Let me tell you about Sisterhood.

We had been singing for a good twenty minutes, dancing, arms raised, sharing grins with strangers, bound together by the giddiness of the men of the church dressed in suits handing us little pink cupcakes at the door, the flower crowns and the click of the camera, the massages and manicures being offered in the lobby. The music that swept through the room in a crazy crescendo of lights.  The fact that we are celebrating womanhood tonight, exploring what it means to be women in the body of Christ that is the church.  Less so for me, but I know for the people around me: exploring what it means to be a woman in this body of Christ and this church that is Hillsong Buenos Aires.

It was a full house, and I’d been sent straight to standing room on the balcony, just barely snagged a spot at the rail to prop myself up on, with a good view of the stage.  When this girl with a curly mane of dark hair and a star-speckled top nudges up against me during the prayer.  I give her a look, and she smiles at me, not a hint of aggression or irony, a real smile, friend-to-friend.  She nudges up against my shoulder, pushes past me, and I step back in surprise.  It becomes clear as her face lights up – she just wants a spot at the rail. She cranes her neck – she just wants to see the pastor’s wife, Lucy, as she sets up her Bible on the podium to speak.  The trouble is, so do I – one hand firmly planted on the railing, I grit my teeth and prepare to dig my heels in.  But then I take a second look at her.  And I pick up my bag and my coat and I went to lean against the wall to listen to the sermon.

Because let me tell you, this girl was electric.  She was humming.  The energy that had been crackling in the room had taken root inside her – everything she touched sparked under her fingers.  You could see it in the back of her eyes, in the grin that may have permanently stretched from ear to ear, in the way she pulled off the cap of her pen with her teeth and poised it over her notebook, attention riveted on Lucy’s words.  This girl was sisterhood.

Because sisterhood is about wanting to see, not be seen.

Because sisterhood is not about defending your place at the railing.

Sisterhood is a worldwide movement for women by Hillsong Church.  There is declaration, written by Hillsong principal pastor and Sisterhood founder Bobby Houston.  We read it last night in Spanish, and I looked it up in English when I got home.

I AM SISTERHOOD is a declaration.

It is our collective here and now – and belongs to any feminine soul, who somehow believes that she was born for more than what is temporal and fleeting.

It’s for women of all ages and background, personality and style, colour and vibrancy. It’s for the bold and bodacious, the demure and unassuming.

It’s the sisterhood that perhaps heaven imagined when a very intentional Creator created His girls. It’s strong and beautiful, feminine and gracious, authoritative and gentle and above all else, welcomes the broken and discarded.

Welcomes the broken and discarded.

Whichever way you see or understand it, it is a growing movement of women across the earth.

Applause thundered through the theater as Lucy spoke, fighting back tears the whole time.  The depth of her affection for us as her sisters in Christ and for the women of these church was evident by the emotion in every syllable.  But for every moment that her voice broke, there were a hundred more in which it boomed through the room without a tremor of doubt as she empowered and encouraged us as women with words of truth.  You are unique.  You are special.  You are created in the image of God.  There is greatness in you.  Don’t believe the enemy, who wants to limit you.  You were created to get up and overcome darkness, you were created to show your light, for Him to shine through you.  Open your life!  My heart sang as I recognized that this was both the what now and the why, that who I am is who I am because of what God says is true about me and who I am shapes what I do and what I do has purpose designed by the Creator of all living things.

And I am special, I am purposed, I am able but I am not alone.  When we are able to realize that we are uniquely created, we are able to disentangle ourselves from competition.  And when we are filled with confidence and conviction of who we are as women of God, it overflows into the way we see other women as women of God, women of purpose, women of greatness.  It doesn’t make us perfect, and it doesn’t make them perfect either, but it does make us powerful.

And this process is hard but it’s worth it, because sisterhood is messy, but marvelous.  Sisterhood is the idea that you see someone’s beauty before you see their brokenness.  You see their soul before you see their shortcoming.  You recognize that someone else was born for more than what is temporal and fleeting, and that gives them something in common with you.  It’s the truth that utterly changes who you are and when you’re changed, it changes who they are to you.

It’s not becoming something new, it’s stepping into the reality and the richness of who we’ve always been.  Daughters of the King, sisters in the Lord.  The three goals of Sisterhood are to come together, to equip, and to mobilize.  We are an army of women who know our worth, and we are going to change the world.  One shared smile at a time.

