November 30, 2012

Page Turns

Even from the time I was a very little girl I've had a thing for brand new journals.

Crisp, blank, lined pages awaken some kind of inner urge to write, create, and dream. They cry to be filled with abandoned expression.

The floor of my tiny closet is monopolized by a box filled and overflowing with journals and notebooks. Everything from six-seven year old scribbles to dramatic early teenage emotions. Most of them are only about a third to a half full because, well, I like new journals.

In more recent years, economic stress has forced me into more practical thinking, and I fill my journals all the way to the end now. I get my fix of "new" by simply turning the page. I love it when I flip that clean, white, lined sheet over and the sight of my messy handwriting disappears. Again, the sheet lies open and blank, waiting to hold the expression of my thoughts.

I'm thinking of all this tonight because, with my fellow seniors, I'm at a page turn in life. Classes are over. Practicum begins with the coming of the new semester. The million dollar question that everyone loves to ask is, "So what are your plans for next year?"

And the flat out truth is, I have no clue.

Ideas, yes. Opportunities, yes. Options, yes. Desires, yes. But plans? No.

I'm excited about the blank page that I get to fill. I can't wait to meet the next group of teenagers who will be my own. I know I'll love every bit of whatever I end up doing and I'm eager to know just what it will be.

Yet, as I lay awake here in my sleeping bag on the concrete floor in my last student canvassing program, having finished my last finals and classes, I resonate with classmate Jensen's depiction: "I feel like someone stuck my emotions in a blender and hit Frappé"

I like this page I'm on. I love this school that has given me my life. I love this place where the very atmosphere breathes love, warmth and acceptance. Where the Bible is cherished, and friends and mentors continually encourage me to "something better." I love the canvassing programs that unite us. I love the tight bond between the entire student body where everybody knows the same inside jokes and can recognize you across campus just by the gait of your walk. I love early morning prayer circles with my girls, and bonding walks around the campus loop. I love staff who stop me in the hallway just to say, "Hey, your lips are smiling but your eyes aren't, what's wrong?" I revel in the contentment of being among friends who understand me, who don't challenge me about my choices and convictions. They may not share the same ones I have, but they accept me the way I am. I like this place.

I'd love to linger on this page.

Yet I must not.

My mind sees a baby eagle awkward in new feathers with wings that don't quite seem to fit his body. He sits on the side of his nest, talons clinging securely to the familiar branches of home, watching other eagles glide, soar, and dive. Without warning, a parent bird with the force of an avalanche body-slams him from behind, splintering the sticks he grasps and sending him into a terrifying spin to the rocks below. He frantically flaps wings he's never used before to no avail. He fears the worst. But his watching parent will not let him perish. Long before he reaches the rocks, a seven-foot wingspread of feathers swoops beneath him and his little talons find a safe hold.

And in the moments of quiet processing, as my mind ponders separation from my closest friends and the imminent loss of all that is secure and established, as the tears make their quiet way down my cheeks, all I can honestly do is thank my Jesus.

Thank Him for body-slamming me away from comfort and security so that I can know what it is to lean on His broad strength alone.

Thank Him for giving challenge. Thank Him in advance for teaching me how to use my wings in ways I don't yet know that I can.

Thank Him for blank pages waiting to be filled.

I cast one more look, and resolutely turn the metaphorical page over. Whatever and wherever this new stage of my life will be I know I'm going to love it. And I know I'm not going there alone.

"Underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deut 33:27)

Senior Photos by the talented Raquel Soler.


  1. Yes, Beth. Never alone. Lean hard. There is nothing quite like feeling His arms beneath you and His strength holding you.
    Thank you for leading me on one of those canvassing trips. Thank you for the inspiration you have been in my life. I hope you stay on my pages for a good while. ;) Love you, girl!

  2. Ah, a new page in your journal, at once exciting and also a bit terrifying. How funny that at 50 I find myself there also and I am excited and anxious, and a bit uneasy about what lies ahead. This I know though, whatever comes it will be perfect for me because the great Lord of the universe has designed it ahead of time and I will follow wherever He leads. And so I trust it will be prefect for you as well, Beth.

    1. Oh amen. :) I'll keep your name in prayer through your page turn too.

  3. I can relate. I really appreciated this post. Thanks for being open and vulnerable. I loved the illustration of the eagle and God too...
    It's an amazing (but yes, scary at times) place that you're in, but like you know, God has good plans for each of us. The best plans, really.
    Oh, and lovely pictures!

  4. Half-finished journals? I don't feel so bad anymore. My first 3 or 4 journals are all less than half full... I thought I was the only one!

    And I know the next page in your life is going to be even more beautiful. Because with Jesus in our life, it just keeps getting better. :)

    Love you!

  5. Beth, sometimes I think that there is some kind of unseen, wireless connection between your heart and mine, between your mind and mine. It's not just that we always end up accidentally wearing the same thing as each other on the same day--but you always manage to write just what I was feeling but didn't know how to express it. :)

    Sometimes I feel like the most undeservingly blessed girl that ever came from God's hands. I do love OHC so much, and everyone and everything here. But imagine what it will be like in heaven...

    1. Lol, like the time we were both blogging in Principles class about the same thing? On opposite sides of the room..

      I think it's because generally the inspiration for two-thirds of my blog posts comes from conversations I have with you. ;)

      I appreciate you, friend.

  6. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD..." Praise God for His promises! I think almost all of my friends, and myself, have no clue what we're doing next year. But He does, and I'm excited to see what it is! I have a feeling that it's going to be serving Him like never before... By His grace...

  7. One of the things that I've learned since I graduated college is that you don't have to know what's next. You can't see past the bend in the road until you walk around it, and you can't see what's on the other side of a hill until you walk to the top of it. The truth is, even after you are out of college, on your first job or your fifth, you still won't know what the next year will bring. When you know your final destination, everywhere the road takes you in the meantime is just scenery to be enjoyed.