Wednesday, February 15, 2017

love yo'self

Yo what's up people! I know I don't use this blog much anymore but I've got some thoughts to share and feel that this is the best place to dump them. My desire to share this stuff has been spurred on by my own personal happenings, the state of our country/world, and also a holiday that makes many feel lonely, insecure, jealous, etc. that happened to be yesterday.

This is a story of how I've learned and am still learning to love myself. The funny thing is that it happened by learning to forget myself. By focusing intently on God's greatest commandments– 1. Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul 2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40)– I made strides in my battle with insecurity. I'm still selfish as poop and this post is in no way intended to bring glory to myself; I just wanted to share a piece of my story in hopes that it'll help someone out there who is struggling to love him or herself. And also to bring glory to God who brings us freedom!

For years and years I was a big heaping mess of insecurity. Even when my faith became real to me at 16 and I was "made new", I still had very little love for myself. My friends and family loved me so well yet I had the hardest time seeing greatness or any kind of potential in myself. These feelings only escalated when I got to college. Meeting lots of new people and realizing I am way more awkward and introverted than I thought was no fun. Especially when everyone else seemed to be thriving their freshman year (which wasn't true, social media is a monster to the insecure). And on top of that I was supposed to be deciding what career I wanted to pursue but felt very little confidence in myself being able to be successful or make an impact on the world.

loving God bigger

Last year I really began to pull back the curtain on my truest self. I stopped pretending and polishing and worrying and grasping at any identity that seemed acceptable. I was no longer driven by approval but instead by what made my inmost being happy. It was beautiful and freeing and I owe it all to the Holy Spirit's work within me. I remember a few summers ago when I was at the peak of my battle with insecurity and self worth, someone shared their similar story with me. She said "I'm a firm believer that you're not fully yourself until you let God have every part of you".

This newfound freedom happened as a result of God opening my eyes to the gift of singleness and in turn learning to be romanced by God. For so long I turned to guys to make me feel like I was worth something and I just didn't wanna do that anymore. It wasn't working and wasn't fair to myself or anyone I sought to be in a relationship with. So I decided to lean in to how God was romancing me everyday and fell more in love with Him and with who I am in Him as a result.

Before this shift, it felt like every time God placed something in front of me that he knew would delight the girl he formed, I looked to my left and right to make sure others were pleased with it too. Or I posted it on my Instagram feed to see how many of my followers thought it deserved a like. I wouldn't let my own creator who knows me so intimately simply romance me because of my concern with fitting in.

As soon as I quit thinking like this, I was able to see God's splendor in the most ordinary, mundane things. Things like work, school, the ministry I serve with, running errands, hanging out with friends, etc became more colorful and life-giving because I was able to see God moving in so many small, beautiful ways. I used to be hesitant to over spiritualize things but it's pretty much impossible to do that when God is the creator of all things and is living and breathing in this world through the Holy Spirit. The more I focus on being romanced by him, the less I dwell on the things I don't like about myself. Sometimes I forget my existence completely because I'm so enthralled by what's in front of me while other times I feel my existence strongly and am romanced by the way God has wired me to feel things deeply.

loving people bigger

People used to terrify me. They still do to an extent when I forget that they're just people too. My social anxiety stemmed from a lack of self confidence in who I was and it hindered me from loving people deeply. I was afraid of get to know people because then they might want to get to know me and who the heck was I? 

But the people who made me feel most myself were those most comfortable with themselves. Those who weren't afraid to show up messy and loudly proclaim their quirks. Those who could look at something with a glimmer in their eye and say "this is amazing" even if nobody else thought so. Those who were truly interested in other people's unique passions and interests, even if they were radically different from their own. I'd make mental notes of the people I encountered like this through the years and always remembered them when I thought about who I wanted to be, but never believed I could be that sure of myself. 

I starting thinking about how they were able to be so at peace with themselves and realized that they all had something in common: they didn't ever seek to bring attention to themselves or make themselves known. Sure they spoke their mind, but in a respectful and humble manner that was intended to spark interesting conversation. They listened more than they talked. They spoke out the greatness they saw in others and sought to make others feel loved and known. These were people who loved their neighbors in a non discriminatory, radical yet simple way.

My hope is that my journey with learning to love myself will help you in yours. The biggest factor in loving myself was falling more in love with my Creator. But whether you're a Christian or not, I promise you that loving those around you will do wonders for your ability to see greatness in yourself. 

