{DangerDoes} nonfactual childhood thoughts about how my life should be now

I thought that once I was technically an adult, life would all gradually line up into place & things like the present & future would become clear. Reality has hit me square in the face & I now realize that that magical thing we imagine as adulthood is not as it seems to childhood us. I used to think that people who were in their twenties had things figured out. Big news here–no one does. I would love to have the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with eleven year old me & drop some truth on younger me. No one has anything figured out, & here’s the thing, it’s not mandatory that we do. When I was eleven-ish year old me I guess I just figured that adults had the answer. & no one, can you believe this, no one told me any different. I looked with unrealistic expectation to the time that I would be 18 & an adult & carefree. JUST KIDDING. No one told me that as the years accumulated more & more that the things I was responsible for & cared for would increase, questions would still be there & multiply & even be unaswerable, & things would be less figured out than ever. I mean, people even gave me what seemed like a handy guideline. Be a kid, stay in school, graduate high school, get a job to learn responsibility, do the right things, see the right people, get into college, go to college, have a career, have a family, have a hunky dory life that seems super simple all boiled down into a nifty litle time line. Well, thing is, life isn’t a string of years sown together as much as it happens to be many things along with being a series of events, actions, choices, & decisions that lead us each moment to moment. Apparently one just doesn’t grow up & figure things out.

Good news lies amongst my sarcastic comments & hollow ideas of what I thought growing up would be like. Being older doesn’t have to equal having it all figured out. Isn’t that a glorious realization though? That no matter how many books, movies, tv shows & the like end with tidy little endings with nary a hardship, that’s not how life is. I don’t have to have perfect start or ending, a “one true love”, or anyone pushing along my story line other than me (& Jesus, not leaving Him out, actually He’s about to make a huge entrance into this post. Spoilers.) No neat, tidy bow needed. For so long I thought that at one moment or another some life altering thing would happen or some dramatic turn would point me to the right way or thing to do. But turns out that the human experience is trying, failing, trying, failing, & repeating this cycle until we succeed & move forward. We aren’t defined by our past loves, or our past mistakes…we aren’t held to an unrealistic standard or goal. My life isn’t a line stretched out with important dates picked out. It’s not the bad choices I’ve made, the people I’ve left in my past, or the people I’ve chosen to stick with. What defines me right now hasn’t & won’t always. & even in this place where I don’t know myself, my plans, my life, & my future, I have hope. The stuff I didn’t choose, whether that be a person, going somewhere, or personal decisions–get this–that’s the past. That’s something I can’t change. & the past has been where I was choosing to remain. If I would have done this, maybe chosen this person over this person, done this better, had the best attitude, been the smartest, known what I needed to do… I could be doing something. I could even be pursuing my dreams. That “dream” within a dream. The thing I was meant to do. The person I was meant to be.

Let’s put on the brakes here though, because I’ve recently come to understand that I am that person. I am running after my passions & I don’t have to be looking back at all the things I could’ve, or should’ve, or might’ve done. Because in the end, looking back won’t change anything. I’m finally learning a vital point of information about myself–I am not, never have been, & never will be the one in control. I’m finding myself in the present, no longer concerned about what I could’ve changed. I am learning, living, making mistakes, stressing about things that won’t matter in five seconds, & about 99.9% of the time I’m clueless about my future at the same time that I’m worried about what to eat for lunch today. BUT, crazy thing, that’s where God comes in. Let’s start at the very beginning, just for emphasis & fun. He made Adam & Eve the very first humans & He continued to love them when they strayed & chose disobedience. He created Abraham, who sold idols in a foreign land, to be a part of His plan & God chose him knowing each misstep that would happen along the way & He still blessed him over & over. He created Moses to be raised up in the house of his peoples’ oppressors & to lead his people out of Egypt & God knew his failings before Moses knew to whom his heart belonged. He created Esther to be a bride & to be a warrior of prayer & a brave woman in a time where she wasn’t supposed to be. He made John to be a man after His own heart, but that didn’t make John perfect. He created Peter, & He knew that Peter would deny Him, but His love didn’t end. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, lady, we get it, what is your point?) I could go on endlessly giving out examples of imperfect people that God loved & used & knew, even though at times in their lives they were lost, hopeless, unfaithful, disbelieving, critics, liars, cheaters, lovers of man instead of God…I hope the point is received. Because the point is in each one of those people, & many others, I see me. I’m Adam, eating fruit I’m forbidden to eat. I’m Abraham when God tells me to believe that He will be a faithful fulfiller of His promise, yet I choose to do my own things. I’m Peter, denying, questioning, not understanding. & I can’t even begin to explain, but like God’s word points out in extravagant ways, even though He didn’t have to, He loves me. That’s why He says no, don’t. Obey my laws. & yet, even when I fail, He is still faithful to me & to my future. Even when I take others as my love, He faithfully fulfills His never ending, perfect vow to me to love & provide even in my disbelief & foolishness. I am blessed though I fail. Not by my own ability. But by One that surpasses me so vastly I can’t explain. Though I don’t know what is in store, I can faithfully cling to the fact that the One who created me– He created the world. He created Abraham, Esther, Job, John, & all those in between, & He cares in an unfathomable way about every step I’m making & that no matter what the future holds, it isn’t dependent on me.

Happily, it is dependent on my Abba Father, one whose decision confound me, but that I follow because I believe He loves me much more than I love myself. He redeems me time & again, beyond times that I deserve & He continually shows me in my life & the lives of those around me, that He won’t ever give up, even when I do. In my complete failure, my life is to ever praise & point to God. Maybe my idea of how my life should be doesn’t look like I imagine because my plan is way off. & I’d rather my course be directed by God than for the reins of my life to be given to me. “Me” can’t do this & even when “me” tries to take control, I can rest safe in the fact that when I let go, God doesn’t. I have proof. Look at Eve. Look at David. Look at Rahab. Look at Mary. Look at Paul. Then,

look at me.

