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Thursday, May 5, 2016

21 in Italy

It's the strangest thing returning to a place after a year- nothing has changed, which makes me acutely aware of the ways in which I have changed.

Something I learned:

"Grace is opposed to earning, not effort."

Something that brings purpose:

"As He died to make men holy, let us live to set them free."


Saturday, February 20, 2016

From Oxford

Dear Daughter,

I've been thinking a lot about purpose lately. College does that to you...or maybe growing up does that to you. I don't know, but I want to know my purpose. I don't mean whether I'm going to be a doctor or a philosopher or a politician or nurse (hopefully I will do none of those things)...I mean my purpose-where my gaze is fixed. My end goal. My aim. I want to know my all-consuming all-encompassing drive.
You see, I think, the moment I surrendered to Jesus, confessed my sin, and admitted that He was God it was a wonderful moment, but it wasn't the end. There will be times when you will have to decide again. No, your eternal destiny does not ride on these moments, but your contentment on earth does. Life is a series of decisions.
If you're like me then, when you're in your twenties, there will be time when the world is REALLY loud. There will be a time when you realize that non-Christians are not necessarily mean and you have a gay guy friend who you love dearly. Maybe you'll like a man who doesn't love Jesus. There will be a time when you're mad at God because hell doesn't make sense and doesn't seem fair. You'll be mad at God because you feel lost-like a little girl who loses her Dad's hand in a crowd and then grabs the wrong man's hand, only to look up to see a stranger's face peering down at her. You'll feel like he has left you alone to figure it out. Nothing seems to be making sense and He doesn't seem to care. You'll feel abandoned.
SO. Here is my note to you during those times....
It is easy to become numb-- numb to curse words, numb to drunkenness, numb to being degraded as a woman, numb to the homeless, numb to the suffering around you, numb to the Holy Spirit speaking to you each day.  At the same time, it is easy to become disillusioned-- disillusioned with other people's goals for you, disillusioned with money and school, disillusioned with other people's priorities that lead you to question your own.
This is hard, but necessary. You see, I don't grow up in the world my parents grew up in. Yes, they still had to chose to follow Jesus, but it was more the status quo. The insults of "bigot" and "intolerant" and "ignorant" were far less common. You, I fear, will grow up in an even more hostile environment. I find myself being so weak...afraid to stand up for the relationship that I claim is most important.
As I've questioned God and my priorities I've realized that I have to choose. More and more each day I have to choose. I have to choose him- to be sold out, surrendered, ready, actively laying down my life, all in. Living and walking with Christ is not one moment with tears kneeling beside your bed. It is a lifestyle that cannot be half-assed (sorry for the language...) . The world doesn't allow you to truly follow Christ and fit in at the same time. This I have realized to a greater degree than ever before here in Oxford. I don't fit in. I just don't fit quite right....and that's okay. I look around and I see people searching for worth in knowledge, in love, in achievement, and in their own abilities. What freedom there is in admitting that I am weak! For freedom Christ has set us free! He is our righteousness, worth, and hope, and He never changes. Do I still question? Yes. But I know that a life spent following Christ is the most fulfilling. I know that He hasn't left me even when my emotions tell me otherwise. He isn't about conventional religion. He is about glorifying Himself through displaying his power in our weakness and bringing us ultimate contentment in the process of surrender.
All this to say- the more I surrender, the more freedom I experience. I'm not sure about anything at this point (I'm only 21 for goodness sakes) but I THINK that your
purpose is found in the surrender.
P.S. Oxford is nice. It rains a lot. I sprained my ankle badly. The accents are wonderful. I study a lot (as expected) although probably not as much as I should. The architecture is breathtaking.

Friday, January 15, 2016

So I don't forget...





Life music: age 21.
James Morrison, James Bay, City and Colour, The Head and The Heart, Regina Specktor, Josh Garrells, Mumford and Sons, Tallest Man on Earth, Adele 25 (duh.), Ellie Goulding Delirium (only song: codes), Augustana, Phil Wickham, NeedtoBreathe, Penny and Sparrow, Bon Iver, Damien Rice, Ray LaMontagne, John Mayer, James Taylor, and the occasional Ed Sheeran song, Sia (song only: elastic heart), Matt Wertz, lastly:slightly embarrassing, but for honesty's sake: Justin Beiber's Purpose