So would you join me in loving our neighbors bigger? In not putting people into a box? In being unapologetic about who we are and also inviting those who are different than us to do the same? There is nothing brave about being confident in yourself but making others feel wrong about who they are. I don't ever want to be some who says "hey how about you keep THAT part of yourself hidden." Rather, I want to encourage others to stand in the light and love them for the parts of them that are not like me. We can all play a role in helping each other love ourselves better so let's do it!
a wonderful day in Southern California

Lyrics from a dope song called "The Honest Truth"

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

dancing in the rain

The first thing I do before I get out of bed every morning is check my weather app. Before I even plant my feet on the ground, I like to know what to expect of the world that day. I get giddy when I see sunshine and hop right out of bed ready to start the day. Seeing a forecast of rain clouds, low temperatures, or the most dreadful of all: wind, on the other hand, makes it really tough for me to want to leave the comfort of my bed in the morning. Either way, I like to know the forecast so I can plan out what I'll wear, how I'll spend my free time, and whether I will walk or drive to where I need to be. I plan out and predict the course of my entire day, and often my entire week, based on a little cartoon cloud or sun and a number next to it, how silly is that?

How do you think I felt today when all that was predicted was sun and 75 degree temperatures but I walked outside of class to find that it was raining? Not very pleased. It wasn't so much the fact that I was getting rained on but rather that I didn't expect it or get to prepare for it. You'd think that after living in Lubbock for 10 years I would be used to unpredictable weather by now, but it still bothers me when what was supposed to be a beautiful day turns out to be stormy and dreary.

After feeling frustrated for a little bit, I giggled at myself for putting so much hope into a weather forecast on an iPhone app. I started thinking about the season of life I am currently in. It isn't what I would necessarily call a happy, sunshine-y time. I am walking through storms I did not expect to walk through. I planned for clear skies and breezy days, but all of the sudden I was hit with darkness and melancholy. My initial reaction was confusion and anger. I had plans, I had expectations, I did not want the joyful season of my life I was in to be over and I did not feel at all prepared to face the storm that was engulfing me. As I've come to terms with what is happening, I have received a lot of peace from the Lord and felt Him so near to me. I have learned three major things about why storms and unanticipated hardships are good and why we can be joyful in them:

1. The Lord uses times of pain, sadness, confusion, and loss to mold us into who we are called to be. Most of us want to be forgiving, kind, generous, bold people but how do we expect to become that unless we go through trials that teach us to forgive, teach us to sympathize, and teach us to trust God? Sometimes we need the things of this world that are bringing us comfort and happiness to be stripped away in order to remember our great need for Jesus. He alone is everything that we need and the more we can soak in that truth, the more we will become like Him. I have never known somebody to walk through a hardship with God and say that what was on the other side was not beautiful and worth the suffering.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us." Romans 8:18

2. We're not entitled to comfort, happiness, or success in this life; our purpose is simply to love! As Christians, we hear time and time again that God's two greatest commandments are to love Him and love thy neighbor. But this really cannot be emphasized enough. Living in this world, especially in America, we are constantly being trained to be selfish and to pursue our own happiness and personal gains. I find that the more we have, the more we feel entitled to. Once we have been living in comfort and security, the last thing we want is to give that up. But this goes against the essence of God and who we're called to be. Our motivation and intentions behind everything we do should be to love the people around us. If we must make sacrifices to pursue the ministry he is calling us to or to help somebody in need, we have to be willing to do so. When God takes something away, realize that no earthly possessions are yours to keep. Don't indulge in self-pity but instead focus your energy on loving those around you. When we are driven by love and selflessness, it is a lot easier to feel our burdens lifted.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal." Matthew 6:19

3. Our citizenship is in Heaven, not this world. Because of the cross, we get the chance to spend eternity in a place with no storms, forever basking in the light and glory of Our Creator. While we walk this earth, there will be days that are full of sunshine and joy and goodness. We will not want those days to end and will hold those days close to our hearts because we felt alive and were experiencing the abundant life Jesus offers us. There will also be days of deep sorrow and emptiness as we feel the weight of the broken world caving in on us. But as soon as we enter the gates of Heaven, those days will be forgotten as we experience joy and fullness like never before. For a single day in his courts is better than a thousand anywhere else (Psalm 84:10). No matter where we go in this life, we are ultimately going home. Whatever storms we must walk through on earth, we can bear  them because we have the hope of Heaven!

