When Change Is Hard

When Change Is Hard

Wow. What a month it has been! May has been jam-packed with so many exciting adventures and new challenges.

As I was thinking about this month’s post and what God has been doing in my life, the word “change” kept bubbling up in my mind. So, naturally, I thought that was what the focus was going to be. I was planning to do a mini update on all the changes that have happened and how they are new adventures full of sweetness and wonder. It was going to be great!

But, as I started to write this post I realized there is so much more going on inside of my heart. And I never created this blog to just write some pre-planned words so I could check a box off in my mind to feel accomplished. This is a part of my personal ministry, using the gift of writing God has given me to express what He is doing in my heart. This is real, I always want it to be real.

So, this post is no longer just a sweet recap of all the awesome, exciting things that have happened in the past month. It’s also going to be a snapshot of where my heart is right now as I trudge through the hard parts that come along with the change.

You may be wondering, what changes I’m talking about? Well, let me tell you.

This month brought new beginnings. I turned 21-years-old and got to celebrate with the amazing people who make my life such a blessing. I also finished my junior year which was easily my best year of college so far.

But, at the same time, this month brought bittersweet endings. The biggest one, in my heart, is my transition out of Wednesday HUB (which is my church’s youth ministry) where I have been serving for the past three years as a middle school girls leader.

This month has also been full of new, unexpected adventures! I ended up getting to go to Los Angeles for a week with my dad to celebrate my birthday and it was so much fun. I am very thankful for those special memories we got to create together.

But the biggest adventure that has “fallen” into my lap is probably why this month feels so crazy to me and is where those tough heart things are coming from- I started a “big girl” internship!

It’s a very long story that I’m going to do my best to keep short…basically, I have to do an internship to graduate. I’ve known this ever since I started studying journalism at UNT and I remember being very excited when I first realized it. Internships sounded so fun to pre-college me (they still do!) and I remember picturing myself in a cool office, working for a magazine in a city somewhere.

Well, it hit me this year that I am getting closer to graduation (I am one year away!) which means I am getting closer to needing that internship. I knew I wanted to do it during the summer so I could focus fully on interning and not worry about going to class. So, in the back of my mind this entire year I have thought about how I need to do an internship and pretty soon.

But there was something else in the back of my mind too. As some of you may recall, last summer I worked at a Christian camp called Camp WOW and I LOVED it. I didn’t write a ton about it because last year I didn’t keep up with the blog as well. But it challenged me and humbled me and rocked my world and gave me a second family and, basically, I love camp. So much. And this summer I wanted to go back to camp. So bad.

I could see the need for an internship but I could also feel my heart wanting to be back at camp. So, I decided I would just go back and figure out my internship situation next year. Simple.

I didn’t even ask God though and let me tell you, He had his own plan.

He started whispering, “Apply to your dream internship, just try.” And, even though it confused me, I did.

For me, the ideal internship would be at D Magazine. It’s a hugely successful magazine (which is where I want to work someday!) and it’s in Dallas.

So, I applied and told God that if He wanted me there He would have to make it happen, half-heartedly believing it would go anywhere.

And God responded! He opened the doors and gave me the internship. I needed a clear answer if I was going to choose this over camp and getting it was a very clear answer from Him to me, “I want you to spend your summer at home, doing this internship.”

I remember getting the email and being so surprised, excited and nervous all at the same time. This was unknown, this was not my plan. But I heard Him tell me, “I am with you wherever you go, just trust me.”

So as I write this, I am currently sitting in that cool office that’s on the 22nd floor of a big, shiny building I dreamed of getting to intern in as a newly graduated high schooler just a couple years ago. Officially, I am an editorial intern for Dallas Innovates through the D Magazine Partners internship program. WHAT?!? God is SO good. Part of me still can’t believe I’m here.

It’s been so cool for so many reasons, He has continued to give me signs that this is where He wants me. Getting to meet people who are passionate about the same things I am and learning from professionals in the world I hope to be apart of someday…it’s already been such a neat experience.

But, if I’m being honest, it’s also been a huge change for me which is where the “not-so-warm-and-fluffy” heart stuff comes into play right now.

The commute to Dallas, the long hours, learning how to communicate with new people, and the transition has been challenging in ways I didn’t expect.

And what I’m trying to remember is that’s okay, it’s normal. I have to keep reminding myself of that: the uncomfortable transition is part of the experience and learning how to adjust is part of the process.

Now, don’t get me wrong! There have been some really wonderful moments already and I have no doubt in my mind God has put me in this internship for a reason. I know it’s where I’m supposed to be and I am beyond grateful to get to go through the hard parts of this experience and soak up every ounce of this dream internship I didn’t ever think I would have. 

But, I want to be honest about all of the parts of this new season because sometimes it is just plain hard. And not talking about it would just discount how good God is in those overwhelming moments, so I’m going to talk about it!

What I’ve realized over the year is just because He calls us to something doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier. I’m actually convinced it’s in those uncomfortable, exhausting moments where He speaks louder than ever.

I’m learning that He is there in the long commute and in the frustrating conversation and in the daily 3 p.m. mental crash. He is there.

I am weak but He is strong. He is there lifting me up and reminding me that He is in control.

Change is hard. Being an adult is hard. Life is hard. That’s why we need a Savior who makes our burdens light and gives us the courage to keep going, even when all we want to do is give up.

It’s the truth but if I’m even more honest, I usually forget this part. I get focused on the circumstances of life and my own shortcomings- and y’all, that will make anyone want to give up. But the good news is, even when I forget, He is with me.

And as I type that, with my puffy eyes tired from the almost 7 hours I have been sitting and staring at this screen writing assignments, I breathe a sigh of relief because I desperately need to know He is good and He is with me, trudging through the change.

That’s the biggest thing I want to say: if you are in a new season that has turned out to be less sunshine and roses and more of a sunburn and thorns, just know you are not alone. I get it, but most importantly, God is with you- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Even the moments that haven’t been so perfect and sweet have all happened on purpose and for a purpose. Through the change He is shaping us into who He has called us to be.

Change is a part of His plan for us. It isn’t always fun and can be really hard, like “I-want-to-give-up-why-is-Dallas-traffic-this-terrible” kind of hard. But that’s the cool thing about God, He doesn’t abandon us when it gets tough. As a matter of fact, He gets even closer.

It’s in the hard moments of this world that His refreshing presence collides with the brutal reality of life, reminding us that He changes all things but He never changes. Thank goodness.  

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

“Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change.” -James 1:17 (TPT)

“He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” -Romans 8:27-28 (MSG)

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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)

I Know How The Story Ends

I Know How The Story Ends

Can you imagine not knowing?

The darkness of the night must have been the only comfort, the only thing to block out the pain and fear. He was gone, He had died.

Light had left, hope had gone.

They must have wondered why He said He was the One? Why didn’t He save Himself? How did He perform the miracles and do the things He did?

Why did they believe Him?

He was it. They must have felt like the one escape they had from this fallen, broken world had just closed in on them. They must have felt like He died and just left them there to die too. It’s was just a matter of time.

How could they not feel hopeless? They had watched him just stand there, taking every word, every spit, every punch. He just took it, He didn’t even fight back.

He let them torture Him, He let them mock. He let them hurt Him, why did he have to give up?

Now it life was complete darkness. No hope. Total pain.

That was what they must have felt, absolute despair.

But can you imagine? The shiver that went down their spine as they saw Him, the One who had been rolled into a grace, breathing in life and walking in power with the holes in hands and feet. Alive.

They must have thought, “He is dead, there is no possible way.”

As their minds tried to come up with an explanation, Heaven showed them the proof-He was alive. He hadn’t given up at all, He had come back undefeated and brought forever life, hope and freedom with Him.

I can only imagine the unexplainable joy that crept into their hearts that had been weighed down with sorrow only moments before.

He was no longer dead, He never had been. He had only walked past death, on His way to unlocking everlasting life for all His brothers and sisters.

