Sandy Bottoms

IMG_4615I look out and I see who you are, God. Vast and powerful and unchanging and unyielding.

I am fearful for the future. What if I lose my job again? What if I miss a window to serve and love because I’m so scared of being misunderstood? What if I do it wrong? What if I settle for mediocre?

I have excuses where you have promises.

I cup my fears and worries in my hand, desperately trying to convince myself that I can control it all. You pour your grace into my thirsty spirit and before I know it, my cup is running over with grace upon grace.

You do not leave room for fear of man. 

While the world hands me lukewarm, unfinished warm-fuzzy sentiments about love, You consume me with unrelenting, holy and pure love. Love for me. Just me. Not me plus a dozen unwritten obligations and standards I have to meet. Just. Me.

Jesus sits with me on the sand as the pounding surf harmonizes with distant thunder.

“Oh you of little faith, Rachel. I will not ever go away. I am not watching you for mistakes, I’m walking with you through them. I am not waiting to rescue you from your folly, I’m waiting for you to realize you have already been rescued. I am not ashamed of your fear, I am here to turn it into faith. Don’t you see? 2015 will be new to you but I have already seen to the end of time. You will experience new heights of joy, depths of sorrow and lengths of wilderness. I will love you the same through all of it. I did not come and die for you to wait to live. It is for freedom that I have set you free! You are free to be you! You will mess up this year, Rachel. Let’s just stop trying to beat around the bush about it. And yet I have chosen to use you for my purposes and my kingdom and you don’t get to tell me not to. I am God. Do you get that? Sitting on this damp, cold beach with tears running down your face and joy lighting up your heart, I think you get it. But I’m going to have to remind you tomorrow and the next day and the next week,month and year. That’s ok. My faithfulness outruns your forgetfulness every time. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me.”

It’s getting darker and colder so I will gather myself up out of the sand, walk into our warm small condo and I will remember. I will remember the kind of God who pounds the surf against the shore and, without missing a beat, sits down in the sand next to His child and watches the ocean with her.

Your 2015 is new to you too, reader. A new year is a gift though for many it feels like a burden. I want you to remember that your year matters to the God who has created eternity. This year, sit down at your kitchen table, your bedside, your cubicle, or your car and make time for the God who has all the time in the world to teach you, challenge you, love you, and value you.

We all need more sandy bottom moments with Jesus. IMG_4619

I need them to remind myself that I am known by God in all my mess. I need them to remember my life is no small matter if it is lived out for and with the God of my salvation.

I need them to remember I know a God who is never too busy to sit with me in the sand.

 

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Rainbow Trout

Today I walked into Starbucks. The one where they know who I am. The one where I have spent many of the past 90 days, fretting over my laptop, crafting new cover letters, selling myself and second guessing and fuming and praying and meeting with friends and surviving. I sit here, smiling at the other “regulars” while sipping my white mocha. Everything is so the same. Except this time, it’s different.

This time I open my laptop and open the Evernote notebook that has recorded so much of this journey: the follow ups, the venting, the glimmers of hope, the first, second and third interviews. The people who have made sure I didn’t do it alone. I open a new document and smile as I write, “It wasn’t what I thought it was or when I thought it would be. His answer to my predicament makes me laugh and wonder at how he manages to  suspend the sun, dictate galaxies, and give me a job.”

That’s right, friend. I write this blogpost as an employed woman. Now accepting: all congratulations and celebrations and handshakes and hugs. I’ll tell you, because I know the suspense is killing you: I’m going to be working at a swim school as a front desk rep and swim instructor. Me, kids, and a pool. The possibilities are endless, y’all. There is fun to be had and milestones to achieve and high-fives to give and I will be happily swimming (bada BOOM!) in all of it. I’ll go through some intensive training before teaching  my own classes in the pool (obviously) but I find it just a little bit hilarious that I’ll be teaching kids how to swim. Because, really. Who saw this coming? NOBODY.

