginning of a new season.  The leaves may be slowing fading and falling, but it still feels like the start of new beginnings and opportunity!  So much so, that I've literally started 2 new groups and a new project all in the month of September.

I attended a conference this summer.  God clearly told me to go, and so I boarded the plane alone headed to North Carolina where I'd be surrounded by 700 women whom I had never met, but who I hoped would be a little like me.  I was super nervous to step out, and yet I went with so much expectancy in my spirit.  I knew God had sometime waiting for me there.  Within a couple of hours, I started having some amazing conversations with inspiring yet humble women.

I've been in groups before with women who love Jesus, but something felt different this time.  These women loved Jesus, but they were also running hard - after Him and after the dreams He placed in their hearts.  As I talked to women with bright eyes and contagious laughter, I found myself sharing my own dreams.  And these women, they listened, spoke life, and cheered me on in such a profound way that I left that place feeling like I could do the hard things that were hidden deep inside.

As I boarded the plane back to Lubbock, I started to ask God about the take aways from this time, and He told me to create a similar tribe of women back home.  So I'm working on that.  I invited 7 women who inspire me to lunch and told them about my experience.  I've often heard it said that if we have a need, we should try meeting that need in someone else.  And what better time to start than the fall!

OH!  And, I'm also working on another project that I'll be launching with this one (my sister, Leslie) in October.  It's still secret, but I think you will like it!

5.  Pumpkins

Finally, I love the fall, because pumpkins are so quirky and beautiful!  The girls and I purchased quite a few yesterday, and had so much fun placing them around the house.  They also painted masterpieces (Selah's words) on pumpkins and will be displaying them in their rooms.

Happy Fall Y'all!  Why do you love this season?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Love Is...More

I had the privilege of sharing this past Sunday at Church on the Rock here in Lubbock as part of a series entitled "Love Is..."

We planned this series a few months back, and I actually wrote this sermon over a month ago, which is why it felt like a promise from the Holy Spirit that He is not surprised by where our world is today.  In the last two weeks especially, I have been more aware of the hurt and anger and tough questions we are facing in our world, and when everything else fails, the one answer the shines bright is love.

So, if you have a few minutes, I invite you to watch or listen to this sermon (click below).  And I pray that as you do, you receive His truth: Love is More.

More: More,
Pastor Paige Allen Church on the Rock

Thursday, March 31, 2016

When Love Looks Like Lillies

The first time Josh bought me flowers we were still in college and in the infamous geting to know you stage.  We had been dating for a couple of months when I got a phone call in my dorm room that a delivery was waiting for me at the front desk.  I had never before had a delivery so my curiousity was piqued, and I remember grinning from ear to ear when I saw a small but beautiful floral arrangment of lillies.

I love flowers.  Something about their beauty mixed with the fact that they are both fragile and alive at the same time speaks to me about a God who is creative and caring.  Flowers are unique and add color to the world.  I also like getting flowers from a boy.  And at this point in my life, receiving flowers from a boy other than my father had probably only happened a handful of times.  So I was elated!

As I walked down the hallway of my dorm giddy with excitement, I became the center of attention.  It was a mixture of joy and concealed jealousy - afterall, we are talking about a floor full of college age girls who all wished they would get a call from the front desk that a delivery is waiting for them.

As I got to my room, I immediately called Josh and absolutely swooned over the lillies that I had just received.  I told him they were gorgeous, smelled divine, and that I loved his creaitivity.  Most college boys would get roses or carnations, but he had really thought about it and gotten a flower that was unique!  He was quite proud of himself, no doubt, and as we were both poor college students, I knew that this a big splurge for him.

I hung up the phone, bent down to smell those divine lillies and breathed in all of the lilly goodness.  What followed was a litany of sneezes and the startling realization that I am allergic to lillies.

I am allergic to lillies!

