I’m leaving, but not. We will be friends forever.

30420824_1548447385281019_7351284245327875735_o.jpgI’m going to miss you guys.

We’ve shared struggles, laughter, adventures, serious conversations, and lots of time. You, my friends, have played a role in making me who I am today. I thank you for that.

Graduating, no doubt, will come with many, many joys. But even though the next chapter of my life will be an adventure, a sharp pain also accompanies graduation; it is that of leaving my friends who, if I’m honest, were one of the biggest contributors of joy in my life.

21463071_1563088630400618_1896061649054210479_n.jpgA couple of years ago, I published a post regarding friendships that deserves to be revisited. The take away was that relationships can have three time dimensions, and the more dimensions there are in any given relationship, the stronger that friendship is.

One clear dimension is the present. This aspect of friendship is active any time friends are together in the present. At school I spent a lot of time with friends, eating, working out, studying, and just chilling. This dimension is also active any time that a person might be even thinking of his/her friend. For instance, one of my friends is a huge fan of orange. Every time I see an orange vehicle, I think of him and thereby keep the present dimension activated, even if we aren’t together in person.

Another dimension is the past. This includes all the memories and adventures that occurred earlier in the relationship and fun points of connection like inside jokes. Because of our shared past experiences, I have a strong connection with friends I went backpacking with. This dimension often takes a while to build. However, I’ve been 47477633_1941289635920895_5587646692821303296_n.jpgfriends with my roommate since our first class freshmen year, and we have a lot of history and have a pretty solid past dimension.

The final dimension is the future. When individuals mutually plan to stay connected in the future, this adds another dimension to the friendship. Even though I’m leaving school, I one hundred percent plan to come back and visit and to do things like go skiing with them.

Once I’d established a friend group at Cornerstone and hung out for a while at school, it was no problem to have all three dimensions covered with many of them. We had many experiences with each other that we could reminisce about together as well as a hoard of inside jokes–the past. We regularly spent time together and, naturally then, had the others on our minds often–the present. While I was at school, we knew each other’s schedules and simply expected to continue eating, working out, hanging out, and studying with each other in the future. So I had some pretty strong friendships.

18451333_1697170693629944_1680720937309472440_o.jpgAs soon as I graduate and move out, however, new obstacles arise. I am no longer living with my friends and there are clearly other distractions which take up space in my mind (you know…finding a job…). Making plans together for the future is much harder when I don’t have any idea what my future holds. I won’t be able to be a work out buddy, a dinner date, or a study partner. My friends will be forced to find new friends and things will change. We can still be friends, but I simply won’t be physically able to hold the same position I held while I was at school.

This is heartbreaking to me. I cringe hardcore when I think of fading from the lives of those I was so close to.

However in any relationship I or you have ever had, know that even if we don’t often make plans together for the future and even if we can’t spend time together in the present, nothing will take away the astounding memories we’ve had together in the past. Our friendship, though it may not be as strong as before, will never actually dissolve. Even if it only becomes one-dimensional, you’veApples.jpg impacted my life and that will last forever.

So. My friends. I’m going to miss you. A lot. I’m going to shed tears. And, sure as heck, I’m going to try to stay connected.

But I’m also going to be realistic, and know that things will change. But for you, and for me, I want to clearly put out the reminder that we can, and will, always remain friends.

P.s. A great way to stay connected with me in the present is to hit the “follow” button on the right side of the page 😉

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Forever Gone: Appreciating the Present

45078960_889035211496842_6106363714363981824_oFreshman semester at Cornerstone University, I was falling in love with school. Living in a dorm gave me the opportunity to eat, play, sleep, and live with friends in a way that made every day exciting. I was experiencing a new level of independence and I was getting good grades. Granted, it took a few weeks, but by Thanksgiving break, Cornerstone was really feeling like home. In fact, come break, I thought I felt more at home at school than at my parent’s home and I would’ve even spent a day of break at school just because I liked it so much.

However, by Tuesday evening, most people were heading off campus to go home and campus was suddenly dead. Honestly, it’s the people and the community more so than the space that made CU feel like home. So as the people left on break, I felt like my home nathan-dumlao-553945-unsplashwas dissolving; purely melting away while I stood there.

