The one where I can’t think of a clever title

I’m really tired.

I’m tired of Christian Culture

I’m tired of The Church

I’m tired of Evangelicalism

I’m tired of being part of a group that lately seems to only come out against things and not for things

I’m tired of a movement that would punish children because of a ministry’s hiring choices.

I’m tired of a ministry not having the guts to back up their choices

I’m tired of there being no space for “I don’t know”

I’m tired of “culture wars”

I’m tired of the internet

I’m tired of Christians

I’m tired

So incredibly tired.

Please Father, lift me up in your arms. I feel like I can’t walk anymore. The weight of what the world expects of me is too much.

Remind me that you are outside of  Christian Culture

Remind me that you live outside nationalism

Remind me that you are outside of denominations

Remind me that you live in the tension of grace and truth

Remind me that you are everlasting love

Remind me of the people in my life who reject all the notions that make me tired

Remind me of those things while I cry a little in your presence tonight.

Because I’m just so tired

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The one about March 19th

I’ve been putting this post off. Writing other things in it’s place hasn’t made the words disappear. In fact they’ve been slowly making their way forward in my mind until anytime I have a free moment, they come popping out. This entry was demanding to be written. The demand doesn’t make it less nerve wracking, but I’m going to face the nerves to get this truth out. Being vulnerable on your blog is difficult. It isn’t your private journal. People read it. People whose opinions I care about. I’m nervous about being as vulnerable as this entry requires me to be. I’ve written about the following feelings a lot in my own private journal, but I think now is the time to share them publicly. Maybe other people feel the same way and this will help them not feel alone. But truthfully, I mainly do this for selfish reasons; to get these words out once for all. Okay enough beating around the bush. I’m going to dive in.

My birthday is tomorrow, and I’m not happy about it. If you’ve known me for any length of time you know this is not just rare; its never happened. I love my birthday. From the moment Christmas ends I look forward to March 19th. I plan what I’m going to do well in advance. I like to prolong the celebration to the weeks leading up to and even right after my birthday. In my world I’ve reserved the whole of March to be about my birthday. It’s not the presents that I love the most (although those are always great.) No it’s more about the feeling I get. If I was going to pick one of the Five Love Languages that best describes me I think it would be quality time. In March I get fed big time in this area. A day that is all about me? A day where my friends and family spend it paying attention to me? It’s great. Or, it was great.

This feeling of not being happy about my birthday has been steadily growing year after year even since I graduated from college. This is the first year though that I can’t even seem to muster up a third of the happiness I usually do. It’s not about my age, per se. I’m not one of those people that freaks out about getting older. Or at least I didn’t think I was. Yet, I find myself on the day before my birthday just seeing a number over and over in my head and it freaks me out.

27

27

27

I’m going to be 27.

How is it possible I’m going to be 27?

How is it possible that I’m about to be 27 and this is my life?

So there you have it. I’m not afraid of 27 because I think that makes me old. I’m afraid of 27 because I feel like I’m still so far behind where I should be. I’ve felt varying degrees of this thought on and off since college. It almost overwhelmed me my last two birthdays but I managed to shove the feelings down and ignore them. But this year it has just knocked me over like a wave. The moment Christmas was over March 19th loomed in front of me. It became a date I dreaded. How could it be coming this quickly? Didn’t I just turn 26? 25? 21?

And now here I am on March 18th unable to hide what I’m feeling anymore. I don’t want to turn 27. I want to my pause my life. Not forever you understand. Just until I finish a few things on my list. My grown up list.

I didn’t think I’d make it to 27 and not have a career oriented job.

I didn’t think I’d make it to 27 and still be living at home.

I didn’t think I’d make it to 27 and still need my parents’ help to pay some of my bills.

I didn’t think I’d make it to 27 and have no concrete ideas on how to do what I want with my life.

I didn’t think I’d make it to 27 and not be in a relationship.

