disappointment vs. grace

It’s an age old battle. Life brings disappointment, and we decide how we react… with grace, or with anger and hurt.

For me, reacting to disappointment with grace feels like giving up. To me, it often looks like letting people hurt you… like letting them hurt me, and then… letting them off the hook?

NO NO NO, my inner self screams. You need to protect yourself. You need to show them who is boss here. You need to show them how much you matter. 

Or… the Spirit whispers. Maybe they’ve been hurt many, many times, and they’re reacting out of that hurt. Maybe what they need from you right now is forgiveness and love and the knowledge that you’re not going to give up on them and shut them out.

 

Today I’m struggling to show grace. Today I’m torn because part of me wants to cry and yell and be a baby and make the person who hurt me SEE THAT I AM RIGHT.

But that’s not the part I choose to act on.

That’s not the place I choose to dwell.

Today, I choose grace. I choose grace. I choose grace. 

Even when the memory of words spoken out of deep hurt pops up, I choose to think about it for a second, let myself feel it, let myself know that words spoken over me in anger and hurt are NOT a reflection of who I am. Then, I choose to put it away.

Here’s the thing about grace. It’s been given to me so freely, so generously. It’s been given to me by the Lord of the Universe, my Father, my Lover, my Friend, my Redeemer, my Healer, my God, my King. I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t even know I was going to need it.

But He gave it anyway.

I didn’t accept it immediately. Sometimes I still don’t accept it. And He is always there, ready to give it anyway. He gives it continually in a way I can only hope to replicate. Every time I mess up, He is still there, arms open.

Recently, I asked God to give me grace. I asked Him to help me speak out of love, not haste. And he did.

Today I asked God again, give me grace, Father, give me grace. And he reminded me gently that there’s still anger in my heart. He reminded me that grace doesn’t just mean plastering on a fake smile and saying, “everything’s fine.” Grace does not mean evading the issue. It means getting out the tools and doing surgery on my own heart, sans anesthesia. It means learning to be okay, even when my heart and mind are whispering that showing grace looks an awful lot like losing an argument.

 

Today, I’m reminded what grace is, at it’s core.

Grace is forgiveness when forgiveness is not earned.

Grace is love when love is not deserved.

Grace is moving on, even when the other person hasn’t cared enough to receive forgiveness… hasn’t even asked for it.

 

When you struggle to show grace, when you spend weeks drowning in hurt and bitterness and resentment and “what am I going to do about this?”

Ask yourself this question:

Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?

God isn’t trying to hide revelation from us. More often than not, when I’m stuck in a problem and I am struggling to find my way out, if I ask myself this question, I realize the answer is no.

Ask the Father for grace today, tomorrow, in every situation. Sometimes you’ll give in to the disappointment. Sometimes you’ll be graceless. But guess what.

He’ll still be there, arms stretched wide, ready to extend His grace to you, ready to help you up and guide you as you try again. He’s already told us His grace is all we need.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

 

xoxo,

Carrie

On this, the Monday-est of all Mondays

Today had me feeling some type of way… some type of melancholy. The Monday-est of all Mondays.

Tonight I crawled into bed with a glass of wine and some Faulkner, but I ended up with my laptop out, looking through photos of Scotland – of the place I called home for only half a year – and missing it something fierce. (May or may not have squeezed my eyes shut reaaaaally tight, in hopes that when I opened them I would be in my itty bitty icky flat, and I could throw on my rain coat and run down the hill to my favorite cafe for a flat white, or to ‘Spoons for a pint. It didn’t work.)

I think it hit me so hard because instead of looking through my best photos – the ones that are edited and perfectly posed – I ended up flipping through ALL of them. The bloopers made me miss it more.

Ah, what a time that was. How the sheep ran to me, embracing me in love and fluffy kisses. (Not what happened.) How the Scottish security guards LOVED seeing me climbing on the wall of Edinburgh Castle, trying to get that perfect gram even though the drop on the other side was 30-50 feet. “Tourists will be tourists,” they said good-naturedly. One may have even offered to take the photo for me. (Not what happened.) Oh how that handsome young bagpiping soldier offered to let me try to play his quaint lil instrument. (Ok fine, he’s not, strictly speaking, “alive,” so that’s not what happened either.)

