Summer 2017 Goals

After two weeks, it’s finally hitting me that it is now summer. The season of calm, the season of recharging and the season to be reminded to listen carefully to what God has to say about my life. I’m sitting here basking in the hazy, warm breeze drifting through the living room while listening to new music from Harry Styles (basically the next Paul McCartney). Ah, there is nothing like the warm blanket of weather and new music to put me in the summer spirit and my heart is happy.

I then received and began reading a lengthy email from my advisor. The email brought up a lot of things—mostly things that stress me out… my future, my career goals, the average fears of college students. But at the end she wrote about how summer is the best time to listen to God’s calling for your life, be patient, and continually spend heavy, lengthy time with him. It tugs at my heartstrings because it makes me remember what’s most important, which is nothing I or my loved ones have been worrying about.

With that being said, these are my real summer goals. These are the things I am sure of and what I really hope for my summer. These are not goals that anyone else wants for me, but the genuine desires of my heart in this season.

My first goal was going to be “find part-time work” apart from Biggby, but if I’m honest, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. But I’m still praying about it.

The first couple days back at Biggby I was miserable. I just kept thinking ‘God, why am I here? This is dumb. I can’t gain anything from being here again. I’m not even a good barista, I keep messing up and my coworkers have to pick up the pieces for me. I want to be anywhere but here, I still feel tension with one coworker, and this job is a source of negativity for me.’

Since then I’ve been a little stuck. I still mess up now and again when I work, but I feel much more comfortable and back into the rhythm of things. My coworkers, boss and I have shared many laughs and all of the regulars have been so sweet and happy to see me again. But also I just want to be really transparent right now. There’s this person I met last year who I have prayed almost daily for and that person has been on my heart a lot because I know they don’t have many stable people in their life and most days are just “okay.” I’ve never been sure if that person truly cares about me (one of my biggest fears is apathy from people I love), but when I came back and saw them the first time, this person that seldom shares their true emotions was so genuinely excited to see me and it really had an impact on me.

I don’t know what God’s plan is for me in this season career-wise; all I can do is continue to pray. But I do know God works in mysterious ways and the fact that I’m back home and this person is coming back to work at the same time is very interesting.

So after this footnote/goal revision, here are the summer goals I am certain of:

  1. Spend time with Gracey.

Gracey is my sixteen-year-old dog and I have been with her almost the entirety of my life. To some this may sound silly, but for me I am incredibly serious. I love this dog so much and I know her time is drawing to a close, so I want to give her all the pets and treats I can.

  1. Cook for my parents at least once a week.

Yes, yes, I know this has not happened yet. *Cue eyebrow raises and pointed stares as we sit down for a meal.* But the point is my parents are really cool humans and have helped me through everything, so I want to try to give just a little bit back. (And maybe learn some cooking skills for the coming school year.)

  1. Show my family how much I value them.

Not only do meals show appreciation, but I also hope to hang out with my siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents more. Whether that involves game nights, good talks or serving in any way I can, now’s a good time to exemplify my love for these beautiful humans I have the privilege of living alongside.

  1. Spend time with God.

This has kind of already been emphasized, but it can never be emphasized enough. I would be nowhere without this cool dude. I’m hoping to turn to him before more and more things, whether a difficult talk with a friend or just a stressful day of work.

  1. Write a significant chunk of my novel.

My future, my career, so many uncertainties… But what is not a question? I’M WRITING A TRILOGY. So now is the perfect time to invest into something I am certain of. Get ready to fall in love with my characters, because I’ve only developed them a little and already love them. It will be an exciting adventure that will hopefully shed light on the broken and forgotten people around the world. My goal is to also write something my grandma will love.

Also this may mean I write less blogs than normal. But that just means you’ll have something in your hands you’ll love way more sooner rather than later.

~Annah

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Store Up the Promises

I’ve heard chaplains and pastors around me describe how vital it is to store up on God’s promises during the good seasons to help you through the rough patches later. It’s definitely true, because oftentimes if we wait until the thick of the rough patches to search for positivity, our emotions can easily cloud the truth. We are more susceptible to Satan’s lies during the bad times.

