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
 

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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 that no matter how big the waves of life get, He is in control. 

If you know me personally, then you are probably aware that I have some control issues. They flare up when I become too comfortable with my ideas and get focused on what I think is best. 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- my family, especially my siblings. Being their big sister, all I truly want is the best for them (or, what I think is the best) and because of this I find myself selfishly pushing too hard in areas of their lives that aren’t my place to push. 

God has really worked through my natural, ungodly belief to be in control 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 lie the enemy has placed inside of my head.

I had a friend who put it this way: “If you fight the waves, you get tired and feel like you’re drowning…but when you let go and just float then it’s natural, peaceful and refreshing. The more water you push out of your way, the more it will come back and move. The water is always there, we just choose how we move and react.”

Sometimes, I get so focused on trying to save myself or others that I forget the One who has already saved us and end up creating more harm and chaos. But I hear God calling me to go with His flow and let Him create the rhythm of the waves. He is asking us to just trust Him, even when everything seems to be falling apart around us- which is a really challenging concept for me to grasp. The world tells us to fight harder, but God just wants us to relax with Him. And the funny thing is when we really do trust Him, He opens our eyes to how much easier it is to just let go & rest in Him instead of trying to stay afloat on our own.

The waves of life will come regardless- fighting the world is tiring, 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 

A Year Full of Revival

A Year Full of Revival

re·vive (rəˈvīv/ verb)- to restore to life or consciousness; regain life, consciousness, or strength; give new strength or energy to.

This is the word God has given me for this fresh, new year: revival. What a sweet promise from the One who holds my heart in His hands. 

For something to be brought back to life, it must not be living in the first place. I guess, I can’t say all of my heart is in need of revival because there are certainly pieces of it that are pumping along just fine. But our hearts are not meant to desperately survive in separate pieces. God created our hearts to beat in a unified rhythm only He can orchestrate. So lately I’ve been alive but I haven’t been fully living and, if you ask me, that’s worse than death.

Revival. It’s the nights when the enemy attacks hardest that I cling to this promise the most. The darkness is scared of the light. I know in my heart that if satan is threatened this badly then that means God has bold & mighty revival in store for the days to come. 

The roars of the enemy are nothing compared to the whispers of my King.

As I have become awakened to His whisper during the first month of this new year, God has told me this is a word for all His children & I believe Him. We are being brought back to life, I can feel it.

In this very moment God is reviving relationships, hearts, circumstances- He is reviving you & me. He is bringing hope to that dark situation that seems hopeless. He is releasing breakthrough to that person, prayer and pain that seems unbreakable. 

Nothing is impossible for God- this is the Heavenly promise we must hold on to as His sons & daughters. 

I am believing that God will shatter the walls that the enemy has attempted to build up within my home, my loved ones & myself. I am proclaiming in faith that God- our ultimate Healer, Protecter & Father- is going to burst through every hurt, pain, demon & fear that the world is trying to use against us.

The world will try to convince you that the resolutions & goals you made at the beginning of the year are what’s most important to remember & pursue. But as those fleshly goals begin to fade into memories, God’s Heavenly promise of revival remains constant & true. 

I am so thankful that my Father never breaks a pinky promise.

Revival will come.

Revival is coming.

Revival is here. 

“Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.”                            -‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:50‬

Twenty-Fifteen

Twenty-Fifteen

Hi, everyone! Happy New Year!!!
I can’t believe 2015 is coming to a close. It feels like just yesterday I was setting my New Year’s resolutions & writing about all the wonderful things God had in store for 2015 (all of them true & even better than I could have imagined!). 

At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog post about 2015 titled “A Year Full of Light” because God had told me that is what this year would be. I remember the night He gave me the word “light”- I was watching the flame of a single candle dance & flicker in a dark room, every time I thought it would go out it never did. The flame would change but the light would never leave it- that’s the moment He told me. 

As long as I am a burning flame for God, my life will never lose its light. 

Now, I will be honest, this past month has worn my flame out quite a bit & has made it difficult to see the light. But that’s why I’m so thankful for this blog, which serves as a reminder of how faithful God has been during these past 365 days. I’ve had this little blog for about a year now (which also seems crazy to me!) & it’s been so wonderful to look back at my writing & see how God has truly illuminated my life & all of 2015 with His goodness.

