“I Will Trust in You”

I’m one of those people who hates change. I’m afraid that people I’m close to will leave and I’ll never see them again.

My youth pastor and his family left my church after only two years of being there. His last day at youth group was an emotional one.

Before he came, the pastor who had been at the church for years left, too. I hate to say it, but his leaving didn’t hit me in the same emotional way it did others. Most of the kids there had known him since they were young. I’d only been coming to the church for less than a year when he left. I felt terrible for everyone else who had to watch him go, but I wasn’t emotionally attached to him or his family.

But this most recent pastor’s leaving struck me in a different way. I know a lot of the kids weren’t so extremely sad to see him go (which in itself is sad), but I was devastated. I’d come to respect him and I loved his family.

That last day with him at youth group was emotional. He wanted us to be happy, not sad, because he knew that this was God’s plan and that he had great new things planned.

I hadn’t come to that place of trust yet. But, during that entire service, the words from Lauren Daigle’s song, “Trust in You” played through my mind:

When you don’t move the mountains I needed you to move

When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through

When you don’t give me answers as I cry out to you

I will trust

I will trust

I will trust in you

I’d heard that song on the radio the same day, and I may have just had it stuck in my head, but during that emotional time it reminded me that I have to put my trust in God’s plan, otherwise my entire life will be a series of disappointments. It reminded me that even though I was devastated to see my pastor leave, I could trust that God’s plan is more important than my own wishes.

I’m not saying I can accept that yet. There’s a huge difference between understanding and believing. I can understand that God told my pastor it was time to move on. But it’s hard to believe that he would send pastor into our lives for such a short time, then send him away again. But I’m working on it, and maybe one of these days I’ll accept and believe it.

Phases of Life

I would say that the phrase “seasons of life” has been overused to the point where I can barely look at it anymore. But that’s just me and my picky behavior (Like how I absolutely despise the word “crisp,” but I don’t know why).

Despite my resistance of it, that phrase does mean something. I was thinking about this, because I live in Minnesota, where weather forecasts are wrong a good 90% of the time and in April, you have to keep an extra pair of snow boots and a windshield scraper in the trunk of your car. Not that I’m complaining– I love Minnesota weather, I really do! (Except for summer. The humidity makes me want to move to Alaska.) But I love the winter weather.

This year, though, Minnesota has been uncharacteristic of its usual self… just like me.

The winter of 2015-2016 has been the strangest I’ve ever endured. It didn’t really start getting cold until the middle of December… and we had a brown Christmas (whereas normally we’d have about one or two feet of snow piled up by then and the temperature would be in the teens or twenties). We couldn’t even go out walking on our pond until right before the new year. (One year, we went out on Thanksgiving.)

There were two weeks in January when it stayed under fifteen degrees every day without fail, sometimes even dropping to negative fifteen.

Then, it warmed up to the high twenties and low thirties within about two days. It dropped again, then rose, then dropped, then rose… Until today, where it all-of-a-sudden started to snow, and now we have about an inch within half an hour.

Okay, enough with the weather.

My point is this: Just like the weather has been up and down, crazy, and abnormal, my life has taken a strange, unnerving turn. I’m not going to go into details for the sake of privacy, but it’s one of those hard times in my family.

I hate to say it, but I’ve been sheltered just a bit during my lifetime. There have been no close deaths, no divorce, no heartbreak.

But now, since about June 2015, our family has been in the proverbial desert; the below-zero winter weather.

It’s amazing how the hardships of one family member can change the view and mood of everyone else.

Some days, it’s okay, and everything is normal and happy and we do our homework and go to our many events with high spirits. But then, other days, we all feel like Eeyore under his rain cloud.

eeyoreraincloud

I’m dealing with my own rain cloud, and for a long time, I was desperate. There were a lot of tears for a few days weeks. I felt fragile, like I would burst into tears at any given time. I felt (and still do) like I couldn’t concentrate on anything. School was painful, and it’s a struggle to read anything for fun. I used to read a novel or two per week, but I’ve read a total of one and a half fiction books in the last three or four months.