Usually when the list would come faster and faster in my mind I would remind myself of what I did make it to 27 with. I know I’m better off than some. I know I have a job. I know I have a car that works. I know I can pay most of my bills. I know I have great friends and a great church. I know all of this. But this year it just hasn’t been enough. I think about how blessed I am to have a job and then remember how there’s no way I can ever afford to move out while working at this job. I think about how I can pay most of my bills and I get stuck on the ones I still don’t. The negative just seems to come right on the heels of the positive before I even have a chance to take a breath. I pray and I get silence. I ask God to help me and I wake up feeling the same way.

I don’t write all of this to get sympathy. I’m writing all of this because part of my believes that the gravity of these negative feelings will lose some of their power if I write about them publicly. Secrecy breeds shame and doubt, and I’m done with all of that. I’m done pretending this birthday is the same as every other one. It isn’t. I’m done feeling bad that I’m not happy. That doesn’t help the situation. I can’t start to feel happy again if I can’t even say that I’ve been unhappy.

I’m not really sure how to end this. I haven’t had an “aha moment” that fixed everything I just wrote about it. I’m still deep in the middle of all of this. I’m not really sure how I’m getting through it. I hope on March 18, 2015 I’m not feeling this way. I repeat Jeremiah 29:11 every morning when I wake up. “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you future and a hope.” (NLT) Some days the verse encourages me. Other days I feel my inner spiritual eyes rolling. “Yeah yeah sure. Can those plans start coming to fruition any time in the next decade God?”

Tomorrow morning I’ll wake up to lots of text messages, Facebook posts, and phone calls from people I love. I’ll go to lunch with my mom and head to work. After work I’ll go into the city to spend the night with my best friend. I’ll have a nice time. I’m sure that voice in my head that has been so unhappy will still be there. But hopefully it’ll be a little bit quieter now that I’ve been honest about how I feel.

The one about ritual

I wanted to talk about Lent. I feel like in the last few years Lent has became much more of a presence in my life. When I was younger up through high school and college the only people in my life who participated in Lent were my Catholic friends. I think that lately there has been a move in the Evangelical community to embrace the rituals of more traditional denominations, and I think it’s great. Growing up in a tradition that greatly emphasized a personal non ritualized relationship with God is something for which I’m truly grateful. But, I do enjoy exercising the part of my spiritual muscles that can be a little weaker. I enjoy praying written out prayers for the specific reason that it helps me not focus purely on my own needs and desires. I like reading Scripture and not waiting for God to tell me something specific, but instead reading something from a church father or mother that illuminates something I never noticed before. So for the past few years I have participated in Lent in some way shape or form.

I always struggle with the question of giving something up. I don’t want to act like Lent is a New Years Resolution watered down. Giving up soda, candy, TV, or social media might be healthy for me, but is that what Lent is really about? I don’t say this to criticize those who do give up those kinds of things. I think those things working in conjunction with the true meaning of Lent can have great value. If I’m giving up social media it’s to spend more time in God’s presence; every time I would normally be on Facebook I pray or read my Bible. Otherwise I’m just giving up a not so great habit and not really focusing on what Lent means. Lent is the time to prepare myself for the wonder that is Easter. To remember what my Savior did on the 40 days leading up to his death and resurrection. So sometimes I remember that time by giving something up. And other times I add something to my life. Either way can help me embrace the Lenten season.

Last month I began praying and thinking about what if anything I was going to do for Lent. I finally landed on some things and I thought I would share them here. This isn’t to bring glory to myself but to maybe help those of you who still aren’t sure if you want to do anything to get some idea. (It’s only the day after Ash Wednesday, plenty of time to start a Lent fast.)

This year I’m not giving anything up. Instead I am adding things. I am adding how much Bible reading I do in my day. I signed up for the Lent For Everyone plan on YouVersion.com. This plan takes readings from NT Wright’s book of the same name and sends them to your phone every morning. I also signed up for Preston Yancey’s amazing Lent project. Using readings found from The Book of Common Prayer, I am already loving this study. There are easy instructions on the website if you’ve never done anything like this before, and the readings are sent to my email every morning. I tend to read the morning part of the Preston Yancey blog followed by NT Wright’s book in the morning right when I wake up. Before I leave for work in the afternoon I read the second part of the Yancey blog, and finish out his post at night before I go to bed. It’s only been 2 days of this, but so far I’m really loving it. I feel like I’m not just starting or ending my day with Jesus, but instead I’m carrying him with me throughout the whole day.

