Why does God have to pull “Aladdin” moments?

I love when things go perfectly ( aka perfectly my way). Don’t try to deny it, you do too.

Oscar Wilde might have said that “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”….but reallyyy, is he one to talk? Looking back, there have been things (and relationships, let’s be honest) I’m so glad didn’t work out but that’s hindsight, y’all. When you’re in the moment and you have a “perfect vision” of what you want, it’s really hard to give it all up. 

So I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like when God pulls an “Aladdin.” No, He doesn’t turn me from a street urchin into a princess or even give me a pet monkey (I would definitely prefer a pet raccoon a la “Pocahontas,” hope you all are taking notes on this); I’m talking about those really annoying moments when God interrupts and stops me from doing my own thing with my own (perfectly arranged) timeline and asks “Do you trust me?”


I mean…yes? No? Mostly yes? Soft no?

I DO trust God. He has been so faithful to me and He really, really loves me a lot. I have a million examples of the Lord’s goodness in my life. His plans always end up blowing mine out of the water. But…waiting for them to happen is hard.

It’s hard to trust God when you feel lonely. Or if your plan seems like the best/only option you can see. Or if you’re tired of waiting around. (Or if you’re turning 23 soon and could’ve SWORN things would be different by now.)

Habakkuk 2:3 reminds me to be a tad more patient: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Unfortunately God’s timing isn’t like a 30 minute sitcom, where the problem is neatly solved by the third commercial break. 

And you know how I feel about answers: I hate writing something that addresses an issue yet isn’t practically seeking out answers. I think Psalms 37:3, the verse right before the frequently quoted (and hard to define) “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”, really does help: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” 

Befriend Faithfulness: I love this wording (ESV y’all.) I want to be faithful in the little tiny things, so God can entrust me to be faithful in the BIG stuff. And you know, maybe that’s why God tells us (okay, ME) no & asks me to trust Him and wait.

Maybe I’m not ready yet…but I’m almost there (hopefully. Dang.)

Life’s Too Short to Save Soap

Sometimes, I’m a hoarder.

Moving has unearthed all the little things I’ve collected for memory’s sake: soaps from places I’ve stayed at (I was convinced in the power of olfactory memory, but unfortunately time has made that one soap from Italy and the other from Cambridge smell pretty much the same to me), notes from junior year of high school, old photos, and tons & tons of books.

What am I saving things for? What’s the point?

Life is so very short and precious. I hope this never becomes a stale sentiment to me, for the reminders of this fact tend to be brutal and lachrymose. A young death, a family tragedy, a crippling disability–all tend to illuminate this fact.

I want to start really living. We cannot anticipate nostalgia, so why relegate entire sections of our lives to a “story” that may or may not happen? That’s a half-life full of cautiously walking on eggshells and perfectly arranging the subconscious parameters of your personality & behavior to modify how you would like your “story” to turn out.

All this time I was misinterpreting the Donald Miller-ian ” live like your life is a story you’d want to read” idea to be void of unforeseen circumstances, but rather a paradigm that guaranteed the colorful, adventurous life good stories are made from.

But no.

Sometimes, (pardon my French) shit happens. I did not plan to break my foot (and possibly be limited in certain mobility for a very long time, an altogether terrifying idea). I did not plan to move to Pennsylvania. I did not plan to be living with my family.

One must live NOW. I cannot live a half-life until my circumstances improve & expect everything to magically become perfect then.

I guess what I’m attempting to say is this: Use those old soaps from hotels, pursue that dream that makes you happy, talk to that person who you secretly love, travel, run a half-marathon. Do these things now, because there is no guarantee the same opportunities will wait for you.

[tl;dr Don’t anticipate nostalgia. Go live.]

Over-thinking Adulthood

I think one of the biggest hurdles I need to overcome in this whole “You’re now a person with a college degree & no set future plans” state (sometimes also referred to as adulthood) is the crippling fear of making one mistake that ruins everything. So often, well meaning articles online or former professors have told me that the next few years determine the rest of your life (or something). 