The only things that have kept me up and going are first, my family. I know, it sounds contrary to what I’d said before, but I’ve learned that I have to lean most on the people in the struggle with me. If a ship is in a storm in the middle of the ocean, would the passengers swim to the shore to find a person to help them? Or would they brave the storm, trusting the people around them, and make their way to shore together?

Second, my church. It’s a relatively small church, but so influential in my life. I moved Elk River, MN when I was twelve and I’ve been going to this church since then. I’ve been going to the youth group, too, and the people I met there have been some of the most important people in my life. There, I finally understood my faith and why I believed it. I came to know Jesus more closely. And that group of people and their collective, unwavering trust in God is what’s been keeping me going these past few months.

 

“Seasons of life” might be the right phrase, after all. I don’t know. I choose not to use it. But I can see the value in it. Just like seasons change, so do the phases in our life and faith.

 

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

…I lost, I guess.

I have a confession to make. I never finished my novel for NaNoWriMo. In the early days of November, I was so excited to actually write a novel (finally!), but this thing called “life during high school” got in the way, and I was so stressed out with school work that my inspiration and imagination dried up completely. I haven’t written anything original in weeks.

I’m at a total of 3,011 words, and I’ll be staying there for a while, I guess. Writer’s Block stinks.

failure

Maybe, hopefully, next year will be different. I’ll try to work on this some more over Christmas break, but I have a feeling I’ll be waiting until I get my imagination back.

But CONGRATULATIONS to all you writers out there who DID finish!!!!! 🙂 🙂 Great work!!

Until next year, NaNoWriMo.

 

NaNoWriMo failure…

As I said in my last post, I started NaNoWriMo this year. I thought I would be way on top of things and have at least 25,000 words by today, crank out the last half over Thanksgiving break, then be done with it by the 29th.

Hah. I was so wrong.

Maybe it’s a common thing with beginner NaNoWriMo-ers, but as of now, I am at 3,000 words. And, I still have writer’s block. This is not going well.

It’s not that I can’t write… The problem is that I haven’t written original fiction in SO long. I used to, all the time. But then I hit a point where my imagination seemed to stop completely and all I could write were journal-type things (take my “The World of Teenagers” for example) that were deep and thoughtful. I like my writing style… I just can’t transfer it to fiction. Everything I write comes out sounding forced and cheesy.

I’ve tried to use writing prompts. I looked up successful authors for inspiration. I read novels (Dorothy L. Sayers!!) and everything else, but so far nothing has helped. And look at me here, writing a blog post. Why can’t I do this with fiction??

If anyone has tips, they would be beyond appreciated. Thank you, all!

New Novel-er!

This year, I started my first novel ever. And I’m writing it with NaNoWriMo. Now, I don’t know if that was a good idea or not, but it’s really giving me that extra push I needed… As in, I stress over it, wonder about it at night, scribble everywhere in my designated notebook, and sit at my laptop, playing around with the settings on Word instead of writing.

I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I still have my first manuscript, probably written when I was about six years old and had just learned how to type on a computer. It’s hidden somewhere deep in my Google Drive, collecting dust, waiting for the day when I’ll look at it in all of its 300-word glory. It has two chapters and a host of misspelled words (starting out with “Once opon a time…”). But at least I tried, right?

After that, I’ve written a few ideas, drabbles, real-life stories, and some other things. The closest I ever got to finishing a book was my infamous (to me, at least) Bert the Red Balloon story… But there’s no need to get into that.

Anyway, those times I only dipped my toes into the waters of authorship… Now I’ve taken the dive, and right now my head is underwater. The rest of me has yet to follow.

But I’m super excited, and I could use advice from more experienced authors!

Yay, NaNoWriMo!! 🙂

The World of Teenagers

I don’t think it’s fair how people criticize this generation of teenagers. How we succeed is the work of the people who raised us, but how we fail—how people believe we will fail–is the fault of society; how it influences us to such a degree that we join it and influence others too. It’s the fact that this world is full of evil and somehow American teenagers have noticed that, then fallen for it, just like adults. Yes, we make bad decisions sometimes, but adults make just as many mistakes and bad decisions as we do.

