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Lately I wonder how adequate my growth has the potential to be, if my vertical communion is limited and the majority of it is not initiated by me. Is spiritual growth separate from the other kinds we experience as humans, like the mental or emotional species? Does any class of growth happen separate from God? I do not imagine it is out of Satan’s desire to promote certain areas of growth if ultimately it draws me out of communion with God, so I suppose it is possible to grow as a person in “good” ways in my unimpressible state.

This is my fear! I barely communicate with God through intentional prayer lately, as I am still grieving for Pam and spiritual apathy is like an anvil on my soul. But I can’t deny all the ways I am experiencing growth and “good” change in my life since. Has God found ways to reach my squashed spirit, and subconsciously I to him? I find myself these days with emotional responses that are (relatively) mature/rational, with more sincere regard for my friends and family, an infinitely more genuine personality and optimistic, focused point of view. Up until recently I palpably lacked all these things, that was easily observed, especially by myself. I am excited to pursue things now for my own fulfillment (read: healthy hobbies) and I understand now that my goals are to simply find what I love and do it, and what is purer or sweeter than that? Such a revelation, such an embrace of the genuine person that I am is like taking in a cool glass of water after a season of drought.

A part of this sort of mental clarity comes from a realization I had a couple of weeks prior, while I read an email I wrote sometime my junior year of college. It was to a friend that I was losing and I was, to phrase it mildly, entirely obsessed with and determined to put things right between the two of us. On the surface, my words are sickly sweet, imploring, too simple to suggest intrigue. My true feelings behind them were depression over the state of our friendship, morose really, confusion as to why we were growing apart and inwardly wondering if it was because of me, because there was a part (or all of) me that she didn’t like. The latter idea terrified and tortured me. Looking over this email three years later, it’s astonishing to see how affected and blatantly fake I was! In the email I exuded happiness and cordiality and passive interest as if those were natural components of our relationship, but never scratching the surface as to why we grew apart or otherwise being sincere in any way. The tone the letter is so unlike me, it was unsettling to read. It made my stomach turn, thinking of how much my friend’s reception of me mattered and how I let that shape me… even more so, I remember that I was completely oblivious to my hypocrisy, only writing in order to gain her friendship and trust again.

It kick-started something in me, mentally and emotionally, and it changed in me the way I approach most things. Life. I think my disgust at seeing something so insincere and fake, and realizing that this permeated most of my character in college & since, has rerouted my perspective and personality into something more healthy and real.

I never realized it at the time, but returning to school as a newly converted Christian imparted a lot of very real pressure on me to glory in prudishness, to be the ideal Christ lover, to be spiritually mature enough to lead others to Him. I wanted approval from my family in Christ and everyone else, so I hid my sins, becoming all the more insincere and plain fake, rejecting my old self, genuine personality and all.  I realize this now, and though it haunts me to think of the friendships I lost or ruined or the people I may have led astray because of my deeply rooted insecurities, I am still ignited to be completely the opposite. Perhaps God is influencing all of this, perhaps vertical communion is still happening, perhaps my soul found a way to connect to Him that my mind does not realize yet.

Perhaps the mere thought of prayer, or the simple desire to be known by God, to be a better and more genuine soul, is prayer itself.


Wordle: CAP Essay

Here is the world cloud for my Christian Appalachian Project essay I’m submitting this week. Happy to see “community” right on top!

Wordle: Jeannespeaks Blog

This is a poor representation of what is sparsely on my mind and heart right now… Pretty lazy but I love these little things! If you are reading for updates, please know I am thinking of you and I know you deserve something more substantial. I sincerely hope to post at least a few more times before the program is out in six weeks. (Eep!)

Pastor John and the group

Success! Plus actual proof that we met Pastor John Piper. It was fantastical. (You could say I'm a fan.)

I’ll admit, freely, that I am terrible at keeping the Sabbath holy.

