Looking Back at 2018

Looking Back at 2018

Happy New Year! We are officially in 2019 and I just can’t believe it.

I’ve made it a “thing” to post a recap of the year for the past few years now. So, naturally when December 31 hit I felt like I had to sit down and hammer out a post. Silly, I know, but this is really how my brain works.

Also, I feel like this is a really good time to hit “pause” and remind you that the word God gave me for this year was “rest.” Yet, I spent the last day of the year stressing out about something I told myself I had to do with excellence. Cue laugh track here.

Anyways, I felt this enormous sense of pressure to sit down and write a great post that somehow captured the way God moved and all the milestones in-between while still being relatable. Spoiler alert: I did not get it written by my own self-imposed New Year’s Eve deadline.

I ended up spending most of the day hanging out with my siblings and friend, Dom, who is in town from Australia. Then, I threw together a brief 2018 recap on my Instagram story to at least acknowledge the end of the year (Very original, I know!) and then before I knew it it was midnight and time to yell “Happy New Year!”

When I felt pressure to post, I just kept telling myself, “It’s really okay. If you want to get it done, you will get it done but just relax.” Don’t get it twisted, I still let the worry and stress creep into my thoughts but I ultimately ended up relaxing about it.

And even though I am typing this at 10:32 p.m. New Year’s Day to get it done, choosing to be present yesterday instead of charging ahead into what I felt I had to do is a big step for me. It shows me that God has worked on me and grown a restful spirit in me- even if it’s been small progress.

So, in these very first days of 2019, I just want to remind you that the same is true for you.

God has worked in you this year. He has moved you closer to who you want to become, even if you don’t realize it. And the best part is, He has not loved you any less or forgotten you in the process.

As I look back on the year 2018 turned out to be, I am having to trust that this is the truth in my life, too.

This year was so many things for me. It was exciting, challenging, difficult, good and hard all at the same time. But I’m learning that is how God works, He has a purpose for each of us in the highs and the lows.

I think often times I’ve always thought of the highs and the lows as being separate- and sometimes they are- but this year God taught me that they can also be deeply intertwined…

In January, I started working as an Arts & Life writer for my college paper, the North Texas Daily, in Spring 2018. I was awarded “Reporter of the Month” in January and was published in the paper many times. I gained so much confidence as a writer and learned a ton during the semester. I ended up being offered a paid position as a senior staff writer for Fall 2018. It was still a good experience but it was more work and I felt it. It lead to anxiety and dread (I wrote about it in my blog post called “Anxiety, Rest & Jesus”) so I made the decision to leave the paper in December. It was a rollercoaster ride and the paper was a major part of my year that I am very thankful for. Leaving was hard but I have felt peace and energy since.

In February, my dad’s uncle, Uncle Bob, passed away. He was the closest thing I had to a grandpa on my dad’s side and meant a lot to our family. Even though it was a sad time, it ended up working out for all five of us to get on a plane and go to his funeral in Georgia in the middle of our school semester. It felt like a miracle and was a really sweet time.

My sister, Ashley, and I got our wisdom teeth out during Spring Break with no complications (Hallelujah!) but it was a week full of applesauce and pain. The unglamorous, forced break ended up being what we both needed, though.

I finished out my three years as a middle school girls leader with the same group of ladies I started with in 2015. Watching them grow from 6th graders to 8th graders was one of the greasiest privileges of my life. Leaving them to go into high school felt bittersweet but I knew it was time. My last Wednesday HUB was the day before my 21st birthday and they threw me a surprise party…it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. Oh, and I went to Los Angeles to celebrate with my dad, too. Seriously, the best!

I was offered my dream editorial internship at D Magazine over the summer and took it! It was very exciting and a wonderful learning experience. But it also ended up being really hard, from the commute to Dallas to learning how to fit into the different workplace environment. In the end, God used me in an unexpected way and reminded me that His plans are always greater. And I made some lifelong friends along the way!

And I spent all the moments in-between through the year loving, crying, laughing and living with wonderful family and friends.

Of course, there were more highlights than I can count that were just absolutely wonderful. And some pretty disappointing low points, too, that were just plain hard. I think we both know I could sit here and write about all of them for a long, long time…

So, instead, I’m just going to say that 2018 was a year I am thankful I got to be a part of. When I look at all the tiny puzzle pieces that create the picture of this year I see laughs, so many tears, hurt-filled words and moments of celebration. I see adventures and scary steps into the unknown. I see strength and healing and endurance and rest. Each piece is important and a part of me now.

