looking over at justin as a student was sharing during large group time about how she met Jesus and went from death to life, and seeing him crying.
the huge art mural that someone created, showing lives in the bible that were met by Jesus. brought me to tears.
the sweetest reunion with so so many of the dearest ones.
how much holland laughed at leah trying to get over the fence.
ben griswold's wart club. oh my gosh.
learning about the difference between art that is broken and art that is redemptive, and how i, alexi, can uniquely contribute to creating redemptive art.
holland. every minute i got with her! guh. i can't believe how much i love her.
mainhia's laugh! i've always loved that girl.
when i first saw tj and jenna and sean and how they are so tj and jenna and sean. ughh. definitely teared up. they mean so much to me!
sitting by the water with becca and seeing her face and hearing her voice.
leah freakin sanders! there's no one like that girl. oh my gosh. seriously, what joy. especially when she's with holland. forget it.
zach murray and his girl pants and poop stories and how he forgot what my name actually is and that it's not just lex. ohhh, life would be so much less interesting without that one.
the blinding sunrise.
cassie being such a safe person for me. i know i can always be 100% myself with her.
jay and andrea! they are so special. i care about them so much.
just being with becky. what a presence that girl has!
missing ariel and coral so much.
allie tang! allie tang in america!
...man, you guys, this weekend was the sweetest, most precious minute in time where so many people i love were finally in the same place. it was everything my heart wanted. except maybe taylor and isaac could have been there.
rachel douglas and her hugs and joy and wanting to share things with me. she is so good at making people feel loved and important.
beautiful leah bartsch. every time i see her i actually can't believe how beautiful she is.
watching sean lead and that sean excitement and passion for things he really believes in.
that precious girl in my track who was comfortable enough to cry to me. that is always the biggest honor to me.
lynita and jenna's crazy ability to make anyone feel like the most special person in the room.
watching amy do what she is so good at.
so much goodness everywhere.
finally updated my "community" tab at the top, (but sorry, guys, i didn't change any pics because it's just way more work than i wanted to put into it right now haha), but i added some blogs i've followed along with for a bit now that needed to be included there a hundred years ago and changed a couple of the urls that also needed to be changed a hundred years ago. (ha). these blogs all really mean a lot to me and i get so much from each of them. THANK YOU FOR WRITING AND SHARING, friends who blog! the world desperately needs the lives you live and the things you have to say. i know i do! i love you guys! YOU ALL SHOULD READ THEM AND LOVE THEM, TOO! so take a look!
also, you may or may not have noticed, i added a "favs" tab to the top because i've sort of become a bit of a real reader, not just a poser, these past few months and these books are just way too influential and necessary to keep to myself, so i've added my favorite books, will actually update and add to that tab pretty consistently, if you're interested, and eventually i plan to add something having to do with my favorite music but that is so daunting. so, if you're ever on the hunt for a new book (or music, eventually) and want my advice (because, guys, i LOVE to give it!), there ya go!
that's it. ha. happy wednesday!
"when life goes bad and we stay mad, something terrible happens inside our souls. we lose our ability to hear, and suddenly God seems far away and silent. He won't answer back, won't coddle and console us in our fury.
this is why i cannot help but question the view i've heard bandied about with such impunity: 'it's okay to be angry with God.'
really? are you sure?
i'm not so certain. in fact, i think i was in a dangerous place when my heart was raging against Him, my soul teetering precariously close to the edge of that deadly cliff of rebellion. crazy things happen when we willfully push away from the love of God, things that leave wounds and scars that can last a lifetime - mistakes, misjudgments, misery. much like a child who inadvertently injures himself in a fit of momentary temper, i was working myself into a fury that could have caused irreparable harm.
that God can handle my anger, i have no doubt. the problem, i have come to believe, is not with God, but with us.
our souls are not strong enough to withstand the gale-force winds of intense and sustained anger. the roof is blown off, boundaries are broken, we are exposed to our own shocking ugliness. when that still, small voice of reason questions the rightness of our anger, we raise the volume, and sometimes we can't stop.
the spark that fueled my anger was intense self-absorption, which led to self-pity. and self-pity, i have learned, is a sin that keeps us away from God.
...self-pity is subtle and circuitous. self-pity slips into relationships, strangling goodwill and preventing grace.
...i believe that most of the self-prefixed words cause me to slide into sin: self-defensiveness, self-centeredness, selfishness, self-protectiveness, self-promotion. any time i make my self the object of my (and everyone else's) primary concern, i am setting myself against God."
- diane comer, He speaks in the silence, pages 98 & 99
"i think many of us have become comfortable with not hearing God. to deliberately decide to cultivate a close connection with God is hard work.
it's not just about hearing how much He loves me and wants the best possible life for me. more often, He has tasks for me to do. corrections to give. adjustments in my attitude to make.
and while He pours mercy all over my mistakes, He also insists on making me aware i've done wrong.
just like putting on my cochlear device is all mixed up with wonders and work, so putting on a heart to hear God is a mixed bag of delight and discipline.
but it is this day in, day out decision to abide in Him that allows me to really know Him. when i hear Him every day, the cadence of His voice becomes familiar. i know the difference between the way He speaks and that accusing voice of the enemy or that excusing voice of my own self-deception.
to hear Him now is my greatest delight. early every morning, before the world awakes, i meet Him in the quiet. i open my Bible, pick up my pen, and wait for words, inviting Him to speak to me, writing what i hear. i bring my honest hurts to Him, my hopes, my fears, all the angst i cannot handle on my own. i worship. i seek wisdom. i wait.
in that intimacy i know His nearness. i feel hope. i am safe.
i know better now, than to think that listening to God will free me from all my troubles. my story won't let me lose myself down that rock-strewn path again. and i don't carve out space to hear because i am disciplined, but because i want Him, all of Him.
i need God in a way i never knew i did before."
