Monthly Archives: July 2013


Empty Eggshells

This summer has not been an easy one for me.  More often than not, by the end of the day, I feel completely empty, totally poured out.  There’s not any one specific thing that’s been causing it – it’s been several specific things.  Some are done and over with now, with other things filling their places.  Some are on-going.  All of them are draining.

And yes, prayer helps.  As does reading scripture.  And taking hikes, or long walks.  And journaling.  But I’m still empty by the end.

A couple weeks ago I went on a mission trip with my youth group.  It was one of the things that completely broke me.  When I came home and turned on my laptop, I was stopped by my wallpaper.  It was a picture I had taken earlier in the summer during a camping trip.  In the picture is a pile of broken egg shells, completely emptied of their yolk and white.  And, because of their emptiness, the morning sunlight could shine right through them, illuminating their cracks in an eye-catching way.  (So eye-catching that I had to stop flipping French Toast and grab my camera!)

Anyway, when I got back from my mission trip and was greeted by this picture, I suddenly found myself identifying with the eggs – completely emptied of everything within me, and broken.

But that’s when I realized that in order for the light to be shining through the eggshells, all their yolk and white had to be emptied out.  In fact, if you could talk to the eggs, I bet they would tell you that they felt like their very essence, the very thing that made them eggs, had been drained out of them.

But, but that’s what had to happen for the light to shine through them.  Only once the light was able to shine THROUGH them, could the eggs become something no one had expected.

And, I think, (I pray) that’s what God’s been doing with me this summer – completely emptying me of what I think of as my essence.  But, in reality, it’s just stuff that gets in His way of shining THROUGH me.  Which is really what I want.  I want Him to shine through me.  I want to be merely a shell, with Him filling me up, pouring out of me, catching eyes so that people notice.

I want to live an eggshell life – a life that brings Him glory and catches eyes for Him.


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If my younger self could talk to me now…

I miss writing at Starbucks.  I should be typing this out at one of their small, smooth tables, slowly sipping an Earl Grey Tea Latte.  But instead I sit curled up on my bed, pondering life, too lazy to get up and move.

Not the point, just an FYI.

So, this birthday month thing is apparently a bigger deal to me than I realized.  Or maybe it’s just because these last three weeks have been some of the hardest I’ve had in years.  Either reason – I’m extra contemplative and reminiscent of younger days.  (For those of you who don’t use words that size and don’t feel like reaching for a dictionary, the translation is I’m thinking about my past a lot).

And I wonder.

If I could fold time back on itself, so the eighteen year-old version of myself could meet the current, thirty year-old version of myself, what would my younger self think?  What would my older self say? I’m not sure.  It’s easier to know what my younger self would say.  Something along the lines of:

Why aren’t you in Africa?  You’re supposed to be in Africa teaching missionaries’ kids.  But instead you’ve had about twenty jobs in the time you graduated from college.  Why?  Yes, Bahrain was hard, but you don’t give in to pain, you push through.  God takes care of everything, right?  And He’ll protect you from stuff.  Were you not trusting Him enough?

And YOU HAVE A NOSE RING?!?  WHAT?    WHY?  Really?  Just because you think it’s pretty?  Who ARE you?  AND YOU CUT YOUR HAIR!?!  WHYYYYYYYY?

Why haven’t you lost the weight yet?  Will it never come off?

What are you wearing?

What are you listening too?  (And what is that little thing that is attached to the earphones in your ears?  ARE those earphones?)

You don’t have a VW bug yet?  Your car is boring.

You have so many more books!

And when did you start liking hats?

No guy in the picture yet, huh?

And so, so much more.  None of it truly important.  I know my younger self would have some issues with what I believe and know about God today.  And probably with the fact that I’m not living by “the plan”.  But that stuff has come with time and experience.  So, oh well.

But if I was given the unheard-of chance to talk to my younger self?  I’d probably say something along these lines:

Life is not about you.  I know you think that you think that, but it’s really NOT, Okay?  It’s not going to go how you expect, and that’s a wonderful, exhilarating reality to accept.  Accept the adventures God throws your way.  Your life will be richer for taking them.
Love better.  Love people.  All people.  No matter what.  You will have some really, really excruciatingly hard times ahead, but those will be nothing compared to the pain your relationships (all sorts – friends, family, romantic) will put you through.  But that’s okay.  Your relationships are worth it, are really the only thing worth your time on earth.  Because through your relationships you discover more about God, and God uses them to mold you into the woman He wants. And He will use you to reach out to everyone around you – because He loves you so much.

