To The One Who Feels Burned Out

To The One Who Feels Burned Out

To The One Who Feels Burned Out,

Before I say anything, let’s take a deep breath together. Inhale, exhale.

Sometimes the best thing to do when we’re exhausted is to slow down and remember we are alive.

Now, the most important thing I want to say is that I get it. I know life is moving fast and sometimes it can feel like too much. I know the pressure can build up and the future can feel like it’s speeding at you quicker than you can blink. I’m feeling it too.

The tension of being so tired, so ready to be done but still having to sprint to get to the finish line can feel too hard at times. For me, it is college. Maybe for you, it’s the non-stop reality of being a parent or the long hours of a job you really want to quit.

No matter what, if you do feel burned out I want to encourage you today. Not because I have all the answers but because I am a reminder that you are not alone. And there is a really kind, really strong Father who offers us hope for relief.

So, stop what you are doing right now. Look up from your screen, shut the laptop for a second and just close your eyes. Inhale, exhale.

It seems silly or obvious, but I believe when we close our eyes and let His presence fill the space behind our eyelids it is a physical reminder of the life beating inside of our chests.

And when we lift our eyes from the exhausting circumstance that is staring us down and remember Who is carrying us through it all, we are able to catch our breath.

We say it all the time, “God is with us” but He really is.

When we choose to really believe it, it changes the way we see our life and the One who gave it to us- no matter how hard it might be in the moment.

He is in the breath that fills your lungs and the deep-belly laugh you were designed to have. He is in the ability to feel raindrops on your unique fingerprints and the vibrant colors that fill your eyes each day.

He is in your feet that carry you with each step you take and the journey that your taste buds take you on in every meal. He is in each heartbeat and the intricate brain inside your head.

He is everywhere, all the time, waiting to bring you the peace you need in the most desperate moments of burnout.

He is the presence that helps us stay present so we can experience the life we were created to live.

That’s what I am learning- God did not create us to live like burned out zombies. We were not born to live in the exhaustion and frustration that the world (and our own flesh) can pull us into so easily.

No, you and I were born to live in freedom. We are called to walk boldly into each new day, to live with love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We were created to be alive.

Now, I know that sounds great in theory…but it is a lot more difficult to really live like that. To believe it when life is knocking us down over and over again is where the real, raw faith comes in.

Again, I get it. It can be hard to just get back up again sometimes.

I’m not saying to not have hard times, I’m just saying that God is teaching me when I feel the burnout and want to give up He has the strength to get me through.

He is the One we can lean on and can have confidence in.

And when we choose to breathe, step back, be present and live in gratitude He helps us escape the bondage of burnout.

Be grateful for the simple, detailed beauties of life you do have right now. I promise there are more of them than you and I will ever really know or understand.

Choose to rest in Him and create space in your life so you can catch your breath physically, mentally and spiritually. It is important and valid, especially in the seasons of burnout. 

Most importantly, stop and breathe really, really deep. Just remember- you are not alone and He will get you through this. Keep your head up and watch how He brings life back into your soul. 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” -Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

Anxiety, Rest, and Jesus

Anxiety, Rest, and Jesus

Lately I have felt very overwhelmed by all the things going on in my life. From my homework to my future, everything has felt so heavy. I feel stuck running a million miles a minute in a circle that leads to anxious thoughts.

It’s easy to forget why I’m doing any of this, and Who I am living this life for.

Because that’s the thing- I am alive. We all are. But I think sometimes the world wants to get us to believe we aren’t. Sometimes the world wants us to believe the only option is to feel like we’re drowning in our own lives all the time.

Or maybe the problem is I am more comfortable spinning out of control in my own mind because sometimes that feels easier.

And do you want to know the funniest thing is? The word God spoke over me this year was “rest.”

I think He picked that word because He knows it is a challenge for me. I’m learning I don’t do rest well, but He does.