Today I am joyful, and the best part is that I didn’t expect today to be anything special. That’s when God likes to prove us wrong. But this is not something I take lightly, because I know there have been and will be other days where joy is really hard to find. So I am basking in the joy, sitting in sunny spots and writing, and my soul is happy. As I write in my dorm lobby, friends keep walking in and greeting me and I am so blessed to know so many lovely people walking alongside our Father. I love having the scales lifted from my eyes to spot even the smallest blessings, like a warm smile and greeting.

God rejuvenated my spirit through a coffee meeting with a Hope graduate named Eric, who is a musician and producer that composes music for films. On this uncertain road to my passions, I have resolved to soak in any and every piece of information available to me, while meeting more people in the industry. The coolest part is seeing the joy others have when they talk about music, just like I do. Networking is always made out to be some scary, uncomfortable situation, but to me it’s interacting with more people who share my passions.

For being an introvert, I’m kind of surprised I don’t mind networking at all. More and more I find myself changing from the quiet and timid communicator I was in high school, and my level of self-confidence is definitely a huge contributor. A year ago I did not have half the level of confidence in myself that I do now and I don’t know when the switch flipped, but it just proves that even if God’s not working on a certain sin area in my life, he’s still working and shaping my image in a different way.

God gave me contentment that music is something I truly want to pursue and lately I have been hesitant whether this is really his plan or just my ideal plan. However, when I expressed my concerns to Eric he made sure to explain that we often feel pressured that there’s only one specific plan God has for us and we need to make sure we don’t pick the wrong one, when that’s really not the case at all. We can’t mess up his plan for how he wants us to serve the world through an occupation, because it’s not the occupation that ultimately matters, it’s being the hands and the feet of Christ in whatever field we pursue. As Eric said, that’s God’s request for all of us and now he’s letting me choose what exact path in music I can best become his hands and feet in.

There are so many potential fears and worries that I have for my future, no doubt, but I’m trying to work on opening my clenched fists. I’m also starting to realize that wherever I go, whether God places me in my hometown, a different state, or across the world he will be there with me, his people will be there to welcome me and people that need him that he wants to speak to through me are there. The hardest part is letting go of my fears and asking God to lead me wherever he wants me, even if that involves being out of my comfort zone. “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.” It’s a lovely sentiment to sing, but a tough pill to swallow.

So on this joyful afternoon I am storing up promises for the hard times. God will always be there with me and he can use me no matter what I do or where I go. He will use me if I obtain a dream job, he can and has used me at random jobs like coffee shops, and he will use me in every season of my life, whether dry or flourishing. He loves me even when I don’t “feel” like he does. He will carry me through hard times, including loss, disappoint, hurt, and fear, because he always has before.

Here’s scripture and songs to store up as well, and hopefully they’ll help you too.

“I will call upon your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in your embrace

For I am yours

And you are mine.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m_sWJQm2fs

Although we are weeping

Lord, help us keep sowing

The seeds of your kingdom

For the day you will reap them

Your sheaves we will carry

Lord, please do not tarry

All those who sow weeping

Will go out with songs of joy.

~Psalm 126

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tIuxV8pTJk

God will always be certain, even if our futures are not. Hallelujah. But let us also lean into what he wants from us today.

~Annah

My Heart, My Passion, My Dream

I’m a writer and I hope to write books someday. Chances are there may come a time when someone asks me who inspires me to write. I think about all of the writers I admire for different reasons: J.K. Rowling, Victor Hugo, J.D. Salinger, Jane Austen… I could name those people, but if I’m truly honest with myself those are not the people who mostly inspire me to write. To be completely honest with you, I’m a really weird writer, because the people that inspire me to write are not novelists, they’re musicians.

Music has always been my favorite way to unwind and find comfort in other people and the beauty the world has to offer. I experience inexpressible joy in music, whether that’s hearing my flute join the dialogue of the rest of a symphony band or listening to the plot line of lyrics my favorite singer is spitting out of my iPod. These people are sending out emotions and messages that are going straight from their recording studio to my heart and I am so in love with this art God has created.

