When it all becomes too much to bear…

Remember that you are loved.

Remember that you were loved before you were born, that you are loved for who you are now, that you are loved for who you will become, no matter who that is.

Remember that the amount you are loved is not based on your performance.

Please remember that you deserve love because you are you.

It’s that simple.

You deserve love.

Remember, even if you don’t feel it, even if you feel weighed down, even if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s there. Maybe it’s just around the next bend. Maybe it’s around 10 or 15 or 100 bends. But it’s there.

Remember, you will get through this, just like you’ve gotten through every hard time before.

 

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Not a Political Post

(Ok, ok, maybe a little…)

Today, during my post-work couch chill time, I was looking at Facebook and Twitter. I pride myself in the fact that my Facebook news feed is full of opposing opinions on a regular basis. I have friends all along the political spectrum, and most of the time, that helps me to broaden my world view.

Today I came away so frustrated.

There was one specific conversation I read that was literally just one person (I don’t know) attacking another (lovely human being that I do know) because she didn’t agree with him. It drove me over the edge. I deleted my Twitter app, which I did for a month or so after the election as well. Since I’ve long ago deleted my Facebook app, I’m just going to try to check Facebook less because it truly does not make me happy right now.

I’m done with this hysteria taking over the nation. I feel like I’m in Salem in 1692, and I WANT to take up weapons and join the witch hunt. But I choose not to. I’m done losing respect for people by watching the way they interact with HATE, disrespect, and an inability to listen.

I want to approach every relationship with love. I fail to see how screaming from behind a keyboard, or tossing aside a friendship because of a Facebook dispute, does that. Before you say I’m just choosing to look away from the problems of the world, be assured I take in liberal and conservative news every day. If you only read Huffpost or only read Drudge Report, I urge you to read news from opposite ends of the spectrum, as well as news that is fairly neutral (i.e. is only slightly slanted). Don’t fall into the trap of getting all your news from one source.

Also, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SEEING A GOOD POLITICAL DISCUSSION, and occasionally I enjoy partaking in a good face-to-face political discussion. However, I see an issue in the posts that are attacks on a person’s character. I see an issue in posts that say, “My way is the only right way,” or, “If you disagree with me, you’re failing as a Christian,” or, “If you disagree with me, you want our country to fail,” or, “If you disagree with me, you’re an irrational idiot.” It’s the volatile shouting (via keyboard) that I’m tired of. It’s the debater who questions the other person’s intelligence rather than choosing to prove his point.

I’m frustrated. And I’m praying, for immigrants and refugees who have been seeking a home for so long, for our country-that we may learn to listen to each other, for our leaders-that they may have wisdom, and yes, for our President.

Donald J. Trump, I’m giving you a chance. No #notmypresident signs here. I have my doubts about you. But there are also things I like about you. I pray that you will do what is best for the country. I pray that you will prove to millions that you were the right choice.

You guys. Praying works. Don’t say it’s futile. If all the Christians in America began to actually pray for peace and for our government instead of just talking about it, big things would happen.

(Also, if you’re interested in helping refugees, don’t just talk about it; do it. Here’s a great organization that can get you started locally: Church World Service.)

That ended up being much more of a rant than it was originally meant to be. Sometimes you’ve just got to let it out, you know? Thanks, politics, for pulling me out of my blog silence. Let this be my last political post for a long while, Amen & Amen! Ok I’m going to go listen to United Pursuit or watch a Ted Talk and be calm now.

 

xoxo,

Carrie

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

a cold and broken Hallelujah

Today, Leonard Cohen passed away.

This may not mean anything to you. Maybe you don’t know who he is. Was. Maybe you do know who he is, but you don’t understand why it really matters…

It’s always strange when public figures die. It’s strange when you feel a need to mourn someone you’ve never met.