And when I step back, I really see a clear, beautiful and real picture of Jesus. Not cheesy, not sugar-coated…just Him and His love that has held me together through it all.

I tell you all these things not to brag about myself or make my year seem like something it wasn’t.I mainly just want to share the reality of my year through the redemptive lenses of Jesus.

He is always who He says He is, always doing what He says He will do- saving us.

I don’t know what 2018 looked like for you. I have a feeling you have some highs and lows and some in-betweens, too. But my ultimate hope for all of us is that we can step back and remember Jesus. I hope we can remember how He moved boldly through our year so that we can receive His grace to step forward into the fresh, new year He is giving us.

So, Happy New Year! I have a really good feeling 2019 is going to be His best one yet.

“Be alert, be present. I’m about to dosomething brand-new.It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?

There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,rivers in the badlands.

Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’—the coyotes and the buzzards— because I provided water in the desert,rivers through the sun-baked earth, drinking water for the people I chose,the people I made especially for myself,a people custom-made to praise me.”

-Isaiah 43:19-21 (MSG)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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To The One Who Feels Burned Out

To The One Who Feels Burned Out

To The One Who Feels Burned Out,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope For the Rest of 2018 (& Those Resolutions That Seem Too Far Gone)

Hope For the Rest of 2018 (& Those Resolutions That Seem Too Far Gone)

Well, we are already half-way into 2018! Wow. I know everyone always says, “I just can’t believe how fast the year is going by!” But y’all, I really can’t.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was making all these New Year’s resolutions and writing on the blog about my word for 2018. But, at the same time, some of those exciting dreams I had in my heart on January 1 are a little fuzzy right now.

I planned on making so many exciting changes to my routine. Now it’s the end of June and I’m sitting here looking back on what I haven’t done and it feels too late to try to play catch-up.

If you have been around for awhile you know “rest” is the word God gave me for this year. Of course, I feel like I have been running around on empty, focused on my own strength, more times in 2018 than I have been resting in Him.

It’s really easy to see an area of your life that needs change, it’s not as easy to continue being intentional in that area when things get chaotic. And that’s just the reality of life. I am far from perfect and have definitely fallen back into old rhythms I was so gung-ho about leaving behind in 2017.

Here’s the thing though, the year isn’t over yet.

Six months have gone by but there are still six whole months left. And those goals and dreams and “2018 words” are just as real today as they were on New Year’s Day.

So I really want to ask you, how does your life look right now? What was your word of the year? How have you been intentional in reaching the exciting goals you set out for yourself?

It’s okay if your real answer is that you don’t feel like you’ve made a ton of progress and can’t seem to remember those January goals. First of all, you are NOT alone. I think most of us feel that way.

If that’s you, just know that because you didn’t start then doesn’t mean you can’t start now. The enemy wants you to believe you are too far gone, that those goals will never be met. But that is a LIE because God is not done with you yet, never has been and never will be.

He doesn’t really care if you take that next step in January or June, all that matters is that you take it. My pastor always says, “It doesn’t matter how you start, all that matters is how you finish.”

Don’t feel like you’ve fallen behind and have to catch up, just make a move today so you can finish well later.

Pick up that Bible and read a chapter, put on your favorite sneakers and go for a walk, look that temptation in the face and choose to say “No.”

Whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to do, just do it (as Mr. Shia LaBeouf would say!) and watch how God redeems 2018 to be your best, most intentional year yet.

And if you do feel like you have stayed focused on your goals and are making progress towards where you want to be- THAT IS SO AWESOME! Take a moment and just appreciate what you and God have accomplished together. I am genuinely praying He continues to give you the energy and motivation to keep running strongly towards His best for your life.

Wherever you are, you are not alone and you are not too far gone. God is all about redemption stories, He is writing one every single day with your life.

It is not too late to get started on reaching those goals you set for 2018 and chasing the dreams God gave you. Maybe you need to pick up that journal you wrote all your “start-of-the-year” goals to remind yourself. Maybe you never really thought about your goals for the year until now.

Go remember, write them down again and trust that no matter what you have or haven’t done God has not given up on you, so don’t give up on yourself.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

-Hebrews 12:1-3

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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

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