Within 30 minutes my eyes were red and watering, I continued to sneeze at an impressive rate of consistency, and friends started to stop by to see just what was happening in my room.  It was decided that the lillies would have to live in my friend Wendy's room across the hall, and that I could only visit the lillies from a distance.

Of course I refrained from telling Josh any of this, but continued to nurture our new relationship with flattery and the occasional stretching of the truth.  I LOVED the lillies I told him!  They are continuing to bloom!  You are such a thoughtful boyfriend (afterall, I wanted the arrival of flowers to continue as this relationship progressed).

Now my Josh has one trait that I know well after 15 years of marriage.  If he finds a proven formula that  makes me happy, he will not veer from it.  And so the next time that he sent me flowers (a few months later) - guess what appeared at my door?  LILLIES!

Again...he sent me lillies.

Did I say anything about the fact that I would now be miserable for the next week?  Nope!  Because I didn't want to come across as a liar that first time.  So instead I did what most women would do, I tried to send other subliminal messages.  I said things like, "You know how much I love these lillies, right?!  And you know what else I love?  ALL flowers.  I love tulips and roses and hydrageas and peonies.  I just love ALL flowers!"  And guess what Josh heard?  "I love these lillies."

Because the next time he sent flowers...he sent lillies.

He said something about it being "our special flower" and that for the rest of our days he would send me lillies just so I'd know he was thinking of me.  Although I smiled bright, inside I was cursing!  For the rest of our days?!  Are you kidding me?  Have you ever omitted something or stretched the truth "for the greater good" only to watch as your plans unravel?  I didn't want to hurt his feelings or for him to think I didn't love the gesture!

But after the 4th delivery of lillies I decided to bite the bullet.  I told him I had a confession, and I think he braced himself for something truly aweful, and then I told him - I'm allergic to lillies.

To this day, I've never received another lilly until yesterday.

I walked into my office yesterday and was taken aback at the most delightful spring bouquet sitting on my desk.  It had pink snap dragons and purple spider mums...and yellow lillies.  Lillies?!  I glanced down at the note he left via yellow sticky notes and smiled as I read these words...


I was doubtful that one could remove pollen, but 24 hours later I'm happy to report that I'm clear eyed and sneeze free, and I'm enjoying these beautiful flowers that were hand picked by this boy that I love and our small Haven Joy.

And I started thinking this morning that love isn't always butterflies and special delieveries.  Most often, love is yellow sticky notes and simple gestures that say I love you "just because."  Love that lasts is honest even when you just want to protect the other person's heart.  It is faithful in the big and small, and it is putting in the work of love - going farther than is removing pollen from lillies so you can remember the joy of the past while enjoying the beauty of today.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

3 Simple Acts for When the World Feels Scary


I shuffled into the kitchen this morning rubbing my eyes and mumbling to myself about how I really should get out of bed earlier.  I grabbed a mug and stumbled to my Keurig as Josh said, "Did you hear about the terrorist attack?"  It only half registered as I said, "No - where?"  Brussels.  

Brussels.  Belgium.

It started to sink in a bit more.  I've been to Brussels.  I've walked through it's beautiful streets and I've eaten true Belgian waffles from a street vendor.  I got a tour from friends Peter and Laura and ate frites (french fries) with mayo in order to truly experience the culture.  I've taught leaders - amazing Belgian leaders, and I know this place.

Then another wave of realization hit me.  Drew - my co-worker's husband is spending the night at Brussels airport hotel because he has a flight in the morning.  Dawn and I were just talking about it yesterday...  Where were the bombs?  The airport?  I jumped on facebook because I know that's the fastest place to find news about friends, and thankfully Drew, Peter, and Laura had all checked in already that they were safe.

And yet...others will not get to check in.

My heart hurts for Belgium.  It is angry at the evil in this world.  It has so many questions.

And my first inclination is to let fear rise up. 

