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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

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I’m getting married in 2 months. Actually, 69 days to be exact. On May 24, 2014, I will make the most solemn vows of my entire life, and officially become Mrs. Clay Selway. I will commit to not only share, but entirely give my money, my possessions, my future, my body, my soul to one man. Forever. No way out.

And he’s not “The One.”

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love Clay with everything I have. He makes me laugh. He makes the bad days good and the good days better. He challenges me to be a better person, and comforts me when I’ve failed that challenge. He’s the kindest, gentlest, sweetest person I know. He’s my best friend, my hero, and the only man I’d ever want to be my husband.

But he’s still not my soul mate, and definitely not “The One.”

Not that I didn’t spend the first 18 years of my life longing to meet my “One.” Growing up, like any good midwestern girl, I was fed a steady diet of the idealized American romance. One boy, one girl – two star-crossed lovers who fight across space and time to fulfill their destiny of being together. From Disney movies to romance novels, I ate it all up. I had my own copy of “Romeo and Juliet,” that I read until the pages started to fall out. I literally watched “The Princess Bride” so many times I could have recited it in my sleep. I loved it. And I wanted it.

But no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find it. Even the best boyfriend I had failed my weighty list of expectations. No man in the world seemed like they would ever fulfill the ideal I’d built up. I sat around and lamented to my girlfriends ruefully, “I think God made me a man, but somewhere along the way he got hit by bus.” The humor was a thin veneer for some very thick disappointment.

After wading through the smoking rubble from a broken relationship with someone I thought was “The One”,  I met my now fiance, Clay, through some mutual friends. After a year of friendship, we began a careful dating relationship. 2 years after that, he asked me to be his wife. And in just 2 months, we will become one. But he isn’t “The One.”

You see, Clay will never be “The One.” In fact, I don’t even think there is a “One,” not on this earth at least. The very concept of a “One” implies that there is one, singular person out there that will fulfill every single desire of my heart, meet every single need, and heal every single hurt.

What an incredible burden! Actually, what a crushing burden. No man, not even Clay (and I admit I think he’s the best man out there) could do that. Think of who many needs, wants, desires, and hurts you have – could just one person ever take care of all that?

As a Christian, I believe that human beings have eternal souls. Souls that are filled with an immense, infinite amount of desires and wants. We need to be loved perfectly, to be known perfectly, to be cherished perfectly. But, as the they say “no one’s perfect.” And thus, no one, not even your spouse, no matter how well matched, will ever be able to fulfill you fully.

But our culture has told us this lie, and we’ve ate it up. And so we date, and break up, marry and divorce, all the while searching, searching, searching for someone, anyone to fill this aching hole inside of us. But they can’t. And they don’t. And they never will.

I think C.S. Lewis got it right when he famously said, ““If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

You see, I think we were made for another world. A world with no longing, no sighing, no searching, no pain. No disappointment, no unmet expectations, no broken relationships, no emptiness. A world with a perfect relationship with a perfect God; an Infinite being to fill an infinite need. And though we haven’t lived in that perfect world since Genesis 2, I believe that through Jesus, we can still have that relationship with God. And through Him, even while I struggle through this broken world, I have an infinite source to fill my never-ending need.

This is something Clay and I came to realize before we dated each other, and something we realize a little more every day. Because we both have a relationship with Jesus, we have all of our infinite needs, wants, and desires fulfilled. We don’t have to turn to each other for them.

This means that while I still receive things like love, affection, friendship, and affirmation from Clay, I don’t have to. I don’t demand them, but rather can receive them as a gift. On the bad days (or weeks, or months, or years), I don’t have to receive anything from Clay. Fulfilled in my relationship with God, I can choose to serve Clay when he’s not serving me, give when he’s only taking, and love when he’s nothing but unloveable. And on the good days (which, by God’s grace, will outnumber the bad) I will receive his gentle service, gifts, and love with a sense of undeserving joy and gratitude.

He’s not “The One.” The unchangable, unshakeable, never-failing God is “The One.” And Clay is a wonderful, beautiful, completely undeserved gift given to me by The One.