And not all teens are like that, either. Yes, some fit the stereotype all Americans know, but some, like me, pray and wish for peace in the world; for society to stop being so harsh and cutting with its rules and regulations and unreachable ideals. We hope for change; that the leaders today will see how they are wrong. We wish for all this arguing about politics and right and wrong and abortions and gay marriage to stop and for people to go back to the values this country was built on: honesty, integrity, authenticity, Christianity. We wish Christians weren’t persecuted and ridiculed like they are.

Teens like me are afraid of the future and what it will bring. Instead of seeing a bright future filled with flying cars and pristine white rooms and well-oiled, floating trains, we see a future consisting of corrupt leaders, a diminishing food and water supply, and small groups of humans hanging onto their last, most desperate hopes of survival. We see a dystopian society, where everything is regulated; where the only free choice people have is whether or not to eat their supper. We see control, corruption, and slavery. We see war, conflict, and atomic bombs. We read stories about children and teenagers fighting each other for food. And we are afraid that those stories and ideas will become reality.

Most teens like me don’t even know what to do about our lives and morals anymore. We are at a crucial point in our development into adulthood where we’re questioning our morals, the things our parents have taught us, and we’re trying to carve out our own identities. Our morals and values are being tried every day. Our peers say one thing, our parents something else, and society still something different. We’re confused, worried, and afraid. We watch the country we love sink deeper into the pit of corruption, fueled by environmentalists, politicians, and almost everyone else. We see terrorist groups in the Middle East. We watch airport security become stricter and stricter. We hear about illegal immigrants who are treated like legitimate citizens. We read about third-trimester abortions. We are taught about climate-change and the ozone layer. We’re told that we’ll run out of oxygen and food and space on this earth soon. And we are told that it’s our fault.

What I think people don’t realize is that we are, believe it or not, the next generation. This group of self-absorbed, internet-obsessed teenagers will be the next senators, business-people, CEOs, parents, pastors, diplomats, and even presidents. The fate of our country is in our hands, and we are determined to make it right.

I can’t speak for my fellow teens on this, but I am hoping for a revolution; a revival. Something that will pick up this world by the scruff of its neck and turn it around to face the light after all this time creeping toward the darkness. Maybe that will be the Second Coming of Christ. If it is, I say “Hallelujah!” If it’s not, I will support it with my entire being. We need a revival. We need to lead people to Jesus and let Him open the eyes of the blind.

Teenagers today are depressed and running low on hope. But one thing I’ve learned from my experiences is that there’s always hope. There’s hope for our broken society; there’s hope for the oppressed countries around the world. There’s hope for our leaders, our futures, and ourselves. If we continue to live out a life that reflects how I know many of us feel, then there’s hope for even the self-absorbed teenagers of the twenty-first century.

I woke up this morning

With this feeling inside me that I can’t explain

Like a weight that I’ve carried been carried away

 

But I know something is coming

I don’t know what it is but I know it’s amazing

Can save me

My time is coming

I’ll find my way out

Of this longest drought

 

And it feels like today I know

It feels like today I’m sure

It’s the one thing that’s missing

The one thing I’m wishing

The last sacred blessing and pain

Feels like today

Feels like today

You treat life like a picture

But it’s not a moment that’s frozen in time

It’s not gonna wait ‘til you’ve made up your mind

At all

 

So while this storm is breaking

While there’s light at the end of the tunnel

Keep running towards it

Releasing the pressure that’s your heartache

Soon this dam will break

           

            Feels Like Today

                                By Rascal Flatts

 

Comfortable Chaos

This life is chaotic sometimes. That sounds obvious, but let me explain myself.

I used to dread mealtimes for the simple reason that before we ate, all the kids would be hungry and hyper and running around screaming, the stove fan would be on (that was always a given; it didn’t matter what Mom was cooking), my older brother would be trying to practice his beloved piano, and my parents would try to talk over the chaos; try to get us in order to set the table and wash our hands. It was stimulation overload for me, and since I was an introvert, I would try to hide; to cower away until it was all over. But of course, I would have to set the table. I would have to creep into the kitchen, grab a plate, dish out my food, and sit, sipping on my water, until the rest of the family calmed down.

