rivers in the wasteland

rivers in the wasteland

It’s been a long and hard few months.

This whole winter felt like I was paddling against the current, and also didn’t know which river I wanted to be paddling down, or if I even wanted to fight the current or just let it take me.

So that’s what I did. I let the current take me. This way, then that way. Further from who I know I am. Further from the kind of person I want to be.

Meanwhile, Jesus was rowing beside me in a little canoe, offering me a hand up.

But I decided I’d rather let the current take me.

I have my life laid out in milestones. When I get to this place, I won’t have more problems. Then I get to that place, and I realize no person or relationship or job or level of responsibility will ever make everything okay or bring me to some level of completion. Stretching myself to my breaking point isn’t somehow going to turn me into a better or stronger person. Taking care of myself is going to turn me into a stronger and healthier person. Giving myself the same level of care I give the people around me, is going to turn me into a whole person.

I woke up on Monday morning in my friend Ruth’s bed, with this overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t do it anymore. The first thought I had, even before I opened my eyes, was, “I can’t let the current take me anymore because if I don’t stop now I’m going to drown.” So I got out of bed, took a shower with boy shampoo (thanks, Paul), and did the dishes from the night before. And I talked to Jesus and told Him I’m sorry and I’m going to try harder. But rather than telling Him I’m going to be better, like I have been telling Him for awhile, I told Him “Jesus, I can’t do better. I need you to come in and purify me again.” I said, “Jesus, I’m ready to get back into the canoe with You.”

And He said to me, “Carrie, you don’t have to climb back in; let me pull you into the boat. I want you here. I’m already doing a work in you. Just because you can’t see or understand what I’m doing, doesn’t mean I’m not working.”

This scripture from Isaiah popped into my head as I was doing the dishes. And then I came to work and opened Pinterest (as you do) and it was literally the first thing at the top of the page:

“I am about to do something new. See? I have already begun. Do you not see it? I will make a pathway in the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

That’s me. I’ve been that wasteland for too long. God’s created a river, a pathway out, and I honestly think what He wants to do for me is simply show me how to find Joy in Him again.

The thing is, I haven’t been. I’ve been trying to find joy in other things for the past few months, and that’s what’s bugging me, in the back of my mind. Carrie, you were just doing this last weekend, and you think you can just leave that behind and make Jesus your focus again? Pretty sure it’s going to take a little longer than that.

I’ve always been my own worst critic. Disappointment in myself is the hardest to overcome. I’m upset with myself. Not because I did anything “that bad,” but because I know Jesus. I’ve known Him for years. I know He is the only way. Yet, I still choose to walk away. Some days I still choose to ignore Him. That’s why I’m disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed not because I did anything “that bad” but because I’ve been putting other things over Him. Satan would love to catch me up in that. In the shame. He would love to catch me up in guilt. He would love to convince me I’ve used up Jesus’s grace. He’d love to convince me I’ve used up all my chances. Satan would love if I believed him.

You know what? No. (#nottodaySatan) I’m done believing the lie that shame always takes a long time to overcome. I believe my God is active. I believe He runs on His own timeline. And when I turn to Him and tell Him I’m ready to let Him do a new thing in me, I believe He will do it.

He’s always done it before, and I believe He’ll do it again.

If you’re in the wasteland today, keep believing for Him to bring you through it. Keep asking for Him to bring you through it. And please don’t believe the lie that you are the only one struggling. If you are struggling and think you’re worse than anyone around you, reach out to someone you trust. Reach out to me if you need to, even if we don’t know each other well. You’re not the only one with “real struggles,” although sometimes when you’re surrounded by “church people” and “church talk” it can feel that way. But guess what? We all struggle. Every single one of us.

That’s why we need Jesus.

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

 

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?

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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