If these ideas don’t appeal to you I would encourage you to check out Rachel Held Evan’s 40 Ideas for Lent 2014 that she just posted yesterday. She gives ideas for online things as well as books and other activities. If you’ve never done Lent before it’s not too late to start! This will be my fourth year doing and each year it becomes more and more special. If you decide to do something leave your plan in the comments! I’m always looking for new ideas. If you have participated in Lent what do you find most special about it? What are you doing this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

The one about the winter blues

March is here! I love the month of March for multiple reasons.

1) Spring begins in March

2) Shamrock Shakes come back to McDonalds

3) It’s my birthday month!

Those who know me know that I am big fan of my birthday. But this entry is not about my birthday. It’s about how even though it’s already March 4, I still feel stuck in the winter blues. This is only natural when you consider that this past Monday New Jersey got hit with ANOTHER snow storm and sub zero temperatures. It seems that winter is not quite ready to let go of us yet. I feel as if the cold has seeped into my brain and frozen all of my thoughts. I tried to think of something to write all weekend and came up with nothing. The winter blues have gotten to me a little bit. Then I reminded myself of some very good news. This coming Tuesday my best friend, AJ, and I are going on a mini vacation to South Beach Florida! So now every morning I check the temperature in South Beach and I can feel the frozen sludge that is my brain slowly thaw out. (PS it was 78 there today; 27 in Jersey. I CANNOT wait to get there.)

Now I’m moving on from writing about my trip. I’m not the type to rub it in. I figured I would put up a few of the others things I do to get my out of the winter blues. (For the times you can’t jet off to South Beach of course.)

1) Fresh air: seriously your mom was right. Getting outside is good for you. It’s been very cold here but thankfully the sun has been out shining. Lately every morning I’ve been opening my curtains as wide as they can go and sitting in the patch of sunshine that comes through. Also on the way to work I’ve been putting my window down a tiny crack and letting a slight breeze come through. I’m usually so bundled up in sweaters and a winter coat that a little bit of breeze feel refreshing. It’s amazing how these two simple things clear my head and make the day seem a little bit brighter.

2) Exercise: ¬†Again, this seems like a no brainer but really it works! Because there’s been so much snow on the ground it’s really not safe to do much outside except walk around the block. (Which I have been doing and also goes along with the fresh air thing.) But, I’ve also been doing the workouts that are free on my cable providers OnDemand. They are usually only 15 minutes and really easy. The perfect small step if you aren’t used exercising regularly or don’t have a ton of time in which to work out.

3) Happy music: I love all kinds of music but I tend to gravitate toward melancholy singer songwriters. Now I love The Civil Wars, Regina Spektor, and others like them. But honestly the mellow slightly sad music does not help me stay upbeat and happy. I’ve been using the Songza app on my phone and choosing stations like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, “Happy Pop”,¬†“Ke$ha’s Dance Party”, and “Broadway Babes” as background music for everything I do. It’s really helping keep me in a good mood. I’m not a music snob. If I like something I like it and I’m not ashamed. Top 40 is great at chasing the winter blues away!

5) Candy:photo

One of the piano/voice teachers at my job gave me this today because she thought I could use a pick me up. She was so right! After eating these candies I could literally feel the chocolate working its magic on me. These are from Whole Foods. and are milk chocolate covered caramel sprinkled with sea salt! It’s the perfect snack for those of us who love their sweet with a hint of salty as well.

6) Books: You knew this one was coming right? I went to the library today for the first time in awhile and got a nice big stack of books. Nothing like curling up with a blanket and book while the wind roars outside to chase away the winter blues.

So how about your? Are you feeling the winter blues? How do you defeat them? Leave your thoughts in comments!