Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One is the Loneliest Number

One. Lonely. Uno. Solo. Solitary. Sad. Alone. Unlovable.

Most of the time, I'm content in my singleness. I can be content because I know that God has somebody for me that will love me like Christ loves the church; someone who I will respect and who I can build a live with. Yeah, there's a promise and I can trust in God for it. But there's one specific time when I can't help but hate being single with everything inside of me.

And that's when I'm moving. I never feel lonelier than that. There's not necessarily someone there to help me pack or carry heavy stuff. It's just me when deciding what to take over first; I'm left to my own devices to figure out how in the world to put together the furniture I've just bought. My mom would probably tell you that I've always been the independent type, that's true. But doing this alone is difficult. I'm not saying that it's hard because I need somebody to carry heavy things for me. I can do it myself. There's just something about having someone to complain to, to be frustrated with...someone who is going through the same thing. Or at least the idea of it sounds wonderful...

And then I remember the power of One. Christ. It only took one man to come and reconcile us to God. I remember embarking on the journey that brought me to Orlando two and a half years ago. I remember how all that mattered was that Christ was leading me; there was so much excitement and wonder.

This memory doesn't make packing and moving any easier, but it gives me a little more peace. It makes me smile to remember that me and God embarked on this journey a little while ago and He still leads the way as we step into this new season of life. Being single doesn't automatically make me lonely, sad, or unlovable. When I marry, my name will change, but my identity will still be one who is redeemed by Christ. I will still be His righteousness.

So, as I pack and move down the street, I remember that I have strength through God to make it through this transition. And one isn't really the loneliest number because God's right here with me. :-)

Isaiah 26:3 "Lord, You will keep him in perfect peace, he whose mind is stayed on God." - JDV (the Jessica Dickson Version)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Year, a New Season

One reason that I love to start the new year out at church is because I love to think about God will do in the upcoming year so we can dream big dreams about what is to come. I don't like to put God in a box, but for years, He has given me a specific verse that would come to define the theme of my year. New Year's Eve 2009, I didn't feel like He was saying anything particular about 2010, though I was absolutely certain it would be better than 2009. I think that God didn't give me a verse because He wanted to surprise me. I think He's one of the best gift-givers I know.

The theme of my 2010 has been redemption. I have heard redemption defined as the buying back of something that has been lost or stolen. I think it's pretty cool when God redeems even the things we don't even realize were gone. Things such as:

* ideas about marriage and love - I didn't realize how much my parent's relationship colored my
thoughts that people could actually love each other. I'm sure my parent's loved each other in some way. I just developed the belief (not realizing it) that arguing meant that someone was going to leave. Having married friends and living with married folk has certainly helped me see that it is possible to have a successful marriage! And, new friends have shown me mercy that I believe has been straight from God to my heart. Amazing. Now, I am more excited, than afraid, for whatever God will do!

* the fact that people care for me even if I don't make the right decisions all the time. I didn't think anyone would want to be in my life if I was blatantly imperfect. That led me to believe that whenever I made a mistake, that made me unlovable. No so! I am thankful for my counselor who helped me see through the lies I was believing. I am at a place where I can make a mistake and not think the world will implode. It's a much healthier place to be.

* other things that I need some time before I talk about them. They're too fresh, too new, and too personal to share on just a blog. Someday . . .

Until Then
Here are some of my favorite memories from 2010!

* I got baptized in October. It was one of the most amazing days of my life . . . so far, at least. I got baptized when I was little, but it was long before I knew what it was a to have a very personal relationship with the Lord. The day was filled with people I love and who care about me. I felt like it was a great way to celebrate the fact that God has made me new.

The picture is me going down into the water. Yes, I smiled and laughed even then. I was so filled with joy. I couldn't help it! Before I got baptized, I was nervous that I would get dropped and flail around helplessly in the water. I got up there and said, "I'm nervous that..." and before I could even finish, Isaac responded, "We got you." I was immediately set at ease. I felt safe and fabulous. I had a triumphant rise from the water and started to dance the moment I got up. haha. Victory! Cleanliness! Freedom. First breath, again. Newness in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come. I wanted to be baptized because I wanted to say to the world that I'm free.
(When I told my dad that Dwight Howard got baptized there too, he wrote: "Newsflash in Heaven: Superman and Wonder Woman baptized!" :-D I will always remember that. I know how much he loves sports figures.)

