Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happiness is...

A cheerful heart is good medicine.... -Proverbs 17:22

Sometimes happiness is...

A song that makes you smile or chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, it might be clean sheets and a really good book, or a movie that you can quote from beginning to end. Sometimes it's an inside joke, a funny face, or a memory that makes you laugh every time you remember. Sometimes, happiness is your best friend, your mom, or that boy who makes any moment better.

Sometimes happiness is a good cry, a long nap, or bright toe nail polish. Sometimes, it's a Coke over ice, or a fish on your hook. It might be the 6 mile loop you think about running, or the extra- technical mountain bike trail. Sometimes, happiness is a s'more made in the microwave, or really greasy french fries.

Sometimes, happiness is learning something new, or perfecting something you've always known. Sometimes happiness is a good conversation, or a letter in the mail. Sometimes, it's an old photograph that makes you laugh when you remember the day it was taken, or your dog who seems to always know when you need a peppy face.

Sometimes, happiness is being a little bit sad. Sometimes it's hearing of pain and heartache and realizing how blessed you are. Sometimes happiness stings a little, and makes us feel a little guilty. Sometimes, it's something we don't really understand, or something we wish we could give to someone else. Sometimes it takes a hard lesson or a few tears to make us realize it's there, and sometimes it's been there all along, we've just been too distracted to see it.

Sometimes happiness is in the little things, and sometimes it's in the biggest moments. Sometimes, it involves other people, and sometimes happiness is private and personal- something we only share with ourselves. Sometimes it's written all over our faces, and sometimes, it's simply a warmth that comes over our hearts and a peace that fills our minds.

Sometimes happiness is all around us, and sometimes it seems we're the only ones who can feel it. Sometimes it's there. Sometimes, it's not. It might be momentary. It might last a long time, and it rarely looks the same. Sometimes you have to search for happiness, and sometimes it seems to fall into your lap.

Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don't. The key though, the key to happiness, is that there is no key to happiness. The key is joy. To live with a joyous heart, and learn to enjoy the happiness. That way, you'll be thankful for it when it comes, and hopeful for it's return when it seems to be absent.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One more thing...

Not returning to Student Life is bittersweet, but I am excited about the summer ahead.

I am going to sleep late, ride my bike, take classes, celebrate the birth of my brother's first baby and my best friend's first baby, too. I am going to celebrate the marriage of my very dear friend, and spend time with my nephews. I am going to visit family and go to the beach. I am going to spend time with people I love and make new memories.

And I am going to pray for Student Life. I am going to pray that God would build relationships, change hearts, impact lives, and make Himself famous. I am going to pray for the strength of all 100- something summer staffers, the countless student-staffers, and all the staff back at Birmingham. I am going to pray for the worship leaders and the speakers. I am going to pray for the family of the staff members, the campers, and the youth leaders.

I am going to pray for strength, patience, wisdom, guidance, clarity, rest, energy, safety, and peace. I am going to pray that each and every single person who experiences SL will not go home the same, and that God would use their time at SL to change them forever.

So for all of you who are going back, you are loved, missed, prayed for, and maybe a little envied. :) I love you guys and hope you have a GREAT summer!!

DO WORK!!!!!!!!!! (that's for you, Alex.)

What I'll miss about Student Life

Alex Garcia asked me what I would miss most about Student Life. Alex has always asked difficult questions, but this one has me stumped.

If you've never worked for Student Life, it's hard to explain what it's like. You work a lot and don't sleep too much. It's hot and the days are long. You're away from home for the entire summer, and sometimes homesickness gets the best of you.

But you also work day-in and day-out with 25 people that change your life. You witness God move and change hundreds of lives every day. You experience what it is like to serve beyond your own strength and what it means to truly worship. You see amazing places and make wonderful memories.

I spent two summers with Student Life, and more than my summers were impacted. I made life-long friendships. I grew up and matured a lot during those two summers. I experienced true worship for the first time, and how it felt to fully rely on God to get you through the day. I learned more about myself, and who I am supposed to be. I learned what it means to be a leader and to be a follower. I understood for the first time, what it meant to be a part of a team. What it meant to really be a part of something greater than myself.

So, what will I miss most? I don't think there is any way to say what I will miss most. There is nothing about working for Student Life that I will miss less than anything else.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The big picture.

"...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Life doesn't ask us if we are ready or not. It doesn't ask us how much we can handle at one time. It just throws itself at us, and it's up to us to decide how we handle it.