And it’s when I realize I need Him that I strip off the Christian lingo that has turned “rest” into an idea that is attractive to think of but not so attractive to do.

I’m realizing under the often over-spiritualized term, in its most uncovered and bare form, is the action of trusting God.

When I look back on the moments lately when I was so focused on what was ahead of me that the anxiety paralyzed me- Jesus was there.

He has always been there offering me the breath I needed to fill my tired lungs. He has always been there to lift my head so I could look up and remember that in the rushed moments of the world, He is holding me still in His presence.

It sounds so sweet, so beautiful- and it is. But I am learning how raw and real it is, too. It’s when I feel genuinely overwhelmed about my future to the point of tears that I encounter the One who sees me. And when He sees me in those dark moments, He doesn’t get upset or look away in disgust or discomfort. He wraps me up in His strong arms to remind me that He is the sweetest Rescuer.

Jesus doesn’t just live in the put-together moments of worship on Sunday mornings, He redeems and rescues in the darkest moments too.

I don’t know what the past few months have looked like for you, but God knows. He is offering you exactly what you need right now, whether it’s peace, joy, or just the strength to get up tomorrow morning and face the world.

He’s got what you need, and He is the greatest Rescuer. Relax into His arms and let Him carry you through.

“Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you. I will give up Egypt to set you free; I will give up Ethiopia and Seba. I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor. Do not be afraid—I am with you!”

-Isaiah 43:1-5 (GNT)

Finding Peace in the Backseat

Finding Peace in the Backseat

Lately, my whole life has felt like one big decision. I guess it comes with the territory of being a 20-year-old (almost 21-year-old!) college student who is trying to figure out life and the future one step at a time while simultaneously having no idea what she’s doing…but I also feel like these life decisions will never go away, they will just change with time.

It’s a really sweet season of life (for so many reasons) but it can easily go from wonderful to overwhelming. Of course, I am so thankful to get the option to make decisions like going back to work at Camp WOW, exciting potential internships, stepping into a brand new ministry and even silly, fun decisions like my 21st birthday plans.

When I step back and look at all the possibilities that lie ahead through God’s eyes I am so blessed that I am alive and get to do these things for Him. But it’s in the moments my focus shifts from my Father who is in control to how many decisions I have to make that the enemy overwhelms my mind with uncertainty and sucks all the life out of, well, my life.

That’s the thing about decisions, I get anxious when I’m waiting in the “in-between” part. My flesh doesn’t like the decision part, the waiting because the world tries to tell me I need an answer before I get through the deciding part. And what God has been reminding me is that He is in the in-between, He’s in the waiting and, ultimately, He is the one in the driver’s seat.

It’s like my life is one big road trip and each destination is something brand new and exciting. I know I’m in good hands with God as the One behind the wheel but after awhile I start to ask when we’re getting there or, sometimes, where we’re even going. I can see He is driving and I know He will unfailingly get me where I need to be but the journey can be hard, dark and exhausting.

Even still, I know He is right there beside me on the journey and He can see the destination when all I feel is the waiting.

Now, just because I’ve realized that doesn’t mean it’s the perspective I have every single day. Most days I’m stressed and worried about making the “right” decision (If that even exists?) and trying to understand how everything will all work out. But the beautiful part is, no matter how bumpy the ride is, it does not change the fact that He is still driving.

Whether I think I’m in control or not, He is always taking me where He wants me to be and He always gets me there on time. I know this in my head, it’s my heart that needs the reminding the most because that’s where the true, gritty trust is.

Trusting is not easy but it is the key to unlocking a free, joyful heart that rests peacefully in the backseat.

But, can I be honest? I think worrying has become easier and more comfortable for me. It’s my default, it’s where my mind automatically goes. I already know I can worry and not be sure, it’s in the trusting that I have to give all of my fears to Him and believe He won’t take a wrong turn.

Worrying is easy, trusting is worth it.

