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

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Twenty-Seventeen // A Year of Obedience

Twenty-Seventeen // A Year of Obedience

Hi, friends! Happy New Year!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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