* I received my Master of Arts in Counselor Education: School Counseling. That means that I have a degree in Counseling with certification to be a School Counselor. I was blessed enough to celebrate this day with the Rannebargers, my parents, Allison, Megan, and Kim. It was a rainy day, but those are usually the best days to be together because you're forced to be inside and to be together. It was a beautiful day, despite getting soaked; it was also the culmination of what I've been working on for the past two and a half years here in Orlando. That day would have been fraught with anxiety had I not already known what my next step was. I didn't have to worry, though, because . . .

* I got a job as a high school counselor. I am very excited to start my career here in Central Florida. I felt like God was calling me to stay in Orlando this summer, though I wasn't very happy about it. Before this year, I wasn't too keen on staying in Florida very long. God softened my heart and opened the doors for me to work at a school down here that has an atmosphere that makes me want to hum. I am so excited to start!

* I did a photo shoot with KT Crabb! It was such a fun time. I got to dress up and trapse through the grass in my 3 and a half inch Jessica Simpson pumps.

* My new friends Ryan and Lindsay got married in Baltimore in November. I spent some time with my bestie, Kelly Clark(son), where we saw one of the worst plays known to man, watched the Sound of Music, and were just happily together again. Then I went to camp for the wedding weekend extravaganza. It was so much fun spending a weekend with everybody. There's something magical about all being together and getting to know one another that makes the celebrating that much more intense and fun. Also, usually the bridal party are the only ones who get to interact intimately with the bride and groom, but we all got to spend precious moments with them. Another wedding I got to experience this summer was Lisa and Carey's. They are the most adorable couple you'll ever meet; I'm not sure I've actually ever seen two people as in love as they are. I cried through their entire ceremony (though I have to credit myself for this: I DID NOT ugly cry. That would have been a shame). They wrote their vows to each other. It was beautiful!

* I got to spend time with Kim when she drove back with me from Michigan. She had just gotten back from the World Race and I got to hear all about her trip. It was fantastic to spend so much time with her and to see how she had grown as a woman who wants to know God in all of the fullness that He has planned out for her. And over the year, that has grown even more. It's

* Hearing that Blondie is PREGNANT!! She's my first best friend who is pregnant and I'm really
excited to see the little girl!!! She's gonna be a cutie. I'm just glad I can tell people now because the suspense was killing me!

* I turned 25. I was one of those weird people who was super excited to turn 25. I like getting older, mostly because I like memories. You only get memories when you live! I like saying, "Remember when that was . . ." when driving down the road. Or looking back at my journals and praising God for how far He has brought me. hehe. I digress . . . this year, I got a tattoo for my birthday! Happy birthday to me! It's around my wrist area and is my name in Hebrew. A few years ago, God showed me that my name was my character and it was very significant to me. Having the tattoo helps remind me, when I'm frustrated or things are going wrong, who God has called and created me to be. And no, that's not determined by my circumstances. I wear it proudly.

I am excited in the promise from these memories. 2011 is coming, and its open brings a new season for many of us.

New marriages.

New life.


New career.

A path I didn't quite expect.




What has the theme of your year been? What can you look forward to in 2011? I'd love to hear about it in the comments, an email, or even if you want to link to your blog, that would be great!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Autumn, How I Miss Thee!

"Walking home from work, I inhaled the crisp Fall air and immediately a familiar smell entered my nostrils - freshly fallen Autumn leaves. The scent left my nose longing for more. I wasn't satisfied. I took another deep breath. I closed my eyes and was instantly comforted. I know it sounds silly, but there's something about that time of the year. Autumn is my favorite season. I love all the special things it brings. The weather cools to just the right temperature - you can wear flip flops and a sweatshirt for the perfect outfit; it is the perfect weather to walk arm in arm with a loved one and not overheat. There are unique joys: to twirl with my arms open under a tree as cascades of leaves fall around me like a fountain, to walk down the street chasing after crispy leaves that are being blown by a cool breeze just to crunch them under my feet, to take beautiful pictures of the transformation of the earth as it prepares for a cold winter, to enjoy the smells of a summer's past and behold the future. For most of my life, Autumn has signaled the start of the school year - a time of new beginnings and of learning.

