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Friday, March 27, 2015

Choosing to build relationships rather than platforms.

{Post 5 of 6 in the series Pillars of Choices}

I'm a people-pleaser.  I always have been.  While it's gotten better since I graduated high school, I'm still the person that wants to make someone happy, even if it's at the expense of my own happiness.  I like to see others filled with joy, even if my heart is empty.  And I'll do anything to put a smile on a friend's face, even if that's the last thing I could think of doing.  

I've been looking a lot at that part of my life, and how it affects the things I do and the way I react to situations.  I find myself being less and less pleased with myself when I go out of the way to help someone else, and it ends up affecting my schedule or something I had planned.  While I in no way want this to go to show that I don't care or have a heart for my friends and serving them well, I do want this to go to show that sometimes, it's okay to say no.  

When we look at building relationships, there are so many things to consider.  The nature of the beginning of the friendship, what it is that keeps it thriving, and what it will look like to intentionally pursue the other person and the relationship over the course of time.  

I don't want this to turn in to some mathematical equation, though.  I want to be known as someone who loves others well, and does it because she wants to.  But I also want to be known as someone who has learned to say no to the things that her heart isn't in.  Yes, spending quality time with a friend does a soul well, but if it's in a time that your own soul isn't doing well, how much is it really going to benefit you or the other person?  

I find myself asking this a lot lately.  How well am I really able to pour into the heart of another when my heart is struggling with the things it's faced with?  I think we have such a tendency to forget about ourselves and instead put all of our remaining (or sometimes, lack of) strength into working at a friendship that, without our striving, would still be okay.  

Because when it comes to friends, there are people you know will be committed, and people you know won't.  Some friendships don't last forever, and that's something I've learned well over the course of the last almost 6 years.  I have friends from my freshman year of college that I no longer talk to.  But I also have friends that I just met a few months ago, and you'd think we've known each other our entire lives.  I'm a firm believer that not all friendships are meant to last forever.  And while that's a hard pill to swallow at times, it's something that's crucial for us to recognize in order to spend more of our energy pouring into the ones we are invested in currently.  

But please, don't think me saying this is me saying that every relationship that will last is going to be easy.  Because more often than not, they aren't.  They take work and sacrifice and trials and pain and tears.  But they'll produce such joy and hope and love and peace.  

I don't want to be known as someone who strives to build these platforms that I put people on because I think that they're worthy.  I want to be known as someone who values a person, treasures their heart, and from there, goes on to build a relationship that is worthy of being given that title.  

Because when it comes down to it, what are relationships if they aren't true?  I think they look a lot like platforms.  

-Britt

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Seek hope.

This is a devotional I submitted to a website that I occasionally receive them from, and wanted to share it with you all today.

What does it look like when you're called to follow God, but life is still hard?  This may be the theme of your day, your week, your month, or even your year.  Life is painful and life is trying, but when we look to the hope of the cross, we see that there is more to life than the things we're feeling now.

In the days leading up to Easter, the disciples may have been unsure of what was coming, but they were sure of who they were following.  They knew that Jesus was to fulfill all the things that He had told them, and so they held on to that, even to the point of His death on the cross.

He was denied three times by one of His own.  He was given over to His accusers, He was beaten and mocked, and He was hung on a cross to prove to the world that He is who He says He is.  At that time, that truth didn't ring through, because all we saw was the cross.  His body.  The shame that we felt when He took the place for our sins.

Sometimes, it's hard to look past the things we feel guilty for.  We see our sin and our human nature and don't understand how a God who created everything we see and everything we know can love us still.  And we surely don't understand how Jesus would willingly volunteer to take our place.

But that's the beauty of the cross.  That Jesus went, He died, and He promised that that would not be the end.  Because when we look at the things revealed in Scripture, we know that it cannot be the end.

So when we feel hopeless, we can remember the monumental truth from three days later -- Jesus rose and is living.  He is never failing, always constant, and forever faithful.  He will always choose us because of the love He has for us, and that love will sustain us through the darkest days.

-Britt

Monday, March 23, 2015

#MondayswithBritt -- Volume 1

Week of March 23rd, 2015

I'm copying my dear friend Annie over at what she saw and going with a fun post for Monday that I think I'm going to stick with from now on!  I like that it gets all the mumble jumble thoughts from my brain out, and at the same time let's others know how my heart's doing.  I'm going to keep these updates referencing the week up ahead, which is hard for me right now because next week is one that I think I'm spending more time being excited about than this one!  Anyway, here goes nothing.    

