Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fruit


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law. 

The last few days have been a little difficult for me. I haven't been in the best place spiritually or emotionally, due to some issues I've been working through for a while now. It comes and goes, some days better than others. The biggest problem is that instead of trying to pray my way through all of it, I sometimes don't even want to talk to God.

Why do we act this way? I've been given the unbelievable gift of being able to talk directly to the God who created me and the earth and galaxies and universe I'm wrapped up in, and sometimes I just don't even have words. I give Him the silent treatment. Thank You, Lord, for your everlasting patience. 

The other morning, though, I did some praying. The urge to pray started pretty much as soon as I left my bed, and carried a good fifteen minutes through my morning as I got ready for the day. I'm not sure where the inspiration came from, but I started praying through the fruits of the spirit. 

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.

I think that often, part of my reason for not wanting to pray comes from not knowing WHAT to pray. And this is where Scripture can help. I've learned in the past couple of years that Scripture doesn't have to just be read - it can be used as powerful prayers when the words and requests we need to speak just won't come to us. I think in these moments, when we are at a loss for words, Scripture and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26) combine to help us along in our prayers. God knows we are weak even in prayer, and as He always does, He offers us the help we so often forget to ask for. 

So in this post today, I want to write a basic skeleton of what I prayed yesterday morning, based on Galations 5:22-23. I like to write out my prayers - sometimes it helps me answer my own questions (or reveals God's answers to me, I suppose). I'd encourage you to try both if you're struggling in prayer - write it out, or find a Psalm or a favorite verse and pray through it, for yourself or for someone else. It might make all the difference. 

LOVE
Lord, show me how to love, and how to be loved. I know that love covers a multitude of sins, and that love is the greatest gift we've been given and can give. Help me to love fiercely and unconditionally, to accept love, to let my daily motions be driven by love. Let love grow in my heart and my mind, and let those I spend time with walk away feeling loved. Show me how to make a home for love in my spirit, and to remember that You are the definition of love. 

JOY
I pray for my joy, that you would renew it every morning. God, I am rarely as joyful as I should be, considering how many things I have to be joyful for. I let my heart blacken and harden and then try to use it from such a state, and all that does is feed negativity into my life and into other's lives. I don't want it to be that way. Please give me a joyful heart, a heart that always returns to joy even after bad days, attitudes, and situations.

PEACE
God, peace is something I rarely feel these days. I know You give it, though - sometimes in the most unexpected of moments. I pray for peace in my soul, not just for me but for those around me, especially people that I'm capable of influencing. Help me to inhale and exhale peace, and to let it be a way of life, especially when angered thoughts fill my head. Let there be peace in the world, starting within our own souls.

PATIENCE
Lord, You know how bad I am at this one. I've never been a patient person. I want to know what, when, where, why, who, how, and I want to know it NOW. But lately, you have been calling me to seasons of waiting and trusting, and those seasons take patience. Please instill patience in my heart; let it be something that grows as I find myself not wanting, but needing to practice it. When we are waiting, You are active, and I pray for the patience to wait well.

KINDNESS
I've always considered myself a kind person, God, but can I say that when I ignore the homeless person shaking a cup of coins at my feet? Can I say that when I look down on those facing different life situations, as if I am somehow superior? Whether I act upon what's in my head or not, I can be so unkind, and God, please change that about me. Or show me ways to change it. Give me opportunities to change it. I pray for small acts of random kindness to become a habit in my life, small kindnesses that can lead to seeds planted, which You water and tend until there is fruit.

GOODNESS
I am not good. God, I am not good. My nature is to sin. My heart is crippled by sin. And the only thing keeping me from dwelling in sin is this faith that there is something more to all of this, a faith that says there is Someone to which I am held accountable. But because of my relationship with You, I have a desire for goodness along with my desire for sin. God, let the desire for goodness rule in my heart, so that my faith can be fruitful and I may be a mirror of Your goodness.

FAITHFULNESS
You have taught me so much about faith these past few months, God. It used to just be an abstract noun that I talked about in church, or a word I used in reference to my relationship with you. But I've come to realize that faith is so much more than that. Faith takes a strength that is supernatural. It takes being braced for anything that You may present to me, any situation, person, command, or altered plan. It takes humility and grit to be faithful in all things, and I fail so often. God, forgive my moments of weak faith and help me to strengthen that same faith daily.

