[The following essay was written by your’s truly for my church’s daily email devotional, but was inspired from an old Champ post. Enjoy.]
Spring has never been my favorite season. Growing up in south Texas, spring simply felt like an add-on to summer and attending college in Nebraska, an add-on to winter.
But the other day while on a walk, I noticed the green buds on the trees and felt such delight—and not just in the beauty of the freshly sprouted leaves, but in the fact that Spring once again did come. It’s something that we humans have no control over, yet we can trust that year after year plants will produce new growth. Winter won’t last forever; spring will come.
It’s an elementary truth, and yet it somehow felt profound this year. Yes, the meteorological seasons have changed, but so has the “season” in our lives. We as a world have found ourselves in a “season” of struggle—a season of fear, uncertainty, and unrest. A “season” where we see deep sickness, sorrow, and fear around us and can’t help but wonder when God will relieve us of these pains.
But then we see the budding trees and freshly sprouting flowers, and remember the truth: God is at work. He is bringing new life, even in the midst of sorrow in our world. Isn’t that the beautiful juxtaposition of it all? We are in a literal season of newness and growth and a “season of life” that contains sickness and pain.
In these times, we look to His Word for assurance. It is there that we are reminded of His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. We’re reminded of His love and compassion for us. We’re reminded that we have a Savior who can sympathize with our sorrows. And finally, we are reminded that He is producing in us something new—a “new” faith; a “new” perseverance; a “new” perspective; a “new” hope. Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
We can trust God with the uncertainties of life because He’s the same God who allows spring to come each year. Surely the God who is in charge of the seasons—of the redemption of fruitless plants after the cold and harsh winter months—will oversee the “seasons” of struggle in our lives as well. We can trust the God of the seasons.
Currently listening to “Every Season” by Nichole Nordeman
Have you missed people asking you that? It’s often such a trite greeting. But today I realized: no one has asked me that since I began working from home last Friday. Typically we ask this question at least a dozen times throughout the day…
to co-workers we pass in the hallway
to neighbors while on a walk
to cashiers at the grocery store
The list can go on and on. “How are you?” was a normal part of our days.
But since having a break from people and normal daily greetings, I’ve found myself wondering…how actually are those people doing? Beyond the typical answer of “fine,” I’d truly love to know how people are feeling right now.
I wonder how my co-worker is? She’s probably feeling antsy. I’ll bet this is a tough time for her social and servant-hearted personality.
I wonder if my neighbor is tired. Raising three children is hard enough, without social distancing. I hope she knows how courageous she is to care for her children so well.
I wonder if my cashier has a family to provide for or student loans to pay off. The uncertainty of the economy is probably stressful for them right now.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that my perspective has changed. This pandemic has led me to wonder more about other people; to sense their feelings in a new way.
So if you haven’t been asked today, how are you? I care.
Currently listening to “At Least For Now” by Justin Bieber
It’s January 2020, which means we’re just one month shy of my big, fat Austin wedding.
This season has been wonderful, special, a little overwhelming, and just plain ol’ interesting (quite the combination of emotions, huh?). There’s nothing normal about a season of engagement, but I feel like I’ll always look back and cherish this in-between time of life.
For now, the tides are starting to change in my life, and it just feels right. Here are some glances into this season of my life:
In case you live under a rock and have yet to hear, let me be the first to tell you: wedding planning is no joke. But with the help of my mother-in-law/wedding planner (who I swear may also be a magician/miracle worker), things are really coming together!
Last week included bridal portraits and day-of scheduling, and this week we’re finishing our rehearsal seating arrangement. (Side note: a newly engaged friend recently found her wedding dress and said to me, “I think that’ll be the hardest part of wedding planning!” …Now I’m no monster so I kept my mouth shut, but sister has obviously never made a seating arrangement.)
Anyhow, here’s a little glimpse into wedding stuff as of late…
Wedding showers are definitely an awesome aspect of the engagement season. Creighton and I were celebrated at three different showers—the first was thrown by my students and their wonderful moms (so special for me!), the next was hosted by Creighton’s parent’s friends, and the last was a young adult shower. All were sweet reminders that Creighton and I have been pretty dang blessed in the friend department.
My sisters and I took a “sisters trip” the other week to beautiful Rosemary Beach, Florida. It was so wonderful that we’ve since deemed it a yearly trip!
Love to you this week,
Currently listening to “Extraordinary Magic” by Ben Rector
My dear, wonderful Creighton Dryden proposed to me a few weeks ago, and we are overjoyed to be getting married in a few short months!
I will dive into all of the engagement details in a separate post, but I’d like to share a little about Creighton and our relationship first.
(I also decided that it’s time to unleash the many photos I over-analyzed posting vs. not posting when we were dating. You girls know what I’m talking about.)
I met Creighton my very first year in Dallas in the most random of ways. At that time, my friend Johnny had decided to move to New York City and he needed a little help in the packing department. I, a moving pro, offered to come over and help him begin the packing process. Well, lo and behold, when I arrived to Johnny’s house to help him move, a blue eyed, blonde haired guy opened the door and said, “can I help you?” I explained why I was there, which caused Creighton to laugh out loud. He said, “Well, Johnny isn’t here, but you’re welcome to come inside and wait for him.”
If you know Johnny, you are also laughing out loud right now, because every facet of this story—from enlisting a girl to help him move to the part where he forgot about it all together— is so on brand with Johnny Flores. (Johnny did eventually show up, for the record.)
