Dear Friend,

As many of you know I have dedicated the back recesses of my mind to two series over the past few months: “Boys” and “Hopes, Plans and Dreams.” My focus, however, has been fleeing fast and I hope to recount a few final thoughts before they disappear beyond the horizon line. And, at the end of this wonderful post, who knows, I might even let you know what I’m looking towards next. You see this past summer I spent hours pondering how Hopes, Plans, and Dreams came together to form a person’s so-called destiny. I’d like to think that a person truly does have a destiny, that God’s call for our lives is so strong that there is no way to avoid it. My dreams for the future have only been growing stronger. True, they’ve been morphing and changing throughout the years, but I feel like God is truly moving my heart towards his path for me. if it wasn’t meant to be, why would this pull, this desire to help people in any way possible linger on? Why would I be tempted by this image of community building and not be called to follow? I can’t imagine a world where this call isn’t meant to be striven towards, where this passion isn’t utilized. If, however, it isn’t meant to be… where do I go? This is important. I feel the need to remember that this might not be my true calling, that it might only serve as a pathway towards the plan God REALLY has for my life… if I were to discover that is the case, would I be able to let go? Let go of this pull, this calling I feel so strongly? I don’t know! I’d like to be able to say that I would faithfully follow God’s call in my life, but if it doesn’t lead where I expect… I can make no promises. I have spent so much time hoping, so much time planning (sort of,) so much time dreaming… It would be hard for me to, let go. Despite these wonderings, despite the doubt I have in my faith, I believe all will be well. I believe that Christ will lead me on. How can I not when I feel God’s presence all around me?

Questions. They find their way into the mind at the oddest times. Just when you expect to “figure it all out” they appear, as if by magic. I have many questions, I’m sure we all do, but sometimes I prefer to speak them aloud (or, as I’m about to do, write them) as a way of recognizing their presence, before dismissing them and allowing them to disappear, destroyed by my belief that God will smooth my path. (That’s not to say, unfortunately, that they don’t come back… but in that moment, I am free.)

In my musings over boys and the way they impact our lives… There has been one question in particular that has haunted me. You see when I look towards the future… in my happy family images… I see just that, family. What does family mean? I firmly believe that the family who appears to live behind the stereotypical white picket fence is missing out. Dysfunctional living. That’s family. Learning to live with other people in such a way that everyone’s needs are met. Hugs, family dinners, reading aloud… That’s the extra good stuff, the parts of my childhood I wish I could take for granted, but I recognize, all too quickly, the fallacy in this image. Not everyone is as lucky as I was. Yes, my family stresses me out, and a lot of the time I would rather not be there, but we take care of each other. We know how to laugh together, how to hug away the pain… My parents have taught me the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. To love God above all else, to love God’s people above myself, and trust myself to make the right decisions. This is where we get to the boy part. I want this to be in my future. I want to get married, have kids, start a group home in our house… I want it all. But I question whether it’s meant for me. I struggle to hand the “reins” on my romantic future over to God. I want to know now. I want to know how it is all going to work out so I can start planning (there’s nothing I love more than planning… such a hyperbole, but whatever.) How can I just sit here and wait for God to bring the right guy into my life, the type of guy whose life and faith inspires me to be better, whose encouragement makes me want to encourage them too? What if he doesn’t exist? What if my call doesn’t include that life-partner I so desperately want? It’s so much harder to say that my desire for marriage will lead me in that general direction than to say that my passion for helping people will lead me towards a future of helping people. But as I said before… the thought is afloat, now let it fly away.

Where this is all meant to be leading is the idea that these series are starting to create trash in my mind. Kind of like the images you see in movies of trash cans, overflowing with crumpled pieces of paper. My mind has all sorts of questions, uncertainties, and doubts clogging up the resourcefulness of my brain, it’s time to clear the pipe. This is to say it’s time for them to end and a new focus to take shape. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I think I would like to meditate on spirituality. Ever since I started here at EMU I have felt closer to God than ever before. Yes, I go to church less frequently, yes I struggle with attending Chapels on a regular basis, but I have found that my spirit is thriving here. Whether this is because of the people I have been spending time with, or just the time in my life, I have been loving it. No relationship with God is perfect, but I’d like to think mine is strengthening everyday. Not only can’t I wait to see how this continues, but I can’t wait to explore it textually.

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo