Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Very Thing...

Earlier today I talked with one of my best friends for awhile...our conversations are always such a fun blessing! She's seriously dating someone, and she said that he mentioned for the first time the "M" which I responded, "Is that 'M' for Monkey or Movie or Mustard...?"

What an amazing feeling it is when someone you love so much might have just found that one person that they will be with till death doth part them. This man wants to marry my friend, or is at least thinking about it, and I love that. She is so worth it! She is a godly, kind, funny, beautiful, sweet, sensitive, loving, talented girl, and its about time that someone noticed those things and fell head over heels for her. He better treasure her...that's all I'm she is priceless.

So if this friend gets married, then there are only a handful of single girls left in my life...well, that are my age. Its funny how the Lord works sometimes, because being single is not easy, especially when you are 26...but I am so thankful that its me that bears that load and not the other girls in my life. let it be me that deals with nights by myself and loneliness and questions. Not that my friends aren't strong enough, but I wouldn't wish the sometimes all-consuming feeling of being alone on them for anything. They don't deserve that, and God, thank you for protecting them!

Some days I'm so thankful that I'm single...other days it totally sucks and I wonder if it'll ever feel better and if God's purposes are being fulfilled in me despite the emotional chaos I sometimes feel.

It makes me wonder why I long to be married at all. I mean, you hear about how hard it is, and how the honeymoon ends, and how its work work work, and that its not always the answer to your problems and what not...and the divorce rate is sky high so apparently people give up on marriage as quickly as they jump into it. Marriage doesn't have the best PR right now...

Still, despite all the warnings, why do we want to be married? I think there are two reasons. One I heard on a movie where a married woman says that people get married because they need a witness to their lives. What a lovely thing to say. Its so true...we want someone to tell our day to, who we can be our complete selves around, who we trust to love us in good and bad.

But that, then, begs the question as to why we want these things? And therein lies the second reason...because we were created to want these things. Maybe the Lord made us to want a loving, loyal witness to show us that this is His heart. Maybe marriage and the desire for it is a picture of God's desire for His relationship with us individually and with the Church. I think John Elderigde is right when he talks about God as the great pursuer--the one who woos us and romances us into His arms.

So when things start to get hard as a single girl in a world of "marrieds", when girls talk about their husbands (does he have a name?) and their babies and their wonderful married lives, instead of bumming out, I smile to myself and remember that the Lord is my pursuer and my great romance...maybe one day He'll let someone else work with Him in that, but for now, I'll hide in His arms. Sometimes I might cry there, but mostly I just rest...He knows just what I need.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


In the Dallas Museam of Art hangs my favorite painting--a huge landscape depicting the far north, complete with cliffs, the cold sea, and icebergs, from where this work derived its title. If you sit and stare at the painting, scenes start to emerge from the rocks and ice--faces in great agony, screaming for help--longing for someone to notice them in their pain. The artist put them there, hidden beneath layers of ice and paint, frozen forever in time. This painting inspired the following short poem. I hope you like it...


Beneath ice painted layers hide faces that cry
To be seen, to be loved, to be…

Treasures so missed for the beauty outside
They beg down to die, to be free

Trapped in alone that stifles their eyes
To dreams and crevasses they hold

And wonder aloud if any will see
To discover their story untold

Remembered by One that’s love in disguise
Who breathes fair upon frozen skin

And touches their tears that flow under ice,
They begin to again heal within

Through crying cold nights a new treasure they find
A joy they could never foresee

Still, a face buried deep that so wants to be seen
A face that’s a face—that’s me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Expert

Do you ever just need to hear the words of someone who really knows what they are talking about? Like if you have a dinner to cook, look to Martha Stewart...I mean, sure, she's a criminal and has a reputation of being not the nicest person in the world, but she's the expert in home and garden, and people listen. In fact, they can't get enough! Or this guy I saw on Oprah a few days ago who read the entire encyclopedia, and seemingly retained it all. He knew everything about anything--it was crazy, and I just sat there, riveted by his knowledge. I mean, who knew that the average person loses 50,000 brain cells every day after the age of 25? We watch Sports Center because those guys know their stuff, and they are hysterical...we read magazines and books where the experts weigh in on workouts, diets, fashion, merchandise, music, movies, trends, stats, economics, politics, religion...etc, etc, etc. Just today I stood in line at Target and flipped through a magazine where the fashion people gave their opinion on celebrity style, and I totally took mental notes.