I open my Bible to my daily reading: Isaiah 26 and find these words
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

And I am reminded that in moments like these we must keep a sound mind.  We are to focus on the good God we serve.  To pray for the nation of Belgium, to ask the Lord to bear our own fears and burdens, and in all the emotions we feel to bring them to the only One who can keep us in His peace.

Evil would love nothing more than for people of His peace to be consumed with fear.  So I listen to His reminder: Fear Not!  Make a choice to expel fear with a reminder of His love.  Even when it makes no sense, His love is still real and stronger than any evil in this world.

And bring peace - kindness and goodness - to your world today.  It may look like a kind smile in the store or helping your neighbor rake leaves.  It may be doing a Starbucks run for everyone in the office or playing one extra game with your kids tonight.  What one thing can you do to remind yourself that God is still at work in the earth?

So today, I'm reminding myself to simply do 3 things: 
Fear Not
Bring Peace

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When Your List Looms Long

I stood in my closet for a solid 2 minutes this morning making my list for the day and contemplating just how in the world I would ever accomplish even half of what I just wrote especially since I have a sick kiddo at home.  I literally just stared at this list for a while, and even though I made the list in pink marker in hopes it would make me feel better...I felt more stress than joy about what today would hold.  A sampling of the list included:

Grocery Store (when we are out of goldfish and fruit snacks I know it's time)
Sunday sermon prep
Purchasing furniture for the husband's new office
Work Emails that continue to ding on the phone although it's my "day off"
Prep for our community group tomorrow night
Get Hair Appointment

I'm sure your list looks different than mine, but knowing people (especially women) today, I'm certain that you have your own list...and you're actually probably chuckling to yourself thinking that my list looks like child's play compared to your own.  Right?!  We have LOTS to do!  So many things pulling at our time and some days I'm tempted to crawl back into bed and just ignore the looming words on the list.

So what do we do?  When the list is a mile long and the day seems like mere minutes?  How do we keep our joy...our SANITY?!  I'm not an expert, but here's what's saving my life in this area:

1.  Allow God to Be the Plate - If you are like me, you've likely often said, "I've got so much on my plate!"  God convicted me years ago that when I got too busy that I in essence made Him a side course on my overflowing plate, when in fact He wants to be the plate!  He wants to be in every moment of my days.  Of course He'll be involved as I do some sermon prep today, but He's not relegated to just those things that I deem sacred - He also wants to give me wisdom as I choose furniture or talk to my neighbors.  It's more of a mindset than anything, but so long as I keep Him as the plate, I find much more balance and peace in my days.

2.  Choose the Important Over the Urgent - I'm always tempted to choose the item on my list that is screaming at me the loudest, but I'm learning that usually the items that are the loudest are not necessarily what's the most important.  I also tend to procrastinate on the things I know God is directing me to do but scare me.  I've put off projects and dreams so I could cater to small urgent matters, and I'm more determined than ever to make the most of my days.  So what is it that is that thing that is quiet but that you know needs to be done today?  Go ahead and move it up on the list - you'll thank me later.

3.  Take Care of You - One thing on my list today that I haven't mentioned is that I made an appointment 2 weeks ago for a massage today.  It's a gift to myself after doing quite a bit of manual labor this last week, and as I made my list this morning I picked up the phone to cancel the massage.  I mean really?  I just don't have time for something so frivolous!  But then I stopped and realized that if I'm healthy I will be more equipped to tackle what is in front of me.  Now most days, I don't have anything nearly as luxurious as a massage, but I DO take time for myself everyday.  It usually comes in the form of coffee and a good book or sitting outside for 30 minutes to enjoy the sunshine.  And taking care of myself takes time, but it's always a deposit and gives me the strength to continue pressing forward.

I could list a few more thoughts, but these 3 things are definitely helping me to maintain my sanity when the list looms long.  What about you?  What is saving your life as you stare down your lists?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Paige's Picks and Weekend Links

Thought I'd share a few recommendations to get you through this final weekend of February!  If you are looking for a good read I cannot recommend this book fast enough: Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines!  Her writing is very poetic (it honestly took me a couple of chapters to get into the rhythm of it), but once I adjusted I was swept away.  Her story is so different from my own and yet so often I felt like she was writing my own journey.

Speaking of reading,  I'm currently devouring 4 books (so happy my love for reading has returned), and my go-to blog for all things books related is The Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Please go read her blog and if you read via kindle sign up for her Kindle sale recommendations that she emails to you each day.  I've gotten great deals on books like Scary Close by Donald Miller, Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman, and Liane Moriarty novels all because I get her daily email that let's me know when great books are having a Kindle sale!

And speaking of blog love, I need all of my Bachelor fans to go read Pinterest Told Me To Blog.  Her weekly Bachelor updates keep me laughing and I also love her fashion advice & clothing specials.  Trust me, this may be a new favorite blog for you!  Oh, and yes, I love Jesus and watch The Bachelor.

My other favorites lately include Amanda Cook's album Brave New World.  It's basically on repeat in my house right now.  Do yourself a favor and listen to it.

I'm also trying to cook through the Pioneer Woman's new cookbook.  It's going slowly, but I'm enjoying the process and it's giving me some guidance when I just don't know what to cook.  My family is big on breakfast for dinner, and we LOVED this recipe for Veggie Scramble.

Last but not least, did you hear that Noonday Collection just launched their new spring jewelry line?  I'm a big Noonday fan (Fashion plus empowering artisans worldwide is the winning combo for this girl), and I was invited to a special preview of the line - and oh my goodness!  Such gorgeous and beautiful pieces.  Currently, I basically wear these Metallic Pearl Earrings all day every day!  They go with just about everything!  And I have on my wish list the new Cityscape Necklace!

All right!  That's my round up for this week.  What is catching  your eye this week?  Or what would you like to know for next week?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Mean Girl Voice In Your Head

So last week, Haven had to wear pink on Wednesday to her school and all I could think about was Mean Girls...and specifically this scene:

And so this got me thinking about mean girl voices, and especially the mean girl voice that sometimes resides in my head.  You know the one: the one that says to fit in you should be something completely different than who you really are.  It's the one who reminds you of your awkwardness and who silences your voice ("Gretchen, stop trying to make Fetch happen.  It's not going to happen!").

I sat in a meeting this past week and throughout it's duration I had an inner dialogue with my mean girl voice.  I had ideas to offer but with each idea that popped into my mind, I could hear the mean girl pipe in with all the reasons why my opinion was not valid or stupid.  And at one point I realized that I literally had not offered a single opinion in the discussion when I was invited to that table because my opinions matter!

I'm still working on silencing the mean girl in my head, but I'm starting to discover that the only antidote is the love of God.  On the mornings when I've actually spent a little time receiving His love I am more confident that I belong at the table.  I'm more confident that the ideas and opinions that I have are of Him.  I can tell the mean girl to go sit at a different table and I can actually let MY voice be heard.

Look at what Paul has to say about this in Romans:

Romans 8:31-39The Message (MSG)

31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Did you get that?  Our mean girl voice (which is really the voice of the enemy) does not stand a chance when Christ is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us!

Let that sink in for a second.

Jesus has your back and it is His desire that the mean girl voice does not faze us.  Why?  Because of His love.

It's time friends that we let our voices be heard.  You have brilliant ideas.  You have opinions.  You have wisdom and passion and tables that you are invited to sit at.  Most importantly, you can hear the voice of God.  Please don't let the shouts of the mean girl get more air time in your mind than the whispers of the Father.  Believe that He loves you.  Trust that He is fighting for you.

And it IS wear pink or black or whatever you want with the knowledge that you are loved and there is nothing that can separate you from His love!