That. Is. Terrifying. 

I always interpret that to mean something like “If you don’t make exactly the right decision(s) while 22-25, have fun being stuck as a washed up nobody for the rest of your life.” I’ve always been hyper-aware/fearful of the possibility of settling, but I’ve so fervently tried to fight against it–despite never truly understanding my actions. In my battle to live without regrets, I live a half-life, too full of my overactive mind and burdened by the pressure of being essentially perfect.

But in a rambling sort of way, today I want to kill that lie. 

The choices I make today are important, but just as important as the ones I made at 17 or will make at 43. Life is too full of grace & second chances to ever be just one linear path. And I don’t think I believe in that anyways–God has everything planned out, but I really doubt it’s a straight line. I think life’s a lot more rambling and messy. Or maybe life’s more like Russian nesting dolls–the experiences and stories you live now add more depth to your life, building more on who you were made to be. 

The pressure of putting the fate of entire life on my 22 year old shoulders is a little too much to bear. I mean, the Sistine Chapel wasn’t built in a day. The story of my life cannot be figured out (or written) in one sitting (no matter how much I try to solve the puzzle.) 

Making unemployment…FUNEMPLOYMENT (and other lies I tell myself)

I’m back from my self-inflicted writer’s block hiatus! One thing I realized during is that I don’t really talk too much about IRL personal stuff on my blog. Generally, I’m a pretty private person, which oddly enough, surprises a lot of people (somehow I have this weird reputation for talking a lot? Nooooo idea where that came from).

But you know when you reach a point when you’re just like “Screw it, I have zero inhibitions anymore?” Yeah. Hi. I’m there.

Postgrad life has been ROUGH the past four months. To everyone still in college reading this, I’m not going to sugarcoat this: It’s hard for everyone I know, even the ones who have found a job by now. It’s been increasingly humbling, as I went from being a big deal* at a small school (*perceived, at least) to being a small nobody in a big city.  Although this is technically a “gap year,” I’m really not sure about anything beyond the end of the week. I know I want to go to grad school, but I’m trusting God to show me the direction to take (law, economics, strategic communications). I know I’ll eventually go somewhere because I don’t think I’d be satisfied with just a BA. My parents are moving out of state in December, to a place I don’t feel is right for me. So, I’m staying here (I think) and praying & trusting God to provide a full-time job for me here…or wherever else…until I figure out grad school.

This season is THE definition of wilderness for me. But I know God’s got me. “Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” (Micah 7:8)

So anyways, I was watching  the documentary “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” yesterday and actually felt really inspired. (Encouragement always comes from the unlikeliest of places!)  (Backstory: in 2009, Conan replaced Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, was dismally screwed over in contract, and ultimately forced to leave and not appear on TV or the internet for 6 months (which, if your job is as a TV entertainer, that’s a bit difficult). Conan’s a really intelligent, driven perfectionist & instead makes those 6 months into a 45 city comedy tour.) 

Strangely enough, watching Conan keep going through his “wilderness” time was really inspiring. When you love something and possess that talent, no matter what happens along the way, YOU DON’T STOP.  Don’t stop learning, don’t stop writing, don’t stop creating. When there’s opposition, you know you’re in the right place & doing the right thing.

This is all advice I’m giving to myself at the same time, so you don’t have to take it, but if you’re in a wilderness time too, a period of life where everything feels so dark and unknown that all you want to do is marathon episodes of British TV shows, DON’T STOP MOVING FORWARD. Don’t let the feelings of stagnation choke you into mediocrity. You have a gift. You have talent. You have purpose. Don’t let this dark time define you.

-Learn a new language!

-Watch awesome TED talks or interesting documentaries!

-Develop a new skill (like for me: coding or photoshop skills)

-Travel on a budget!

-Read more!

-Listen to insightful podcasts!

-Get a fun part-time job!

-Join a volunteer organization (like End Slavery TN/wherever state)

-Get involved with your church/find a church!

-Train for a cool physical activity (I’m training for a half-marathon!)

