Happy one year DC-iversary to us!

On February 3, 2012 I woke up, headed to the Nashville airport, said goodbye, and boarded a plane for this new life.

I can’t believe it’s now been a year. So much changed last February.

We traded a 1900 sq. foot house with a yard for a 2-bedroom, 6th floor condo. A comfortable job for one that has stretched me in all possible ways. A fantastic church where we had put down roots to the challenge of starting over. A town full of people we knew to one where we were brand new.

It’s kind of crazy to look back and see how far we’ve come in 12 months. To see God’s provision through every step of the way. Continue reading

A New Year, A New Look: Living with Eyes Wide Open

Living with eyes wide open

Just in time for the new year, I randomly decided today that the blog needed an update. A new look and name. Something a little fresher. So I started changing it. It will be a work in progress as I figure out all of the features of this particular layout, so please pardon the continued changes as I move things around, but I like it already.

A while back I had toyed with the idea of changing the name (from “Live. Love. Serve.”) but I couldn’t think of anything better & it fit well enough, so I left it.

But times are a-changing. Continue reading

Fall Leaves & Fellow Commuters: Discovering Beauty All Around Us

I love fall. The changing of the seasons. The brisk, cooler air. Everything pumpkin. The chance to get some variation in my wardrobe again. But probably most of all, I love the colorful leaves. They are simply gorgeous.

Each tree is different. The varying, distinct shades of green, orange, yellow, red. My personal favorites are the trees that get bright red on top, while staying a rich green underneath.

Continue reading

Catching up with the Barnes…

In a nutshell… It has been a busy, stretching year. Time has flown by more quickly than I’ve ever been used to. We’ve now been in the DC area for 8 months, which is hard to believe.

In hindsight, I wish I had written more along the way. It’s been quite a journey. I feel like I’ve been stretched in every way possible. But in all honesty, starting a new job, part of it is a balancing act of figuring what you can & can’t say (or should/shouldn’t). Part of it has been the fact that I get home in the evenings feeling pretty drained & find it hard to exert the effort to write (or insert other productive activity). So for all that I’ve missed, here is the brief overview. If you were to call me and ask me about our transition, this is much of what I’d probably tell you… Continue reading

The Difficulty with Dreaming

This is a post about dreams. My sweet friend & sister in “leap of faith” adventures, Lindsey, encouraged me to participate in this link-up. We both, around the same time, gave up our stable lives and made big moves to follow our dreams.

Three years ago I found my dream job. But, it wasn’t yet to be… It wasn’t time.

A year ago, it popped back up, and about 4 months ago I took it – working in marketing at International Justice Mission. I dreamed of making a difference, as part of this amazing organization that is helping combat violent oppression against the poor around the world. So we uprooted our comfortable lives and moved 700 miles away to start this new, great adventure.

You could say that I’m living my God-given dream. I believe this is what He created me to do. And yet, it is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
Continue reading

More on Being Restless

One of my recent favorite songs is Switchfoot’s “Restless”. It hits something in my core that I can find hard to define some days. I wrote about this feeling before in a post I called “Feeling Restless“. Click on the title to open that post in a new window to skim for some background on what I’m talking about here.

“[Sheila Walsh] describes this restlessness as ‘a sacred ache, an ancient longing’ that points us continually to Christ, and that it won’t go away ‘until we make it all the way home’. It tells us ‘that home is what we’re made for’. Like a constant reminder.”

Anyway, this song totally struck a similar chord with me & I wanted to share it with you. I recommend hitting play on the video at the bottom & then reading through the lyrics.

What do you think? Does this song or the idea of restlessness strike a similar chord in you?

“Restless”

I am the sea on a moonless night
Calling falling, slipping tides
I am the leaky, dripping pipes
The endless, aching drops of light

I am the raindrop falling down
Always longing for the deeper ground
I am the broken, breaking seas
Even my blood finds ways to bleed

Even the rivers ways to run
Even the rain to reach the sun
Even my thirsty streams
Even in my dreams

I am restless, restless, restless
Looking for you
I am restless
I run like the ocean to find your shore
Looking for you

I am the thorn stuck in your side
I am the one that you left behind
I am the dried-up doubting eyes
Looking for the well that won’t run dry

Running hard for the other side
The world that I’ve always been denied
Running hard for the infinite
With the tears of saints and hypocrites