Ahem.

Anyway.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Awkward selfies with my Canadian bestie, pics of many a meal of “fancy ramen” in my little plastic purple bowls, photos of wild drunken Scots messing about in the quad outside my bedroom window, playing in the 1/4 inch of snow that decided to bless Glasgow that winter.

Rain-soaked bridge running photos. Rain-soaked castle hill climbing photos. Rain soaked runs back from the grocery store photos. (It rains a lot in Glasgow, ok?)

Seriously, so much rain. But look at those smiles. Aw. What a time we had.

Every happy memory comes rushing back so easily, in the blink of an eye. I don’t remember how I felt in the nights lying in my twin sized bed with the crappiest mattress, wishing I was home, wishing the noise outside my window at 2 am was my family rather than another drunken college student celebrating a rugby victory or just celebrating your average Wednesday night. I don’t spend time dwelling on the days when I legitimately thought I was going to fail my Arthurian Legends class because the professor was a… word I’m not going to write here.

Instead I remember last minute train rides to new cities and running to the pub with new friends. I spend days thinking about flat whites and empire biscuits. Or just biscuits in general (an under-appreciated food here in America. And no I’m not talking about the biscuits you douse in gravy).

It’s so easy to pine after the good things about a place, an experience, a memory, a person… anything you lose, really. It’s so easy to forget the things you didn’t like.

One thing I do remember is how afraid I was of coming home. I knew I didn’t have a lot to come back to. I wanted to see my family. I wanted to drive my car. I had a couple close friends I knew would still be there for me. But I also knew that when I stepped off the plane in Philadelphia, I would be stepping away from some friendships and relationships that had been integral parts of my life before I stepped onto another plane in Philadelphia just half a year before.

I had no idea if I would find new relationships to step into.

But here I am, 1 year and a couple months out, and I have never felt more at home in a place than I do in Lancaster, right now. 22 years old – most of those years spent right here, in good ole Lanc. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this feels like home. I shouldn’t feel surprised that these people are home. I shouldn’t feel surprised at it all.

But I do.

Because before I left, this wasn’t home. It was just the place I was from.

I came home not knowing what I was coming back to, or why. And then my purpose found me. I found people to pour into, and people stepped in to pour into me.

Maybe it’s just chance. Or maybe someone is pulling the strings.

I’m reminded again tonight that God knows what He’s doing. That He’s most in control when I’ve given up my petty little excuse for power. That sounds simple enough, and maybe it is, but I need to keep reminding myself.

I’m reminded that when I tell Him daily my talents are His for the using, He will use them. I’m reminded that He’s ALWAYS speaking. When I can’t hear Him it’s not because He’s gone silent, but because I’ve stop listening. (Or because I’ve let my Bible sit idle by my bedside for too long.)

I’m reminded tonight that when I give Him my heart, it might get a little dented and it might be pulled in different directions, but it will not be destroyed beyond repair. I’m reminded that He cares about my desires more than I ever could. That He’s already given me the desires of my heart, and that He will continue to.

I’m reminded that every single time I’ve let anxiety and fear and doubt overcome me, He’s proven Himself – He’s come through, again, and again, and again. He didn’t have to. But He did. Because He knows my heart. He knows my heart desires Him above every other desire, but He also knows I’m easily distracted. He knows what I, specifically, need.

I’m reminded that He is good. That He helps us to gradually move on from things we need to move on from (even if they were really good things, in their season). Even when we want to hold on.

And I’m reminded that when memories come back like a whisper, sewing little seeds of discontent, of self-doubt, sewing little seeds of you’re not enough, you’re not doing big things like you used to… Why are you doing this when you could be doing that?

His voice rings out in the darkness :

I am enough.

I am more than enough, so you don’t have to be. 

Friendly reminder to look around at your life. Find the good. The Father has you where you are for a reason. If you don’t think that’s true, start asking Him for revelation. Don’t stop asking.

Let me just quote the great Ferris Bueller before I hit publish: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Love ya’ll. Thanks for reading.