So, that’s where my heart has been lately during this crazy season of April. It’s been a beautiful month of business as the final projects and big decisions have lurked closer and closer with each passing day?

There are so many things I can (and do) stress about- my future, my summer, graduating on time, my family, my friends, camp, leaving a comfortable ministry for the unknown, doing the right thing, being in the right place and the list goes on…

And when my mind goes to its default mode of stress, I’ve been praying that God would pull me out of myself long enough to be thankful for the season I am in now instead of worrying about the one I may be in later. I pray to have the boldness to trust Him when it seems like I’m driving off a cliff and I can’t see which way He’s taking me. I pray for a heart that trusts the One who holds my heart in the darkest, loneliest moments on this earth is the same good, good Father I sing praises to on Sunday morning.

To just trust, I know it’s easier to say than to do. It’s harder in the moments when every thought and worry comes crashing down and I’m brought to my knees in fear. But He never fails to remind my heart that He has me right where He wants me, even if where I am is in-between where I have been and where I want to be.

And I know at the end of the day, no matter where we are on the journey to the destination He is there with me and that is truly the only place I really want to be.

As long as He is in the driver’s seat He will get me there and His final destination is always the most perfect and on-time place that only He can get me to- that’s why the full life takes real trust.

He is good, He is faithful and He will come through- He always does.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”    Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:33-34 (MSG)

Jesus Is Everything // Holy Week Thoughts

Jesus Is Everything // Holy Week Thoughts

My mind has been everywhere this past month, it’s been both restful and restless, chaotic and calm. Since a good chunk of this month was Spring Break, I’ve had a lot of time to do nothing…let me explain. While all my friends seemed to go on fun adventures during the break, I spent mine recovering from wisdom teeth surgery. I know, crazy! No seriously, it was a glamorous week of milkshakes, ice packs, and The Office.

Not that I’m complaining, it was a nice and much-needed break from the whirlwind of homework, deadlines, and commitments but it was also very difficult for me to do nothing (even though I physically had to!) The whole thing just reminded me one more time why God gave me the word “rest” for this new year.

Anyways, all this to say, I’ve had an interesting month of wanting to do both nothing at all and everything at once. It’s a weird place to be.

And since I’ve had necessary downtime, I’ve also thought a lot about what I want to write for this month. Some of my initial ideas came from the things I’ve been struggling with lately- anxiety, restlessness, feeling like I’m not living life fully…but today I realized that there’s only one topic I want to talk about.

Or, I guess I should say, there’s only one person I need to talk about- Jesus.

Maybe it’s because the Easter season has me more excited and aware of His sacrifice for us on the cross or maybe it’s because deep down I know He’s the only One I could write about that matters.

I just know that Jesus is everything. And as we go through this Holy Week and walk through these few days leading up to Easter weekend with hearts weighed down by the heaviness of the crucifixion but expectant of His resurrection, I am desiring to truly be aware of His power and presence.

Even sitting here typing out these words, I realize I’m not even sure what that means, to be fully aware of His power and presence. Jesus is so much better than anything my tiny, human brain can conjure up. But I know my soul longs in ways it can’t express to get even just a glimpse of the glory of Jesus, of the true life He gave me when He gave up His on the cross.

I need that resurrection life. I need that hope. I need that overpowering light. I desperately need Jesus.

And the greatest thing is He desires to be with me too, with all of us. I think that is just insane. I mean, really thinking about it is just too much.

Jesus is everything, yet He wants me. He wants me, the one who forgets Him and what He’s done more than I remember. It’s in the brief moments of His glory when my heart overtakes my mind when I get a glimpse of how overwhelming His desire for me is, how real it is.

He is everything. And I want to be aware of how true that is, not just in the days leading up to Easter Sunday but every day of my life. I don’t want to miss Him, I want to be in awe of Him especially in the normal parts of life.

I want to be in awe of His grace when I wake up to a new day, even if I’m snoozing my alarm clock for the third time. I want to be in awe of His protection over my life when I pass hundreds of cars on I-35 to commute to school. I want to be in awe of His creation in every blade of grass and beam of light that stretches before me as I walk across campus.