He is exactly who He said He was, He came to FREE. The stunned believers of that day didn’t have to wait anymore, they didn’t have to live in their old ways anymore. And neither do we. Everything He said is true, it was then and it is now.

Even when anxiety comes or people disappoint or life seems too much to bear. He is still who He says He is and He keeps His promise.

He is Jesus, the greatest comeback story of all time.

Tonight we don’t have to wonder, we don’t have to sit under the crushing weight of disappointment and sorrow.

We know Sunday morning is coming, we know the end of the story: Jesus wins.

It’s been the story since He walked out of the tomb the world thought He was going to stay in forever. It’s been the story since the beginning of time. And it’s still the story today and every day after.

Jesus wins. Death is defeated. He is alive.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them,’Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ He is not here; he has risen!'” -Luke 24:1-6

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

Twenty-Seventeen // A Year of Obedience

Twenty-Seventeen // A Year of Obedience

Hi, friends! Happy New Year!!!

Wow, I can’t believe we are about to step into a new year already! 2017 has been absolutely incredible for so many reasons, I am just so grateful for all the memories and adventures God has filled this year with.

I also know it’s been awhile since I’ve dusted off my keys and typed up a new blog post on here. Let me just say that while 2017 has been amazing, it has also been one of the craziest and busiest years of my life. More than ever this year I found myself struggling to find energy to make time for the things I am passionate about once I finish the things I am obligated to do. It has been a year of growth and God has really opened my eyes to the importance of being intentional with the time and passions He has given me.

Anyways, all this to say, I have missed y’all and can’t wait to fill you in on all that God has done this year! Like I said, it has been an incredible year of growth and learning to trust Him more in my every day circumstances.

At the beginning of 2017 God gave me a word as a symbol for the year, as He has been doing for the past couple years. Sometimes it’s just a holy echo that I hear throughout the year and sometimes it’s a word of encouragement meant to remind me of His goodness. In 2015 it was “light” and in 2016 it was “revival.”

Well, at first I wasn’t exactly sure what God’s word for this year was but I had a strong feeling it had something to do with striving less and thriving more. Thriving in my relationship with Him, in my relationship with others and just in the everyday moments of this life He has so graciously given to me.

I have a really hard time doing this simple thing. When my flesh is in control I am really hard on myself, I am an over-thinker to the max. I always joke that I overthink about overthinking because deep down I really do. I catch myself striving to think differently or depend on Him instead of just being in His presence and letting Him help me take each and every un-Godly thought captive.

So, when I started to ask Him what the word for 2017 was, I really thought He was telling me it was “thrive.”

I thought, “I love that word and what it means. It’s so lively and bright.”

And I wasn’t wrong, it is a great concept to really wrap your heart around instead of just your mind. But I also wasn’t completely correct because God quickly told me, “No. Your word is obedience. Obey me and see how you thrive.”

Obedience? Honestly, that’s not very cool or original when you think about it. And it’s also something I’ve struggled with when it comes to my relationship with God and just life in general. But God was right, like He always is, and “obedience” ended up being my word for the year.

This has been a year of pursuing an obedient life and faith, not because I’ve been “bad” or “wrong” in the past, but because God has so much more He wants to show me. But in order to go to those deeper places with Him, it takes obedience and trust. And it’s a process, one that takes time and isn’t perfect by any means.

So, my response to pursue obedience was to finally do the one simple thing He has always wanted me to do: read my Bible. It seems so silly and obvious, but when it gets down to it reading the Bible has never been something that has stuck in my life.

I’ve always found myself being so excited to start a Bible plan or a devotional, just to stop after day three, or sooner. But after I went to Passion 2017 (which was AMAZING by the way, I wrote about that in my last post- A Story Of God’s Faithfulness) there was a genuine hunger deep in my soul for God’s Word that I’ve NEVER felt before. I could tell this time was different, it wasn’t motivated by anything other than God’s love for me. I could feel that this step of obedience was how He was going to reveal my identity as His daughter and draw me closer to Himself.