XOXO,

Carrie

 

It’s All Process

I haven’t been writing lately. Not really.

It’s hard and scary for me to even admit that here because through all life’s seasons and phases, I have always identified as a writer.

It’s not that I don’t write anything… I write letters and often I spaz out on my keyboard for 10 or 15 minutes before sending a rant off to a close friend. But I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been journaling and I haven’t been producing much fiction either.

I haven’t been writing because of all the excuses.

I can shoot off a list if you ask. It starts with “busy” and ends with “relationships” or “work” or any number of things.

None of those excuses are legitimate.

You make time for what is important to you. I have the same 24 hours in my days as my favorite writers, or the scientist who discovers a cure, or the teenager who creates an app that changes everything. I have the same 24 hours in my day as the people I see enacting the most change in the world – the people touching the most lives.

I choose what I do in each of those 24 hours. I choose what I do in each of those 1,440 minutes. In each of those 86,400 seconds.

I choose.

When I don’t take time to sit down with my journal, even for 10 minutes at the end of the day, I’m failing to value myself and my well-being. To me, those 10 minutes are the most calming part of the day. A chance for reflection, a chance to tell God what I’m struggling with, and a chance to understand myself. Those 10 or 20 or 120 minutes can take me from confused and distraught to completely at peace.

I have become a verbal processor recently, out of pure necessity. I’ve always processed through my emotions and thoughts via writing. But I’m becoming a verbal processor because I have started robbing myself of those times of written processing. I’m becoming a verbal processor, and I’m bad at it.

The only option, the only way to sort through my thoughts, is to start writing them down again.

Last night I went for a late night run, letting the chilly fall air fill my lungs, then I crawled into bed with my journal and a few pieces of fancy dark chocolate my parents bought me in Germany. I turned on my diffuser and the soothing scent of lavender soon filled the air (essential oils plug because they will change your life).

I am invigorated by the run and by the pen in my hand, and I feel alive.

Which is strange. Because lately I’ve been feeling pretty much dead in the evenings.

Which is strange. Because I’m a night person.

I’m a night person. But now, sitting down with my journal and giving myself permission to just write – until midnight if I want to, until 1 or 2 if I can keep my eyes open – feels luxurious. It is thrilling… almost naughty, like if someone walked into the room I’d feel embarrassed and slip my journal under my pillow in a flash.

It is simultaneously foreign and familiar. It feels like driving a few hours out of my way to reconnect with a friend I’ve known for a decade or two. It feels like sitting on a stool at the island in my mom’s kitchen after being away for a few weeks, the familiar smells of fresh fruit pies or roast chicken or whole wheat bread wafting throughout the house. It feels like the moment, driving home late at night, when that song from high school comes on shuffle and brings back memories you thought you’d lost.

It is stepping off the Paris metro for the first time, early on Easter morning, with no idea where the day will take you. What you’ll see, what you’ll hear, what you’ll smell… just knowing whatever it is, it will be wonderful.

I am exercising a muscle that used to be my strongest one – tough and defined. I’m tearing through layers of scar tissue that have been growing over my heart and soul. It feels good, and it hurts.

I am writing.

Writing is emotion. I love it, but I always feel like maybe with each stroke of my pen, I’m willfully reaching into my chest and prodding around until I find my heart, then proceeding to dig it out, set it on the table in front of me, and poke it until it’s bleeding and gasping for air. So many nights I’ve ripped myself apart and put myself back together with each turn of the page.

As I recount the last few weeks, I laugh and share little anecdotes from daily life, moments when I was happy and laughing and care-free, and I also write down mistakes I’ve made – times when I hurt people and times when I was hurt, and all the doubts that dwell inside me. I am bringing myself back to life. I am reintroducing me to the parts of myself that have been lying dormant, hibernating for the summer. (I gave myself the summer, you see. I graduated, and I let myself take some time away – away from writing, away from reading. I needed a break, but it was supposed to be a short one.)

Summer is over.

And I am a writer.

And a writer is only a writer if she chooses to write. A writer must write before anything else. A writer must write or drown.

Don’t let me leave again.

