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Be still, my soul. The Lord is on your side. 

Be. Still. Be STILL. Don’t run, don’t hide, don’t curl up in the fetal position. Be STILL. Relax. Rest.

The Lord is on your side. YOUR side. The LORD. The God of the universe, who controls every atom and every galaxy, each dost mote and every star. He’s on your side. He’s not going to leave you. He won’t suddenly decide to revoke friendship or drift out of your grasp. He is on YOUR side. He is for you, never against. He is more zealous for your joy than you could ever be. Trust Him. 

Be still, my soul. Don’t fret over the painful things that have happened this week, or last week, or last year. Yes, cry. Grieve. But don’t worry. Don’t dwell. Don’t worry about the unknown future stretching out before you. Leave to your God to order and provide. Let the God who unrolls the past, present, and future of the world like a scroll arrange your present and future, just as He has the past. Has he ever let you go without? Has he ever not made things work? Has he ever left you alone? No, never. And He won’t start now. In every change, He faithful will remain. 

He is faithful. Trust Him. Be. Still. 

 

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    “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
(Matthew 13:44-46 ESV)

Graduation fast approaches, and I’ve been confronted with the choices that follow.  Where will I go? What will I do?

Most days, I wish very badly that I could give the standard answer.  Contrary to popular belief, I am neither brave nor immune to the opinions of others. I wish I could say that I’d taken a job worth bragging rights. I wish I could say that I was moving into an apartment in a trendy part of town.

But I can’t, and I’m not.  As of now, the answers are all in the category of, “I don’t know.”

But I do know.

I’ve found the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great value.

Now I’m confronted with what’s next.  Will I sell all that I have to buy it?

Will I trade it in? The approval of my parents, my sisters, my family, my community. The respect of my professors and peers. The comfortable life I was raised to know. The certainty of a husband, children, a career. Everything.

Will I sell all that I have?  The price is high. It is very costly, and very painful, and very hard. Do I believe the pearl, the field, to be worth that much?

I think that I do.

I wish I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I wish I had a “5 Year Plan.”

I wish I had an answer other than “I don’t know, maybe, not really,” when people ask me if I know what I’m going to do after college.

But the truth is, I don’t. I will graduate, but then, who knows? 5 years, that’s almost inconceivable. My whole life – well, I can’t say.

I like photography (my major.) But I like a lot of things. I like coffee. I like knitting. I like trashy reality tv shows and things with birds on them. That doesn’t mean I’ll make a life with any of those things.

I hate being defined like that. As if where I live or how I make money defines who I am or the substance of my life. That’s not who I am.

So the next time that someone asks me, “So, what do you want to do with your life?” this is what I’m going to say.

“I can’t tell you where I’ll live. I can’t tell you who will be my employer, or what my job title will be, or what kind of work I’ll do. But I can tell you this. I’m going to laugh. I’m going cry. I’m going marry a great man, God willing. I’m going to have my own children, or maybe adopt a few, or maybe both. I’m going to make cookies for my neighbors. I’m going to invest in a church that I’ll love like my own body. I’m going to throw birthday parties. I’m going to lay in bed with my husband on a Saturday morning, talking about nothing in particular.

I’m going to sit around tables with my family late into the night, telling stories about the past. I’m going to take walks in the fall and enjoy the weather. I’m going to drink a LOT of coffee. I’m going to burn dinner. I’m going to teach a baby to say “mama.”I’m going to get angry. I’m going to forgive. I’m going to swim on really hot days. I’m going to drink good wine with great friends.

I’m going to look at the stars. I’m going to plant a garden. I’m going to take a lot of pictures. I’m going to sing hymns in my kitchen. I’m going to sit on the beach and listen to the waves. I’m going to marvel at the blue of the midwestern sky in September. I’m going to wear pretty dresses.

I’m going to tell people that Jesus’ loves them. I’m going to serve the God that made me. I’m going love people around me so much it breaks my heart. I’m going live to be 80, or maybe die tomorrow.

I’m going to live. Not just be alive, but really live, I’m going to experience this life for everything that it’s worth.”

I probably won’t say that. I’ll probably just say, “I don’t know.” But that’s what I really mean. Because I might not know what I want to do after I graduate, or even what I want to do tomorrow. But I do know that God made me to live, and live I will.

“Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life!” – Mary Oliver

This is Just So Beautiful – music video by Jenny & Tyler

As everyone ramps up to head back to school, and college freshmen get ready to pack mom’s minivan and head off college, newspapers and websites are all publishing their obligatory “college advice” articles. As an incoming freshmen to Ohio University 3 years ago, I read all of those articles that I could. I wanted to be ready.

The thing is, all of those articles seemed to say the same things. “Don’t buy your books.” “Make sure you study.” “Join a club, make sure to exercise!”  All good advice, to be sure. But they didn’t prepare me. In fact, there are several core things that  no one told me about college. So, of course, here it comes – The 5 things no one tells you about college

1. It’s really hard to have your heart in two places.

As excited as I was as a college freshmen, nothing prepared me for just how completely I would fall in love with my new home of Athens, Ohio. Over the three years that I’ve been there, it has grown to be my home. My friends are there. My bedroom is there. My stuff is there. I have tons of memories, favorite haunts, favored coffee shops and delis. In so many ways, my heart is embedded in those places. But, just the same – I spent 18 years growing up in Dayton, Ohio. My childhood home is there. My parents are there. My dogs are there. Old memories, old haunts, other favored shops and eateries. My heart is divided, and it’s really hard. When I’m in Dayton, I miss Athens. When I’m in Athens, I miss Dayton. It can be hard to split your world between two different cities. So be prepared.

2. You’ll be a nomad.

#2 essentially goes along with #1 in some ways. Because your heart and life is in two cities, you’ll constantly be traveling back and forth between them. Important events and people are in both cities. It’s inevitable that you’ll need to travel. But even beyond that, you become a sort of nomad, roaming from place to place to see people, go on trips, etc. For example, this summer, there will be 10 total weekends. At the end of it all, I will have been home for approximately 3 of them. Between moving in and out, weddings, parties, bridal showers, visiting friends, and vacations, I’m rarely home. Even at school, it seems every weekend I’m either going home, going to Columbus, going on a retreat. I’m always in the car, going somewhere. And while I love seeing friends, I hate living out of a suitcase But it’s inevitable. So buy an air mattress (college friends are too poor to have beds for you to sleep on!) and invest in a good suitcase. Eventually, you’ll settle down (or so I’ve heard.)

3. You’ll often panic, and feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

In high school, things were relatively simple. You did teenager things, and your parents handled the big stuff like bills, budgets, car repairs, and grocery shopping. But now, all of the sudden, it’s up to you. It starts the moment your parents walk out of your dorm room and leave you to run your own life. People don’t blink twice when handing you the lease to an apartment to sign, or telling you to drive the company car to pick up supplies from Walmart (true story, had to drive the company minivan in the summer 2010 and felt like I was going to die). You’re an adult. And that’s weird. When I signed the papers and was handed my first credit card this past spring, I wanted to run back into the bank and scream “WAIT! WAIT! Are you sure I can have this? I don’t know what I’m doing!” It’s strange how overwhelming grocery shopping can be when realize that you’re going to need to buy more than Oreos and Nutella. And I wish I could say that it gets better, but from what I’ve heard, it really doesn’t. Soon, you’re gonna find yourself getting a career, getting married, and having a baby. And the whole time the refrain in the back of your head will sound something like “WAIT! WAIT! Are you sure I can have this? I don’t know what I’m doing!” But you’re an adult now! So take the keys, take the car (or the husband or the baby or whatever) and start moving – life is all about learning on the job!

4. You’ll make the best friends of your entire life – only to see them all scatter after graduation.

The first few weeks of college are hard, and awkward. You don’t have those friends you’ve known since preschool anymore. People are different. Everyone’s trying to adjust. But slowly, as the year goes on, you meet people like you. You start hanging out, getting lunch, going uptown. And, somewhere in it all, you become best friends. You spend the next 4 years spending pretty much your entire life with these people. You live with them, take classes with them, work with them, date them, love them. They become the best friends you’ve ever known, and they have a good chunk of your heart and soul.
And then, one day, you graduate. And everyone gets married, gets jobs, and moves to whatever city their new employer is in. Sometimes it’s just the next city over, and sometimes it’s another continent. Yes, you can visit and Skype and text and whatever, but it’s still really hard – it just isn’t the same.
I don’t say this to discourage people from making friends. By all means, make these friends – like I said, they’re the best you’ll probably ever know! But, be aware. There will be a day that college ends. So treasure your friendships. Someday, they won’t live in the dorm room next door.

