Blogging Everyday in July|Connections, Choices, and Everything in Between

Something I think about a lot, and that I was definitely thinking about yesterday, is how everything is connected, and how if one choice was made differently, than not only would my life be changed, but so would the lives of so many other people.  One of the biggest things that makes me think this is when I get snapchats from one of my friends that I’ve known since I was in high school, who is now very close with my best friend, who I met in college.  She posted one the other day that had friend that I knew in elementary/middle school, and have seen from time to time since then.  And my college bestie was in the snap too.  My mind was suddenly blown at that random connection.

My parents first moved to Bishop in order to go to Church on the Mountain in Crowley Lake, CA.  They attended that church until my brother was small, because it was quite a drive from their house.  They started attending the foursquare church in Bishop, which is the church that I grew up in.  The pastors of that church were an influence in my life from birth.  They both attended Life Pacific College when Pacific was still Bible and the location was still Echo Park, CA.  So I grew up hearing about this school.  And because we attended this church, I attended Old Oak Ranch, a camp I grew up in love with.  Because of loving camp, my first job out of high school was at that camp, which has led me to work at 2 more camps.  That camp also always had reps from Life Pacific, so that was another influence on my college, besides God telling me to go, which happened at a convention that I went to with the youth group from the church I grew up in.  But I only went to the convention because one of my friends who also attended the camp, but was from a different city, was also going to be there and I wanted to see him.

Anyway, I often think about what it would have meant if I had waited to go to college, or if I had chosen a different college, because I often wish I had my degree in English, or literature, or creative writing.  However, although I have always been a writer, I didn’t realize that that was what I wanted to do with my life until I was already in college.  And I may have never figured it out, had I not attended Life Pacific.  Also, it is because of my friend, Aaron, and his Yarning in the Round parties that I realized my love for story, especially other people’s stories.  That was where I realized how much hearing other people’s stories can build community.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met Aaron.

Another person who I never would have met, or who would have never met me, is my best friend Michelle, had I never attended Life.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met my best friend.
If I had moved to Portland when I graduated from college, I probably never would have moved to Mammoth.  Had I never moved home to Mammoth, Michelle would never have been compelled to visit me, thus, she would have never moved to Mammoth and found her happiness and home there.
Also, if I hadn’t moved to Mammoth or started working at The Station, I never would have done the School of Supernatural Ministry, which would have meant that I never would have seen a blind woman healed in Costa Rica, nor would I have met Ray Hughes, so I never would have gone to Ireland.  If I hadn’t gone to Ireland, I never would have moved to Alabama, and I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

If I had chosen to move to Alabama right when I got back from Ireland, I never would have made a lot of choices that I made leading up to my move.  But my brother probably wouldn’t have gotten his first house as quickly as he did.  However, if I had stayed longer, my brother wouldn’t be constantly looking for a roommate, and I probably wouldn’t have moved into a 2 bedroom apartment because there probably would have been a one bedroom available somewhere.

If I hadn’t started working for the resort, I wouldn’t have the confidence that I can find a job no matter where I move, because there are hotels everywhere.  But if I hadn’t worked for the resort, I wouldn’t be convinced that I like working in hospitality, which I have learned that in the South, I don’t, because I am not Southern, and Southern Hospitality is a whole different game.  However, if I hadn’t gotten the job at the hotel, I wouldn’t have known about another opportunity for a very fun job, which I interviewed for, and am really hoping that I get.
I also never would have met two of my favorite people in Alabama outside of my Ireland pals, had I taken a job somewhere else.

I could go on and on about connections and choices.  Because they blow my mind a lot.  If even one thing in my life had been different, I fully believe that nearly everything in my life would be different.  And maybe that’s a conversation for another day.  So I’m both miserable and happy.  I am thankful for my choices because of their connections.  And I’m disappointed, because choices sometimes bring hardship.  But life is a journey, and it’s a learning experience.  It’s nice to see how far I’ve come.  And it’s nice to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned.  There’s no point in dwelling on how things could have been different, because really, do I want them to be different, or do I just like to have something to complain about?