So my plans were turned upside down. So I am in a place I did not want or expect to be in. So I am in a stormy season of life and part of me wishes I could rewind or fast forward. But Jesus has drawn me near to Him, reminded me that He is more than enough for me, and has allowed me to be joyful through the pain. Some days the rain feels light and manageable. Some days I can see the sun peaking through the clouds. Other days, I feel the rain weighing down heavily on me, not allowing me to see or think clearly. But through it all, I know my God is constant and He is working and because of that, I can dance in the rain! I am grateful to be exactly where I am because it is exactly where He needs me.

"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
   a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
   a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace." Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Thursday, May 7, 2015

blessed to be a blessing

Hello all! I'm sorry I haven't posted on here in a while...I've been busy with college, work, life and also starting a new fashion blog with my sister. However, I still want to use this blog to share what God is teaching me and what He is leading me to share with others! I love blogs so the more the merrier, right? (jk two is definitely all I can handle) Anyway I'd like to use this post to share something God has been teaching me recently.

So as Christians who are broken, sinful people, we are constantly caught between living for God and living for ourselves. Sure, sometimes we are living to please other people too but usually the root of this is selfishness because we just want approval or attention from those we are trying to please. That's how it is for me, anyway.

Coming to college has really opened my eyes to just how selfish I am. I have this new independence and so many choices, that I must choose every single day to deny myself and choose the Lord's way. The sad truth, though, is that a lot of times I have chosen my own way. I often choose what will make me the happiest or most comfortable in the moment even if I know it goes against the will of God. This has ranged from sleeping in instead of going to church to gossiping with my friends to trying to date a guy when I know I'm not fully ready for a relationship.

I've had to learn that as a Christ-follower I am not entitled to comfort or happiness. Sometimes I must suffer and sacrifice so that I can fulfill God's will. Sometimes I must step out of my comfort zone so that I can follow what God is calling me to do and grow in my relationship with Him. As a shy girl, who likes resting and alone time and being comfortable...this is HARD sometimes. But I know that staying cooped up in my room watching Netflix all day or only hanging out with my close friends and family will never cause me to grow in my faith and is not living purposefully at all.

The other day at my church service, our pastor shared this verse with us and it just really stuck out to me and I've been dwelling on it ever since.

"I will make you into a great nation. and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing." Genesis 12:2

God was speaking this to Abraham when He told him to leave his country and all his relatives to go to the land He would show him. Two things stuck out to me from this...

  1. Abraham was probably happy right where he was. He was 75 living with his wife and with relatives close by. If anything, I'm sure he was comfortable. But God had bigger plans for him. God needed Abraham to leave his comfort zone so that He could use him and make him into a great nation. Abraham would have to make a sacrifice, but the outcome would be exponentially greater than if he were to stay right where he was. The takeaway I got from this is that sometimes we must sacrifice good to experience God's BEST.
  2. The Lord told Abraham that He would bless him so that he could be a blessing to others. God loves all of his children the same, but obviously some of us are in more fortunate situations than others. I always question why I get to live such a great life, with family and friends that I love and food to eat, a place to live, and the opportunity to receive an education while others don't have any of this. This verse opened my eyes to the fact that the reason God has blessed me so much is so that I can go and bless others. If I have few problems of my own, I have more time to help other people with theirs. If I have more money than I absolutely need, I have room to be generous with it.

I hate that I can be so selfish and ungrateful that I just want more and more and often use my resources like time and money on myself instead of others. My prayer is that, like Abraham, I'd be willing to step out of my comfort zone and follow God's calling to bigger and better things. I also pray that I'd recognize the blessings God has given me as a reason to turn around and bless others. The whole reason I am on this earth is to bring glory to my Maker and to live out His purpose, but as long as I am living for myself I won't experience His best for my life. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

becoming Her

Hello people reading my blog who probably forgot I even had one. I haven't written in quite a while, in fact I've conquered a whole semester of college since I last posted on here. Not to mention, it's 2015!!! Anyway here I am, back and ready to share a little bit about what being in college (well really the Lord) has taught me.