- diane comer, He speaks in the silence, page 194
a couple weeks ago at my church, a lady told us about our church's halloween event while she was giving announcements. and then she said this... "halloween is on a monday this year, so we are going to do our event on sunday so you can be in your communities on monday. we think that's important." i wanted to stand up and clap or something. i've never heard that from the pulpit. usually the church events are meant to be in place of other halloween activities and to purposely get you away from them, for the people who feel uncomfortable by them (and maybe to get new people to come to church). i guess i don't have a super big problem with that, it's fine. but i don't know, i think it's missing a big opportunity.
yesterday i asked an older lady who i work with about what she is doing for halloween and she said very seriously, "i don't participate. i think it's an evil holiday and i bring my grandkids to church. there's always a fun church event for us to do there." i bet she's a fan of harry potter, too.
i've heard that so many times. here's the thing. i've never actually seen people worshiping satan on halloween. maybe they did it at home and then came out to trick-or-treat, i could be wrong here. but PEOPLE. come on! hand out candy to the cute five-year-olds dressed as elsa, for heaven's sake. don't be that one house that's dark in protest, and don't be that person who hands out tracts or toothbrushes. meet a new neighbor you wouldn't otherwise see or tell that little toddler that you love her bumble bee costume (oh my gosh, i love that). i think halloween is a big opportunity to be in your community and engage with people. to be the incarnational presence of Jesus in your neighborhood, instead of at church where all the other christians are.
don't get me wrong, halloween itself is kind of dumb and i'm not like a huge fanatic of the holiday. and i'm sure somewhere there are people out there who do terrible things on halloween or maybe even worship satan. but isn't that kind of true every day? and we don't run to church because people might be doing bad things every day, do we? i just think this could be a really cool opportunity for us, as followers of Jesus.
you can disagree with me! i love learning different perspectives. what do you guys think?
why is ben howard's every kingdom album SO good?!
why is the office SO funny?
last night, my roommate kassandra and i met the group of five girls we would be leading this year at church youth group. i loved them the minute i met them. they kept making me smile. the little divas have been church friends since seventh grade and they talked over each other and passionately told us how annoying freshmen are (because they're sophomores, you know, and freshmen think they are the coolest things to walk the earth apparently ;)) and about whose high school was beating whose in football and about their gross homecoming dances and about how cool it was that one of them turned 16 early for her grade so she ALREADY HAS HER LICENSE! ... oh my gosh, i love them. i just met them and i love them. when i got home, one of them had gone through my instagram photos and liked EVERY SINGLE ONE. haha! this is going to be the best year. i seriously can't wait. it actually reminded me a lot of a chapter in homegirl shauna niequist's book, cold tangerines, where she talks about the ten sophomore girls who changed her life:
"somewhere between going through my trash and asking me about tampons, in between the recitals and games and phone calls, they burrowed into one of the deepest parts of my life and my heart. they became something between friends and little sisters and extensions of my younger selves. they became a central part of my world, my thoughts, my prayers. my schedule became more and more wrapped around their term papers and proms and problems, and my home became more and more the safest landing spot for this strange, whirling little gypsy wagon of girls."
^^ i know it might never be like that, and that's okay. but i really think that is a beautiful picture and something i've always wanted.
i am thankful for how God made our bodies to heal. a week ago today, i was miserable and dreading work because i was sick and today i feel healthy! so thankful.
yesterday i was thinking about what knowing God is like. if i could describe it in a tangible feeling.
it's like a warm heavy light that feels like it's where your heart is and settles in your shoulders, but not heavy like burdensome. heavy like, taking you over, and you so hope it does. it's a warm inner-settledness, like the deepest parts of your heart and soul are taking a constant deep breath because there's a sort of peace where there once wasn't. the heavy, warm light is hope that you can't explain. like even if the worst thing happened, it will never leave you. it's your soul confirming to your body that it has seen real goodness, real belonging. it's like it unblinds you and you can finally see everything clearly. a nod in your soul... yes, this is it. this is old dry bones standing up. like when the great lion aslan breathed into statues and they became real people. i'm not trying to paint a lala sunshine world that is knowing God. i do live in the world and know that people are mean and really, really hard things happen, even brutal and unspeakable things. and i also know what it's like to feel like God is so far away. i guess i don't know what to say about those things. except that it is hard. really hard. and that warm light (Jesus inside) is alive. and trustworthy. sometimes knowing that is everything. deep breaths are found there.
"the first and most basic thing we can and must do is to keep God before our minds. this is the fundamental secret of caring for our souls. our part and thus practicing the presence of God, is to direct and redirect our minds constantly to Him. in the early time of our practicing, we may well be challenged by our burdensome habits of dwelling on things less than God. but these are habits, not the law of gravity, and can be broken. a new, grace-filled habit will replace the former ones as we take intentional steps toward keeping God before us. soon our minds will return to God as the needle of a compass constantly returns to the north. if God is the great longing of our souls, He will become the pole star of our inward beings."
"as i see it, you can break down Jesus' kingdom work into about ten categories: preaching the gospel, teaching the way, healing the sick, casting out demons, eating and drinking with people far from God, doing justice, peace-making, praying, prophesying, and standing up against religious and political corruption."
(john mark comer)
"aslan, aslan. dear aslan,” sobbed lucy. “at last.”
B L O G A R C H I V E