It’s Okay if You’re Not Okay

not okay

I’m not okay.

I’ve told a lot of people this lately. Stephen the other night while we were camping, a great friend and pastor Sunday morning, my brother-in-law and his wife over coffee Monday night.

And they all told me that was fine, and told me to take the time to process everything that has been going on.

I had a loved one in the hospital for several months this summer. I planned a wedding, tried to keep up with kitchen renos, and then actually got married. I hid from the world on our honeymoon, buried-boxesthen came home so we could both go back to work and try to get our lives in order as I officially moved out of my parents’ home. Now school has started, and the kitchen isn’t quite done, and the house is still a bit of a disaster.

A lot of reaaaaaallllly big things have happened over the last three months. A lot of things really hurt, and it was really hard to think about wedding details. It was much easier to bottle up feelings and push through to get things done, than to deal with what was running through my head. A lot of the time I did things a lot more slowly than I should have because I was so overwhelmed, but my incredible mom, aunt, mother-in-law, and a million other people stepped up where I was lagging behind, and pushed me forward. I wanted to feel selfish and petty for having a “party” in the middle of everything else going on in our families, but I had some special people give me great reminders. My cousin, Ashten, said “Your wedding is not trivial! It is a visual of Christ’s love for His church, it is a beautiful, hopeful foretaste of our future hope. Each one of us will be blessed and encouraged if you do put the energy into to giving the wedding the care it deserves. It is not selfish, creating a beautiful God – honoring and God-directed wedding is a ministry and encouragement to you and your family.” I figured she sounded pretty wise, and the counselor I went to agreed, and so we had a wedding. Everything turned out beautifully, so many special people were there to celebrate with us, and I now have the privilege of being Stephen’s wife.

Sneak Peak-9Edit

The thing with being a wife though, is that Stephen is now always there. He is my new husband, and reaches to connect with me intentionally. It is really hard to keep things bottled up when someone is trying to touch your heart. I think I’ve kept an emotional wall up with God for the same reasons. I look for Him at work, and I acknowledge and celebrate what He is doing for others, but when I go to acknowledge His faithfulness to me and my family, I’ve been stopping. In order to recognize His goodness in my life, I have to recognize the hurt I’ve been holding inside. It’s really hard to get everything on my to-do list done when I’m a mess, and so I just tuck it away again and keep going.

Through talking with Stephen, Dawn, and Stephen’s brother and sister-in-law the other night, I was reminded that I am allowed to be a mess. It is not okay, however, to use that as an excuse to hide from any of my relationships.

I’ve been getting up early with Stephen to share breakfast before he goes to work, and most mornings I have time to sit with a cup of coffee and my journal after he leaves. The other day I asked the Holy Spirit to show me what He was trying to say to me, that I was blocking out. I found two posts from bloggers I follow that day, that seem to be His answer.

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary said:

This morning I asked God to make me awesome.

I was like, “Lord, would you please make me strong enough and smart enough and good enough? Make me capable and steadfast and secure and then make me all the other things I’m not and give me everything else I need to be awesome, so I can finally be kickass at life.”

And God was all, “Actually? I have a better idea… You do you, frail and broken; you be who you are – and I’ll do me, strong and whole; I’ll be who I Am. And then we’ll kick life in the ass *together*, because when you’re not enough, I Am sufficiently graceful, and when you’re too weak, I Am perfectly powerful. I don’t even need you to be awesome, I just need you to remember that when you’re not, it’s ok, because I Am on your team.”

And I was like, “ooOOOHHHhh, ok… But it would be easier if I was awesome.”

And He was all, “Not gonna happen.”

Amen.

And then Jennifer at Unveiled Wife told me – It’s Okay to Be Overwhelmed. And she is so right, there is freedom in acknowledging that we are overwhelmed and it’s okay. But we cannot give the enemy ground he has no right to. We cannot accept any defeat. We are the children of God. We fundamentally need Him, but He gives us power, and strength and authority. We don’t have to be okay, He is everything, and He is on our team. He gives us what we need to do what He has called, but He is also there when we feel like we’ve got nothing left.

I still have a lot of processing to do, but I am receiving the freedom to do that. I hope that my mess, and my “not okay” encourages you to find peace and freedom in our Father.

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My God Made Xylem and Phloem

my God made xylem and phloem

(This post would be a lot easier to write if I had a textbook or two with me, but I’m on my honeymoon, so we’ll see how this goes!)

Saturday, Stephen and I went on a sea kayaking tour of Kloya Bay and Denise Inlet on the BC northwest coast. It was beautiful! Check out Skeena Kayaking for photos that’ll give you an idea of where we were. We paddled for about 15km total, in the coastal wilderness, fighting the wind and incoming tide on the way out, and enjoying the slack tide on the way back. We are soooo sore, but it was an incredible afternoon.