Oh, blood of black and white and grey
Oh, death in life and night in day
One by one by one
We let our rivers run

I can hear you breathing
I can feel you leading
More than just a feeling
More than just a feeling

I can feel you you reaching
Pushing through the ceiling
Til the final healing
I’m looking for you

Until the sea of glass we meet
At last completed and complete
Where tide and tear and pain subside
And laughter drinks them dry

I’ll be waiting
Anticipating
All that I aim for
What I was made for

With every heartbeat
All of my blood bleeds
Running inside me
Looking for you

Waiting on the Lord

Some quick thoughts to begin this week…

It seems like so many people in my life are waiting on the Lord for something – for a job, for health for a family member, for something financial to come through, for Mr. or Mrs. Right, to find our true calling, for hope in a desperate situation, for a straight up miracle, for peace that surpasses all understanding…

And let’s just say it. Waiting stinks. We want answers now. And in our idea of what perfect timing should look like. We are an instant gratification culture. We live in a land of instant conversation (texts & twitter), fast food, and on-demand TV. If we have to wait in a line at Starbucks for more than 5 minutes we grow impatient and irritated.

God doesn’t work like that, at least not 99% of the time. But His timing truly is best, even when we can’t see it.

I was reminded recently of the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness (I’ve been reading through the Bible and am in Deuteronomy right now). Time and time again God would work amazing miracles in their lives. If the miraculous delivery from the Egyptians wasn’t enough, there was the pillar of fire to guide them, manna from heaven to feed them, water from a rock to quench their thirst, etc. They had these incredible signs from God of His amazing provision. But before long, they’d grow impatient and make their demands of Moses and of God, not believing God would deliver on everything He had continuously promised them.

I don’t want to be like the Israelites. Even after God clearly shows up and does something amazing in life, it’s like we forget about it just two weeks later. We start to doubt again and go back asking for answers or a sign.

As I’ve said before, I love it when God works in themes. One of them right now is waiting and trusting. And in the midst of the waiting & trusting, all we can do is focus on the present, on the things that we know we need to do today…

The below verse and quote both popped up on the same day. I’m trying to take notice. I hope these may encourage you also.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:13-14

When you don’t know what to do, wait while I open the way before you. Trust that I know what I’m doing, and be ready to follow My lead,” -Jesus Calling, (November 4th)

Are you waiting on something? What is your favorite verse/passage or quote about waiting on the Lord? Please share it in the comments below.

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Get Less Busy

My most recent revelation is an obvious one, but it needs said.

We, as a culture, are far too busy.

We hurry from one thing to the next, constantly filling our schedules to the brim until there is no time left. It’s like an addiction. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I can be as guilty as anyone else, and I surely do have my seasons. Especially as I’ve been pursuing my MBA these last couple of years. (And I can’t even imagine what it’s like once you have kids.) But right now, I’m trying to soak up the opportunities that present themselves, while I have a little break.

In general we leave ourselves with no margin. We have little to no room for anything “extra”. The things that suffer: real quality time with our spouse/family, with friends, time to serve, time to be able to stop & help someone else with a need, time spent sitting still in God’s presence. What about time to actually relax for a few minutes and feel refreshed. There is no margin to be able to seize opportunities like this one, when we’re going 70 mph.

So what do we need to do?

  • Quit something. Create some space.
    This is most often easier said than done. There are definitely seasons of life that might dictate this. But it’s a good idea to take a good, hard look at our weekly schedules and see what we can eliminate in order to save space for other important things that might come up spontaneously. We are a culture of doers. It might be time to quit something.
  • Learn to live more intentionally.
    Don’t go through life filling up time with just anything. Figure out what the things are that you really want to be spending your time on. Prioritize. Figure out what is best (not just what is good).
  • Spend more time reaching out to others.
    Call that friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Send an email or a card. Ask someone to go grab coffee or a meal. Invite some neighbors over for dinner. Relationships are often one of the things that suffer most from our activity-packed lives. And it’s a tragedy. Life is meant to be lived in community.
  • Carve out times to be still (Psalm 46:10).
    I’ve had a really hard time with this one lately and I’m seeking to improve. I’m finding it really difficult to quiet my mind and to be still with the Lord. But it’s so important.

