Category Archives: College Life

Crying in a Coffee Shop

The other day one of my roommates and I were sitting at Blackberry Market, our post 2:00 class decision to hang out and pretend to do homework. It’s like the Holy Spirit decided to meet me in the midst of the lemonade I’d been craving all day and a rainy day coffee shop. Why He chooses these moments, I’ll never know. As conversation topics rolled into reading a devotional together, the tears quickly surfaced. What the heck. I promise, I don’t plan on crying as often as I do. It’s not like I plan to have these heart-to-hearts with Jesus and the people in my life, they just kind of happen. Pretty soon we were both crying and laughing and sharing the hot cinnamon roll in front of us.

After our verbal processing session, a quick run to Target, and some literal running on the indoor track of our gym, I went to drive my car back to our apartment only to find that my key wouldn’t unlock the car. The unlock button wouldn’t work and I couldn’t get the key to turn in the door. What the heck. . .again. I found myself on a long walk back to my apartment to get the other set of keys. A long, rainy, cold walk to the apartment and then back to the car. A walk through puddles that I’m pretty sure could be classified as small sized ponds. My sneakers are still wet y’all. Needless to say, the Lord and I had a pretty honest conversation through the rain and my chattering teeth. To give you a glimpse into the state of my heart last night, I may or may not have said out loud: “well maybe Your plan for me is to just get hypothermia from being out here and then I’ll die. At least then I don’t even have to worry about any of this stuff you are asking me to deal with! I wouldn’t have to wrestle with questions of who I am or have to trust you with my future. And I wouldn’t be wet or cold anymore!”

Did I mention that I don’t ever plan for these things to happen to me? They just kind of do, leaving me shaking my head and sometimes my fists but always marveling at the means the Lord uses to draw me back to Himself.

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These moments didn’t lead to some profound realization. They were just simple, unplanned moments where I met the Lord. Moments where He revealed pieces of my heart that I hadn’t been willing to look at. I realized that old fears had resurfaced. Old identity issues had came back up. There were things I thought that I’d worked through, until the Enemy snuck them back in and I’m reminded yet again of the lifelong battle that we fight.

It’s nothing new. These questions of am I enough? And more than that, is Jesus enough?

Am I enough in the midst of my sins and recurring struggles? The circumstances I can point to where I’ve obviously failed in loving the people around me? The ways I’ve failed to guard my thoughts and submit my desires for sanctification in the Lord? Am I enough for the things He’s calling me to that I feel incredibly unprepared for?

But then again. . .is He enough for the uncomfortable, challenging things He calls me to? Enough for the moments when I feel painfully alone? Enough for the sins that, despite the disciplines and fighting on my part, seem to have no problem resurfacing? Enough for every hope and desire of my heart?

Obviously, I know the answer to every one of those questions. I’m guessing you do too. I know the Scripture that combats every one of the questions. But just because I know doesn’t mean that I won’t forget. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need these moments in a coffee shop or in the rain where the Lord reminds me of who I am and who He is. It doesn’t mean I’m falling apart or that I’ve somehow failed Him again. It means I’m human. It means I’m in need of His grace. It means I’m still living in a broken world where the Enemy can still lie to me. It means there will never be a day where I don’t need to proclaim truth to my heart.

The truth that I am beloved. He is for me. He is near me. He is enough.

So It Begins Again

It’s so good to see people in the dining hall. To bump into people between classes. To have familiar voices filling our apartment stairwell. To listen to my friend’s stories. To give big, lingering hugs to people I’ve come to know as family.

The boxes have been unpacked. The textbooks have been purchased. The dekes have been trained. I’m sitting in the library, avoiding a paper that’s due tomorrow, dwelling on the blessing of great conversation at lunch and pending dinner plans with a friend before night class. It’s raining, Audrey Assad is playing on my Pandora, and my heart is incredibly full. Junior year has officially begun.

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It’s a strange place to be. Wheaton has officially become my home; the people here are my family. And yet, I feel like I’m watching this season of my life rapidly come to a close. I’m over halfway done with my undergraduate studies. And praise God I’m not who I was freshman year. . .but I also wonder how much closer I actually feel to the woman I desire to be.

At the start of my freshman year I wrote about the top ten lessons I learned in my first two weeks at Wheaton. Most of them had to do with adjusting to people and learning to give myself grace in the midst of surfacing insecurities. Freshman year was a little rough around the edges, y’all. Then, at the start of my sophomore year, I gave an update on the things Jesus was teaching me about how to see people like He does. I wrote about how I was doing, where words like overwhelmed, distracted, and grateful came to mind. Remember the line I wrote at the beginning of sophomore year: “I forget to dwell on truth and then I wonder why I’m going crazy” – yeah, we are still working on that. 

