Unknown

“May today there be peace within. May today you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself & of others. May you use the gifts you’ve received & pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones & allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, & love. It is there for each and every one of us.” – St. Therese

My promise to myself at this time last year was that I would become more comfortable with the word “unknown.”

Quite frankly, I haven’t done a very good job. But that’s human I suppose. A for effort.

I do however, think I am learning more and more where the weeds in my faith need to be pulled.

I enjoy busyness. I thrive off of hustle & bustle & crossing off to do lists and accomplishing the world before 9am. This is a blessing and a curse.

A blessing to be pulled out of bed by the joy of a new day every morning and the excitement and energy to crave God’s challenges and His adventure. A curse as I struggle to enjoy wandering. To be content in stillness. I struggle with feeling insignificant with accomplishment. I fear days not filled with enough purpose, would not receive the stamp of approval from the big man.

My faith has weakened in wandering, I admit. My trust is tired in hiking through questions without the security of answers.

But I don’t think faith is supposed to come from security. I think security is supposed to come from faith.

I pray that I would remember that life will never be fully explainable. Emotion will never be constant. Coincidences & tragedies are not preventable. I pray that I would embrace uncertainty. Find joy in seeking.

Beauty in Becoming

I am learning.

Gradually, painfully, joyfully, beautifully,

that life is fragile & time is finite.

God pushes, I pull. I expect to follow God in a life of comfort. That’s funny, really. Lukewarm. Hoping to build a kingdom with a puny faith.

What I’ve come to recognize is that my faith is stuck in a paradoxical rut. I pray for growth & understanding, I long to feel closer to God. But selfishly, I expect to ripen without rain.

I would imagine my gardener is puzzled what I’m planning to cultivate for Him if I’m hoping to root myself in dry soil. A tree can’t bear fruit without relying on the ground it’s rooted in.

I think time is one of our greatest challenges as followers of God. What a funky concept He created as a tool to challenge those who claim to love Him.

The life we’re designed for will always have more time, but never enough.

Well that’s just whack.

Time is temporary, earthly. But I choose to let time overwhelm me. Whether it’s too little, too much – too slow, too fast, I choose to see this blessing as a curse.

The worth of years, weeks, days, hours, minutes.

Relationships are precious. People are deserving. Education is a blessing. Nature is a gift. Self care is vital. Mentally, physically, spiritually.

But what consumes our time?

Negativity that overshadows opportunity. Comparison that steals joy. Money for right now, because it might mean happiness, eventually?

But will there ever be enough money? Enough approval? Few enough enemies? Few enough pounds?

Heck if I know, but what I do know is that time will keep moving. I believe we are challenged to prioritize

How we choose to prioritize our time is a form of praise. Our greatest act of gratitude. What is worth your time? Your energy? How do you live out the love you claim to believe in?

I want to be a daughter of God that loves time. To see that limited time adds value to relationships, worth to experiences, bliss in discomfort.

Centered

I am filled up, refreshed, and reminded of who I am created to be.

I thought God was bringing me home this weekend because my family needed me. But after a quick 2 days home it was clear I was the one who needed them so badly.

Sometimes my clearest communication with God feels a bit more like a smack in the face than a loving embrace, but hey, whatever you gotta do to get your point across big man. I am thankful for a wake up call. I am thankful for a last minute flight home that showed me an empty tank is not going to get me much farther.

What it probably sounds like is that I had the most unforgettable weekend of my life. Not exactly. Combine being home with three midterms and a project for the next week and you don’t get the type of timing God and I tend to agree on. Unfortunately, school doesn’t care when it’s your first time home in two months.

So I sat glued to the kitchen counter buried in books and crunching numbers for hours at a time.

Mind you, in a family of 6, the kitchen counter is not the most ideal place to do homework. Welcome to the headquarters of chaos. Try to digest the fundamentals of corporate finance or memorize intentional torts in the center of our loud, crazy mess.  I dare you.

But I would do it all again tomorrow. Even though frankly, I did not make any forever memories or do anything particularly spectacular in my 48 hours home.

That is the funny thing about family. Being a big sister is the most life-giving blessing.There is nothing my heart loves more than that loud, crazy mess. I care about that crazy bunch so wholeheartedly that just to be in the center of it all meant the world to me. My heart had been longing for nothing more than time to be present with my people.

I think that is where God is longing to be right now. In the center of my chaos. To be along for the ride, involved in the mess. To be present in the stress of school and hustle and bustle of this chaotic life.

I am guilty of putting God on the back burner. I am guilty of thinking I can handle life on my own.

