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What People Don’t Say about Change

What People Don’t Say about Change

I closed the door behind my parents as they left our two-bedroom apartment near campus.

Bows and wrapping paper, half-eaten cupcakes, stoles cords, and a tassel sprinkled the living room.

I’d gather them later; I just made a beeline to the bedroom.

Still in my graduation dress, I hopped in the bed in the fetal position and sobbed straight into my pillow.

Will and I had only been married six months, but he knew what to ask.

“Do you want to go back to school?”

A muffled “uh-huh” came through sniffs and sobbing.

It felt so alien to embrace a new routine apart from the semester-break-semester-break one I’d known since kindergarten.

A plan was in place, which should’ve provided some comfort. In two weeks, I’d be starting an internship at the college ministry where I was a student. I didn’t even know that one-year internship would precede two more years as the ministry’s assistant director.

I am that woman again (only three years older): the woman furled underneath the covers because her life is changing and a part of her isn’t ready.

Last Friday was my last day at the college ministry. Will and I are moving to New Orleans in July so that I can finish my seminary degree in the classroom rather than on the Internet.

During this season of change, I have closely identified with Isaiah 30:20-21: “Your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.’”

This is the way. I have an undeniable peace in my spirit – a peace that can only be from God.

I reassure myself that change is a good thing – even unavoidable and natural.

But whether I’m coiled up in sheets on graduation day or resignation day, change can still feel less like transition and more like displacement.

Displacement (most of the time) happens to us. We call this a passive verb in English, and this makes sense to my writer’s brain. Writers are encouraged to avoid passive verbs as much as possible.

Maybe this is why the writer in me resists being displaced.

I want to displace my own self.

To displace means “to cause something to move from its proper or usual place.”

It’s in our nature to resist seasons of displacement or change (even the exciting ones like college graduations or big moves) from our usual places. These seasons can feel lonely, uneventful, and unproductive.

I’ve felt so many emotions during the last two weeks as I’ve said goodbyes, cleaned out my desk drawers, and turned in my keys at my (now) former job.

But then I remembered: this displacement feels familiar. I’ve been here before, and I recall graduation day and the days that followed.

“Remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you (Deuteronomy 8:2).” I remember God’s relentless pleas for the Israelites to reflect and remember God’s faithfulness in their displacement time after time.

I take time to remember with God – reminisce with him like an old friend.

I smile at the graduate sobbing in front of her new husband and wanting to go back to school. I smile and thank God for his faithfulness and guidance throughout the years.

Suddenly, displacement isn’t so bad as I remember – take time to remember with God.

But I admit that it’s uncomfortable. I thrive on productivity, but this girl will have no “job” to go into every day for a while (that’s another blog post) besides teaching yoga and writing stories.

When I say seasons of displacement can feel unproductive, I speak from real-time experience. Besides attending seminary full-time, I have no “plan” this time.

But God is the God who sees the woman without a plan. He is the God who meets a pregnant woman in the desert and asks, “Where are you coming from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8). Hagar responded to the former part of his question yet couldn’t answer the latter: “Where are you going?”

But God gave her an answer; God answered her with direction and purpose.

Maybe that’s all God asks from us in our seasons of displacement. Maybe all he asks is that we remember where we’ve been with him, and he provides the answers for where we’re going:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend [or feed on] faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:3-4 (ESV)

Feed on faithfulness. Delight in the Lord. These are the commands for a displaced heart ready to receive God’s desires and direction.

For the follower of Christ that abides in him, all fear in “missing God’s will” is cast aside. He is faithful to make our desires his desires.

The mystery of mysteries is the indwelling Spirit of God’s role in all of this. When our pleas for direction, our complaints of displacement, our cries for a plan feel like silent prayers hitting the ceiling, God’s Spirit in our Spirit is acting as a translator.

God’s Spirit is translating our semi-spiritual prayers into supernatural language, and he is getting it right:

“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words… the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:26-28 (ESV)

In all our displacement and disorientation, God simply asks us to remember. Remember and feed on his faithfulness. Take a drink from the well of his faithfulness like Hagar did in the desert.

