Do any of you remember that movie? The one with the little boy that drums on the guitar to make rhythms and cadences in the most unique way and ends up finding his parents in the heart of New York City? Something about it gives me heart flutters and makes me want to dance in tall grass with fireflies all around. I feel this way about this month that disappeared like a flash of heat lightning in the middle of summer.
In some months I see God pursuing me in the simplest ways – the smallest moments that make deep impressions and get written and counted in this journal of mine. But this month He has pursued me with the flash of the blazing sun and the splendor of the most magnificent wildflowers you’ve ever seen.
I’ve spent a lot of time at the baseball field. Atlanta’s doing pretty good, though we’re still making tough trade decisions and no where close to the post-season (but I digress..). Rome is the second-half division champ, which means more baseball in Rome for a few weeks. It’s like Groundhog day, but instead of seeing fall rushing in, summer’s going to take its slow sweet time leaving us. This is the part I love: when the sun starts to set just a minute earlier and a fall breeze barely rustles the highest leaves in the trees. We know it’s coming and our anticipation is full, but we aren’t ready to give up on lazy hot summer nights and wearing tank tops just yet.
Running and yoga have become staples recently and I’ve stopped taking as many naps as I did in June and July. All of which simply proves that this body of mine is on the mend. Carving out time to be healthy and make healthy choices, both physically and spiritually, isn’t as easy as I’ve always been led to believe. It’s more like carving a masterpiece out of stone, like Winged Victory. It takes vision, forethought, upper body strength, and the right tools to persevere.
we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
My sweet college pals and I finally got together to celebrate the beginning of the Olympics and later in the month for a celebratory birthday brunch (we delivered the last of our Christmas presents, if that gives you any idea how long it’s been since we were all in the same room). I am so thankful for these three and the friendships we have forged through fire. For the longest time in life, I never believed I would have friendships that would last forever; they all seemed so fleeting and temporal for so long, even with these sisters. But we four have been through so many seasons together in our seven or so years of friendship. We’ve fought like mad and made poor decisions, but we’ve also chosen to show up for each other. One of my greatest memories of Madison is just a small moment from a few years ago. I was sick with a stomach virus of some sort and out of work on the Mountain for a week. Madi showed up at my apartment door with saltines, ginger ale, soup, and powerade after spending a whole day teaching. She didn’t stay long, but it was more than enough that she came and it left an impression. I feel like our friendship in college and in the years since has been just that – choosing to show up, sometimes in hard seasons or times when we don’t agree with the decisions the other is making. Nonetheless, we still show up and hustle alongside each other. This is what friendship looks like and they have taught me so much about loving others. God teaches me so much through this little sunshine gang.
Ironically enough, August marked one year from losing my job. I’m not sure how many of you have been on unemployment before, but I can attest to how defeating it is to spend weeks applying to jobs with no response, especially when you have a college degree and pretty good experience. It can lower all sense of self-esteem and value in your skills and talents. To attest to God’s faithfulness, however, I will tell you that this season at Chick-fil-A has been one full to the brim with innumerable blessings and lessons. In one of my first weeks, I remember walking from my apartment and seeing such a magnificent sunrise. Since then, it has been such a powerful moment each day to notice the sun rising outside the windows of the store and remember the faithfulness of God. In a similar vein, I’ve spent so much of this month interviewing for jobs, some as a result of someone who got my resume this time last year. Yes, you read that right – last year. Sometimes, God’s timeline makes me laugh like Sarah when God told her she would, indeed, bear a child in her old age. We laugh at His timing because we are so hell-bent on it being our timing. So much so that anxiety and worry and fear overtake us. I am guilty as charged. Something Beth Moore said on social media this month stuck with me: When the tide of anxiety rises, let’s sit like watchmen on a wall, thanking God in advance, expecting His faithfulness. His Grace. His Power. How blessed I am to wake up well before the sun these days and thank God in advance for His faithfulness, even if that’s as simple as the sunrise. He always comes through. Never late, but, bless it, never early. He is always on time.
And, sweet friends, there is no question that God’s plan in this moment and the coming days, months, and years is His BEST plan. We can take that to the bank. We can anchor all our hope in His character. I finally finished Annie Downs’s new study: Looking for Lovely. I highly recommend it. To be honest, I went into it not expecting much, which was a mistake on my part. I have learned so much, especially about hope and joy. These words have become so important to me. Keywords that, when I hear them or read them, I immediately start listening more intently. 1 Peter says we have been birthed into a living hope. Much like God’s Word, this hope is alive. It will not disappoint us or leave us or put us to shame. It isn’t stagnant or stone. It is living. So we may go through suffering, but we will gain endurance to push through, and that endurance will change our character into greater versions of ourselves, the ones you can depend on. And through this whole process, we breathe deep a living hope.
I cannot remember the last time I wasn’t afraid to hope. My fear over time changed the very definition of hope in my mind and heart to something unneeded and basic and flimsy. Most of that stemmed from believing that hope was centered on my ability to come through, and Lord knows I have failed every single time. I’ve never chosen hope because I am so aware of my humanity. What I’ve learned in the last few months has revolutionized my view. Hope is the foundation, the anchor, the roots from which all else grows and is sustained. In which case, “When I am scared to hope, I remember that my anchor isn’t me — it’s Jesus.”
He holds me steady.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.