To be honest, I’m a little shocked that I remember that first meeting with Creighton because we were both “spoken for” at that time and our exchange was incredibly brief. But even so, I somehow remember that introduction so well. I remember him wearing kakhi shorts and an old frat tee; I remember the look on his face when he answered the door.
Isn’t that memory a cool gift?
Creighton and I formed a friendship over the next few years, but it was always only that: a friendship. My perspective on Creighton was that he was kind and easy to talk to. And also important to note: we didn’t see each other often. Maybe 2-3 times a year at mutual friends’ parties. In fact, we went a whole year without seeing each other before we reconnected and began dating.
The next few years after my first introduction to Creighton, I jokingly (and cringingly) say that I dated every boy in Dallas. I would go on tons of first dates, a few second dates, and hardly any third dates. Don’t get me wrong—there were some great guys in the mix! Just never the right one.
After one particularly terrible date, I decided I needed a break. So I made a pact with myself to take a year off dating. (Obviously, I was feeling dramatic at that time.) I distinctly remember recanting said pact a few months later, but God must’ve agreed I needed a break because no dates came my way for a solid twelve months.
…But what did come my way was a really hard season of life. Maybe my hardest season yet. I’m going to spare you all of the details, but I will say that it was tough…and yet, it was also a really sweet time of my life. Isn’t that a crazy juxtaposition? Often when things are the hardest is when God feels the nearest. I saw His love for me in a new and wonderful way; I experienced the deep care of my friends and church community; I found new little joys in my life (like my ridiculous and short lived podcast). I tell ya: sometimes those hard seasons are so good for the soul.
Anyhow, through that season I gained a new sense of purpose in my life and job, which led me to decide that I was actually A-OK being single. I was content. And not only was I content; I was happy.
And wouldn’t you know, that’s the exact same time that Creighton Dryden walked back into my life.
We reconnected at an event I was working one night, and though I hadn’t seen him in a year at that point, it was as easy as ever to talk to him. He stuck around until the event was over and joined me and another friend for dinner.
Over the next few weeks, we ran into each other a few times (which I later learned was somewhat calculated by a smitten Creighton). And then one night I looked at my phone and had a voicemail from a 512 phone number. (Fun fact: I didn’t have Creighton’s phone number until he asked me out, and though we had been casual friends for a few years, I actually didn’t even know his last name. Ha!) We went on a first date a week later—ironically, almost exactly one year after my “one year pact.” Cheesy, but true.
And as they say, the rest was history!
Creighton Dryden is the friend that everyone needs. He is always kind—no matter the situation; He is humble and loyal; He values His church and the Lord; He makes me laugh and allows me to be my goofiest self; He’s the king of trivia; He’s part preppy/part nerd (you should see how his face lights up when he talks about the new Star Wars series on Disney Plus…); He’s sensitive to my emotions; He’s a wannabe cowboy and absolute rodeo lover; He’s a gentleman and a partner in crime (ok, we haven’t committed actual crimes, but I think I could influence him in that direction if ever needed).
He’s just the best and I’m so thankful that he’s mine.
Currently listening to “Ride With Me” by Cody Johnson
Perhaps you’ve been feeling unappreciated or listless.
Maybe things haven’t been coming together for you, despite your best efforts.
Or, you may have found yourself in a season of waiting, where try as you might, you can’t control a darn thing.
Frustration is one of my least favorite feelings in life (…Besides the feeling of being itchy. That one takes the cake.). And one of the most annoying facets of that feeling is that it often leads to other undesirable feelings, such as:
Doubt in God and others who love you
It’s a real problem. And to be honest, it’s one that’s plaguing me right now.
For me, frustration typically manifests from one specific arena, but then touches every other aspect of my life in numerous ways. For example, maybe the main frustration is work. But then, because you’re feeling some (if not all) of the feelings listed above, you start feeling frustrated by your significant other, by that thing so-and-so posted, by the humidity…the list can go on and on. Frustration has a ripple effect and, if you’re not careful, it can penetrate every aspect of your life.
So, how does one tame the frustration beast? This is what has worked for me lately:
Allow yourself to be frustrated, but only for an hour.
It’s ok to feel frustration, but you simply cannot allow it to fester. So give yourself a time limit. Feel frustrated. Go to a trusted friend or family member that is NOT a part of the situation. Pout a little. …but then, do not stay in that place. After an allotted time, make a game plan. For example, if you’re frustrated with a friend, feel that frustration and feel it BIG, but then after an hour, choose to let it go or confront the problem. Either response is fine, but don’t continue to sit in it.
Go for a walk, run, or complete a workout. You’d be surprised how often frustrating situations are built up in your mind due to stress. Try being active and see how you feel after.
Pray. Read your Bible. If you’re a person of faith like me, this is by far the best route to begin with. Often times my frustration begins with pride. Opening my Bible or talking to God about it always reminds me that life just isn’t about me. When I gain that bigger picture of His goodness and His grace, I’m able to have more grace with others and myself.
Bring frustration to people. Maybe this is obvious, but if you’re willing to embrace the awkwardness of actually talking to someone who’s caused frustration, it’s likely that your negative feelings will evaporate quickly. Now, if I’m being honest, this is not always the case. But more times than not, frustrations are formed from miscommunication, and simply talking it out and can do a world of good.
Currently listening to “Say It” by Maggie Rogers