Dust

Today, I opened  Microsoft Excel to do a project and soon found myself weeping angry angry tears on my couch.

It’s just not right.  It’s not right that my Dad isn’t on the other side to be able to call when I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do.  It’s funny how the small things seem to cut the deepest.  You prepare yourself and build up your defenses for the big ones, but the small ones catch you off guard and cut deeply.

I missed being able to call you when I was moving into a new house.  I missed you being here to get everything perfectly set up and organized.  I missed you when I held a baby and rocked him to sleep and thought about what an incredible grandpa you would have been.

Gosh, I hate it.

I hate that there are no answers and only tears and anger and hurt and gaps.

10415577_10152104379956046_6074960842225571581_n

Big giant gaps with your name written all over it that only you know how to fill with your easy going, steadfast, long-suffering presence.  Your presence that carried a peacefulness that put everyone around you at ease, yet you knew that if you needed the slightest thing you would move mountains without asking questions.

Grief doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t make sense that angry tears on a leather couch somehow mean progress.

I’ve found myself questioning and challenging everything I’ve ever believed, shaken to my core, and amidst all of it just missing you, your presence, your voice, and the way you saw and knew me.

Today is the start of November.  Another start to another month of another season that you won’t see and I hate it. I’m tired of trying to tell myself to look at the trees and tell myself that death is beautiful because it isn’t.  It’s painful and heart wrenching and it is a deep soul pain that I have felt in the most real and physical sense.

I wasn’t prepared for this.  Every book I read and movie that I watched was a story that involved some kind of conflict or difficulty or hurt but it always ended in resolution.  No one wants to go watch a story of a broken heart that just stays broken, a losing team that just keeps losing, or a Dad that fights with all of his strength for his life and dies a week later.

I’m tired of the mundane.  I’m tired of the clicks and ticks and noises that remind me that time keeps passing.  I hate the word passed.  I’m tired of telling people that you passed.  You did so much more.  You were so much more that you deserve a bigger and richer word.

I don’t get how to make sense of the lack of resolution, how to find a God that knows all and sees all and is in control of all and loves His children in the greyest of grey areas I have ever known.demolition

Even as the words are being formed from my mind to the tips of my fingers I’m telling myself these thoughts aren’t okay.  It’s not okay to not be okay and we aren’t okay with people that aren’t okay.  We aren’t okay with death, loss, grieving, and feelings.  We’re barely okay with someone responding “okay” instead of good when you ask them how they’re doing in the least sincere way.

But as much as stories with unhappy endings make us angry, we don’t know how to enter into our own, better yet the ones around us.  The loose ends confuse us and make us question what we believe and hold to be true.  So we stay away.

But You know my frame.  You remember that I am only dust.

I read these words in Psalm 103 and was honestly kind of offended at first.  Oh I’m only dust?  I am barely surviving by the 20 minute break that allowed me to rush to Starbucks and get an extra shot in my latte to do all that today asked of me and I’m only dust?!

But I am. I am only dust and the only context that my small, small frame has ever known and felt and believed is dust.  The dust that formed the world around me as You spoke it into existence.  The dust that you took to form a man to use his rib to create the woman who would become the mother of all creation, of all that I know, of all that I’ve loved, of all that I’ve lost.  Dust. 

Its make up makes it seem so very small, so minuscule, so inadequate of grieving, questioning, and beating up against all I have ever known.  But that is the very heart of the problem, that all I have ever known is dust.

But you are a God that knows all and sees all and is in control of all and loves His children enough to believe for them when they don’t have the framework that all we have ever seen and known and held dear is dust.  It’s vanishing, dissolving, frail, and messy.  You see us as the child C. S. Lewis describes satisfied making mud pies because she has never known a holiday at the sea.  You lead us by still waters.  You restore our souls because you have given them glimpses of more than the dust we have known.  Like the little pieces of asphalt that reflect and sparkle the light of the sun.  Amidst our mediocrity and inadequacy there are pieces of something more.

shepherd

So I’m done clinging to the old and the rugged.  I’m holding fast to believing that amidst the grey and the dust and the emptiness and my frailty, You understand that I am only dust.  But you know there is so much more.  And on the other side of dust and limited glimpses is resolution.  And in the dust, You are still creating.

15 books I read in 2015

So I am not really a reader.  It feels really weird for me to review books or to recommend them.  But for those of you who are and are much more faithful to read books even when you aren’t forced to, here are 15 books I read this past year!

(All titles are links to purchase the books on Amazon.  Books sorted in alphabetic order.)