They're the experts, right? They talk and talk and spout off their opinions, for good or ill...and we listen. We soak it up. We wear the cool jeans and buy the right car and go to that movie because it got two thumbs up.

As much as I like hearing the experts (except Martha...I kind of think she's boring...), there are times when their advice seems so...lacking. Honestly, if someone can talk about the right jean for your body for over an hour, they really need to expand their spectrum of knowledge. And as much as I love Sports Center (really love it), on a worldwide scale, what these folks say really does not matter all that much. They aren't talking life and death, love and passion, kings and servants, wars and worship...and I find myself wishing someone would.

Why do I feel like that? Why isn't the expert advice enough? I think its because I'm not willing to die for a pair of jeans or a particular sports team, though sometimes I think some fans might (have you been to a State-Carolina game?). None of these things make me cry or make me stand in awe. They always fail me eventually--jeans wear out, teams lose, casseroles burn--things fall apart, no matter what the experts say.

And when I find myself wanting to shut the experts off because they start to seem petty or pointless or just too small for what I really am longing for...that's when I read the words of Jesus. Literally...I open the New Testament, find a gospel (there are a whopping 4 to choose from) and I read about Jesus and what He said.

The funny thing is that what He says and what He does--they seem big. They pertain to people's lives, to people's belief, to communities, to nations, to the world. From the children He embraced to the Rabbis He rebuked to the leaders He confronted, Jesus was one expert that did not lack. Things with Him didn't fall apart. Well, it might have seemed like it at one point, but that all came together in the end. His words and actions have worldwide consequences--its a story far bigger than me, my wardrobe, and my team.

Its a story that might just be worth buying in to, even dying for, because its full of those things that, I think, most people really long for--passion, love, intrigue, death, life, battle, worship, sacrifice, a King, His kingdom (it even has a white horse...), and His people. It transcends language and culture and time. It is far bigger than the weekend wrap-up or a fashion emergency.

So if you find yourself wondering why the experts suddenly seem so silly (who made these rules anyway?), maybe you could see what this other expert said. I promise, He doesn't talk about jeans or teams or cooking or celebrity fashion faux paus. His talk goes far deeper. If you want it, its there. If you aren't quite ready, that's ok. It'll be waiting...

Monday, September 25, 2006

No more in darkness

When I was younger, I was so afraid of the dark...In fact, I would go into my little sister's room every night, counting on her to protect me with her crazy fierceness. I mean, what monster or alien or intruder wouldn't run, screaming for the hills at the sight of a roly poly 8 year old whose skill in battle was honed over years of playing cello, reading Laura Ingles, and singing in the shower. Terrifying, really...?

All I truly wanted was to not wonder what every bump or scratch or creak might be. I wanted someone to tell me that everything was ok...that I was safe. Maybe that's why little girls love their daddy's...because if they are good dads, then they become our protector, our hero, our savior. They can slay monsters and run off intruders. They draw us close and keep us. To be a little girl in your daddy's arms...

There was such a girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old, last week at the Drip who sat in her dad's lap as he told her a story. She snuggled there, riveted by him, hanging on every word, sucking her thumb in complete peace.

It was a lovely picture of what I long for with the draw near, riveted by Him, hanging on His every word, in complete peace.

I remember during a particularly tumultuous time in my life, I lay in my bed and sobbed...It is Well with My Soul played in the background. At that moment, I truly felt that I was under His wings, close to His heart. I was safe.

When my faith fails and the dark becomes frightening again, the Lord, in great grace and faithfulness, still welcomes me back with strong arms.