I was able to “look back” at this year in a special way, thanks to a truly wonderful surprise I received from WordPress-they essentially wrapped up everything “Curly Hair & Cheerful Heart” did by summarizing all of my moments from the past year! I thought this would be the perfect “last post” of 2015 because I want to share this special part of my world with you- my friends, family & fellow blogger buddies- who continue to read the words I write & encourage me to follow this passion of mine. There wouldn’t be a “summary” to look at without all of the support from those around me (both physically & virtually!).

You guys continue to remind me how blessed I am & how GOOD God is! I am so looking forward to the new days ahead & all of the crazy amazing things He is going to do in our world & each of our lives! 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for visiting my tiny corner of the blogosphere & for making this year one full of so much light & love. I hope you have a very Happy New Year & can’t wait to see you on the other side!

Rachel

Curly Hair & Cheerful Heart’s Year In Blogging: Click here

Each of these photos is a cover photo from a blog post I wrote in 2015
Fruit Smoothie For The Soul

Fruit Smoothie For The Soul

 

 

We all have a soul. I believe it is what makes us who we are- our passions, desires and beliefs all intertwined into this being that lives inside of us. I also believe our spiritual souls can get just as unhealthy and sick as our physical bodies.It seems like such a simple concept, yet I didn’t realize how sick my soul had become until recently. It’s not like I had done anything bad (in the worldly sense) & my life was going really well (in the worldly sense).

This is the worst kind of toxic soul I could have, if you ask me, because I began to mistake my outward appearance to be the same as my inward appearance. Over time my heart had pushed out God’s promises and power and had become full of anxiety and judgement and fear.

I realize that this is bound to happen- I mean, I am a silly, impressionable human who lives in a world that is trying to bombard my heart with anything but the truth! But just like my physical body has to be cleansed daily- my spirit has to be cleaned out too. And that was something I had forgotten to do in the midst of attempting to keep my life under control.

So when I would spend time with God, I felt so cluttered & distant from Him. I couldn’t get my mind to focus or I would get so caught up in trying to have this “perfect” meeting with Him that I would forget the whole purpose of just laying at His feet & resting in Him. I would pray and get way off track (like, “What should I have for lunch?” off track!). I would procrastinate doing my morning devotional until I only had a few seconds to squeeze it in or else I’d be late to wherever I was running off to.

Basically, I was already so full of the toxic stuff that I had no room for His fruit to grow in my heart. Instead, I was trying to survive on my own, self-produced (& extremely expired!) fruit.

That’s a weird place to be in- especially when you aren’t truly aware of it. You feel anxious and discontent & like you’re always missing something. Thank goodness He opened my eyes to what was happening inside me.

You know what my soul needed? A fruit smoothie* made by the true Smoothie King!

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Faithfulness.

Gentleness.

Self-control.

All of them! Blended up together into fresh, juicy spirit-filled goodness. My soul needed a detox. So so so badly. It needed to flush out the worldly toxins & darkness- it needed a spiritual fruit smoothie.

So (thankfully!) that’s what God has been pouring over my heart & soul for these past few weeks. And it tastes gooood.

Now, I’m not perfect & I most certainly do not embody a soul full of His “fruit of the spirit smoothie” all day, every day- but I am seeking Him to give me glimpses of how good a life full of His fruit is & having that kind of perspective changes everything.

When my soul is focused on His fruit- His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness & His self-control- everything is so much clearer.

I am so thankful that I have a Father who loves me enough to clean up my messy soul & treats me to the sweetest fruit smoothie this world has ever known.

Being His daughter is always the yummiest & most satisfying adventure for my soul.

“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

 

*Shout out to Jacelyn & all of my crazy AMAZING sixth grade ladies for coming up with this “fruit smoothie” revelation during small group discussion! Y’all remind me each week how simple God’s love is & how sweet life is when we choose to follow Jesus! I love you girls so super much!

Uncomfortable 

Uncomfortable 

Tonight I sat down with absolutely no idea where this post would go. I just decided to stop trying to make my words happen & let God lead them instead (which is never a bad choice, if you ask me!). This is one of those posts where He gave me a desire to write & told me what my words & this post would be about as I was typing. So, it may be a little more scattered than usual but I can honestly say it’s straight from the heart. I hope you enjoy & receive your own sweet revelation from His words tonight…

  

I have been thinking a lot about this blog post.