What other tips do you have for shaking off our addiction to busyness?

Get less busy. Start now. Go.

Focusing on the Present

More than any other time I can remember, I feel like I’m being taught a lesson on living in the present. It has almost become a theme, popping up everywhere I turn. When that happens, I can’t help but stop, take notice, and hope to learn something from it.

For various reasons, and through various circumstances, I am being taught that I cannot worry about what tomorrow will bring. Because honestly, we don’t know. Anything could happen tomorrow.

There have been some days recently when all I had the capacity for was to figure out what I had to do today, and then do it. I couldn’t handle thinking about what the next day would bring. I was at capacity.

In some ways, it has been a refreshing lesson. I am pretty sure, in a sense, this is how God wants us to live.

So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.” Matthew 6:34 (The Voice)

This is hard for me. I am a natural-born planner, a perfectionist, and I may or may not like to feel in control of my circumstances. So right now, I’m learning to do the opposite, and it’s a challenge.

But on the other hand, I have found myself less burdened with worry (depending on the day). More intentional on working on relationships – with family, friends, husband, etc (some days are better than others). Desiring to live each day to the full (notice that I didn’t say I’m there yet, but I have the desire to do it).

Then, out of nowhere, this was my reading from Jesus Calling on Friday:

“I want you to live this day abundantly, seeing all there is to see, doing all there is to do. Don’t be distracted by future concerns. Leave them to Me! Each day of life is a glorious gift, but so few people know how to live within the confines of today. Much of their energy for abundant living spills over the time line into tomorrow’s worries or past regrets. Their remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not for living it to the full. I am training you to keep your focus on My Presence in the present. This is how to receive abundant Life, which flows freely from My throne of grace.” -Jesus Calling, September 30th

Perfect.

I’ll be attending (& running promotions for The Voice Bible at) the Catalyst conference this Wed-Fri. The theme… “Be Present“. Not sure what that will entail yet, but I do love when God speaks to us in themes, don’t you?

Embracing This Season

Does God ever reveal messages to you in themes – you read something on a blog, your friend brings up the same topic later that week, your pastor preaches it from the pulpit?

I feel like that has happened to me recently. It’s been the theme of seasons of life (Ecclesiastes 3).

At church, our pastor was talking about these seasons of life and how we all go through them, following a pattern. I am normally not a note-taker in church (though I should do it more), but what he said resonated so much with me that I had grab something immediately to write it down.

Very briefly…
Spring = a time of growth & new beginnings. Exciting & maybe challenging.
Summer = the busy season of toiling & working hard, yet enjoying the sunshine.
Fall = the harvest; a time for celebration.
Winter = a time to be still/quiet, for preparation & nourishment.

Cason & I both have been feeling kind of restless lately, like we’re in some state of limbo, not sure of what is next. He’s been in a frustrating (at times), temporary state of employment for the last year, not sure what God has up His sleeve for him or even what field he should be looking in. The small groups that we’ve led for the last 4 years have sort of fizzled out. We’re not really sure in what ways we’re supposed to be serving now or even really know where our giftings supposedly lie. I’ve dealt with (probably irrational) questions of self-worth, as far as “what am I even good at” and “who cares what I have to say anyway”.

We are definitely in a season of winter and I feel like it makes sense now. Being in winter can seem cold and depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Winter is where we’re supposed to be quiet, to focus on preparation for and anticipate whatever spring is going to bring. We need to let go of some things, let some things die, allow the land to rest, and the soil to be nourished in anticipation of the new growth that will come.

This is our time to be still, to focus on the tasks we’re given, to work on nourishing our souls. We want to be ready when the time comes to move into spring and for whatever new growth opportunities God gives us.

It is a step-by-step, day-by-day sort of thing. God doesn’t generally give us a flash of the big picture. It is much more like the verse,
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105

We often only get to see the very next thing in front of us. Then, when we step in obedience, the lamp moves on to light up our next step.

I do know some of the things I need to be focusing on right now. So that is what I will try to do. When the time comes, I pray we’ll have the discernment and courage to know what to do next. But I do feel relieved just knowing that this season is a necessary step before we reach the next one.

I guess it can’t always be spring.

What season of life are you in? Are you embracing it?

Check out Mike Glenn’s blog here if you want to read more from him on the topic of the seasons.