new adventure, different purpose

As I've read back on my blog lately I can't help but laugh...mostly because the issues that felt so life-altering have been put into the perspective that time inevitably brings. As I begin this new adventure in Oxford, England I find myself drawing parallels between current me and the 20 year old girl who flew to Milan only one short year ago- heartbroken, confused, excited, afraid, and eager to experience what the world had to offer. Is it possible to be a different person within the span of a year? It must be. Sanctification is a crazy thing. My posts start out sounding a bit like a person who's lived a long life and is offering some invaluable wisdom, but they become progressively more personal
I read my Bible and pray less, but I love people in a realer (not a word, but I like it) way. And I love Jesus more. This, at times, is incredibly frustrating. 
In high school I had high hopes for 21 year old Anna. She would be praying at least two hours a day and constantly quoting scripture. But, God never works like we plan. In my mind, as my love for God and my knowledge of grace grows, so does time spent with Him. I believe this to be true as a general rule for those with an established faith. However, He has a way of stripping away any source of pride that hinders us from falling on our knees in humble adoration of His accomplishment on the cross. 
In Italy I realized that I didn't want God. I wanted what God gave me. I didn't want to walk with Him, know Him, hear from Him, or sit in the silence to hear about a Love that couldn't be earned...a Love that isn't legitimized by any effort on my part. When I failed I wanted Him to be disappointed until I could work back into favor. 
I could talk about grace all day long, and I did....but never once did I consider its implications. Never once did I ask myself- do I REJOICE? God's grace was enough for THAT person, of course, but it couldn't be enough for me. I couldn't just offer myself to God, bringing nothing. However, I quickly learned that I have nothing of worth to present to the King- my heart wasn't pure.
Yes, this trip will be different than the last. Instead of breaking my perfect lifeless Christian routines and reminding me that I'm human and it's okay to feel things (Thank you Italia), I think He's going to show me how to surrender my humanness to His plan. I think, now that He's allowed me to experience what is empty (the world and everything it offers) I think He's going to show me the beauty of intimacy with Him. I sense this shift from legalism to grace already, and my prayers have shifted from lists to tears...tears of thankfulness and release. All the tears I held in for the sake of "being strong." All the tears from YEARS of attempting to be a "good person" and the disappointments of failure. Tears for my friends who don't yet know Jesus....and, finally, tears because He can handle them. Unlike any man in my family, He can handle tears. 
He waits. He waits for us to come with nothing, eager to embrace us when no one else is.
May we be brave enough to discover our own depravity and fears; and may we turn to see Him waiting.

Monday, November 23, 2015

taking the next step.

Dear Daughter,

I'm now twenty-sitting in the same coffee shop I was when I wrote you a letter at age nineteen. Life updates- I went to see a counselor and it was awesome. I have come to realize that we are all broken (something I've said for a long time, managing, somehow, to exclude myself)- the only difference being the level of our effort to become whole. Through the two sessions I had with a man named Greg, my suspicions were confirmed. I'm just a little girl with feelings who desperately needs validation. The second, and more encouraging discovery is that Christ is enough.
Every family has dysfunction. I hope you get to work through all the dysfunction you will undoubtedly experience in our home. I hope you learn how our failures as your parents affect you today.
Secondly, I learned that sharing your feelings is not only freeing, but necessary. I recently shared my feelings with a guy who I have no romantic interest in (same guy from previous post-yeah, definitely misinterpreted my feelings towards him), but I did, once upon a time, have feelings for him. During that "once upon a time" period, he hurt me. In my pride I refused to admit it, and moved on as quickly as I could. However, Jesus slowly prodded me and softened my heart until I was able to write him a letter. Did I feel like a fool? Absolutely. But I realized it was never about him and it was never between me and him anyways. It was about surrender. It was between me and God, and I knew what He was asking. I hope you overcome the urge to appear stoic and "unaffected" by those hard life events that will rock your world. Sometimes your emotional response will make no sense. It may be one small relationship that causes you to question everything. It's important to note that these seemingly small events/people are simply triggers ...revealing something that is already there, something bigger.
I've been reading Jim Elliot's life and testament: "Shadow of the Almighty" and I'm amazed at that man's devotion-his unwavering discipline. He had one focus: to follow Jesus. He did not see this as part of his life, but an all-encompassing, all-consuming aim that was intimately integrated into his daily life. He was committed. He was surrendered. I fear that I am not this way. I'm reminded of the C.S. Lewis quote that "we are far too easily pleased" and that God "does not find our desires too strong, but too weak." If we desired more out of life, if we demanded the best, then we would seek Christ. I want to want Him more. I want to have this focus. Because, if I believe His Word, then there is truly nothing greater. Nothing better. Nothing more satisfying. Nothing more freeing. Solomon knew this better than anyone- the man who had everything: money, power, and possessions. Yet, at the end of his life, he says, "all is vain under the sun." The key is: under the sun. Beyond the sun is Christ, stretching on for eternity, providing the hope we all seek.
I  hope you are real. I hope you admit when you've been hurt at the expense of your pride. I hope you see Jesus as the prize.
Anyways, I know you're probably yawning. Too long for sure. Check out Mumford and Sons on Youtube. I love them right now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

frustrations and grace.