I know my example doesn’t sound too bad, but it was enough to make me dread the time before supper.

I have something against tense chaos. My room is a disaster most of the time, true, but it’s an organized disaster. I can find things when I need them, and the same goes for the rest of the house. But when people start talking too loudly; when someone tries to play the piano while another tries to vacuum; when my little brothers start playing and yelling in the living room while the stove fan is on . . . That’s when I start to snap. And it’s not obvious. It’s more shutting myself down inside, maybe stealthily plugging my ears for a minute to calm down. It’s tensing up and tensing up until I yell at the noise-maker/s, and run around the house, turning off all the radios, stove fans (a pet peeve of mine, if you hadn’t noticed), and sending the little boys to play in their room.

That’s my life, and I’ll be living with it for the next three to four years.

And if I don’t find a way to cope with it, I’m going to go crazy.

The point of all this is that life is chaotic. There’s no way out of it. Whether you’re walking through a crowded mall or maneuvering your car through traffic, life will be chaotic. You’ll feel it during the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas rush, where walking through Target or Walmart, there will be an unmistakable, tense vibe powered by people ripping their hair out to find just the perfect gift.

But there’s nice, comfortable chaos too.

A favorite end-of-August, beginning-of-September place for me is the Minnesota State Fair. I relish the times we’re there, and it might be surprising, given that I’m such an introvert, but being there is like playing a favorite game or reading a special book you’ve read so many times you’ve lost count.

My family and I try to go to the Fair once every year. We usually spend about ten to eleven hours there, arriving as early as possible and staying as late as our tired feet and legs will allow. I remember one year when I was able to spend a few more hours walking the fairgrounds with my dad. We hardly did anything we hadn’t done before, except buying a cream puff each and a well-worth-eight-dollar Gyro. But just the experience of being there was enough for me. I never do anything special, like riding the rides of famous Midway, or getting an over-priced Henna tattoo, or watching Grandstand concerts. I like to buy a few delectable State Fair specialties-on-a-stick and wander the old, familiar streets, just watching people go by.

It may be chaos, but it’s a comfortable chaos.

Christmas present-opening is another comfortable, exiting chaos that I can’t get enough of. When our whole family sits around our living room in designated spots (I’ve managed to get the end of the couch three years in a row now: Little victories of life.) and tear into the red and green and gold wrapping paper, never expecting what to find underneath, then exclaiming over the contents, it creates a chaos that I wish could go on forever and never change.

Worship with our church is one of my prime examples of comfortable chaos.

I attend Youth Church every Wednesday night, and the chaos that ensues is overwhelming, but invigorating. We gather in a large main area that has round tables for chatting with friends and a Ping-Pong table for the more competitive of the group. The older students gather at the small tables while the younger attendees usually find a ball of sorts and start kicking it around the huge, open hallway.

After an acceptable socializing period, we move into the sanctuary to hear a message from our pastor.

Then we worship. We are encouraged to spread out among the chairs, to darker areas of the room in order to concentrate. A pianist will start playing, or a guitarist will start strumming, and the voices of our group will be raised to the heavens in sometimes-joyful, sometimes-pleading or desperate praise to God.

I usually choose a place to stand or sit where two walls meet in a slight corner, just perfect for leaning my back against, then I watch the musicians or stare at the ceiling or close my eyes and bask in the comfortable chaos that surrounds me, adding my voice to the praises.

Life can be chaotic, but I won’t let it control me. I’ll look for the comfortable chaos in everyday life, and when tense chaos strikes, I’ll close my eyes and lean my head back and count to ten . . . Then I’ll go gently remove a toy from my brother’s hand or turn off the stove fan and remember that nice chaos is easier to find than harsh, and being positive pays off more than being negative.

Now excuse me while I sit alone in my organized-chaotic room and read a book to recharge my introvert batteries from all the pre-supper noise.