Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I don't like to sound sad, so I don't talk about my dad, but then this happened

I have a scar on my forehead from when I was little. (Gracefully) Slamming my head into a chair resulted in six stitches and a little neon line against my tan skin. It used to stand out more, and I was so proud of it because I loved telling people the story of how it happened. Or how I thought it happened. I don’t know how reliable my memory actually is.

But one thing I do remember for sure, the thing that I loved telling people the most, was about the image of my dad rushing in in these awful teal-colored sweatpants (it was the 90’s) and a rare look of concern. He was the last thing I remembered from that day, and little did I know how important that would become to me.
In the same way that my scar reminds me of the pain and embarrassment of impaling myself on a chair, there are a lot of other things that remind me of my dad’s absence.

Like talking about him, for instance. I don’t really like to talk about him, and not because I don’t want to, but because the only things that I have to say about him are stories. I can’t talk about him the way other people can talk about their dads. It’s a weird space to navigate, even after all this time, and as it becomes more “normal,” it still feels weird. I don’t know if starting a sentence with, “He was…” will ever be comfortable.

It’s weird to me, too, that people say that I’m a lot like my mom, because we all struggle with acknowledging how much we would actually benefit from being like our moms (love you, mom). And also because I realize that they don’t realize how much I am like my dad because they didn’t know him. They don’t realize that I have his sense of humor, his thirst for adventure, his skinny ankles, his dimples (my “one beauty” as Amy March would say), and the bottom half of his face. And though I am proud of all of those things, there are times when looking in the mirror is difficult. My dimples, my smile, they stand out blindingly against everything else I am because they remind me of what isn’t there.

Varsity sports, Senior Year of high school, college, graduation—those were all things that have made me proud and excited and thankful, but never has a day gone by that I don’t notice the empty seat and the pictures with him that aren’t but I wish could be.

These things, they don’t always hurt, but like a scar they remind me of how I got those hurts in the first place. They remind me of what I lost and of what it felt like to lose my dad.

That’s the bad news. (I’ve always been a “bad news first” kind of girl, because now everything gets better!)

The good news is that scars are not simply reminders of pain, but, first and foremost evidence of healing. That scar on my forehead, it could have been a lot bigger and a lot grosser if the doctor hadn’t done such an excellent job. It also would have been a lot easier if I just didn’t have to have a scar in the first place. If I had just tied my shoelaces I never would have tripped on them and never would have hurt myself to begin with. But I did. And if it wasn’t a scar on my head it’s a scar somewhere else, because bad things happen and people get hurt. That’s just the way it is. But I can say with full confidence that I was healed. And no one can tell me that I wasn’t because clearly there is not still a gaping hole in my forehead. That would be silly.

Now, things would have hurt a whole heck of a lot less if I hadn’t lost my dad. It would be nice if I didn’t have to feel sad sometimes when people comment on my dimples or when something exciting happens in my life. But at the same time that I am reminded of his absence, I am reminded of all of the AMAZING things that God has taught me and provided for me throughout my life. I’m reminded of the people who rallied alongside my family right after his death, of the amazing strength and resilience of my mom. I’m reminded of the last night that we were given together, one last perfect night. And most importantly I’m reminded of the way that God refused, absolutely refused, to let go of me when I thought that I had lost everything. He grabbed me and held onto me and told me He loved me even as I felt lost beyond words.

The memories I have of that time are the biggest scars that I carry. When I look back, though I do feel sadness and grief and loss, I also feel an intense and unexplainable comfort.
I see it in the people around me. I see it in my mom. I see it in my baby niece. I see it in my ability to accomplish what I’ve accomplished. And I see it simply in my ability to smile.

I don’t know how else to explain it, except that God took something ugly and made it beautiful. He took something broken and made it whole again. Even before I lost my dad. God was already holding me tight when made me His daughter as a six year old, when I asked Him to save me, and to be my refuge in the times of trouble that I didn’t even know were coming yet.