He is everything and He is in everything.

I want to be in awe because to be alive, to have these in-between, beautiful moments where His love lives is awe-inspiring in itself.

But He doesn’t stop there. He gives us beauty and joy and hope and dreams, He gives us Himself- He gives us everything.

Even though we don’t deserve it, He gives. Even when we aren’t aware of Him, He gives. Even when we forget He is everything, He gives. It’s a no-strings-attached, genuine and pure kind of love. What a beautiful reality, the love of Jesus.

I am so grateful He picks me up every morning, looks at my heart, gives me a purpose and leads me by the hand into the life He died to give me. I am so thankful He went to the cross on the ultimate rescue mission for my soul, that’s my Jesus- my Savior, my Rescuer, my Everything.

It’s too much, to think about every detailed way He lavishes love on my heart every day just simply because He can and desires to. It makes all the struggles and hardships of this world melt away, knowing I am loved by Jesus, the One who conquered death and darkness forever.

I am loved by Love Himself and He is worthy of celebration. He is everything and He deserves everything we can offer.

Thank You, Jesus, we love You and remember who You are and what You did. You won.

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:4-5

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” -1 John 4:9

“And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” -Ephesians 5:2

“The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!” -Forever, Kari Jobe

To All the Single Ladies (& Gentlemen)

To All the Single Ladies (& Gentlemen)

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. It’s such a fun, weird day that causes all of us to become extra aware of our relationship status (or lack thereof…) For those in a relationship, it usually means buying candies and gifts at the last minute for that special someone. For single people, it can mean so many different things, even though at its core it is just a silly holiday meant to boost chocolate sales and love.

Today I found myself walking through the Valentine’s Day section at Walmart (word to the wise, don’t do this the day before Valentine’s Day or you will feel very scared and confused…) and I started thinking a lot about my own singleness.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to step into a season where I’m expected to be dating and it’s been difficult because it just hasn’t happened for me yet.

And I would just like to say, I do realize I’m only 20-years-old and that there are many people much older who have been single for longer. But, during my college years, I have felt the struggle, especially since college is said to be when you “find your soulmate.” And even though I am still young, I have quite a few friends my age who are in committed relationships or are already married.

All of these outside pressures have made me wonder if there’s something wrong with me or if I’m not putting myself out there enough since I haven’t dated at all in college. It’s been something I’ve really processed with God over the past year because I’ve felt a lot of insecurity and frustration about it.

Needless to say, this past year of asking God to give me peace and open my heart to singleness has been a really precious time of drawing closer to Him instead of trying to figure out the world’s idea of love.

But as I’ve walked through being single with Jesus-goggles on, I feel like I’ve heard people try to encourage me more and more by saying, “Singleness is a gift.” And yes, it is a gift (Paul said so in 1 Corinthians 7!) but I feel like most of the time people say this almost out of pity. I don’t think they say it that way on purpose, but sometimes it feels like it’s being said because I need this assurance to go on with my life of singleness until I find the right guy and settle down.

And y’all know I’m always down for encouragement BUT if I’ve learned one thing this past year it’s that God didn’t call singleness a gift for me (or any other single peeps out there!) to feel better about themselves.

No, He called it a gift because that’s exactly what it is. It’s a beautiful, difficult and sweet season of life with new experiences and lessons that you can only learn while being on your own (by the world’s standards.)

It’s a gift because it’s a time when you are wholeheartedly focused and dependant on God and no one else.

Now, before I go any further, don’t get me wrong- I believe marriage is amazing and a beautiful picture of God. I definitely hope to be married someday! But God has been revealing that being married is not my purpose in life, it’s just a season I’m called to live in one day.

As followers of Christ, our true purpose is to worship God and glorify Him in everything. So, this idea that I’ve created in my mind that I have to wait to meet the right guy and get married for my life to really begin is just a total lie.

