Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#blogtemberchallenge - September 16th

Let me just preface this post with this:  I told you so.  I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with this every day, but there's grace, so it's okay.  ;)  

I was excited for today's post, because I decided to follow a little after what Bailey did over at braveloveblog.com and make a list of things for today's prompt!  Since I'm sure there are people here who don't know a lot about me, this will be fun!  Get excited for the quirky side of this strange person you follow.  

"Most people don't know this, but..."

.....I consider myself an extroverted introvert.  I LOVE people and getting to know others, but there comes a point when I need to be by myself.  I'm not the kind of person who re-charges from just spending time around more people, because it just doesn't work for me.  
.....I'm an ENFP.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, head on over to humanmetrics.com to take a simplified version of the Myers-Briggs personality test.  It's my favorite!  
.....Something I do every single day is drink coffee.  I'm quite the coffeeholic.  
.....I've been to Botswana, Africa, and it was quite possibly the best 4 months of my life.  
.....I have a small group of best friends who I would do anything for.  
.....I didn't become a Christian until my freshman year of college.  
.....I want to be a child life specialist.  I got my degree in family studies and human services from Kansas State University, and wanted to further my education, but I'm taking a break until I decide to go back to school.  Essentially, child life specialists focus more on the developmental steps that children who are hospitalized for long periods of time need to be taking, and not so much on the medical aspect of their hospital stay.  
.....I would rather sleep in my hammock than my bed.  
.....I hate wearing shoes.  Which is bad for me because, I also have flat feet, which means I need more support than most people do.  I've had surgery on my left ankle to correct how I walk, but if I don't pay attention to what I wear, I pay for it because I'll be in pain.  
.....If I have to wear shoes, I choose Chacos or Toms.  Chacos have the support I need and are great for wearing for long days, while Toms are form fitting and don't feel like I'm really wearing shoes at all.  
.....I've worn glasses or contacts since I was in 1st grade.  
.....I want to start my own photography business someday.  

I think those are all the fun, interesting facts I'd like you to know about me for now.  Some are quirky, others are just plan and simple.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

#blogtemberchallenge - September 11th

Hello friends!  I've decided to join in with my friend Bailey of braveloveblog.com and am participating in the #blogtemberchallenge !  Let's be real, I likely won't be able to do every single day, but I figured it's a good way for me to release some creativity and get the large number of crazy thoughts that are in my head most of the time.  So here goes nothing!  

Today's prompt is: How do you stay inspired?  Who inspires you the most?  

This is a pretty easy question for me when I rest quietly for a minute and think about it.  The biggest way that I'm able to stay inspired is by staying connected deeply with the community that I have surrounding my life.  It's easy for me to get off track when I'm secluding myself, refusing to be overwhelmed by the love and grace that is burying me daily by those who call me Beloved because of the One who calls them Beloved.  

I'd have to say one of the people who inspires me the most is my best friend, Taylor.  If you knew her and her story, you'd know why.  So I'll go ahead and tell you.  A year ago on the 15th of this month, her dad died unexpectedly from complications from an illness that he was fighting.  We thought he was getting better, and then the unexpected happened.  And here we are today.  Almost a year later, and you wouldn't believe how far Tay has come.  She's one of the most courageous and strongest women I know.  She may not agree, but the way she's lived her life since his death has been proof of my words.  Shes turned from this tragedy and has worked to make her life a representation of who he was to her and how he helped make her who she is.  She's a rock that I turn to on a daily basis, and I couldn't be more blessed to call her my best friend.  

Well, there's my #blogtemberchallenge post for you!  Join in with us and find out more about the challenge on Bailey's website!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

9 years.

As I lay here watching Grey's Anatomy, listening to my beautiful pregnant best friend be excited about her paint color for the baby's dresser, my heart is still aching. 
It's just been a hard day. I remember this day last year. I didn't cry once. I remembered him, but was filled with joy. But today has just been hard. I can't explain why, & I don't know how to process my feelings. 
But what's worse is that I'm starting to forget his face. I'm starting to forget how he felt in my arms. But even if that all happens, I still have the memories. 
I'm tired. I'm worn. I miss Kaden. I think of him every day. & today was no different. Just harder. My heart is heavy, & I can't see an end to today. 
But tomorrow is a new day. Kaden still isn't here, but my God is faithful & He will carry me through. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The path to a better you.