When I was in elementary school my musical palette was either my Spirit movie soundtrack or Jack Johnson (I know… I was a pretty cool kid.) I have so many sporadic memories of moments in my life with music, whether that was clopping like a horse in my living room to Spirit or listening to Switchfoot’s “Learning to Breathe” album on the way to my dad’s high school men’s varsity basketball games. They’re random snippets of my life that my brain has decided to store away and when I think back to my childhood, music is what I remember first.

My neighbor, Nathan and I would always put albums in his television and literally run in circles in his living room, instead of dancing. First of all, what kinds of kids do that? We were so weird. But we did that all the time. Sometimes if we were feeling really rowdy, we would stop at the couch as we were running and try to do cool jumps and kicks off of it.

Then in middle school I started playing the flute, which I still play in a weekly concert band group at my college. Band was and still is such a nice break from my other classes. It’s incredibly refreshing to use a different part of my brain after hours of reading, writing, and memorizing constantly. I also started singing for fun in middle school. This is a well-known fact to my family, but an unknown fact to almost everyone else. (Thank you to my family for putting up with hours of singing.) I would spend hours almost daily listening to my iPod and belting out songs. This was almost a daily occurrence during high school too! But only in my closed bedroom or basement when no one else was too close within earshot, because otherwise it was too embarrassing. Honestly, whenever I come home from college I still go to the basement and sing. I can literally do it for hours… it’s my security blanket. For some reason I enjoy and am addicted to singing, even though I know I’m not the greatest.

But perhaps my favorite part of music and my best memories of it are concerts. I’m not kidding when I say I live for concerts. I get the worst post-concert depression too. My first concert was in eighth grade, when I saw Allstar Weekend on November 13. I counted down to that concert months in advance—I was a full-on obsessed 13-year-old girl. Side note to musicians: watch out for the 13-year-old girls. They are the most intense, I promise. It’s kind of scary.

Last year I went to my two favorite concerts of my life: Twenty One Pilots and Switchfoot (with Relient K as their opener). For those of you who don’t know, those are all of my favorite bands. I could write entire blogs dedicated to each of those concerts, so all I will say is there was so much love and joy for Christ radiating onto those audiences. The only difference was one crowd was not aware of the source of this joy and love, and one was.

Alternatively, the other week I was at a local concert expectantly awaiting this band I had newly fallen in love with. They definitely live different lifestyles, yet there was still beauty to be found in their music. Maybe we don’t live the same way, but we still share a passion for the art and that’s what matters. Their opening band was not at all my style, with intensely loud drums and bass, on top of inaudible lyrics. But for some reason, while I was standing there next to people starkly different from myself and the smell of alcohol wafted through the air, I found positivity. Despite my personal tastes, it is still music and there is still beauty in it for some people. I’m always in awe of this art we have been given to express ourselves in any manner we choose. No matter what, there is passion behind music, and that can’t be said for a lot of other things.

This creative outlet and these musicians are what drive my desire to write. Music makes me want to squeeze everyone I love close and show them why life is good. On top of my English major I have a Communication major. Besides the fact that Comm. pushes me out of my comfort zone, I took on this major because I want to combine what I love most: music, writing, and communicating with my fellow human beings.

I have no idea yet what my specific career will look like. It could be public relations, it could be marketing, I have no idea. All I know is I love music and if I’m going to live my one life and have (in theory) one career, I would be pretty upset if it didn’t involve music.

There have certainly been doubts and fears, which will continue throughout my journey to whatever is next. Sometimes I don’t feel cool enough and sometimes I feel like being a female is a hindrance to my dreams, but I’m going to push through the lies. All of these memories and thoughts are filled with joy, because music has been with me through it all… innocence, joyful times, hardships, awkward middle school years, angsty teen years, frightening transitions, uncertain adulthood. There is an innumerable amount of people that need loving in the world and the best way I can offer my love is through this passion. So music: will you have me?

~Annah