Want more on the Sisterhood movement from Hillsong? Click here.

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Creyentes que creen – let me tell you.

Hey friends, it’s official – I’ve lasted over a week in Argentina!  And I’ve definitely had a week’s worth of adventures – from late night Oreo McFlurry’s and life chats to learning to tango with a rando guy from New Zealand to getting kicked out of the Recoleta Cultural Center (which should really have some more signs) to meeting an Argentine diplomat on a bench at a ritzy downtown mall who asked what we thought of Donald Trump running for president – yeah, lots of adventures. But as terrific as the last few days have been, today God completely blew me away, so let me tell you.

Those are the adventures – the good stories – the moments that stand out from this week. If you flip things over, behind those stories are also some tangled knots and messy moments.  I’m not unfamiliar with stress and anxiety, but being in a new country with all new surroundings drove anxiety to a whole new level in my life this week, and it came to a head last night.  After spending the week getting to know new people and being in large groups for a lot of the time, my introverted side was really pumped for a chill Sunday, meeting with a little group of Christian friends to talk about life, and maybe hopefully even finding a church to visit together.  But then a group of students from our program decided to take a day trip to Uruguay.  How cool is it that you can just do that?! SO cool.  Didn’t stop my brain from spazzing out about thirty different ways.  Should I go? Should I rest? Was I missing a good opportunity to do something new? What if I didn’t go and then I wanted to go later and couldn’t find anyone to go with who hadn’t already gone?  I’d really wanted Sundays to be my Sabbath days here. (hit up my friend Rachael for more on Sabbath).  So I wouldn’t go.  But what would I be doing instead? Would I still be able to find a church?  Would I go to church alone?

On top of those thought processes, I’ve been painfully aware this weekend that my dad is in Belize without me for the first time, and I am really missing being with him and the people we love there.  I’m really missing the village school and my sweet girls and the Belizean sunshine.  I’m even missing tutoring math, that’s how you know it’s real.  I’m also missing my brother acting in his first school play, and in an interesting turn of events two of my best friends are at my house right now and I’m not there with them.  I just felt a little lost last night.  I love it here, I love being in the city, but because I’m here, there’s a lot of wonderful places I’m not, and people I’m not with.  Some days that’s harder to be okay with than others.

God doesn’t give us other people and expect us to do life alone, though.  I’ve been blessed to have a lot of incredible friends stand in the stress with me, both here and at home. As always, my roommate 100% had my back last night, and my sweet friend Stephanie made time for a Skype call this morning to encourage me.  And best of all, my friend Missy decided not to go on the trip today either, so we met for a late lunch this afternoon, and I got to hear her story and know her so much better than before!  We’re from the same university, but haven’t gotten to spend that much time together at school, so it was really awesome to get share with each other about where we’ve been and what God’s done in our lives up to this point, and how we’re feeling about being here.  Plus, after lunch, we caught the bus together and headed across town to Hillsong Buenos Aires.  Here’s where the story gets really good.

Okay first of all, yes, there is a HILLSONG BRANCH in Buenos Aires.  If you have ever participated in worship at any college ministry, youth group, or contemporary service across the country, you have sang a song by Hillsong.  I guarantee it.  They’re based in Australia, but they write fantastic worship music and have branches all over the world.  And one is right here in Buenos Aires!

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We walked in and heard “Bienvenido a casa!” more times than I could count.  They have an incredible team of volunteers who greeted us with hugs and besos, and found us seats closer to the front.  The worship started, and I have to tell you, while I’m usually not a such a huge fan of worship being presented like a concert, with smoke and lights and the bass turned up so you can feel in your bones, I LOVED the way Hillsong did worship. The band was having fun, the congregation was having fun, everyone was dancing and throwing their arms up in praise.  It was absolutely the most energy I’ve ever felt in any church ever, and it was so laser focused on the words and the music and the message, it was obvious that no one was there for a good time, they were there to give glory to God. The first two songs were new to me, and I had fun dancing and singing with the rest of the congregation.  But when the third song started, and I recognized the first notes of “Man of Sorrows,” a song we sing a lot at Midtown, the tears started pouring down.   It just blew my mind that I could travel to an entirely different continent and God would put one of my favorite songs in my life, in my new language.

