Found

The idea came at a bus stop, and I pounded it out in my notebook in the bus seat. Seven days and five drafts later. I had my idea for the simple assignment for Playwriting class–a scene with a reversal.

In Voice & Movement, our teacher takes our word of the moment at the beginning and end of class. She writes them down. My word that morning was “found.”

Found my scene, my inspiration.

Found peace in class that day. Joy in writing. Friendship when a classmate and I hung out in between class.

Found creativity and passion while crafting in the costume shop that Friday. Slowly, carefully I began to create a mask to wear in my play. Drew a design, picked out jewels and fabric and ribbons, and glued it all together.

Found fun over the weekend. Out for dinner after rehearsal one night to celebrate a friend’s birth. And out for another one the next.

Found work this past week as it all piled up. Quizzes, crew calls, rehearsals, journal entries, voice lessons. I found sweat and tears, sickness and exhaustion.

And finally, this weekend I found rest. Piled into bed at 8:30 PM Saturday night, a long day of rehearsal behind me. Only meaning to go for a short nap, I proceeded to sleep for 12 hours.

Sunday morning found me giddy on sleep and ready for a happy day. The bright July borrowed sun welcomed me. Church found me ready for worship, songs floating out of my mouth, and mind ready to receive the message. Friends, old and new, found me afterwards. I found joy all over again in an afternoon with friends, laughing and getting to know each other better.

This has been the consistency of my past week and a half. Simple days of hard work and little joys. Days of waiting and worrying and wondering as well, no doubt. Yet happy hours of peace and prayer, trickles of laughter and inspiration have found me in these first weeks of the new year.

You find me here today, anticipating another week and crazy days ahead. Yet content, somehow, to be who I am and find the future.

Because I’ve found beauty in the little and love in the great. And my Jesus has found me.

Many of you have already filled this out — thank you so much! If you haven’t, please take my short survey here and help me improve The Journey Home in the new year! The survey closes on January 31st so please fill it out ASAP! Your comments, especially your ideas, are most welcome!

Be Still

I wanted to stay home last Friday. I’ve been at school nearly every day except Sunday for the past month. I decided I’d take the day off, since I don’t have classes — well, sort of. I’d sleep in, do home work in the comfort of my own home, drink tea, and maybe even visit the store.

But then I got an email. I had to go for a costume fitting in the middle of the afternoon. I grumbled and griped and wondered why a 20 minute costume fitting an hour away had to ruin my Friday.

Yet from some place inside of me, I heard the words: Be still.

I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. I put the costume on hastily, passed people with a warm smile to avoid small talk, and walked as fast as I could. But then I remembered: be still. And I tried to breathe and remember that this day might be good in other ways I’d never expected.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at Starbucks. A Pumpkin Spice Latte, courtesy of a coupon, and my History home work in hand. And in the buzz of the afternoon coffee shop rush and my growing to-do list, I heard the voice again. And it told me to be still.

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Be still. Be still. Be still.

As you practice the songs for your voice mid-term and try to reach the high notes and act and sing from your core at the same time. While rehearsing the scene that scares you and makes you better at the same time. When you’re in rehearsal all Saturday, but painting sets instead because they’re behind on the show. In all the chaos of school, and the mess of life. As you try to live, love, and breathe. I told myself this paragraph again and again and again this week.

But its hard. Impossible, almost. To quiet yourself in the midst of the pain, angst, busyness, and pressures of life. To be still when you have to run everywhere just to keep up. To trust in the God who holds you in His hand and know that He is with you. Yet, all He asks is that we just be still in His presence.

For a second. Try it. For a minute. Not too long. Just be still.

That’s been my motto this week. In the tough times, the weak times. In the rush and the hub and the worry and fear. Be still. Be still. Be still.

I had the voice midterm on Tuesday. I got a B. My teacher says she rarely gives A’s on midterms. But I’m still not happy with how I sang and I know I could have done better and–be still, the Voice says.

We presented our scene — my scene partner and I. We did our very best, after weeks of working, trying, risking, failing. And at the end, I remembered to be still.

I’m dead tired tonight. I spent the evening, unmotivated, trying in vain to find sources for my History project. I should do some more homework and my room’s a mess and I should pack lunch for tomorrow, but all I want to do is curl up in bed. Be still.

This post was supposed to be published a week ago, but it just wasn’t. Be still.