It's 1:30 in the morning and I've been staring blankly at my Spanish study guide for an hour. I've taken study breaks to run laps around my property, make hot cocoa, eat sweet potatoes, and catch up with an old friend. The test is at 9:30. I'm not feeling too hopeful.
I don't know what it is- I guess that once someone becomes one of "my people" it's hard to transition to having no relationship with them, besides the occasional and obligatory wave as we pass each other in our cars. Dating is confusing and I rarely understand all the emotions and complications that it brings. All I know for sure is that distracts people from studying #annoying

The hardest part of all is surrender. Surrendering control feels as natural as juggling while on a unicycle (Disclaimer: I've never done this, but I imagine it would not feel natural at all). Refusing to contact the guys I miss and refusing to give into self-pity and fear is really hard. Yet, this is what Christ asks, and He is faithful to provide the strength I need to wait upon Him. It is difficult to accept that I feel this much about, what I feel, is so inconsequential. When I consider the problems in the U.S. alone, not even the world, my problems seem quite pathetic. Still, they loom and I am acutely aware of them. Praying a lot that the Lord would take my self-centeredness away and restore my world to be centered around Him. Praying I will be more faithful tomorrow than I was today. Praying that I will love more deeply and listen more carefully. Praying I will learn to be vulnerable and honest. Praying I will overcome my fear of failure and incessant need to perform. Praying He will teach me to abide so that I can bear fruit. Praying that He will captivate my affections and my heart. Praying that I will not stray in pursuit of things and people that cannot satisfy. Praying I will get an A on this test by some miracle and that the hot chocolate will work wonders to keep me awake. Goodbye for now...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

a loving father?

Do our lives reflect the conditions and beliefs of our hearts? I believe they do. A person who truly believes that God is sovereign might remain stressed. A person who truly believes in a loving God may have no peace. However, a person who is certain that He is in control, AND that He is loving and good, will have a sense of peace that will leave the world dumbfounded.
How precious is this? 

"He delights in the welfare of his servants."
"The young lions suffer and want, but those who trust in the Lord lack no good thing." 
"The mountains may depart and the hills be removed but the love of the Lord endures forever."
"Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases" -Psalm 115:3
"I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted."-Job 42:2

Monday, December 8, 2014

If I have a daughter (inspired by wildergrace.wordpress)....

Dear daughter,

I am nineteen, sitting in Inman Perk (one of my favorite spots), drinking a dirty chai tea, finishing up some statistics studying, and thinking of you. I have some advice that I want to tell you while I remember what it's like to be "young" and technically a teenager for one more month. I've learned so much this past year...or maybe I could say that I've experienced so much this year. I'm not sure how much I've learned yet...I leave for Italy soon and am hoping some reflection/listening to Jesus time will bring about wisdom.
For now, this is what I've got:

1. as boys begin to pursue...
-be honest.
-be vulnerable.
-be open.
-be kind.
-remember that (as tough as they seem) boys are more scared and often more sensitive than girls. When they fall, they fall hard. Be careful with their hearts.
-don't compromise your values, or sacrifice the little quirks that make you unique (if he tempts you to, then he definitely isn't the right one)
-Don't make excuses for a boy not pursuing you like a man. His job is to pursue. Don't give him the opportunity to do less. (I would not suggest texting or calling him first)
-choose a man, not a boy. Your dad should teach you the difference.
-Don't dwell on why a guy is or is not pursuing you...take things as they come and for what they are. You are not in control. Do not manipulate. Trust Jesus.
-Lastly, know who you are. This is perhaps my most important point. A man (the best man in the world) can not be your worth. He cannot show you your value. He cannot speak in those quiet moments to your heart. He cannot promise to always be present.
-oh, one last fun fact, men are clueless. Completely and utterly clueless. Shockingly enough, they also cannot read minds. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be open.

2. as life happens...
-cursing isn't classy, neither is kissing boys in bars (unless you're in Ireland for for your bachelorette party)
-Avoid boy bands and new country...it's a slippery slope towards having bad taste in music (stick with James Taylor, the Dixie Chicks, George Strait, and select Tim McGraw songs {alternative bands, and folk music are fun} )
-love your family. Friends and guy friends feel like they'll be there for forever. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Most of them won't. Family is forever.
-you have one body, take care of it. Eat right and work out. I went through a phase of hating my legs, because they are so muscular- I ceased all physical exercise. Stupid. If you have legs like me, enjoy them. Beat boys in foot races, and, when you're older, rock the heels.

