It was January 21, 2007 and the Colts were playing the Patriots in the AFC Championship game at the RCA Dome. This was my first year as a season ticketholder and my seats were h-i-g-h. Like, you had to go aaaalll the way up the stairs, walk through a row of seating, then continue to go up the stairs to row 32. There was one row behind me and a huge pillar in front of me, but I was IN the stadium and this was game of the year. It was a depressing and horrible first half with a Patriots lead of 21-6. As any true Colts fan knows, the 2nd half is where the magic happens….or doesn’t at all. So we waited and hoped. The Colts caught up and with 3:49 left in the 4th quarter, the Patriots were only up by 3. With less than a minute left on the clock, Joseph Addai ran in a touchdown giving the Colts the lead, 38-34. But that was plenty of time for the Patriots to do some damage. As they marched into Colts territory, Marlin Jackson intercepted Brady’s pass with 17 seconds left (I even caught this moment on video – loud, shrill screams). The stadium ROARED, I lost my voice, and this sent the Indianapolis Colts to Miami where they won the Super Bowl (after another anticlimactic first half). Best. Game. Ever.
It is January 1, 2016. As I sit and reflect on 2015, I am amazed. The year started off well – lots of traveling, concerts, food, time wasted and all those other things Americans do. For the last few years, I have been saying “I feel like I am on the brink of something” or “A new chapter is going to start soon”. The first half of 2015 was filled with wonderfully great things, but when it came down to it, it was really the same as every other year – not a lot of intentional depth or discipline. No chapter change or brink in sight.
Just like the Colts, halftime changed everything. My halftime was June.
Because sometimes it is easier to repost than rewrite, this Facebook post was my halftime speech:
“I normally don’t get too personal on the Facebook. I like my privacy. But I’ve been told to get over it and share my two cents about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…and other stuff. So today marks Phase 1: Openhearted Facebook post.
I was able to spend the last two weeks having the best of adventures amongst the most beautiful scenery in our country – from majestic mountains & quirky rock formations to shoreline tides & breathtaking sunsets. Interspersed with this were inspiring and challenging conversations about life, which included what I was or was not making of it. Then I came home. Yesterday, a dear friend died. Over the last 10+ hours, in between those brief moments of sleep, my brain has been trying to process all of this. How quickly can our hearts rejoice and then ache with anguish? How do we process loss, especially if answers are yet to be found? How do we choose to see the world and those in it? What’s my response to what I see? This is what I’ve figured out: 1.) God reigns. He reigns over those mountaintops as well as over the valleys. 2.) So trust Him. Even if I don’t understand or have all the answers I’m seeking. 3.) Watch my response. Am I going to get bitter over circumstances or better over it? A favorite movie quote: “But choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.” I want to choose wisely. 4.) Live intentionally. When the phrase, “We should do dinner sometime.”, rolls off my lips…just do it. 5.) Life is short. Love big. Encourage one another daily. Forgive grievances. Know you can make a difference in the lives of others. Then make a difference in the lives of others. 6.) Jason is loved. By a lot of people. I keep reading all the many posts on his timeline anticipating his response. I’ll miss impromptu conversations in parking lots. I’ll miss his lumberjack skills when dead trees need cut down to fit in my bonfire pit. I’ll miss him asking the question at social gatherings, “Is it time to take my shirt off?”. But most of all, I’ll miss his honesty and direct questions about life and what we are and are not making of it. 7.) This is not the end: John 14:1-3. See you soon, JV.”
The start of the 3rd quarter.
Coming home to tragedy made those conversations out West more relevant than ever. What was I making of life? What was I doing? Who was I becoming? How much time was I spending with God? Am I spending time being still? Who around me needs encouragement, a listening ear, Jesus? What gifts has God given me that I am squandering? Am I glorifying God in my actions and words?
Since I was not plugged into a church at this point, I went back to the church that I knew was home and had previously attended. This was/is a place where people can come as they are…broken, joyful, sorrowful, lost, inquisitive, and redeemed. This is coupled by a community that speaks truth, provides comfort, gives encouragement & exhortation, prays mightily, lives life together, and most importantly – the Gospel is the focus.
The culmination of God’s providential moments during those first few weeks of June led me back to Indy Metro Church. The next few months were filled with getting back into fellowship with people I missed, building new & authentic friendships, having real conversations with pastors, joining the women’s cohort group, and going through a book/implementing principles of discipleship.
Phase 2 of sharing life and thoughts with others also happened, hence this website. I decided to start a blog and my family/friends pushed me to create a word art & snail mail card business, as well as become a Rodan + Fields skincare consultant. Go big or go home, right? Although “consistency” hasn’t been a strong suit yet, what I have been able to accomplish has been cathartic.
It was a time of growth, of strengthening, and of walking closer to Christ. Things were changing.
The 4th quarter.
The Drumstick Dash is a huge (19,000 persons huge) running event for work that is planned year-round. Since it takes place on Thanksgiving, as soon as the calendar year fourth quarter hits – its madness. As always, I knew to anticipate more hours, less sleep, no social life, exhaustion, etc. But this year was different. I wasn’t pre-stressed about the upcoming stress. In fact, even when those previously stressful moments hit, I was fairly calm! This is a huge feat by the way. My focus on was Christ, not the chaos of the season. He put order to that same chaos and was glorified. Still today I am in awe of how powerful He showed Himself to our team through the season. He gave strength, wisdom, discernment, energy, focus, and a whole lot more. He is a good, good Father!
Amidst all this, life hit, again. And repeatedly. These trials weren’t that the volunteer shirts for the Dash were discolored or my work laptop stopped working, but life events that carry great weight. Although the details of these assorted circumstances do not need to be shared on the world wide web, the heartbreak, disappointment, grief, disbelief, frustration, and anger (righteous and not), were terribly real and the beautiful story of God’s redemption and providence intertwine each.
This was probably the toughest quarter of my adult life. And a difficult quarter for several others as well.
But God is faithful. His grace is sufficient.
During this time, I unexpectedly started receiving automated Verse-of-the-Day emails at work. Over the next few months, His love and attention for me as His child was so evident, not only through how He reconciled people and situations, but simply reminding me of His promises in Scripture:
- October 13, 2015 – 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 hope and a future.
- October 14, 2015 – Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.
- October 15, 2015 – 2 Samuel 7:22 – How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.
- October 16, 2015 – Psalm 19:14 – May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
- October 17, 2015 – Psalm 25:14-15 – The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.
- October 18, 2015 – Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
- October 19, 2015 – Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
- October 22, 2015 – Proverbs 15:23 – A person finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word!
- October 23, 2015 – Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
- October 24, 2015 – Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
- November 1, 2015 – Ephesians 5:18-20 – Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- November 2, 2015 – 1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.
The purpose of this post isn’t necessarily to share about how my season ended, but hopefully encourage you to start [and finish] strong. Every year will have joys and hardships, but He is faithful all the same.
Even when you feel like you can’t keep climbing up all the dang stairs – be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord. Even when you can’t see some of the playing field – remain confident that a provident God does and knows what is going on. Even when the game looks over – remember that God has great plans for you & seek Him…seek Him with all of your heart. Even when you feel like you are #winning – remember He is sovereign and always give thanks in all circumstances.
Let this be a year of pursing God relentlessly, of chapter changes and brink breaking, of living intentionally and in community, of loving others unconditionally, of being wise in our actions and with our words, and of giving praise to Him who is faithful.
I’m calling it now, 2016: Best. Year. Ever.