Maybe now I can stop looking back to the things I thought my life would be like. These nonfactual, childhood thoughts that I conceived about how my life would be like don’t begin to define who I am, where I should be, or what’s in store. Learning contentment in the unknown & in the One I know & trust above all is not an easy task or even enjoyable. It’s rough. It’s hectic. But it’s perfect, because He is perfect. Wherever I go, I don’t want to say, “This is how it should be.” I want to say, “How should this be Lord?” I want to let go of the false, I want to let go of the past. I want to let go of the future & caste my worries in the direction of my Creator who knows exactly when I inhale & exhale. I want to let go of now, because it’s not about where others are. It’s not about what peers say, what my family wants, or even what my own self says I need to do or be. Telling my heart to not go after what it selfishly wants now is hard. But I’d rather have truth, joy, rightness, goodness, & faith than to have the old, childish lies I continually find myself relying on & believing. What He has planned for me is a better plan than “me” could ever plan for me. & this year, more than ever, I need to let go of control of my life. It’s not mine & it’s not what I think it needs to be. It’s His. So here’s to an adventure where I never know, but one where I hear His voice, feel His leading, & say, “I don’t know God, but You do. So let’s go.”

Here’s to the hardest (but best) year coming. Here’s to God’s thoughts, ways, will, & life plan for us all. Look back at all those in Bible & realize He didn’t just help & lead then & that He doesn’t just have interest in me either. When you read that “look at me”, read it about yourself. Because right where you are, or right where you’ve been–that’s where God meets you & heals you & directs you into a love relationship with Him that not only changes you but changes your whole entire life. He’s got a plan & a purpose for each of us, & they start with love & truth. Not the nonfactual childhood thoughts about how we thought life would be right now. Walk forward in His truth & watch your life become His & watch how it becomes one more beautiful than you could ever have imagined.

Take that eleven-ish year old me.

-{DD}

 

 

{DangerDoes) The Fearlessly Me Year

Each year, instead of resolutions, I try to compile a list of things to do. This isn’t a crazy long list or very in depth & it doesn’t encompass everything I want for the new year. Some of it is silly like to see Adele in concert, ride in a hot air balloon, or dye my hair. It has serious life goals in there too, mostly relating to the future & figuring that out, but as a whole, it is a list to remind me to go & do good & it motivates me throughout the year to not become stagnant. As I reflect on 2015, I see the ways that God moved me past the mundane & ushered in His glory & I also see a year where many sorrows & joys mixed together. It was a year of trusting without knowing & a year where things began & ended.

So in 2016, I’m making what has ended into beginnings & waiting & watching for the much much more that God has planned. I’m declaring that this year is the year that I am fearlessly me. So watch out, because I’ve decided that this year is about who the Father created me to be & to run after His plans for me. So I’ve coined, as usual, a catchy cute phrase I can claim as my own personal mantra of the year, of sorts. 2016 is officially #thefearlesslymeyear. Why fearlessly? Because I let things scare me, hinder me, or stop me from being me & God’s plan for me is so much more than fear. So this year is a year of focusing, endeavoring to find my support in Christ, to live bravely, & to live intentionally.

Last year, I took out time to specifically go over the previous year, the people, & the events, but for 2016 I want to simply state that I’m expectant of what the new year holds & four days in, I think it is going to be a year of good & new things. Here’s to the hard days, the unforeseen circumstances, & the happy moments waiting. I don’t want to focus on the good or the bad, but I want to make sure that I am intentional in words, actions, & with how I live & love. I want to be me,

fearlessly.

Happy 2016.

-{DD}

{DangerDoes} incomplete thoughts on hellos, goodbyes

I am aware that the next time I go out
I might see you again
And it’s formidable only because
seeing you for the first time
since I saw you for the last time
makes right now
seem like some kind of white noise, blank space purgatory
And every time I think I see you I turn around or drive away and
I need more oxygen and my pulse goes into frenzy until I realize it wasn’t your truck and the hair was the wrong color
I still worry that today will be that day
Not that I don’t want to see you or that I hate the thought
But it’s that seeing you would remind me that what we had was not what I want
It is different
and hard to adjust
which is why I avoid and run and hide away
pushing that inevitable day further away where we’ll either pretend to have never met
Or worse,
we’ll say hello again.

and the thing about that is
goodbye makes hello seem like the worst part.

{DangerDoes} Jinja,Uganda

[subtitled//Mundane: Not Enough]

Mundane:

mun·dane /mənˈdān/ of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one: “the boundaries of the mundane world.”

 Africa is just a continent. I say that because I had originally started this whole mess of words with, “Africa changed my life.” But it didn’t. Really, what changed me was not 36 hours of travel to another continent. The change that happened was because of the life I got to experience with people–looking out a window to see poverty & walking through it, having conversations that let me in to just a little bit of the incredible life stories of some truly hopeful people, & yes, in some ways the location was a part of change–but seeing others live life a different way–it confronted me with that fact that their living differently would change the way I would continue to live once I was back in my time zone. I’ve realized many things, but I think most importantly I realized how I lived in the mundane & by the end of this trip, I realized that my thoughts & my heart had made a radical change. The scope of my vision was broken wide open & my life encountered the overwhelming love of Christ in the last place I expected it to–my expectations were shattered in the most different & amazing experience of my life thus far.
That’s it, in one paragraph, about how I now feel now. I’ve been back for over a month & I am just beginning to completely understand what transpired. It has taken lots of quietness to realize that I have been totally wrecked by going to Uganda, but in the best way possible. So I’ve kinda already put the ending at the beginning, so we will keep working backwards.

