This month was the perfect example of why I wanted to start this monthly blog series at the beginning of 2019. Not only did I get to go on an awesome trip, but I got to grow in an area which God spoke to me at the end of last month, calling me to invest in it throughout October & beyond.
My adventure for October was a solo trip to northern Virginia! When I left Colorado, the hardest part for me hands-down was leaving the majesty of the mountains. It wasn’t just the excitement of hiking and getting the jaw-dropping views on my drives to work, but more importantly, I learned how to be alone, and how to simultaneously lose & find myself within the presence of the Lord and His creation. Don’t get me wrong, living at the beach for three years helped me to do the same, but there was something special about the adventurous lifestyle I felt I was living out west.
When God called me to move to Virginia, He made me a promise that the lifestyle I had grown to treasure & desire for my life, would not leave me. To be honest, adventure has found me right where I am, but the opportunity to take trips like this one revealed His promise in a new way. I was fortunate enough to reconnect with my dad’s cousin John and his wife Kathy at his 60th birthday party, who have been beloved family members since before my long-term memory begins. They live in Culpeper and hospitably allowed me to use their place as base-camp for my travels. It was wonderful to catch up with them & get to see a new part of the state.
On the first day, I drove to Shenandoah National Park for a hike! I got there right as the sun was rising, so Skyline Drive was absolutely breathtaking. Looking down on the clouds was an ethereal experience I will never forget, especially as I was able to spend the morning simply resting with the Lord. On the way back I found the perfect coffee shop to work out of, bringing me back to the humble mountain towns of Colorado that made me so full. The whole day brought the most beautiful mix of nostalgia, hope, and vision that I had known I needed for a while.
On the second day I somewhat-spontaneously made a trip to DC, specifically to visit Ebenezers Coffeehouse! As you can read about here, I read a book called The Circle Maker that included an incredible story about persevering in prayer that has stuck with me ever since. I had been wanting to go to this coffee shop for so long, just to be inspired even more by the love that was poured into its process of creation. So, I drove a second hour too long in 6am traffic to the nearest metro station, downloaded the DC metro app and bought a day pass to navigate myself to this coffee shop on Capitol Hill.
As much as I love people and being relational, I am admittedly an introvert who finds renewal in time alone. I also keep a constant check on my mental & emotional reserves, so I typically find a way to carve this time out when I know they are getting lower than normal. I cherish the way I’ve learned to quiet myself and hear the Lord speak, but amidst the busyness of life it can become harder to hear His whispers. Time for refreshment like I was able to receive this month is a memory I will look back on for years to come, knowing God instilled a passion for intimacy within me that could only be fulfilled by undistracted time with Him.
Gentleness is a quality that does not come naturally to me–I have to work at it. Throughout my teenage years specifically, I struggled with this. I was not soft, I was not calm, I was not tolerant, nor was I mild-mannered. As I invested in gentleness this month, I considered its definition and synonyms. To be mild-mannered means “not given to extremes of emotion”… well, I certainly knew that’s where I most often fall short in pursuing gentleness. For quite some time now I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 13, what love is, and how to love people well. It was through this that God was able to get my attention and point out an area where He wanted to help me grow. For brevity’s sake (I could write an entire blog about this, but I’ll save it for now), I want to share a couple quotes from a devotional that stood out to me.
“Love is patient. This means you are willing to give others a long leash. It means you are being tolerant, you are being gentle, you are willing to accommodate others and extend grace to them. Patience and kindness go hand in hand, because being patient with people means that we do not retaliate but we do things that would bless them, things that would encourage and lift them up. We would speak words that would comfort and inspire them. In this way, we show kindness through our words and actions.”
The reason I love this quote is because it makes 1 Corinthians 13:4, practical. Let me share it with you in the TPT version: “Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.” Showing love to those around us is easier said than done, especially when we consider that it includes the people who are much harder to love than others, and when we consider what it really means to love the way Jesus does. For me, pursuing gentleness is a starting point to growing closer to that goal each day, because I know its an area where God can do a big work within me. When something spurs on an emotional extreme, I strive to intentionally control my reaction so I don’t express anything less than love, even when I’m obviously upset. Anxiety has a way of trying to convince us that we cannot control our reactions, but that is a lie I will tirelessly work to silence.
“The powerful outcome of receiving God’s love and allowing him to flow through us is that we become gentle people… Love is shown through gentleness and selflessness. Be unselfish in your expressions of the gifts and good deeds that you do. Be gentle when you do so. Then you are walking the more excellent way.”
Devotional quotes pulled from Love Actually Is, All Peoples Church