 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  

Mark 9:21-24

The worship was incredible, but that was nothing compared to the message the pastor delivered (entirely in Spanish, and I understood!).  The title of his sermon was “Creyentes que creen” – “Believers who believe.”  He talked about how there’s nothing wrong with having doubts in our lives – but when we allow those doubts to define the parameters of what we believe God can and cannot do, we are no longer believers who believe, and we are limiting the work God can do in our life.  We allow our circumstances to govern our faith instead of the Word – and then we miss where He is moving because we are so busy watching where we think He will move.

Did you catch that?  We miss where He moving because we are letting our circumstances define where we think He should move.  When I let anxiety take over, I’m choosing to let my circumstances tell me where He should move rather than paying attention to the places He is moving.  When I worry about what will happen next, I’m not trusting that He already has a plan laid out for me.  When I think about how frazzled and panicked I was last night, it amazes me how beautifully and gently God reminded me, through getting to spend the afternoon with Missy and hearing this message and the truth in these verses, that His plan is always more than I can ask or imagine.  When I live in this truth – when I choose to be a believer who believes – there’s nothing to be anxious about any longer.

I’m pretty confident I’m never going to be able to pull that one off perfectly.  But that means all the more that every morning I’m alive on this earth, my knees should hit the floor the second I roll out of bed to surrender whatever circumstances lie ahead of me that day to the One who has them all under control.  Because I’m with Pastor Chris – venga lo que venga, quiero ser una creyente que cree.  Come what may, I want to be a believer who believes.

Guess what, the story doesn’t end there!  We couldn’t figure out which way to take the bus back home, so we asked some girls about our age to be sure we were at the right stop going the right direction.  One of them was taking it to the same street we were, so she got on with us and we talked for awhile in Spanish about what we were studying in Buenos Aires, and what she’s studying in school, and what her home in Colombia is like.  Pretty soon though, the bus started to go over some cobblestones and take some sharp turns, and we were getting a little dizzy, so we hopped off at the next stop with a quick goodbye.  As we tried to figure out what direction to go next to find a subway station (holler at Google Maps for being stellar) and began walking, we were completely floored to find our friend from the bus walking towards us!! She had been worried when we got off so quickly that we wouldn’t know how to get home, so we all three walked together to the nearby subte station.  Her name is Clara and she’s studying to be an elementary school teacher.  She was so sweet to come with us and it was just more of God’s provision visible in so many ways – plus it was a fun chance to get to know someone local who lives in Buenos Aires and to practice our conversational Spanish!

The story doesn’t actually even end there, the story ends with me attempting to retell what had just happened to my host mom in my awkward Spanish punctuated with questions (“I knew a lot of the songs – wait. Conocer o saber?”) over some stellar Chinese food for dinner.  Classes start tomorrow, which means today couldn’t have come with better timing.  I joked in my last post about putting the new in new romantic, but the truth is, it’s hard for me to love new circumstances right away.  Thank God for His grace in them all – new stress or old fears, I’m constantly being remade to be a believer who believes and I could not be more excited for whatever comes next.

Let me tell you about grace.

grace: God’s free and unmerited favor for sinful humanity

I’m sitting in Buenos Aires on my bed in my little room that is about the size of a Vandy-Barnard single back at school which means it’s just right for me and the stuff I brought with me.  I’m taking some time to digest everything that I’ve heard and seen and done and said and been and heard and seen the last three days.  And I’m starting to think it’s high time I give my own story a little grace.

One of the things that’s hard for me to overcome when I meet new people, especially a lot at once, is not knowing their story, and them not knowing mine.  There’s a lot I could tell you about where I’ve been and the choices I’ve made and the things I’ve experienced that make me exactly who I am today (I kind of started this blog as a place to put those).  But because I know how much my story influences who I am, I also want to know those pieces of everyone else I become friends with – I want to know where they’ve been and who they are and how those two things are tied together.

So when I showed up at the hotel Thursday with 40 other people in it and realized theirs would be the only faces I recognized in the city – it messed with my head a little bit that I don’t actually know anyone super well.  I have some friends from my own school (praise!) but we’re still kind of getting to know each other better as well.  It’s kind of like the first month of freshman year, we all keep joking.

And it’s kind of like the last two months I’ve had at home, where I know a lot of people but I’m not around them all the time so they know my story in really interesting and sometimes not very complete ways.  Which is why when I got the chance to grab lunch with my friend Bekah, I really really loved it when we just sat down together at Panera and she said, “I want to hear your story.”