Not in a lifetime of years had I ever consciously thought that I would go to Africa. But on May 31, I had the opportunity to go to Uganda, Africa for 14 days. I started what I affectionately have called my “journey to Jinja” & today I think was the day it finally hit me in full. All the things I had previously thought Africa would be like have been replaced with the actual experience. & that itself is the crazy thing. I went to Africa. It has been gradual, the processing of each & every moment that I experienced & so the whole time back has been this roller coaster ride of emotions–sadness, happiness, & total love for a place that was so unfamiliar but felt so much like home. It was not only a life changing experience but a lifestyle changing experience. It was one of those life experiences that went straight through my eyes, to my mind to be remembered & then settled right in my heart, where until now, it has remained quiet & reflective. Jinja, Uganda isn’t just in my heart though. It’s dust is still on my sandals, it’s people are in my heart & in my messages as we continue to keep in touch, & I think most importantly for my own life & heart–Africa was a giant spotlight, a huge finger, a neon sign, a giant booming voice that made it very evident to me exactly where I fail to acknowledge how much I have, how much has been provided, & how extremely privileged I am, even when I physically give in to the way of thinking that I need more things to be happy & fulfilled. It gave me awareness of things I had never been conscious of in my life & in the life of others. I would characterize myself as a middle class, educated, independent, young, white woman. Never, never have I ever been so aware of my skin color, gender, affluence, & opportunity as I finally did while standing in red dirt surrounded by people, very few who had EVER experienced what it meant to have enough. I keep thinking of this word awareness & wondering how I ever lived 20 years without thinking of others in the way I do now? How was I able to waste 20 years in the wrong mindset, the one where I thought I was in the middle of my own solar system?  I have to say, that all too often, I give in to the idea that I don’t have enough. Which is ridiculous because I’m so blessed with family, education, health, & a home. Simple things that I have a newfound joy in. I find myself all too often putting myself into the attitude of “not enough.” Was I ever broken & ashamed when I walked around in Uganda–with shoes on my feet, clothes on my body, clean hair that had been shampooed & conditioned, with contacts that a doctor had prescribed me, with vaccines against yellow fever & medicine to fight malaria, & with a place to sleep at night,–with so many everyday things that I take for granted because I’m too busy focusing on the idea that I don’t or won’t ever have enough. I was ashamed to realize what a selfish person I am. Thinking that I don’t have enough was a thought definitely put into perspective when the house next to where you are staying has no roof. I realized that what I thought was necessary, wasn’t actually a necessity because I saw people living without it. That made me so aware of how I needed to come back & reprioritize the way I think & do things. I realized these things about myself: I am selfish, spoiled, & demanding–often wrongly confusing my wants for needs. I am given so many luxuries, that had I been asked about a month ago, I would not have categorized as “luxuries.” There were so many things that I undervalued & I made a few lists to put things into perspective for myself, & while they might not encompass everything, it’s a start & it reminds me that my reality isn’t the only reality that people live in.

Things I don’t actually need to physically live another day, but I have:
a phone
a laptop
education
constant media/social media involvement
air conditioning
hair products
electricity
transportation
a house with a roof
a bed
shoes
clean clothes

Things that better my life|Things I take for granted:
health/medical care
education
clean, running water
money
food
a place to sleep

Things I have & can do that I had not consciously appreciated before & need to daily:
I can express myself freely through wearing whatever I want (i.e. pants).
Variety in Food–choices to eat whatever I want & whatever I feel like.
I can, as a woman, go places by myself where I live, & not feel out of place or have to take a man.
A country where I can travel freely wherever I want in all 50 states.
clean water
Parents
paved roads
a clean kitchen with a refrigerator
water pressure
vacuums
clean everything
walls that keep out insects, animals, & noise

I think there were so many things that I had never realized I had & took for granted. I knew I had food, but until I ate rice & beans for two solid weeks for lunch & dinner I never knew how thankful I should be for such variety. I never knew that water pressure makes your shower actually feel like it is making you clean. I never knew a lot of things & I let that make me demanding & selfish in my heart. Another thing I am very grateful for is family. Until I held orphans, not just little ones but ones my age, I wasn’t aware what I take for granted. I met many who were full of hope because even though they didn’t have earthly parents, their Abba Father was going to & had provided for them in miraculous ways. It wasn’t a partial trust in Him, it was an all in, everything, total attitude of– “I’m not going to make it to the next day, wouldn’t have made it until right now without You” faith in God. They live in the presence of God continually. They’re desperate for God.  It was a lesson I could only completely learn when I fully understood & saw what it really meant to have God as the only one I could depend on & hope in. I needed to be taught that I rely on myself & too many people before I rely on God. I make it an afterthought while some live their life continually running after God because He is their past/present/future & their only hope. They put their faith in the Father because they KNOW that He is good & He is there & He provides. They run after God out of a place of brokenness because they know who it is that is going to make them whole. Instead, I’m guilty of trying to find other loves in my life that won’t fill that void–why do I insist on trying to be dependent on so many other things before running to God for what I know He will provide? I need that kind of dependence on my Creator. I needed that lesson. I needed the lesson that it can’t be a little bit of my heart or my life that I give to God. It’s an all or nothing kind of thing, & it’s so much more beautiful to be totally all in, no matter what.
I definitely feel guilty because of the freedoms I have had each & every day of my life. I have never had to experience the degree of religious persecution or live with the ramifications of a terrorizing & dictatorial government. I feel spoiled for having paved roads, because the overwhelming dust isn’t all over me & I don’t have to inhale it or feel it stuck to every exposed area of me. I feel extravagant to have clean water that doesn’t come from a bottle. For a million more little things, I feel so overwhelmed. I know there is no need to feel guilty, but still it’s there. By seeing those that didn’t have, it caused my heart to want to know why I thought I had to have more. Why does my heart want to live in that attitude of entitlement when I don’t deserve or give thanks for all that I do have? I definitely felt deep sorrow because where I have so much some have so little. So many sacrifice what I deem necessity just to make it to tomorrow & they are still faithful, hopeful, & thankful. But you know what the crazy thing is. I’ve talked about not enough, guilt, & sorrow–& the crazy thing is that the people I met, they don’t live their lives out of those places. I have so much & have to fight my own thoughts of not enough. But my African family, while they of course desire more, live out of a place of having enough & contentment. They are not weak, they help each other & they rely on Jesus. They worship Jesus, despite persecution that would’ve deterred lesser people from following Christ.They already live in a place where they believe God has & will provide, in His time & in His way. They are strong even though they should be weak. They don’t look at life with a grim outlook. They see the reality of what is around them & they fight to better it, but they also have this huge faith in the fact that God will provide. Such a foreign concept to America, in our instant gratification & fast paced way of life. We don’t wait. But I watched so many faithfully waiting, still waiting after years, on the provision of the Lord. Through it all they’ve learned something that took me being in another country & two more weeks to grasp–contentment & unabandoned belief in the provision of God. In a place surrounded with extreme poverty, outdated medical practices, & hopelessness, the incredible people I spent two weeks with poured into me. The church I was at fed me & the 28 others on my team & 200 pastors from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, & Kenya 2 times a day. They loved me, gave what they had, prayed for me, & poured into my life spending time with me & helping me understand them as I tried to explain myself. Each day I learned to appreciate a new thing. It might have seemed small to them, but what they did, said, & lived out spoke louder than many Western world experience I have had so far. They gave even when it probably hurt & they gave with joy. You hear so much about that, but I truly experienced it. It’s beautiful & life changing.

