Sunday, January 30, 2011

chariot by page france.

a song to check out if you get a chance. the imagery is killer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

mac daddy and cheese.

At first, I was having trouble figuring out what I was going to blog this week because I didn’t have any ideas. Now I’m having trouble because I feel like I have so many things to choose from. This week has been a huge contrast to my last…almost year and a half. I think I’ve chosen my subject.

I’ll begin with a little moment from my night last night. I went to see Iron & Wine and Laura Marling at the Wiltern with Meesh (one of my closest friends). Thanks to CIRCLES lunch on Monday, Shea and I discovered we would both be there and we were able to meet up and enjoy the concert together. She was with three friends and we were all introduced to each other. The concert was really beautiful. Afterward, Shea invited Meesh and I to join them at a diner called Fred 62. We met up there, had a great time, and ordered some food. Meesh and I decided to share the “Mac Daddy and Cheese.” Classic.

Our food finally came and as soon as everyone had a plate, I grabbed a forkful of macaroni and, no sooner than it was between my lips, realized that everyone was staring at me, holding hands, totally silent.

We were going to pray.

I was pretty embarrassed and tried to remedy the awkwardness of the situation by removing the bite of macaroni from my mouth and laughing apologetically: “Sorry! I’m not used to hanging out with Christians!” Not so smooth. I tried to explain that indeed I am a Christian and loved that they wanted to pray before eating, but failed, and so we began. Prayer, eating, conversation. It wasn’t a huge deal to anyone else, but for me, to have a group of random people pray before a meal at a restaurant was pretty significant. I pray in restaurants when I know all the people and am generally aware that we all share a Christian belief, but would never expect to without knowing who else was sitting at the table.

In my past year and a half in New Orleans, I cannot think of one single time that I prayed with others before eating.

I know it seems small, but the moment signified a new thing God is doing in my life. In Isaiah 43, the Lord says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” My desert and wasteland in New Orleans was my community of peers; all we did was get wasted together. Most of our conversations were centered on the bars we went to, the party last night, who hooked up with who, how many shots we took. I prayed all the while for God to reveal a Christian community to me, or else to give me the strength to leave it all behind. I left it. God is showing me now that His word is good, that He won’t let me down. The moment at Fred 62 was just one moment, but these images and gatherings of Christian people that I truly enjoy, have fun with, connect with—they’re springing up all around me.

There’s so much more I’d love to share about how different things feel since Saturday, even about the conversations we had over dinner that night, but I’d like to process them more before I post about them. For now, just a simple, semi-embarrassing story and my most sincere happiness about getting to be a part of CIRCLES and getting to engage in this stuff together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a fairly brief introduction.

My name is Bayley. I like my name a lot. Who I am has a lot to do with who and what I’m surrounded by. This isn’t particularly something I like about myself, but I find myself constantly trying to reconcile all the differents aspects of my self with my environment.

Right now I’m going to Orange Coast College and living with my parents. I just moved back from about a year and a half of living in New Orleans and going to Tulane University in early December. The transition is brutal; I loved a lot about that city. I left some dear friends behind and a lot of beautiful memories, but, as I said before, I could feel myself becoming what the environment wanted me to be and I got to a point where I felt like I hardly recognized myself. So I ran from it. It made me feel weak—that need to escape instead of just willing myself to be more “morally right.”

Right now is a period of total uncertainty in my life. It’s painful and lonely. Most of my friends are far away and being treated like a child at home is something I really dislike. What I do know is that in all I’m surrounded by right now, I’ve stopped worrying so much. God made these promises to me about being loved and taken care of—promises about redemption and freedom. I know they’re being fulfilled in ways I can’t see or understand now.

I think I joined this CIRCLES thing because I think community and relationship is such a beautiful picture of God’s self and will for the people that love Him. I’ve been starved for a Christian community that I connect with. CIRCLES might be a fulfillment of that, but it might not, and that’s okay too. I am loved and taken care of.

I think my greatest hope for this group is that we would all be as authentic as we can. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in cynicism or just thinking I’m better than other people. I’m hoping that I can be genuine in these relationships and I’m praying for wholeheartedness throughout the process.