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 parts 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. 


Monday, February 16, 2015

#ownyourfire Monday!


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. 


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Be still.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."

I'm making my way through a study on Esther through the She Reads Truth website and am learning more about my heart than I imagined I would.  

I've always loved Esther and the message it holds and the hope it brings.  Esther proves her faithfulness to the cause of Christ and pursues Him through her struggles and in the paths that life takes her.  

Do I do that?  Am I so wise to be able to look on my heartache, envision my pain, and see God working through it all?  Most days, probably not.  I have a terrible tendency to sit in my struggle and think that others need to have pity on me because of the horrible things I'm going through.  But how bad is it all, really, in the light of eternity?  In light of the incredible joy and infinite peace that we are offered in the love of the Father?  

Sometimes, He just calls us to be still.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  He doesn't want us to strive toward something we will never attain, nor does He desire for us to sit stagnant.  Being still is a state of being.  It's a state of anticipation, of knowing there is more, but knowing that it will come to you at the exact time it is meant to be.  

Friend -- lean in gently to who He is.  Fall into the arms of the Father who longs for you to know Him.  Your struggle does not define you, your pain is not your name, and your sorrow does not mean you are broken.  Allow yourself to be tenderly cradled in free-fall.  

"Jesus doesn't give an explanation for the pain and sorrow of the world.  He comes where the pain is most acute and takes it upon Himself.  Jesus doesn't explain why there is suffering, illness, and death in the world.  He brings healing and hope.  He doesn't allow the problem of evil to be the subject of a seminar.  He allows evil to do its worst to him.  He exhausts it, drains its power, and emerges with new life.  The resurrection says, more clearly than anything else can, 'There is a God and He is the creator of the world we know, and He is the father of Jesus, Israel's Messiah.'  That is the first part of the good news about God.'" -NT Wright

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?