So I told her about my life the past couple of years that I’ve been in college. How doing eTraining with the Navigators had radically changed my understanding of how to live everyday life walking with God and make Christ the center of my life.  I told her about how this last year of my life I’ve really struggled to know what love is and how relationships fit into God’s plan for my life.  I told her all the pieces that have added up to make me the person I am today.

And you know what? The longer I talked, the harder it felt to share. This is mostly because I kept picking up on some bad habits.  Some pieces were hard to tell because I was still carrying a lot of guilt and shame and scars from them.  But some came spilling out, heavy on the details that shouldn’t matter after so much time, heavy on the details of ways I thought I’d been wronged.  And a little lighter on the ways that God had moved in those things.  Maybe a lot lighter.

Being a stellar friend, mentor and person, Bekah really saw all the guilt and the shame that I’ve been carrying with me.  She saw it on my face and heard it in the way I told this story, and I think she felt the need to preach the gospel of grace over me.

She said to me, “If you believe that God is good and his plan for you is the best, than you can accept whatever circumstances you’re in.” And I was like, shoot.  I don’t believe that right now.  I believe the Gospel, but I don’t think that this plan and the way this ended was what was best for me.

I was wrestling through all of this in my head afterwards and I kept thinking, over and over – God, I do believe your gospel of grace, but it’s just not clicking with this circumstance right now.  I believe that I am a sinful human and that the favor you show me is free, because there’s no way I can pay it back, and unmerited, because nothing I can do or have done deserves it.  I just don’t believe that in this situation, you showed me any favor.

Yikes yikes yikes.  That was uncomfortable to put into words.  Who am I to call out the Almighty God and say that I know better than him what my life should be, or what His favor is?  How do I reconcile pain and anxiety with the Gospel I know to be true, the one that has proved itself over and over in my life and circumstances?  How do I get back in control?

Maybe, I thought, maybe instead of having everything in control, instead of knowing all the right answers, I need to get angry and let it all out.  Maybe I do need to fight with God and tell him how much I don’t understand this situation and what’s happened. And maybe when I fight with God, it’s not because I want to be right, but because I want to know why I’m wrong. 

And that’s not a fight anymore, you know? That’s when grace replaces guilt.

One of the things Bekah really impressed on me with her words and with the ways we talked about the Gospel taking root and action in our life is that my identity has to be, HAS to be rooted in the Gospel of grace.  The world likes to trick us into believing that we aren’t full, that we aren’t given enough, and that’s why we simply cannot accept that the circumstances we find ourselves in are God’s will for us.  When the reality of the situation is that in Christ, we are constantly and continually being poured into and loved deeply by God.  Not just the truth – the reality, if we’d just choose to see it.

We feel pressure from the expectations our identities in the world’s eyes have for us. I know my story is full of examples, and I’m guilty of putting too much stock in those when in reality, we’re free in Christ from the bondage this world and people in it try to put on us.  They may be logical and fair and right in many ways, but they do not define who are the way the Gospel does.

“Trust is not something that is earned.  Confidence can be earned, but trust has to be given freely.  Trust is the human form of God’s grace.” – my dad, Judson Chapel

I love this quote.  It takes some trust to share a piece of my story with someone.  But in the end, it also takes trusting God to leave a piece of my own story in the past.  Since I’ve been here, there have been several times so far that I got really worried about how poor my Spanish must sound and how little I know.  But today when this worry hit, I heard it clear as day, straight from the Holy Spirit: “Who told you that you weren’t good enough?”

The answer is me.  I can blame my story and other people and stuff that has happened as much as I want, but at the end of the day, the only person telling me that is me.  I’m the one dragging the past into the present and boasting of my scars instead of boasting in my Savior.

So here is my goal for studying abroad: give my story some grace.  What happened before won’t happen again, because nothing is ever the same way twice (have you read Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life? No? You should).  But more than that, I want to live in the present and I want to live out of that Gospel of grace.  The one that says no matter what I’ve done or where I’ve been, He has made me enough – that no matter what my circumstances are, they are for my good and His glory.

I have a slight suspicion that when I give my story some grace, it’ll become easier to share. Because it’s no longer simply the things that have happened to make me who I am, it’s the things God designed to make me exactly who He’s called me to be.  And that’s a pretty cool way to experience the new in new romantic.