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About Hope

I tend to remember everything.  More specifically, I remember almost every conversation, especially minor ones, that I have with people.  As of late I have learned not to bring up old conversations, because the speaker usually doesn’t remember saying the things that I remember.  But I digress.  

I once had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Aaron.  I was 2.5 years ago, and my mind was still pretty messed up.  I wasn’t sure how long I would be metaphorically “sticking around” then, but I had a little bit of a grasp of what I would do if I got through my ish.  I had an answer for everything, even in my brokenness.  I was pushing people away in a successful manner.  Throughout our conversation Aaron noticed something.  He then asked me where my hope was.  I had no answer.  I had no answer, because I had no hope.  Even though I was in Bible college, doing my best to follow a God who I felt was betraying me, I had no hope.  My hope was not in God, even though I desperately wanted it to be.  

Fast forward a few years to where I am right now.  For church on Sunday we made s’mores and had community time.  We separated into groups around the four separate campfires and we told God stories.  I had on my heart a need to share where I had been and how I got to where I am now.  I talked about how I had always had a plan, and now that I have no plan I am more content than I have been in a while.  My sharing sparked an ongoing conversation, and some prayer and some vulnerability.  One of my roommates, Gus, went on to point something out to me.  He said that it seemed that for a long time I have had no hope in my life.  When I had a plan, I had no hope.  But now, he said, I have an evident hope.  Even though I have no idea what my life holds, I have hope.  

So maybe when I have plans, I put my hope in them.  If I have learned anything in my life though, it’s that if I don’t get my hopes up, they can’t be let down.  Now that I have no plan, I cannot be let down.  My hope is in God’s plan, and not knowing what it is makes life a little bit more of an adventure.  And I want to be in love with adventure.

Blogging about Hope, and wondering where it is

Hope is not something I put a lot of thought into.  I’m not sure that many people spend much time in their minds, focusing on the concept of hope, unless they believe themselves to be hopeless.  Even when I was hopeless, I didn’t see hope as anything.
My friend Aaron once asked me where my hope was, what my hope was in.  I didn’t answer him right then, and I’m not sure that he expected an answer.  It was something to thing about.  And I’ve never had an answer.

It’s been more than a year since my conversation with Aaron.  I haven’t thought back to that conversation in a while, but last week it once again intruded upon my thoughts.  I was doing devotions and came to a focus on hope.  Joel Elies describes hope as “an assurance, an ironclad guarantee that after all of our adventures and hardships, there will be a ‘happily ever after’ from which we will see every past difficulty as a necessary part.”  Hope is more than just a wish, it’s more than just hope.

So where is my hope?  Is it in heaven?  Living my life right because I’m going somewhere even better when I die?  No, because heaven isn’t my final goal, although it may be my final destination.  Is it that my writing and spoken word will take off so that my future will be stable?  I used to think so, but I’m sure that that’s right either.  My hope must be in Christ, because He is the only constant in my life.  I’ve had friends step in and out of my life so fast that I don’t know who to trust anymore.  I’ve learned that if someone is there for me in the most important part of my life, that doesn’t mean that they deserve my trust or my faith or my hope, because our lives are separate and most people are bound to leave, even those who mean the most.

Psalm 42:11 says “Put your hope in God, for I will praise Him, my Savior and my God.”  There’s no reason to worry or feel hopeless, because I have been saved.  All I have to do is praise God; I know He knows my future.
Today in church one of the speakers said to follow God’s blueprints for my life.  You can’t build a good house if you ignore the blueprints.  I can’t build a good future if I ignore the blueprints.
Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.'”
I think wondering about where my hope is might be a waste of time, because God is going to give me a hope… and a future, which is really all I need.
God said that to Jeremiah in one of Israel’s, and Jeremiah’s, roughest times.  So I truly can take it to heart when my life goes to crap.

My life is going to prosper, even if I don’t necessarily know what that looks like yet.  I can hold, in my hands, a future and hope that has been given to me.