On May 24, 2014, I will become one with someone I love more than my own body. I will happily join with the one God has given me, and together, as one, we will serve The One.

I’m getting married, and he’s not “The One.” And I’m grateful for that.

As I am almost done with my third week “on campus” here as an intern with Cru at OU, I thought it was about time for an update on what I’m learning.

I’ve been doing a lot. Handing out questionnaires, making a billion phone calls, sitting down to meet new students and share the Gospel, leading Bible studies, making flyers, formulating “social media strategy plans,” going to house parties, and on and on. From 9 am to 10 pm every day, my mind is buzzing with the billion tasks I have to do, and the excitement/exhaustion that is meeting a 1,000 new people and having the opportunity to share Jesus with them all. But even in all that activity, I’ve really only learned two things.

1) I have no idea what I’m doing.

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I keep telling people this, and they keep laughing. But really. I’m serious. Most of the time I wake up in the morning and beg God for grace. Even though I worked in the ministry as a student throughout my four years, being on staff is a whole different beast. There’s so much behind the scenes that I didn’t know even existed that must be done. So many small details, so many strategies – my head spins. A student asks me a question and the best I can say is, “Man, I don’t know…I can find out!”
At the same time as I’m figuring out my job, I’m trying to figure out how to be an adult in general. How does my health insurance work? (My current theory is maaagic.) Is there any way to avoid paying my rent and my credit card bill and my gas bill in the same week? (Holy money-suckers, batman! Yikes!) Why is the bank only open during hours that I’m at work? (Why, bank?? Why?) WHERE CAN ONE FIND A TOILET PAPER ROLL TO FIT A CIRCA-1970’S HOLDER?? But really. How does this all work?

The second thing I’ve learned, however, seems to fit nicely with the first thing I’ve learned.

2) God has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing.

Somehow, even in the midst of what feels like a whole lot of failure, everything is getting done. My bills are paid, and I have enough to eat. Women are coming to Bible study, and accepting Christ, and learning more about the Lord. I haven’t managed to crash our website yet and I’ve only sent the wrong file to the printer once.

God has got this under control. I just have to keep remembering that my calling isn’t to be perfect, but to be faithful. Everything else is up to Him.

I definitely don’t rest perfectly in that fact everyday, and there are still a lot of things that seem unresolved (for instance, Clay and I still haven’t found someone to marry us….*sigh*) but I know that somehow, He’ll see this worked out too. Resting in that fact today, and for the rest of days.

I usually like to end with a profound quote or a good song, so today I will leave you with these wise words to sum up my feelings.

We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical….Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22!

…Don’t judge me for quoting Taylor swift. She’s actually nailed how it feels to be 22, I think.

I’m going to deal with an in-house issue today. This is an open (letter, blog?) to all of my fellow Christians. So if that’s you, then stick around.

If you’re not a Christian, feel free to read it (in fact, please do) but I do want to include a side not. Just because I’m saying these things does not at all reflect any animosity. I’m writing this to people I consider my “brothers” and “sisters” in Christ, and that’s exactly how I feel about them. I love them dearly and intensely. Nothing can change that. Even when they hurt my feelings, (which, as my “family” they often do,) I still love them. So please read this post as a discussion between siblings who are trying hard to live life as a family, with all of it’s faults and failures.

Alright, that said, here’s what I really wanted to get to. Tomorrow, I will have been engaged for two weeks. Not very long! The word has still been getting around.

And it seems that every time, after the initial “congratulations!” the same question follows; “So when is the wedding?” A natural question. Totally fine. It’s been people’s reactions to my answer, however, that have been hurtful.

See, even though Clay and I got engaged in April, we’re not planning on getting married until late May/early June of 2014. There are several, personal, economic, and familial reasons behind that, but the largest reason for that date is because next year I will be serving as an intern with Cru at OU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ.)

This is something I’ve felt God leading me to for over a year now, and in the past few months the call has been more than confirmed for me. The internship runs August-April, and in that time, I don’t get any vacation time (other than holidays and such.) So, obviously, wedging a wedding in there would be pretty much impossible.

We talked about it, and although we definitely desire to be married sooner rather than later, this is what we feel is right for us, what God wants for us.