What I'm up to: 
  • Wearing:
    • I'm not going to post a picture because I'd look silly taking one sitting at my desk, but my wardrobe today consists of:
      • a creme-colored cardigan from Target (cardigans are part of my daily outfit)
      • a cute racer-back top from Maurices
      • gray pants from Target
      • Sperry's
      • my favorite arrow earrings from Amy Cornwell 
    • Anticipating:
      • FCA this weekend!  It's our bi-annual statewide spring conference, and I'm more than ready to reconnect with some sweet friends, as well as minister to some beautiful young women.  Here's a rundown of what my weekend will look like!
        • Friday night
          • This time is devoted to leader training and orientation.  I'll leave right after work on Friday and head to Rock Springs 4-H Center, which is where the camp is held each spring and fall.  We'll spend time going over the basics of being a huddle leader, as well as play some fun games + have a time of worship
        • Saturday
          • From the time campers begin arriving at 7:30 a.m., it's go go go!  We have huddles and chapel in the morning, competition in the afternoon, and chapel in the evening.  It's a FULL day of joy, for sure! 
        • Sunday
          • We're up bright and early and head to breakfast, have a huddle, and head to competition again!  The weekend ends with lunch and a huddle leader meeting in the early afternoon.  After this weekend is over, you can find me in my bed sleeping for 12 hours.  
    • Frustrated with: 
      • Work things.  Not going to go much into it, but I'd love prayers for peace and patience toward some situations regarding it.  
    • Creating: 
      • I got what I like to call an "adult coloring book" this past weekend, and I'm in love!  It consists of lots of fun mandala coloring pages from Creative Haven.  It's perfect for when I need a somewhat mindless activity that still keeps my brain active.  You can find them at stores like Joann's, Hobby Lobby, and Michael's.  
    • Stoked about:
      • FCA, of course! 
      • Next week.  But I can't tell you about that yet.  So stay tuned! 
    • Watching:
      • I'm starting Madam Secretary which was recommended by Annie, tonight, so I'm going to hopefully watch the first episode of that tonight!  I work until 7, which is a change in my schedule, so I'll definitely need a little unwind time.  
    • Traveling:
      • I normally don't do a lot of traveling that isn't to and from work, but this weekend of course, I'll be going to Rock Springs 4-H Center for my conference.  It's one of my favorite places in the entire world.  
    • Pondering:
      • Worship -- this is something I've been sitting on and looking at the past few weeks, and it's so fitting because my church just started a new sermon series titled "Response".  Yesterday, we talked a lot about what worship looks like in our daily lives, and how it should be more than the Sunday songs.  I'm figuring out different ways I can bring praise to the Lord in every day moments -- today, it's being thankful for promise of a new day and a new season, and always being confident in that, especially in what seems like the longest of seasons.  
    • Wondering:
      • What are you up to this week? 
    -Britt

    Friday, March 20, 2015

    Choosing to pray when no one sees.

    (Post 4 of 6 in the series Pillars of Choices)

    Prayer has never been something that's been easy for me to stay committed to.  I have to consciously set my mind on the things that need my devotion, and go from there to be intentional about praying for them.  


    But not many people would know this because I'm not one to ask for prayer or tell someone I'm praying for them on a social media venue.  I think prayer is such a sacred, precious thing, and I believe that it's something that needs to be actually done and not just talked about.  


    When I was younger, and even up until about 5 years ago, prayer was something that I did just so I could check it off my list.  


    • Laundry - check
    • Dishes - check
    • Prayer - check

    It was never something that I wanted to do, felt like I had time to do, or felt necessary to do.  I was under the impression that the Lord already knew everything I was thinking about, so why pray?  

    My heart toward prayer has changed dramatically since my faith has become my own.  I don't find prayer as just another thing to check off my list in my journey of faith, but it's a direct line of the communication to the Lord.  Prayer demonstrates our commitment to the Lord, our conservation of the methods that the disciples found worthy, and our consistency in following in His path for us.  It's not just a few words we rattle off without meaning, but the cries of our heart in our most difficult moments.  

    But I want to be clear on something that I firmly believe in -- prayer is not just meant for the difficult moments.  The Lord also wants us to come to Him in the good ones, praising Him for the things that He's given us.  It is in those moments, when we cling to His truth and yearn for His voice and trust in His faithfulness that we are rewarded with the gift of His presence.  He is always constant, always loving, and always patient.  

