Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013: Year-end Review

It's been a while. & that's okay. At this time last year, I was so excited to see 2012 go.  I was filled with anticipation for what was to come,  & as a result of my haste to simply get through the next year, I think I missed out on the process of goal-setting for 2013. I had a few half-hearted ideas scribbled into my journal, and a whole lot of excitement for the future.  I welcomed the new year with hopeful expectation that there was something good to come. 

& this year was good. It was a different kind of good than I expected, but I am now able to look back on it with gratitude.
  In 2013 I:

reached the half-way mark for receiving a doctorate. Whoa. The end is so close,
ran the Music City Half Marathon [in the pouring rain] with some of my closest Nashville friends,
watched my heart continue to heal by the grace of a loving God,
spent a week in Florida nannying some crazy kids, and hanging out with a friend in our own condo,
made the decision for where I would spend my clinical rotations & presented my residency proposal,
wrestled through being sick, &  a few health complications,
Participated in a local CSA,
attended several joyful weddings,
celebrated my favorite, Fort Collins holiday,
took a few road trips,
explored beautiful little towns,
laughed a lot,
cried a lot,
& learned a lot.

Here's to 2014.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just ask for the ice cream [The follow-up]

"These things-the beauty, the memory of our own past- are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.  For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."
-CS Lewis in The Weight of Glory

Recently, I wrote a post about asking for what you truly want. What started as a simple conversation quickly turned into something much bigger, and before I knew it, I was receiving a lot of feedback on the topic.  For whatever reason, the post climbed in readership, where it sits second only to a post about  this website.

[Disclaimer: if you know nothing about Maddie the coonhound, or 
Theron Humphrey's current project, 
stop reading this and start reading that. It's much more interesting, I promise.]

I never thought the topic was particularly profound- in fact, I felt mildly guilty that people were sharing it under my name.  The concept was not original to my mind- I simply decided to write it down. But I think I get it. I think we all like the idea that we might get what we want. We want to believe that our desires matter, and sometimes good things just happen. Our human nature is programmed to receive more naturally than to give, yet we spend much of our lives fighting grace and good things that come because we think we should.  I think it's a beautifully intricate concept to learn how to accept gifts, and it was refreshing to think that sometimes, it okay just to ask for what we really want, and even more beautiful to experience hopeful anticipation.  

But here's the thing: I didn't get what I wanted.  It's weird to want something so badly & not get it. Sometimes we can want something for an extraordinary amount of time, to the point where we are consumed by the desire for it. Other times, we simply wake up one day & realize that we just don't want it any more. The latter is a bizarre experience, because in the days that followed, I found myself genuinely contemplating whether or not I actually had ever wanted it in the first place. Desires of the heart are complicated like that.  The past few weeks, I've been thinking about what I want. Here's what I've concluded: 

Even when I get what I want, it just doesn't fulfill me. I want what's next & I will always want what's next. My desires are cheapened when they are always granted.  My prayer is that God would not necessary grant for me what I ask from him. Instead, I pray he awakens & transforms my desires by giving me himself- my deepest, yet unrecognized desire. I pray that this transformation allows me to turn from the wells that I believe give me life & reveal to me a fountain which fulfills me beyond what I am aware I want or need.  Breathing freedom from want-for the first time, or for the hundredth time- is a beautiful thing. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Being present.

"That's how I want to be. That's who I want to be: deeply present in the present, in the mess, in the waiting, in the entirely imperfect right now." -Shauna Niequist 

It always follows the same pattern: 
I stop writing. It might be because I'm busy. It might be because I'm lazy. 
It might be a little bit of both. For whatever reason, I stop, telling myself
I'll write when I have something good to document. Before I know it, 
it's been a long time, and I find myself under the pressure of writing something
profound. If I wait long enough, my writing turns into the occasional life 
update-so occasional that each post holds the expectation that it must have meaning. 
Each post feels like it needs to be a big moment- a life lesson I'm in the middle of, or
an experience too good to not have written down. The longer I wait the more I realize
that these moments do indeed come, but are overshadowed by the presumption that
they need to be good enough if I'm going to write them down. 

But the truth is, life has settled down into a series of strikingly ordinary moments lately. 
They just don't seem worth writing down when viewed through the lens that each post
must be extraordinary. 

I've meant to blog for a while now. I even have some significant life updates that I want
to write about. But each time I have sat down to do it, I have been at a loss for how to
document the small moments in between. But this morning, I read a timely article that highlighted
some truth about appreciating here & now, regardless of what here & now looks like. 