It’s amazing to look back on the frustrating small talk and growth of freshman year or the mental over-processing and deep friendships of sophomore year. And now I feel like I’m standing on the bow of a ship that’s just left the dock into the vast unknown that is Junior year. I see so much excitement and potential for this year. It’s already been some of the most blessed, life-giving weeks of my life. And while it is all so good, Junior year also terrifies me. It scares me because I have a tendency to overthink things and have always felt a little too uncomfortable with the unknown. It scares me because everything feels a little different. Most of the differences are amazing because I see so much growth in them. The year feels different because I feel different. More free. More whole. Closer to Jesus.

And yet, for all the beauty that Jesus has led me into over the past two years and even in the past two weeks, I can’t forget to give myself grace in other places that feel different. Relationships that feel different. Hopes and dreams that feel different. Desires that are different. Decisions that are different, and, let’s be real, so much bigger than they’ve ever been.

This year, I want to say yes to more things than I say no to, even if they put me outside my comfort zone. I want to say and do things in confidence, without overthinking all the possible outcomes. I want to love others without limits, while learning to balance my emotional investment with the need for emotional boundaries. I want my love for Jesus and people to be reflected in my actions; I want to do the things I think about. I want to live a life of whimsy, laughter, and joy from the Lord and I want junior year to be where I really begin to live that out.

I want this to be a year of seeking. Seeking more of Jesus. Seeking out His people. Seeking first His Kingdom. Seeking opportunities to love and serve others. Seeking His will. Seeking what is true, not what I want to be true. And in all of my seeking, to always find Him as my good Father, knowing that being loved by Him is the most important thing about me. And the most important thing about everyone else I get the privilege of loving.

It’s going to be a great year, filled with things I couldn’t even imagine or predict if I tried, and it’s all because He is a great God. His love for us is so incomprehensibly deep. His plans for us are so unimaginably greater and higher than anything we dream. And that’s the reality we step into every time a new year rolls around.

So here’s to Junior year, Wheaton College.

I Live a Messy Life

Here’s a glimpse into some of the things that I call my life:

  • There’s a big difference between the energy I’m exerting when I say I’m “going for a run” and when the METRA train pulls into the College Avenue station and I’m a block away from the platform.
  • The only points I got marked off on my driving test (despite not having actually taken a real driver’s ed course) were for not following directions. Evidently I “left the course” when I was trying to back up next to the parallel parking cones. I didn’t even know that was something you could do.
  • I’m pretty much perpetually cold. So naturally I decided to go to college in Chicago. Two years later and I still never remember to keep an extra pair of gloves in my backpack.
  • Speaking of being cold, I’m currently in one of my dad’s old sweatshirts that I found in the basement. Don’t tell him I’m wearing it. I’m just freezing and despite having carried 140 lbs of clothes home (literally one of my bags was 57 lbs. The lady at the airport made me take some of the clothes out and wear them – no joke, I walked through the airport with 4 shirts on,) I didn’t think to pack long sleeves.
  • I recently ran through the Target parking lot in the pouring rain and without shoes on to pull the car up for my sister and her friend. Except I couldn’t remember where I parked so I ended up running across the whole parking lot. Apparently the crowd of people waiting in the doorway was thoroughly amused.
  • I blasted country music on my way home from babysitting tonight because my siblings don’t let me listen to it when they are in the car. No shame.
  • I’ve learned that with my terrible sense of direction and ability to sing incredibly off key and the way I always seem to end up in the most random situations, that I have to laugh at myself. Life’s too short to take myself to seriously. But I’m constantly reminding myself of that because I think it’s profound but unfortunately it’s incredibly easy for me to slip back into patterns of overthinking and living in a lull of apathetic monotony. . .

“Ride the roaring wave of providence with eager expectation. To search for the stories all around me. To see Christ in every pair of eyes. To write a past I won’t regret. To reach the dregs of the life I’ve been given and then to lick the bottom of my mug. To live hard and die grateful. And to enjoy it.” N.D. Wilson

Maybe you don’t care about those details of my life. They really aren’t anything spectacular. Hopefully they at least made you chuckle. But what I really hope they did is got you thinking about some of the simple moments of your life. Moments you brushed by. Things that seemed insignificant. I want to press pause and just take in this crazy thing we call life.

Life is worth living in light of eternity because I’m not simply living for myself or tomorrow.

I get it. Relationships are strained. People are frustrating. The world is broken. Evil is present. But I think we buy into a lie when we believe that we can’t be fully present and emotionally honest at the same time. Enjoying the abundant life Christ draws us into doesn’t mean that we run from pain or live behind a facade of happiness. It means we are fully embracing every moment, with it’s tears and laughter and heartache and humor.