GENTLENESS
God, I live in a world that is not gentle. But there is something about gentleness that is unexpected. Help me to practice gentleness. When the world is raging, help me to be gentle so that it may see something different in me, something beautiful that doesn't fit the status quo. Show me how to be gentle in mind, body, and soul.

SELF-CONTROL
*and this is the part of the show when Alicyn starts sounding less "Christian-y" and instead, really, really human*
Um. God. I have zero self-control. Well, maybe I have some, but only because I'm aware that You hear every thought that flits through my head and that if it weren't for Jesus, those thoughts could separate me from You eternally. I pray for self-control, in my actions, my speech, and my thoughts. Sometimes there is freedom in limitations, and in this case, freedom is found when I control my nature of sin and submit it all to You for a relationship with You. That's where freedom is found, in knowing my soul is safe with You for eternity, no matter what happens here until I'm home with You.

/ / /

Got any thoughts on prayer? I'd love it if you'd share them in the comments!

Cheers, 
Alicyn


Photo by loli Clement on Unsplash

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Taste of Summer...in 100 Words


Summer tastes like cold raindrops in mellow heat. Like guitar-string-metal on my fingers. Summer tastes like a blade of grass between my teeth, like the sweet glassy rim of a soda bottle. It tastes like cotton candy from a fairground, French fries and fizzing root beer, overpriced snow cones and fire-roasted hotdogs. Summer tastes like kissing freckled cheeks, it tastes like daisies smell, tastes like chlorine and sea salt. It tastes earthy like backroad dust and the warmth of a strawberry fresh from the vine. It tastes like bonfire smoke and mango chap stick, like the effervescent thrill of adventure.    

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Study Away is Cool


From Arlington National Cemetery

I'm back! 

And I've just completed a study away course for two weeks in Washington, D.C. I stayed in a large house in one of D.C.'s prominent neighborhoods with nine other college students and two professors, and between trips to the National Mall and as many of the Smithsonian museums as we could cram into our schedule, we researched assigned areas of D.C., figured out how to use the Metro, and made it to a surprising number of cupcake shops. (I almost feel as if I came to D.C. solely for the food, especially when I found a vegan bakery in our neighborhood [I'm lactose-intolerant] and went for a milkshake twice). 

I got to hang out with some pretty stellar people. Not only were they hard-working and serious about their research, but they were hilariously fun to travel and explore with (and have movie and game nights with). They were also dependable in such a way that I would probably still be lost in some Metro station in the guts of D.C. if it weren't for them. We may have all gotten mildly tense when the food stores were reduced to Lucky Charms cereal, a pack of turkey, and a giant bottle of hot sauce in the last couple of days, but we worked together well and, most importantly, had a great time. 

Honestly, it was the trip of a lifetime. Rather than seeing just the big stuff (National Mall, Smithsonians, etc.) we got to know D.C. as a whole culturally, historically, and demographically. My heart belongs to country air and visible stars, but I enjoyed all of D.C.'s murals, monuments, memorials, cafes, diversity, and even the bustle of the Metro system. It was a world full of new experiences for me, and a step toward future travels (if God so wills). I'm thankful for the big things, such as saying hello to the Lincoln Memorial, and for the small things, such as chowing down on pizza and milkshakes with my newfound friends in a city six-hundred miles from home. 

I may write more about the trip eventually. I just got back from flying in today and I'm still processing the whole thing. For now, I'll share some pictures. I'm glad to be home, and glad to be blogging once again. 


Eyes from one of the murals in downtown Columbia Heights


'We the People'


Inside the Capitol


Orangutan with his blanket at the Smithsonian National Zoo


And what did we do with one of our last days in D.C.? We rode the tallest escalator in the Western Hemisphere. 

/ / /

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? If so, what was your favorite thing about it?

Cheers, 
Alicyn 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hiatus


A lot of opportunities have come my way the last few months, big and small. One of those opportunities involves a study-away class that I'll be leaving for quite shortly. This means I'll probably be on hiatus from the blog for the next couple of weeks. But, Lord willing, I will return and have many stories to tell! 

Thanks to everyone who's been following my posts here lately - you all rock and I appreciate you with much much appreciation! 

I want to leave you with a few suggestions/challenges for the next couple of weeks: 

1) Take a friend out for coffee and good conversations, maybe someone you haven't seen in a while.
2) Take a nature walk. 
3) Look into blackout poetry.
4) Buy some used CD's - preferably of music you've never gotten into. See if you like it! 
5) Write a letter or encouraging note to someone. 
6) Be intentional about making memories. 
7) Press some flowers in a big thick book. 
8) Take a drive on a road you're not as familiar with and crank up the radio, windows down. 
9) Make a list of summer goals, both serious and silly. 
10) Cloud watch, or stargaze. 