So here I am finished with my first semester and I'd love to tell you it was all smooth-sailing, but it wasn't. I got stressed out way more often than I should have, I had multiple panic sessions that I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and I went several weeks without investing in my relationship with God whatsoever. Despite all of that, the Lord was so good to me and I would consider my the past three months some of the best of my life. I can't tell you that I'm so much more grown up and have life figured out now, but I'd be lying if I said going to college didn't change me for the better. Something I have learned about myself is that being thrown into things that are out of my comfort zone is when I grow and learn the most. Like I said, I spent the first several weeks of college spending little to no time investing in my relationship with God but then after a conversation with one of my work crew friends one night about how wonderful our God is, I realized that needed to change. I started waking up 30-40 minutes early every morning to spend time with God, not because I felt obligated to but because I genuinely missed Him...He's my best friend. In our sweet time together, I felt like I finally let Him start revealing things to me He had been trying to for years.

In the past few months I have realized that I haven't been striving to live as the woman God calls me to be. Sure I do when I'm at a Christian camp or church or having coffee with a Christian friend, but in my everyday actions and thoughts and conversations I have not been striving to honor God in all I do. I conform to be whoever I think the people I am with want me to be and let me tell you, it gets exhausting. When I am in Heaven one day I want to look back on my life with the God who gave it to me and hear Him say "well done, faithful servant" rather than looking at all the moments I missed out on bringing Him glory because I was caught up trying to please people.

Like I said I have no clue what I want to do with my life, but I do know that God will guide me to it when the time is right. No matter what I do, I want to spend everyday becoming more of the woman that He created me to be...not the woman my friends want me to be, or a boy I have a crush on or my parents or anyone else wants me to be. I know that the only way I can become this type of woman is if I really learn what it means to be a woman of God. (I've been on the lookout for a good bible study of woman in the bible so please let me know if you know of one.) With the biblical knowledge I have gained so far as well as simply observing Godly girls and women around me, I have accumulated a collection of characteristics that I believe define a woman of God in today's world that I would like to share with you, partly in hopes that it'll speak to someone else but also because posting these goals on my blog is me saying "Hey world this is the kind of person I want to be, please call me out on it when I go against it" and that is a great form of accountability.

1. She wakes up every morning thinking, "What can I do for God?" rather than "What can God do for me?"

2. She values people for who they are, not how they look or what they have.

3. She makes everyone around her feel important and loved.

4. She recognizes the urgency with which we must share the Gospel with others, but does so in a gentle way.

5. Her hope is in the fact that God will always be with her, not that one day she might find a husband or get a job she has always wanted.

6. The time she spends on her phone or on Netflix does not outweigh the time she spends investing in her relationship with God and serving others.

7. She does not complain when life gets tough, but rather seeks out ways to grow from it.

8. She owns who she is and loves how God made her. She doesn't constantly wish she could look like or be like someone else.

9. She is vulnerable with others about her sin and her struggles. She doesn't put on a facade of perfection.

10. She prays about things more than she talks about them.

11. When she tells someone she will pray for them, she always does.

12. Her joy is steadfast because it comes from the Lord. She is not just temporarily happy when things are going good for her.

13. She works hard at everything she does, working for God and not for man. (Colossians 3:23)

14. She can truly laugh without fear of the future. (Proverbs 31:25) She does not let worry hold her back from living life to the fullest.

15. She doesn't live in her comfort zone. She takes every opportunity she gets to experience something new.

16. She is frugal and doesn't spend money on things she doesn't need. She is generous with her money, knowing that everything she earns belongs to God.

17. She enriches the lives of those around her by speaking positively in everyday conversation and encouraging others with her words.

18. She forgoes her rights to God and says "yes" to whatever He asks of her...even if it isn't how she planned for things to go.

19. She invests in other people and checks up on those she loves frequently. Her conversations aren't surface level small talk, but rather asking people how their life is and if they need anything.

20. She cares more about how kind and Christ-like others view her than she does how pretty and fashionable she appears.

21. She is genuinely happy for other people when life is good for them, not jealous and self-pitying.

22. She is quick to forgive and slow to anger. She shows love to people who have wronged her and never seeks revenge. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

23. She stands up for what she knows is right, no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular it might be.

24. She does not look down on people who don't believe in God or who live a different lifestyle than her, but loves them all the same.

25. She flees from sexual impurity. She dresses modestly to avoid tempting her brothers in Christ and she doesn't kiss or hookup with random boys so she can feel temporary affection. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

There are probably many more things I will continue to discover about what it means to be a woman of God, but this is what I've got so far. I've fallen short of every single one of these things and will time and time again but I know that the more I let God mold me into the woman He created me to be, the more I will be able to do for Him. So instead of spending all my time and energy trying to become the girl who has a perfect life through the eyes of an instagram follower or a girl who is able to find a cute boyfriend or a girl who knows exactly what she wants to do with her life, I will spend the rest of my life trying to be the woman the Good Lord made me to be. Thanks for reading!