He is God, and He, oddly enough, longs to hold us in those arms. He longs to hide us beneath His wings. He longs to be our refuge. When the world is shaken and nothing stands, I will run into Your hands...O that He might be the one we hold to as our protector, our hero, our Savior. His love is great, and love never Him, the dark isn't dark anymore.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Short poem #1

Forsaking a lifetime of plunder
As I leap and fly off my throne
And tasting the glorious wonder
Tumble into the sweetest unknown

Fear, though belied and unchanging
No longer entangles my feet
I see all my self rearranging
And fear, running scared, in retreat

For love is the fiercest protector
And love is the kindest refrain
Tasting of manna and nectar
It will always, and always, remain.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Romance

Some of you know that I'm slightly obsessed with Sex and the City...for those of you that don't, well, I am...and though it can be a little crass at times, it is filled with real life truth experienced by anyone whose been in any sort of meaningful relationship, romantic or not.

Anyway, this post isn't about why I like the show...its about a song I heard in the last episode of the final season. Just as that episode captured the beauty of love realized, this song moved me to tears. I watched that part of the show like, 10 times.

Now, I know that I write often about the words in songs and how they speak to me. No such luck this time being that the artist is a French rapper and I am just a lowly American who can sort of crank out some Spanish. But I know that there is something in his music that moves me, transcending language. In fact I'm listening to him right now.

This happened again just a few weeks ago. I was driving back to Asheville from Apex and I stumbled across a radio station that played some local folk music. This one song struck me and, of course, I cried. This guy, Malcolm Holcombe, sang a dear song, and I loved his lyrics, but it wasn't the words that got was the sadness in his voice. It was just that honest, and I wanted to be his friend.

I sat outside a few nights ago with a friend of mine on a stone wall, just outside a little chapel. It was chilly and the stars were out. We just talked and God was with us, somehow, and I think we both knew it.

Earlier that day I sat on the front porch of the house where I live, surrounded by trees and birds and mountains, and I rocked. I also read some Psalms.

Last night I went to a contra dance, and I'll be the first to admit its a hot time. People swirl and swing and sweat, laughing as they stare into their partner's eyes. Bodies are everywhere, together, dancing beautifully. No one wants the night to end.

I drove in to Black Mountain tonight in a soft rain. It was just light enough to see the peaks, and only the peaks, as the fog moved mountains floating on a misty sea.

A new song, one by Josh Groban called Alle Luce del Sole, just started as I sit here in the Dripolater. This word...I always say its what falling in love should be...passionate, desperate, almost despairing, hopeful, lovely. In fact, I'm going to listen to it again.

These things that I write about, these moments in my day--that's all they are, really, just moments--they matter. They are glimpses of beauty and longing and honesty, and they make my day. Its amazing how a conversation or a song or a view can make my day.
Its the Romance...that sweet Romance that is the Lord's generosity, the Lord's faithfulness, the Lord fingerprint on this world. Without Him there wouldn't be songs that make you ache. There wouldn't be talks that go far deeper than comments on the weather. There wouldn't be lovely days or chilly nights. There wouldn't be anything good. The Romance wouldn't even be an idea.

But it is an idea, and more than an idea, and we all know it. We know what it feels like to stand in awe or be moved by a sad voice. We want to love and be loved. We want to share our lives with others, whether we want to admit it or not. We want to stop and smell the flowers and hold someone's hand, just because.

And so, to the Lord I offer thanks...thank you for the Romance. Thank you for tastes of goodness and sweetness. Thank you for songs and music and mountains and dancing that, if we really think about it, point to You. Thank you for friends that encourage us in You. Thank you for people who love us--You are in that too. And thank you that even in the hard things, the suffering, the grief, the Romance can come and sweep us away. You are our comforter and our peace. Your eyes are on the nations, and your eyes are on us. Please God, never look away. Keep us, dear Lord, as You've wooed us to yourself, and continue to fill our days with the Romance, for it is sweet...

The return

Do you have a person in your life that you always call and tell your day you can burp and poot in front of and its not who gets your jokes and loves your style and would tell you, "I'm sorry darlin, but yes those pants make you look fat," and you're ok with that? For some people it may be their spouse or their mom or their college roommate...for me its my sister. My dear, dear, DEAR Connie.

She got back to the States yesterday after spending 5 weeks in Guatemala learning Spanish and soaking up the culture. Now, as amazing as this expierence was for her, and as excited I was that she got to go, I don't ever want her to leave the US without me again! I could not believe how much I missed her. I mean, we usually talk everyday, and I think we spoke 5 times in the last 5 weeks, and that was usually with a difficult connection and it was a hurried conversation. I hate hurried conversations! We did email, but hearing Connie laugh is just about the best thing ever. And as much as I loved hearing about her crazy experiences, the longing in my heart to be experiencing those with her drove me nuts. Maybe I'm being selfish, but I'm also being honest, right?

So yesterday I was eating lunch and my phone beeped...the message said "SIS", something it hasn't said in ages, and I just about fell out of my chair. She was in the States and able to call me from her very own cell phone, and we're on the family plan so we can talk for hours and no one cares. Thank the Lord my sister is home! She got back to Raleigh last night and went out for Indian food with Justin (her man) and Mom (yeah, I was a little jealous about that too...I ate cold, leftover Spaghetti...). Regardless, Connie, I'm so glad you are back, and though I love that you go for the adventure, I love when you are home too. Hurry on up to Asheville, my dear, ok?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Where are you?

Tommy Nelson told a story years ago at a Conference that I attended, and I remember it, nearly word for word, and I'd like to share it with you. Apparently the former president of a big and thriving ministry raised a "rebellious son". When his son finally straightened out, he was tragically killed in a car accident. The man was heartbroken, and in a desperate moment of grief he cried out, "Lord, I take better care of Your children than you do of mine. Where were you when my son died?" The Lord answered, "The same place I was when My son died." In that statement was peace for this man.

I remember this story so often because so often really really bad things happen...things like divorce, death, rape, depression, cancer, and even things that sound innocuous but can be devastating, like lonelineness or stress or fear. These things shock and beat down and paralyze, leaving a person stranded, naked on the floor in that strange silence that resounds with screams and wails. Its awful...and its not uncommon.

People ask, "Where is God?" or "Why did He let this happen?" "How can He be loving and let me hurt so badly?" When I think about these questions, I usually don't have a good answer to them. I know that God is there and that His eyes are on the nations, so He sees. I know that He can be trusted even if it seems like He's playing Russian Roulette with your life...He's pretty wild a lot of the time, but He's good...He's always good. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Maybe the crazy King David, who surely had every reason to wonder what in the world God was thinking, said it best in a song he wrote...

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up
My eyes are not raised too high for Thee
I do not think on things too great or marvelous
Or matters too difficult for me
But I have calmed and quieted my soul
Like a weened child is my soul within me
But I have calmed and quieted my soul

Like a weened child with its mother is my soul within me.

O Israel, trust in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.

Not having any children of my own, my closest image of a weened child with its mother is when horse breeders ween their foals. The babies are separated from the mares and placed in their own stall or pasture, and for hours, even days, they will pace and cry and scream for their mothers. All they want is to be together again, safe and secure at their mother's side.

And David understood that when things got too hard and the questions he was asking would only make him crazy, he trusted the Lord, and drew near, and found a baby finds peace with its mother, so David found it in the Lord. Now I'm not saying don't ask the questions or seek the answers. I am saying that some of the questions will remain unanswered for a long time because only the Lord why He does some of that which He does. And when you can't handle things anymore, and when really really bad things happen, picture our Father as a mother, and find peace there. Find peace there.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"I'll be waiting"

A friend of my roommate during seminary got married after a lot of "should I/shouldn't I" drama that took its toll on her and the man that so desperately wanted her to say "I do". When she finally made her decision on the morning of the wedding (no kidding), she requested a particular song to play as she walked down the aisle. My roommate, Jenny, who was in charge of the music that day, came home, played me the song, and we both wept. Though it wasn't a new song for me, its ability to cut to the deepest desire of my heart remained as sharp then as it had the first time I heard it.

