Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sinner, be still.

"There's joy for the morning.  Oh sinner, be still.  Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can't heal."

These lyrics from Crowder's song "Come As You Are" have been echoing through my soul the past week or so.  I can't get them out of my head and their words are screaming through my being as I'm processing through things that life is throwing at me.  My heart is crying out in desperation to my body to just BE STILL. 

I think more often than not, I spend too much time focusing on trying my hardest to get better and do better and feel better, and not enough on just being still when that's the only thing the moment calls for. 

I'd much rather just fix it.  I want to find a solution, put it into action, and not have to deal with whatever it is I'm dealing with, because it's just too much and I'm just too weak and it's pushing at me from every side and I just want to be able to BREATHE. 

Transparency.  That's what I'm trying out this year.  I'm seeking to be more open with those in my life about the things I'm dealing with because I can't do this on my own.  It's just not possible.  I know this, I see this in my life, and I'm doing all that I can to make my soul believe it with every ounce of it that's present. 

Because what is life without other people?  What's the point of being alive and walking with the feet I've been giving and using the hands that are so often bruised from pushing back against what's being thrust toward me, if I don't have other people? 

People need other people.  We need the ones who know our hearts.  We need the ones who seek the best in us. And we need the ones who encourage us in our darkest moments, when our hands and feet fail, our breath is weary with exhaustion, and we just can't seem to see tomorrow. 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The art of giving.

As humans, I think it's easy to fall into the mindset of always needing something in return.  We give to someone, and we expect them to give us something back.  We help a person out, and we expect a thank you.  

I came across this realization when I was going through clothes I need to get rid of.  I was thinking to myself that I could sell them and make some money, or I could just give them to Goodwill or Salvation Army and receive nothing in return.  While thinking on the first, I realized that it would take so much work to take pictures, post them online, then arrange a time to meet up with whoever decided to buy them.  But in giving them away, all I have to do is bag them up and take them to the store.  

How much easier is it to just do good and give with a heart that isn't held back by expectations?  I'm realizing more that I need to do more of this.  I'm always expecting so much out of people when I make a decision to do something well, and I shouldn't be living with that mindset.  

Short, sweet, and to the point.  Giving is good for the heart.  


Thursday, January 15, 2015

This thing called joy.

If you know me very well at all, you'd know that the words "consider it joy" are ones I try to live my life by.  By try, I mean that let's be honest, it doesn't happen every day.  Things hold me back, life gets tough, and joy seems hard to come by.  And I'd like to think that my perspective doesn't change much, that deep down, people can see the joy of the Lord radiating through my being even when my heart is hurting, but I know that lately, that hasn't been true. 

I'm at a point in my life that I'm unsure of what's going to be next.  I don't know where I'll be in a year, I can't see clearly what my purpose is at this moment, and it's hard for me to be optimistic in all of the things I'm feeling. 

Yes, I know God's plan is bigger than anything I could ever plan. 

Yes, I know that He will hold me through the pain and the struggle. 

Yes, I know He is good. 

But believing those things is a whole different story. 

What would it looked like if we believed the things we know and have been taught?  What would it look like to bathe in the truth that we are whole and we are loved when seen through the eyes of our Father who loves us deeply?  How would our lives be portrayed if we glimpsed at the Father's heart and spoke that life into other hurting hearts? 

One thing I can tell you: it won't be easy.  It'll take work, dedication, and recognition that the Lord is who He says He is, and He will fulfill the things He says He will.  It will take heart, tears, loss, and struggle.  It will take more than you think you have to give at times.  And there will be moments when you think you can't keep moving. 

But go.  Keep pushing.  Never stop believing. 

Because it will be so worth it.  Will you join me in this thing called joy? 


Monday, January 5, 2015

All of me.

I have to embrace it all.  Because if not, what are these words for?  What purpose do they serve?  What change will my goals for this new year of my life really have on my life? 

2015 is only 5 days in, and already it's brought more than I imagined it would.  It happens every year.  I think I've prepared myself for what I think is going to happen, and then I'm thrown off guard by what really plays out.  I like to think that I have it all mapped out and planned to perfection, but the reality of it is that it was never my job to coordinate for in the first place

I chose the word "embrace" for this year because there are certain things that need perspective and clarity in my life.  And when I look at who I am and what I hope to accomplish, I'm a firm believer that a majority of that will come from embracing who I am and who the Lord has created me to be, but also embracing every single thing He brings to light as my life carries on. 

