investment.

People have been trying to define the word “success” for decades. “What does it mean to be successful?” “How much money does it take?” “What’s the fastest way to get there?”

Success seems to drive the world around us. The US, at least. Capitalism, you could say, is centered around success. Survival of the fittest, more or less. I have several friends who are highly motivated to climb the corporate ladder and to come out on top. To be the one making all the money. Is that success? And is that what’s driving me?

This topic may seem trivial, like it’s been beaten to death. I know, I’m not laying down any earth-shattering thoughts or challenging life’s biggest questions. I just need to figure it out. Is success different from happiness? Is success required for happiness? Are they one in the same?

I learned a lesson today. And maybe I’ll take it back in a week or so, but I learned something about myself. Money does not have the ability to motivate me. It cannot. I would rather make minimum wage doing something I love with people I love than to make money somewhere I don’t love. I know, I know. People say this all the time. But I think I’m starting to get it.

We often take our love for granted. When we love something, really really love it, we have to put our hearts into it. Lose ourselves in that, because we don’t know how long it will last, when it will leave us, or when we will leave it. Be so unconditionally, irresponsibly invested in what you love. And who you love.

Success is not money to me. It is not a job title. Success happens when we work hard. And we work the hardest when passion is involved. The more passion, the more love, the more work. Simple as that.

 

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

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pride.

A wire seems so primitive at first. A line connecting point A to point B. Merely information’s method of transportation. Even when multiple wires come into the picture, and they cross, join, split, fold over each other. Still, connecting point A to point B. I’m no electrical engineer, but I think that’s the basic concept. 

Then there are people. And this time, with human wiring, I feel like we all think we’re special. That we all have our own set of wires that are perfect for our own being. But I think our wires are very much like normal wires: connecting point A to point B. 

And we’re all wired similarly. Wired to have similar emotional responses, physical reactions, etc. But at times, people become.. unwired. Voluntarily. Or involuntarily. But I think it’s like we stop working the same way and feeling the right feelings because our wires crossed paths and currents are flowing all the wrong ways.

We aren’t wired for a cursory glance at life. The slipshod attitude we so often apply to areas of our lives is nothing but a mere act. Our wires are dripping with emotions. Whether we choose to let them seep in or shake off is a reflection of how well our wires are connecting point A to point B. Is the complexity in us beautiful or is it disheveled?

And you should know, I often unsafely assume I’m not alone in my thoughts, hence the use of the first person plural rather than singular.

 

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.

mad hatter.

“Have I gone mad?”
“I’m afraid so. But let me tell you something: the best people usually are.” 

During my routine Saturday morning baking, I flipped on the TV. It’s a wonder the cookies didn’t turn out awful, because my attention shifted from the oat flour to Wonderland rather quickly. Alice has a lot to teach us, but while watching Disney’s 2010 version of the story, I think I loved most how her realization of reality unfolds. The tale is a progression from dream to actuality. The impossible becomes possible.

“Sometimes I believe in six impossible things before breakfast.

  1. There’s a potion that can make you shrink.
  2. There’s a cake that can make you grow.
  3. Animals can talk.
  4. Cats can disappear.
  5. There’s a place called Wonderland.
  6. I can slay the jabberwocky.”

During most of Alice’s journey through Wonderland, she believes she is simply dreaming, and will return home soon. The Red Queen isn’t an immediate threat and Alice’s duty to slay the jabberwocky isn’t of immediate importance because, of course, she is just dreaming and will return home soon.

But Alice is stagnant.

She hasn’t gone home, isn’t waking up. And she’s made friends. She allowed herself to become so entangled in her dream world because she’s convinced it isn’t real. And when the time comes to defeat the enemy, she isn’t scared. Because if so many impossible things have happened to her already in Wonderland, then why not another?

This is impossible.”
Only if you believe it is.”

What if we lived life a little bit more like Alice? Unafraid of the impossible. I think we would all take a little more risk if we knew we were living in a dream, and would just wake up like nothing ever happened. But why should we reserve the impossible for our dreams and hold on to the possible as our safety net? Alice believed in the impossible, which allowed her to do immeasurably more. What if dreaming the impossible is really just another way of referencing the strength of our faith? Having faith in what is Right, in what is True, so that we are able to turn the abstract and the unattainable into, simply, immeasurably more. And as our faith continuously delivers, it grows. Just like Alice’s.

P.S. Here’s the recipe to the cookies I made this morning. Strongly recommended. Foodie Friday: Elizabeth Rider + Healthy Pumpkin Spice Cookies.

 

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory.

home.

Today, I’ve been reminded of what a home is.

After my internship in St. Louis this summer didn’t conclude in a job offer, I moved back home. Regretfully, begrudgingly, kicking and screaming. My hometown is one of those towns everyone hates in high school, yet no one seems to actually leave. I’ve been determined since about age fourteen to defy the norm. To get out. So what did I do? Moved back. Because I was (a) broke, (b) unemployed and (c) homeless. (Quick shout-out to my parents for their financial, emotional, etc. support.) Let me fill you in on the booming metropolis that is my hometown.

Farmington, MO:

  • “The City of Tradition and Progress” and Oxymoronic Tag Lines
  • Population of about 17,000 with a growth rate of 24% since 2000 (told ya, booming)
  • 88.8% of population is white
  • 291 residents are foreign born
  • 16% of adults have a college degree
  • (Personal) approximation of  7,342 churches
  • Equivalent number of fast food restaurants
  • At least an hour away from a Target, a shopping mall and a Starbucks

Many people here are stuck. They don’t know they are, and I think they’d be rather okay with it if they knew. It’s a nice town; voted number one place to raise your kids in Missouri in 2010. Great school district, two hospitals, plenty of activities for the kiddos.

I just don’t fit here anymore. I knew I had outgrown this town before I could legally buy scratch-offs.  College, my semester studying abroad, living in St. Louis this summer. Those worked. Farmington just doesn’t work anymore. And I’m afraid if I stay here, I’ll be stuck too. I’m not looking to settle or marry or adopt a puppy or have 2.5 kids anytime soon.

But today, I was reminded that this is my home.

I was downtown with my mom, browsing a shop in the process of transitioning from Halloween to Christmas décor.

“I think I’ll want to decorate with stuff like this when I have a home,” I said, pointing to a rustic table/desk thing. “But I don’t have a home.”

My mom stopped me, turned me around, and said, “You’ll always have a home.”

What was intended to be a nonchalant comment about my current lack of permanency meant a little more to my mom.  While I’ve been throwing the greatest self-pity party known to mankind these past three months, I never realized how fortunate I am to have a home. There are too many kids my age who don’t have a home to go back to. And if they do, they often don’t want to. But not for reasons comparable to my “I can’t have Starbucks every day” reasons. Reasons of broken families, destructive environments and unhealthy lifestyles. Reasons I could not possibly understand because I’ve never lived them. I’ve never once experienced what it would be like if I weren’t welcomed back home.

So as I sit in my little café in my little town, I try to wash away the bitterness I have towards this place and fill that space with gratitude. For my family. My Jesus. My home. Because, really, what else is there?

As I complained to a friend recently that I’m suffocated here, living with my parents, she replied, “We come from two completely different families. You’ll find out just how much I’d rather have it like yours very quickly.” And just like that, I’m jolted back to reality.

So thanks, mom and dad, for my home.

 

(Photos courtesy of @discoverfarmington on Instagram.)

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Said browsed shop.

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My little café.

 

Joshua 24:15