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you saw the picture I posted a few days ago about my trip to Hastings and the emotions that came with it.  Here's a copy of the text for those of you who wonder how Hastings could be emotional, because I wanted to share it and explain why it hit me so hard. 

"I saw these two books when I was in Hastings tonight and it struck a nerve, so bear with me and hear me out.
We are sometimes too focused on being so sure that in x number of days we'll be happy, or in x number of days we'll get such and such, or that a certain self-help book out there will change our lives. 
But who said it'll always be this way?  And who said it has to be this way? 
There will be days that we feel it and days that we don't.  Sure, books like this may be a good guideline, or things for us to remember along our journey, but they should not be our Bible.  They should not replace the Word of the Lord speaking loud and clear. 
I'm not in any way discouraging these authors or those who've read books like this, because I know I have, and I'm sure I will again.  And the authors of many books I've read and find truth in are men and women of God who have been moved by the Spirit, and that's a good thing
But I'm challenging you to step outside the status quo.  We all deal with and move through things differently.  So choose today.  Make a change.  And if today is hard, tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day and keep moving.  It may be more than 48 days or it may be less, but it's always the exact amount of time that God intended."

This was written with a picture I posted of two books I posted with titles of "40 days until..." and "48 days to..." because it just really got me to thinking.  Who says we have to follow a timeline of when and where we'll be in 40 days of starting something new?  I sure know I'm not a person who'll be able to run a marathon in 40 days, or lose 20 pounds in 40 days.  It's just not feasible for me, but maybe someone else can, and great.  But what I'm saying is that we should not be placed within boundaries by others, and we sure as heck shouldn't place ourselves within the boundaries that we've created for ourselves. 
We were created for more, we are worth more, and we can become more than the limitations we hold ourselves to.  So today, be great, be bold, and be assured in who you are and Whose you are. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

A life worth loving.

I look over my desk and see a heart that's hurting.  A pregnant patient that had to deny an emergency contact listing on her records because she didn't have anyone to list.  A soul that was aching for something more than the circumstance she's in.  

I glance up as a patient walks out and my co-worker whispers "don't say anything".  I pull up the schedule - "fetal demise".  18 weeks.  A mother had just lost her baby.  Her husband meets her in the parking lot and gathers her in his arms.  They stand like that for almost 5 minutes.  

My new job has been anything but easy.  My heart is cracking from the pain of the world.  From the things that people shouldn't have to go through alone.  From the aching of the longing of something more than what they think they deserve.  

My passion is burning:  to make a difference.  To be the heart.  To seek the lost.  

I'm not quite sure yet how the Lord's planning on using me in this new season of my life, but I know He will.  In the meantime, it's my duty to love those I come in contact with.  To be a smiling face to a broken life.  To shine brighter than the darkness of their despair.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kingdom Matters.

I recently came across a talk called "Kingdom Matters" by Paige Benton Brown that she gave at the 2012 Women's Conference for The Gospel Coalition.  I was told that it would give me something to think about, but it's given me so much more than that.  

I sat through the talk, pausing it often to write, and was moved time and time again by the things of the Kingdom that we often don't pause to consider as we go about our day: presence of the kingdom, parameters of the kingdom, purpose of the kingdom, and perspective of the kingdom.  Each of these tie into what the kingdom is, how it should operate, and how we should view and be a part of it as followers of Christ.  

The category "purpose of the kingdom" was the one that struck me most.  As I was listening, I felt myself resonating with the things being said, and I felt the Lord whispering to me "this is just for you; I want you to take this to heart".  There are so many times when I feel worthless: in the things I do, in what I contribute, and in the way I think others view me.  This isn't to be taken as me being depressed (though depression is real and pressing in our world when it comes to this), but just that I struggle to find my identity in something greater than what I believe people see me as.  