So welcome to my journey to Africa. There it was.

I had so many favorite moments on this trip that I’m gonna go ahead & categorize those 14 days as one huge God moment in my life that I never want to forget & I never want to slow fade back into the way I used to live my life. It’s been difficult, & I’d have to say I struggle everyday to keep the change going because I’m aware of what I used to do & what my old habits & attitutdes were. I fight against my old self. But I know I’m not going to give in and file this away as a good little trip I went on when I was 20. I’m making it an every day fight to realize that I can’t fall back & depend on things, but that I need to depend on One much greater than all the physical possessions I could ever own. I’m aware now. I’m glad to be home, I’m glad for a new experience that will make my life be full of better, bolder, God experiences. Because I firmly believe that sometimes we foolishly throw away the things God has for us & waste our time pursuing what the world offers, & as Frederick Buechner puts it, “we are fools if we do not live life as fully & bravely & beautifully as we can.” I wanna live a bold, brave, & beautiful life living out what God has for me.I don’t ever want to think again “This is not enough.” Because that’s a lie I allow myself to believe. What I want is the same desire to follow God when I don’t have enough, because I’m refusing to allow the mindset of my culture guide my heart. I don’t have my wants, but that’s ok, because I have what I need. The difference between wants & needs is clearer than ever now. I don’t want to slowly become used to my little piece of reality here in America, because my reality is much wider now & it involves many many people that I met in a small church on the edge of Lake Victoria, & I’m not forgetting what they taught me.

“All I require for life, God has given me, I know who I am,

I know who God says I am, What He says I am, Where He says I’m at, I know who I am. I live a life of favor because I know who I am. Take a look at me, I’m a wonder, 

It doesn’t matter what you see now, Can you see His glory? Because I know who I am”

Imagine a group of people, Americans, Ugandans, Rwandans, Kenyans, and  Burundians singing this song. I can’t explain adequately how beautiful it was to experience the revelation of so many people, some who have nothing, sing about how God sees them. Because in life, no one sees them as important. No one sees them as worthy. No one takes the time to love them with a Father’s love. I can’t explain what all Africa meant to me, but I’ll tell you this, I got to see beyond the physical–beyond clothes, beyond skin, beyond physical lack & see the body of Jesus worship like it was made to. Imagine looking & seeing what God sees. That’s what I want to see now. Because I know who I am, & who I am isn’t defined by my gender, my color of skin, my education, my abilities, or my failures. Because who I am is a beloved child of the greatest Father there is. & I’m so blessed to have the greatest, most beautiful people from half way across the world who taught me what it means to be fully abandoned in my walk with the Lord. It’s scary, it’s intimidating, it shakes you to the core, it changes the way you live. It’s sadness, illness, death, poverty, real life issues, & it may mean hardships beyond what you can imagine but that doesn’t outweigh the faithfulness of God. HOW CRAZY IS THAT? God’s faithfulness to them isn’t optional or just one day a week to them, it’s reality & it’s life, & they live in the presence of God, with only themselves to offer, & it’s such a picture of Heaven. It doesn’t change Him, circumstances have never changed Him, but it changes you. It changed me.

It was the best kind of different [to steal a phrase from my mother] to experience the more than enough, the beyond mundane of Jesus, & that’s what happened in Jinja, Uganda on the edge of Lake Victoria, in a simply built church with genuine people, I experienced the overwhelming love of God that wasn’t based on me or what I had to offer, because what I have or any of us have doesn’t matter to Him. It wasn’t in my comfort zone. It wasn’t even in my hemisphere, my time zone, or my country. It wasn’t about what I had or where I was. Where I was or where I’m at isn’t ever a boundary that has to be overcome. It was in God’s timing in God’s place. I experienced Jesus with my family, biological & spiritual, in Africa & it clicked for me. It’s not about right now. It’s not what I have. It’s not about me. It’s about stepping forward & saying “I think I need to go to Africa” & then letting God encounter you in the most awesome experiences of your whole life. I’m broken. & you know what? That’s ok–because I needed fixing & still do. I’m awestruck by the love of God, because it’s not just for me. It’s for everyone, regardless of age, regardless of who they have followed before, regardless of what they’ve put in their lives other than Jesus, or what they long for, or the worldly things they run after. Because I saw Muslims turning their lives over to Jesus even though it would mean being thrown out by their family, I saw God supernaturally provide for windows & their children when they had nothing & nowhere to go, I saw Him become the Father of orphans, release prisoners from their physical & spiritual captivity, I saw Jesus break down barriers & plant seeds & I saw love fix the brokenness of people, of me, & of this world. I needed that. I’m thankful for that. & I’m desperate for that. I was taught so much when I meant to be the one teaching. & it truly was an experience where I went to give & I feel like I received abundantly more. I prayed for people, & it made me aware of my heart issues. I held children & realized that I was so loved. I was friends with people for 14 days & it felt like family. I entered in as a stranger & left as a sister & daughter. I am not even capable of writing it all here, but believe me, it was good. It was a God thing, from beginning to end & beyond the end.