This morning my mom told me I was looking at life like an 8th grader. She was right, I know this. The older I get, the smarter my mom gets. Funny how that works. 

The reason she said this is because I don't like school. AT ALL. In fact, I don't like school more now than I have ever not liked it in my life. I think this is in great part to my major, and the fact that I am ready to graduate. But mostly thanks to my major that I don't like. Anyway, the point is, it doesn't matter how much I don't like school. It's something I have to do because the big picture that is my life, will be much more beautiful if I finish school. 

It's hard to look at the big picture sometimes, especially when it's one you don't want to see, or when you aren't sure how to get it all in view, but life doesn't ask us if we want to look at the big picture. It just gives us the big picture, and it's up to us to see how much of it we want. 

So the lesson for the day is this: There is a big picture behind every 4x6. If you want to just look at the 4x6, then that's your choice, but life isn't going to just give you a 4x6. It's going to give you a big picture; a mural. Be careful of what you miss when you just look at what's right in front of you. It's a beautiful life; or maybe you disagree, but however beautiful or not it is, there is much too much of it to only look at what's right in front of you. Step back, take it in. All of it. Today will guide tomorrow. Of that, I am sure. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heartbreak and recovery?

So what's left after the pain? Haven't we all felt pain? Haven't we all recovered, at least a little bit, from the pain we've felt? So what's left after that? What's left after the storm? What's left after your heart is done breaking? What's left when you're alone, and people have stopped calling and you're truly alone. It's so quiet you can hear your tears hit the ground. Where do you go from there?

Heartache is something we are all familiar with. Maybe not from a relationship, and more power to you if that's the case, but from sickness or loss or the millions of other things that break our hearts and leave us a little less full, a little more scared. There are songs and books and movies about healing and getting on with life, but I think everyone finds, once they are the ones faced with pain and heartache, all those movies and songs and books don't do justice to the way we are actually hurting. Nothing can prepare you for heartbreak. Nothing can prepare you for the way it will feel when you are crying and looking at what just happened and the only thought in your head is that there's no way you'll ever be okay again. This is a lie, of course, but to feel that way- it seems like the only truth in the world.

After heartache comes the questions. So now you're alone, heartbroken, and "why?" keeps coming through your mind. All the things you should have done, could have done, would change if you could go back- it all keeps running through your mind. The truth is though, there's nothing you could have done because, although you are in pain, you did not cause the pain. Someone else did. Whether it was a breakup or some other kind of loss, you were perfectly happy and content, or even if you weren't happy you were atleast okay, comfortable, but the seal of comfort was ripped away and the truth is, there was nothing you could have done. Ouch.

So what do you do, and why isn't anyone telling you how to move on? Maybe the truth, the real truth, is that no one can tell you what to do. No one can tell you how to move on or get over it or be okay again. No one's hurt is the same as yours, and even though we might experience similar situations that cause pain, our pain is different than anyone else's. Maybe some people don't need to heal. They just put the pain in the back of their mind and bury it with millions of other memories. Maybe some people cry and wallow in self-pity, and then one day, the get up, put their best clothes on and smile, and join the world again. Maybe some people never really heal at all. Maybe they just carry the pain around with them. A small part of their heart stays broken or missing forever, and they never really get past what happened. They cope and carry on, but whenever they are alone, they feel the sting of that pain.

I don't think anyone in the world can really say how to be okay again. I don't think anyone can really tell a person how to move on and recover, but I know that every person can recover for themselves. It takes time; a very long time. The process might be grueling and leave you breathless and battered at times, but you'll be stronger for it in the end. Whether it's with the grace of a lady that you hold your head high and stop the tears, or the strength of a man, you'll find a way. It might take a while, but you'll figure it out. As certain as heartbreak is, so is recovery.

The good thing about falling tears is that once they hit the ground, they can't fall anymore.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Praying for rain in the thunderstorm,
Praying for love that's old and worn.
Praying for blue skies and a rainbow,
Praying for peace and a strong hand to hold.
Praying for strength when I'm at my end,
praying for encouragement of a close friend.
Praying for the lost and broken hearted,
Praying for a way to get revival started.
Praying for this angry dark world,
Praying for healthy baby boy or girl.
Praying for friends and family,
Praying for strangers and the enemy.
Praying for our president and this land,
Praying for our church and Christ to stand.
Praying for guidance and wisdom each day,
Praying that you might join in this way.
Praying without ceasing, with hands held high,
Praying for greater things to be seen through the night.