Of course, I can only imagine how sweet marriage is and I really am looking forward to it if it’s in God’s plans for me. But I don’t want to be so focused on a life I may get to have in the future that I miss out on living the life I have been given now. 

And to be single truly is a wonderful time of life- if we choose to let it be. I’ve been doing this awesome single devotional for women (check it out, ladies!) and in it, the writer talks about how we’re really great about focusing on the good parts of other people’s lives. So, for single people, we tend to look at all the awesome parts of marriage but forget that we have awesome parts as singles too.

Think about it this way, there’s value in being able to get up and go get coffee with a friend whenever and wherever you want to. There’s something so freeing about randomly drive across the country on a road trip just because you can. Honestly, it’s really nice not having to worry about planning with someone else or checking in on them all the time.

And there’s definitely something special in knowing that the only focus, priority, and love in your life is Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t an easy season to be in by any means. Sometimes all I want is to cuddle with someone who thinks I’m awesome and beautiful. And it hits super hard when I see my friends’ magical, love-filled social media posts who are in opposite seasons of dating and getting engaged.

And, honestly, I think it’s okay to feel that way. I don’t think God is over here like, “HA! You’re alone.” Actually, I feel like He is waiting patiently on the other side of the door with a huge bouquet of the prettiest roses in the world (that He created just for you!) because He wants to tell you He’s never left you and that He loves you more than anyone ever could.

As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. I think in those moments of longing and frustration that singleness can bring, Jesus wants to tell us He gets how that feels and that He calls you fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s in seasons of singleness that we learn to trust and lean into the love of Jesus before anyone else.

His love is better than any romantic comedy plotline or perfectly staged Instagram post. It’s real. It’s true. It’s unconditional. And it’s offered to every single one of us right now.

So, if you’re single and are feeling down about it, can I just encourage you today?

First of all, I totally get it. Sometimes I just want the fairytale romance and the husband and the house and the kids because I’ve been told that’s when life gets really good. But God is showing me I don’t have to wait for my life to begin at marriage because He is with me now and only He can give me what I really desire. So, take heart because the love you are looking for is found in the One who is already holding your heart.

Second, you may feel “alone” in this world but the Creator of love is pursuing you with everything He has. Yes, you. He chooses you, every single day.

So, yes, being single is a gift. It may not be the Valentine’s Day gift you asked for but I can promise you Jesus is the greatest Gift Giver ever and He knows exactly what you need.

Singleness leaves space in your heart for God to fill so that you learn to fall completely and madly in love with the One who died to know you before you open your heart to anyone else. And, if you ask me, that’s greater than all the roses and chocolates and teddy bears in the world.

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” -Psalm 86:15

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” -1 John 4:9-10

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” -1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

A Year of Rest

A Year of Rest

I’ve been thinking about writing this post on the word God gave me for the new year for the past couple of weeks. It would be well-thought out and inspiring, something that resonates with everyone. It would be relevant and sincere and the words would come to me so clearly.

Instead, here I am trying to think of some words to type so that I can meet my own deadline and my own expectation of posting on here once a month for 2018. Here I am trying to finish a post I’ve wanted to write, yet have put off until the day before my church begins the 21 Day Fast and Prayer on social media (which is, ironically, the very place my post will go.) Here I am feeling like I have to find time in my busy week to write this, when in reality it’s something I get to do for God.

As I write it out, it seems silly. But if I’m being honest, it’s a beautiful, broken picture of the exact reason God has given me the word rest for 2018.

REST. It’s something I want to do, it’s something I try to do. But at the end of the day I think I miss the mark, simply because my focus is misplaced.

I can forget that rest is not about what I do, it’s simply about choosing to believe what Jesus has already done. 

I think I’ve always put rest in a box, to me it’s always been a physical concept. We need rest when our bodies are exhausted. And that’s not wrong, but it’s also so much more.