I've learned more than anything that I can't embrace the good and reject the bad.  It's not possible for me to live a life half-lived.  I can't keep taking on the things I think are easy and pushing aside the things that look a little too messy.  

I'm learning into who the Lord is and who He has created me to be.  I'm learning what it looks like to be devoted to the path He is laying for me.  It's ever-shifting, often painful, and oh so beautiful.  


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Words matter.

One of the easiest things for me to get discouraged by is thinking that my words don't matter. 

I think it's tempting to get in this mindset that the only thing that matters is your voice being heard and your name being known.  And I think it's such a deadly trap to fall into.  We become dependent on the praise of others, and we can get stuck in a constant reminder that somewhere, there's someone who will always be better than us.  We believe the lies that nothing will ever be good enough for the person from whom we seek the highest recognition. 

In high school, I fell under the spell that there was always another goal to reach, always another prize to win, and always another certificate that my name could be plastered on.  I strived to be the best musician, the best student, the best child, and the best community member because I made myself believe that that was all that mattered in life.

And then I moved to Manhattan, started attending a school with over 20,000 students, and I realized that all of these things were miniscule compared to the difference that I could make simply by the actions and words that came from my hands and mouth.  I started to focus less on what I could achieve and more on who I could help. 

And the difference it made was remarkable.  I've learned more about the heart of compassion from the people I was surrounded by in college than I had my entire life.  I learned to love, be loved, and spread love. 

When I became a follower of Jesus, I recognized and began accepting the pure, true love of someone who gave their life for me.  I began sharing my story - the hurt, the tears, and all it held - and began to see that I didn't have to be a perfect person or do perfect things, because my story matters and my words matter. 

My worth is not dependent on the recognition of another person.  My value is not contingent on the praise of a peer.  And my beauty is not found in the praise of a friend. 

I am the daughter of the King and He calls me "beloved". 

In 2015, I want to know this truth and be changed by it.  I want the words spoken to the core of my soul to be joyfully exclaimed with every exhale of my breath.  And I want to be the one who decides that each day is not just another day, but an opportunity for greatness. 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The world needs you.

It took me a while to figure it out.  What is it exactly I want to accomplish in 2015, the things I want to see myself become, and the person I want to grow into.  

And through that seeking, I found my word for the year.  


The good.  The bad.  The happy.  The painful.  The joy.  The tears.  

And I want to embrace all that I am and all that I know I can be.  I am not my mistakes, my past, or my regrets.  

Because it's all a part of life.  They're all things that can build us up or tear us down, but we have the choice as to which direction that goes.  

So this year is also about choices.  I want to deliberately choose to live a life worthy of celebration and a life filled with beautiful chaos because of the sincere truth that fills it.  

I don't want to live a half-lived life.  It's just not worth it.  

Hear me now: You were made for SO MUCH MORE than an 8-5 job, the perfect family, or the giant house.  My loves, you were made to shine brighter than all the stars and to speak confidently about the things in your soul that need to be heard.  So let your voices roar.  The world needs you.  


Monday, December 29, 2014

Empty pages.

One of my favorite things in the entire world is a fresh new journal.  The pages are empty and the lines are clear.  It's like an unspoken invitation to bring your doubts, dreams, fears, and joys to the silence of the hard bound book. 

It's ironic for me that mine is about to run out, because the start of a new year is just around the corner.  I've never been one for new years resolutions.  I don't understand why you would wait to start a change in yourself that you already see necessary.  And while I'm not going against this statement, I think that there is something to be said about being deliberate in your actions to begin something brilliant.  Sometimes you do just need the courage in knowing you're not alone and the motivation in knowing that your beginning is anticipated. 

But, why not make it now?  Why not start today?  I think empty pages can be something so pure and melodious, like the crispness of a winter snow or the chords of your favorite song. 

Because despite what you think, you are worth more than the diamonds on your finger or the car in your driveway.  You are more precious than the stars in the sky.  And you are valued more than the words that are spoken of or against you. 

No one can fill the empty pages of your story.  It is unique to who you are and who you will become.  So why not start writing today? 


Friday, December 26, 2014

Deep pain. Deeper joy.

"Good news of great joy."

I love this verse in the book of Luke.  It was the first Christmas, Jesus had just been born, and an angel appeared to the shepherds in the field and told of the Savior had been born.  The verse in the NIV version says "a Savior has been born to you."  I think a lot of people have a problem with statements like this that the Bible makes because they wonder why someone would ever do something like this for someone like then.   They're unsure of a Father who would send His Son to come down in human form, just like us, and live a life devoted to pointing others to Him. 