Here's to being inspired by the beauty in the ordinary days. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Thankfulness// 7.25

Thankfulness lately looks like this:

1. Provision in the form of a new job: Here's to paying the bills a little easier. 

2. Lessons on patience from these guys:

3. Fresh popsicles that melt in the sun.

4. Phone calls with old friends. 

5. Trips home that leave my heart full. 

6. Tough decisions that leave me humbled [in the best way possible]

7. Promises of a hopeful future. 

8. Summer bucket list accomplishments.

9. Whole foods dates with people I love. 

10. Reminders of home.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I've always liked to think I was a risk taker. I've always liked to think I was independent, brave, & adventure-seeking. But the truth is, I am not- at least by nature. For as long as I can remember, I have filled my life with interests & activities that would suggest I am this way. I enjoy the outdoors, I love travelling, & I have been known to pursue lofty goals which might ultimately lead to failure. Yet, as much as I'd like to believe I am a "go with the flow & let's see what happens" kind of girl, I am just about as spontaneous as the sunrise; I am both predictable & calculated in almost every decision I ever make. I really have come to terms with this part of my personality, & when given the chance, I attempt to challenge myself through appreciating & practicing flexibility.

Despite my desire to trust a little more, & worry a little less, I am seemingly
paralyzed at times by the unknown. Whether it look like anxiety, complacency, or isolation, I have frequently allowed fear to take an authoritative role in my life. 

The past few days have made me acutely aware of how fear influences my daily
decision-making & ultimately leads to diminished joy in almost everything I do.
As I sat down this week to bring my fears to light, I realized that 
they outnumbered the goals I had in my mind. This is a problem.
I've found that when fear dictates your thought process, simple choices become agonizing, & 
complicated ones become downright unapproachable. 

 That's what fear does, it magnifies the little things until suddenly
everything is a big deal.  But the truth is, 

It's usually not that serious. 

So today, I'm learning to confront my fears.  If I believe that fear is a choice, then
renouncing it is also a choice. 

I dare you to confront a fear today. Here's to being brave. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Learning to wait.

It's funny that I've been having such a hard time feeling inspired lately. 
For the first time in a while, I got into bed early, hoping to get a full night 
of sleep, but before I knew it 
1. I had this song stuck in my head & 
2. I suddenly felt inspired. 

[Not sure if there is causation there, but it happened.]

One of the things I've been thinking about for a while now is what it looks like to wait. 
I've written about it recently, but I've noticed my impatience more & more as I've watched 
my heart change over the past year. It seems I'm always waiting for something. 
A year ago, I was waiting to move- in so many aspects of my life:
 physically, emotionally, & spiritually. 
I experienced all of those things in the course of a year. It was all so hard, but so good. 

But now, as I've settled  in many senses of the word, I find myself again waiting.
Or at least it feels like waiting.

I'm waiting for a handful of things, from where I'll be placed next May
to where relationships are going that seem to be moving at a snail's pace.
But the truth is, I'm not so much waiting as I am worrying.
Amidst it all, I feel like I'm waiting for myself to be patient & to just be still.
It seems like such a strange way to put it- that I'm waiting for myself to be patient,
but that's what it seems I'm doing lately.  

Sometimes I feel like I don't even give my prayers & desires a chance to be answered.
I never get to experience the true feeling of waiting, because I don't sit still long enough
to expect answers to come. I either talk myself out of it, or work full-force toward accomplishing
things myself. Neither of these things tend to end well for me.
Instead of patient expectance, I'm left with the disappointment of my own failed
manipulation, or the frustration that I never got to see the answer
because I simply didn't give it the time to get there.

Today, I'm learning to wait. I'm learning to be patient. I'm learning that the things that
are worth it take time, & the process of accepting things as they come is
often more rewarding than the results themselves.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Prayers That Have Changed Me [2]

I am just pages away from finishing my most recent journal. I love the closure that writing on that last page brings & I also love the excitement of starting new in a blank book. Today, both of those things feel pretty good. As I flipped through an old journal today, I came across a Psalm I had written down as a prayer on today's date, one year ago. I didn't realize it then, but I coincidently read the same chapter this morning. It's pretty neat how things work like that. 

"I'm more certain than ever that prayer is at the heart of transformation. I'm also certain that God's will has a lot more to do with inviting us to become more than we previously have been than about getting us to one very specific destination." 
-Shauna Niequist in Bittersweet

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just ask for the ice cream

The other night I got a phone call from this girl. She & I met my junior year at 
CSU when I found myself leading her freshman bible study & desperately wanting
her to think I was cool. My plan worked, & we became fast friends, sharing a love for trail running, nutrition, Jesus, & the outdoors. Over the next four years, we built a friendship that I 
grew to deeply cherish. 