    And in this thought process, I'm reminded of a fairly well known quote: "Happy moments, praise God.  Difficult moments, seek God.  Quiet moments, worship God.  Painful moments, trust God.  Every moment, thank God."  

    Prayer takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes habit.  It may never be something you're good at in your eyes, but it will always be something deemed worthy in the Lord's.  It won't always be something you want to do, but it's always something you need to do.  Even in the quiet moments, when no one else sees, prayer is significant, it is powerful, and it moves the heart of God.  

    -Britt

    Sunday, March 15, 2015

    Deep, deep love.

    As I listened to the crashing of the waves as I walked along the beach, I was reminded of the crash of God’s heart into mine, and His plea for me to recognize and acknowledge who He is. 
    Baptism isn’t an easy choice to make.  It requires giving up the control you thought you could hold onto and giving in to the One who’s held the control all along.  It requires letting go of the old and partnering with the new.  It’s like getting rid of your favorite toy in order to gain the most wonderful reward.  And as I climbed back up the rocks, I was reminded of the fight that we all face when we follow Christ.  And I was reminded that we must keep looking up and we must keep moving. 
    Because we’re either following Him or we’re not following Him.  There’s no in between, there’s no lukewarm.  There’s no saying “Hey, you can have this part of my life, but I don’t think I want to give you that part.”  And it’s a choice that we have to make.  And choices can be hard.  And choices can be painful.  And they can require effort, which is something that, in our culture and our lifestyles, some of us aren’t used to. 
    From the time I’ve considered myself a Christian, I’ve always been in this mindset that I have to be able to have some control of my life.  I have to be able to lay down at the end of the day, rest my head on my pillow and say “Yes, that went exactly how I wanted today to go.”  Sometimes, it works.  Most times, it doesn’t.  And I can’t keep holding on to this unrealistic expectation that my life is mine alone. 
    Because it’s not.  I was bought for a price and I was won by a heart so full of love for me that it took that love to the cross to win my heart.    
    And I believe that this fight is worth it.  And that this fight is worth celebrating.  And that if we run our race, at the end of our time here on earth, we will be rewarded at the gates of Heaven by Jesus saying “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
    I want Him to be able to say that about me.  I want my life to reflect the work that He’s done and the hope that He’s instilled in my heart, and the joy that I devote my life to.  I want others to know that joy.  I want them to know, and I want them to see, and I want them to experience the deep, deep love that Jesus has for us.  And that love which He displayed on the cross. 
    So there is no more holding back.  There is no fight for a lesser love than the one we deserve, and the one who proved that we were deserving.  Because we are worthy and we are His and we are loved. 

    Not alone and fast but together and far.

    Friday, March 13, 2015

    Choosing to worship.

    (Post 3 of 6 in the series Pillars of Choices)


    Well friends.  It's funny that this post would come this week.  

    It's really just been a long week.  I've been in a funk, I've been tired, and really just needing a break.  

    Then last night -- of course, last night -- I got in a little accident.  No injuries, no major damage, but my first thought was "Why this?  Why now?  Why me?"  And of course my mind then goes to thinking 1) I have terrible luck and 2) I really should just live in a bubble.  And then it goes to "Well, my problems really aren't as bad as I think they are.  So many people have it so much worse."  

    My sweet friend Jordan over at Trusting Adventure is one of the wisest women I know, and of course her and I had a conversation about how I was feeling, because she'll tell you that I'm highly sensitive + a big feeler.  I always have been, I always will be, and I don't really see that changing over the course of my life.  I have to process life out loud.  And if my mom is reading this, which she probably is, she'd definitely agree.  

    Jordan told me something that I think I will always remember.  She told me "Struggles are struggles and yours are just as worthy as anyone else's.  Your struggles are worthy because YOU are worthy."  

    Read that again.  

    Struggles are struggles and yours are just as worthy as anyone else's.  Your struggles are worthy because YOU are worthy.

    Now let me tell you -- this was a shot to my weary heart.  I tend to believe, a majority of the time, that yes, I have struggles, but they aren't nearly as bad as someone who just totaled their car (in this case), or someone who is dealing with cancer, or someone who just got fired.  But y'all -- I know there's someone reading this who needs to hear this message, that you are worthy and you are valued and you are loved.  