I heard it again today on a mix CD that showed up in my car, and of course, it brought me to tears once again. The singer/songwriter, Tracy Chapman, captures the fear, sadness, joy, and hope wrapped in the promise of the promise that someone makes to always be there waiting for you, to hold you and keep you close and safe.

If you wait for me then I'll come for you
Although I've traveled far
I always hold a place for you in my heart
If you think of me
If you miss me once in awhile
Then I'll return to you
I'll return and fill that space in your heart
Remembering Your touch
Your kiss
Your warm embrace
I'll find my way back to you
If you'll be waiting
If you dream of me like I dream of you
In a place that's warm and dark
In a place where I can feel the beating of your heart

My Jenny and I cried that night, I think, because both of us, deep down, want someone to say to us, "Yes, I think of you. Yes, I miss you when you are gone. Yes, I dream of you, and I'll be waiting. Come home." Maybe its the cry most girl's hearts, or everyone's heart, though a lot guys might not admit it. I'm not sure about that, but I know that just about every girl in my life desires with every fiber of her being for someone to think on her like this.

And when that doesn't happen, she wonders why. She wonders whats wrong with her. She wonders what those other girls have that she doesn't. She wonders if there is anything in her that is desirable, that could be valued and considered precious. She wonders if she'll be alone forever. Even the most confident and secure girls struggle with these questions and with the emotion they carry. That's one of the reasons we tend to cry a lot.

What's amazing is that these desires, I think, are from the Lord...that He made us girls to want, maybe even need, someone to say these things to us. And what's even more amazing is that when all the men in our lives are silent, and when we're alone at home night after night, and when all our friends are getting married, and when the questions are screaming in our heads, our Father in heaven has His eyes on us. He rejoices over us with singing. He comes to us and whispers, like a gentle breeze. He says to His daughters, "Yes, I think of you. Yes, I miss you when you are gone. Yes, I dream of you, and I'll be waiting. Come home."

And just then, that's enough...

Monday, September 18, 2006

A quick pic...not all too recent but close enough...


I got a phone call from this guy, Jazz, yesterday that I have to tell you about. He left me a message that went a little something like this. "KATIE CARRINGER! I was in church when you called...we started at 2:00 and worshipped for 2 hours! I had to leave early at 4:00, and the praise was just ending! IT WAS AWESOME!!!" What a great message...seriously.

Jazz leads worship at Montreat College's FCA every Sunday night. Well, let me rephrase that. Jazz is the lead worshipper at Montreat College's FCA every Sunday night. He sits at the piano, closes his eyes, and what happens next is the closest thing to magic that I've ever experienced. With a gentleness that belies his "other" career as a baller for Montreat, he plays, and with great humility and honesty, he sings, and with sincere passion, he worships a God so far from himself, yet so close that this desire to join in worship invades the room, like a thick fog that each person fearlessly loses themselves in.

Jazz gets it. He gets that the Lord is far bigger than even the biggest idea our minds can consider. He gets that bringing honest worship to the Lord means coming as himself, without pretext or pride or position. He gets that worship doesn't begin with the first note of a song but is everything leading up to that and everything extending past the final chord. Jazz gets it, and its contagious. When a guy like Jazz--who has every right to kind of consider himself "the man"--can come before the Lord and publically ask God to purify his heart, that is humility. When he can say that the Lord is his heart's one desire, that is love. When his face is alight with the glory of the Lord, that is authenticity. When he can sing at the top of his lungs, "High King of heaven, my victory won, may I reach heaven's joy, O bright heaven's Son, heart of my own heart whatever befall, still be my vision O Ruler of all," that is passion.

And its catching...