Two quotes that I wrote down tie nicely together:  
"We live urgently in the present, leaning toward the future, knowing that God loves His whole creation."
"Don't be satisfied with your Christian life by attending church and going to Bible studies.  He came so we can do His work in His world, perhaps in a sufferingly present way along that jagged line (IT WILL HURT) in every career, in every relationship, in every place that the Lord has placed you, to push that line out for HIS KINGSHIP and to rejoice in every place that you see it going out."
God deeply desires to use me right where I'm at.  Though on some days it's hard for me accept this truth, I know it's something He's slowly showing me through His work in my life.  He loves me, He accepts me, and He wants me to use the gifts that He's blessed me with in order to bring Himself glory.  He's all about bringing glory to His name.  

Last but definitely not least, I'd like to leave you with this:  
"A kingdom perspective on the world is not unrealistic, but it is basically optimistic, not because the world is okay, but because 
JESUS REIGNS
And so therefore, what that means is this world is not going to hell in a hand-basket; it can't.  That is a cosmic impossibility because of the promises of God."
Praise God for giving us hearts that beat for His creation, love that stirs us into action, and truth that urges us to lean into Him and His plan for His kingdom.  
 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou.

Yesterday, the world lost a beautiful soul.  

Maya Angelou was a writer, and activist, and a legend that will be remembered for years to come.  But most importantly, she was a daughter of the King.  This quote from an interview she had with Oprah is one of my favorites, and is such a beautiful way to remember her by.  


"It still humbles me that this Force which made leaves and fleas and stars and rivers and you, loves me.  Me.  Maya Angelou.  It's amazing.  I can do anything, and do it well.  Any good thing, I can do it.  That's why I am who I am.  Yes.  Because God loves me and I'm amazed at it.  And grateful for it."  

What if we lived each day with this mindset?  How would we be changed, and how, in return, would we work to change the lives of those around us?   Besides being an inspiration, Maya was honest and raw.  She didn't hide the fact that she served a Creator who loved her, and that because of that love, she could do anything she set her heart to.  

What if we lived like this?  What if we allowed the love that saved our lives become the love we pour out to others?  This is my desire for my life.  I want to show others who Christ is, what He's done for me, and how He can change their lives.  I don't want to forget His hand in my life.  I can't forget how He's saved me from the depths and brought me to new hope in Him.  

Glorious unfolding.

Lay down your head tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don't try to figure it out
Just listen to what I'm whispering to your heart
'Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it's just not true
There's so much of the story that's still yet to unfold

These are the lyrics to the song "Glorious Unfolding" by Steven Curtis Chapman.  Often times, unless the words of a song catch my attention, I just pass them by.  But I was driving today, wondering how I was going to work out my new job with physical therapy and what seems like a thousand other things, and this song came on.  

Talk about a shot to the heart.  

The words of this song are the words of my heart right now.  These past few months, though I've been employed, have been trying for my faith.  I've wondered and prayed about where the Lord wanted me, but didn't feel like He was giving me a very clear answer.  It was becoming difficult for me to accept where I was.  

A college graduate.  Unemployed.  No idea where I was heading.  

But then I decided there was only one thing I could do and one thing I needed to do.  Trust.  Give it to the Lord.  STOP TRYING and believe God to do the work that He knew needed to happen.  And when I did - things fell into place.  My anxiety became less.  I got a job offer.  And while I didn't know I'd be staying in Manhattan longer, I'm beginning to realize and accept that this has been His plan all along.  There's nothing I could've done to change it or stop it.  It was always going to happen.  

Praise Him for having such a compassionate heart that pursues me passionately.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

#iblogbecause

Blogging, and writing in general, has been a source of output for my life as a human with emotional and predictable needs.  I find myself turning to the swift movement of my fingers across the keyboard when my mind wanders and my heart is longing for something more than the world can offer.  I find myself asking the Lord what it is I need to be sharing with those (if any) who read what I write.  