Kayaking_01

We went out with two guides, women who live and work in the port at Prince Rupert, and enjoyed their stories of the wildlife. One of them grew up on the BC west coast, but had spent a lot of time in eastern Canada, studying forestry and natural resource management, and working as a forester. A lot of the things I study are closely related to that, so we had a lot to talk about. We talked about the incoming oil pipelines, edible plants, and stewardship. We moved on to the design of plant tissue systems (yes, plant nerd over here…). I mentioned something about the incredible adaptations of aquatic plants. and she replied, saying that seeing all the adaptations really makes it difficult to believe anything she heard in church as a child. When the other guide agreed, I think I just muttered something about how I felt it was the opposite, and went back to studying the old growth forest we were resting by. 20150815_142951 [416729]

This conversation weighed on my mind all day, and later when we were getting ready to walk downtown to find supper, Stephen brought it up. He’s listened to enough lectures about how everything I study in the sciences points me to God, that he knew I had a lot more to say in that conversation. We spent some time praying about it, asking for grace for myself when I fail to speak up in these situations, and more opportunities to share how God is in science. As a practice run, here’s what I should’ve explained to my kayaking guide:

There are two general categories of vascular plants: angiosperms (or flowering plants), and gymnosperms (or seed producing plants, mostly conifers). They are called vascular, because they have a system of tubes that allows for water and nutrient transport within the plant. Xylem and phloem are the tissues forming these tubes, and use water pressure to move things up from the roots and down from the photosynthesizing leaves (the sources), to the growing parts of the plant and storage areas (the sinks).

Our kayaking guide was saying that the fact plants have developed xylem and phloem to transport the things they need, makes it hard to believe in anything but chance evolution. I believe the opposite.

Within the angiosperms, there are two more categories: monocots and eudicots (or dicots as they can be called). In the diagram below, you can see some of the basic differences between the two. There are nearly 60 000 known species of monocots, including grains, bananas and lilies. There are about 250 000 known species of eudicots, including buttercups, mangoes and mint.

Basic Differences Between Monocots and Eudicots

Each category of plant covers tens or hundreds of thousands of different kinds of plant. These plants will serve different purposes, have different coloured flowers and fruits, be able to survive in hugely different kinds of environments, and have different shapes. Yet, if you made microscope slides of every plant’s stem and root, you could (most of the time) easily distinguish between the monocots and eudicots, because of the way their xylem and phloem are arranged.

In eudicots, the vascular bundles (consisting of xylem and phloem) are arranged in a star shape in the roots, and a ring in the stem. Monocots have a ring of vascular bundles in the roots and evenly scattered ones in the stem. All plants within each category will follow this design.

vascular bundles

God made xylem and phloem and saw that they were good, efficient ways of satisfying plants’ needs. Though in different environments plants need other adaptations to survive, even if they have evolved over and over and their DNA has been altered and mutated time and time again, they have not lost this key design element, because it is good.

Putting aside arguments of young earth creationism and theistic evolution, I love studying science and being in nature because I see God’s hand in everything. Next time someone brings it up, I hope I recognize the opportunity, and share with them the incredible creativity of the Lord of All the Earth.

Healing My Lonely Heart

Healing my lonely heart

Over the course of last weekend I went from having awesome time with friends and Stephen, to realizing that I’ve been lonely lately, and I was lonely once again as everyone returned to their normal lives (some in different cities).

I didn’t know how to process that, and normally I would’ve tried to fix it by spending time with Stephen, but I was housesitting/taking care of 4 kids and we had hardly had time to finish getting back on the same page after a misunderstanding, let alone for my extroverted emotional tank to be filled.

In my frustration, I vented to God a few pages in my journal, then decided to try to get over it until my crazy week was over.

On Wednesday, things started to change.

I got out of class early that afternoon, and found myself with a whole hour between classes, and a lot of sun shine outside! I found some steps to hang out on outside, and realized that I had my journal and one of my Bibles in my backpack (it’s always there actually, I just don’t use it nearly as much as I intended to!). As I reread my prayers from earlier in the week, I was drawn back into my loneliness, and just feeling a little bit lost.

I opened my Bible, and after some flipping around, found myself at Psalm 139, specifically verses 1-12. I memorized this passage ages ago, but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget the meaning behind the words. Read the whole thing, really, but I just want to highlight what caught my attention.

“You have searched me Lord, and you know me.”

A salve for a lonely heart.

I think especially as we’ve been preparing for marriage, I’ve gradually placed more and more mental responsibility on Stephen to be the one who knows me, who sees me, and who understands my heart. When I misunderstood something he was dealing with this week, I felt really hurt, upset that he didn’t understand what I needed. But, the extent to which I expected him to understand me (without direct communication) was selfish and unrealistic.

Something God really said to me on Wednesday, is that this crazy desire to be seen and known I’ve been discovering this week, is good. He made me that way. But, if I look to Stephen to fill that need for me, I will be disappointed. There is no possible way that he, as an entirely human man, will ever completely know my heart, and my thoughts. I’m really excited (and kind of terrified) to spend the rest of our lives building that knowing, but I’m finally figuring out that my need for intimacy is designed to draw me to God.

He knows me. 