Monday, February 22, 2016

To Wait or Not To Wait - 60 ++ Seconds with Paige

So my 60+ seconds is more like 480 seconds this week (sorry about that), but I want to tell you a story and a simple lesson that guides my life when it comes to the issue of waiting.

Waiting 60 Seconds from Paige Allen on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Abide: 60+ Seconds with Paige

UMMM...How much do you love this freeze frame?!  If only I knew more about technology I'd make myself look better.  So my gift to you today is this ridiculous freeze frame & also a few thoughts about Abiding.

Abide from Paige Allen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

For When You Pictured Your Life Differently

One of the aspects of living in Lubbock that most irks me is our dust storms that seemingly come from no where.  A couple of weeks ago we were greeted with one of these once again, and as I walked from my car to the coffee shop to meet my friend I found myself squinting and keeping my mouth shut so as not to get grit in my teeth.  I am happy to say I’ve learned over the years to stay away from lip gloss when a dust storm is looming…but I digress.

As I tried to tame my hair upon entering the coffee shop I was simultaneously searching the room for my friend whom I hadn’t really seen in a couple of months.  She used to be one of my college girls when Josh and I led that minstry, and I have a deep place in my heart for her – for all of those girls really – who are no longer girls but beautiful women in their late 20’s and early 30’s. 

I found her sitting in the corner with her trade mark smirk & I was genuinely delighted to see her.  In the 10 years that we’ve been friends she has seen heartache, joy, adventure, and uncertainty but I’m so proud of her – her tenacity to face adversity, her courage to pick herself up when she’s fallen, and her faith to continue to trust Him when the waves have crashed with intensity.

As she shared with me the latest portion of her journey she started to apologize for her life…her appearance…and her lack of “having it all togeher.”  At one point with tears in her eyes she said these words to me, “I thought after ten years I wouldn’t still be a mess.”

Don’t we all feel that way sometimes?  Like we should be more by now.  More mature, more loving, more together, just MORE?!  I knew exactly what she meant because although I’ve learned to stay away from comparing myself to others (most of the time), I’m often guilty of comparing my current life to the life I imagine I should be living…the life that surely God intended for me.

That MORE life where I’m a better version of myself.

I could hear the dust picking up outside.  The whirl of the wind – the elements that no doubt would leave me looking like a mess when I left.  And in the sound of the wind, I realized that my friend and I both had a more in our lives at that very moment.

Because she was more honest with me that day than in the 10 years I’ve known her.  As she laid out the tough reality of some areas of her life I couldn’t help but think of my own place right now that is more honest than it’s been in a long time.

In the last year I’ve been shaken.  Facades that once looked perfect crumbled and I had a choice to make – to keep smiling and pretend that the rubble wasn’t around my feet or to be honest about the shaking – to embrace it and be okay that the mess existed.

When shaking happens in our lives, we have a choice to make: to hide or ignore the shaking and hope life settles back to what we’ve always known, or we can allow the shaking to shed the false ideas of what should be and instead embrace the beauty of God’s goodness even in the midst of the trembling.

My friend’s beauty shined so bright as she honestly shared her heart, and I saw that in the wake of the shaking, although it hurts like hell at times, it always leaves behind what is true.

I’m ready for more of what is true.

I’m ready for more honest messes.

I’m ready for the God who embraces me in the midst of the rubble.

So forget the what ifs and embrace the right nows.

We hugged and promised to talk again soon and then I braced myself for the weather that was outside the doors.  But as I walked outside I was surprised that the dust had settled…and in it’s shadow was one of the most glorious sunsets I’ve seen.  I gasped, grabbed my camera, and heard Him whisper, “The beauty that follows the storm pierces hearts.”

My friend – her story – it’s so honest and raw that God’s goodness rises bright.  And this past year I’ve found that to be true in my own life as well.  In the dust we sometimes see His hand all the more clearly – the trace of His work is like a trace of artwork in the sand.

So bring on the dust storms and the sunsets that ensue.

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