January 5, 2015

To Face Them

I woke up on January 1st feeling nothing but pressure. I should have avoided social media entirely. Instead, I read through everyone's reflections, resolutions, and expectations for 2015. I couldn't decide if I wanted to cry or puke.

This is out of character for me. I usually love the days between Christmas and the new year. The list making, the planning, the dreaming-I eat it up! 

Not this year. No. This year, I was afraid to face my resolutions. Afraid to scribble them down, to figure out when and how, to get lost in the excitement of their possibility. I thought it would be easier to push them aside as a way to protect myself from feeling discouraged and disappointed when I fail. From feeling angry with God when He "fails." From feeling angry with myself for forgetting God doesn't fail.

Today is day 5 of the new year, and I realize whether my resolutions come to the surface or stay tucked away in a corner of my soul, there will still be times of discouragement, disappointment, and anger because hiding my dreams from myself is difficult and hiding them from God is impossible. 

With that in mind, though I am more hesitant than in years past, I have decided to face the wonderful goals that terrify me.

I'll face them with pen to paper. With words on a screen. With friends over coffee. With the ones I love most in the day to day. With God in the quiet mornings and in the sleepless nights. 

I'll face them knowing there will be times of encouragement and attainment. I'll face them knowing there will be times of joy. 

This is my first resolution: to face them. 

And I hope you face yours, 

-Elise 

December 30, 2014

I wish that I could be like the cool kids.

It's exhausting, you know? To wish to be like the cool kids.

Cool looked different then, but for the first few years of high school, I was a "cool" kid, I think. By senior year, though, I was voted "most changed' because...well...I was cool and then I wasn't. It was a weird year for me, and I ended up not even accepting the superlative because I didn't want to forever be known as the girl who became uncool. I decided I'd rather be known as the girl "most likely to win an Academy Award." There's still time.

So here I am, seven years later, ashamedly wishing to be like the cool kids again. And the cool kids, they're everywhere. On my social media feeds. Standing next to me in line to get coffee. In the neighborhood drinking craft beer on their porches. There is no escaping them, only opportunities to covet their coolness.

And I've been doing my share of coveting. And after the coveting comes the trying. And after the trying comes the failing. And after the failing comes the self-loathing. And after the self-loathing comes this post where I publicly throw in the towel on wishing to be anything but myself.

Maybe I've fooled you into thinking I'm one of them. Maybe I've posted all the right photos with all the right hashtags. Maybe you've caught me out and about wearing my trendiest outfit. If that's the case, I promise you, too much thought went into it all and not enough heart. Not enough me. Not enough of someone who would rather not try at all. Someone who would rather just post the pic without hashtags and go out wearing jeans and a hoodie most of the time.

I guess what I'm saying is I don't want to wish to be like the cool kids anymore. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad to be a cool kid. It's who they are. They can't help being effortlessly cool with everyone all the time.

But I just want to be effortlessly myself with everyone all the time. Cool or not.

Stay forever and always you, my friends.

-Elise

September 11, 2014

She Will Be Made Well

This post has been a long time coming; the idea of it floating around in my head and heart since the winter months, when God brought to my attention these words from Jesus in Luke 8:50,

"she will be made well."

The phrase is just a tiny portion of Jesus' miracles of healing in Luke 8:40-56, but it was what I needed. These are stories of physical healing, but I'd argue there was healing going on in the souls of these people and their families and their communities, as well. In the midst of depression rearing its ugly head, I needed to be reminded that I, too, was being made well by Christ.

So I clung to these words and found that even after my need for them became less apparent, I couldn't escape them. They were stuck in my soul, and I started believing they weren't just meant for me. I spent many months thinking and sharing and crying and breaking and praying over them.

I knew they were meant for us all, but I also knew God impressed them on me for a specific people. But who?

Flash forward to about a month ago when I accepted a youth specialist position at a home for refugee girls. Yes, the projected 60,000+ refugee children crossing U.S. borders in 2014, these girls are among them. Their stories and journeys are heavy and hard to accept, but they are very real.

And it didn't take long for me to realize, she will be made well is for them.

I know it will be hard for these girls to believe it, that Christ could heal their hearts and minds from the trauma they've experienced. That He could restore their souls. But that's what He does.

