Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Stop Looking Back

I've been struggling lately.

The thing I struggle with more than anything is looking back.  Like Lot's wife in Genesis being promised a new land and being show the mercy of God that would save her life and she couldn't keep her eyes forward.  I tend to hold on to the past and what I wanted or what could have been instead of looking at what is and what will be.  I look into the past and sometimes that self destructive person I used to be looks enticing.  I have no idea why, because that person was miserable.  That person hid behind a mask of a faith that looked strong, sounded deep but was really shallow at best.  When I look back I see someone who knew very little about herself and let others and the love she craved more than anything define her every move.  That girl was past. "I am a new creation," my Creator tells me, "the old is gone and the new has come."

I have found a major correlation in my struggling and my time in the Word.  If I am not consistently spending time with God, I am a mess.  I lack self control in almost every area of my life.  For me that looks like eating things I shouldn't, or letting my mind wander.  It creates an insecurity in me because when I am not in the Word and I am not spending time with Christ, I am finding my identity in myself and not in Him.  I am trying to wander through life with a blindfold on hoping that if I keep my hands out in front of me that I will make it through the maze and come out unharmed.  Christ is calling me to hold on to Him.  He wants me to trust that even though I can only see a couple of steps a head of me, He is my guide and He is the Master Creator, the Beginning and the End.

Dear Lord, help me to know that I am loved even when I don't feel that I am.  Remind me that Your ways are so much higher than mine.  Teach me to have faith that can't be shaken.  Help me to cling to you and stop looking back.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Resolved to Gratefulness

Welcome to 2015!  We are almost 9 days in at this time and I am just now starting this new year.  Every year I, like many other people around the world, create a list of things I will try to do in the new year.  Like most out there, I give it the ole' college try and by March I am back where I was  the previous October.  This year however I am resolving for something different.  I am striving for a heart of gratefulness.

2014 was a year unlike any I ever had and to be completely honest I think most of the year I was just holding my breath waiting on the days to pass and grasping hold of any solid thing I could, in fear of it changing day by day.  I learned so much about myself in the one year I was out of school.  In 2014 my life plan got completely flipped upside down and yet I landed on my feet with a new job, a new focus and a love for Jesus that I don't think I would have ever gotten had He not taken the plans I had made away.

So, here we are in 2015 and for the first time I am choosing to not plan out my goals but instead make a simple but life changing resolution for 2015.  I want 2015 to be a year where I find blessings in the curve balls.  I want to see life through new eyes of grace.  I want to focus less and less on all the negativity that tends to bog us down and just take a moment everyday to be grateful for the life we live.

I just spent 5 days on the ocean with 26 of my family members.  It was so fun getting to sit around a table or lay on the beach and just enjoy each others company.  I looked around and thought about how amazing it was that nearly all of my family on one side could coordinate their schedules to be without cell service and work and just hang out for 5 days.  It is a true blessing I don't think any of us will forget.

For all of 2015 I will be writing down 3 things everyday that I am grateful for.  What are you challenging yourself to?

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Single Struggle

At this moment there are 7 wedding invitations on my bulletin board.  I look at them everyday and 6 days out of 7 the only thing I think is how excited I am for my friends to get to share their lives with the ones they love, but on that 7th day I start the comparison game.  

They say comparison is the thief of joy and they (those who say this) would be correct.  It is when we start focusing on the things in our life that seem to be missing rather than the incredible amount that we have, that we tell ourselves we don't have enough.  That we aren't enough.  That Christ isn't enough.  

That's my struggle.  6 days out of 7, I live this life that is so full of joy I can hardly stand it.  I am so fulfilled in my job, in my family, with my friends, with my God at this stage in my life that the don't haves start to fade, 6 days out of 7.  But it's on that 7th day when I get really lonely and start wondering why I'm not enough.  What do I need to change to find love?  Why hasn't God sent (insert name) into my life?  

But you know what, those 6 days out of 7 are what I am going to put my effort, my attention, my focus on.  Because I have so much more to offer than my insecurities point out that I don't.  I want to strive to live the life that God created me to live and you know what, if He has different plans for me than I do myself, why would I want anything different for myself? 