Bonus prize for making it to the end.  Photos from exploring today, my room, and lunch!

 

Let me tell you about Ephesians.

Happy Monday!  Last time I told you about my New Year’s resolution, today I’m going to tell you about how it’s going.  I know we’re only 11 days into 2016, but in that time I’ve read through Ephesians on a She Reads Truth plan.  Do you ever have this struggle while reading where you read bits at a time over a few days, and by the time you finish the book or the chapter or the article, you can’t hardly make the pieces make sense with one another?  This is something I struggle with when I do a reading plan on a book of the Bible. I get a lot out of each day, but if someone were to ask me to explain the book of Ephesians to them, I would be totally clueless.

There’s another reason this is really important, one I learned about this summer as I read a book called Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin with some friends in Springfield.  In the very first chapter, she talks about what it means to study the Bible with purpose, and put that feeling of disjointedness into words better than I ever could.

We know when we are seeing something beautiful in the pages of Scripture, but we don’t always know how what we are seeing fits with the rest of the story.

There’s good news though – when you study with purpose, you study in an effort to find how these pieces are all connected.  The Bible is made up of smaller stories, but they are explained by one comprehensive theme.  Jen calls this “the Big Story.”  Another term she uses is “metanarrative,” which also describes many works of literature.  However intelligent metanarrative might found, I love the term Big Story because it’s so literal.  The story of God’s love for us is THE biggest story we will ever read!  So – what is it?

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is telling us about the reign and rule of God.  Its topography speaks of creation, fall, redemption and restoration in every vista.  The topography of the Big Story is populated with different genres of writing – historical narrative, poetry, wisdom literature, law, prophecy, parables, epistles – all conspiring to expand our understanding of the reign and rule of God in different ways.

So headed into this goal of intentionally spending as much time as possible in the Word, I wanted to make sure I had 1. a way to keep myself accountable and 2. sort of recap after reading to put each chapter and book in the context of the Big Story.  I couldn’t think of a better way than to share just a little bit about what I’ve been reading on this blog.  So finally, after all that – let me tell you about Ephesians!

Ephesians has two parts: position and practice.  Paul begins the book by discussing with the people of Ephesus what they believe as Christians.  Then, beginning in chapter four, he begins to describe to them the ways these beliefs and truths should impact the way they live.  Throughout the book, he also focuses on the fullness, depth, and intricacy of God’s eternal plan – and how the grace in it, revealed in Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and offer of salvation, unites both Jews and Gentiles under one name, in one body.

When I was in Belize earlier this year, Pastor Diaz at Iglesia de Buen Pastor in San Antonio preached on the passage where Paul begins to shift from practice to position. He said, “When we don’t change our lives to follow Christ, we delay the advancement of the Gospel in our community.”  How true this is.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.   (Chapter 4, verses 1-3 ESV)

I think this is where Ephesians most fits into the Big Story of the Bible.  The first half preaches the Gospel of truth into our lives, which fills us up with the Spirit, a guarantee of God’s presence with us and the eternal life in glory promised to us.  But the second half tells us how that truth and that Spirit can overflow, out of our lives and into the lives of others.  As Christians, all of our earthly relationships, interactions and experiences are about Christ, because not only is the Bible a Big Story of small stories, but our lives are small stories in the same Big Story.  When our lives are changed and we live out of that change, we give agency to the Gospel in our community.  We experience deeper unity with people different from us.  We replace negative don’ts with positive do’s and live out of a place of love and grace.

Most days, it’s not easy to live like that.  The world doesn’t take too kindly to it.  This book closes by describing Armor of God.  We only need armor because we’re fighting in a battle – there’s a person called satan, he is real and he is fighting us with all the powers and temptations of this world under his control.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  They have the divine power to demolish strongholds.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

The battle’s not over, but the victory has already been won, and we are no ordinary soldiers.  We are believers, we are practicers of our position, we are the recipients of grace, we are soldiers of the Spirit, and we are new romantics.

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according  to the working of his great might.

Ephesians 1:16-19

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you about 2016.

Happy New Year!!! I celebrated by shopping with my mama, and staying up last night to watch some of my favorite artists perform and, of course, my girl Taylor’s new music video premiere for Out of the Woods.