Jesus has scars too. Holes in his hands and feet from nails driven through them, and a hole in his side from the jab of a spear; holes from a slow and painful death. And yet they are the evidence of the most AWESOME thing to ever happen EVER! They are the evidence of Jesus’ power over the grave, his power over death. I’m blown away, literally can’t even type anything else because nothing I say can accurately describe God’s overwhelming love for us.
So I’ll just leave this here for you. Because it’s important and everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt, but this, no salt necessary.

John 20: 24-27
                “Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hands into his side, I will never believe.' Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’”

Isaiah 53:3-5
                “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken; smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

That time I started a blog and then stopped posting

Where has all the time gone?! I honestly don't even know what day it is anymore. One moment it's a cold, snowy January Monday then I blink and it's basically the middle of April. Although I can't say I'm entirely disappointed it isn't January anymore. Apparently I've been enjoying the non negative-degree weather because I've been MIA for quite some time. You haven't missed much though. Really all that's been happening to me is an increasingly intensified existential crisis. No big deal.
"Why?" You might ask? Well I might ask right back, "Why not?"

1. My sister just had a baby (huzzah!) and suddenly there is a whole person who can't do anything but cry and poop and wiggle around a lot and my sister (my sister) birthed her. When did we stop being 6 and 10, running around the house and making each other cry? I mean, my niece is a miracle, don't get me wrong. I didn't even know you could love someone so much so quickly (Disney had it half right with the whole "love at first sight thing," but I guess they couldn't really have gotten away with making an animated birthing process accessible to 5 year olds). But WHAT. How did this happen? The most logical conclusion: Question everything about life.

2. I'm graduating from college in a month. A MONTH. I don't even know what that means. Nothing inside of me understands what that is going to be like, but at the same time I realize that it is a huge thing and my life is going to change forever. I've been in school for the past 16 years and now all of a sudden I'm supposed to have learned everything that I need to know to survive?! I haven't been properly prepared. Sure I'm real good (this is a grammar joke) at reading books and writing about how much hegemony and the hierarchy of gender and class matter, and I can sure as heck (pardon my language) see when the grocery store is trying to subconsciously limit my cereal choices to what "the man" wants me to buy, but what do I do if I blow a fuse and don't have anyone to back me up in the dark,scary basement? What do I do if my sink is simultaneously leaking and horrendously clogged? My car is making a funny sound but I don't want to spend $8,000 at the mechanic, what YouTube channel do I turn to in my hour of need? I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE MY MOM'S CHICKEN POT PIE. Logical conclusion: I don't even know who I am anymore.


In conclusion, regardless of how I feel or do not feel, or what happens to me or does not happen to me, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) and he is faithful to his promise of life. So there.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Story cred to my sister because I forgot how good God was for a second

When I was a little kid growing up in church, we always had "song time" after the service and before Sunday School. I used to see them as cheesy, stereotypical Sunday School songs that everyone who went to VBS had probably heard (and memorized) at least once in their life. But looking back now I realize that there was a lot of truth in them. As simple, and catchy as all get-out, as they were they contained immense knowledge that I still carry with me today. For example...
Molly and I spent the day together on Tuesday. It was a beautiful, sunny with a high of 45 and she had the day off from work. On our way to her eye appointment we were just goofing off and she started singing "This is the day that the Lord has made" in this crazy voice. (If you don't know it, these are the words to it at least: "This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made. I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it," and it's at this point where, for some reason, the singer realizes the key is impossibly high, so as a little kid the only way to reach it was to scream it as loud as possible, "FOR THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE." This is the part that she chose to sing.)
So we had a good laugh and started talking about something else, as all conversations usually go, putting this moment of hilarity behind us.
Well, all-in-all it ended up being a pretty stinky day and by 9 PM we were both tired and emotional and felt like the day was a waste. At dinner, Molly said something about how the day felt pointless and after a moment of silence that song just popped into my head, and I started singing "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Let the record show that I had completely forgotten that that very same song had ever come out of Molly's mouth, and that there was no prompting for me to start singing this song. I didn't even want to be singing it. I, in no way, felt at all that the day should be rejoiced in.
But that just made it all the more powerful.
Regardless of whether or not I subconsciously remembered our moment from earlier in the day, we were both struck dumb by how God used that simple song to remind us of hope. Even though it might not have been our ideal day, it was a day to be alive, to trust Jesus and to love Jesus, and to rejoice in a life-giving God who does not abandon his people. And though I might not have hope in worldly things, I have hope in life through Jesus Christ.