So it really hurts my feelings when people express surprise, and veiled (or not-so-veiled) judgement at our 15+ month engagement. I understand that typically in Christian circles, 6-8 month engagements are far more typical, but that’s just not a reality for us.

A long engagement is not a sin. Please don’t suggest that I ought not to intern with Cru just so that I can get married sooner (and yes, several people have said that to me.)

I wouldn’t blame someone if they did that, but I feel that to do so would be disobedient to what God has called me to do. So it really hurts when people suggest that I’m stupid, sinful, or some combination of both to choose to wait so that I can serve the Lord for less than a year.

I firmly believe that my life is not my own. I belong to the Lord, and to the Lord alone. I do what He has asked, even if that means waiting over a year to get married. I’m sure it will be hard. But I am indwelt with the Spirit. His grace is sufficient for me, for His “…power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:9) I will endure, I will learn to love God and Clay more, and I will have joy in it all.

So please, remember to watch what you say. Let only good things come out of your mouth, “such as is fit for building up, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29)

And please, don’t tell me how much I’m going to hate being engaged by the end. I’m just starting to enjoy it now.

That’s it. Love you all, brothers and sisters, I just want you to know. Ok, now let’s get back to regular life.

“From the moment we are born, we begin to die.”

This quote used to be one of my favorites.  It both terrified and intrigued me.  Only recently did I realize something new when I heard this quote.

I march, not toward death, as the quote implies, but life.  Oh yes, I will die.  But for me, death is only the vehicle to which I take to my new life.

Death (and the long, slow, often agonizing march toward it that we call “life”) is but a momentary pause, a blink, the final definitive step through the doorway that leads to my true life.

How much I look forward to that day!!! For, when I die, I will have entered into the final, glorious phase.

Like a bride slipping into her gown in the dressing room, such is death to me.

After that, it won’t be long til those door fling open wide, and my Groom will come to meet and lead me out to our eternal home – the renewed and reunited Heaven and Earth.  He will take me by the arm, and in the moment that I have dreamed about for so long, we will walk out into eternity, in all His glory and all my joy.

No, death is not bitter to me. I am bitter only that I must probably wait so long for it to come.

“For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Phil 1:21

Ok. So I know I promised my next post would b about how knowing Jesus has caused me to experience pain. I don’t want to say I lied but..I was mistaken. There is a much more important topic I want to address:

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays.

If I didn’t know any better, you’d think this was an all out war, in which the loser’s culture will be completely and totally destroyed and lost forever. (As if Christ can ever be lost). And you know what? It annoys me to no end!

When did this start to become a war? And who started it? While I proudly proclaim to be part of the problem – we did. Christians did. Why? Perhaps about of a righteous sense of defensiveness about the increasingly secular nature of our culture. Perhaps pride got the best of us. Who knows. In any cause, it seems to me that it only fuels an “Us vs. Them” mentality, and drives a wedge in the ever-widening gap between Christians and non-Christians.

Don’t misunderstand – I am a person who will always say “Merry Christmas”. But if someone says “Happy Holidays” (or, heck, even “Feliz Navidad”) I’m not going to get my undies in a bunch.  And I think it would serve the Christian community well if we all settled down just a little bit and quit throwing up more walls.

Perhaps, next year, instead of once again launching the “MERRY CHRISTMAS CRUSADES”, we should devote our time and energy to more worthy causes.  Maybe, we should show people what it means to live out “Merry Christmas”:

Let’s pack up some shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Offer to babysit for the single mom so she can get some Christmas shopping done.  Bring some Christmas cookies and a listening ear to the lonely widow down the street.  Invite the neighbors over for some carols and hot cocoa.  Feed the hungry.  Shelter the homeless.  Rescue the oppressed and comfort the afflicted.

Perhaps when people start to enjoy the real benefits of Christmas – the spirit and hope of Jesus Christ – they will be more inclined to say it.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Feliz Navidad. Happy Winter Solstice or whatever you celebrate.  All I hope is that this season, the love of Christ will reach out and touch your heart like it’s touched mine.

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Past Musings