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No family holiday would be complete these days without my dad breaking out the selfie stick.  

I love New Year’s because I get to listen to tons of great performances, celebrate with family, and all of these fun things.  But more than that, New Year’s marks a shift, a transition in the way we measure time.  I tend to think in terms frames of time (#historymajor) so for me, the start of 2016 clearly offers a prime opportunity to not only look back on my year and what God did in that time span, but look ahead and get a feel for what I want my year to look like.  And when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the two are pretty closely tied together.

I never once made a New Year’s resolution before college.  But freshman year, straight off of my first semester in college, I felt really called to put down in writing what I wanted to do differently in 2014.  I was at a place where I was learning how to walk with God in my day-to-day life, and learning to be responsible for my own physical and mental well-being.  Having New Year’s resolutions was a really great way to keep myself accountable throughout the year to what I felt like were the most important things I could do with my time.

By the end of that year, I realized that while there had been seasons of my year I had kept each of my resolutions faithfully, I could really use another year’s worth of work on most of them.  So, I did the same thing for 2015.

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My resolutions for 2015

Well, let me tell you, I can check off exactly one of these.  I do go to Navs consistently, and it was an incredible source of constancy for an otherwise chaotic fall semester.  Other than that, though – I definitely didn’t complete any of these.  This summer, I was in the Word every day and I ran twice a week, but to my chagrin, I sure as heck didn’t during the school year.  What started as a well-meaning approach to blogging quickly became far too ambitious.  And as far as answering emails/text/calls in a reasonable amount of time – it did help me get more organized in my communication, but I still don’t think I could cross it off my list.  When I came back to these last week, I thought whew – what is my deal?  Is it even worth it to make resolutions again this year?

And here is what I realized about the past two years: I’ve been writing resolutions according to what is possible to expect from myself during a season, not the entire year.  I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion at this point that for my body, it’s impossible to run consistently during the marching band season.  And in a week loaded with tests and projects, while I can skim a reading for class or take notes on a text while carrying on a conversation, that doesn’t work for my mind when it comes to studying God’s word.  And with a year of writing under my belt, I can tell you now that posting once a week just doesn’t necessarily serve my goals for this blog.

So what I’m trying to say is, I don’t know that I’ve been making resolutions the right way.  The coming year is divided into three chunks: home, abroad, and fall semester.  In all of these places, my life and my time is going to look drastically different.  While there are some great things in store for 2016, consistency is not among them!

Plus, how much better will my life really be if I run once a week?  That may be good for my body and even my mind, but it’s not going to serve my heart in the ways that I’m looking for.

But by now, I’ve recognized that there is one thing, and if I commit to it, everything in my life will flow out of that.

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Even if it appears to be lacking in 2016, I guess there’s something to be said for consistency – I had two of my best friends ask me last night about my resolutions for this year.  When something becomes part of the rhythm of your life, people notice.  That’s why I wanted “being in the Word consistently and often” to be the wording of my resolution this year.  It’s never going to be perfect – there’s always going to be room to grow where this one is concerned – but I think it reflects where I’m at, where I’ve been and where I’m going pretty well.

A break from the past, but one for the best, I believe.  And if I wasn’t ready to embrace change and growth in my goals for myself, what on earth would be the point of being a new romantic? 😉

Let me tell you some things I’m grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! I hope you all had wonderful days celebrating with the people near and dear to you.  I think the fact that we have a day dedicated to saying thank you is just about the best thing that exists (Christmas is still my favorite holiday, but you know).  There’s a Francesca Battistelli lyric Thanksgiving always brings to mind – “In the middle of my little mess / I forget how big I’m blessed.” Isn’t that just the truth?  College sometimes feels like a never-ending series of little messes, but having some time off this week from busyness and work of school gave me a chance to reevaluate how #blessed I am.  And I have a couple of thank-you’s to share, since I have this place to share them in.

Thank you for being in my life.  I texted a bunch of my good friends “Happy Thanksgiving” messages this morning, and I think every single person texted me back.  That’s pretty incredible – it makes it clear to me just how blessed I am by the friends that I have.  Even and especially when the going gets rough, y’all keep me going.  And I will never be able to thank you enough.