It struck me that even if I stood in the same place as before break, during break it was completely out of my control to make that place feel like home.

Timing was impeccable.

Now I’m graduating in two weeks. I’m terrified. Sometimes I try to calm myself down by reminding myself that I can return and visit Cornerstone regularly if I live nearby. So I won’t be totally abandoning the once-in-a-lifetime college experience, right?

But even when I return to the same place to visit, it won’t be the same. I won’t feel at home in the same way. My friends won’t have the same schedules. We won’t be as close. I won’t know as many people. It won’t be where I belong.received_1628736590585431.jpeg

I didn’t intentionally enjoy my freshmen year as much as I wish I would have. I figured I had a couple of years  left of school and didn’t think to be grateful for it until it was nearly done. But even as I am intentionally appreciative of being a student senior semester, I realize I’ve already long lost the feel of being a freshman student. I’m not as carefree, not as experimental, not as new to the whole thing. Even though I’m still going to the same school, I can never get the freshmen feel back. Later, even though I visit the same school, I’ll never be able to get this senior feel back.

This sounds so negative. So what the heck am I trying to say??

You may be able to reminisce about the past.  And in the future, you may be able to revisit. But there will never be another moment exactly like the present. And in every moment, there is something to be grateful for.

IMG_20181010_162134.jpgSo, as a senior wishing I had been more intentional in the past, I’d like to ask you to be intentional now: what do you have right now that you are grateful for? What’s something about school or your job or your friends that you can appreciate right in the present?

I don’t want to devalue your blessings of the past, nor instill a fear of the future–each of those have their own things to be grateful for. However, I want you to appreciate what you have right now (even if your tendency is just to push through the present, to make it to a “better” future) because there will never again be a moment quite like this one.

I appreciate reader comments. What can you appreciate about right now?

The Final Score: We win (holding onto hope)

ian-stauffer-578276-unsplash.jpgI don’t have to know you
Just to know you have been lied to at some point or place
Well, I can relate.
And you’re wondering if it’s worth it. Heartbroken, feeling worthless.
Oh, the hurt is too great
Like a punch in the face…
This goes out to anyone down for the count
It’s not over
Don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel.
Just remember who you belong to
Let me remind you how this ends:
We win
Life is like an adventure novel. There is suspense. Antagonists. Pain. Unknowns.
Because this life is all we’ve ever experienced, it’s very easy to get caught up in it. But if we only look at the here and now, the little section of the timeline that our lives fill, then there is much we miss (see my previous post about ultimately time perspective).
I don’t know where we fit in the grand story line of the universe exactly. However, I know that we are living somewhere before the climax. Which means that we have not yet seen the exciting conclusion. Which means we currently see a lot of heartache and pain and struggle. But that is the way that the build up to the climax goes. Not always woman leaning against wall facing downfun, my dear. However, proper for it’s place in the story line.
I’m not saying the pain is good. I’m not saying we need to enjoy it. I’m not even saying we need to ignore it. In fact, we need to acknowledge our pain. However, if the pain is the only focus of our lives, we have every reason to “throw in the towel.” I mean, life sucks. If this life was all there was, I would’ve given up–ended my life–long ago.
But the good news is that this life and this pain isn’t all there is. Perhaps every character in every adventure novel written was convinced the pain and suffering before the climax was all there was. But for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, we have a completely different story and we already know how it ends. MercyMe put it pretty clearly, friends: “we win.”
For real.
One day we will be living in a world free from sin. Free from pain. We’ll be ecstatically celebrating God’s victory over evil.
We’re clearly not there yet. But in the days where you want to give up, in the hours mohamed-nohassi-229698-unsplash.jpgwhere the tears seem impossible to hide, in the moments where hope seems obsolete, hold tight to the promise from the One who knows: we win. 
It will be okay. Hang in there.
Leave me a comment! How do you remind yourself of the hope that we Christ-followers posses? Do you believe that we win? Do you ever wonder if “it’s worth it”?

