Carpe Momentum

Kimmy Schmidt has taught me many lessons. But the most important one might be – you can do anything for 10 seconds. And when that 10 seconds ends, you can do it again. At least for 10 more seconds.

When I run (or do my weird slow jog / speed walk combo) in the 90 degree 90 percent humidity Georgia summer, I often feel like I might die of profuse perspiration. And when my head tells me I can’t take another step. I count to 10. Because I can do anything for 10 seconds.

By the time I reach nine and think I might die. I scream out 10 (in my head of course – I’m not some strange girl running on the side of the road counting to 10 over and over again – OUT LOUD). And then I count again. Because I can do anything for 10 seconds.

Ten seconds. Incredibly quick and excruciatingly long. They pass in a blink. And seem to last for days. But these 10 seconds, just like the 10 before, will pass.

Groups of 10 seconds make up 10 minutes. And 10 minutes leads to 10 hours. And you know what? Those 10 hours – they eventually will make up 10 days. And before you know it 10 months have gone by.

When seconds lead to months – moments lead to memories. And you have to seize those moments before they’re gone.

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So what does it mean to seize the moment. Right here. Right now. What does it take to clasp it. Clutch it. Seize it.

It takes notice. Recognizing right now. Who you are. Who you’re with. Recognizing the good. The bad. And the oh so ugly.

It takes hope. Knowing what’s going right in your life. And having hope for the things that could be going better.

It takes strength. Recognizing the joy and the pain. The beats between wholeness and heartbreak. Fighting through difficulty. If only for 10 seconds at a time.

It takes a choice. You have to say yes. Be all in. To right now. To this day. To seize the moment, you have to want to take hold of it.

Because these seconds to minutes to months – they make up your life. And you have to live it. You can seize these moments. Even if it’s only 10 seconds at a time.

-A

And Now You Choose

Sometimes. You arrive at a place. And it is definitely new – you haven’t been there before. But when you look around everything seems oddly familiar.

And you think. Yeah. This very much resembles square one.

Square one. The one you like to skip over in hopscotch. Because who wants to land there? Not me.

A little girl (not me) once told me (and by once I mean two days ago) that I was too big to jump from square one to two to three to four. I needed to jump from the starting line all the way to square five. And I thought. That’d be nice. To skip the first four squares. Go straight to square five, where the path is set and I can see the end.

But life doesn’t work like that. So here I am. Not on the same square one where I began. On a new square one. A new starting place.

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I couldn’t exactly tell you how I arrived here. I started on a different square one. And moved on to a different square two. I imagined a path for me to take. Step by step I made my way down that hopscotch course. Jumping over obstacles to get to the end. Like the ‘lava’ (a mixture of clumps of grass and weeds) my sweet little friend placed in my path when we hoped around on the newly colored concrete.

And I was so focused on getting to the end. The final square in my path. Where I could be who I wanted to be. And do what I wanted to do. I didn’t realize I’m not the only one who controls the course I take. And sometimes that course plops you right down on a new square one. When you really want to keep hoping down the path you are already on.

Even though it’s frustrating. And I don’t always understand why I can’t have the same square three as her or square ten as him. I know my squares and their specific sequence were picked purposefully for me.

So now I have a choice. I may not have the final say in where my square two ends up. But I get to choose to leave square one and go to that unknown square two. Which is exciting. And scary. And feels a lot like dreaming.

I can see all the places I can go with square two, and all the ways a square three can form from those square twos. I can see the pathways I want to take. The ones I’d love to journey down. The chalk-drawn pathways to my dreams.

So today I’m working on advancing over to square two. I’m daring to start over. Daring to dream. And even if I unexpectedly get dropped down on a new square one. I’ll dare again.

-A

(P.S. This image was inspired by Dallas Clayton! Go check out his instagram page @dallasclayton – it’s full of doodles and super fun things)

I am become life.

I am become life, restorer of worlds
Reviving ground beneath my feet
Land quakes with every step
Rebuild from rubble, land and sea
Raised up I have emerged set free

I am become life, abolisher of falsehoods
Stand tall in truth like age old trees
With rings threaded in wisdom
Dismantle small lies between my ears
But keeping the memory souvenirs

I am become life, apart of all I’ve met
Owning the story written out for me
Margins fade into the deep
And when my sea is set ablaze
I can now breathe under the waves

Because I am –
I will unbecome death
I am become life

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-A

Humble Beginnings

Humility was something that was always very confusing to me.