Girls from my work crew at our recent reunion! I learn so much from watching how they love God and each other.

I got to spend my New Years worshiping Jesus on the beach. Talk about starting the year off right!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let me tell ya bout work crew...

Hello blog readers! It's been quite some time since I've posted on here (as it usually is between posts) but I am back and am particularly excited to write this post about an experience near and dear to my heart: the three weeks I spent on Work Crew for a YoungLife camp called Crooked Creek. I would have liked to have written this sooner, seeing as I've been back from work crew for three weeks now but with starting college and trying to spend time with my loved ones since getting back home, this is the first time I've gotten to sit down and write it. I know it might seem like this post would only be interesting to somebody who was at Crooked Creek or has done work crew or YoungLife, but I assure you that anyone who enjoys hearing about how great our God is will wanna read this! Trying to write this without getting too emotional is going to be difficult, but I'll give it a shot.

I really don't even know where to begin so I guess I will just go chronologically. I'm going to be honest, the first few days sucked. Not gonna sugar coat it or anything...they were tough. My job was called a "tawashie" which meant that every day starting from 8:30am until about 4pm I was scrubbing showers and toilets (yes, that includes urinals), cleaning cabins, pulling hair out of drains, wiping down windows, mirrors, and counters, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, restocking toilet paper and paper towels, pulling gum out of the carpets, taking out the trash, and whatever else needed to be cleaned on the camp grounds. I don't say all those things for you to feel bad for me because it was so worth it and I actually ended up getting satisfaction out of doing all those jobs...I just want to paint a picture to you of why it was so difficult for me the first few days. Besides all the hard work there were multiple other reasons why I struggled so much at first, but God taught me so much through each obstacle and that's what I want to share with y'all...

1. I honestly didn't go into it with the right mind set. All I thought about before work crew was what I could get out of it myself, not what I could do for God and for the campers. I wanted my relationship with God to grow, I wanted to do tons of fun things, I wanted to make lots of friends, and I wanted to have cool stories I could go back and tell people. All of those things definitely happened but they were not the reason God brought me there. He brought me there to serve Him and help His kingdom grow. The campers who come to YoungLife camp are supposed to experience what Heaven could be like one day. Our job as a work crew is to serve them wholeheartedly and proclaim the Gospel through our daily jobs. Those campers' clean cabins and bathrooms might not have been the direct reason they accepted Christ, but it played a role in giving them the best week possible and making sure there was nothing to distract them during their cabin time (which is where they had in depth conversations about their relationships with God with their YoungLife leaders.)

2. I was super homesick because I'm so attached to my family and had never been away from them for more than a week. It was hard knowing they were having fun on vacation without me while I was working my butt off. However, my time away from them taught me to be more thankful for them and appreciative of the time I spend with them. It also taught me that God alone can bring me comfort and is my Heavenly Father who will always protect me and provide for me. As much as I love my family, I can't look to them instead of Jesus for love and comfort.

3. I had never had a job or done chores before. I know I sound super spoiled saying that but it's just that my parents are so awesome and have always provided for me so that I could focus on my school work and activities. I didn't realize how much I took that for granted until I had to do things for myself. I also have a lot more respect for people who do have jobs and do chores all the time and realized that I should start doing those things instead of relying on my parents to do and pay for everything for me.

4. I had a lot of trouble making friends and opening up to people at first so I felt kind of lonely. I was jealous of and intimidated by the girls who were so outgoing and funny right off the bat because I wish I was that way. I was letting my insecurities stop me from making true friendships and leaning on the community around me to lift me up but once I trusted God and began to be myself those same girls that I was jealous of became my best friends. I couldn't have gotten through the long, tough days without the joy and laughter and encouragement the friends I made brought me. They taught me what true community is and what I wanted to find when I went off to college.

5. I was believing the lie that I don't have much to offer God and that since I wasn't doing so great at my job from the start, I was a failure and shouldn't have signed up to be there. Silly me forgot that when God calls us to do something, He will sustain us and equip us to do it. Luckily my work crew bosses showed me a lot of grace when I would mess up and showed me that they believed in me. I realized that by myself, I could not have done a good job at all and honestly was a pretty sucky tawashie but the Holy Spirit within me gave me the strength and energy I needed to work hard and have a good attitude and do the best job I could. At the end of the session my boss told me she was so proud of me and that I improved so much but I knew it had nothing to do with myself and everything to do with God who was working through me.