3. As you seek after Jesus you will screw up. Know it. Accept it. You are not supposed to be the example. Jesus is the example. People will see where you turn when you fail.

That's all I've got. It's a lot. It's everything I wish I was doing better. The list could/will continue.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

the struggle is real.

There is a common thread among all people between the ages of 18 and 25. We're all wondering, "what is my purpose?" and "will I make a difference?" and "how will I make a difference?" and, lastly, and perhaps the most terrifying, "who am I going to spend the rest of my life with?"
We search and we beg God and we plead with others to speak some profound word that will forever change the course of our lives and send us flying with blinders on into a specific career path. We crave direction. We say things like, "God if you'll tell me, I'll do anything you ask, just tell me what your will is. I'm dying here." We don't want to look back, or get distracted, or feel confused, or second-guess. We want to know and we want to know now. It's funny how our world has managed to make almost everything instant. Elevators. Text messaging. Drive-thrus. Coffee. Snapchat.
We can be entertained in an instant. We can eat in an instant. We can communicate in an instant. But we can't decide our future in an instant. We can't know what the future holds. We can't predict other's actions. We can't know how those decisions will affect us.
Here is my challenge to myself, and to all those other "young adults" out there: don't worry about it. Today is all we have and today is all that's promised. Tomorrow is as unpredictable as the wind, and yesterday is as irreversible as that terrible decision to kiss the boy in your economics class with the massive ego and terrible fashion sense. It's done. Finished. Scrub your lips, wash your hands, and move on.
Know where you've been. Know the type of person you want to be and trust Jesus to help you get there. But, for heaven's sake, don't worry about the future-about where you will be from 9 to 5 in the next four years. Live this day. Notice the beauty in it, recognize the messiness, and rest, knowing that He's more concerned about the direction of your life than you are. If you are trusting and waiting, He won't allow you to miss anything worthwhile.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Daniel Fast: Day 1

Major headache, no energy, and feel angry at people for glancing my way. Let the detox begin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

weakness.

When we're young, it is easy to believe that life progresses as we direct it. The longer we live and the more we experience, we quickly realize that control is nothing but an illusion that quickly collapses, specifically when "bad things happen to good people." Then, we begin to have this sneaking suspicion that life is merely a series of events strung together. Then we live longer, and begin to see patterns. I haven't reached the pattern-realizing stage, but I know people who have. I sat with my grandmother today as the rain pounded the on the windows of her small house. She told me stories of how the "good Lord provided." At first, a felt this was a random monologue comprised of unrelated tales. The stories resolved into tidy endings: endings that, I believed, were simply the byproducts of good fortune. However, as the stories multiplied, I realized a constant theme of faithfulness. Money arriving just in time to pay for my grandfather's caregiving, or the house note, or the grocery bill.
Money was never an issue, until Larry began to show signs of dementia. As he declined in mental stability and his brain succumbed to the damage it received through years of playing professional football, his business decisions became erratic and irresponsible. Friends distanced themselves, confused by my grandfather's actions. The mansion on the river was soon repossessed, forcing my grandmother to find ways to support both herself and her husband. They lived in show houses for almost three years, moving at least 5 times within that time span. At 55 years old, Kay took two college courses to learn computers so she could be an effective administrative assistant and pay the bills. She struggled through the difficulty of her new job. Larry followed her there most days- confused and angry at his inability to provide. Social situations were often unbearable, and resulted in an awkward explanation of my grandfather's condition.
"Eventually, it becomes an adventure-you wake up every morning excited to discover how He's going to get you through another impossible situation."
My grandmother then explained how she'd be up in the most of the night, changing grandfather, only to wake up early to arrive at her minimum wage job on time.
"Somehow, we made it. Barely. I never asked for help unless someone asked. Someone always asked when my situation was most desperate, and then I wasn't too proud to tell them."
Larry Morris died on December 19, 2012.
His life will be a reminder of patterns and design- through life's greatest hardships and most confusing, unfair, and unspeakable tragedies, there is not only hope, but purpose.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

often afraid.