I didn’t really understand how someone could be truly humble, or even, what it meant to be truly humble.

Humility hung out in a gray area—it definitely wasn’t pride, it was sort of like confidence but not the arrogant kind, it absolutely wasn’t thinking less of yourself, so maybe it was thinking of yourself less?

Who knew? Hello, definitely not me.

Because I didn’t understand what humility was, I never sought it out. I was content with not knowing and simply nodding my head when someone brought it up. Even though this was sheer laziness on my part, the Lord didn’t want me to lack understanding about humility—so He began to teach me about it. He allowed me to fail.

At first I was super frustrated—I had absolutely no idea what was going on and I kicked and screamed 85% of the way.

“I am not a failure! This isn’t like me—why am I not succeeding? What is going on??”

I was seemingly failing in all sorts of areas—school, friendships, family relationships, and even basic day-to-day tasks.

Coming from someone who loves being in control, this process of defining humility first seemed like I was doing something wrong. Even though I tried, and tried, and tried to make things “right,” I was still unsuccessful. I thought my relationships were failing, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t fix it. My confidence was still in my ability to make things right.

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I don’t believe the Lord wanted me to question my identity or believe lies about my relationships or myself, but He used His redemptive process to take these failures and turn them into something constructive, something worthwhile.

The turning point in all of this happened when I dropped a full water bottle on a $1,500 computer in one of my classes. The number one rule, virtually the only rule when in a computer lab is to responsibly handle your water (for obvious reasons).

He used me dropping a water bottle on a $1,500 computer to show me that I don’t have control—even over the simplest of things.

I realized that my efforts and constant trying didn’t amount for anything apart from God. I slowly became aware of His power compared to my own, and began to realize He’s someone that I can trust.

Humility in and of itself is a deep awareness of God.

It’s clearly recognizing who He is, and believing it without hesitation.

It’s having an awareness of your shortcomings, knowing that in the midst of your iniquity He has the power to redeem. He has the power and trustworthiness to take care of you.

It’s letting go of trusting yourself and your own ability, and sitting back and relaxing with Him.

As you continually make the decision to trust Him, you realize you don’t have to rely on yourself to fight your battles. The confidence in your own ability now transfers to confidence in God’s ability.

So try letting go. Trust that He has the power to redeem the biggest and smallest of things. Really believe He is who He says He is.

-K

I’m a good quitter.

I’m great at quitting. No seriously… I am a really really good quitter. Or I used to be.

Growing up I tried (and quit) most every sport imaginable. I constantly started things that I knew in the back of my mind I wasn’t going to finish. Countless times I would get halfway through school projects and give up – quit – and pray for a B (while a mix of b.s. and genetic favor usually earned me an A).

If it wasn’t easy. If it didn’t come natural to me. If I was tired. Or bored. I quit.

Sometimes I would start again. Most of the time I wouldn’t.

It’s so much easier to quit than to finish, and we have constant opportunities to do so. Every time we fail. Every time we mess up. We slip. Or fall. Every time I failed I went back to what was familiar. What was easy. What came natural.

Pursuing a relationship with God is not always easy and does not always come natural. So instinctively I’ve tried to quit that too. Numerous times I’ve told God: “This is hard… I’m tired… This just doesn’t come natural for me… So I think I’m done.”

So I would quit. And things would stay hard. And I’d still be tired. And I would still mess up. And eventually I would realize I shouldn’t have given up on God so easily, because God was still pursuing me even when I wasn’t pursuing Him.

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A wise person I know once said, “If you don’t quit – you win.” SO if I fall, but get back up – I win. If things get hard, but I choose to keep going – I win. If I don’t give up. If I push past the exhaustion. I win.

I’m trying to do that. Persevere past the difficulties. And the more I invite God into the times I fall, the times when things are messy and hard – the more natural my relationship with Him becomes.

So, I am working on becoming a bad quitter. And a good winner.