Psalm 118:21-24
I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I wrote this instead of an essay.

Legend has it that there is this particular group of a few extraordinarily brave souls. Souls so brave that they are willing to face even the darkest, coldest, and most enduring enemy known to mankind. Last week, those brave souls ceased to be legend to me and became reality. Journeying from the far land of Florida Gulf Coast University, a group of extraordinary students came to face the dreaded Winter of 2014 in Syracuse, New York. Braving the--blah, blah,'s really, really cold out and we have lots and lots of snow and they're from Florida where it's sunny and not cold.
Last week was FGCU's spring break. And what did this group of lovely individuals decide to do for their spring break? Come to serve the city of Syracuse. While everyone else was heading their direction, they were headed ours, and spent an entire week sharing the gospel and just being Jesus to the city. Pretty cool, huh?
On Thursday they came to campus and I had the opportunity to meet and hang out with a couple of them, and we spent some time on campus in prayer and conversation.
Things that happened that day:
1. "Mom, I made new friends today!" I had no idea who these people were a week ago. They literally didn't exist in my mind. And then BAM. Friends. How does that happen? Jesus. And their willingness to be freezing cold and surrounded by grumpy northerners who haven't seen the sun in 4 months. It was a much needed reminder that we are unified in the Gospel and under a powerful God. Plus they're just really great, and even when I got way too comfortable with them too quickly and showed how not normal I am, they took it in stride. So that's great.
2. They brought the sun with them! It was so beautiful out the day they were on campus. I didn't even button my coat or wear gloves.
3. (#realtalk) I realized how little I actually care about the campus and the city. I treat it like garbage. Oh sure, I'm really grateful to be at a good university and to have lots of friends and get a good education. But God has put me in this place for a reason, and it's so easy to get stuck in the little bubble of college that we forget there is a bigger world out there. SU always talks about having a "global perspective," whatever that means, but what about the needs of the people just minutes away from us? I think we spend too much time talking about how to help people instead of putting aside our big plans and just loving them simply. Am I thankful for the city of Syracuse? No. Do I want to be? Yes. And last week was a real kick in the butt in making me think about how I can do that, and how I'm NOT doing that (boo).
And regardless of whether I'm in Syracuse or Albany, I always want to ask myself how I can love the place that I'm in right now?

(Side note) In reading my bible, I'm learning a lot about how Jesus taught, and I'm finding that it's pretty simple: ask questions. The disciples and pharisees and everyone was always asking him questions, and rarely does Jesus give them a straight answer. Instead, he asks them a really poignant question in response, and more often than not it makes them realize the answer themselves; it makes them THINK.
I still always want answers from God, "Should I do take this job? How do I love this person? Why is this happening? What do I do now?" But I also realize that He's not going to just write down the answer on the piece of paper in front of me. So I've started to asking myself questions, and I've started ANSWERING them. How many times have I asked God, "How do I love him/her/them?" And instead of looking at how Jesus did it, or even thinking of ways that I can do that and literally writing them down, I just expect God to do it for me. God does a lot of things for me, but like Jesus' questions, He more often than not gives me the opportunity to figure it out for myself. You learn a lot better than way.
So. Hopefully that challenges you. And I hope that I can challenge YOU too by asking:
"How can you love the place that you are in now?"

Friday, February 28, 2014

I sat at a desk and smiled at people

I am constantly amazed by God's ability to use my total inadequacy for His glory, and how much He encourages me and I don't even know it.