It’s leaning into Jesus when everything around me is chaos and noise and frustration. It’s trusting that He is the peace I’ve been striving for. It’s choosing to see His plan when all I want to do is run away.

I’m slowly learning that rest is actively choosing to trust and rely on Him. It’s physical and it’s mental and it’s very spiritual.

So, yes. The word God gave me for this year is rest, and as I think about that I can’t help but smile because I know it’s so relevant to where I’m at on my journey with God.

Last year was so good, God brought me closer to Him through His Word (I talked about it in my post Twenty-Seventeen// A Year of Obedience) but this year I feel Him pulling me even deeper into a place of stillness and trust, a place that makes me uncomfortable.

I don’t really rest well. I feel like I’m one extreme or the other. I’m either going a million miles a minute and saying “Yes!” to every invite I get or I’m sleeping until noon and binging Netflix all day. Now, I believe those are good things, in moderation. But my brain isn’t great at moderation when it comes to rest. It’s all or none.

So, I feel like this year God is really calling this area of my life into focus. Not because He is upset with me or wants to change me, it’s out of a genuine love for the health of my heart.

He’s reminding me of the passions and things I enjoy doing that bring me mental rest. He’s showing me the importance of having a routine and getting enough sleep for my body to go out and do what it was created to do. And most of all, He’s challenging me to cling to Him and rest in the fact that He is in control when everything seems too much to handle.

I know this is such a timely word for me because I sense this upcoming semester is going to be the most crazy one yet. I just joined the North Texas Daily, my university’s newspaper, and will be writing a story every week for it on top of my normal four class load. I’m also finishing out my last semester as a middle school leader at HUB, my church’s youth group and am continuing to be involved in our young adults ministry that meets every month. These are all good things but I’m going to be doing more all at once than I’ve done in awhile, it’s going to be everything but a restful season by the world’s standards.

But God doesn’t do things the way the world does them and I can already hear Him saying, “Hey, I’m with you and for you. Rest in me when life is hard because it’s in me that you’ll find the strength and peace you need in this season.”

And it’s when I really believe that that I do feel at rest with Him. He always knows what I need before I even need it.

So, my hope for this year is that God continues to open up my eyes to the value of resting in Him every single day. And I’m hoping for more moments of peace in His presence and laughter with my family around the dinner table and more hours spent journaling and dancing and reading and scrapbooking and doing all the passions He has put in my heart.

I’m hoping for a year of Heaven’s reality of rest in the midst of the world’s chaos and crazy idea of normal.

And my hope for all of us is that we would have the confidence to trust that He will give us the peace and strength we need, no matter what our circumstances are. I pray your heart is open to receive whatever sweet truths He is speaking over you this year, because I believe He has so much He wants to say to you. And I hope, no matter what, we all choose to rest in Jesus this year.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” -Psalm 62:5-6

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30

Heavenly Expectation

Heavenly Expectation

ex·pec·ta·tion·it·is
noun
  1. a fake disease I made up to describe my crippling desire for things to be exactly the way I expect and want them to be.

I have a bad case of “expectationitis” and I get it really bad during the holidays because I LOVE traditions and the holidays are full of them.

Every year, around Christmastime I have to intentionally pray that God will give me the patience and open mind to experience His season the way He wants me to, instead of the way I want me to. And, if I’m being really honest it’s hard…and most times, I end up trying to control things. I don’t want to, but it still happens.

I’m convinced this is how the enemy gets me, he makes me feel like everything has to feel and happen a certain way- when in reality everything that will happen has already been orchestrated by God to happen that way and is usually unexpected.

God’s plans are always greater than my expectations. It’s a truth we all know, but “expectationitis” can still sneak up. This Christmas was no exception, but I really do believe God taught me a valuable lesson during this holiday season that He will use to shape me throughout the rest of the year- because this is something I really struggle with year round.