My life is messy. Sometimes it feels like a hot mess. Sometimes it’s like the mess on my dorm room floor that should be cleaned but I just haven’t gotten around to it, partly because the very fact that it’s messy asserts my independence and partly because no one is bothered by it. Sometimes my life feels like the mess my smoothie has made all over the kitchen when I’ve forgotten to put the lid on the blender, with the emotional tension of “this is hilarious” and “I might break something (or, more likely, break down) in frustration.” Life is messy. But I take comfort in the fact that Jesus didn’t run from the mess but towards it. It’s the very thing he stepped into when He took on flesh. It’s story after story of life that happened in between the parables, teachings, and climactic moments we read about in Scripture.

As my mom likes to say, “this is my circus and these are my monkeys.” Might as well own them and get a good laugh out of it.

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So I challenge you to embrace your story today. It’s not the grand, spectacular moments that make up your life. It is every time your Sunday School class makes you laugh. It is every time you get more of a sunburn than you bargained for because you forgot sunscreen, again. It is every time a child looks at you with their big, wondering eyes . . . and then precedes to throw up on your shirt. It is every time your blood gets hot in anger or your eyes get wet in sadness or you have to look at those darn texting ellipses on your phone waiting for someone to respond. It is every time sweat drips from your forehead onto the bicycle machine because it’s the only one that doesn’t completely intimidate you. It is every ache you feel when reading of the unimaginable suffering of our brothers and sisters overseas or the joy that wells up when there’s an answered prayer within the Body of Christ. It is every time your heart beats, slowly when you are lounging on the couch during a Netflix marathon or faster when someone catches your eye. It’s the sound of every prayer on your lips, every echo of silence in your ears calling your heart to listen to Him, and every stroke of the pen on your journal page that almost always runs out of ink as soon as you sit down.

Take a breath. Look over your shoulder and laugh a little at the mess that is your life. See Jesus in it. It doesn’t mean you’ll always feel it. It isn’t permission to stop sitting with our brothers and sisters in grief and pain. But the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness endures from generation to generation. And that is reason to be grateful and living physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually present today.

Enjoy your…what even is today…..Wednesday, July 22, 2015. You only get one of them. And the Maker of it has already gone before you.

Ever Just Have Those Weeks?

Not necessarily a bad week. Just one of those weeks? Where even the things think you are doing right somehow end up wrong or frustrating or humiliating?

Now, I’m a glass half full kind of person. I live a rather ridiculous life anyways and I’m almost always doing something stupid, so I usually choose joy when I do things like drop my ID in the toilet or tell someone I live east of Chicago (which, if you aren’t up to date on your geography, would mean I live on Lake Michigan). But every so often those kind of days pile up. Where more life things happen than I can handle with laughter. I’ve had a couple of days like that.

Days where I try to be kind and get my dad’s car washed, only to have it rain an hour later.

Or when I try to deep clean my own car and misread the bottles, only to realize I am scrubbing the carpets with bleach and wiping the windows down with clorox.

The kind of days where I buy new running shoes that I’ve been ridiculously obsessed with, only to have them inspire me so much that I sprint for the first five minutes of my 5K. Needless to say, I never quite recovered.

The days where I’ve diligently tracked my food with a new confidence, only to have the scale move in the wrong direction.

Days where even my bank account laughs at me by sending me a notice that I’ve dropped below my checking account minimum.

The days when I have to multiple life conversations in a row. The kind that you have to have when you are an adult and need to talk about paying for college, buying a car, or getting an internship.

When silly thing after silly thing happens and they all start to seem less silly. . .

Like when I stand outside too long and end up with 53983 mosquito bites.

Or I paint my nails and think they are dry, only to smudge them while emptying the dishwasher.

Or I pick up the guitar again, just to realize my sense of rhythm really isn’t improving.

Or I make myself a cup of tea and trip as soon as I go to sit down with it.

Or I’m instructed, criticized, or scolded one too many times about something small.

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It hasn’t been a bad week. Not by a long shot.

And I’m really not looking to throw myself a pity party. I’m actually doing great. There’s a lot of amazing things that the Lord is doing. But I just wanted to let you know that you can be doing well and still be having one of those days. Because it’s all a little overwhelming and you are having to try a little harder than usual to convince myself of truths I already know.

So if you are having one of those days or weeks, know that I feel ya. You’re going to have some hilarious stories on the other side. Keep speaking truth and letting Jesus show you the joy in the midst of it all.

And no one is even going to notice that my hands smell like bleach and my nail polish is smudged. Probably.