Exhibit A.
I spend all this time being so self-conscious. Like, SO SELF-CONSCIOUS. I feel like I'm terrible at everything and am never really certain if I've done a good job, and this week in particular has been very challenging. For some reason, all of my insecurities have been magnified times a million, and I've been battling with these crazy lies flying around my head. Every once in a while I'll just think something terrible like, "Wow. My laugh is so horrible. I should really try to work on that." WHAT. Who cares what my laugh sounds like? Or, "I am so terrible at conversation. I bet I'm that girl that everyone tries to avoid talking to." I can't even confidently say that's a ridiculous statement, that's how much I believe it's true.
Anyway, ridiculousness aside, I realize that these things are lies, and that God doesn't really care if my laugh sounds like the tinkling of fairy bells or if I can flawlessly carry on a conversation. But I still have to rely on Him completely every time I look in the mirror in order to see myself the way that He wants me to see myself. I have to be in constant prayer, and vigilant about where my thoughts wander because it is so easy to spiral out of control when I start to believe the things I tell myself instead of the things God tells me. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9a).
I don't need a skinny body, beautiful teeth, and nerves of steel. Those things won't make me "happy," and more importantly they have nothing to do with my salvation. God has already given me everything that I need. He has given me His grace. He has called me into a relationship with Him despite far greater shortcomings than what I look like and sound like. He provided me with His guidance, His peace, His love, His joy, His LIFE.
And I spend all this time and effort wishing I was "perfect."
Well, I'll tell you what, if I was not the infinitely weak being that I am, who Jesus is and what he did for me would mean nothing. My weakness displays Jesus' perfection perfectly, because it displays the enormity of his sacrifice; the enormity of his love. And there is nothing that I can do or not do to change that. Isn't that great?

Exhibit B.
My main job on campus is just a work study job in an office in the Law School. It often consists of scanning, copying, filing, cleaning--a typical office job. And I really enjoy it. Plus, I have this incredible opportunity to be a light to these ladies that I spend 60% of my week with, and to all of the people that I come into contact with on a regular basis--other students, my fellow work studies, professors--but I don't always feel like I do a very good job of that. And I am still constantly asking God to use me to make a difference in that place while simultaneously doubting that I could because of my insecurities.
Well, this week, even as I was struggling a lot more than usual, God used my job to encourage more than usual.
It was just a little thing. One of the ladies was out sick for a couple of days so there was only one other person in the office with me, and she was a little overwhelmed. I stayed a little later than usual and tried to be as helpful as possible, but didn't really feel like I did a good job of doing anything more than sitting at a desk and smiling at people occasionally. Then I came into work today, and the first thing I was told was that one of the professors had talked me up to my supervisor about what a great job I did while she was gone. Let me repeat: I SAT AT A DESK AND SMILED AT PEOPLE. When I told my supervisor how surprised I was, I laughed and said, "I don't even know what I did! I just sat here," and this is what she told me: "Well, you talk to them. You treat them like human beings."
This was Jesus. Because I literally, 100% not kidding, sat. at a desk. and smiled at people. And that made a difference to someone.


1 Corinthians 12:9-10
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Monday, February 24, 2014


I have somehow fallen under this delusion that God only works in certain ways in certain areas of my life and only in the ways that I tell Him to work. "Oh, at work God can only help me do my job really well. In class God can only help me stay focused and do my best regardless of my grades. Oh God will help me feel better about myself when I look in the mirror. God will comfort me only when sad and broken and somewhere alone. I have to be "Work Heidi," "School Heidi," "Friends Heidi," and "Alone Heidi," and God will be "Work God" and "School God" and "Relationships God" and "Private God" to match my own mental switches that I turn off and on.
What. Who thought this was a good idea?
God is the same God everywhere I go. Sure, sometimes I need Him in different ways in different environments, and He works in me in different ways in different situations, but by turning God into this proverbial waffle I've compartmentalized my own life based on how I want Him to work in it.
I do this thing where I'm always telling Him, "God, I want to trust you. I want to love you. I want to be vulnerable." But when the opportunity comes to learn what that's like--what it means to trust someone, to love someone, to be vulnerable to someone and ultimately to Him--I push it aside because I think that things need to be a "certain way."