As much as the pages feel alive, they are inanimate. They have no power here. The only one who can keep the pen in my hand is me.

Don’t let me leave again.

Know yourself. Learn what makes you tick. And when you do figure it out, prioritize it. I’ve known since middle school that I need to journal to process. I’ve known since high school that I receive more revelation through writing than anything else. It’s easy to forget that, when journaling takes time, and I’m tired. I journaled almost daily all through my college years, but sometime this spring I started journaling less and less until I wasn’t anymore.

There’s beauty in the process, whatever the process is to you. Take your time. Be patient with yourself. Learn yourself. Recognize that what works for everyone around you probably won’t work for you. Instead of beating yourself up about it, do it your way. Tap into your passions. Find out what “your way” is. Realize that sometimes your way might change.

I don’t want to be cheesy and say there’s more beauty in the journey than in the destination. The destination has generally been my favorite part of every journey. But as long as we’re here, as long as we’re on earth, all of this – life – is the process. It’s all about getting somewhere, and as long as we’re alive, we won’t arrive. There will always be something more to see, to do, to challenge, to discover.

It’s all process. We may as well enjoy it.

What I’m Listening to This Week:

In the waiting…

Recently, life has been… eh.

I’ve definitely been in the valley, rather than the mountaintop.

It’s been over a month since I posted a blog, and that’s not because I haven’t written them. It’s because 14 posts are sitting in my draft folder waiting to be sent out into the world, but not right. Not ready. Not yet.

The past while, I’ve been restless, stuck, overwhelmed, feeling like I don’t know what’s next and terrified of this being all there is. What if there is no “next?” I ask myself. “What if this is it?”

I’ve never been good at staying in one place, or doing one thing. I entered my first airplane when I was a toddler, so I guess I can blame my parents for that. (Back then they took kids into the cockpit before the flights and gave them little pilot badges. Ah, the 90s.)

One year ago, I had just moved home from Scotland, saying goodbye to a lifestyle in which I traveled constantly, and I was so very (very very very) happy and content to be here, in Lancaster, home, even though I wasn’t sure what would come next. But now, a year has passed, and I’m read to move on.

But I know I’m supposed to be here. I know I’m needed, and I know God is using me, right here. It’s actually pretty annoying.

I find myself asking Him, “Hey God, are you sure you don’t want me to do this next, or go here next? See that friend going to YWAM or that friend spending the summer in Italy, or my sister in Thailand? Are you sure you don’t want me doing that? Are you sure you don’t need me there?”

But even as I ask, I know the answer is no.

“Not now. Right now, I need you here.” He gently turns my head toward the work I’m doing, to the places I’m serving. He points out the relationships, the friends who need me now. He points to my family, who are all living in a 20 minute radius for only a little while longer… and he lets me know that for this season, I’m needed here.

I ask God to give me grace in this waiting place almost daily, and the other day I realized I’m no longer waiting. He’s brought me out of the waiting place. He can use me right here, right now, because I’m realizing this is where I’m supposed to be. I don’t need to be looking forward to the next big thing, because the big things are happening every single day. They just look like little things.

Life happens in the gaps, in the process, in the waiting. Character is built and shows itself in the everyday things.

As I build trust and as I put the needs of others over my wants, I’m showing God that He can trust me. I’m showing Him that He can depend on Carrie to make wise decisions. I’m showing Him that even when my emotions and feelings are complete turmoil, I can come closer to Him rather than blaming Him and turning away. I’m showing Him that my faith is not based on circumstance.

I’m showing Him how deep my roots go.

For the past few months, I’ve been reading the book Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, with my small group. It’s one of those books I feel like most good Christian girls read in youth group, but somehow I missed the boat on this one. It’s been so good and I feel like every young person should read it, male or female. (We’re starting Wild at Heart next. Bout to know all the secrets of men’s souls. Watch out world.)

There’s a quote in the final chapter of Captivating that has been influencing my every day life. Reminding me to be here. To be present. To not spend all my time looking forward to the next thing. To appreciate the people I’m with. HERE. NOW.