    Remembering this truth and living in the fact that I am adored by the God of the universe leads me to praise + thanksgiving.  Now I believe that worship looks different for each person.  It's going to be different depending on the church you attend, the life you lead, and personality flowing through your bones.  It's going to be different for someone in America versus someone in East Asia who has to hide their faith.  For me, worship looks a lot like giving thanks.  It's being able to drive to work and see the sunrise and praise God for the promise of a new day.  It's being able to hold my sweet nephew and praise God for the promise of new life.  And it's being able to go to sleep at the end of the day, no matter what has happened, and remind myself that each season has an end and each season has meaning and each season is meant to bring glory to the One who created them.  

    Worship is a choice.  Worship is something you have to intentionally pursue + be constant in.  Habits take time and habits take commitment.  When you choose to seek the good out of any situation, you'll find your heart changing.  You'll find your hope redirected.  And you'll find your mind realizing that yes, you are worthy and yes, you matter.  

    My heart is full despite this week.  My future is secure despite my struggle.  And my struggle is worthy because I am worthy.  

    Another quick quote for my sweet readers who choose to spend time listening to the thoughts in my head.  Again, one from Jordan and her recent Instagram post.  Basically, I think she's pretty great and I love her lots.  

    "Hard doesn't last forever, and when we take the time to sink down into it and embrace everything it can teach us, we can find a life richer than our wildest dreams."

    -Britt

    ***Jordan is also the "heart + soul" of #fireworkpeople and you should definitely check us out over at #fireworkpeople.  You can also find her on Twitter at @JordanAGage and on Instagram at @jordangage.  You should probably check her out.  She'll bring life + peace + sarcasm + hope + all things good.***

    Friday, March 6, 2015

    Choosing to love the chaos when all we want to do is control it.

    (Post 2 of 6 in the series Pillars of Choices)

    It was my freshman year of college and I was in a tough place.  I loved Manhattan and what I was doing and who I was doing life with, but for some reason, it just wasn't enough.   I remember the spot where we met and how lost I felt in that moment.  

    If you're familiar with K-State's campus, you know that across from the Strong Complex, there used to be a beautiful area with tons of trees, and if you've explored more, you've come across the circle of tree stubs on one of the little trails that you can just sit and be.  Simple.  Peaceful.  

    At this point, I had started attending Christian Challenge, and it was like I had found a home that I didn't even know I needed.  But I still had a lot of questions.  I wasn't quite sure what it meant to follow Christ on a daily basis -- to be able to submit who I was and who I wanted to be to Him and trust that He was good.  

    That's where I was at when I asked Elisha if she had some time that day to sit and talk to me.  I trusted her because at that point, she was the one who had aided in showing me what walking with Christ through college really looked like.  She shared James 1:2-4 with me: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  When she finished reading this to me, it's like a piece of my heart and my walk that was missing for so long was a little more complete.  I realized that the things I was going through and the things I was struggling with mattered.  My pain was significant.  The longings of my heart were important.  

    It took me a while to fully embrace the truth of that scripture.  To be able to transform those tough things into good, and to be able to to understand how I was going to use them in the Kingdom.  And when it comes down to it, I think I'm still having to do that.  Joy isn't easy for me most days.  It's something I have to fight for.  And it's something that I have to choose to seek.  

    And when it comes to the current chaos in my life, it's not much different.  I love my job and I love Manhattan and I love my community, but there are still days when I feel like I'm not where I'm meant to be. Which is okay.  I'm learning to make it be okay.  Because I'm still being shaped and molded and re-created by a Father who deeply loves and deeply desires my heart.  And when I lean into the truth that He is who He is says He is, and that He will do what He says He'll do, He applauds to the heavens for the heart He has won.  

    So when the days get long and the going gets tough, we have a choice to make.  We can either love the chaos and the joy that can come from it, and embrace the struggle, or we can disregard the calling to more than we are now.  And even on the darkest of days, I want to choose the chaos, because the chaos has made me who I am today. 

    -Britt

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    Choosing to move into the chaos of the everyday.

    {Post 1 of 6 in the series Pillars of Choices.}

    If you're an American, you're living in a society that thrives from movement.  People are always seeking, never stopping, always striving.  Often for something more and something different -- something greater than what they see and what they know currently.  

    When I was planning out this blog series, at first I chose the title Choosing to move in the chaos of everyday for today's post.  Then I decided the word "into" speaks more about the intentionality of our movement in the literal chaos that can sometimes be our everyday life.  

    We all have that thing that holds us down.  Whether that be our job, our relationship, finances, or something from our past that we just can't seem to shake.  There's something that's holding us back from being exactly who we're created to be.  And it seems like when we keep ignoring it, it gets stronger and gains more power over our hearts and our minds.  

