July 23, 2012

We Bought A Zoo

Never ever, ever ever ever, say never. Because there's just something about the word, "never" that invites all sorts of crazy things to happen. 

For instance, I've been known to say this: 

I'll never go to SNU. (Hey lookie there, I'm not just a student, I'm involved. Eek.)
I'll never like mushrooms. (They're starting to grow on me. Well, not literally grow on me, but I'm starting to like them.) 
I'll never be a business major. (International Studies/Business and a love for God's greater plan, anyone?)

Oh and then there are phrases closer to my heart...

I'll never get married during college. 
I don't even know if I'll get married. 
I want to travel the world. 
I want to have adventures. 

Sure, there are still some true statements there. 
I still want to travel the world. 
I'm still whole heartedly in the pursuit of adventures.

never say never. 

Because sometimes, most often, there's something crazy that's going to happen. 
Like meeting a boy in a library. 
Introducing yourself with the phrase, "Hi, my name's Mandy. How do you want to die?"
Staying up till 2 am in the lobby talking. 
Thinking to yourself, "There's no way."
Telling your mom hours later, "Mom...I met a guy." And knowing that this was different. 

Never say never. 

Because sometimes that first initial meeting was just the tip of the iceberg. 
Sometimes a green light turns on and a friendship starts to happen. 
God gets involved, and actions speak louder than words. 
Smiles are suspended in the air as the question begins to spin around, "What if...?"
Then, before you know it, everything is confirmed and hearts are on the line. 

2-3 months. 6 weeks. Now: 3 months. 
I come from a family of short engagements and long marriages. 
I like that. 
I have examples of love. 
God blessed loves. 
57 years. 30 years. And the promise of however long we have together on this earth years. 

During college. 
To a man who has snuck into my life and found a place in my heart. 
Sneaky. Sneaky. Sneaky. 
We're having adventures together. 
We're going to travel the world together. 
We're in the pursuit of God together. 
And I'm so very, incredibly, beyond stoked to tell you that I'm going to marry Blake. 

The news is out. 
I'm so thankful for all of the sweet and kind and exciting comments and phone calls that we've received. 
I said never, and I think God must've smiled a little. 
He knows His plans so much better than I have ever pretended to know them. 
And you know what I really like? 
God's plans are so good. 
So faithful. 

I am blessed beyond measure. 
Praising God. 

Smiling a lot actually. I'm oh so very happy these days. 
So here's my quick update and a very sincere thank you to all of the kind comments we've received
We're so excited to see how God uses us together as a couple and to see what happens next.  :) 

1 John 3:18

Good News Translation (GNT)
18 My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.

July 13, 2012

Conviction - In the Pursuit of Jesus

Obsessed with so many things in life. 
It gets easy, doesn't it? 
Possessions easily take priority: shoes, clothes, cars, books...
Sometimes it's things we want, sometime they're things we need...but they catch our attention regardless.
Obsessed with relationships. 
He said/ she said. 
Heart breaks and heart triumphs. 
Sick kids, happy homecomings. 
Minute by minute updates. 
Mood swings. 
Obsessed with goals. 
Do enough, make enough, live enough, earn my keep. 
Obsessed with ambitions. 
There's always room for improvement. Always a better option. 

I'm caught in the stillness right now. 
The quiet moment where everything else fades away and God says, 
"Mandy, what if something crazy happened? How would it change your heart? 
"What now, God?"

Let's pause. 
Let me explain. 
Actually, I can't explain. 
But that's my response. 
"What now, God?"
Because I am learning so much this summer. 
There have already been so many quiet moments of trust. 
So many solid lessons. 
And yet, I need more? 
But I asked for God, and God is showing up. 
So yes, one more lesson. 
Always one more. 

Mandy, what if you were obsessed with Me? 

God, did I just hear you correctly? Would you like to run that by me again? 
Obsessed with You? Isn't that kind of...creepy? 

But in the stillness, in the quietness of this tennis club, on an empty Friday evening, the thought won't stop bouncing off of my head. Why shouldn't I be obsessed with God? 
Obsessed with the pursuit of Him. 

The word "obsessed" has bad associations that come along with it, at least for me. 
Old ladies with 80 cats in their houses. 
Men whose lives are spent working for a paper god that sits in an account without ever serving a selfless purpose. 
Teens who have completed every level of every new game. 
Athletes focused on shaving off seconds.
Academics in pursuit of a higher grade.
Obsessed reminds me of addictions, or collections, or time wasted in the pursuit of things that I either do not understand or do not relate to in my own life. 
But I have my own obsessions. 

Impacting lives.

I am as guilty as the next person for having my obsessions. 
And God is convicting me today. 
Because what if I were obsessed with my relationship with Him? 

That means every day, every hour, every minute, my heart and my mind were pursuing His? 
As I spend my time shooting off text messages and filling my heart with the words of friends and acquaintances, what if I spent an equal amount of time filling my heart with God's words? 
How would my life look different if I became obsessed with holiness? 
If I was not just passionate about Christ, but relentless about seeking His fingerprints all over my life? 
What if my faith were so desperate for Him that every minute, no matter who I was talking to or what I was doing, I thought, "Does this honor my pursuit for Christ?" 