But growing up, school wasn’t always as beautiful as the Fall. I was glad that I was smart, but being smart was not my primary desire. I wanted to be the beautiful girl who was popular, who all the boys liked, who could get all the other girls do to anything at the drop of a hat because they wanted to be like her. My childhood didn’t exactly happen like that, though. I grew up the gullible girl who people took advantage of for laughs. I found myself doing whatever I could to fit in and stay close to the people everyone thought was cool. I rejected people who felt as lonely as I did to avoid the sting of rejection they knew. During middle school I was made fun of almost every day for one thing or another – my weight, my hair, my clothes, the way that I spoke – any imperfection kids could find. I found myself feeling useless, hideous, and worthless. Suicide was an abiding thought that seemed better than whatever I was going through – better than the loneliness and the pain. Like many teenagers, I thought my life meant nothing. And it seemed there was nothing there to prove me wrong.

That is, until high school. My freshman year, I ate lunch with a girl everyday because we would otherwise both sit alone. We got to know each other pretty well and after two years of inviting me to church, I finally went with her. It was there that I met someone who changed my life – my youth pastor. He told me that I was beautiful and special and loved. He gave me hope. He affirmed my worth whenever he had the chance. This adult, who knew little about me, took the time to show me that I meant something to this world, that my life was significant, and that I was made to do something great."

These are the opening paragraphs of the essay I used to get into graduate school. It's funny that as I end my stay at UCF, I was reminded of these words I wrote. Mostly because I miss Autumn. It happens to be my favorite season (thank you very much). I'll take it over the brazen heat of Summer and the penetrating chill of Winter. Though I have grown to really enjoy living in Florida, this is one thing I miss dearly. Bonfires and hay rides and corn mazes; hot cider with powdered donuts and pumpkin carving. * sigh * There is certainly something special about that time.

Here I am, in an Autumn three years after I wrote this essay. I'm in my internship at a high school and I have an amazing opportunity to live out the love that I've been freely given. It's been given by family who, as they sought the heart of God, gave me what I needed even when I didn't desire it. It's been given freely by my old therapist, who cared about me even when I didn't believe people would love me if I didn't give them what I thought they needed. It's been given by my friends who have been there for me even when I have felt like I was too crazy to love. Ultimately, it's been given to me by a God whose name is Love. A God who created me and loves me for all of who I am, not just when I'm doing well. It is this love that draws my heart to love others. How can I not love others and give grace that was so freely given?

I don't get to experience the Fall I wrote about three years ago in its fullness where I am right now, but I am very aware of the truth in these lyrics: "All of my life, in every season You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship!" In a place where it can be hot until December, and I always say the seasons are "hot" and "very hot," I am grateful to have experienced such differing seasons in the past. I know that no matter how long I might feel in the dark, Winter will someday end and hope comes in Spring rains. I know that even when Summer heat stretches until October, I will soon feel a cool wind and be able to chase leaves down the street joyfully. Seasons will change, but God's love is the kind that transforms people and seasons. It's the kind that will continue on forever.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Random Thoughts!!

I am alive and in good health. I am deeply loved by the Creator and Savior of the world. I'm not sure what else matters, but here's what's on my mind! Enjoy!

