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

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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
 

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.