There will always be a to do list that could consume my mind. As a self proclaimed go getter and “yes” sayer I think I’ve come to the conclusion that a light load simply is not in the books for this lifeti

me. And I think for the past few weeks I’ve tried to sit in the drivers seat of my always 100 miles per hour car.

I’m moving to shotgun. Wherever the heck the car is going. The fact of the matter is that the car is going to keep driving. Life will not stop just because I am overwhelmed. But I want God sitting at my kitchen counter. I want him to be in the hustle and bustle, sitting in my chaos headquarters.

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filled.

People told me for the last 6 months being a WOW leader is exhausting. They were right. People have told me for the last 6 months how pointless 90% of endless training is. They were right. People have told me for the last 6 months how much money I would spend on this week. Again, they were right. Summer savings = gone.

But what nobody told me is that this week the presence of Jesus would be SO constantly evident, & I would end the week feeling loved & recharged & overflowing with the joy of the Lord.

This week was hard. I slept 4 hours a night & spent $300+ & sat through dumb meeting after dumb meeting for kids who sometimes didn’t even say thank you. Or kids who sometimes would rather be drinking the day away than spending it at the beach with me. This week I learned that being a soldier for Christ’s army can be frustrating, tiring, confusing… you get the point. But boy, is it life-giving. Shoot.

What a blessing it is to introduce 13 kids to their jaw-dropping new home. What a blessing it is to show them the type of life we were intended to live – the type of joy that is pure & genuine & God-given. What a blessing it is to be the person these kids will call if they’re in trouble at a party – to be trusted by strangers whose value sets are completely unparalleled to mine.

All I know is that I am full. The reality is that most of these kids are going to screw up more than a few times this year. Most of them might never follow Jesus or step foot in a church. Odds are, this year their Saturday nights will end the same time my Sunday mornings begin.

But now, most of them know that they are worthy. They are worthy of life and life to the fullest. They know that there is so much more to college than stressing over school or nights alcohol says you won’t remember. And I got to be a part of that. More importantly, Jesus got to be a part of that.

Watching Him work in these kids lives this week through me and Archie is something I will never take for granted. Real life starts again today and it is so so bittersweet. This year, I am ready to remember the value or little everyday interactions hold. I am ready to love people and love people well. I am ready to build a kingdom here.

Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters- in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy & pleasing to God. This is your true & proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world – but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test & approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, & perfect will. 

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Fruitful

Ephesians 3:17-19 I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together to grasp how wide and how long and how deep is the love of Christ. Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

A month ago, I wouldn’t have bet a million dollars that folding laundry for a month would change my life. But I left 25 days of stain sorting and towel folding with strangers turned sisters in Christ and a heart overflowing with the joy of the Lord. I returned home praying for bravery, eager  to tell about the treasure I’d found and to start building the kingdom at home.

But it’s been a week of being back in Gig Harbor and I still find my mind constantly wondering to another home. I’ll be honest, trying to navigate how to live fruitfully in the real world has been a royal pain in the neck.

For a month, God gave me the opportunity to live in a picture of what the world was intended to be like. Where every single day is designed for the type of joy we were created to live in. Where relationships are built in genuine selflessness and unconditional love. Where people are motivated by purely by God’s grace.

Coming home is bittersweet. Sweet to be back where I’m rooted and belong. But bitter because I can’t help but feel like my faith grew stronger roots and my heart feels a greater sense of belonging in a community centered on Christ. The kingdom of Young Life camp makes it so evident how broken the world is. That this beautiful world created by and for a king has been so plagued by empty routines and meaningless intentions and worldly temptations.

Yeah, I’d give anything for one more day of life on the ranch. The real world throws so many more wrenches at walking with the Lord.

But one thing is for sure – I would ten out of ten times rather run in the fresh Puget Sound air than in a one-hundred-degree desert oven. An August run in the Pacific Northwest feels like home. Salty air and the comfort of shade and mountains everywhere you look? Sounds like a deal to me. What makes August, August, however, is the sweet wild blackberries on my walk home. Time when the Big Man says come be still and hang out with me, and I’ll provide some free dessert. That’s when God and I have our best conversations.

Or maybe I’m just a whacko who thinks metaphorically about fruit. Whatever floats your boat.

All I know is that I want to bear fruit the same way God’s dang good wild blackberry vines do.

Blackberries grow on vines that considered to be nothing more than a nuisance. They grow on tangled branches. Not to mention surrounded by thorns. Heck, I don’t even know where they come from because somehow they grow in the middle of the freakin’ woods.

But by some miracle they still grow from the same sun and are rooted in the same earth as God’s vibrantly painted flowers and sky high trees. I hope I’m getting my point across here.