He built my heart with all of it’s fears, joys, desires and dark places. He sees it all, and loves it deeply. He sees my heart. The darkness that makes me broken and human are the corners from which He teaches me love, and shows me His healing power. He is the only one who will every truly know me, and I’ve been trying to fill that need from broken people.

I am still lonely, but He is teaching me, loving me, drawing me in. I am so thankful that I’ve got four more months to continue this journey before I marry Stephen. By building intimacy with my God, and learning to trust Him with all of me, I hope I will come to a place where I am a little more ready to be a wife, a place where I can fill my need with God’s presence, so that I can try to love Stephen selflessly and build a healthy, human intimacy with him.

I know I am definitely not alone in my loneliness. I hope that if you’ve been struggling with this, that you’ll allow God to begin speaking to your heart. Find those Psalms that proclaim His love for you, the way that He knows you. Meditate on them, speak them, cry them, whatever it takes for them to penetrate, and begin healing your hurt.

Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New

Lately I’ve been struggling to get into the Word. It’s always there in the back of my mind, but actually taking my Bible off my night stand and spending time with it hasn’t happened a lot. I felt okay, which made it easier. But I hate “okay.”

“Okay,” is not my goal, Christ is. 

I think one thing that really held me back mentally was school. Talking to my cousin a little while ago, I realized that I am not the only student struggling with this! I used to read my Bible deeply, take it apart and put it back together. I loved seeing the history and context behind things, translating that into my everyday. But, as a student, my more academic, work intensive devotional habits kind of scared me off. I normally loved having structure (hello S.O.A.P. or S.T.A.R. or whatever acronym you learned in youth group!), but put into the midst of papers and labs, it killed my connection with the Word.

So, I’m taking something old – my Bible and a notebook – and doing something new! I’m not giving myself any rules, just time with the Good Book, and whatever else I feel I need to process what He is saying. I found my old markers and crayons, some coloured pens, and I’m hiding away my creative self-consciousness. I’m not doing this to show anyone, just to get God’s words into my heart in a way that is kind of out of my comfort zone. I’m not giving myself a timeline, which is something else out of the ordinary for me, but projects like this usually keep my attention, so I’m not concerned about actually doing it. It’s a nice break from life!

I’m starting out in Matthew, because that’s the beginning of the New Testament, a few blogs I’ve read have been talking about it lately, and it’s about the life of Christ. I figure if I want to become more like Him, this is a good place to start!

Matthew 1 said a lot to me about God’s plan. It took generations for His big plan to come to light and centuries later we still struggle with the big picture, but Joseph and Mary didn’t have any of that. They, on faith and at the bidding of a messenger, obeyed. God’s way was probably especially confusing for Joseph, given the consequences taking a pregnant wife could have in their culture, but he listened. And guess what… The Father’s promise was kept! God’s plan is solid, and He may have options we don’t see right away, or that scare us, but they will ultimately be something beautiful! As the countdown to my wedding and married life gets shorter and shorter, this is definitely something my heart needs to be reminded of. It’s not my plans, but His that I truly want to pursue.

So my challenge for you today, is to try something new as you connect with God. Whether it’s something more or less structured, inside, outside or any combination of the above, listen for His heart in a new space. What you’ve done in the past may be great, and something to hold onto, then this will be a nice little “shake it up” moment. Or you might be like me and need to realize that your life has seasons, and what is valuable in my spiritual life changes along with the rest of the flow of your life. My spiritual habits during school may not be the same as those during breaks, but they need to take priority!

Leave a comment with any ideas you have, your favourite spiritual disciplines, or any good devotional blogs you’ve found!

 

Tomorrow

Tomorrow

My university profs are on strike right now. In a month were I was supposed to have 4 paper due dates, 4 midterms, two presentations and many quizzes, I now have no idea what’s going on! I’ve probably said it before, but just in case you’re new to the blog, I really don’t appreciate unknowns like this. I have no idea when I’ll have class next, or when my assignments will actually be due, and even though my profs were really reassuring beforehand, I find it stressful.

Wednesday evening, before the faculty had posted whether or not the picket lines would be up the next morning, Stephen and I were praying. Have you ever had a moment where you weren’t sure where your prayer was coming from, but all of a sudden you realized you’d just been taught something?

“Thank you, Jesus, for tomorrow. Whatever it looks like.”

I know faculty strikes will not be the scariest uncertainty in my life. As soon as I graduate Stephen and I will face a lot of uncertainty as we try to discern where God is going to take us. So, I think this is a prayer I need to start practicing.

Because, really, are there any tomorrows that aren’t somewhat uncertain? I love Christ, because He is constant. He is giving me tomorrow, whatever it looks like, and He promises to do it with me.

Here is Psalm 34. I love it because it is real. It says that the righteous will actually have troubles, but the whole passage speaks about praising and praying to the Lord in the midst of desperation. I know I can feel pretty desperate in the unknown, but God will redeem those who take refuge in Him.

So I’ll keep praying:

“Thank you, Jesus, for tomorrow. Whatever it looks like.”