Monday, April 21, 2014

The longest chapter, and why I need courage.

"If you long to be married, tell that to the Lord.  He cares.  He's not cold-hearted about it.  Don't use your whole single experience to pine away about marriage.  See it for what it is: ordained by God to secure an un-distracted devotion to the Lord.  So take that time and dive deep into His Word.  Don't miss this chapter by pining for the next one.  Trust that God is guiding your future and enjoy every moment of the gift of singleness."  -Ben Stuart

As I'm getting older (I'll be 23 next month), and college is becoming a distant memory, the friends I've made and moments I cherish have not.  Which means that the friends are getting married, some having babies, and even more moving away from Kansas; it's all present and real in my eyes.  

It's hard.  

I thought leaving high school and coming to college would be difficult.  But let's be real, I was young then.  Though many would argue that I'm still young.  But in high school, I thought the friends I had would be with me until the end.  With the exception of two, that theory proved itself wrong.  But now that I'm a college graduate, I look back and see the people I've met through Kansas State and am astounded at the difference some of them have made on my life.  These are the ones that will never leave my side.  These are the ones that will hold my hand through my hardest moments.  

I got a little sidetracked, but it all relates to my main point:  things are changing.  With so many of my friends either married, engaged, or in serious relationships, I can't help but think, when's it going to be my turn?  When do I get to experience that kind of love?  It's easy to get in a stage and mentality of self-pity when I tell myself the lie that I will always be alone.  

What a joke.  What a stupid, Satan-led ridiculous lie that fills my mind.  

How could I look at the friends around me and feel blessed and not look to the One who created them each for their specific purpose in my life?  How could I not look at my past mistakes and see how He shaped them to teach me something about myself now?

It's never about me.  It's always about Him.  In this moment, in this season, in this room I'm sitting in - it's all a constant reminder that my life is FOR Him.  And while this season-this chapter-seems to be the longest one I've found myself in when looking back on my life, I know it's forming in me something fierce and beautiful...something that will only be revealed in the proper timing.  

The quote I posted at the top struck me as I watched a brief message on singleness, and was deeply convicted by a simple truth I see evident in my life: I'm not content.  I'm not content with being single because I don't look to the greater purpose of my singleness.  I'm not using it to grow deeper with Him-not to say I'm not growing deeper with Him, I'm just not giving Him my singleness as a sacrifice and telling Him to do with it what He wants.  Instead, I'm telling myself that I can do it on my own.  That I can still grow closer to Him without relinquishing control of the pain I often feel from not having anyone to share this life with.  But what a lie.  I have Christ.  What more do I need?  

I'm going to post the quote again, because I believe in the power and truth that it holds.  It's something that I need to preach to myself daily in order to remain present-focused and aware of the fact that I am precious and I am pursued daily by the One who longs for me to know Him more.  

"If you long to be married, tell that to the Lord.  He cares.  He's not cold-hearted about it.  Don't use your whole single experience to pine away about marriage.  See it for what it is: ordained by God to secure an un-distracted devotion to the Lord.  So take that time and dive deep into His Word.  Don't miss this chapter by pining for the next one.  Trust that God is guiding your future and enjoy every moment of the gift of singleness."  -Ben Stuart

And I'm realizing in all of this that I need courage.  I need the kind of courage that the Lord provides when we trust in Him.  It's defined as "the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief."  I think it's safe to say that I fit pretty well under both of those categories.  

If you're reading this and you think you're in the same boat as I am, I have a question to ask you:  Are you giving it to the Lord?  Are you letting go of your singleness, your brokenness, your pain, and your fears-are you pressing into Him?  I know I don't all the time, so this is a challenge to me, and also to you, to do just that.  Lean into the One who longs for you to trust Him deeply-with every part of your life.  Not just the ones that are easy.  Be okay with chapters and seasons that are longer than others, because you never know what will come of them.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Count to Three

This poem I just wrote was inspired by this quote from Bob Goff: "Darkness fell, His friends scattered, hope seemed lost - But Heaven just started counting to three."