  1. Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected ; Kayla Aimee
    Find my review of Anchored here.Anchored
  2. Cinderella Ate My Daughter ; Peggy Orenstein
    I will admit, I had to read this for a class or probably never would have unless I somehow came across the sparkly cover.  There were parts of this book I hated and a few when I was really discouraged, but seeing this book through the eyes of a mom who  is concerned about the world her daughter is growing up in is so beneficial.  Great book for anyone interested in thinking about “girlhood” in a new light. Cinderella Ate my daughter
  3. Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer ; Priscilla Shirer

    Find my review of Fervent here.
    Fervent

  4. Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls–Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins ; Leonard Sax
    This book also falls into the category of books I had to read for class, but I am so thankful I did.  Dr. Sax writes this book both for parents and for any helping professionals who work with girls (e.g. teachers, pastors, counselors, etc.).  What I love about this book is that Dr. Sax not only elaborates on problems in girl world, he also offers solutions.
    girls on the edge
  5. Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have; Annie Downs
    (Taken from my RESOURCES page)
    So I kind of had a girl crush on Annie when I listened to a sermon by her on singleness and found her at a conference in Nashville, TN. We talked about nail polish and she was super cool so I bought her book.  I am not the type to read a book all the way through in anything shorter than a couple years (if I ever finish), but I read this one in a month.  I felt like I was sitting and having coffee with Annie throughout every chapter.  It’s great. Read it.
    LABB
  6. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World ; Bob Goff
    Where do I begin? I had this book for a long time and knew I needed to read it then finally did and I only wished I had read it sooner.  Bob Goff’s story is so cool, but hearing the lessons that he has learned throughout his life was both fun and inspiring.  Just read it, okay?
    Love Does
  7. Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus ; Tindell Baldwin
    I’ll admit, I was skeptical about this one, as I am about any thing with the subtitle “Boys, Booze, and Jesus”.  Tindell Baldwin is Kristian Stanfill’s (Vocalist and Guitarist, Passion Band) sister, who had a hard time growing up in his shadow or her family’s shadow in general.  In this book, she shares her experience of choosing boys, choosing booze, and eventually choosing Jesus.  We used this book for my high school girls’ small group and while they weren’t the best about reading it (surprise, surprise ;), Tindell’s vulnerability in this book lead to great and authentic discussions.  Also, she’s agreed to meet with us in March so STAY TUNED!
    POPULAR
  8. Salvaging My Identity ; Jennifer Mills & Rachel Lovingood
    My focus this summer was on Identity in Christ so I was on the lookout for any and all resources.  I loved the simplicity of this book that spoke to me at a 8th grade girl level (I feel so understood there). I also loved the format that was only 2-4 pages and an easy yet encouraging way to start my day! I sent this to all my middle school girl small group moms as a good read for middle school girls over the summer!
    Salvaging my identity
  9. So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids ; Diane Levin
    This also falls in the category of a book for class, but don’t lose sight there!  This book was extremely eye-opening but also frightening as I saw the rampant effects of hyper sexualization in children, 7 years ago, not to mention the rampant effects today. If you have a kid, work with kids, or know a kid, I would read this. But, be aware, you will get weird looks in coffee shops.
    SSSS
  10. The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance ; John Trent & Gary Smalley 
    I was a little hesitant to share this one, but the message and understanding of the importance of unconditional love from parents is so good. If you work with anyone who tells you about things they’re struggling with, this book provides a great lens of understanding the roles parents sometimes play in those scars.
    The blessing
  11. The Elements of Counseling ; Scott Meier & Susan Davis
    Good bookshelf book for anyone working in the counseling realm.
    Counseling
  12. The Four Loves ; C.S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis unpacks the 4 types of love in Greek that are used in the New Testament.  He simplifies huge ideas with lots of fun stories along the way.
    4 loves
  13. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming ; Henri Nouwen
    I think the Prodigal Son is a story I could read every day and get something new out of it every time.  This narrative is all about Nowen’s interaction with Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son and highlights so many perspectives through which to interact with the grace of the Father in this parable.
    Prodigal
  14. The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures and Conflicting Expectations ; Stephen Hinshaw 
    This book explains and summarizes so well the challenges of girl world, but is written like a Psychology paper and can be kind of hard to get through.
    triple bind
  15. Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ ; Mark Driscoll
    As far as Identity in Christ resources go, I really enjoyed how this book and sermon series discuss Identity in Christ based on the book of Ephesians.
    WYTYA


    What’s your favorite book you read this year?