"Teach me what it means to trust you," I say.
"Okay. You should talk to this person who looks like they're having a bad day. Maybe even pray for them."
"No, that's not what I meant. I want to be able to trust you so that when You tell me to do something really BIG and scary I will do it."

"Teach me what it means to love you," I say.
"Reading your Bible is a really great way to get to know Me."
"I don't have time do that, I have homework and I have to meet up with these people later and I have to get up early in the morning so I should go to bed right after that. Is there anything easier?"

"Teach me what it means to be vulnerable," I say.
"I know you're having a really hard time today about such-and-such, here's your friend _______, you should tell her what's going on."
"No...she doesn't need to hear about my problems."

Unfortunately, these are the kinds of things that go through my head on a regular basis.
Fortunately, God doesn't need me to tell Him what to do. He doesn't fit in little boxes that I can fill up here and there and move around at my leisure. He doesn't always teach us things the way we think He should.
And He knows me better than anyone could ever, ever, ever, ever, ever EVER know me so how can I NOT trust Him with every single part of my life in every way?
In reality that's easier said than done. Because of my inherently sinful nature I'm not going to be great at doing that. I'm not even going to be mildly "eh" at doing that. But it's times like this where I am most reminded of Jesus' sacrifice, because whether or not I am a "good Christian" doesn't matter, Jesus is the standard and just by believing he met that standard for me. I don't have to live up to anyone's expectations. I don't have to be afraid of what people think of me because all that matters is what God thinks of me. And God loves me. At work, in class, at home, when I'm sleeping, when I'm crying, when I'm laughing. God is the same no matter how I and my world change, and nothing can change so much that He will ever stop teaching me and growing me and LOVING me.

Hebrews 13:9
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Haven't I seen you before?

I'm not new to the blogging world, I've had a couple other blogs mostly just for the sake of having a yearly goal to stick to. And I sort of feel like they were failures.
My first one was a 365 day photo blog, and it was mostly great. I was glad that I did it; I wanted to challenge myself and I think I was successful in that. But also it made me hate my camera and sometimes I felt like I thought about blogging my days more than I just enjoyed my days being...days. It was a relief when it was over.
The second one was another 365 blog, this time centered around praising God for his blessings, and done with a friend. We alternated days and sometimes fell behind and sometimes got ahead of ourselves, but both stuck to our guns and finished out the year. Another challenge completed, and with a much better approach. It forced me to seek out God daily and to look at things with his eyes, so to speak, instead of my own. But then it was over. And just like that I felt like I "wasn't allowed" to share those praises anymore.
So this third attempt is an open-ended attempt at my second attempt. Make sense?
As much as I sometimes feel silly when I blog, I also think it's a cool opportunity to share what God is doing in my life on a wider scale than my roommate and bible study. It's a cool opportunity to reach out to people (you) with the things that I experience in the hopes that they (you) can relate to them as well. Maybe I'll be an encouragement. Maybe no one will care. Maybe I don't care if no one cares. (Maybe I actually care a whole lot). Whatever the case may be. I want to praise God and I want everyone to know how AWESOME He is. I love Him, I love Him and I don't care who knows it! (Elf fans represent!)

Things you should know about this blog before we go any further:
1. It's title is "Daring to Dare" after a quote from C.S. Lewis' A Horse and His Boy. Aslan tells the terrified horse, Bree, to come to him, to be near him: "Do not dare not to dare." That really struck me recently. I want to live my life daring to be near to God. It can be really scary to trust Him, and it can be really hard to live a Christian life, but I do not dare not to dare because I know that it is worth it.

2. Sometimes the way I write is annoying. You probably figured that out with all of the parentheses. I just feel like I have a lot of funny things to say and I want to simultaneously say serious things also. Sorry not sorry.

3. I'm actually sorry.

4. It's not a 365 day blog. Thank goodness. It's just a

5. I am wildly embarrassed by this. I don't like attracting attention to myself and I feel like I'm all, "Oh look at me! I have so many important things to say!" But that's not what I want at all! I actually think that what I have to say is totally pointless, BUT what God has to say is really important. So boom, self. I just got served.

Here goes nothing!