That is easier said than done, I know.  Trust me, I know.  At almost 24 years old, the southern culture I am surrounded with screams that since I haven't found anyone I will be alone forever.  They are wrong.  I am choosing to believe they are wrong.  But I struggle daily with saying that Christ is enough for me and meaning it.  But maybe, just maybe that is where Christ wants me.  Maybe He knows that I struggle with that and that I also am striving to mean it and He is going to push me until I get there.  I am choosing to find happiness and choosing to see beyond the single struggle into a struggle towards the heart of Christ. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Challenge: Step Up

For the past month and half or so on Wednesday nights our student ministry team has been challenging our students to step up.  Our goal was to push them to do what they can, with what they have, where they are.  I found that as I was challenging them, I felt a new stirring in myself as well.  

Often times I feel like we limit ourselves because we feel stuck.  We feel as if the resources we have are not enough to make a difference or sometimes like we just don't know where to start.  I can say this because for the past couple months I have felt restless.  I so bad want to make a change around me but I just didn't know what to do or how to start.  Tonight I was challenged to stop waiting around or talking about it and actually take action. 

Tonight we met up for a normal youth time but I had the students separate into 6 teams.  I gave each team $5 and an hour to collect as many cans as possible to be donated to the homeless church in our area.  The adults were allowed to drive but not to help come up with ideas.  I wanted this to be student lead.  As we rushed to our cars the excitement of the competition was fresh and the students were raring to get out of the parking lot and start collecting cans.  After a quick trip to a local grocery store my team decided to go into neighborhoods and start knocking on doors asking for donations.  It warmed my heart to see the high fives between the group when someone said they would give them cans.  

After coming back to the church I was amazed at the combination of what our students had collected. In just an hour, with change to spare, and only 22 people, they had gathered over a hundred different food items to be donated.  It was such a great physical representation that we don't have to have a lot of money, time, or man power to make a difference.  I am so proud to be a part of this student ministry and I am so excited to see how Christ moves us to serve better with the resources we have been given.

Do you want to make a difference in the world?  Stop just talking about it and do something. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dear High Schoolers,

photo source:www.annarbor.com

Dear high schoolers,

If I could give you any piece of advice at this stage of your life it would be these two things:
1)Know what you believe
2)Love even when it's hard
You live in a world today that is full of temptation and different beliefs.  They have always been there it's just presenting itself in different ways now.  You live in a world that sometimes you don't understand and that's okay.  One thing that I want you to be aware of is that no matter what you have done, are going through or will go through we have a BIG God who has overcome the WORLD.  He created us, he sees us.

When I was your age I was in church every time the doors were open.  I had heard all the stories and knew the songs by heart and yet my walk and my talk were so shallow I couldn't even fathom what it would be like to dive in and really understand the stuff I was talking about.  I knew everything on the surface but I didn't KNOW what I believed.  I had been spoon fed scripture and morals and beliefs for as long as I could remember and when someone who didn't believe like I did came up and asked a question I would stumble in trying to answer.  So I challenge you to be different.  When you are questioned for your faith don't waiver.  People won't relate to what you are saying about God if you don't really understand it yourself.  You have to know the word because if you know it and live it there will be a difference about you that is undeniable.  As a good friend of mine, Jackie Flake tweeted yesterday, "Discipleship is "follow me as I follow Christ", not "follow Christ as I merely talk about him." You have to walk the talk not just talk the walk.  Maybe that means that when you feel the temptation to get angry or defensive when someone pushes you or challenges your faith that you choose to walk away at that moment for fear that you might do the wrong or say the wrong thing.  It doesn't make you a coward it makes you more like Christ. If you know what you believe then you will also understand that not everyone will believe just like you and you need to respect that.

Christ set the example for us.  He loved even on the cross.  He felt compassion for those who mocked him.  Love is hard to do when people are hard to love.  At church recently we have been talking about loving others and what it takes to do that.  You cannot love someone without knowing them. When you really start to get to know people it changes how you see them.  When you know people you start to feel compassion towards them and you start to gain trust.  Think about the people you trust most in your life.  Those people are the one's that have invested in you, who have chosen to get to know you on a more intimate level and who you will listen to above anyone else in your life.  If you choose to invest in other people's lives the easier it is for you to reach them with the gospel of Christ. Christ's love didn't stop when it was hard, it was all about acceptance, forgiveness and grace.  Stop arguing and start showing people that there is something different about you and that what you believe is the real deal. Love even when it's hard.

I know that life isn't always easy and that sometimes you may feel like others around you don't understand but I want you to know, we care about you.  I want you to feel open to talk and express your opinions even if you are scared to.  Don't forget you are loved and the door is always open.


Monday, September 29, 2014

The Restlessness in Routine

Hey friends!