The phone call was short, & for the most part, insignificant. It was a welcome relief from the marathon
of paper writing I was participating in, yet I wasn't able to give it much time. I had briefly stepped outside of the coffee shop I was working at for the night, & before I had to return to my papers, I 
mentioned to her some of the prayer requests I had lately. She was familiar with most of them, &  I shared with her my frustration that nothing was really moving forward. 

She assured me that she would continue praying, &  I knew she meant it. It's a rare thing
to be able to fully trust someone in that way, & I have been recently reminded of the blessing
of friends who just know you like that. One of the last things she said to me is this: 

"Laura, just ask for the ice cream. It's what you want."

I've been thinking about it ever since. 
Out of context, it sounds a little bit bizarre. But the simplicity of the analogy contains
a profound truth about what I believe about God, & I am so thankful she pointed it out. 

Lately, when it comes to prayer, I approach God from a standpoint of, 
"If it is your will, do                        ." & there's nothing wrong with that. 
In fact, there's something beautiful about abandoning control through praying for God's
ultimate direction in your life. It helps me recognize how big he is & how small I am.
But somewhere in the process of wanting him to transform & awaken my desires,
I've lost the childlike anticipation of asking him for what I really want. 

It is easiest for me to envision God when I think of myself as his child, his daughter.
A child approaches her dad and says, "Dad, I want some ice cream." It's simple.
But instead, I find my requests sounding a little more like this: 

 "Dad, if you want to, could you maybe give me some ice cream?
It's totally fine if not, because it might hurt my stomach, or I might be allergic, 
or it will totally ruin my dinner plans, & I really don't want you to 
think I'm greedy, & actually, nope, I'm fine with what I have because 
you know what's best for me, & you probably would have given it to me 
already if you wanted me to have it." 

It's crazy, & all of the innocence & expectation of the request is robbed by my
inability to vocalize what it really is that I want. I fear the request itself,
 but what I really should be wondering is whether or not I am okay with
the answer I might receive. God has the power to say, "No." Because
maybe I am allergic, & maybe eating ice cream will be more detrimental to me than good.
Or maybe he'll say, "Sure thing. But how about you wait an hour, because you just
ate & you won't appreciate it fully in this moment." 

But maybe, he'll say, "Yes." & like any good dad, he is delighted by
my request with abandoned hope that he is good & he wants to give me
the desires of my heart. 

So here's to asking for what you want. Not the filtered, watered down
version of what you think you deserve, but what you really want. & here's
to expectantly seeking the answer with the full conviction that he is, indeed, a good dad. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A look back: One year later

June 26th, 2012 was the scariest night of my life. 
That day and the days that followed changed me to my core. 
 If you missed the process one year ago, check it out here

Today, instead of remembering the fear I felt as I drove
from my neighborhood for what I thought was the last time, my heart is calm.
Instead of remembering the destruction that was left in the ashes, I am reminded of
the beautiful redemption that followed: the new life that is purer now, having been
refined and made new by fire.

"Behold, I am making all things new." 

What sweet truth. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prayers that have changed me [1]

As much as I enjoy blogging, I have spent much more of my life archiving things in a written journal.
There is something about using a pen and paper that forces me to slow down a bit &
be fully engaged in the art of documentation. 
My mom told me recently that I have kept a journal for as long as she can remember. 
I have not a single memory of a time when I wasn't keeping track 
of my thoughts, whether it be a quote scribbled on my hand [which I still frequently do]
or through my first online journal 11 years ago. 
[which is safely buried in the depths of the internet, 
only to be looked at when I need a quick ego demolition. Yikes.]
I have a box of old journals in my closet that I have written in throughout
my life, & it is honestly one of my most cherished possessions. 

One of my favorite things to write in journals are prayers. I find that writing
down prayers helps keep my wandering mind focused, & I enjoy 
looking back to see how God has answered each one of them- sometimes
in remarkable ways.

Since I've been lacking inspiration lately, I thought I'd come up with a new miniseries.
I want to flip through my old journals and find prayers, quotes, or entries that changed me.
I think it's important to pay attention to these things when I get caught up in the busyness of life.
That's where I am right now, & I think it'll be a good reminder that I am being continually sought by
a loving, personal God. It is my hope that these reflections will remind me of the dynamic,
exciting journey I am on.