Let me know in the comments if you try any of these. I'd love to hear about it when I get back! 

Cheers, 
Alicyn

Saturday, May 27, 2017

the one about friends


you don’t know what a friend is until you’ve shivered with that person on a bench as they release everything they’ve kept in while their eyes become small oceans, until that same person has listened to you vent then revealed the flaws in your attitude, because friends aren’t afraid to call such things out over coffee, yes, friends ask the gut-wrenching questions that you fight against answering as you wince, twisting your hair, and they smirk at that familiar mannerism, yes, friends see you when you’re wounded but also when you’re stitched up, and love you anyway or perhaps because.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Home...In 100 Words


Home begins when the air rushing through my car windows becomes sweet from grassy fields at twilight. The fields harbor fireflies that light my way to gravel roads and deep blue woods. Coyote howls replace the city’s sirens; the stars shine a bit brighter, constellations visibly mapping my place in the world.

Home is sitting on the back porch as this world slows down for the night – the smell of my brother’s strong black coffee – dry pages of a book between my fingers. It is closing my eyes and listening to the beauty of stillness and wind in the trees.   

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The One About Music


So, here's the scoop: I dated a guy, and now I'm not dating the guy. (Long story).

Sometimes, God brings people into our lives for a season and for a specific purpose, and then shuts the door, because He knows what He's doing. That happened to me. Ouch.

But everyone that we allow into our lives makes an impact and leaves behind a little something that we never would have had the privilege of experiencing, had we not allowed them in.

A lot of these things are super spiritual or super impacting or super deep, but I'm going to talk about something not-so-deep, but meaningful, all the same.

The guy I dated is super into music, and thanks to him, I've now been exposed to a lot of artists/bands that I knew about but had never taken the time to intentionally listen to. Sooo my musical taste buds have been developing quite a bit.

I'll start with...


Said guy is a bit of a Led Zeppelin fanatic, and the first time we met to do homework together, we also grabbed earbuds and had a "Led Zeppethon." I was skeptical, since I've always been a little picky about music and generally wince at a lot of the songs spawned between 1959 and 2006. (Slight exaggeration, but you get my drift - the 60's through the 80's has never been my favorite time period in regards to music). But I found myself grinning over my homework as the first chords of "Good Times Bad Times" cranked through my earbuds.

Thus Led Zeppelin made it onto the list of jams (and classic rock became not-so-bad).

Probably the second biggest new entry on the list is these guys:


Um. Can I. Just. This band. 

So Transatlanticism is my favorite album, Plans a close second. This band is the real deal, and I must admit that I'd been waiting for a copy of Transatlanticism to cycle through at my local Half Price Books Outlet the other day when I found one and snatched it up triumphantly before my brother could get his paws on it. One of us was super happy and one of us was disgruntled, you can guess who was who. 

Next! Zees person: 


So this guy has kinda ruined my life with his song, "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room." Not to mention, the YouTube playlist of his Live in LA show is my official homework playlist. I know he's been around quite a while, but all I really knew of his work was "Waiting On the World to Change." Looks like I was missing out.

Moving forward to Icelanders who make music like they came straight out of the American South:


I'm a little in love with their album A/B in its entirety. I heard "Way Down We Go" and was instantly hooked. (I actually found these guys on my own, woot woot). 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be off slow-dancing alone with my iPod to "Save Yourself." *leaves*

*comes back sheepishly* Just kidding. There is more music to speak of. 

Such as: 


"Like the Dawn" is one of the most beautiful songs to grace the music industry, in my humble opinion. Not to mention, their inspiration is Bible stories. These people are the best. If you're looking for good lyrics and a folksy sound, check them out. 

And speaking of Bible stories...I love all these folksy and faith-based bands that I keep finding out about, the people who craft genuinely good music and slip in positive messages for everyone to listen to - not just Christians. (That's an entire post in itself, though...I'll save it for another time). So the last band I'll be mentioning is...:


"Belly of the Deepest Love" & "The Kitchen" & "Porcelain" are my current three favorites. Poetic lyrics and gorgeous music. And talk about great album art

So there you have it! This is the new stuff that's been gracing my earbuds lately. (Well, new to me). If any of these bands have made your list of favorites too, let me know in the comments. Chatting about music is a past time I find to be very agreeable. 

Cheers, 
Alicyn