I absolutely can not believe that it is creeping into October.  These months in the fall are my favorite time of the year.  I love the crisp in the air, the long sleeves and boots you pull out of your closet whether it's really temperature appropriate to wear or not, and the soups you can start eating daily because you finally feel it is cool enough outside for it to be acceptable to eat without being sick.  I love how routine starts to form and I grab my planner and can sit down and have time to think about what my days will look like for a week at a time(yes, I actually have been leaving time for flexibility)(and no Gigi, I haven't scheduled naps although I might need to start again).  But with the school year comes a time to refresh at this point in my life.

The only problem I have found is that I am finding myself restless in the peace.  Don't get me wrong I am a girl that loves a lazy day.  This girl is secretly a little old lady at heart.  However, give me a break and I don't know what to do with myself.  This summer I was home for a solid 3 weeks the whole 3 months.  I was EXHAUSTED but I loved every minute of it (minus about half the time on the cramped charter buses that I swore were a whole lot bigger and more comfy when I was 14, which is strange because I was the same size) anyway, I felt like I was living out my purpose.  I was down for anything.  Now I spend my days back in the town I grew up in loving on tons of people.  I have this awesome job where I get to interact with a few hundred people every week, and I get to invest in some awesome people's lives and yet I feel sometimes that I am not doing enough.  Is it just me or does part of the problem lie in the fact that sometimes we still feel that the more we do the more Jesus will love us and the more we love him.  Let me say first to myself...THAT IS WRONG.

I am reading through Genesis right now, a little bit everyday, trying to soak it all in.  Something that hit me the other day more than it ever had before was that God saw what he created everyday and He knew it was good, and He took the seventh day and rested.  The GOD of the universe that created everything in the whole world looked around at what he had been doing and didn't take the final day of the week to push it even harder to try to look any better, he rested.  He set the precedent, I follow His lead.

So what does that look like in my life?  For me, it's slowly delegating a little more.  It means not trying to gain the approval of man over everything else or thinking that my works can somehow push me farther into heaven.  By His grace I'm going to get there just fine.  It means that I am okay with the times in my life where my calendar is empty and I don't feel that need to fill it.  At the same time, it leaves no excuse for laziness.

Is fall a crazy time for you?  Do you ever feel this way?  I would LOVE to talk to you sometime and take you for coffee.  There is nothing I love more than genuine conversations with friends new and old.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Haiti Taught Me About Home

Hello friends,

This time last week I was sitting on a patio in Haiti with about 50 other people listening to stories of the day and praising Jesus.  Let me tell you, there is nothing sweeter than hearing Jesus' name sung without abandon by some teenagers that are sold out to serving our Savior.  It blessed my heart every night to hear the stories of how God was working and the cool things they had witnessed throughout the day.

We spent our days loving on kids.  From the time we got to a local church within a small Haitian community the children would come in flocks to play futbol, jump rope or simply to be held.  It was a precious sight watching two people that didn't speak the same language bond in a way that words can't describe.

While in Haiti and upon returning I couldn't shake the feeling that I was learning more about myself and home than I was actually learning about Haiti.  This may sound strange and what I was learning was not about what you would expect.  I didn't come home from Haiti feeling more blessed because of the material possessions I have that I didn't see over there.  Material things are temporary and while they make things easier and more comfortable for sure, it wasn't something I longed for. What I learned about home is to be intentional.

While in Haiti I was extremely intentional with the conversations I had with those who I could communicate with.  I was intentional with my relationships.  I knew one thing was certain that I only had a small amount of time and so despite how I was feeling that day, I made more of an effort.  I also left Haiti wishing I could have had more opportunities to share the gospel.  That left me aching inside because I never leave a day back in the states feeling that way.  I never seem make enough time to really talk to those I know need Jesus.  I hardly ever will try to meet strangers and invite them to church.  So if I wouldn't do that in my everyday life, what makes going to a new place any different?  Why was I so willing and so eager to share my faith when I didn't know a soul?  Is it because I care too much about what people here think?  Is it because I don't care enough about those around me? Tough questions but so important to ask.  The question comes down to this:  Is Jesus the most important thing in my life and if so why would I not want to share Him with everyone I know?

Haiti was a beautiful country filled with beautiful people but Haiti is just like the United States of America in that there are tons of lost people every where you look.  There are tons of opportunities to serve and help those in need.  There are tons of ways to be intentional.

I went expecting to learn about and serve Haiti, I left learning about home and more importantly about HIM.