There is so much I want to write and share and communicate. But the clock is ticking and I have homework to do and a bus to catch. Be still.

He says, ”Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46: 10

Your Pain Is Real

You.

Yes, you. With tears in your eyes, waiting to spring. Or a lump in your throat and a heart that hurts. Or a million different thoughts that you don’t know what to do with. You.

You matter.

You are infinitely valuable.

And you, your pain is real.

No matter what anyone else has said to you or how many times people have tried to deny you of your words. Despite the lies that you hear everyday. Even though you feel lost and confused and denied. Your pain is real, it matters, and so do you.

What have people told you? Think carefully.

How were you hurt? In grade school. In grade 8. Last year. Yesterday. What did people say? What did you try to hide? What have you shoved behind in the garbage like a banana peel? What have you told yourself didn’t matter?

Because those are the things that do. Those are the things that should not be forgotten.

~~~

Almost a year ago, a professor sent me my Acting final exam marks and comments. He responded to what I’d written in my journals. When I write, I share anything and everything. And so, I’d shared a little bit of the pain that the scene had spurred.

I remember his response. He said that whatever had happened to me in the past was real. It had an impact on me. It should not be covered over or ignored.

I closed that email quickly, blushing, embarrassed at the feelings I’d shared. Yet I opened it just as soon to read it again.

Because my soul craved to admit my pain. I did not want to keep it hiding any longer.

~~~

You. Yes, you, again. Sitting there, listening, reading, wondering.

Are you still reading? I hope so.

Your pain is real. I’ve said it before, I know. But its true. And that’s why I’m repeating myself.

Whatever has happened to you in the past — whether it was ten years ago or yesterday — is important. It is real. It is part of you.

Do not deny it. Do not try to cover your pain.

Let yourself admit the scars of the past. Let yourself be healed. Find freedom.

Because you matter.

You are infinitely valuable.

And you — yes you — your pain is real.

Every Day Can Be A Blessing

I don’t like Thursdays. I’m not sure if it is just my “end of the week attitude” or the general vibe of the Thursday customers at the store where I work or perhaps both which make me dread the day. Either way, I usually end up drained and wishing for Sunday.

Tuesday’s are usually my day off. Wednesday’s are my favourite, Fridays are a breeze, and Saturdays are short. And my once-dreaded-during-school-days-Mondays are actually quite lovely. But I hate Thursdays at the store.

Except for today. Even though I went into the morning like it was a battle ground, I came out at 5:00 feeling like I’d tasted a piece of Heaven.

After a hard week, in which my day off had not yet appeared, and customers had been stealing and bargaining right and left, a new air entered my little Thrift Store. Suddenly, everyone was incredibly nice. The customers were sweet to me and I could once again naturally be sweet to them without having to fake it. No one tried to bargain or steal. When I asked for people’s bags, they easily complied or left the store. No one gave me trouble. I enjoyed many friendly conversations with customers and felt satisfied in my work. A splendid, beautiful joy pervaded my space behind the till and somehow, I found richness in the ordinary, mundane, and often difficult work of a cashier once again.

And as I thought about it, marveling in the glorious day that had been so opposite to past Thursdays, I remembered the power of prayer. That God will bless us as He sees fit and that joy is often a choice between a smile and a grumble. Yes, there are bad days, but that doesn’t mean that today can’t be a blessing, at least in some way.

Tomorrow, I have a day off. I’m hoping for a blessed day, relaxing and doing my favourite things.

But I’m looking forward to Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I’m remembering that I’ll probably have to work next Thursday. And even though I’ll have sore feet and a somewhat drained spirit at the end of each work day, there will be blessings.

Blessings like cute dishes that remind you of your childhood or a customer who speaks Spanish or fresh coffee on your break. Blessings like a cousin who teaches you her songs after camp and a mom who makes you lunches and fills up your water bottle.

These are the little things; this life is mundane. But these small things are what make up life–at least, they make up mine. So don’t let them pass you by.

Remember: any day–and every day–can be a blessings.

On Letting Go

When I was a little girl, I loved balloons. It made me very sad to lose or have to pop one; I hated to let go, feeling as if I were hurting the poor balloon’s feelings. It was like losing a good friend.

I remember distinctly one time in which I was in a parade and a boy had given me an orange balloon. I carried it proudly with the sign for my group. But then, somehow, as we started to walk, the string slipped from my fingers and the orange ball of delight went up, up, up into the wide, grey sky. I tried to catch it, yelling out as I did, but it was in vain. My poor balloon was gone for good.