Its a passion that somehow connects the desire of a person's heart to the reality and promise found in Jesus. Its a passion that is sweet--that stays on the tip of your tongue long after a meal ends. Though it doesn't ignore emotion, its something far greater that embraces and then transcends a feeling. It comes close to satisfying, but always leaves you wanting more because it reveals that there is more to be had. This is a passion that will effect change, that will help restore the reputation of God, that will move the church forward into all her glory. Its a passion that is so far removed from a person's own name, renown, and reputation that is can only be a passion imparted by the Lord's great grace.

So my prayer today is that God would grant a great number of people such grace, that they might discover a passion for Him second to none and totally unique to them individually--an "authentic passion," I reckon, is a good name for that. And I pray, too, that the Lord would use this passion--this willingness to represent even unto death--to bring His kingdom to earth. That He would help us to love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly with Him for His name's sake and for the good of all people.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Capacity to Hurt

Several years ago, when I was a freshman in college, my second week there I kissed a boy. In fact, I spent the night at his house and slept in his bed. All we did was kiss, and I told him straight up that I wouldn't sleep with him. He never called me again.

Last night, as I sat at Barley's with two friends, one old and one new, I saw that guy--the one who didn't call--and to my surprise, it still stung. Now, I hadn't thought of him for YEARS (yes, its been awhile since I was a freshman), and I remembered that it hurt when he didn't call.

Earlier this year I started dating a great guy, and I sort of dropped out of another friend's life, something I swore wouldn't happen but sure as salt did. This friend confronted me one night at church, with love and courage, and asked me what happened...where I'd been. He told me he was hurt and angry that I'd disappeared. I had hurt someone...not the first person or the last person, but perhaps one of the most precious. I realized so fully at that moment that I had the power to hurt and bring destruction in someone's life. How awful, how true, how unavoidable.

I hate it that I have and will hurt people. I hate it because I know what it feels like to hurt. I know what it feels like to be betrayed and ignored and forgotten and invisible. How could I do that to someone? But I have. How can I put a person through that terribleness that I've known as well? But I do...and I'm sorry.

The ugly selfishness that wields its way from my heart into someone else's reality is awful and wretched. But praise God that He is gracious to His children. With Him there is forgiveness--forgiveness available for the one doing damage, and the ability to forgive for the one who is damaged. My friend, the one that I hurt earlier this year, forgave me and accepted me back. What an amazing thing. He wasn't bitter or angry or disappointed after we spoke. He was himself, and he welcomed me to be myself as well. In a picture of grace, he forgot about my sin.

"With You there is forgiveness, therefore You are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning--more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130

This potential to hurt someone and be hurt by someone is reality--there is no escaping it. The risk increases with each relationship forged. And it doesn't seem right, does it? It doesn't seem right that the more love in your life the more hurt as well. What in the world is that about, and how we try to avoid it!?!? How we try to make things right and keep things right and WANT things right. We WANT love without hurt perhaps because that it what we were created for, and we unfortunately find ourselves in a world that doesn't line up with our desires.

Maybe that is why the Psalmist was waiting for the Lord so fervently--because he felt the dichotomy between his desire and his reality. He wanted things to be made right more than the city watchmen wanted the morning to come...and they wanted morning desperately. It meant they could go home, that they could rest and eat and see their families and lay down the armor and weapons that burdened their night. They could let down their guard and be at peace for just a little while until the sun set and they took up their positions at the city gates and towers once again. And at 5am, after hours of watching and worrying and wondering, their desire for morning was overwhelming. "I wait for the Lord...more than watchmen wait for the morning." O that things would be made right--no more hurt and no more damage. What a day that will be...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Woman of God

For any woman who has struggled with loneliness, with insecurity, with fear, I reread this passage from Captivating by the Elderidges given to me by a dear, sweet friend, and I wanted to share it--for encouragement that you, my sisters, will step into your role as a woman of God more fully, and that you, guys, will better understand and care for your sisters.

