July does that.

This has been quite a month. I can’t believe it’s over, but I also can’t believe that when I think back to the beginning of the month that  all of it was within a span of four-ish weeks. Whoa.
Growth is hard. I really value growth and change and maturing, but I value it a lot more when it’s self-initiated, rather than coming out of those learning experiences where you realize that your own sin and shortcomings have a profoundly negative effect on the people around you. Yuck.
I’m learning, little by little. As usual, the process is slow, and I wake up each morning hoping that I’ll have figured everything out and fixed myself up while I slept, to my own disappointment, of course. However, I have a little Shauna Niequist quote in my room to remind me, for just those such occasions, of the truth,
“When I calm down and listen very closely, God says,
I didn’t ask you to become new and improved today.  
That wasn’t the goal.  
You were broken down and strange yesterday,
and you still are today,
and the only one freaked out about it is you.”
This ongoing and ever-present lesson for me is about GRACE. It’s funny that despite the newness and change that every month and year of my life brings, the lesson continues to be about grace. I feel unnaturally bad at accepting grace from God and I have an even harder time offering it to myself. Despite this process, it continues to be the outpouring of God’s love that I am the most passionate about and committed to. I think it’s the part of Him that I understand the least and the one that I adore the most, because it is as unknowable and indescribable as the deepest qualities of Him, and that assures me that it’s real. I think grace is one of the most countercultural ideas God has ever set up and embodied. It is so counterintuitive to respond in love and kindness when it’s unmerited, and that very response to me in all my childishness and self-centeredness from the Lord is what turns everything upside-down. He’s the one that sets the standard, literally, for a whole new way of living that apparently is possible with Him. I’m experiencing this every day, and trying my best to let it pour out to others as best I can.
One day at a time.
Every day.
Just one day at a time.

I’ve been shlepping one or two of these books with me everywhere, but they are each so fantastic that I can’t read more than a chapter at a time, so I’m still working on each one and haven’t totally completed any. They’ve created some incredible conversation topics, and have traveled with me on my own growth process in a way that is too perfect to try and explain.
Here’s the list:
Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson
Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren F. Winner
The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg 
Restless: Because You Were Made for More by Jennie Allen 
Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Henry Cloud & John Townsend
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