May I never stop being a lover of His presence & may I never fall back into that feeling of not enough–because I have more than enough in the One who is more than I will ever need. The God of Africa & America & of all the world has changed my life with His people & His love–what more could I hope to long for than a better & deeper understanding of Him? This is a journey that has just begun. I hope & pray that one day, God leads me back to Africa, because I gained a new part of myself there. It was a lost part that I needed, & a part that showed me it wasn’t about how much I could do, but how much God has already done & how much He is still gonna do. I’m so thankful. & I know God’s not done yet, because I wasn’t even fully aware of His beginning as He slowly pushed me to go on a trip I hadn’t even planned on going on.

Africa was only the beginning of a whole new God moment in my life, in my family’s life, & in the rest of our lives as we come back to our normal that seems not so normal anymore. I am again experiencing the everyday mundane that seems so different now & I’m trying to keep what I experienced 7,000 miles away not only in my heart & head but out in my day to day life, words, & actions. I’m living like I’m in Africa, because it broke me & changed my life. I’ve never been so happy to be so broken.  I’m glad for Africa & for gaining a dear new friends & family. I’m thankful God provided for me & let my path cross with so many exceptional people who love Him with incredible passion & faith that leads them to the unknown, where all they have is Jesus. I’m grateful for the mundane things that highlight the heavenly things & thrust me into an unknown & new life as I consider what I am going do & where I am to go. I hope that one day I’ll go back, but for now my heart is forever impressed with the life moments I had in Jinja, Uganda & my life is never ever going to be the same, ever.

The mundane is no longer enough.

-{DD}

{DangerDoes} Being Herself

In a world where I am surrounded by people telling me who I should be, what I’m worth, what grades I deserve, how I should live…etc–I am constantly being told things I may or may not want or need to hear. All that to say, it’s hard to truly be myself in a world where so many thoughts are thrown at me. I know so many different people & each of them have different expectations from & for me. It’s hard to not want to live up to the expectations that others place on me. It’s hard to not live up to the expectations I put on myself. Sometimes, what I want from myself is much more of a burden than any put on me by others. But it’s hard to live in a world where strangers, family, & friends {& even me} judge what I say or do, & without meaning to, hurt my feelings or belittle who I truly am. It’s definitely hard to live in a world where I get so busy & distracted by other’s opinions of myself that I let myself be scared & frantic & busy & I forget to rest.

& I don’t mean a nap {though I love those}, but I mean rest–mental, physical, emotional, & spiritual rest. Where I put aside what is racing in my mind, what I am busily writing or trying to study for in time for a deadline, what I am trying to physically push myself to do, & where I ignore God & resting in Him to get these things done. Of course, God cannot be ignored. Most of the time I figure that out the hard way by pushing myself to the extreme before I realize that I need to stop & rest from the chaos in my life. The chaos doesn’t always seem chaotic though. It could be Netflix or reading a book or a really difficult time or it could be studying for finals so I can go home for the summer. Whatever it is physically, sometimes the things I place so much importance on in this world aren’t the things that they should be. I put off things, like rest. Maybe it’s because sometimes rest seems tedious & unproductive. “I have so many things to do, I don’t have time for rest.” Maybe, though, rest itself isn’t what we hate. Maybe it’s that when we rest, we begin to think of the things we have missed or cast aside in pursuit of more trivial things. Now, I’m not saying studying to pass my finals is wrong and I’m not saying that all life stuff is trivial. When I rest, it is just that these things come to my mind & I actually have time to think–I’m saying I’ve spent countless hours of my life wasting time thinking/worrying about things. & that time could’ve been spent better–like the amount of worth & value I place on making good grades won’t ever actually make me worth more. The actual act of making good grades isn’t the bad thing–it’s the unrest that I’ve caused myself in my life by thinking that I’ll be worth less if I don’t get A’s. I can’t be defined as a better or more worthy person because I make A’s & someone else makes B’s. They are just as valuable as me.Though making good grades might show that I’m responsible & have a good work ethic & am prone to learning well– maybe I am placing too much of my value in them while abandoning the fact the I have so much worth in something permenant– in Christ. & that is worth that I want. That should be the measure of myself that I long for. Of course I measure myself by more things than just my schoolwork & grades– things like money, friends, fashion, intelligence, or anything & everything that influences how I look at myself. But this list that goes on & on often doesn’t adequately cover the important things that actually makes people “worth” something as people. We are worth so much more than the physical, temporary things we use to measure ourselves & others. You are a life full of thoughts & songs & words & actions & talents that make you up & make you–you. Define yourself by the things that you are–

“You are not your age,
Nor the size of the clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the color of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak,
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You are the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you’ve cried,
You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,
You’re the places you’ve been too,
And the one that you call home,
You’re the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of,
You’re made of so much beauty,
But it seems you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you’re not.” -e.h.

We alone don’t get to decide what we are worth. Because often we assign ourselves or let others assign us the wrong worth. Is it because we don’t like ourselves? Probably not. It’s more likely that we more commonly see what is wrong with ourselves while God sees us in our entirety. He sees us as worthy. Forgiven. Loved. Valuable. Beautiful. Filled with a purpose. Made with a specific design. He sees us in & covered by grace. Sometimes I become so overwhelmed, that I let small things define me. At the end of everything, I guess I need to give it a rest. Maybe by giving myself a chance to rest, I can give myself grace. Maybe that grace will lead me to love myself & then branch out & let me love others like I should. Maybe this rest that I take from myself & my own judgements & my busy mind will help me gradually become who I really am. As I shed the less important things in my life–like my own ideas of what I’m worth–maybe I’ll give myself a way to see myself like God does.