Thank you for making so many places feel like home.  I’ve moved 9 times, and people inevitably ask which place I’ve lived is my favorite.  Usually we say Nebraska (sorry to all the others, I love y’all too) because of how genuine and kind the people there were.  I’m in this complicated social studies education class right now called Human Geography in which we once evaluated the conceptual differences between space – the physical environment matter occupies – (roll with me here) – and place, which is a term that’s a little more open to definition.  Place is what a space becomes when it takes on meaning, when you experience it – and for me,  people are the most critical part of that experience.

I have to thank my incredible, wonderful, hilarious, goofy, God-fearing family for making wherever we live feel like home.  It’s pretty cool that even though I’ve never lived in this house for more than a summer, it’s the most comfortable, relaxing, and stable of homes for me in this stage of life.  This week has made me realize yet again what a place of rest home can be, and that’s largely thanks to the people in it.  Wherever y’all are will always be this way.  Thanks for listening to my incessant stories and tolerating me when I say hi every time I walk into a new room.  Thanks for letting me blast Taylor Swift and letting me yak your ear off late at night.  Thanks for teaching me more about how to love and to lead and to live like Jesus every day.

For all of the other places that have become home to me – Vandy, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Belize, Springfield, Terre Haute (just to name a few) – you know who you are.  Thank you for everything.  You’ve made me who I am today, whether you knew it or not – God certainly did, and His plan is so great I can’t even fathom it.

Thanks to a God of the Universe who orchestrates this world so well.  Thank you for creation – the snow, the trees, the sunsets, the color pink – thank you for giving us gifts of our own to create with – for music, for laughter, for movies, for blogs, for conversation.  Thank you for taking care of me.   Most days I feel like things are very out of my control – how grateful I am that whatever is beyond my understanding is not beyond Yours, and that Your plans are better for me than I could ask or imagine.  How grateful I am that farther along, we’ll understand it – and there is joy and purpose and grace for us to grab hold of in the meantime.  How grateful I am for the cross.  How grateful I am to be exactly who You created me to be – never perfectly, but always learning.  How grateful I am to be a daughter of God, redeemed, blameless, adopted, holy, forgiven, rich in grace, beautiful, a learner, a teacher, a leader, a follower, a joy-seeker, a writer, a daydreamer, a new romantic.

I said up above that I texted out some of my more personal thank-you’s – but you can’t text everybody!  If you’re reading this right now, thank YOU for being you and being here and being there to read my words when I throw them down onto a screen in this corner of the internet.  You need to know that no matter how brief a time you knew me or have known me, I am grateful that our paths crossed, our lives brushed, and that you were here.

BONUS: My dad got a selfie stick.  You’re welcome, world. #thanksgivingselfies2k15

 

Let me tell you about [high school] Allie Kay.

Happy fall break, friends!  At last, rest and relaxation.  I don’t know about you, but it seems like when I have the most free time is when I get the most caught up in my own thoughts about the world.  Yesterday I had the whole day to myself, I could watch as much How I Met Your Mother as I liked, I even cleaned the suite (gasps!) – and the whole time, I thought a lot about who I am.  So many things have changed in the last few months, and heck, the last few years.  Am I still the same person I’ve always been?  Am I becoming more of the person I want to be?  Call it something of a small existential crisis, if you will, but I want to make sure each day I’m alive on this earth is purposeful and meaningful and that I am living out exactly the person that I am, all the time.

So today I was scrolling through Facebook, right?  And you know how sometimes you get bored enough to “backstalk” your own profile?  As I scrolled down the page, I stumbled across the “notes” section.  (When was the last time anyone you know used the notes section on Facebook?)  And there I found, from my sophomore year of high school, one of those so-and-so tagged me in it,  now I have to share 30 things about myself, and tag 30 more people.  Y’all did those in high school, right?  Like the texts you had to send to twenty people so your crush would wind up on your doorstep as the clock struck midnight.  Anywho, I read this note, expecting to laugh at myself.  And you know what?  I had a little laugh at a couple things, but all in all, these are still basically the same things that are true of me today.  Here, let me tell you –

30 Things (….a bunch of people tagged me in this..and im just now getting around to it…lol)

 Once you have been tagged you are encouraged to write a note with 30 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end choose 30 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you it’s because I want to know more about you. Just quit the internal whining and do it. (To do this go to notes on your profile page, Paste these instructions in the body of the note type your 30 random things, tag 30 people, then click publish).