-Start your own blog!

Most of all, keep going! We’re in this together.

Aging Gracefully on Social Media

Good old days in my youth group...

Good old days in my youth group…

Taken in 2006 but tagged March 2007, this picture is the oldest tagged photo of me on Facebook. I’m with my childhood best friend Missie at our youth group’s summer beach retreat (yes, we were a posh megachurch. Our camps were at a resort) theme night.

I’ve been involved with Facebook for over seven years now, which is absolutely mind-blowing to me. That’s longer than I’ve EVER lived in one place (my family moved often), but hey, at least my little corner of Facebook’s been the same!

I jumped on board with Twitter in 2009, hated it, and then became addicted in 2010. Instagram I got in 2011 and have since deleted (as of this past June). I was crazy about Pinterest in fall 2011 but then got extremely tired of it three months later. Etc, etc, etc for all the other social media things. I try the new fads and then get over them.

Now, I’m a freelancing social media specialist and make money maintaining brands’ social media and connection to fan base. I get paid to write Facebook statuses, y’all. I CAN NEVER GET AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA.

This summer, my life has slowed down tremendously. I mean, when you go from traveling to 9 European countries in three months to considering traveling to Cleveland, TN exotic, what can you expect? And I’m not going to lie: social media has not helped.  It was hard to see everyone doing super awesome things in beautifully edited/filtered pictures in a constant stream. I felt really lame and hated that I was comparing myself, so I just eliminated that negative energy source(I’ve been going to yoga, can you tell?), aka Instagram. And I don’t miss it one bit! (I can’t delete my Facebook sadly, as it’s linked to my work accounts & I actually like Twitter.)

As I was despairing over how boring I thought my life was, my friend Katie reminded me of an incredible social media truth: People just share highlights! They’re not going to take a picture of normal life activities like sitting on the couch watching yet another marathon of Parks & Rec or practicing their best musical theater numbers in pajamas.

There’s no such thing as boring! Chances are that if you’re not sharing your ” life highlights” on Facebook, it’s because you’re too busy actually ENJOYING them and dare I say it: living!

I think that aging gracefully on social media means no longer feeling the compulsion to overshare. You don’t need to say where you are or who you’re with all the time because… honestly, who cares? Unless you’re Facebook friends with your future biographer or an obsessive stalker, nobody actually wants to know that much about your life.  Aging gracefully with social media encourages sharing fact rather than opinion.

Maybe you don’t buy this theory, which is totally okay. But if and when (because it will happen. Life isn’t a constant semester abroad in Europe.), you feel like a boring old person without awesome highlights, remember that you’re in control of that. If you feel the need to let all 8463 of your online friends know that you just went to dinner with Ursula or went on a run (and here are my shoes!), do it!

But if you want to maybe grow up a bit, remember that you’re the one who runs your accounts…not the other way around.

The buzz on alcohol (and other horrible puns) PART II

So, a couple of weeks ago I posted part one of my journey and thoughts regarding drinking. To recap, basically I was an extremely judgmental elitist who wasted a lot of energy on a subject which wasn’t half as big of a deal as I made it out to be.

Everyone was so kind in their comments and responses! I’m glad that my little thoughts were of good use. There’s nothing quite as powerful as hearing someone else say “Me too–I struggled with that also!” to feel community and support. (Looooove it!)

Without further hesitation, here’s part two, or “Get out of your house!”  Continue reading

“I choose to risk my significance”

Well, hey y’all! I just got back from a “Sabbatical” in Dallas and it sure was wonderful! I stayed away from my phone and social media to just really be present and soak up whatever I felt like God wanted me to hear! And it rocked. Naturally. I mean, you might argue that sabbaticals belong only to old men pastors but you’ve OBVIOUSLY never taken a sabbatical yourself. It’s scary to be quiet and still–you don’t know what you might hear in the void. But I promise it’s worth it.

One thing I found this week was a poem that has completely shocked my senses. These few lines are exactly what I need to hear on a daily basis.

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

-dawn markova