He is the one who answers his own question of where we are going. He is the one who replaces our desires with his will. He is the one who translates my half-baked prayers into ready plans.

To the displaced furled underneath covers today, you and I are in Good Hands.

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What a Scrapbook Says about My Mom

What a Scrapbook Says about My Mom

Will and I condensed 4.5 dates of conversations into our first date in 2012. We sidestepped small talk and went straight to things like beliefs about God, personality types, bucket lists, and childhood memories.

After attending a basketball game and shutting down a restaurant for dinner, we decided we still didn’t know enough about each other. At my apartment, we picked up the conversation where we’d left it.

Will is an artist, and as he told me about the pieces he’d created in college, I remembered my own childhood art collection under my bed.

“I’ll be right back,” I told him.  I returned with a burgundy scrapbook at least five inches thick and at maximum capacity with extra papers peaking past its edges.

Upon opening the front cover, Will and I traveled back in time together. I showed him drawings from first grade of Easter eggs colored with Crayolas and writing worksheets from second grade for practicing cursive.

We read my reflection at eight years old on my great aunt’s death from cancer, which I’d typed on an IBM computer in the elementary school computer lab before font names and flat screens existed.

We laughed at third-grade Lanie with her puppy, Spanky, at show-and-tell and fourth-grade Lanie posed with hips popped to the right as Shania Twain with a tasseled-and-bedazzled dress, reminiscent of the Grand Ole Opry’s glory days.

Looking back, I’m surprised Will stuck around after going through my first eighteen years of life in one sitting.

But I’m so thankful I had that scrapbook for showing because it contained what seemed like souvenirs of all the places I’d traveled to become the woman he was getting to know that night.

Even though they seemed trivial to me, they were treasures my mom felt were worthy of saving and stitching together to tell a story.

When I was growing up in our small family of three, my mother was the collector of our stories.

She always showed up with a camera in hand, and she saved the smallest milestones like middle school report cards to the biggest ones like high school academic awards.

She was the curator of our memories, too.

Mom was not just the mom who bought me two concert tickets for my tenth birthday. No, she was the mom who, for the concert, bought gel with pink glitter for my hair.

When my dad and I showed up to shoot a catfishing television show together and the microphone clipped to my waist was tugging too much at my pants, my mom took off her belt and looped it around me to avoid a falling-pants crisis during the shoot.  (That’s the picture on the left.)

No memory or milestone was ever too insignificant for my mom to curate and keep.

In this way, my mom reminds me of Jesus’ mom.

The Bible hints to us in Luke 2 at two different moments that Mary was the keeper and curator of her family’s memories, too.

Luke 2:19 says, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart,” referring to the shepherds and others’ visits to see the newborn Jesus, who they’d heard would grow up to be the Savior of the world.

Luke 2:51 says that Mary “treasured up all these things in her heart” some years later when she found her Son conversing with those in the temple and talking about God at such a young age.

Even if Mary didn’t yet understand God’s purpose for her Son, she stilled treasured up those memories in her heart.

This is purely speculation, but I even wonder if she helped the gospel writers recount Jesus’ life. After all, God chose her not only to be Jesus’ mother, but to be the treasurer, keeper, and curator of his childhood.

Ann Voskamp is another mother who knows this secret to a life fully lived:

“The whole of the life – even the hard – is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments add up.” -One Thousand Gifts

The moments add up – stack up quickly like five-inch scrapbooks filled with eighteen years of family photos, report cards, and coloring pages.

At twenty-five-years old, I realize this Mother’s Day that I have a choice.

I can hustle and hurt from the hurry, or I can keep and curate with care.

This is the mother I want to be one day, and this is the woman I want to be today.

I want to make time.

Time for pondering both ordinary and extraordinary moments in my heart and writing them down on paper.

Time for curating memories with Will, our children, and our children’s children.

Time for archiving victories and defeats and thanking God for his presence amidst both.

Time for drinking coffee and sharing stories with friends and family.

Time for making scrapbooks and photos without Instagram filters.

Time even for reminding others of their own journeys – that God’s never finished with their scrapbooks, never done with their stories.

Yes, this is the woman I want to be: a keeper and curator of memories to love well and live full.

This is what my mother taught me.

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