~———————————~

1) My full name’s Alexandra Kay Crume…but I go by Allie or Allie Kay

2) I’ve played flute for 5 years, piano for 7, and i never want to stop

3) PIGS are my favorite animals. i have like a zillion stuffed animal pigs. my favorite is named oinker.

4) I would tell you my favorite color’s pink…but if you’re friends with me, it’s pretty much a given.

5) Marching band, pep band, wind ensemble… i love love love band!!! I’m so glad i did it!

6) the flute section is awesome. despite our randomness and the recurring flute gene…

7) I’m a Christian and my life revolves around my faith.

8) I really really like school…I love all my classes and seeing my friends all the time is super fun.

9) I strongly detest fish and spagetti…eeeeeeeeew.

10) I really really really love peanut butter sandwiches. that’s my lunch. every single day.

11) I love to write songs, poems, and stories…it’s my way of expressing whatever i’m feeling and getting things off my chest

12) My favorite music is definitely Christian!!! Third Day, Reliant K, Eleventyseven, pureNRG, Francesca Battistelli, MercyMe, Steven Curtis Chapman, Superchic[k], Backyard Galaxy, Downhere, Jill Phillips, Phillips Craig and Dean, Skillet, Switchfoot, TobyMac, Brandon Heath, Joy Williams…yes i think you get the picture. 🙂

13) don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of other music too. Enya is AMAZING, and I have never met an Owl City song I didn’t like!!! i have a lot of other random songs i love too…that would take to long to list here though.

14) My favorite movies are definitely The Blind Side, the Twilight movies, Toy Story, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  there’s more, but i couldn’t tell you off the top of my head.

15) I think 30 things is waaaaaaaay too long!! I’m only half-way done? This is hard!!!

16) I used to take dance lessons and dream of being on the dance team, but I like making up my own stuff and choreographing stuff with my friends much more as I’ve gotten older.

17) I also used to be in choir, and I’ve done a lot of church choirs. I really really like to sing, but unfortunetly, choir doesn’t fit into my schedule at school.

18) I have one dog named Annabelle (westie) and she’s the most hilarious thing ever! i love her!

19) I have one brother- Gene- and he’s a lot of fun.  Well, he’s crazy and he’s 11, which means he never runs out of energy, but he’s a really sweet brother when he wants to be. lol

20) I looooooooove reading…my all-time favorite books are Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life and Every Soul a Star, both by Wendy Mass. I love Harry Potter, Eragon, Twilight, etc! 🙂

21) At times I can be really technologically inept. For example, I saved this note in drafts to finish later, then i came back and couldn’t figure out how to open it again. thank goodness i finally did…now to finish it…

22) I like laughing…it makes me happy.  people who make me laugh are my favorite people ever 🙂 lots of people say i laugh weird but since everyone laughs differently i don’t think so.

23) i like making other people laugh, because then it makes everyone happier 🙂

24) I love doing crazy, wild, and often stupid things with my friends… doing handstands against the closet while eating marshmallows, The Holly Girls, making sporadic movies, telling random guard girls in the bathroom we like their uniforms…

25) i keep a Quote Book full of things I’ve read in books, heard on the radio, seen on a sign, or heard someone say. So if i start to write down something you said, beware! just kidding 🙂

26) I love english and history, and of course music! im okay at math and science, but they’re not my favorites.

27) i have no idea where i want to go to college or what i want to do after that…possibly music, english, or history education…i’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

28) I tend to fall down, run into things, and drop things a lot…usually it’s because I’m wrapped up in a book, thinking hard or just plain old distracted.

29) My number one pet peeve is mean teasing. if you tease me over and over or i see you teasing my friends or family, chances are good i’ll go off on you…but I’m working on that.

30) this list took me almost a week to complete between homework, school, church, band, etc…which shows you how crazy busy my life can be right now…but I wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂

So there you have it.  30 things about me.  My tastes in books, movies and music have changed a little over the years – but worship is still my favorite kind of music.  And I’ll eat spaghetti now on occasion – but fish, yuck!

What I’m trying to say is, reading this old note was super reassuring, in a strange way.  All in all, whatever else may be changing, whatever circumstances falling apart, God gave me some things that make me, me, and those don’t change.  Who and how I am in the world doesn’t change, even when the world spins off its axis.  And let me tell you, I love being Allie Kay, a new romantic, a Christian, a piccolo player, that girl who’s obsessed with pink – I love being me.