The reality is that we live in a broken world and YES it’s pretty twisted. It’s tangled and thorny and messy. But, we are still called to grow from the same sun. We are called to be ripe and colorful fruit among thorns – to bring meaning and taste to something that is wild and uncontrollable and flawed.

 

I think we are called to grow in the wild, grow abundantly, and grow among thorns.

Jesus, today I feel compelled by your grace to bear fruit with resilience, understanding, patience, presence, and grace. Remind me what a joy it is to grow in the wilderness and to be a light wherever that happens to be.

 

Goosebump Chasing

It’s easy to feel God in our goosebump moments.

I’m talking about the way a worship song can urge you to lift your hands to heaven, a cabin full of young life campers crying together in their brokenness, a mission trip changing the way you count your blessings. These types of moments are designed for goosebumps. They’re the moments God places in our lives that make our hearts race and the hairs on our arms stand straight up and our jaws drop in awe. These are the times that God’s nudge – His presence – is so easily recognized.

These experiences are nothing short of life-changing because they’re the moments that build a foundation for a faith, a life changing relationship with Jesus. I don’t think my faith would be half of what it is today without those goosebumps moments. However, it’s been awhile. And in all honesty, my faith needs a recharge – a revamp. What I’ve realized is that I seem to be stuck on this false notion that my faith can only be built on these types of “big” mountain-moving spiritual experiences.

That being said, I think one of the most common misconceptions Christians (including myself) have about these “goosebumps moments” is what they are meant for. The strength of our faith is not measured by our emotional response to these moments… who cries the hardest at church or who speaks the most powerful words at bible study or who prays with the most focus.

No – our life reflects our faith in our actions. How we choose to react to God’s grace. What is the highest priority of your life? What type of loyalty and selflessness do you bring to relationships? Who are you when no one is watching? What’s different about your life – because you know who Jesus is?

Applying the love we’ve received from Jesus to the way we go about life – to the way we treat people we love, ourselves, or those who can do nothing for us. That’s how we live out faith – how we walk with Jesus.

We get so caught up in what the goosebump moments can make us feel – that we forget our own lives hold the type of potential to show who Jesus is here on earth.

Take it from me. Don’t forget about the gift each day is, the volumes your words can speak, or the grace your forgiveness can show. A life made new in Jesus Christ is the most beautiful freakin’ thing!!

With this on my heart, I’m off to go scrub YoungLife camper’s toilets for a month – to use my little moments to give campers their big ones – the type that created my goose bumps. Perhaps I’ll even be doing a little goose bump chasing of my own. All I know is that God has called me to drop off the face of the earth and sacrifice a month of my boat-filled-friend-filled-adventure-filled summer home to go fold bed sheets. Sounds glorious right??DSCF0970

But I think that when God gives you an opportunity – you take it. And that’s where you’ll find Him.

That being said, chase the goose bump moments. Seriously, I don’t know how you couldn’t crave moments that ignite your faith fire. But – don’t forget the little moments can feed that fire.

If you care to write love letters, hate mail, half-birthday cards, whatever, I would be stoked to hear from you for the next few weeks!! My address is …

Riley Paul 

Young Life Washington Family Ranch 

Summer Staff Session 2

1 Muddy Road 

Antelope, OR 97001

To everything there is a season – a time for, a purpose under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3:1

Construction site

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I think I forget that I am not finished yet.

I fear being insignificant. I fear not being enough for people. Or perhaps I fear not being enough for God..?

Lately, I forget the beauty of committing our lives to Christ. Initially discovering the beauty of Christ is full of joy & peace & freedom – talk about a heck of a foundation to build a life upon!! But that’s where I tend to lack understanding. Finding God & committing to him is merely a foundation. And even though it’s a darn good one, that foundation sets the stage for constant progress, improvement, & building of a Christ-centered heart.

What I tend to forget is that our walk with Christ does not end the day we choose to follow Him. That when we commit to the great adventure, our hearts are God’s constant construction site of an extravagant palace, not a “decent little cottage.”

It’s ok to not know where you’re going, who you’re going with, how or when you’re going, because heck, we don’t plan that. However, we do get to know why. I’m here to live a life after God’s heart – & to continually learn more about what exactly chasing  that heart means.

What I’m created for may seem like a one fat mystery right now, but Who I’m living for makes that mystery one I am stoked for.

Let’s just say I’m not sure what in the world is going on in this heart – this construction site. But I think sometimes growth is slow, sometimes its painful, or maybe sometimes God has to tear down the whole dang house and start all over again.

Whatever the case, here’s to the joy it is to be a work in progress. And here is to a God so great that he loves us despite the fact that our hearts are messy, loud, unfinished construction sites.