This lack of respect, or lack of understanding really, only proliferated in college, when the norm was to crash until 2pm on Saturday only to spend the afternoon hours getting ready for more leisurely activities in the evening… Sunday was always left with the catch-up work, filled with all the stuff procrastinators know best, which is extreme productivity at the last minute (for me, sometimes, literally).  Sunday was the day to finish studying and to prepare for the week ahead in school, clubs and everything else I’d piled high on my plate that semester.  I don’t think I ever respected the Sabbath, sincerely, until I came to be in this Catholic community.  And that makes sense, because the Catholics have an insane degree of discipline in these sorts of things, that I totally lacked in my evangelical setting in college.

Anyway, my Sabbaths are getting better.  Today I was deliberate with my time, taking an incredibly long bike ride and allowing my thoughts to clear with my simplest thoughts remaining on the nature surrounding the trails I rode.  When I got back to the Welcoming House, I peeked into our back yard and noticed these beauties:

Sr. Cordy's Tulips

These bloomed just today, obviously agreeing with the blatantly gorgeous weather and the plentiful sunshine.  Definitely symbolic of the renewing I’ve experienced during my Sabbath day.  Just a handful of months left here in MN… I can’t wait to see our garden radiating like when I first moved here in August.

Preparing for egg dyeing

40 days of water

The 40 Days of Water project is sponsored by Blood: Water Mission. It's beautiful. Check it out.

Today was forty-five degrees outside! The warmest day since early December.  Sadly I didn’t realize it until the evening when I finallydecided to change out of my pajamas and visit the Volunteer House across the street where the boys live… typical Sunday protocol.  I have been nicely productive today, sending in my tax returns after ages of agonizing over them (they are ridiculous and you are crazy if you think otherwise) and taking care of a huge chunk of my LVC app.  Also watched most of the Oscars tonight with Caitie, and we had fun critiquing the fashion and applauding the random dance montage.

For the Lent season, I decided to get half-way involved in Blood: Water Mission‘s 40 days challenge of drinking just water.  The idea is to gather all the lettuce you would normally drop on things like coffee or soda, and give all of it to the non-profit, which will then use all the donations to provide fresh water wells in communities that are otherwise getting nourishment from primitive watering holes.  I don’t buy drinks much anymore, but I still wanted to incorporate this sentiment into my Lenten journey.  This is the first year that I’ve been in sincere communion with Jesus and actively participated in Lent.  The past two years my heart has never been in the right place.  For that matter, my understanding of Lent growing up and in college meant giving up something sugary or indulgent that you really shouldn’t be having or doing in excess in the first place, depriving yourself unhappily and grumbling until giving up in mid-March.  Not particularly attractive nor very God-glorifying.  This time around though, it’s hard not to be influenced by this richly Catholic community, where Lent carries themes of deep renewal and continual sanctification.  It’s really a beautiful thing to them and I’m beginning to treasure it.

The first thing I noticed in the first week was how little I drink water, followed right after by how much I drink orange juice, milk, tea, coffee and soda pop in its place.  The reminder that the majority of underdeveloped communities don’t get to enjoy my favorite chai, let alone fresh, microbe-free water, has also been deep.

Most vividly to me though, has been the dreams.  Trippy, delusional dreams.  I don’t remember them ten minutes after I wake up, but I do know that that they are always bright, detailed, emotional and have heavy stories.  I also have been having the most out of control mood swings, that roller coaster on a daily basis, literally.  Maybe it’s the emerging Spring air…

But my dad had an insightful observation that perhaps the two parallels are more related.  When I mentioned coffee, I should have prefaced that with ‘multiple mugs a day’, and when I stopped drinking it I marveled at the lack of side effects or withdrawals.  I told my dad this after lamenting about those stupid tax returns I couldn’t figure out and he immediately piped that the two things might not be exclusive.

Hmmm!  I’m sure there’s some mind-boggling biochemistry involved and I’m gonna try to look into it this week.  But I don’t want to get caught up in what I’m depriving myself of or get myself distracted by the details.  Going along with the sincerity that many traditions or ceremonies in the church were born from, I want this season to not just be a religious habit but a spiritual movement in which I learn more about God’s character and bring the idea of continual sanctification nearer to my heart.