It only happens to me occasionally (usually authors or musicians whose work has made me feel I know them). When it does, I can’t stop thinking of the person’s family and close friends, and how this might be impacting them. I feel selfish, because I don’t really know Leonard Cohen. To me, his death means he will not write more lyrics. It means his impressive collection of songs will not expand. To those who really know him, the loss is so much greater.

Yet, I grieve. I grieve the loss of an incredible lyricist.

Leonard Cohen is dead, and my heart hurts because he created songs that resonate with me on a spiritual and emotional level. Creating anything that makes other people feel less alone in this world is always admirable. It is work of the highest order.

You may not know who Cohen is (was?), but you know “Hallelujah.” Maybe you haven’t even heard the Cohen version, but you’ve probably heard a version by Pentatonix, or Rufus Wainwright, or Jeff Buckley, or any number of artists.

Leonard’s work is literary, filled with Biblical imagery and historical references.

His work is sad and thoughtful and poignant and broken and beautiful. Most of all, it is raw.

RIP Mr. Cohen. Your legacy will long outlive you.

“Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried, in my way, to be free.”
-Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

22 Before 23

On September 2nd, I turned 22, with little fanfare.

That was how I wanted it. I’ve been dreading birthdays since I was 15. Though I do like thoughtful gifts and kind words, of course.

It’s not that I fear growing older. I actually look forward to being 70 years old with gray hair, rocking a grandbaby or two on my knee as I take in the warm evening air on my front porch. I hope I’m a fun old person. I hope I still write. I hope my home is welcoming and warm. I hope I can care for myself. I hope I’m not a burden – more than that, I hope I can still contribute.

Anyway. Random tangent over.

All that to say, I’m not afraid of being old, but maybe it’s the aging process I don’t love. Or maybe it’s a fear of looking back at the past year and realizing I didn’t accomplish everything I thought I would’ve.

22. Practically middle-aged, really.

And I’ve already held this age for 2 months.

I decided to make a bucket list for this year.

I generally fail at this type of thing, but maybe if I’m blogging it I’ll feel accountable. So here goes. Here are the 22 things I want to do before I turn 23. I’ll try to blog about all of them.

22 Things to do Before I Turn 23

  1. Travel to a new country.

  2. Take a class. Learn something new.

  3. Pick lavender. If you want to visit a lavender field with me, say when.

  4. Buy my first bee hives. And the bees to live in them, obviously. And try not to kill said bees.

  5. Read 12 books that have been on “your list” for ages. Seriously. You can’t go on pretending you’ve read Moby Dick for the next 40 years.

    The books in question:


    Moby Dick, Beloved, To the Lighthouse, As I Lay Dying, Midnight’s Children, Leaves of Grass, For Whom the Bell Tolls, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, On the Road, The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, one other, or as many others as I can manage. (Let the record show that when I searched a few lists of 100 great books you should read, I had read most of them and I now feel better about myself.)

  6. Practice a random act of kindness every day for a month.

  7. Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston AND/OR go to the Smithsonian Institute museums you haven’t been to.

  8. Write every day.

  9. Spontaneous roadtrip somewhere new.

  10. Do something aesthetically pleasing but don’t post it to any social media. This one is just for your enjoyment.

  11. Complete a crossword puzzle. No cheating. Except to ask mom for hints, maybe.

  12. Make a friend much older than you. (At least 30 years your senior)

  13. Make a friend much younger than you. (At least 10 years your junior)

  14. Apply to a grad program.

  15. Learn (and retain) some facts about every single president.

  16. Explore two American cities you’ve never been to. (1/2 done.)

  17. Hammock in a national park.

  18. Make a food that intimidates you.

  19. Go to see a band you don’t know. Let yourself be completely surprised.

  20. Discover/learn/try something new in the world of specialty coffee.

  21. Speak with a fake accent for an entire day. Because what is life without being a little silly sometimes?

  22. Go to a botanical garden.

Alright alright alright. Only 10 months to go. Follow along and suggest things you think I should add or try next year!

xoxo,

Carrie