Maybe rest is what will eventually change my life & the lives of those I’m blessed to know, influence, & live life with. Only time & rest in Him will tell. & maybe after I’ve let myself take a break from overanalyzing & overthinking–maybe I will realize I’m worth more than my grades, judgements of others, my fears, my doubts–maybe the things that scare me & bring me down are the things that will make me stronger, help me love deeper & lead me to trust more in the Creator who can already see me as me. May I never stop looking for that view of myself, for I long to see who I truly am–I seek to see myself the way God does. I long for Him to give me my true face. Through the chaos of my life–where I put value in the wrong things & where I make mistakes–He truly sees my face & calls me by my name. May I take time to rest & listen.

& you too. I hope you rest & listen too. May you never stop looking either–

Be your{true}self & rest.

-{DD}

{DangerDoes} Designs

https://www.facebook.com/dangerdoesdesigns/?fref=ts

I’ve started a tiny art business lately. No big.
But really–here’s how that process went:
[pan to black screen, small words come up & you start to read–this story is a true story. It is based on the five month journey of Danger & how she decided to design things. No one’s name has been changed to protect identities & if the persons in this story resembles someone it’s because everyone mentioned is real so if there are similarities to real people it’s because they really exist. Artsy transition.] 

November 2014- Decide to think about making an online art shop.

December 2014-Build it. Create logo. Create art. Take photos. Arrange website, purchase name, & put items up for sale.

January 2015-Make it live & online. IT’S OFFICIAL. oh.my.

February 2015-Share it with people I know other than my mom. (i.e. friends, family, strangers, the world…etc)

March 19,2015- Finally get around to putting it up on here.

[Artsy and deep ending where we all feel warm & cuddly & have learned an important lesson about life and learning and art. We all feel inspired as we leave the movie theater & ponder what we are doing with our lives. Then we go eat some pizza & go finish our homework because it’s due tomorrow. Pan to black screen. The End]

It’s been a five month process, but it’s been so encouraging to get to do something I’m passionate about & I love it SO much.

So, now I’ve shared with you guys on my blog–another place I love.

DangerDoesDesigns is also on Instagram @dangerdoesdesigns. So there’s that–do with it what you must. With great knowledge comes great responsibility so remember that when you actually learn something more important than my design’s Instagram name.

Thanks for being here & for sharing in new things again.

–{DD}

{DangerDoes} Four & Fourteen Months

{A poem of my heart thoughts over two dear people who passed four mouths & fourteen months ago}

 

Constant sorrow is my friend
Even when I tell it to go away it comes back again
& I find it impossible to turn a blind eye
From the way it speaks & the way it sighs
life wont give me a break
from this constant deep chest ache
Clinging and hoping I barely see the light
Knowing and believing seem so far apart
Winter oppresses and no birds are in flight
I try to think and sometimes, almost never
I go to that porch and sit by your window
and the sorrow seems forever–
Forever seems infinite and incomplete like walking forward into the past week after week
But life isnt bleak
it just seems dull
The sun shines and the birds harmonize
in the world you loved
finally turning back to green.
Life isn’t over it has just begun

but sorrow wont leave
it clings to this heart
but one day it wont seem so constant
or tear me apart

{DangerDoes}Unprepared

So I’ve never been the most prepared person. Especially not on trips. It’s actually strange, I’m a notorious over packer on trips, but I always forget something–a toothbrush or pajamas–inevitably I forget something I really need.
Just this weekend I traveled for a quick weekend retreat in Buladean, NC with a group from school. We had a peaceful weekend, but I wasn’t prepared.
You see, out of the eleven people there, seven people decided to hike up the side of a mountain. I would’ve counted myself in the bunch that went hiking, but halfway up this “ninety degrees angled up” side of a mountain my shoes would no longer stick to the ground. I packed from school & the only outdoor shoes I had were a pair of sturdy tennis shoes, & the snow packed into the soles & refused to grip the ground. I tried & tried to keep going up, but after hitting my knees three times I decided the mountain had beaten me, & I’d go back. I’d wanted to go, but I wasn’t prepared. I felt defeated, but nonetheless, started the treacherous turnaround. Once I slid back to the bottom of the mountain, I was alone. It was snowing in the mountains & I decided to walk wherever I could.
I mean, walking wherever I could was a dangerous feat in & of itself. I only knew where I was going based on the footprints left there twenty minutes earlier by our previous trek the other way. I followed the footsteps, looking for the others who had decided to stay & not hike, but aimlessly, I couldn’t find them. So I stopped trying to find them & headed out by myself. I walked around in the falling & fallen snow trying to imagine the last time I’d truly been completely alone. Because, I was alone. In a world of white, freezing yet bundled up, walking around in a place where you truly couldn’t see anything but the color white. I had a marvelous time, I enjoyed the solitude. No one was around, there were no animals, there was no noise but the wind, the crunch of my shoes in the snow, & God. This was kind of the theme of this little retreat, a Sacred Journey. We were focusing on a Frederick Buechner book by that name & it seemed that I had stumbled upon my own tiny sacred journey. In his book, Buechner {pronounced BEEK-ner} talks about our journeys & how God speaks to us through every moment of our days. It was almost obvious that we struggled to accept that. Isn’t it crazy to believe that? That in what we do & in what we see that God is taking time to impress something upon our hearts? We tried to talk about how that could be possible, that everyday acts of simple coincidence could coincide with the plans & ways of God & in the majority I think we came to the same conclusion. I at least decided that even though it sounded crazy, that God could use things of this world to speak to me. I think that is possible. It reminded me that God isn’t as limited as we like to make Him. He used a whale to change the course of Jonah’s life…can’t God use a beautiful song or a word quietly & unsuspiciously hanging from the ceiling, like a small sign that said “believe” where we were staying, to speak to us just like He spoke to so many others in old stories we know by heart? I believe small things—things we look past & look over can definitely be Christ whispering into our lives. As we talked in our weekend cabin, someone made the point of it being crazy to believe either way. When you see something you can either assume it’s a coincidence or believe that it’s a grand design & masterful plan. Either choice requires substantial faith. I’d much rather be the person believing in something than the person who believes only enough to shrug it off as a coincidence.
“there are places and times, inner ones and outer ones, where something like peace happens, love happens, light happens… And when they happen, we should hold on to them for dear life, because of course they are dear life. They are glimpses and whispers from afar: that peace, light, love are where life ultimately comes from, that deeper down than madness and lostness they are what at its heart life is. By faith we know this, and I think only by faith because there is no other way to know it.”
Faith may be insane–but I believe. I’d rather believe in a purpose & a plan. I stand tall because I believe when no one else did. I wanna believe despite of circumstances–regardless, I wanna be known as someone who believed. Faith is believing–that’s why it’s insane & that’s why it’s difficult. Seeing,touching, feeling, knowing–it’s all so much easier. I’m unprepared. I want life to be easy. It’d be simpler if I only believed in what I could hear & see & feel–because the physical is far easier to understand than having faith. Yet I’d rather have faith. One day, I want to be prepared. I want to see Christ in my world. On my walks, in my talks, in my life–God is there & I steadfastly believe. So I listen & I prepare for what I don’t know & what I can’t see because I have to listen to my life. Frederick Buechner says it artfully & more beautifully than I when he beckons us to listen…“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

