Saturday, June 24, 2017


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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

*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.

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


Photo by loli Clement on Unsplash

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Taste of 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. 

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