Count to Three (by Brittani Rae Shank)

The sun seemed to stop shining
as darkness fell
And You hung from the cross
with nothing left to tell
Day one
People wept;
stood around in disbelief
while Your enemies stood tall;
they boasted with relief
Day two
The madness still continued
as people forgot Your name, 
but Mary sat faithfully
Her heart remained the same
Day three
The tomb was empty
as people looked around
Now forever we find hope
The lost may now be found

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Captured Joy Photography

Hello my faithful readers!  If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I've decided to start a page devoted specifically to my photography.  While at this point in time, it's more just to showcase my pictures, I'm also hoping to start taking more pictures actually for people, and possibly in the future, transition to a business.  But that's just a goal as of now, and it would be a bit of a ways off.  

My desire to begin this page stemmed from my unusual love of finding the raw beauty in everyone and everything.  A close family friend pointed this out, and my confidence soared.  I've been blessed with the chance to do this, as I have my precious camera, a Nikon D3200 (a graduation gift from my parents), and a lot of willing friends who love to have their pictures taken!  

About the name:  The inspiration for the name Captured Joy Photography came mostly from my love and meaning behind the word "joy".  It inspired one of my tattoos and one of my main desires when naming this new adventure was that it had the word "joy" in it.  So then I had to decide what else to include.  That led me the word "capture".  I like the thought of capturing a picture, rather than taking one.  It seems like a more secure term, and with my photography, I want to have an image, a memory, a moment that someone will be able to treasure forever.  I believe there is joy in every circumstance, no matter how dark or scary it may seem.  And my photos aren't a process, they're a definitive presentation of the beauty I see, which is why I chose "captured" instead of "capturing" or "capture".  Long, but informative description for you all!  

I've been overwhelmed by the support so far, and am looking forward to continuing to build my experience and knowledge!  If you're reading this and live in the Manhattan area and are interested in me taking some pictures for you, feel free to let me know!  All of my contact information is on the Contact Information page on this blog.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Here's my messy heart.

The things that inspire me are weird.  

I went to this place where you can paint pottery with my LIFE group on Saturday, and it was so much fun!   I decided to paint a coffee mug (because I need another coffee mug, right), and I'm excited to see how it turns out!  

Kind of beside the point, but it leads to it, I promise.  So here's a drastic turn to where it does lead to.  

(I promise I'm sane.)

I think a lot of times, I try to cover up the mess of my heart: my sin, my doubts, my fear, my disappointments.  My state of mind convinces me that it's better to keep it from everybody instead of choose to tell just one person and relieve the weight of the pressure of it all.  

So here goes nothing.  Lately, I've been pretty discouraged with my seemingly lack of success in finding a job in Minneapolis.  I was so excited when my dear friend got in touch with me about living with her.  When I prayed through it, it felt like it's where the Lord was calling me.  So it's really just hard for things seeming to not be working out.  But I'm realizing that I need to let go of my expectations, which is difficult for me to do.  It's such a tough process.  

Along with that, I'm still dealing with pain in my back and down my leg from my fall on the ice before the big snow that Manhattan had.  At first, I tried to do it on my own.  I heated, I did my best to not do anything too strenuous.  But once again, my plan for all of it failed.  It goes to show me that no matter how many times I attempt to do things on my own, I will never fully succeed.  I decided to see a doctor, which led me to starting physical therapy.  While I'm unhappy with having to dedicate such a large part of my free time during the week to this, I was blessed more than I could imagine in the process.  My physical therapist goes to church at one of the big churches here in Manhattan, was playing an All Sons & Daughters Pandora station today during our session, and prayed for me afterwards.  God knew what I needed when I was frustrated with the thought of physical therapy.  It's still scary and intimidating, and I know I'll have times where I'll doubt it's help in my pain, but I'm confident that it's happening for a reason.  Every single moment of my life does.  

This is a picture of the heart I painted on the inside of my coffee cup.  It represents mine pretty well right now.  A little messy, a lot blurry, but always beautiful when placed in the hands of my Creator.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

What my tattoos mean to me.