As I have gotten older, God has started to open my eyes to why He placed the feeling of expectation in our hearts during this time of year in the first place. It isn’t so that we can eagerly expect to hang certain ornaments with certain people on a certain day or watch that one movie we love to watch on Christmas Eve.

The feelings of expectation are not for what and how we celebrate, they are for Who and why we celebrate- Jesus.

I always have to remind myself that we may know the ending of Jesus’ birth story, but the people who lived in the story didn’t have this same knowledge. They were desperately waiting in expectation for the Prince of Peace to be born and save them from themselves. I can only imagine the joy they experienced when they heard the Savior was born and their promised hope had come.

Even though I already know this part of His story, I still desire to have that same expectation for Him every year.

My prayer for all of us is to not let the enemy get us hung up on our own fleeting expectations, but instead for God to guide us into Heavenly expectation and adoration for Him on December 25th and every day after.

Our reason for expectation isn’t always easy to remember during the chaos of our everyday lives but it is always true- whether we choose to realize it or not- because He is always constant.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death.” -Philippians 1:20

Photography by Ashley Linch
 

Go With The Flow 

Go With The Flow 

Instead of fighting the waves,

relax in this place of grace

where you meet with Me face to face.

God whispered this little saying over my heart and mind a few months ago. Ever since then, He has been using it to remind me He is in control no matter how big the waves of life get.

If you know me personally, then you are probably aware that I like feeling in control. The deeper I’ve gotten into my relationship with God, the more aware I’ve become about how much I struggle with this. I especially see it in the way I communicate with the people I love most like my siblings. As the big sister all I truly want is the best for them (or what I think is the best) and because of this I can push too hard in areas of their lives that aren’t mine to push.

God has really worked through me in this area throughout the past few years. He has slowly revealed to me that feeling responsible for “saving” the people I care about through my own strength is a downright lie.

Sometimes, I get so focused on trying to save myself or others that I forget the One who has already saved us. But I hear God calling me to go with His flow and let Him create the rhythm of the waves. He is asking me to trust Him, even when everything seems to be falling apart around me.

Look, I’m not going to lie and say that this isn’t challenging and uncomfortable for me. It is. But the funny thing is when I really do trust Him, He opens my eyes to how much easier it is to just let go and rest in Him instead of trying to stay afloat on my own.

The waves of life will come regardless. Fighting the world is tiring but surrendering to Him is lifesaving.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬

Beauty In The Refining

Beauty In The Refining

Hey there. Well, it’s been quite awhile since I wrote a blog post on here. And, I really wish that wasn’t the case because I’m most happy when I’m writing- but life happens & these past few months have been iNsAnE for lots of different reasons. But I’m here now & thankfully, just like Jesus, this blog isn’t going anywhere (even if I do stray a little). So this is me attempting to bottle all of the craziness that’s been going on in my heart & head over these past eight months…this will be an adventure! Also, thank you for taking the time to read these words I’m writing- it means so much to me.

Lately, my heart has felt like a rubber band ball- a really tight, randomly put together & crazily colored rubber band ball of chaos. 

So much has happened since I last blogged. I finished my first two years of college at NCTC in one year, went to New York City & Europe for the first time this summer, was a seventh-grade girls leader at my church camp & so much more. But I also have lost close friends, gone through frustrations about my Hashimoto’s disease & have struggled with my faith in multiple different ways. 

I feel like I’m always using the word “season” to explain the place of life I’m in, but I really feel like it hasn’t just been a season. It feels longer than that, it’s almost like I’ve given into “just surviving”.

And I really, really hate being in that place. I just don’t enjoy feeling like a rubber band ball, being carelessly bounced around by Satan, because it’s overwhelming & chaotic & not who I was made to be. But sometimes I get too caught up in life & creating the rubber band ball that I forget who I let hold it…and I don’t realize how bad things are until my monstrosity of rubber bands is big enough for the Guinness Book of World Records.