The world is a place full of uncertainty, doubt, fear, and shame.  People walk around wondering 3 things:  Who they are, what they were made for, and what to do about it.  I find myself asking these questions as I have another conversation with a friend struggling with sin, as I look at another homeless person with a sign on the side of the road, and when I read another article about another bombing or shooting.  

Why?  Why is pain so real?  Why are bullets going off, and another life is taken?  

These questions place a longing in my heart that cannot be satisfied by living a normal 9-5 day, that cannot be ceased by a college education, and cannot be limited by a half-hearted passion.  I was made for more, I desire more, and I will achieve more than the limitations placed upon me by a world who doesn't understand me.  

#iblogbecause is my hope that this will happen.  Because I believe in more than sitting still while the world passes you by.  The Lord created me for more than standing on the sidelines, and I intend to harness the energy He's given me and use it for something greater.  

Will you join me?  

Find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/iblogbecause and with the hashtag #iblogbecause .  I'd love to hear your story and discover your passion.  Passion is purposeful and I believe that we each have it if we dig down deep enough.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The heart of grief.

To preface this post:  it's not that I've necessarily faced a lot of grief lately (though there are things that weigh on my heart from time to time), but I've seen a few close people in my life faced with grief, which inspired this post.  

"One day I will see my deepest sorrows transformed into the sweetest glee."  

I follow a page on Facebook (where I found this quote) called "Mitchell's Journey".  I came across it randomly, but was drawn to the father's vulnerability and raw emotion in his posts about losing his son to a rare disease that eventually took over his body.  His writing led me to express my heart in the ones I have lost, and the grief, and ability for joy, that comes from that.  

We lost Kaden 9 years ago this August.  It's crazy for me to think it's been that long, and there aren't many days that go by without my mind passing over the moments we spent with him.  Like all of my sweet younger cousins, he held one of the dearest places in my heart.  And while I've grown stronger and more mature since then, there is a unique pain that comes with losing someone so close to you that's so young.  

I do believe that everything happens for a reason (Ecclesiastes 3), but I want to be able to trust that everything happens for a reason, too.  And I think there's a difference between believing and trusting.  I believe in God, but do I trust Him?  With certain parts of my life, yes.  But others, no.  I continually ask "why" instead of saying "okay...".  Even if it's with pain, He longs for our trust.  

It's hard for me to trust that Kaden died to bring something good out of me.  But I'm able to see this more clearly when I look at my passion:  for children, for justice, and for being a compassionate soul towards those filled with the same kind of pain that I still face.  I believe that his death also causes me to have a greater passion for life in general; with my photography, my friends, and the future I hope to build.  I'm living my life not only for him, but also for He who took him from me, that I may glorify Him in life and death.  

Grief is a funny thing.  

In September, Taylor lost her dad unexpectedly.  Her family has been like a second family since I met her.  So much joy and strength was present in that family.  It may still be, but they're also moving on.  Her mom just sold the house, Taylor is building her own life, and their dad is no longer here to share in those accomplishments.  

And in November, we lost Dana.  She's one of the few people besides my family members that have known my parents before I was born, and had a significant impact on my life and growth as a woman.  When she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, we were hopeful in things going well.  They did for a short time, then slowly went downhill.  When the Lord took her away, I felt different, but the grief was still there.  She knew it was going to happen, and was prepared as she could be.  Though it doesn't necessarily make it easier, knowing that she was confident that she was going home to be with her Father made a huge difference.  

Grief is still a funny thing.  It comes and goes in waves, like the crashing of the sea against the shoreline, and is as unpredictable as the swaying of the trees in the wind.  We cannot control it, but we can decide what to do with it.  Sometimes it's necessary to sit in it and remember those we hold close, but other times it's necessary to take another step, if just one, and persevere in the hope set before us, that one day, we will be reunited with those whose hope remains in the Lord.  

It's okay not to be okay.  Those are the moments where the Lord holds us close and reminds us of His deep love and devotion to restoring our hearts and pulling us closer to Himself.