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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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“What I need to survive is not fire…I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

I need someone to show me how selfish and horrible I really am, but love me and tell me they think I’m wonderful anyway. Not because I am. But because they love me. And that’s what love does.

It loves, sometimes just to spite the bad.

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Cor 5:7

I’ve always liked this verse – Perhaps because I’ve never been able to live it.

As much as I don’t want to admit that it’s true, I know that it is: I live my most of my life in fear.

Even as a child, I hated the grip that fear had on me. When I was in junior high, I decided that I was going to conquer one of my biggest fears – heights. I signed up for a week long summer camp that revolved around heights. Literally. A week of high-ropes courses, rock climbing, zip-lining, and other stomach-churning activities. I thought if I could just show “knuckle-down” and “man-up,” I’d be able to walk away cured of my fear. Fool-proof plan, right?

It didn’t work.

Of course, I did make it through the week. I did all of the activities we were supposed to, and only wet my pants once or twice. But I walked away, still afraid of heights. To this day, being more than 6 feet up makes my head spin and my stomach churn. I couldn’t conquer my fear of heights, and I don’t think I ever will.

Even though I know that didn’t work, I keep thinking that if I just try harder, I won’t be so scared anymore. I keep swallowing my fear, and forging ahead, thinking that doing one more “brave” thing will make it go away. But every morning, I wake up, roll over, and find that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach again.

I’m so sick of living in fear. It clouds my days, robs my joy, and strips my faith. It flys in the face of all that I say I believe.

I don’t think I’d ever realized how ruled by fear I am until this season of my life, when so much seems to be shifting under my feet. I’ve moved out on my own, started a new job, have begun applying for my next job, and am planning my marriage. The questions are unending:

Where will we live? How will I ever save enough? How will we pay for X (our honeymoon, an apartment, a mattress, my medical bills, etc.)? What will we do? Should we go into full-time missions work? Where will the money come from if we do? Will we make it? Will our marriage last? Am I doing the right thing?

They pile up around me, burying me, until I’m drowning in my own paralyzing fear. I choke, cough, splutter. Whisper tiny cries for help. It takes everything in me not to give in, pack it all up, and head for the hills. And in this metaphor, the hills are a stable, stationary job with a reliable paycheck and a life devoid of relationships that might be painful or fail. It seems easier than looking at my trembling face in the mirror every morning, and wishing there was a braver soul looking back at me.

I’ve been doing everything in my power, especially these past few months, to ignore the fear I feel inside of me. I didn’t know what else to do. This morning, though, my pastor said something that really struck me. While preaching on Luke 1, in which Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive Jesus, he said this; “If you want to truly follow Christ, you have to realize you won’t have your questions answered before you say ‘Yes, Lord.'”

I won’t have my questions answered before I say “Yes, Lord.” I will say yes, and most likely be swimming in a sea of questions. But just because I have questions, doesn’t mean I’m not walking in faith. In fact, saying “Yes” in the face of those questions is the very definition of faith. I won’t be walking in perfect faith all the time, but I don’t have to live in fear either.

Like Mary, I will say “Yes, Lord,” when he calls. I will wake up every morning, and look at my trembling face, feel my heart shaking with fear, and remind myself, “You walk by faith, not by sight.” I will fear my deep, paralyzing fear, and cry out to the God who emboldens my heart and strengthens my soul. And He will not disappoint.

My name is Emily. I live my life tempted to fear. But I have the power of the living God inside of me, and I will choose to do what I’m called to, even when I’m scared. I don’t know what this means for me yet, but I’m sure I’ll learn.

“….for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

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.

will update this blog regularly. I will, I will! I know I’m typically a pretty sporadic blogger, but this year I’m hoping very much to be different. I want to use this blog to update my family, friends, and ministry partners about my year as an Intern. Also, my big sister essentially threatened me with eternal nagging if I don’t, so there’s that. Let the update commence.

1. I finished my support raising on time! Woo! It was a crazy whirlwind. For those of you who weren’t keeping track, on July 1st, I had 36% of my support in. By August 1st, I had about 95%. Crazy. Insane. God is so good. It literally came pouring in from all directions, and it was all I could do to keep up. I wish I could physically hug each and every person who helped make that happen!

2. I moved back to Athens. This life change was also a crazy whirlwind. I didn’t set a hard and fast date for moving, simply because it was so hard to know when I’d be at 100% supported. And, in accordance with Cru policy, until I was at 100%, I would not be allowed to “report to campus” (aka go to work.) My job, until that point, would be to stay home and finish my financial support raising, which is most efficiently done from my parent’s home in Dayton. So I stayed. And suddenly, my support went from 80% to 95% in a week, and I was looking at having to move – quick. I had a wedding to go to first, though. Then, while at that wedding, I got word that some furniture I was poised to inherit needed to be picked up – now.
And thus, I found myself in a car at 6:30am with Clay, making a journey that looked something like this.

Screen shot 2013-08-23 at 10.17.03 PM

551 miles. 15 hours. 1 car. 1 UHaul. Way too much gas. A whole lot of exhaustion.

But, at the end of it all, I was moved into my new apartment in Athens, and started to settle in and get ready to start Staff Planning.

3. Staff Planning & Intern Life began. Staff planning happened this past week, and for the first time, I really did anything that made me feel like “Cru Staff.” I was given my list of responsibilities. This year, I will disciple (mentor) a handful of women, lead an Action Group (upperclassmen Bible study), help run the movement at Hocking College (a nearby school), and run the ministry’s communications (i.e. anything social media, photography, videography, design, and printing.) Whew. I’m tired from just typing that.