"You are woman. an image bearer of God. The crown of creation. You were chosen before time and space, and you are wholly and dearly loved. You are sought after, persued, romanced, the passionate desire of your fiance Jesus. You are dangerous in Your beauty and your life-giving power. And you are needed.

As a woman who has been ransomed and redeemed, you can be strong and tender. You speak to the world of God's mercy, mystery, beauty and His desire for intimate relationship. You are inviting; you can risk being vulnerable, offering the weight of your life as well as your need for more because you are safe in God's love. You labor with God to bring forth life--in creativity, in work, in others. Your aching, awakened heart leads you to the feet of Jesus where you wait for him. The eyes of His heart are ever upon you. The King is captivated by your beauty.

We need you. We need you to awaken to God more fully and to awaken to the desires of the heart that he placed on you so that you will come alive to Him and to the role that is your's to play.

And that is crucial, dear heart, whatever your particular calling. You are meant to grace the world with your dance, to follow the lead of Jesus wherever He leads you. He will lead you first to Himself, and then with Him, He will lead you into the world that He loves and needs you to love.

It is by invitation."

I didn't write this because I am woman, hear me roar. No, instead I wrote it because it is all that I long to be--lovely, tender, persued, merciful, kind, passionate, creative, gentle, obedient, at the feet of Jesus--and I need to be reminded that there is one who is the Lover of my soul.


This word evokes so many questions, so many memories, and one HUGE smile. After a weekend at home, I've come to appreciate and understand this word, this idea, more than ever before.

What does it mean to "be friends"? Perhaps the details vary from person to person and relationship to relationship, but I think there are all-encompassing foundations upon which all friendships are built. Friendship is based, I think, on love and respect, on authenticity and forgiveness, and on a mutual, genuine appreciation. With friendship there are risks, but upon becoming friends, one is saying that these risks are worth taking--that there is something within this person that is precious and worth knowing. What a beautiful idea it is when someone wants to become friends, for they are really saying, "I want to know you and be known by you because there is something in you that is precious to me."

But what of relationships that go from "more than friends" to "just friends"? What does that mean? What does that look like? It happens all the time. Perhaps this is where the foundations of friendship are put to the test--love, respect, authenticity, forgiveness, and appreciation. In order to truly be friends, both people have to move past anger and confusion and hurt, and step into the foundations, especially authenticity and love. Why these two? Because being yourself, being honest, with someone whom you have hurt and/or who has hurt you is so hard, but so worthwhile, for there are then no questions, no things left unsaid, and nothing hidden. It is you in your most vulnerable, and I think it is when the image of God is most recognizable. And why love? Because with love comes forgiveness and respect...with love comes the ability to laugh together again and the courage to cry if you need to. Love destroys bitterness, and from love can spring forth the small flower of friendship threatened by the winter of a breakup.

So as the theory is fleshed out, what of the practical? This is where prayer begins--prayer for peace, joy, and wisdom...and grace. Always grace! Grace lifts you off the floor and walks you out the door. Grace makes a smile genuine and grants courage to the disheartened. Grace is what allows us to love, to laugh, and to call other people our friends. Grace is what we so desperately need in all friendships, and it is so graciously bestowed by the Lord that I am overwhelmed so often at His goodness. I see Him in my friends--in Dan's loyalty and forgiveness, in Elizabeth's constant journey and "realness", in Jason's courage to ask me the hard questions, in Diana's understanding and readiness to listen, in Neil's strength of character and consistancy, in Connie's precious and loving heart, in Justin's humor and steadfastness, in Heather's kindness and mercy, in Jenny's prayers and laughter, in Kylah's undying love from afar, in Amy's challenging statements, in Steph's passion, in Alan's love for people and penchant for adventure, in sweet Lana's constant and expressed love of me that I treasure...I could go on and on--John, Eric, Erin, Lindsay, Caleb, Nic, Bubba, Dave Atkins, Ashley, Jane...

The Lord has blessed me with such fierce friends whom I love dearly. I hope ya'll know how much I love you DEARLY! You are always on my mind and in my prayers. I wish I could see you everyday and know you more with every minute we spend together.