And then, that leaves one more question. 
A simple one. 
What would your life look like if you were obsessed with God? 

July 7, 2012

Running Shoes - To The End of the World

The most enthusiastic parts of traveling are the anticipatory two weeks before and the story telling afterwards. 
But during the trip?
 Sometimes you forget that you're supposed to be enjoying every single breath...sometimes you just keep living your life so normally that you forget that you're supposed to be especially enjoying life's little moments on the road
Some of my readers may know what I mean by this...some of them may think that I've finally lost it and my ramblings really don't make sense anymore.
 It all depends on what type of traveler you are and how you react
But if you're like me, you like to live in the travel moments. You live for the stories afterwards. You live for the anticipation before hand. And you live for those out of the ordinary moments in the midst of your travels when you say, "That's why I'm here right now."
Moments like the sun setting behind the mountains
I love the limitlessness of the ocean horizon, I am a coastal girl to the core...that's where I taste and see the the Lord is good clearer than any other place in the world...but I can appreciate the mountains. 
The splendor of God. 
If the oceans seem untamed to me, if they showcase the wildness of the Creator of the universe, then the mountains always seem to display the fearlessness of God. 
The majesty.
 The splendor
When I am by the sea, I feel the rawness, the strength, the calmness, and the rolling tide of God's glory. When I stand beneath the shadow of a mountain, or stand on the top of its peak, I feel the insignificance of my life and I am amazed that the God who created such a world would love me so completely. That's why I love travel. I get to see God outside of my normal vision. 
I get to see Him clearer
Then there are moments when you travel and chipmunks are crawling over your empty hands, expecting food but being sorely disappointed. Little bitty creatures coated in cuteness. I want a chipmunk. Or a whistle pig. Those kind of moments make me happy too. 
Moments when you can't breathe because you're laughing so hard with your family. In my family, this happens frequently. 
We laugh a lot. 
We make jokes a lot (some of them we probably shouldn't...). 
We love a lot
We drive each other crazy, and even today my prayer was for a more patient heart, but when it all comes down to it, we forgive quickly too. 
Of course, I have my own moments when traveling that I share with God alone (and sometimes this blog) and those usually involve time spent on the road, with only rubber soles separating me from the earth. A hazy sun in the sky and sweat on my face. Muscles that feel the pull and stretch and pounding of movement. Lungs that are gasping for lower altitude air and struggling to be strengthened with less oxygen. The struggle of the run
 I leave the hotel door: run, pray, struggle, fight, pray, run: and then return to the hotel front door with the reminder that I am a runner.
 I am a fighter. 
I fight for each run. It doesn't come naturally. My body fights to move into a rhythm. My lungs fight for air. My soul fights for freedom. My best runs are runs that I fight for with my whole heart. My best runs are runs that leave me hungry for another run. When I run in someplace that I don't know, when I see God in someplace that I haven't seen him before....my heart soars. 
I am a hungry Christ follower. I long to dive deeper. To know God's heart, to do God's will. To love justice, walk humbly, and to do mercy. I am a "never quite content Christian". Never quite content with who I am, never quite okay if I find myself stagnate, never enough on my own but learning every day that Jesus is more than enough for me.
 That hunger in my heart is not misplaced.
 I was created with a hunger that pushes me beyond the lusts and desires of the world and forces me to grapple with the reality that this world is not enough
I was given a hunger for eternity, it was placed in my heart, and I will keep searching every coastal sunset and every view from the mountain top to catch the smallest glimpses of the eternity that awaits. 
Heaven is calling, but meanwhile, I travel...with purpose. 
With the purpose of Christ. 
With the calling of a Christ follower.
 My life is not my own. 
I've been feeling a renewed purpose this week. Old goals refreshed. Marathon dreams re-kindled. Other dreams forced to die. New priorities. New realities. A mix of good and bad. Bittersweet. But right
No doubts about it...right decisions are being made. Without regrets. I feel as though I am back on the right track. My heart is at peace. My shoes are laced tighter. And I am fighting for a race worth running. 
A calling bigger than me. 
I have been given an escape this week, which at times, feels very much just like normal living with a different view. But this escape to Colorado has also given me a chance to rekindle the fire in my soul. These moments of travel, moments of seeing God with new eyes, have refreshed my spirit. 
To the ends of the world, I will travel...
to my backdoor, I will go...
down the street...
across the globe...
whatever it takes...
 to the ends of the world...
Here I am Lord, send me. 

July 3, 2012

Colorado Mini Vacay Awaits

Colorado bound. 
Cool nights. 
A few days escape. 
Coming oh so quickly my way. 
This summer has been sweet over the past few days. 
Exploring submarines. 
Ice cream. 
Old stories. 
New memories. 
Colorado bound.