When people find out I have a tattoo (let alone 3...) they always want to know 1) How I was crazy enough to get one 2) How much it hurt and 3) What they mean to me.  

My answers are as follows: 
1) I'm crazy.  Tattoos are crazy.  It just made sense.  

2) Not as much as child birth, I'm sure.  It seems like a logical answer for those who are women and have had children (Though I haven't, I've heard's safe to say I won't be having children for a while.)

3) Now this answer is another story in itself.  And they each have deep meaning and value in them.  So here's your answers, folks!  
Tattoo #1: "Psalm 139" on my wrist
 This goes back to my  middle school days.  For those of you who don't know, I was bullied a lot in middle school and high school.  It was something that I faced the pain of into my first year or two of college where my main struggle lay in where I found my worth and identity.  But the beauty and hope I find in this psalm is one that changed my life when I started to really be able to accept the truth it holds for myself.  Knowing that God created me for a specific purpose, and knew who I would be and what I would do with my life before I breathed my first breath is something I can carry with me for all of my days.  
Tattoo #2:  An infinity sign with a heart on my right forearm
 I realize (and realized before I got this tattoo) how common infinity signs tattoos are today.  But, that didn't stop me.  I'm not a person who just gets a tattoo because others do.  I got this one with my mom (yes, my mom!) and my little sister.  I think eternity is a word that a lot of people don't fully grasp.  And we added the heart in because the love of our family is eternal.  And above and beyond that, it represents the eternal love Christ has for me and pours over me daily.  I would be nothing without it.  
Tattoo #3:  "Consider it joy" on my left shoulder; 
The verse that this tattoo references is James 1:2-4, and this verse is one that got me through my freshman year of college.  Coming in, I didn't know what to expect.  I was in a school of 24,000 people, which, if I may add, is almost 24 times the size of my home town, and I was part of a marching band that was bigger than my K-12.  I was overwhelmed, to say the least.  But I found God that year.  I realized He was closer than I had ever known, and I started to desire His will for my life.  That was done through my LIFE group leader, Elisha.  She shared this verse with me one day in the wooded (now the trees are gone...) area across from the Van Zile complex, and I have remembered it every single day.  
To me, my tattoos are more than a split second decision or a current "fad".  They each tell an intricate and unique story into who I am and where I've been.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Journey through the Psalms.

My journey through the Psalms this past month really opened my eyes to the reality of my suffering and how I'm reacting to it.  It represented the power of the Lord and His will, but also how He is sovereign in it and chooses to love us, despite our sinful nature.  

David is often referred to as "a man after God's own heart".  Which is funny, because He messed up.  A lot.  He was adulterous and took part in covering up a murder.  He cried out to the Lord so many times, asking to be rescued, but it wasn't until he realized he had to make a change that God began to do a work in his heart.  

And I believe that's a lot of how it is with me and a lot of people I know.  I trust the Lord with some things in my life, and seek to trust Him more every day.  But when it comes down to it, there are always parts that I can't seem to give up-my pain, people that have hurt and turned against me, shame from my past mistakes-BUT I'm learning how to more each day.  I'm pressing in to His truth and promise of restoration because I know I am in need of a Savior to come and lift me off my feet and into His arms.  

I rejoice at knowing that even on my hardest day, even when I'm drowning in doubt, shame, or pain, I can and have the ability and promise to be able to rest in the presence of Jesus, laying it all down at the foot of the cross, and allow Him to move in my heart.  

Praise God for not leaving us where He found us.  

Words from a dear friend that inspired this post, "It was hectic - BUT God is good!"  
[So when it seems like too much, lean into who Jesus is.]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


This post was inspired by the quote directly below this, as well as a sermon by C.S. Lewis entitled "The Weight of Glory", which all other quotes in this post are from.  
"I really need a day between Saturday and Sunday."
We are continually and constantly seeking more.  We are given what is best, but we aren't content.   

How do those desires transfer over to our daily lives?  

Do we seek the latest "best" over the things that are important?  

What if our seeking drove us more frequently to the cross?  