“To live as an authentic, ransomed, redeemed woman means to be real and present in this moment. We cannot have intimacy with God or anyone else if we stay hidden and offer only who we think we ought to be or what we believe is wanted.

“What have we to offer, really, other than who we are and what God has been pouring into our lives? It was not by accident that you were born; it was not by chance that you have the desires you do. The Victorious Trinity has planned on your being here now, for such a time as this.”

I have a challenge, if you feel like you’re stuck in the waiting place. Do something new. You may be unsure of your next step, but you can get creative in how you serve Him here, today. Do more than you think you can. Challenge yourself. Something I’ve been trying to do is bless others in ways that they will appreciate, even if it’s not the first thing I would think to do. Thinking outside your “love languages” and “gifts” is stretching, but God calls you to more than just one “love language” or two “spiritual gifts.” He wants you to grow in every gift, even the ones that come a little harder to you.

I want to grow in the the things I’m most blessed with, like mercy and leadership, but I also want to grow in faith, and prophecy, and exhortation, and administration.

Stretch yourself. Stretch your belief. Lift your hands and praise Him when you’d rather curl into a ball and cry. Make yourself available to God even when you’re not “feeling Him,” or when your emotions are pulling you away from Him. He’ll bless you for it and He’ll bring you out of the valley filled with a strength you didn’t know you could have.

His approval is worth it. He’s worth giving up everything else. He’s worth it. He’s worth it.

He’s worth it.

Much love,

Carrie

The Day of the Dad

I want to take a moment here to honor my father.

DSCN1489
just another one of James Bond’s Scottish castles

If you know Stephen Wagler, you know he is one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. He’s funny, he has a loud laugh and an even louder phone voice. He’s an honest businessman and an even better provider for my family.

He taught me to love Jesus, he took me on countless trips as a child and planted a love of travel in my heart. He took me to Phillies games and broadway plays, and his Canadian heart may have even taught me a few things about hockey. He definitely taught me the magic of Tim Hortons. He likes his coffee strong and black (cowboy coffee is an art form in which he is skilled). Because of him and my mom, I still like flipping through paper newspapers, even in 2016.

He’s loved my mom for 36 years, and isn’t that the best thing a father can ever do for his child?

DSCN1402
my parents chilling on a bench near Loch Ness, surrounded by wild gorse

For the past couple months, I have been thinking about what it means to be a father. I have so many friends whose fathers have disappointed them again, and again. “What separates the good dads from the bad?” I wondered. “Why are some people willing to give up things they want to do in order to better care for their children, while other people cling to their selfish desires, even if it hurts their families?”

My dad is flawed just like the rest of us, and I’ve argued with him upwards of a thousand times, but there’s never once been a time when he did not come through for me.

EVERY time I truly needed him, he was there.

Is that not the most beautiful picture of our Father God? He is consistent. There’s never going to be a time when we call on Him and He won’t pick up the phone (even when he’s already in bed and you left your lights on and let your car battery die, AGAIN).

Whether you had the best or the worst biological dad in the world, your Father God is so much more. More bold, more protective, more compassionate. He loves you with a love that is unfailing. Every time your earthly father fails you, there is another who is willing to step in. Who wants to step in. There is a good, good Father who wants nothing more than for you to accept His love. He wants to reveal to you, all the mysteries of this world and the next, all the mysteries of your own soul. All you have to do is let Him.

Walt Whitman – “On the Beach at Night”

On the beach, at night,
Stands a child, with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower, sullen and fast, athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends, large and calm, the lord-star Jupiter;
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate brothers, the Pleiades.

From the beach, the child, holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower, victorious, soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears;
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky- shall devour the stars only in
apparition:
Jupiter shall emerge- be patient- watch again another night- the
Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal- all those stars, both silvery and golden, shall
shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again- they
endure;
The vast immortal suns, and the long-enduring pensive moons, shall
again shine.

Then, dearest child, mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding, I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter,
Longer than sun, or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant brothers, the Pleiades.

 

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there today.

To my own father: Thank You for loving me well. Thank you, most of all, for leading me into a relationship with my heavenly Father.

XOXO,

Carrie