But no matter how out of control life can get, I know that God is just waiting for me to ask Him to unravel all of the “rubber bands” & reveal His beauty underneath the insanity. The thing is, that’s actually a really scary process that I didn’t even realize I needed to go through until recently. Life just slowly handed me rubber bands- school, temptations, doubt, broken relationships & deep wounds- until it became too much for me to handle. And when each one is removed, it’s painful. Over the past couple of weeks, God has opened the doors for some of my rubber bands to be taken off & replaced with His freedom. I can feel Him refining me & molding me into who He has created me to be- instead of who the rubber bands of life want me to be. 
I’m not exactly sure who He is forming me into or for what purpose but I know that He’s creating a masterpiece of His goodness, grace & love- something so much better than a rubber band ball. 

Even though I’m still in this difficult season of life & have more “rubber bands” to take care of, I am holding onto the promise that I’m being pressed on and stretched to be turned into someone beautiful for His Kingdom.
And I want to remind you that He’s working on you too. Whether your “rubber band ball” is big or small, we all have one. God wants you to know He is shaping you into the masterpiece He designed you to become for the unique Kingdom Mission He has called you to accept. 

Before I had this revelation, I had run dry in my faith (which is partly why I haven’t written in awhile- that & I’ve been either too busy or too lazy…let’s keep it real). But I realized that is exactly why God gave me a passion for writing- to authentically process & encourage seasons like these. Whether we’re just surviving or thriving, God placed us in this exact moment for a reason- He is with us & He is always giving us a word to share (even if it’s a weird metaphor about being a rubber band ball). 
Giving into the craziness of life is easy, letting Him unravel us into His own unique creation is harder. But no matter what, throughout the highest of highs & lowest of lows: when God is in control, there is beauty in the refining.

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”‭‭.                        – 1 Peter‬ ‭4:12-13‬ 

Here Comes The Sun

Here Comes The Sun

Bright. 

Gloomy. 

Joyful. 

Numb. 

Refreshing. 

Beautiful.

Our lives and memories are overflowing with these tangible feelings. They make us who we have been, who we are and who we will be.

I am generally a very outgoing and joyful person. I believe in optimism and in loving and encouraging those around me. But- every now and then- I am overcome by a storm which clouds my heart and head, making it difficult to see the sun that shines so brightly in my life. I am not given a warning or time to prepare- the dark clouds just come.

And it may not be a fun and cheerful topic, but it is reality: we all experience these stormy seasons at some point during our lives. I want to remind anyone out there who may be weathering through a storm that every person has had a few gloomy clouds. Because we are exactly that: people. 

We are human. 

Life is messy. 

The weather changes, but the sun does not. 

See, that’s the thing about gray skies: they only stay around for a little while. And even though we can’t always see the sun, it never truly leaves our atmosphere.

You are not a person without sunshine. Actually, you are the sunshine. 

We carry the bright warmth of the sun with us wherever we go- with or without the dark clouds. 

It’s in your genuine smile as you walk down the street and wave to a perfect stranger. 

It’s in your uncontrollably contagious laughter. 

It’s in the light-hearted conversations you have with your friends and family. 

It’s in the moments you forget the world is watching and you get lost in the beauty of life.

I could go on and on- because your radiance is everywhereBeing the light in someone else’s day does not have to be a big gesture, but it does involve you to beBy being who you are and sharing your joy with another person, you get the opportunity to break through those few gloomy clouds hovering over them for a moment. You get to remind them what sunshine looks like because your light brings out the light in others.

So. If you are walking through a season of gloominess and gray skies, I want you to know: you are not alone & that everyday you are being used to help brighten someone else’s life (whether you realize it or not). I challenge you to embrace this season. I challenge you to find a way to get some sunshine to break through your clouds. I challenge you to realize that experiencing light again is possible.

Gloomy days come and go but the sun is always there. Waiting. Hoping. Being bright and bold for you when you need it most.

Do not lose hope. Here comes the sun.