a. Riding home with all my windows down and sunroof open is the best way to end the day.
b. I love my internship site. My site supervisor tells a lot of stories. I love listening to people and feel honored when someone shares their life with me.
c. I'm learning students' names. I like that.
d. I think I took John, Fred, Ryan, and Robbie for granted at the House Off Rouse. I miss being able to go over there anytime and chilling. I think it's because I feel really safe with them. Sorry guys. I miss you!
e. Things haven't gone the way I hoped they would with something recently. I'm not disappointed because my hope is in Christ, not my circumstances. I'm actually even more excited because He'll do more that I can even imagine or dream of!
f. I am in dire need of Wicked the Musical. I might go for a walk with my iPod and belt the entire soundtrack. (Sorry, neighborhood!) This is if it's not too hot.
g. I also would love to watch High School Musical 3 with Kelly. I miss my bffl.
h. I am in dire need of a girls night!
i. I'd like to purchase a pair of sparkly black pumps. It's kind of a dream right now. I'm working on it.
j. The music at Summit Waterford and Summit Herndon was good yesterday. Yeah, I went to the 11 am at Waterford and the 6 pm at Herndon. I was happy!
k. I think the song "Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North sounds like the Newsboys.
l. Scarface is a REALLY boring movie. To answer your next question . . .Yes, I do like action movies. I would usually choose action over romance. Unless it's The Notebook. . .
m. If I'm going to stay in the Orlando area when I graduate, I need more friends. My closest seem to be moving away! Also, I like people and don't think one can ever know too many. :-)
n. The first thing I want to do when I get home from work (internship) is brush my teeth.
o. My mom is the strongest person I know.
p. When I think about going international, my heart beats a little faster and my palms sweat. I think I'm in love.
q. I have no desire to do any of the homework assigned to me this semester. I need an attitude adjustment! I know it'll be helpful. . .* struggling big time *
r. I don't know why I used letters. I usually just number really erratically. (Think 500 Day of Summer!) Guess I'm in a mellow mood!
s. Ann is so wise and beautiful. I am so lucky and blessed to be living here with the fam!

Well, those are my no means all my thoughts, but getting inside of someone else's mind is certainly dangerous. (I mean, just ask Hector B. Poole in the Twilight Zone's "A Penny For Your Thoughts.") So, I'll leave you with those. Have an excellent day!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Go Ahead, Read My Blog!

Friend: "I read your blog."
My thoughts: "You did what? WHY? Why would you of all people read my blog? That's random."
My actual response: "Oh?"
Friend: "You told me about it the other day."
Me: "Did I?"
My thoughts: "I think I did...I kind of remember doing that...but I didn't think you'd actually read it."
Friend: "Yeah, we were talking about writing..."
Me: "Yeah, I think I remember."


At the end of this conversation, I felt vulnerable. Someone read my blog. I mean, I've known others who have read my blog and commented on it. But, they were either random people or close friends who I knew loved me. This was someone I had met maybe a month before. Someone to whom I told a story that I hadn't told many people before. I hardly knew this new friend, but was getting to; I already felt vulnerable. Will this friend use that information to harm me? While I don't share everything on this blog, I kind of put my heart on the line when I post.

I realized that I wasn't excited...I was frightened. I was flustered. I got choked up. I hope I didn't show it! People have blogs for a lot of reasons - to tell stories, to share fiction that they've written, to talk about various topics of interest, the news, etc. The purpose of my blog is to kind of share my heart about where I'm at in life. It's random. It may be funny. It might be sad. But it's how I feel and a little part of my heart goes out to be judged by the world. Will I be a bad writer? Will people hate what I have to say? What if this person knows too much about me? Will they take advantage of me? Do they think they know everything about me because they've read this little piece of my life?

I didn't think I'd react that way, but I think it reflects everyone's struggle (even those not fought in a virtual world), though I'll speak for myself: Acceptance. If I do X, Y & Z, will I be accepted? Will people care? What if I say something the wrong way? Will I be shunned? Will one thing change everything? What if I make a mistake? If I forget something important, will they still want me in their lives? Who will care about my mess when they have their own stuff to deal with? Will I be too much for them to handle? Regardless of what your question is, there is likely a part of you that wonders if you will be accepted, hoping that you will be enough.

See, the truth is that I am enough. I was enough before my friend decided to read my blog. I was enough when I wondered how this friend reacted to what I wrote about. I am enough when someone has to remind me of an important detail in their life that I can't believe I've forgotten. I am enough when I'm crying because I feel alone or when I'm extra-sensitive about something nobody else seems to understand. When I am weak; when I am strong. When I have the right things to say and when my mind goes blank. When I sing the wrong notes, I am enough. I am enough when I realize my life is not where I thought it would be at my age.