So, on January 8, 2017 I started the She Reads Truth’s Bible In A Year reading plan.* And now, on December 31, 2017, I can genuinely say that this step of obedience He called me to almost 365 days ago has changed my life forever.

Through His strength I have been able to stay on track with the plan (of course I hit some bumps and got behind multiple times because I’m human, this has not been a perfect journey by any means!) and it has lifted my faith like crazy.  Seriously, I have never felt more rooted in my faith and more sure of my God. His story is incredible. It is such a weapon against the insecurities and doubts and desires the world tries to give us.

I think if I had to pick one part of my year to magnify that would be it, His Word. Getting to read His whole story has easily been the defining factor of 2017 and for that I am so grateful.

I wanted to share this important part of my year not to try to glorify myself…I think the main thing I want to say is that God calls us to be obedient and consistently in His presence not as a punishment or as a chore but because He loves us so much. He knows how intense the world is and how loud the voices of everyone else is. But it’s when we choose to make His voice the greatest that we begin to believe who He is and who He says we are.

The Bible is not boring, it is not a textbook or a fairy tale. It’s the living, breathing and active story of God that roots us so deeply into His love, grace and desire to be with us that we are able to shake off the lies of the world and take on the truths of the Kingdom.

It is real and it is a game changer. I have been exposed to something greater than this world has to offer and my hope is that every person who believes in God and wants to live for Him will read His Word because it truly is the best way to get to know Him.

Of course, this wasn’t the only way God moved this year and it certainly wasn’t the only time He called me to be obedient by taking a next step. 2017 has been an adventure in more ways than one, here are some of the highlights…

In March, my family spontaneously decided to go on a family ski trip to Colorado through Young Life with some of our family friends. It was such an unexpected, refreshing and fun time. Plus, getting to be surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation in the mountains is always good for the soul.

In April, God called me to say “Yes!” to work at a Christian summer camp in Oklahoma called Camp Walk On Water, which was a dream that had been in my heart for awhile. It was scary at first but it quickly turned into the second best decision of 2017. Words can’t express how much my heart needed the mini adventures, forever friends and perspective changes that God gave me at camp every day. Summer 2017 was definitely the best summer I’ve ever had!

In July, I got to be a leader at HUB Camp, my church’s youth camp, for the last time with the same sweet girls who I’ve gotten to lead for the past three years. It was so special and God gave me so many sweet moments that I will always keep in my heart.

In August, I started my junior year of college and second year at The University of North Texas. It started off being the most stressful semester of college so far, God brought me through some serious anxiety and reminded me that He is with me no matter how hard the challenges of school get! I ended up finishing the semester stronger than ever- God is good!

And throughout the whole year, in-between all the highlights, God has constantly used my amazing family, sweet friends and awesome church to remind me how good He is.

It has been an amazing year. I am so grateful that He asked me to turn my heart towards obedience this year and I firmly believe this is not just for 2017 but it’s a lifestyle. I still have so much to learn when it comes to obedience, and while I know it isn’t easy, I am confident it is so worth it. And the best part of it is, it’s not about what I do for Him, is all about what He has already done. He wants us to be obedient because He has amazing truths He wants to reveal to us to take us deeper with Him.

My prayer for all of us this year is to be obedient in loving God and others by focusing on the promises He has already thoughtfully given us in the greatest love letter of all- the Bible. He already knows every joyful moment, heartbreak and breakthrough that this year holds for our lives and I believe He has so many beautiful adventures in store for this new year.

Sending lots of love, joy and peace to everyone this New Year’s Eve and am believing that He will do great things in and through each of us in 2018 and beyond!

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.” -Psalm 128:1

*The She Reads Truth “Bible In A Year” study is a very thoughtfully designed plan, each day there are typically two to three chapters from an Old Testament book, one chapter of a New Testament book and then a couple Psalms in the middle of the week. Reading the Old Testament up against the New Testament really makes the beauty of God’s grace and the salvation we are freely given through Jesus so apparent. If you are looking to read the entire Bible, I would highly recommend this plan! P.S. You don’t have to be a “She” to read this, it’s both He and She friendly. 🙂