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

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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

Twenty-Sixteen

Twenty-Sixteen

Hi, friends! Happy New Year!!!

What a year it has been! So many amazing, difficult, wonderful, frustrating and beautiful things have happened over the past 365 days in my life and in our world- and I’m very grateful I got to experience some of them.

Before I dive into these moments, I just want to say that I know this hasn’t been the greatest year for everybody and many people are excited to see the end of 2016… BUT I am so thankful that God gave us this year and the hard moments because I believe we wouldn’t be who we are without them.

God is still King in the difficult, dark places of this world and He is still sitting on the throne when we feel like He has left us- He is in control over every single circumstance in our life and He is working to make every moment reflect and glorify His Kingdom!

So, yes…it’s been an interesting year but I believe that there have been just as many, if not more, blessings and good moments as there have been bad moments. And at the end of the day, God is still good and He has a purpose for each of our lives!

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post called A Year Full of Revival and it was about God’s promise for this year. Every year God gives me a word as a symbol for what is to come, in 2015 it was “light” and in 2016 it was “revival”.

I remember when I listened to my pastor give the first sermon of the year on God’s word for our church, the word was breakthrough. I felt like God was confirming my word, revival by giving our church this word. In my heart, those two actions go hand-in-hand and this confirmation gave me the faith to believe that God would fulfill His promise of revival.

As I already said, this year was beautiful and difficult in more ways than one. Of course, it was an amazing year for many reasons, here are some of the highlights…

My family and I got Rocky, our sweet blessing of a puppy after praying that God would provide the right dog for our family.

I turned 19 years old and got to go to New York City for the first time with my dad to celebrate (we saw The Lion King on Broadway and it was magical!).


I finished my freshman year of college and my last semester at NCTC in May and began my sophomore year of college and first semester at UNT in August.

I’ve made so many amazing new friends and have had the blessing of reconnecting with family.

I got to be a leader at my church’s summer youth camp, HUB Camp, for the first time and had an absolute blast!

I had the privilege of voting in my first presidential election.

And I got to go to Europe for the first time and travel through Greece and Italy with my sister!*

But, 2016 has also been a really difficult year too…

I’ve had ongoing health issues throughout the year that have made me feel constantly tired, sick and weak.

I’ve felt alone, unnoticed and hurt at times.

I watched my 18-year-old cousin battle against (and BEAT! Praise God!) the evils of cancer.

I’ve struggled with temptations and fleshly sins.

I have painfully watched people I love numb themselves with the world.

And I’ve had moments of crippling doubt and fear that have left me feeling completely in the dark.

If I’m being honest, there have been more moments of hopelessness and frustration than there have been of faith and thankfulness for God. And as I look back on this blessing of a year, I can see how unintentionally self-focused I was when I thought I was striving to be focused on Him.

Thankfully, God still works and moves in and through us whether we are focused on Him or not but I just realized how much sweeter the hard moments would have been if I had been looking to Him instead of looking for a way to fix the situation myself.

This year God did revive my heart, my life and my family.

He has slowly begun to knock down the ungodly beliefs that have tried to take root in my heart and has replaced them with His permanent promises of love, freedom and grace.

He has opened my eyes to the Godly relationships He has placed in my life so naturally that I didn’t even realize they were there. He has revived my perspective to see His beauty and “Only God” moments instead of getting stuck in my everyday routine.

He has been faithful with a seemingly impossible promise that He gave me at the beginning of the year. He told me that my family would go to Georgia (where my dad’s family is) and reconcile relationships, something that I believed He would do one day but never thought He would make happen this year. He also said that I would go to Passion 2017 in Georgia.

All I can say is, God is faithful because I am writing this post from Georgia right now and have had the blessing of reconnecting with family members who I didn’t think I would ever see again. I’m also going to Passion 2017 in two days to experience God’s awesomeness with thousands of college students from around the world.

God is faithful, even when we are not. Thank goodness! And He has made this year better than any resolution I could have created or attempted to actually follow through with.

He is the Great Reviver and His word is true.

My prayer for all of us this year is to focus on the promises He thoughtfully gave 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.

I pray that we will focus our attention from what could happen this year, to the One who has already made and will make all things happen for His good.

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 2017 and beyond!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

These are a few pictures that highlight my year through a lens of travel, fun & spending time with loved ones
*A blog post about my AMAZING trip to Europe will be coming soon, I would like to say I’ve started to write it or have been working on it but the truth is I haven’t. But I want to write it and tell you all about it, so be on the lookout…

 

 

 

 

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 

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!

loved by Agape Love

loved by Agape Love

  1. a•ga•pe
  2. αγάπη IPA: [aˈɣapi]) which means “loveselfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. 

    1. This Easter celebration has been like a deep, satisfying inhale for my soul. With only a few more moments left of what is easily the most significant and refreshing day of the year, my heart is both so heavy & so full. I am overwhelmed by grace and compassion and thankfulness and Agape Love because of what Jesus did for me.
    2. I don’t believe that I will ever truly understand the magnitude of His life, death, burial and resurrection. My tiny, human brain cannot wrap around His unstoppable and unexpected Love. (Which is a really good thing, because if my mind could do this I would probably explode from all of His greatness.) But as I have had the opportunity to celebrate today with my brothers & sisters, God has given me a new perspective on my life.
    3. Like, first of all, how it isn’t even really my life (Hallelujah!) anymore. 
    4. And also, how when I think that it’s “my life” and I do what I want to do, His love is unchanging. He does the unexpected and gives me a big hug instead of kicking me to the curb. Which just blows my mind. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone could choose to welcome in a person who has treated them terribly without any apology over and over and over, yet God does this for us every day. 
    5. My mind can’t wrap around His Love because it is not of this world. God cannot fit inside the small, insignificant box that I try to put Him in. He is bigger than my logic, He is bigger than my mess. I will never understand Him and I will never have to because His love is not based on what I can or cannot do- it is based on what was finished on the cross. 
    6. Jesus does the unexpected for us. He boldly puts His Agape Love on display. He comes to us, He reconciles with us & He restores our purpose in Him. 
    7. I am thankful that I get the opportunity to be in awe & worship the Creator of the Universe & One True King. What’s even cooler? He calls me His friend and loves me selflessly & unconditionally.
    8. So this Easter, God has most definitely overwhelmed me with His Agape Love. Making it one of the best Easters I have ever experienced. 
    9. Thank You for giving me this, even though You have already given me more than I could ever ask for or imagine.

    10. He is Risen! 
    11. He is Risen, indeed!