It just goes to show that God is doing His thing and I can only tip my head back and laugh with Him. Honestly, I can’t tell you how this fits into my grand plan of finding out who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. I imagine I will meet new challenges, discover new favorite things, and count new blessings. I anticipate that I will love it some days, and endure it on others. If my past jobs have taught me anything, it’s that I will learn more than just job skills. I will likely leave as a different person than when I started. Not in glamorous or impressive ways, but in the subtle tones of my character: like kindness, integrity, and confidence.  I can guarantee one thing: I am so thankful to close the chapter of October 15, 2013 –> January 6,2014. I’ll re-read it later, because there are so many lessons to learn and re-learn. But for now, I’m looking ahead and rejoicing in a new year, a new job, a new normal.

Yesterday I got my employee swimsuit and pranced around the house while wearing it, laughing and posing and enjoying the ridiculousness that is my life. John just shook his head and smiled, “They have no idea who they just hired. You’re gonna start a revolution.”

Things are happening in our world. Good things. New things. And I wanted to say, “THANK YOU!” to all of you who have propped us up with your prayers, who have met us with open arms and attentive ears. Thank you for listening and praying and hugging and caring and crying and being our friends as we have often fallen to bits these past few months. We still need your prayers (and always will) but we are aware of the integral role they played in THIS valley for THIS season, and for that we are inexplicably grateful.

Also: My “official” name at work is Rachel “Rainbow Trout.”

I know, I know.

It’s perfect. 🙂

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Resolved: Step Outside

If ever there is a good time to seriously consider your life and how you might live it more purposefully, it’s the New Year. But sometimes I feel anxious around this time of year, especially this year. The last few months of 2013 have kicked me in the gut and while I’m ready for a new year.. I’m also completely unprepared for a new year.

The reality is, whether 2014 is marked by high-fives or facepalms, belly laughs or choking sobs, all of it will be lived out under the umbrella of amazing grace. I will laugh, think, swear, apologize, entertain, cry, sleep, whine, worship, fail, succeed, accomplish, dream, doubt, inspire, and love this year. It won’t be perfect but if all the preceding years tell us anything, it will be life-changing.

Yet lasting life change doesn’t usually manifest itself in the sparkly and bright wishes for a prosperous, healthy, and comfortable new year. In my experience, change is usually difficult and almost always uncomfortable. Even when it’s good! Like getting married, for example. The wedding planning can be a bear but the day-in day-out of being married and slogging through hard times together etc.. that’s really really hard sometimes. John and I have experienced many uncomfortable growing pains in our relationship this year, but those growing pains have served to carve out more room for a deeper love and a sweeter friendship.

At times, this year will likely be a mess. If at some point during 2014 you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable I would propose that you aren’t exhausting the year of it’s potential, because you aren’t discovering your own! There’s always more to a person and it exists just beyond their comfort zone. I know that few people will start this New Year and think, “I’m resolved to be uncomfortable!”

But what if we were?

Being unemployed is uncomfortable (don’t misunderstand me, I’m not resolving to remain unemployed!). Social situations and small talk  make my palms sweat because people want to know “What you do” and I’d just rather not talk about it. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s also been really humbling and eye-opening for me. Sure, I get a front row seat to my insecurities (Yes! Best seat EVER) but I also get a front row seat to the grace of God, the kindness of friends, and the power of prayer.

I’ve also noticed that being uncomfortable in a circumstance for long enough eventually leads to an expanded comfort zone. Sooner or later, we’ll stop being uncomfortable in that situation and another opportunity will arise to take us one step further. And another. And another. Until we look around and think, “WOW. My world has gotten so much bigger and fuller and harder and sweeter… because I chose to step outside of it.”

This year, if you make resolutions, why not throw in an uncomfortable one? Maybe there’s a relationship that needs reconciling, a career change that’s long overdue, or one dream that you’ve thought about a million times but are too scared to even begin moving towards.

I have a handful of resolutions this year and some of them start right outside my comfort zone.

This one, for example:

I resolve to perform again. Somewhere, somehow. Be it theater, dance, or music — it’s time to enjoy the stage again.

Gulp.

I am an entertainer at heart but I am scared out of mind to put myself out there, guys. I don’t know if it means walking into a dance studio and letting other people see my shaky arabesques and wobbly pique turns, or if it’s auditioning for a local theater production and just doing it because I love it, whether I get a part or not.

2014’s gonna be uncomfortable and I’m just gonna embrace it.

Will you join me? Let’s make our comfort zones just a little wider this year. It’ll be more fun if we can laugh at ourselves together. 😉

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”