Do you have ANY idea how very much God loves you?  He loves you enough to want the very best for you.  He wants to make every day your very best.  He wants to give you the very best gifts.  He want you to become the woman He created you to be, and He placed inside you the potential to be.  He loves you enough to correct you when you mess up – no matter what it takes.  He loves you better and more deeply than you could ever imagine.

I would probably give myself a few fashion tips, a couple hints about what’s ahead, a few pointers with boys and friendship, but none of those would be as important as the knowledge of God’s love and relationships.


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Live, Forest, LIVE!!!!

I just spent three minutes staring at my computer screen while it was in Screensaver mode.  I watched as pictures of places I have been and people I have met, gently appeared and disappeared on and off the screen.  And I thought how blessed I was, how much I have enjoyed the life I have lived so far, how much I’m looking forward to what’s coming next in my life.

And maybe it’s because of the book I’m reading, or the fact we are now in my birthday month, and this time around I’ll turn thirty (I know, I’m OLD!  And I’m YOUNG!)  but the thought, “What exactly does it mean to LIVE?” crossed my mind.  I know it’s kind of a cliché thought.  Just about everyone who is anyone has written on this topic, so I’m not being overly original here.  But the question has been circling around my head for a couple of hours now, and I can’t seem to focus on anything else.  So, here goes!

So, define Living . Having recently re-taken sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science, I KNOW there are four or six different requirements, or tests, to see if something is alive.  Yep.  Really did retake those classes.  And yes, there really ARE requirements to know whether or not something is alive.  Don’t ask why I had to re-take middle school science.  Honestly.  Not the point.

But I think a person can pass all those requirements with flying colors and not be Living.

For me, Living is NOT simply having a form of sorts and breathing.  That counts for plants and animals and other various ‘live’ organisms that I can’t think of.  But, as bearers of God’s reflection, I think our definition has a few more requirements.

I think Living is more than simply having great experiences.  For instance, some people have these bucket lists (Apparently some people have lists of stuff to do before they turn 30.  Huh.  Didn’t do that).  Now, since I’ve never created one of these lists, I could be wrong, but my assumption is that they think it’s okay to die if they’ve completed everything on their list.  Like, completing everything on that list means they’ve really Lived.  So, accomplishing certain tasks, or seeing certain things, or experiencing certain experiences means you’ve lived?  Well, what about all the people who didn’t have the resources to bungee jump off the Golden Gate Bridge?  Have they still Lived?  Or how about the people who never tried eating a cricket?  Or cow’s brains?  Have they really Lived?  How about the women who never gave birth?  And, for that matter, all the men who didn’t either(like, all of them, right)?  Have they Lived?  If I never travel to the South Pole (NO THANKS!) will I not have truly Lived?

I don’t think so.  I think a person can never leave a mile-radius of where they were born and still Live.

I also think people can travel the world, get married, have kids, climb to the top of the Eiffel tower, zip-line off the Great Wall of China, eat green tomato minced pie (YUCK) and NOT have Lived.

I honestly think you have to go back to the Bible in order to really Live (don’t freak out, I’m not asking you to pull out your robe, sandals and staff from the Christmas pageant).  I think you specifically have to look at why we’re here, which means looking at what Jesus commanded us to do while on this planet.   And Jesus said, in Matthew 22, verses 37 through 39 that the greatest commandment (So, the most important thing He asked us to do while on earth) is to “Love the Lord your God with your entire heart, with your entire soul and with your entire mind.”  And in the very next breath, He said to, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Now, if you do this, if you follow this commandment, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in foreign countries, or eating weird food (seriously – white lasagna is WEIRD), or even getting married some day.  There is just as good of a chance, though, that you’ll end up living in the same town you grew up in, working at the grocery store a couple blocks over, and getting to know everyone who comes through that grocery line.  And that’s okay.  That’s fine.  That’s brilliant really.