Which is precisely why this blog post has yet to be written.

I have quite an issue with overthinking things and ideas and moments and people. I overthink about what I’m going to wear. I overthink about the things I have already said. I overthink about overthinking. It’s one of my core struggles.

So, when you mix the idea of supernatural overthinking with a crazy, busy season of transition and then throw in a tad bit of laziness- you have yourself a blog post that is way overdue.

I’m not kidding when I say I have been thinking about this post. I mean I have been really, truly asking God to give me a word or desire to write about.

I’ve had a few ideas, they were all good but every time I would get in front of the keyboard I would lose my inspiration or (even worse!) my ability to form cohesive, thought-provoking sentences…well okay, let’s be honest, have I really ever achieved that?

Seriously though- this has been on my mind a lot, but I have yet to actually act on any of my ideas.

Which, if I’m honest, is a lot like how I treat my walk with God. (Woah. That’s some in-the-moment revelation right there, y’all.)

Man, I love to think about God. He is so awesome. I love to think about what He is doing in my life and the lives of all of those around me. When I pass by someone at school, I think to myself “I wonder if they are a believer?”. I think about all the times He has proven Himself utterly faithful. I think about how I should apply that awesome devotional I read that one time to my day. I think about loving others. I think about how much He loves me.

But do I live the same way I think?

Often times, I forget that the thoughts swirling around in my head are not public knowledge to everyone else (because sadly, mind-reading is not a characteristic of following Jesus).

If I am not careful, this mentality of assuming my thoughts about Him are automatically expressed through the way I live becomes my reality.

Basically, I find myself being all talk  (or, in this case, thought!) and no walk.

My hope & prayer is that I am over-exaggerating or being much too harsh on myself (yet, another core struggle of mine…) and in actuality, everyone is aware of my love for Jesus…but I have a feeling that is just not the case. 

I will be the first to admit that the idea of getting up in front of my entire lecture hall and declaring that I am a Christian who is madly in love with Jesus is just a tad bit overwhelming. And I don’t really think that’s what God wants me to do either…(unless He tells me…). But He does want me to live like Him & for Him everywhere I go. 

That includes my lecture hall. 

That includes the doctor’s office. 

And that even includes the DMV.

It’s so funny, I find myself living authentically & boldly for Jesus around those who I know are fellow believers & in places that I am comfortable in. Yet, when it comes to being like Jesus around those who are visibly broken & in the places that I don’t like, I suddenly lose my fervor to talk about God.

I love to preach to those who have already heard the sermon, not to those who desperately need to be invited to the service.

It all comes down to the fact that I like to be comfortable. 

But the problem is, I was created to live an uncomfortable life on Earth for God so I could spend my eternity comfortably in Heaven with God.

And that is the great paradox that makes being a believer so bold & rewarding- we are warriors who live in a world that we are not of.

He calls us (by name!) to pick up our crosses every day and to follow Him straight into the darkest depths of this world with everything we have.

But, if I’m really honest, I often find myself suited up in the armor of my thoughts, too afraid to charge into the world with the truth God has given me. I know He is always with me & I know he will protect me.

So, why do I get scared sometimes and try to avoid telling the world about Him? 

Because as much as I hate to admit it, the world can be scary.

It’s plain & simple- I’m a tiny human who takes a look at the world through the lenses of my own strength & gets scared.

But God is not asking me to change the world in my own strength & with my own words & through my own thoughts- He is calling me to trust Him to turn my silent thoughts into bold, Kingdom-building shouts. 

That’s it. Just trusting-truly trusting-  Jesus has it all under control. When we give it to Him, we hand over any authority the world may attempt to use against us.

When we boldly declare His promises & truly are real & raw with those who desperately need the truth- He will use us to change the world.

When you get uncomfortable, you become unstoppable. 

“Arise & shine, you Kingdom-builder!

Allow your mind to dwell on Me.

Let your words reflect Me & reveal the beauty of My children.

My voice is your guide, let your steps follow Me across every hall, every ocean, every street & every desert.

Shine brighter than any darkness, be bolder than any fear.

You are a warrior. You are an Earth shaker. You are My battle cry.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.