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world."
What if our seeking led us to a deeper desire to know the One who created the desire within us?  While we will not experience all that He is while here on earth, we can rejoice in all that He offers of this life.   
"We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects."
The beauty of this earth is just a glimpse of what's to come.  We need only fix our eyes on the rising sun, a flower in bloom; listen to a child's laughter or the song of a bird to experience the beginning of the eternal life God has to offer.   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The lies.

For years, I tried to throw away the lies of my life.  

These varied greatly.  

Lies I'd told, lies I was told, and lies that were thrown in my face by the enemy who constantly tried (and still constantly tries) to steal my joy out from under my feet.  It's like a fire raging, constantly being fed by my disbelief and willingness to believe the torment and hatred being poured on to my heart by the one who Christ died to defeat.


I struggle more now with the lies of the enemy than I ever have.  

The lie that I'll never get married.  That I'll never have children.  That I'll never grow up and succeed to be who God has created me to bed.  

The lie that I'm not good enough.  That I'm not pretty enough.  That I'm not smart enough.  And that I'm not worth it.  

I've thought a lot about why it's so much easier for us to believe the lies of Satan than the truth of the cross and the message that Christ brings us.  And it leads me to the reality of our world as many of us know it.  It's polluted with sin, held captive by the fierce belief that there is always something bigger and better for us to seek.  That we have to do more and be more in order to be worthy and honored.  

What a horrible lie to fall into the trap of believing.  

Our hearts were made to feel so much more.  Our minds were made to believe greater things.  And our lives were made to achieve that which the Lord has planned out for us.  Yes, there is always something bigger and better for us to seek, but that is Jesus.  Not things the world has to offer.  

When you fall into the lie of the world-the lie that you are not worthy-remember Him from whom your worth derives from.  From Him whom Psalm 139 shouts created you - perfectly, intricately, and beautifully.  He knows the thoughts that haunt you and still chooses to pursue your heart because He finds you worthy.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Set On Fire [written 3.13.14]

"Set On Fire"

Free from expectations,
I sit at Your feet
Longing to hear Your voice;
longing to meet.
In my Daddy's hand
I seek freedom;
from my earthly shackles,
to be filled with wisdom.
Your peace passes over
as it consumes my soul, 
and my cup overflows;
my heart no longer cold.  
I seek Your face once more
as brokenness disappears.  
And call You "Abba, Father"
as You relinquish every fear.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

About a heart.

I've been learning a lot about myself lately.  About my personality, about how I relate to other people, and especially about my praise for the Lord and how that manifests itself on a daily basis.  

I'm the kind of person who wants others to be encouraged by my life; the struggles, the joys, the pain, and the success.  It's not (normally) coming from a place of pride or wanting to seem better than others, but instead wanting others to be encouraged by my struggles.  Which is still almost a foreign concept for me to think about.  My struggles haven't been, up until about a year or two ago, something I've wanted to openly share, let alone encourage others, with.  And from the culture I live in, I'm guessing many other people feel the same way.  

Yesterday was Fake Patty's Day here in MHK.  While I do not, nor ever will have a desire to participate in this, my biggest struggle with this "holiday" is finding the grace to extend to others when hearing about the things that take place during it.  It's hard for me to understand why people make the choices they do when it comes to alcohol and sex and everything that goes along with it, but the Lord is teaching me more and more lately that I'm not meant to understand it.  I'm meant to be open to the hurt that comes after...the shame that often envelopes, and the faces of the people who need redemption --> not to stare harshly at their faces with condemnation or judgment, but to gaze lovingly at their faces with grace and compassion.  To give them a glimpse of the God who redeems even their worst decision.  

So if you woke up this morning regretting a decision you made last night, remember you are worth more and valued more than even your wisest decision.  Our God is a God of grace.  

My heart is hurting for the lost and broken.  My soul longs for their presence to be filled with the presence of a Savior who knows them each by name.  
He is not deaf to our calling - He is not blind to our sorrow - He is not number to our pain - His heart is open and hands are willing - Will we do the same?