Because you’ll get to know those people really well.  You’ll learn how to best love them.  And that’s the commandment!  To LOVE.  In a deep, caring-about-you-more-than-me sort of way.

And people who love like that – they have rich, full, fulfilling lives.  Promise.  They might go to New Zealand  some day, they might not.  It doesn’t matter so much, because that inner desire that is buried so deep within each and every human on the planet to not waist our time here (I know it might not seem like everyone has this desire, but they do – some just chose to ignore it) is fulfilled.

So, my conclusion – if you Love God with everything in you, and if you sacrificially love your neighbor, you are, indeed, Living.

Go Live your life, wherever God leads it!  Go Live it abundantly (that means Love LOTS of people well)!

Buckle up, it’s going to be quite the ride.






Oh, afterthought – I have nothing against bucket lists.  When God has given us this amazing planet, and the means to travel it, we should probably do that to some extent.  It helps you get to know Him better.  And if you need a list to help you remember all you want to do, that’s fine.  Make lists.  I would LOVE to see the Northern Lights some day before I die, and I want to visit Ireland, and I want to hike the Camino De Santiago in Spain.  But I’m not going to feel like I got gypped if I die before those things happen.  After all, when God renews this earth, and makes all things new – those experiences might be ten times better.


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Music Notes

I have made a discovery.  This is going to blow your mind.  Really.  Are you listening?  Okay, pay attention now.

Girls dig boys who make music.


I know, right?  Whether he sings heart-throbbing lyrics, strums a guitar, hammers on a drum, knows how to make a banjo dance, or simply can really buzz a harmonica, boys who make music tend to cause women to swoon (definition of swoon as I understand it is along the lines of instant crush).

True statement.

And if a boy writes his own music – oh man!  Better watch out!  He’s very likely to have mobs of girls running after him.  Or screaming his name.  Or wearing his name on homemade t-shirts.  And have posters of him in their rooms.  And know all his songs by heart.  They might even randomly burst into those songs in the middle of a mall, or a hall, or a classroom.  They might even dance to those songs.

I bet you had no idea.

Music is powerful.   It can turn a stiff board of a person into a ball of spinning energy.   It can open doors.  It can alter a person’s mood quicker than a puppy, a caramel frappaccino, a great workout, or a cute new outfit.  It also has the power to keep a person in a mood, or even heighten an emotion.

When we break up with boys, we play depressing and angry songs over and over again.  When we’re in love, or really, really, really want to be in love, we listen to any and every love song that is on our ipod.  Over and over and over again.

Music is the quickest, purest way to our soul.  Really and truly.  I’m not kidding.  Hence the reason if a boy REALLY wants you, he’ll write you a song.  Or struggle through it on his newly-bought guitar.  Or, at the very least, he’ll make you a playlist.

So, it makes sense that a chunk of our time in fellowship with other Christians be spent singing, worshiping our God.  I know it probably feels weird.  I mean, where else does that ever happen, except at concerts, where a group of people just sing together?  Nowhere.  Weird.

But…but for me, it’s been during times of worship when God most often talks to me.  Or when I can finally express to Him what’s been bothering my heart.  It’s during times of worship that I have literally felt God cleanse me of all the gunk life threw at me that had been clinging to my heart. I have felt refreshed, convicted, comforted, and encouraged.  And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that worship is the key to all of that.

When we take the time to tell God how much we love Him; when we take the time to remind ourselves in song of His goodness, of His power, of His grace; miracles happen.  Chains are broken.  Lives are changed.  God’s glory is displayed.


So, two things –

Be careful what music you listen to.  I’m not saying only listen to Christian music (NO WAY am I saying that), but do be careful.   Remember, what you listen to is a reflection of where your heart is.  Music has the power to put your heart in a good place, or in a down-right rotten one.

And, take some time this week, all on your own, separate from church or youth group, and tell God how much you love Him – in song.  You know how awesome it is when someone sings to you; I’m pretty sure God feels the same way.  I’m pretty sure your belting your favorite worship song in the shower (because who DOESN’T sound amazing in the shower?) puts a huge, little boy grin on His face.  And it’s a wonderful thing when God smiles.


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