5.The future becomes super-real, super-fast – and it’s terrifying.

Throughout your whole life, people have been asking you, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Even in high school, you answer with an, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe a scientist, or a hairdresser…” It all seems so vague and far away. It doesn’t seem to matter much if you don’t know. But then, one day (and it comes at different points for everyone) it hits you. The “real world” is coming, and it’s coming FAST. People keep asking you that stupid question, “What do you want do when you graduate?” (Because, news flash, you already are grown up [AAAAH!], and now you’re just waiting to get a piece of paper to confirm that you’re competent to actually work for a living.)
People keep asking me that and all I can think is, “Umm. I want to be able to buy groceries. And pay rent.” And that’s really about the extent of what I know! I have NO IDEA what I want to do for the rest of my life!!!! And like I outline in #3, I don’t really feel ready for any of this. Living on my own? A job? Marriage? Babies? When did I go from not being responsible enough to have my own dog to being allowed to have an infant?
When the future changes from a “someday” into a “now,” well, it’s terrifying.

So that’s my list. 5 things that no one tells you about college. Now that I’ve sufficiently scared you, here’s the last thing I have to say. It will be among the best 4 years of your life. Really, for all of the scary and the bad, it really is great. I won’t lie, it’s gonna be really hard. You’re gonna struggle. You’re gonna cry. You’re gonna have days that make you want to quit. But it’s so worth it. So live up every minute of it. It goes by faster than you know.

Also… GO BOBCATS!

Today, I was shown something that pretty much sums up what I want to do with my life.  My vague ideas for a career pretty much summed up in one tiny url. www.mediastorm.org If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad – neither had I.  Until my Journalism 101 class today, that was.  It was brought up by our professor as an example of how the internet is used in reporting.  We watched a video that literally left my speechless.  As I watched I thought “This. This. This is it! This is what I want to do!” I felt my palms get sweaty, my heart beat faster, my chest constrict.  I wanted to run out the door and jog to New York (where mediastorm is located) and beg for a job.

That being said – I’m pretty sure if that’s what I want to do, that I’m in the wrong major.  Most of the video would probably be placed under the categories of “Media Graphics” or “Photojournalism”.  And here I sit, a Journalism major.  Granted, I have taken the first step of applying and interviewing for a spot in the Photojournalism program.  However, whether or not I’ll get in is still unknown.  What if I don’t?  What if I get in and find out that I would rather do journalism?  What if I find that I actually hate photojournalism?  What if I try to both and am an absolute failure at each one and end up selling off pieces of my equipment to pay the rent for my cardboard box?

For someone who hates uncertainty, I have certainly chosen two possible careers that are pretty much defined by their uncertainty.  And I’m uncertain about even wanting these careers that are uncertain.  Uncertain squared.  Ugh.

If there’s one thing I can definitively say about myself, it’s that I’m a planner.  I like lists. I like calenders.  I like schedules.  Vacillation and indecision drive my absolutely crazy.  Honestly, if I could, I would choose to know everything about my future – my career, who I’ll marry, where we’ll live, how many kids I’ll have.  I have often lamented to friends about the uncertainty of my life.  “I trust God,” I moan, “but I would really appreciate it He could just like, submit a blue-print or something and let me sign off on it!”  We all laugh, but really – is that trust?  Is knowing what will happen – even in rough blueprint form – trust at all?  No.  That’s trusting myself.

Perhaps with my intended choice of career, and my own uncertainty about my major at the moment, is God’s way of getting me to trust Him.  “C’mon,” he’s pleading, “I know what I’m doing.  If you’d quit holding onto that tiny ledge, I’d pull you up to the mountaintop.”  And I know this.  I understand this.  And yet, I’m still clinging to my tiny ledge, my little rock of familiarity, of plans and lists and calendars.

It is one thing to know that I should trust God’s plans for my future.  It’s another entirely to do so.  But if there’s one thing I do trust, it’s that God can change my heart and help me to trust.  In that, I trust.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil.  Plans to give you a future, and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Kingsley\’s Crossing

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