Like I said, the first few days were tough but they soon got so much better. Once I realized that I was there to serve God and that He picked me to be there and play a part in His plan to bring hundreds of campers to Christ, I was incredibly humbled and my outlook totally changed. I began to be excited to wake up every morning and serve Him with people I loved so much. It was thrilling to be out of my comfort zone of Lubbock, Texas and be in a beautiful place with so many great people who had so many different stories. I loved getting to be myself with them and laugh and dance and cry and work and worship (sometimes terribly because a lot of us including myself were tone deaf) and break rules and just share our hearts with each other. I never experienced anything more beautiful or incredible in my life.

But just as things were going great, I called home one night after the first week had passed and found out that my sweet dog passed away. It was the most unexpected thing considering that she was only 5 years old and was happy and healthy when I left for work crew. Anyone who knows me knows how attached I was to Janet and how special she was to me, but it was hard because the people I was with on work crew didn't understand that and didn't even know her. I spent the whole next day feeling sorry for myself and being so angry that it had to happen while I was at camp; I really just wanted to go home and cry in my mom's arms (pathetic, I know). But of course, God had a plan and drew me closer to Him in that difficult time. While I was vacuuming the next day considering going home to where people understood my pain, I heard God speak to me. He said "MC, you cannot just love me whenever it's easy. I understand your pain more than anyone and want to comfort you." I immediately realized that I shouldn't have been so mad at Him and shouldn't have considered abandoning His plan for me. Now I'm so thankful I was there when it happened so my work and all the joyful people around me could take my mind off the pain and make the grieving process so much easier.

There's so much more I'd love to share but those are the main things God taught me while I was there. I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience but if you got nothing out of this post please get this: nothing will ever make you feel more alive than living a life serving God because that is why you and me and everyone else in the world was created. No matter what hardships or tragedies come your way or no matter how great life is, living for yourself just isn't as awesome as living for God could be! He is the best Father and companion you could find and will always take care of you and bless you if you just surrender yourself to Him. Thanks for reading peeps, love and blessings to each of you. :)

My work crew family

My sweet friend Jade. Her heart for Jesus and ability to make others laugh is so admirable.

My fellow tawashies and laundry girls
My tawashie boss, Cassidy. She was a HUGE blessing.

The housekeeping intern, Jordan. Also a huge blessing.

Some more of my pretty best friends

Gettin down on western night

THE Patrick Burrus. He's pretty neat.

My sweet dog, Janet.

Friday, June 13, 2014

the joyful life

What's up people? Hope everyone is doing great! I'm glad to be back here on my little corner of the internet...days I get to write blog posts are the best days! I'm currently laying in my hammock enjoying a cloudy yet beautiful day and I can't wait to share with y'all! Today's post isn't heavy or super convicting like a lot of my other's just light and meant to make you feel pumped about life!

I know I've told y'all this before but I have always struggled with having a consistent quiet time. I easily forget how important it is and I'm not reminded of just how crucial it is in my life until I start actually doing it again. Well ever since summer started I have had a consistent quiet time almost every morning and man, has it been incredible!! My life hasn't changed drastically since, but there's been so many little changes in my attitude, my outlook on life, and the way I live out each day that all add up and make me feel so stupid for the times I am too stubborn to have a quiet time. Simply giving The Lord 15 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour out of my day is nothing compared to the way He blesses me in return. All this being said, I just want to take this blog post and share with y'all how He's worked in me since I stopped being a baby about sacrificing time for Him.

First off, the fact that I have been motivated to get out of bed every morning at 9 (not even that early) and take my journal and bible out on my patio for a quiet time has nothin to do with me! Before school ended I realized how bad I had gotten at having quiet times and prayed that God would discipline me to start doing it and would increase my desire to grow in my relationship with Him. Low and behold, He was faithful as He always is in answering my prayer and so yeah that's awesome. 