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Over ten years later, I sit out on the deck with a cool summer breeze passing off my shoulders, pondering life’s memories, both good and bad. I’ll be nineteen in August and as I enter into adulthood, I can grin, giggle, and grimace at the paths left behind.

Since that childhood incident, I’ve lost many other “balloons.” Sometimes I meant to. Sometimes I didn’t. In either case, the pain was sharp and sure enough, I tried to get it back, just like that day at the parade.

One thing I know, among many things that I don’t, is that no matter what it is you’re losing, letting go of something or someone hurts.

There are dreams I’ve left aside. Relationships and hopes for people and trust broken. Love I’ve wanted, but could not get; loves that I must leave aside. Ideals and rules I thought were proper and which made me feel right, but really weren’t. Bad things I’ve done and poor decisions I’ve made which bring me shame. People who hurt me, but who I loved all the same. And just like that balloon, I let go of them physically and tried to get rid of them emotionally.

  you can't hang onto it forever.

 

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But it was hard. It remains difficult. It always will be.

Yet as a Christian, I believe in grace and redemption. I know that I must not condemn myself for sins forgiven by Jesus any longer. I know that God has plans and dreams for us that are bigger than our own. Sometimes, I believe, we are even called to let go. Often, it is best.

But as we let go, let us grab hold of another thing and anchor it to our self firmly.