-A

When life chips your crown.

This story starts with an overly excited six-year-old princess, who took it upon herself to make sure everyone in her kingdom’s vicinity got to experience the joy of receiving a box of cookies (for a small fee obviously).

It was a cold winter day, when she and her sincere older sister – and her sister’s top-notch twin brother – began to travel around the village. They went from homestead to homestead asking the inhabitants if they would enjoy the pleasure of purchasing a box… or two… or ten.. of delectable sweet round little baked goods. The villagers beamed with pride at the prospect, and almost the entire village contributed to the cookie fund.

finland-318777_1920As the sun slipped lower into the sky and the three children started skipping their way home a light snow began to fall upon them. The first snowfall of the season. In their excitement – they decided to stop at one more villagers brick hut. The little princess began to climb the brick stairs of the brick hut, but she tripped and tumbled – chipping one of her grand pearly whites – her front right tooth.

She cried out in pain as one of the brick hut inhabitants came fourth. The villager seeing tears streaming down the princesses’ face rushed inside to get her a tissue. When she came back holding a tissue and ice covered in a cloth she handed them to the princess and sent the princess, her sister, and her sisters twin brother home (without buying even a single box of cookies – come on lady).

Fast forward eleven years. The princess – with a small cap on her tooth – went to highly respected member of the kingdom – a noble dentist. He looked at the tooth, with a cap on one side, and decided a princess needed more than a cap – she needed a crown. So he made a gleaming white crown and placed it – not on her head – but on her front right tooth.

Fast forward another five and a half years. The princess – who is actually me – a normal person and former girl scout – was eating plantain chips in a corner of her queen bed that was covered in a fort of pillows and clothes. As I sat in my bed with my purple bag of plantain chips and Netflix streaming on my tablet something happened. And in that moment I knew something was wrong.

The beautiful crown on my precious pearly white didn’t feel quite right (opps that rhymed). I knew instantly I needed to look in the mirror, but I also knew I didn’t want to see what had happened – so, like any normal former girl scout, I went ahead and finished the bag of plantain chips.

After pouring the last crumbling remnants into my mouth, I took a deep breath, climbed out if my pillow fortress, and looked in the mirror. I was right – my little crown was chipped.

So now the princess (me again) begins a new journey to have a new crown made to fit her tooth like the glass slipper that was tailored specifically for Cinderella’s foot.

And despite the stress of finding a new noble dentist, having a new crown foraged, and trying to not to look like a stereotypical hobo – I have learned a enchanting lesson. When life chips your tooth – and everything else seems to chip apart as well, you end up with a good story – that will make people laugh and bring them together. And bringing people together makes my heart happy.

-A

Impatience and Anxiety

Have you ever had a moment when you are thinking about two seemingly unrelated concepts and all of a sudden they snap together in your head. You see a relationship that is almost so obvious that you feel a little ridiculous because you haven’t previously made the connection.

I had one of those moments recently. The monkey banged his cymbals together and the two-dimensional cartoon light bulb flickered above my head. And in that moment I knew – most of the anxiety I’ve recently faced was born out of impatience.

Patience is hard. No one really likes to wait. People don’t just pop their head into an over populated waiting room and think, “this is my jam.” We just aren’t waiting people. Except that we are.

woman-689896_1920If you love Jesus – you are a waiting person. You are waiting for a person, the son of God, to return. So I lay in wait.

But if I have dedicated my life to waiting on the King of Kings, why can’t I wait in a five-minute line at the grocery store? Why can’t I wait when figuring out future plans? Why can I can tell God all of my current thoughts and anxieties, but I can’t patiently wait for Him to respond?

So I’m learning patience. What that means, looks, and feels like. How to take a moment to breathe and persist through the uncertainty. How to be content in the assurance of a future that has been promised to me.

I’m learning why waiting is sometimes the best thing for me, and how to listen to God with a new-found patient expectation. How to be secure not knowing what tomorrow or two years from now will bring.

I have found when I’m content with being in-between – in the land of wait – I can be fully confident in the promises God has for me. And suddenly anxiety has less and less room to rule my mind. But more than that – patience sanctions peace to replace fear.

-A