Life is grace. Life is listening to all the moments & hearing the beautiful melody that they make when put together. What sounds terrible by itself is a part of something when mixed & mushed with all it’s counterparts. When the melody & the harmony come together, we hear the final product & we revel in the whole piece. We revel in the prepared & finished. It all comes together & becomes beautiful in the end. When I look back–it will all make perfect sense.

I want to strive to make what is unprepared,–my life, my thoughts, my actions, my heart–prepared.

-{DD}

{DangerDoes} Long Distances

{This doesn’t really have to do with 2015, it just happens to be my first post of the new year–just a normal blog post at 3:47 a.m. on a Monday.}

Isn’t it ridiculous that some people think that distance can change feelings? I mean, there is that quote about distance & how it makes the heart grow fonder–yet so many believe & adamantly fight for the idea that distance kills feelings. Maybe it’s because some don’t like the responsibility that must be shouldered by going somewhere farther away or maybe some truly believe this–but I must say, I have never been a true believer of this concept.

In fact, I find it completely ridiculous. What a heartless thing to think…I must say it’s kind of insulting to humankind in general to imply that we can’t have feelings for someone far away. Like for some reason if I can’t be within a certain range of someone then I just forget that I have feelings for them. How would that even possibly work? I mean, distance can be a contributing factor but isn’t really the actual problem in the equation. When you try & make an effort, having feelings for someone isn’t a job as much as an instinct that becomes a habit.

Plus who gets to decide what “distance” is far enough away to suddenly change someone’s feelings. Is it a mile or 10 or less or more? I mean, I can’t physically see someone that is a mile away (though, I’m nearsighted & must admit that if I don’t have my contacts in, I can’t see you 10 feet away) ,so does that mean that I don’t love them the same as I do when they are sitting right next to me or holding my hand? Must someone be glued to the hip of their significant other to be truly & sincerely in love? (I hope not, because we all know that couple, & that couple is annoying & they would annoy themselves if they were subjected to putting up with their utter overly couple-y nonsense.)

Or, as I suspect, can people–brace yourselves–love people no matter the distance? I think yes. Distance doesn’t lessen the fact that I love someone.When I was 9, I moved to a different state. This move put me a whole state away from my grandparents & for my sake I hope they still love me as much as they did when I lived close to them. Actually, I think it’d be safe to say that I love my grandparents even more now that I have to make the conscious effort to keep up with them. When I do spend time with them, it’s even more special. Distance has proven itself & has indeed made me grow fonder. If distance was what dictated how much people loved me, I’d be in a world of trouble. Imagine that you could never leave people for fear of not being loved…what kind of life would that be? Thank goodness this doesn’t have to be the case.

I love many things that are far away from me–I hope distance doesn’t ruin that. I think what people really mean to say when they say “Long distance is impossible” is “Long distance is possible, but really hard & I don’t know that I want to put that much effort into it & so I will have this attitude & I won’t make it work.” Which, let’s face it, is brutally honest & true for some people. Some people equate distance with love & think that the further someone is the less they love them. But I disagree with that. I think that each person has the ability to reach out & try, no matter the distance. When distance becomes a problem, it was probably preceded by about 50 other warning signs & many other issues that just weren’t resolved & then exacerbated by the distance. But like with family & friends, it just takes effort. Like in my case, I didn’t suddenly go to college & lose affection for all of my family or friends & they don’t love me any less because of the distance. It’s not a great distance but it’s distance nonetheless. It promoted growth for me. It makes getting letters at school 100 times better. I appreciate them more. I kind of appreciate everyone more when I don’t get to spend the time I want with them, which is a sentence that seems to contradict itself, but rings true. Distance makes the world turn. It causes people to pursue people in the effort to shorten that distance. Distance exists to be shortened & shortened & shortened, & that’s a part of the experience. Growing closer is the benefit of distance. Think of all the letters exchanged by boat centuries ago, & how even over the distance of an ocean, people could still be in love. Distance is actually, in its own way, romantic. We’ve been spoiled by instant-ness. The ability to instantaneously be able to communicate has somewhat lessened the impact of conversation & feelings. I mean distance isn’t the ideal sometimes but distance is possible.

“Long distance is actually a little bit of a contradiction. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, makes the bond stronger, & pushes us to pursue the people we want the most in our lives. Now that is something I can believe in.