Let go of anger and malice for love. Throw away regret for renewed hope. Forget about shame and remember grace. Take off evil and put on righteousness.

~~~

At the end of the day of my parade, my mom pointed out a tiny orange dot far up in the sky.

“I think that’s your balloon!” she said. “It looks nice up in the sky.”

And suddenly, I wasn’t sad anymore. I’d decorated the sky and made it pretty for the parade. I’d let go and given something good in return.

Immersed In The Spirit

Recently, I found one of my many, old journals. Like most of my notebooks, it was unfinished with plenty of pages left for more words and ideas. Oh yes, I love to write, but the problem is, I often start things that I don’t finish. A lack of inspiration, I guess you could call it. Anyway, this notebook had verses in it. I think I was trying to memorize them at some point. I tore the filled pages out so that I could use the journal for something else, but they got me to thinking about my life and things I’ve done or tried to do. And all the sudden I thought to myself, remember when you used to read the Bible, Elizabeth?

So, a year of Christian education and I don’t read my Bible anymore? Is that it? No, not exactly. I do read my Bible. But to be honest, I’m not as religious about it as I used to be. The notebook I found was from a by-gone era of memory verses, Bible reading binges, and notebooks about how to be a good Christian woman. From a time when I was just a girl trying to be the best follower of Jesus that I could be. Honestly, I wasn’t immersed in the Spirit much at all. Oh yes, I tried to be. But that way of doing it just didn’t work too well.

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One of my new memory verses — in Spanish.

After about fifteen years of being a Christian, I’ve tried lots of things, swinging from rebel to saint, conservative to liberal as I’ve done so. The funny truth is that I never really find my place in either direction. I think I find it for a little while, but I never really do. And then I’m just stuck again, drifting back and forth. I feel like I’m constantly at a place where being a Christian just doesn’t make sense except for the fact that I’ve been one my whole life.

Changing directions this year (as in, going to school) has honestly changed my life. I’ve been forced to think about myself, the world, other people, my life, and God differently. I’ve learned to re-evaluate good and evil, faith and religion, life and love, and countless other things. But at the end of the day, I’m still asking the same question. What does it mean to live a life immersed in the Spirit of the living God?

Let’s be honest — even as the great Christians that we are, we don’t always “feel” God in us and through us or even in the distance somewhere kind of looking out for us. Yeah, He’s there, but sometimes He does feel pretty far away. How are we supposed to be immersed in that?

I don’t have the answers — I just have my experiences and the knowledge that I can gain from that. Praying is important. And I know that from not praying because I forgot and then from praying again and realizing how much I needed it. And I also know that from having people pray for me and from friends telling me that they were praying for me–even when I didn’t ask them, too. Reading is good, too. I’ve been reading little bits at a time — when I remember and when I feel the urge. I don’t like to say, “I know I should do this everyday” anymore because honestly, that takes the joy out of it. Letting the Holy Spirit live through and in you is very, very good. And I’ve learned that can come in a thousand different ways–they key is inviting Him in.

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I’m reading two Bibles now — in Spanish and in English!

I don’t know it all yet and I’m not there the whole way. But these are my observations and my beginning for living a Spirit immersed life.

Hello, Again

Hello…

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? So much time has passed that I almost feel afraid to write and post again. I’m not really sure if I know what to say or how to say it. I didn’t mean to take a break or disappear–it just sort of happened. So I guess today I’ll just write and not worry too much about the time passed or the words not written. Yes, I shall just write. Write and tell and share my stories.

School ends on Monday and after the ensuing finals, my first year of university will be finished. This year has simply flown by. Sometimes, if I’m home all weekend I feel like a highschool student again. It’s hard to comprehend that I’m living all of the things I was only dreaming of and hoping for last year.

But I have been living my hopes and dreams as well as my worries and nightmares. University hasn’t been everything I imagined or dreamed, I’ll admit. But then, it has also been much more than I could have hoped for, in some ways.

This year has been so full that I feel like it has been years since my highschool graduation. I’ve grown in a thousand ways that when I reflect, I barely recognize my old self anymore. I feel like I’m transformed.

I believed so many lies back when I graduated. So many untruths, so many bad, bad things. And I thought that I didn’t; I thought I was done with all that. I’ve realized we’ll never really be able to comprehend the truth, though there are pieces of hope for it on this earth. And I’ve been blessed to glimspe some of these truths this year.

I’m not the same girl in the purple dress who told people she wanted to be a teacher at her graduation.

I am not the same person who plotted a map of perfection for university–planning to wear dresses to school at least twice a week, be the friendliest person in the world, always, always care about every assignment, and go to chapel everyday.

I’m not the one who cried after the second day of classes and wanted to change her major every other day for months.

I don’t believe the lie that a Christian cannot also be an actor anymore and I do believe in God’s love for me even more.

And all that is so good.

I’m learning to open myself up to people and to God. I’m learning to be myself, as cliche as it sounds. And I’m learning, perhaps very slowly but ever so, to be more like Christ.

This is me now–after almost eight months of early mornings and late nights, exams, papers, and readings, scenes, auditions, and monologues, missing the bus and walking across campus, seeing shows and hanging lights, crying and hating theatre and then falling back in love with it again and again, meeting new people and learning to love and trusting in God and learning to fail boldly. I can only imagine what the next three years will bring.

What has happened to you over these last few months?

The Calling Of Christmas

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I’ve always admired Mary. Ever since I portrayed her in a series of advent monologues at church one year, her story has been real to me. God gave her a tremendous task and she fulfilled it boldly.

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.

Luke 1:38

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I often wonder what I am called to do with my life. I have dreams, ideas, and passions, but how am I to know which of those is what the Lord desires? Options are set before me, but I often shy away from the challenge of certain callings. Sometimes, my greatest desires seem too odd and revolutionary to be Godly.

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But then I think about Mary. She had dreams, ideas, and passions, I am sure. Did she end up doing any of those? I don’t really know. I do know that she did the Lord’s will. Was her task challenging? Certainly. I think we often forget how very challenging it was — we like to gloss her over with halos and carols, but she risked scandal, ruin, and even death for the sake of her mission. Did this calling make sense? No, not at first. Perhaps the stable birth never made sense in her time though now we certainly know the greatness of this calling.

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In a way, we all have Mary’s calling for this task did not disappear upon Christ’s birth. Mary was called to bare Jesus, the son of God. While she fulfilled this in a literal way, we are also called to bare Him in our daily lives. As His children, we are to shine like stars against a dark earth and mend a broken generation. Jesus has come and gone back to heaven, but it is our calling to keep His image alive on earth.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2

This is the calling of Christmas — to love as God loved, to change the world as Christ changed it, and to answer the call as Mary responded. It started with the angel’s message and Mary and Joseph and that birth in the stable, but the calling continues today. The question is: will we fulfill it?

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Tonight in church, I felt a certain peace as we sang the familiar carols together. It was a beautiful service with candles and singing and scripture. But more importantly, I recongized my calling and grabbed hold of it. I’ve known this calling before, but I have disobeyed and let it go many times. I accepted it once again and endeavoured to take the calling of Christmas with me, both in this holiday season and forevemore.

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