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

A Weekend Spent at Home

A few days ago, my dear Canadian friend Robin messaged me, “I’m going to New York this weekend. Can you come see me?”

Over the next few days we messaged about our favorite places in NYC, and where I’d want to go if I came to see her, and The Phantom of the Opera. (Which she is going to see on Broadway tomorrow. The jealousy is real.)

Everything inside me screamed “Yes!” But my responsible, finishing-up-the-semester, only-has-a-part-time-job, going-on-lots-of-weekend-trips-soon self had to say “No.”

A year ago, I was saying yes to trips like this all. the. time. And some of my favorites were with Robin. From our famous Welsh castle-hopping, backpacking, too-much-American-diner-food-eating, canal boating weekend…

To a weekend in London that included sleeping in hostel rooms with triple bunk beds and 18 strangers. Pretty sure one of us may have started that weekend with literally -7 Great British Pounds in her bank account. I won’t mention any names.

I do miss those days. Study Abroad weekends were the most frivolous of times. Almost every single weekend included at least a day trip or two. I remember the feeling of being so spontaneous, weightless, able to go wherever, whenever, and I miss it. Once you’ve traveled or lived abroad, it is difficult to stay in one place for long. You always feel like there’s some new place you could be seeing, or some adventure you should be having.

Today, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve done over the past few days that have made me happy. This weekend hasn’t been glamorous or overly-adventurous, but it has included plenty of happiness. Most of it has just gone unnoticed because I haven’t taken the time to be grateful.

A couple days ago, I baked this delicious bittersweet chocolate cake with lime cream. Holy goodness. And gluten free!

I also baked some whole wheat cinnamon rolls (for you gluten lovers). Baking is something I really missed while living abroad, because I did not have the kitchen utensils, the beautiful, open kitchen, or the ingredients I have here. Baking is also my go-to way to de-stress. The closer it gets to finals week and the end of the semester, the more I bake. (It’s one of my similarities to Dr. Izzie Stevens.)

roll2

On Saturday, I babysat my nephew for a few hours. We went to the park, watched the big kids skateboard, had ice cream, and saw (part of) Zootopia. I also read to him, and of course his book of choice (that we read no less than 4 times), was a book about Tommy taking a train to New York City. Cool. Awesome choice, Desmond.

Last night I hung out with friends and played cards at Prince Street Cafe. Today I was able to worship at my church, where I have to admit my attendance has been sporadic over the past few weeks. It was really good to be back. After church I went out for lunch with several friends and Living Room co-leaders.

Earlier this week, my cousin Warren and his wife Lorna were here to visit. I had so much fun taking them around Lancaster with Warren’s sister, Wanita, and my brother, Clifford. We cafe-hopped and saw a bit of Amish country. Showing other people my home alway reminds me of all the things I love about it!

Today is a beautiful day. I’m not sure why spring is having such an impact on me this year. Have I always been the person that brings up the weather in every conversation, or is this new? It’s been 2 years since I’ve experienced a Lancaster County spring, and I was unprepared for the beauty. Spring comes slowly, with scattered warm days, rain, and even occasional snowy days in April. Then, one day you walk outside and all the trees at your house seem to have budded overnight, and your soul soars. Spring is my favorite season because it’s a season of growth and new life. My apologies to the allergy-prone.

This afternoon I’m ignoring my schoolwork for a few moments more, lying in the sun, reading the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Stasi Eldredge. I feel like most “good Christian girls” read this book in youth group, but somehow I missed that particular rite of passage, so I’m actually reading it for the first time, for a Bible Study I’m in now. One thing that stuck out to me in the first chapter is that the passivity I see in a lot of people of my generation (especially guys-but maybe it’s just easier for me to pick it out in them) is not a new problem. Adam’s fatal flaw was passivity. So I guess you can say it’s an issue that has been around for a long time. I’m excited to see what the next chapter says about Eve, although maybe that’ll be a bit more of a slap in the face to me?

This weekend hasn’t been glamorous, but it has been filled with some of my favorite “home” things. I love a relaxing weekend spent at home almost as much as I love a fast-paced weekend of adventure and travel and will-we-catch-our-train(?!) moments. Much of the time, I’m too busy to appreciate the little things. When I think back to Scotland, it’s hard to remember how much I longed for “home” things, like my family, bad-for-you cereal, my bed, driving my car, and my mom’s kitchen + the ability to bake anything. Though I do love a good train journey with nothing but a backpack to my name, I’m pretty content with a weekend spent right here.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” -Terry Pratchett

How was your weekend? Did you get carried away, or stay right where you are?

xoxo,

Carrie