But I also think there's a lot of grace that comes in the doubt our minds hold us captive with.  When we are caught in these webs, Christ's light is shining through, desperately trying to break the darkness that entangles us.  Because He DID come for us.  He came to take our hand, carry us through, and set us free.  

And man, is there pain.  There's pain in the heart of the one that loses another child due to circumstances that are beyond their control.  There's pain in the voice of the one who has to tell their child that their dad won't be coming home that night.  And there's pain in the body of the one who's spent his or her whole life doing their best to just make everyone else happy.  

I can't imagine living in a world that I didn't have the hope of Christ to mend my scars and break my chains.  And I think this story is even sweeter to read after Christmas, when we are given proof of the coming of the Lord and can rest in knowing that He will come again one day. 

Because y'all --> there's JOY.  Deep, unending, overwhelming, and powerful joy.  The kind that never fully diminishes.  It may dim or grow weak, but when our joy is rooted in the promises of the Lord, that's the kind that can never be pushed to the side.  There is so much joy

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The final hours. {advent adoration}

What do you think Joseph was thinking as the hours went on and Mary eventually gave birth to His Son who would one day rule nations and heal hearts and break chains?  The world couldn't even begin to grasp an inch of the eternal impact that one night in a dirty manger in the little town of Bethlehem would have on our lives today. 

Imagine the regret of the inn owner, who could not find a room for the soon to be king of the world.  Imagine the ones who doubted the signs that were given and the stories that were prophesied. 

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be the one who chose not to believe and find out in the end that a Savior who I had been told about for years really did exist.  I'd rather know, full-heartedly trust, and be confident that the one who died to save my life would one day rise to win my heart. 

As this season of Advent draws to a close, let us draw near to a savior who came down to earth to be by our side, to walk with us, and to serve as a constant in our often raging storm.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hope. {advent adoration}

Y'all, I am THRILLED to share Annie's heart with you today. I've loved getting to know her, and she is so wise and full of grace that it's just unbelievable. Enjoy. -Britt Two images come to mind when I think of hope:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul... • Emily Dickinson
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure... • Hebrews 6:19
I sit and I wonder what we're supposed to do with such contrasting depictions.

Christmas, I think, is often feathery hope. It's colored lights and sugar cookies and neatly-wrapped presents. It's joy and it's family and it's celebration.

But Christmas as anchored hope makes me think of the solemnity inherent in Carol of the Bells, the chords of its minor key clanging from the bell tower steadier and steadier. It's breath drawn tight as you sing, careful enunciation performed with deliberate quickness. It's not easy.

Jesus, Christmas means You are here with us, but sometimes I don't know what that means.

We listen to songs like "Mary, Did You Know?" but I wonder if we live there, where Mary did, pondering. I often don't. I often gloss over the crux of Christmas.

And what a phrase, the crux of Christmas. Crux is the Latin word for English's cross, but those are an Easter thing; Christmas is about the baby. And yet, we cannot, must not, separate the two.

Hope is the thing with feathers: Jesus, baby God, cooing in a feeding trough.

Hope as an anchor, firm and secure: Jesus, adult God, crying out from a tree.

Christmas is the promise of the Messiah and the plan of salvation fulfilled. Because without baby God, we don't have crucified God. There is no victory in Easter without the joy at Christmas, and we ought not just to celebrate that the Savior has come, but also that He's done what He came to do.

His easy yoke is the feather placed on our shoulders and His sacrifice is the anchor holding us to running well the race set before. This is the promise: that in holding fast to Him, He will redeem us, perfecting us, as we conform not to this world, but are transformed by the renewing of our minds, like clay in the potter's hands.

And I pray Jesus, God with us, not just two millennia ago, not just at Christmas, but every day and all the time, minute by minute, to the last millisecond of the day. And that's why you get to see my air conditioner in the photo above, because Jesus is God with us in the real life. The hard, the good, the mourning, the celebration.

And that anchors my soul to soar.


Annie Wiltse is a 23-year-old writer who works in finance by day. A native of Michigan, she graduated from Grand Valley State University in English Language and Literature and History. When she's not writing or financing, you can find Annie tweeting, watching soccer or college football (go blue and roll tide!), or traveling.