Adoration in Prayer: In Awe of God

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Dude, praying is rough. It’s hard to find time, focus, energy. I pray for the same things over and over and over and it’s honestly boring. Praying becomes much more a chore than a conversation between two friends or lovers. It becomes much more a dull duty than an energizing discussion.

But recently I have had some new insights on prayer that have changed my attitude somewhat. The other Sunday while eating lunch at my roommate’s house, we read a devotional blurb encouraging Christians to practice “adoration” in prayers before requesting. What this means is that we should take the first few moments of prayer to recognize who God is and to thank him for his involvement in our lives before throwing requests at him.

Allison.jpgMy roommate and I pray together every night and we gave intentional adoration a shot. It was awkward at first. Like, quite a bit. But after a few weeks of focusing on God before ourselves, I’ve recognized a big difference. When we jump right into prayer requests, the focus is on my problems. To be honest, these kind of prayers are almost more stressful. These prayers are really just lists of the things I’m worried about, and reciting them reignites that fear.

On the other hand, when I start a prayer by praising God for his ultimate wisdom, ultimate goodness, and ultimate control, I have to realize that–no matter how extreme my problems seem–the sky isn’t going to cave in and that (as long as I’m seeking after him), he’s not going to let me wholly screw my life over. This focus helps me to be at peace.

Josh Wilson in his song Blown Away asks:

“When did we get so serious?
Can we just all stop acting unimpressed?
There’s a hundred million miracles in front of us passing by
God open my eyes”

julentto-photography-184055-unsplashEvery day God shows himself in ways that should just floor us–if we weren’t so desensitized by familiarity: colors, weather, flavors, language, textures, emotions, personalities…

I’d like to challenge you to be intentional these next two weeks when you pray. Start by praising God for who he is and take a few moments to recognize his greatness, before word-vomiting your requests. Don’t get me wrong; as I said in a recent post (Begging God for Hamburgers) God loves hearing any and all of your desperate requests. But start by focusing on who God is. Because we serve a pretty darn great God.

Please comment with your thoughts. I love hearing from you 🙂

 

You’re Wrong to Hate Yourself

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I’m a human. So sometimes I make mistakes. I fail. I hate myself. I feel like I’m worthless. In some ways I feel like this perspective is the epitome of humility, of recognizing my smallness before God.

But I’m wrong.

This perspective is actually an extreme offense. To believe that I’m worthless and stupid is to believe that God created a mistake. It’s to believe that God didn’t know what he was doing when he created me. It is to believe that God is so helpless that he can’t overcome my “failures.” To hate myself is to hate a creation of the ultimate Creator. It might feel like I’m being humble, but I’m really just looking at the fully-good, all-knowing, all-powerful, wise Creator and saying, “Yeah, looks like you messed up on that piece of art.”

IMG_20180522_182606897That’s wrong.

God is not dependent on us, so, in one sense, we really can’t ever mess up that badly. Nothing we do will destroy God’s ultimate plan. Therefore, if God created us to glorify him, no matter how far we are from where we should be, we can never be fully worthless or purposeless. God even uses for his glory those who oppose him blatantly. So this means I am inherently valuable. And not only am I, but so is everyone.

The song “Everything Glorious” by David Crowder states, “You make everything glorious, and I am yours. What does that make me?”

At the same time, as counter-intuitive as it might seem, my life is a roller coaster of believing I failed, I messed up, I’m worthless, contrasted by a one-eighty perspective where I believe that I’m the only one who has my life together and that everyone else is failing and stupid.

But God created us in his image. Even though everyone is significantly different, God is so awesome that all of our differences in personality and talents reflect some aspect of him. That adds value to humans–all humans–as well.DSC07571

And God loves his creation. More than we can ever understand. He loves us and he pursues us and he longs for us to be found in him. It hurts God when we sin. Deeply. But he never bats an eye at loving us unconditionally.

If God created each human being with a purpose, as part of his image, and has an everlasting love for each of us, then I am convinced that every single individual matters, has value, and has potential. 

What do you think? Please leave me a comment 🙂

Begging God for Hamburgers: Is this Allowed?

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I like hamburgers.