At Staff Planning we planned for this upcoming year. year. I prayed for it, strategized, took notes, and mostly sat quietly, feeling pretty intimidated. I didn’t I give much thought to what it would feel like to be the only first year intern, but if I had I don’t think I would have come close to what I really feel now. It’s such a mixture. On one hand, I’m so happy to be here, and so excited. On the other, I’m ridiculously nervous.  I’ve been literally thrown into “adult life” in the course of a week (it’s not an easy thing after 19 years of being a student.)  I’m working alongside people I highly admire, and I hate to disappoint. I’m a perfectionist with a performance-driven bent. I’m an introvert who struggles to make deep friendships. And I’m far, far away from almost every friend to whom I feel close enough to bare my soul.

And we haven’t even started to work with students yet! Yup, feeling just a liiiittle bit overwhelmed.

I’m trying to take big breaths, pray, and remember that it’s ok to cry when I really miss my friends, my dogs, and my mom. The next 12 months are going to be a great big adventure, and I really want to fully live each and every minute of them. I don’t want to miss out on a single minute of this crazy, beautiful, wonderful life that the Lord has prepared for me.

“…now at last they were beginning Chapter One of The Great Story, which no one has ever read, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the last.” – The Chronicles of Narnia.

Yay! Moving!

Yay! Moving!

New Apartment!

New Apartment!

Just another day with Cru Staff - at our annual "Staff Retreat."

Just another day with Cru Staff – at our annual “Staff Retreat.”

So thankful for the sweet things in life.

baseballgameFor this godly man, and his sweet, gentle, persistent kindness and faithful love.

friendsFor these friends, and the way they love me enough not only to cheer me on, but to show me my sin and tell me when I’m wrong. Also, they’re hysterical and not a day goes by where one of them doesn’t make me laugh.

familyFor this family. Words cannot describe. I credit them with my faith, my passions, my humor, and of course (as you can see), my really awesome hair.

2013-06-30 10.17.47For these two fluffy idiots, who never fail to entertain and exasperate with their antics. Also, I’ve never had a better kiss (sorry, Clay.)

2013-06-08 20.30.46Thankful.

I just this really great article at Relevant, and it really made me stop to think.

Now, I don’t have Instagram, but I have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a blog. I use all of them every day. And I will admit that I often leave my computer defeated, feeling as if I don’t measure up. Like, my life isn’t as cute, or as romantic, or as wonderful as everyone else. And I start to wonder where I went wrong, or, even worse, I begin to question God.

The article hits it spot on; “I so easily fall prey to the seduction of other people’s partial truths and heavily filtered photos, making everything look amazing. And their amazing looking lives make me feel not amazing at all.”

Partial truths and heavily filtered experiences. That’s the nature of the Internet. Just today, I posted these photos of my engagement. They are everything that moment was; Sweet, surprising, beautiful, and so full of love.

But that’s what it was. A moment. A 10 minute span of time. What those photos have failed to show is the long 2.5 year relationship, and agonizing 6 month struggle that lead up to that moment. This is the reality.

Clay and I have been dating for over two years. We’ve known each other for three. Our relationship has been wonderful, but it’s also been really hard work. Back breaking at times. You don’t bring two people together with 20+ years of history, much of it difficult, without conflict.

The past 6 months alone for us were, quite frankly, awful. We’ve been long distance. We weren’t communicating well. There were lies we both believed about how the other felt and thought. We harbored hurt feelings, bitterness, anger, resentment. For three months, we had disagreements just about every time we talked. There were two months where I lay awake at night every night, worrying. There was a moment that I thought we might not make it.

But we did. It was hell, but we did. We struggled. We cried. We prayed. We sought counsel. We read the Word. We prayed, and prayed some more. We (ok, I) cried even more than I prayed. We WORKED. And it was hard, but it was so worth it, because it brought us to the moment when those photos were taken.

And that’s what it was. A moment, preceded by a billion others filled with blood, sweat, and lots of tears. So remember that, when you look at my photographs (or statuses, or Tweets, or blogs, or whatever) or anyone else’s.

One moment, proceeded by a billion other happy, sad, and mundane moments. That’s life.

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It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God – what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him…if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes…

-Jim Elliot. 

Oh, Lord. That I might enjoy the sheer exhilarating beauty of being a creature on this earth that knows and loves her Creator. 

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18 ESV)

A lot of my posts lately have been sad and fearful. I won’t attempt to make apologies for that; it’s exactly how I feel. I’ve had a rough few months, to put it lightly. But as I was spending some time with the Lord and contemplating my life, I was convicted that I ought to be a lot more grateful than I am.

I am scared. Actually, I’m terrified. I graduate in less than 2 months. I have a job that, while awesome, is definitely going to be hard. I have to be an adult. I don’t feel ready for that!

I’m probably not ready for that. I’m most likely going to fall flat on my face more than once in the next year. But I realized this – I have lots of people in my life who are going to pick me up. And that’s really all we can do. Try, fail, and let those who love us most pick us up.

I have a family that loves me like crazy and is doing everything they can to help me get on my feet.

I have a group of friends that constantly shows me what it means to walk in the Light, live for eternity, and have a life filled joy.

I have a boyfriend who loves with so constantly and with such intensity, who shares my dreams. Adult life is scary, but a little bit easier when someone’s doing it with you.

I don’t talk about what I’m grateful for, or what fills me with joy. I don’t proclaim to the world what wonderful grace I’ve been given. And I think I need to. So the next three posts will be on these groups of people that have supported me the whole way. 

Next year is going to be really hard. But I’m so thankful God has given me everyone I need.

 

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

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