So here’s to distance–bringing us closer together even when we’re far apart.

-{DD}

 

 

{DangerDoes}Old Year/New Year

It’s almost the new year & that means that literally most of the whole world will make resolutions.I have nothing against resolutions other than they have the tendency to never make it to completion.

Instead of a list of resolutions on a “better” me, I wanna make a list of what the old year brought & taught me. Somehow I feel like it will definitely influence how I live not only in the new year, but the rest of my new years.

{2014}

– I finally got used to college. This might seem a bit late, being three semesters in, but I finally feel like I belong. I feel like an adult, in college, making decisions, & I’m also able to make business calls that my mom used to make for me because I was too chicken to make my own phone calls. NOT ANYMORE. I’ve conquered the devilish business of the tedious/annoying adult phone call. College hasn’t fixed me. I’m still a very nervous person who has a difficulty connecting with new people. & in school this year I came across the first non-family, blatant, made me cry for an hour, person who decided to take their anger out on me. I’m a likable person( so I’m told & so I sincerely hope) once you get past the extreme awkwardness…& I thought this person was my friend. Honestly, I think he still is my friend, I think, I know, his own personal insecurities led him to what he said. Still didn’t make the experience any easier or any more pleasant. Maybe I’m too forgiving, I might be too much of a people pleaser, but I believe in the goodness of people even when they let the not so pretty part be the dominant part of their nature. Some day, I won’t even think twice about phone calls, mean comments, or college. But this year I learned that growing up is awful & it’s also awfully wonderful. It doesn’t suck.

 

– I learned a lot about myself. I like Hawaiian pizza, Biscoff Spread, peach daiquiris, instant photos,Greece, 90’s TV series, watercolors, old music,Vincent Van Gogh, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, sad books, Spotify, elephants, Abe Parker, Baz Luhrmann movies, leggings, polka dots, golden doodles, free books, Apple products, William Sonoma, old records, & cello music. I apparently like to write. I like interacting with my professors & getting to know people older/wiser than me. I like to dye my hair & have winged eyeliner on because it makes me happy. I like collecting old bottles & may have a slight obsession but I’m not admitting that because I don’t have a problem. I learned that college kids are just as petty as highschoolers, no matter how much we try to pretend we aren’t. Actually, the whole world likes to pretend it moved past the high school years, but it really didn’t. I like to paint my nails nude colors because I guess I’m an adult now. I love Goodwill & bought way too much there this year, including the $12 dollar chair I’m sitting in to write this. I’m terrible at waking up at 8 a.m. I learned that I don’t know everything & that remaining open to listen to others opinions & not be judgmental of others can get you places. This old year taught me about myself & has helped shape me–2014, I’m ever grateful.

– I traveled to:

Athens & Syros, Greece
Frankfurt, Germany
Birminghan, AL
Decatur, GA
Chattanooga,TN-twice
Nashville, TN-twice
Asheville, NC
Greeneville, SC
Kings Mountain, NC
Black Mountain, NC
Pittsburgh, PA
Lower Burrell, PA
White Sulphur Springs, WV
Hot Springs, TN
Washington, D.C

 

– I made an effort to get out & go to as many concerts as possible (around things already planned like school & family & friends& other events) & I made it to 3. A We the Kings concert. An Abe Parker concert & a Rusty Clanton &Tessa Violet [People You Know] concert. I have plans to go to one more the 31st & two more in the beginning of the new year. I like this new aspect, I love music, & live performances have been an amazing experience of 2014.

 

2014 was an emotional year. A year of stress & tears. Hopes & dreams & realizing some of what I want to do with my life right now. Of course I’m worried about the future, but this year taught me that I am most definitely, not even a little, guaranteed the next day or the next minute. I’m literally guaranteed almost nothing. I’m becoming o.k. with that, because in reality I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or ten years from now. I’m o.k. with that–but explaining that to people who ask if I’m getting married soon or if I’ve figured out what I’m gonna do with my life is a little more complicated. But I don’t know the future. I could die in a minute–so I’m not gonna hypothesize about it–I’m gonna live.

 

In 2015 I want to love better, live better,& press on. I wanna keep up with my grades & learn how to wake up at 8 a.m. without feeling like growling at people, I wanna learn to listen more. I wanna do things I’ve never done before, but I’m not gonna make a list of what those things might be. I’m blessed with a new year… It’ll be newer & fresher & I’m gonna live every seconds, all 31,536,000 of them, & I’m not gonna speculate what exactly that might mean.

To each person I met in 2014, thank you for becoming a part of my life

To those I’ve known forever, thank you for remaining year after year, your influence in my life is immeasurable.

To my family, thank you for the laughter, the new shoes, & the way you are always there for me even when I’m not at my best.

To those in my life that left too soon,I miss you. The hurt never gets better. You are never forgotten. It might’ve been a year or just a couple of months, but every once & a while I think about something I’d tell you, write you about, or call you about & living in this world without you is still almost unbearable. The tears don’t come as easily though, & the ache is dull, but never gone

To my educators,bravo & thank you for the countless hours you’ve given me. Your sacrifice & help have gone beyond what you have to, & you probably won’t ever know the magnitude of difference it has made.

To you, the reader, thank you for taking time out of your year, for using your seconds to read some of mine. I’m truly grateful to each person in my life, for each experience, each scar, & each story that I now have.

This year:

If I have an opportunity- I’m gonna take it.

If I see a book- I’m gonna read it

If I’m invited somewhere- I’m gonna go

If Christ leads me to do something, anything- I will do it.

If life happens- I’ll live it

May the new year bring you unexpected adventures, grand stories, & the knowledge that each day, each breath is precious. Don’t waste it, don’t take it for granted, don’t lose hope, 2015 is going to be our best year yet.

Here’s to LIVING!

T.G.I.A.T.N.Y- Thank Goodness It’s Almost The New Year.

-{DD}