He takes us by the hand and calls to us saying, "Child, arise!"

He gives us our spirit back.

And He makes us well.

July 13, 2014

I call this, adventure.



Today, I write to you from my new residence, from my go-to spot on the porch, loving the occasional breeze on my sun-kissed skin. I write to you saturated in the changes of the past six months.

Winter turned to spring and spring to summer, and suddenly I was leaving my job and Battle Creek and everything comfortable and sure. As June was welcomed and celebrated by Michiganders everywhere, I hopped in the Camry and welcomed and celebrated the adventure awaiting my arrival.

I call this adventure Grand Rapids.

I call this adventure job hunting on the regular. Navigating the city streets and learning to parallel park. Drinking lots of good coffee and even better beer. Being unknown and unknowing. Loving him nearby instead of so far away. A reunion with old friends and an invitation to meet new ones. Fighting the temptation to lose myself in trying to be someone I'm not. A time to be bold. To be brave.

An opportunity to trust and obey.

I call this something beautiful and risky.

I call this a way of life.

I call this, adventure

-Elise 

January 30, 2014

Vulnerability Out Of Order

Recently (like two days ago recently), I listened to a Matt Chandler sermon that said a lot, but to me, it mostly only said this:
"Nothing drives shame away from the heart more than being fully known yet still delighted in."
When I heard this, my face got hot, and my heart started pounding, and I had one of those moments where I really wanted to shut out the voice of God because I knew He was saying it was time...

To be fully known. To be vulnerable.

But being "still delighted in," though it always is with God, is never a guarantee with people, and it is there the tension lies. It is there where trust in God is required.

It is there that proves we need God in order to be vulnerable with those around us.

I could not have been vulnerable in the way He was asking if it weren't for His grace. Without it, my choosing to be vulnerable would have been riding on the reaction of another person. A person I love. A person I didn't want to disappoint with knowing all of me. Without it, I would have remained bound to my fear. I would have remained stuck in the order of which I thought vulnerability should take place.

But with tears and shaky voice, I let God take my vulnerability out of order, and in return He brought great freedom.

I think BrenĂ© Brown perfectly sums up my feelings since:
 "This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, "Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?" just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, "I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive."
Yours in being known completely,

-Elise

January 22, 2014

Breaking the Silence

Note to self: You may want to be good at this whole blogging thing, but the truth is, you've got some work to do.
Let's be honest, the word blogging is pretty interchangeable here. Why?

One word. Say it with me.

DISCIPLINE.

Can't say it's a virtue of mine. I often set out to accomplish various goals-learning how to play the guitar, running on a regular basis, reading one book a month, etc.-but my lack of discipline outshines my apparent desire every time.

However, my recent committment to a gluten free lifestyle is proving otherwise. Sure, I've only been at it for about two weeks, but I'm feeling pretty darn good about that. Fighting my beer cravings and turning down cupcakes at work does not happen easily, ok?

And I'd like to think showing discipline in one area of my life will eventually flow into others. Could breaking my blog silence be proof of that? I guess we'll find out if I go another five months without posting...

Seriously, though, I made the decision to go gluten free with hopes of improving my acne, but just maybe this journey is for more than what meets the eye. Maybe it's teaching me a little more about the state of my heart and how growth is possible, goals can be achieved!

All it takes is a little bit of rice flour and a whole lot of discipline. ;)

Stay steadfast my friends,

Elise

August 21, 2013

The End in Sight

Somewhere between the mountain hiking, beach bumming, and trips to In-N-Out, life in California became my new normal. With only a week and a half left until my return to the Mitten, I realize time definitely got the best of me this summer.





Seriously. Where did it go, and why did it have to go there so fast?

Although I will be greeted by familiar faces and places, I can't shake the anxiety that always comes when life is on the brink of change. I will settle into a rhythm soon enough, I have this awesome gift of adaptation, but I haven't reached the point of wanting to have to do so. I know I will leave a piece of myself here, but I hope by the time I find my seat on the plane, the rest of me will find its way to Michigan.

Until then, though, I plan to soak up as many rays of the California sun as possible, dig my feet into the dirt of the mountains of Big Bear, and love wholeheartedly the people who have made this summer my favorite.