There's nothing that can take that away from me. 2009 wasn't my favorite year. It was kind of characterized by grief - loss of life, loss of friendships (and friendships the way they were), etc. But one thing I learned through that very rough point in my life was that I am worthy. I am worthy of love and admiration. I just have to be who God created me, a human being. I used to think I had to do everything and do it perfectly to be desired in any way. I realized that it's not what I do, but who I am that matters. I am a woman created in the very image of God.

That is enough. It's more than enough. I am enough.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Good Grief!

It's a funny thing, that grief! It hits you at the most random times.

Recently it hit me when I was watching the video at Northland Church's Living Beyond Yourself study. I miss my uncle. I started to cry uncontrollably. Unexpectedly, tears streamed down my face and I felt vulnerable. It didn't matter that I was sitting in one of the back corners at a table when they started. I knew immediately that I wanted to run away. I wanted to get into my car and go for a long drive. I didn't want anybody to see me or to ask me what was wrong, because I wasn't quite sure myself.

I did know this: I miss my uncle.

You can read about him here. He passed away last August. His battle with cancer was difficult to watch. This man who made everyone laugh and feel like they were a part of his family was in pain. He couldn't do the things he used to do. It was hard for him even to pick up his children. My roommate was with us when we celebrated my birthday a little in Sarasota last May. She said she couldn't even tell he was in pain because he was so inviting. He lived his last days as a man with purpose, a man who relied on the strength of God. It was beautiful to have been there to see even a part of it, though it was painful then.

And I find myself in pain now. I've always been the emotional one of the family that not a lot of people understood. I cried for an hour in a way that I haven't in a long time. I have tended to think that makes me a weak person. I used to think that people wouldn't care about my tears because I am so emotional. But, they matter. And I can't be ashamed to say that I wish he were here. I wish that I could call him so he could make me laugh. Or he could give me some wisdom that comes only with precious experience. He can't invite strangers into his world just so he could make their day anymore. He can't give generously to the lives of others because of one simple fact: He's not here. He's. Not. Here.

That's hard for me to compute. I'll admit that I'm struggling hard right now with that fact. You never know when grief is going to hit you. If you see me and I'm crying or sad, feel free to just give me a hug.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! . . . and Proverbs 1

Happy New Year!!

Well, it's 2010. It doesn't feel like a new year, but I woke up excited for the goals and what is to come this year.

I love the power of Twitter! I woke up and read Proverbs 1 with Cross Point Church. I heard about it through @pwilson and, though I don't go there, I've decided to join! I love corporate worship activities. And I'm happy to be able to do it. If you're interested in keeping up with everyone's thoughts on Twitter, go here!

But, to my reflection on Proverbs 1! . . . (and I look forward to the different things that God reveals to different people!)

Proverbs opens up with a little introduction about what we'll find by reading, that it's for gaining understanding, the fear of the Lord, and wisdom (basically). The next section is encouragement to embrace wisdom, to not be foolish.

The next section is what intrigued me. Here, (v. 20-33) wisdom is personified and a warning is made to not reject her. She cries out in the streets, dissatisfied that she has been rejected. In their distress, they will call to her and she will be nowhere to be found.

I was interested because isn't that just the way we are! We reject wisdom, we reject what the Lord has to say about our lives, and in our distress, we cry out for that same wisdom that we have rejected. It was made clear to me that, while the folly is problematic, ignoring wisdom in the first place is an issue, that's not the big issue here.

One fundamental thing missing is repentance. Seeking wisdom without repentance is futile. Asking for wisdom is a great thing! I support it; it's written here in the Bible for US, to improve our lives. But, we cannot truly accept the wisdom given to us if we have not repented. Our hearts must be in a place that is ready to receive it.

Okay, maybe that's not explicitly stated, right? Maybe it's implied, I don't know. But I didn't see it. It is good to seek wisdom, yes! It is not useful to seek wisdom without repentance though. Repentance is usually the step that's left out. We think that we're okay simply because we've taken someone's advice or because we've attempted to apply someone's wisdom. Repentance is a turn from the ways that we are wrong, not simply taking steps to amend what's been wrong or broken.

So, hopefully we can all learn a lesson from this story. We must not try to simply gain wisdom; we must turn from our folly. I am looking forward to the rest of Proverbs because I think it will give us some wisdom on how we can do that.

Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And 2010, oh yeah...BRING IT ON!