    When we will convince ourselves that we're worth more than the "no" we preach to ourselves at the end of the day, when all we want to do is sleep?  When will we convince ourselves that we're powerful + influential + that we're going to change the world?  

    See -- I'm tired of living half-heartedly.  I'm tired of going about day-by-day thinking "Well, this is the best there is...".  Because that's just not true.  

    I was made for more than an 8-5 desk job.  
    I was made for more than coming home at the end of the day and doing the same old thing.  
    I was made for more than the feelings of insecurity that haunt my heart.  

    But, right now, this job is where He's placed me.  This house is where I lay my head at the end of the day.  And you can bet that I'm fighting those lies from Satan that I am not worth it, because I have a Savior who died on a cross to prove that I am.  

    So when I look in the mirror in the morning, I'm going to tell myself that I have to face the day.  I have to sit at that desk, encounter the mess, and continue to fight the fight that God has already won for my heart.  

    Will you join me?  Because I'm ready to win.  

    -Britt

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Pillars of choices.

    When I think of choices, I envision people being intentional with the things they've been given and with the people in their lives.  But I also know that it goes much deeper than that. 

    I want people to be aware of the choices they're making.  I want them to embrace the power they have in those choices, but also the power they don't have. 

    I found inspiration in a blog post by Jennie Allen where I took away these 6 "pillars of choices" that I firmly believe are 6 of the most important choices we will ever make on a daily basis. 

    • Choosing to move into the chaos of the everyday.  
    • Choosing to love the chaos when all we want to do is control it.  
    • Choosing to worship.  
    • Choosing to pray when no one sees.  
    • Choosing to build relationships rather than platforms.  
    • Choosing to believe the everyday is the best part and and choosing not to miss it.  
    Whether or not we enjoy it, choices have to be made.  Whether that's something like the choices listed here, or the choice of what to eat for lunch or where to go on vacation, they beckon to be called upon

    So what will we do with these choices we've been given?  Will we wrap them in our arms, hide them away, and forget they're even there?  Or we will embrace their challenge, force them to be heard, and run into the beautiful truth that we were given the capability to make these choices with the guidance and truth of a Father who loves us?  He leads us and desires us to lean into Him.  By choosing to do so, we are saying yes to the choices.  Yes to the possible pain.  But most of all, yes to Him

    So join me on this journey to discover more about these choices and more about the God who gave them to us. 

    -Britt

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    #ownyourfire Monday!

    Friends-

    I've realized that getting my heart out on a page is the best way for me to properly process the things going through my head.  So my form of #ownyourfire Monday for today is going to be typing, non-stop, for 10 minutes.  Letting y'all know what's on my heart.  Not holding back, not editing, not worrying about what people may think.  Being vulnerable because that's what life should be all about. 

    Here goes nothing. 

    • I'm terrified of what the future holds.  I talked to my parents again this weekend about where I see things going, and I just have no idea.  I know my passions, I know my heart, but right now, I don't know where exactly that's going.
    • I'm struggling with being content with being single.  I hear all of the things about how I need to be striving to lean more on the Lord, but some days (most days...) it's just SO HARD.  I long to have that relationship that I see others cultivating and growing, and I long to one day have a family, and I long to have those treasures that I've seen promised for me.  I hear the voice of the Lord telling me to be patient and wait on His timing, that it is good and it is pure.  His promises are the ones that I must wait on -- not the promises the world throws my way. 
    • I'm disliking change more than I normally do.  With the end of this school year (I know I'm not in school -- stick with me though), that means Steph and Evan are likely going to be moving from Manhattan. 
    • I don't feel like I have much of a path laid before me.  I realize that connects to being terrified of what the future holds, but this is different.  It's like I've failed myself in the places I thought I'd be today.  It's like I've let myself down and haven't worked as hard as I should have.  It's like I've become distracted from what my heart truly desires. 
    • I'm really tired...all the time.  I'm not sure if it's just because I go-go-go every day and come home at night and never have the strength to do anything else, but it's a constant battle I seem to be facing.  And I realize it's not huge, but it affects my mood and my heart and it's just not a good thing.  I get enough sleep, I rest when I know I need to, but I'm just so tired all the time. 
    • I think I'm becoming an introvert.  Don't get my wrong -- so not a bad thing!  I actually find that I'm a little more at peace with some of these things that I've listed.  I just never expected it! 
    Well friends, that's all for now. 

    -Britt