There are some friendships where we are trying to figure it all out--what does it mean and what does it look like? I don't know, but I will say that I am excited to find out...

With all my love, respect, authenticity, forgiveness, and appreciation--

Thursday, September 07, 2006

As tall as I can...

This morning on my way to school, I heard an old, familiar song and the lyrics continue to run through my mind and out my mouth even now, as I sit in Atlanta Bread Company and softly sing. Its a song about being as much of you as possible as praise to the Lord. My favorite part goes a little something like this...

If you made me to be a cloud in the sky
I would find the perfect place way up high
Where I could hover
And maybe I would pray for skies that were blue
And for a sunset or two to show Your colors

Or maybe I might be
A mountain tall and steep
I would try and stand as tall as I can
And I would sing my offering

And this is my favorite part...

And the sun every morning cannot wait to shine
And the stars every evening are all standing by to light the sky
You give the rocks and stones voices of their own
But we forget to sing praises to our King

I love the line about the mountain standing as tall as it can--being the very thing that it is with joy. O that we might be the same...that we would be ourselves with joy and confidence to the praise of the Lord. And I love when she says that the sun is so excited to shine...its doing its job to the praise of the Lord and for the good all that encounter it, and it cannot wait. How I wish my life were like that every day...that I could wake up and be so excited about being me for the sake and to the praise of the Lord and for the good of all that I come into contact with. Instead I am often selfish, not even wanting to get out of bed, let alone love anyone. So I guess my prayer for today is that each day would be filled with praise and anticipation of the next opportunity to love, and that I would regularly be myself to the best of my ability for His name's sake.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The High Places

It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful the mountains are. Every morning when I leave for school I drive down this curvy, sigogling road that guides me into a national graphic photo just before it spits me onto hwy 40. Some mornings its misty, other times its so clear I think I could see to Raleigh, save the peaks blocking my view, but really, I don't mind a bit. Up here, it seems I am closer to God. Maybe that's why they built the tower of Babel, or maybe it was to see the mountains in the distance. Regardless, my time here is awesome, and as I look to the mountains, my help has come. I've been in class, which I love; I've been contra dancing as much as possible, which I love; I've found a great church, which I love; and I am desperately homesick, which I love, because it makes leaving Asheville for Raleigh in a few months easier. These hills draw you in, and if it wasn't for homesickness, I might not ever leave. The Lord works in funny ways most of the time, and I think any loneliness and homesickness I feel is only for my good. I know now that He wants me in Raleigh for awhile--an idea that has taken me a long time to accept. I know that He wants me to be a nurse--an idea that shocked even me. I know that He wants me here now--an idea that I'm totally cool with. I know that my friends and family in Raleigh mean more to me than I ever could have known had I not left--an idea that rocks my socks off. Yes, I miss you guys and I love you guys, and I'm coming back. I have to...there's work to be done! And it looks like there will be more surgeryto be done too--another reason to return home. I'll find out on Friday if and when I'll be having surgery on my left shoulder to repair the same damage done to the right one back in June. It'll probably be over Christmas break, followed by 6-8 wks of recuperation and months of physical therapy. During that time I'll be in school at Wake Tech, Lord willing, finishing my 2 prereq classes and applying to UNC and Duke for nursing that will start in May or in Aug of '07. A year later I'll be a nurse...awesome! I'm thinking Labor and Delivery right now, hopefully learning at some point how to deliver babies with HIV positive mothers. Lord, let it be...for I miss my friends, my church, and my family, and I want to bring Your kingdom to earth by doing some good for as many people as possible. Make my hands healing hands, my words kind words, and my life a sacrificial life. Even though these hills are lovely and the Lord is here, I think He's just as present, perhaps even more so, in hospitals and streets and not so lovely places. So no matter where I am, He is there to be discovered, to be enjoyed, to be worshipped, to be served, and that is perhaps the loveliest idea ever.