Anyway, the biggest difference having a quiet time has made in my everyday life has to do with how joyful I am. There's this quote that I've seen a million times that says "We have to choose joy and keep choosing it." While that might be true for some people, I learned that for me it's not that I have to choose's that I have to choose God. I have to choose Him over looking at my iphone for an hour when I wake up in the morning. I have to choose Him over getting a little more sleep. I have to choose Him over my own sinful desires every single day. And when I do this, joy comes naturally to me. Sure some days are harder than others to be joyful, but when I begin each day with God and devote my day to Him, it really isn't that hard to be joyful. It's so much easier to appreciate the blessings in my life when I have God on my mind and it's also easier to look at problems as a way to grow closer to Him. Before summer started, there was a long period where I barely ever had quiet time and when I did it wasn't very genuine or meaningful. I didn't appreciate my life or enjoy the people around me, but instead I was irritable, worrisome, and negative. I have found that it's hard to be that way when you have the God of all things beautiful and joyful as your best friend. 

I'm glad God answered my prayer and pushed me to start spending time with Him, because ever since I've been living what I call "the joyful life." The joyful life to me is a life where days aren't wasted. Even if a day is spent being lazy, you're thankful that you have time to rest. Or when a day is spent working, you invest yourself into your work and seek out opportunities to glorify God. If a day goes poorly, you end it knowing that tomorrow is a clean slate and that through everything God is still good. If a day goes great, you know who to thank. Every day, good or bad, has little blessings throughout it and you recognize those blessings. You hug those you love tighter and shoot more smiles to strangers. You don't complain about petty things like the weather or the long wait at the Chick Fil A drive-thru. You recognize other people's beauty instead of their flaws and accept the fact that people are different than you. You know that your home is in Heaven and that worrying about worldly things is a waste of time. You don't get caught up on your mistakes but instead soak up God's grace and grow closer to Him in your weakness. When you live knowing how important spending time with God is, you live the joyful life. It isn't going to be perfect but it's the best kind of life you can live.

Thanks for reading! My prayer for you is that you devote time to God everyday and begin to see your life become the joyful life! :)

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Appropriate Fault in Our Stars quote because the movie rocked.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No sweeter name. No sweeter love.

Hello everyone! Hope all is well with y'all :) This is probably about to be one of my favorite blog posts I have ever written because of the things God has led me to write about so I really hope y'all enjoy it too.

For the past few weeks I have been dwelling on who God really is to me. I've known that I love Him and He loves me and that giving my life to Him was the best decision I ever made but when I was asked a few weekends ago who God really is to me, it was really difficult to put it into words. Since then I've been trying to search for an answer and I've realized that there really isn't a simple answer to that question. God is unlike any person I've met on this earth and His love is unlike any other love I have experienced that I couldn't just say, "He is my father" or "He is my friend."

So here's a little side story that might seem like it has nothing to do with this post but hang in there because I promise it does...kinda. Yesterday was a beautiful day so I decided to take my (morbidly obese) pug on a walk. The first half went great but the second was a nightmare. Every single yard we passed she would stop and lay in the green grass and just would not move. I'd pull on her leash and she would finally get up and walk a little bit but would lay right back down on the next yard. I ended up having to carry this 30 pound dog in my wimpy arms all the way back to my house. Anyway, the reason I bring this up now is that when she would lay down in every patch of green she saw, I was reminded of the Psalms 23:1-3. "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake."

I wasn't near as gracious to my poor lazy dog as The Lord is to us but I am glad that I was led to this scripture. I'd heard it before but for some reason it really meant something to me this time. God is our master and we are meant to serve Him but when we need rest and when we need to just stop and lie down...He lets us. This made me just stop and think about how beautiful and unique The Lord's love for us is. It's different than what we expect it to be because it is completely different than how the world acts. Here's what I mean by that...

He is my master, but also my friend.
He is my judge, but He loves me regardless of my guilt.
He is my father, but He is also intimately in love with me.
He is my guide, but He lets my mind think on its own.
He is my creator, but He lets me decide what kind of person I want to be.

How beautiful is that? I've experienced love from my parents, my friends, my siblings, the leaders/mentors in my life, boyfriends, my grandparents and so many other different people but none of it compares to the love of Christ. His love is like all the different types of love we experience from the world all mixed up and multiplied by infinity. I will never be able to fathom just how great the Lord's love is for me, but the day I understood that He really did love me unconditionally was the day that everything changed for me. As the moody girl I am, I need different types of love at different times and that's why God never fails me. Because He knows exactly what I need when I need it and when I just turn to Him, I get to experience that most beautiful type of love there is.

I hope that y'all understand just how incredible it is to be loved by a God so complex and beautiful and that you fall in love with who He is. Nothing else compares to experiencing it.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38, 39