The pastor at my church spoke last Sunday about prayer. One thing he emphasized is that it’s okay to pray about anything. Granted, God isn’t a vending machine and won’t always give us whatever we ask for, but it is okay to ask. Worried about the big test you haven’t studied at all for? Ask for a good grade. Interested in that guy who sits two seats over in your biology class? Ask for his attention. Really want hamburgers for dinner in the caf this week? Ask for it, and even ask for cheese to put on top! You can talk to God about anything and you can ask for anything. But, don’t let this be the only kind of praying you do.

When we ask for random, desperate things of God, our pastor compared this to kids in a grocery store. Walking through the chip isle, the kiddos beg for Doritos. “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Can we please get Doritos? I haven’t had Doritos in forever!!!” The mother may say yes, the mother may say no. And then when the family walks into the man holding boy's headfrozen food isle, the kiddos shout excitedly, “Hey mom!! Superman ice cream!!! Can we please get Superman ice cream?! That’s our favorite! We don’t get that often!” Again, the mother will say yes or no. Then, at the check out, the children see the chocolate bars. “Oh Mom! Chocolate! You like chocolate! We should maybe get some chocolate! Please?”

So long as the kids don’t throw a fit after they are told “no,” the parents really don’t mind being asked for random, fun things like this. God loves hearing from us. He’s happy to occasionally surprise us with a “yes” when we ask for something that we suddenly really want. But we have to recognize that if this is the only communication we are having with our Father, we’re desperately missing something. No parent only wants to hear from their children when the kiddos want something off the shelf at the grocery store. Instead, the parents also want to hear about their children’s days at school. They want to hear from their kids about their friends. They want to have serious conversations about the kid’s hopes and dreams.

Never feel like you can’t beg God for any and every random thing you want. You can ask for a hamburger. God wants us to come to him in prayer. But don’t ever let this be the only communication you have with God. Share with your heavenly Father your serious, long-term passions and desires. Be persistent in prayer regarding these. Tell him about your day. Your fears. Your aspirations. He wants to be in communication with you. He loves you and wants to hear your deepest desires. Not just your random, sudden cravings for hamburgers 😉

Leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts. What are your experiences with prayer?

What you don’t know about your own life.

IMG_20180822_201315629_HDR-EFFECTS.jpgIt’s crazy how most of us go through life not recognizing some of the most evident things about living. Chances are, there is one really important point about life that you’re missing right now. I mean, if you’re like me, you often go through life focusing on accomplishing the next goal: finding something to eat for dinner, finishing the day at work, finding a summer job, completing a semester, getting a new car, graduating, getting married, having kids, retiring…

Goals are important. Very important. I mean, who wants to end up as a bum? What you don’t shoot for doesn’t just happen. But, at the same time, goals can be blinders. Easily. I can be so focused on graduating and getting a “real” job that I pay no attention to my current dream summer job. I can be so looking forward to having a family of my own that I pay no attention to my siblings around me. I can be so stressed during a semesterdownload of school, that I forget the unique advantages of being a college student. Life is an adventure and we miss the story of it if we skip to the end.

So, what so many people (including myself) don’t recognize about their own lives is that

this is life.

Right here. Right now. This is life; every second you spend right now is part of your life disappearing. If you think your life doesn’t start until you accomplish your goals, you have to realize that you’ll always have unaccomplished goals until the day you die.

So, nope. This is life and you’re living it. Are you appreciating the daily joys? Are you encouraging the people you love? Are you taking in each day aware of the present?

In one sense, this life may just be a preface to a whole bigger picture. There’s an eternity out there that we often forget to pay attention to. But, that does not discredit what we’re living right now. In fact, it makes this preface all the more important because what we do here sets up an entire novel.

I challenge you to live life as if this is life. Because it is. For one week, awake in the morning and take a moment to realize that “This is life.” You don’t have to change anything about your lifestyle. Just recognize that today is part of your life and if you want your life IMG_20180602_155108596_HDRto be purposeful, joyful, and a blessing to others, then that has to start today. Attitude makes as big of a difference as action.

For more reading on this subject, check out “Still waiting for life to start: Finding contentment right now,” because you obviously haven’t heard enough yet 😉