With sweaty palms, heart racing, and a knot in my stomach, I walked to the goal. I had been chosen. My position was center midfield, but when shoot-out time came, I was goalie. Of course. The best time to play goalie. Penalty kicks. I hated them.
I reflect back on the time I played soccer with regret. I never gave it my all. Events in 2009 forever scarred my little ninth grade mind. I feared failure above all else, and, consequently, for the next four years I refused to perform to the best of my ability. I was constantly afraid that it wouldn't be good enough. It was better to know that when my 75% wasn't good enough, it was only my 75%. Being a member of a relatively "successful" family and my Dad's incessant questions about my future didn't help the situation. 
Today, I sit and wonder if I've been doing this on my spiritual journey. What role have I allowed fear to play in my walk through life? 
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."1 John 4:18
How often do I fail to love! To truly love yourself, others, and God himself, fear must be annihilated. Love, in its purest form, is selfless. It is aware, but unconcerned with the possibility of failure and rejection. Love plunges headlong into the deep end. It is honest when the truth is uncomfortable. Love encourages, without fear of appearing uncool or being unappreciated. Love refuses to be indifferent, even when others are. Love sacrifices for the benefit of friends, family, and enemies. Love leaves it all on the field. The only way this can become a reality in our lives is if we can grasp that we are truly known and irreversibly accepted by the One who perfected love on the cross. Only from that place of security can we draw the strength we need to love. No reserves. No retreats. No regrets. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

nothing clever

So... I re-read my last post and was a little shocked. I may have been a little dramatic, but whatever. Exaggeration makes for a better read, right?
Got back from Seattle around 12:45 this morning. I have orientation tomorrow at my new school. I may change my major from nursing to international affairs with a minor in Arabic. Maybe. I don't know, but I have to decide in the next six hours. It's 3:45 and I can't sleep.
Basically, life is still full of decisions.
Getting the sense that this process of consciously trusting Jesus will never end. I just hope it gets easier!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Deborah

"Can you hear me?!"
"Are you okay?" 
"My name is Anna. I have some medical training. Would you like help?"

These were my words as I assessed "patients" during wilderness first aid training. The key word here is "some."  It was lunch break during the second session of a two session training seminar, and I drove the short distance to Taco Bell. We had an hour, so I brought in my Bible to do some reading. I sat down in the nearly empty restaurant. A man sat down in the booth in front, facing me. Another man set to my left, his eyes locked in my direction. It was silent, except for some obscure punk-rock band playing softly in the background. Needless to say, it wasn't really my scene. I noticed some tables outside, so I quietly slipped out of my seat and made my way towards the door. 
A woman asked me if I had a light. 
I noticed her wrinkles, overdone makeup, and frizzy hair, and then politely replied that I did not. 
I took the table next to hers.
"How are you today?" 
She looked surprised.
"I'm fine. How are you?" 
"Doing well...so what's with the suitcase?"
"I just bought it from a thrift store. I'm hoping to move soon." 
The conversation progressed. Then, there was a pause.
"Tell me about your faith." 
"Oh...well, I'm a Christian. God holds me together. He carries me through the days." 
"Cool. So what's your story?"
Deborah then told me about her childhood. How her mother loved Jesus, and how her father did not. He was a hard worker, she said, but he drank, gambled, and cheated on her mother weekly. When she was in school, her teachers asked her why she kept falling asleep in class. She told them it was because she was afraid her father would kill her mother while she was sleeping. She would come home from school to the blood they had tried to clean up. She has memories of her Dad grabbing her Mom by her hair, and beating her in the face repeatedly. 
Her 63 year old hands quivered as she wiped her eyes.
"But I know the Lord loves me. I know my Mama is in heaven, and I hope my Daddy is too."
There was a dignity to this woman. I knew she had a hard life, but she woke up, did her make up, bought herself a suitcase, and took herself out to lunch. 
My lunch break was over.
I prayed with her before I left, and gave her my devotional. 
We parted with tears in our eyes. 
A forty five minute interaction and I will never be the same. I can't wait to see her in heaven...a string of little moments. That's all we have. Little moments that make up the story of our lives. 


Friday, June 13, 2014

summer lovin'

Arnold Palmers, boiled peanuts, front porch rocking, magnolias booming, and lots of physical labor- summer has officially arrived in Chestnut Mountain. Most of my days are spent driving a truck or riding my horse.
There is something so refreshing about going back to the basics. I didn't realize how complicated my life at school had become until I came back home. There are no complicated relationships. Friendships don't take work. Church isn't even a decision. Noise is minimal. This was exactly what I needed. Although I still have no idea what I want out of life, somehow that feels okay here. Yes, the simplicity of home is a beautiful thing. I am relearning to appreciate a blue sky, a random thunderstorm, a pair of solid levi jeans, a next-door neighbor's consistent wave, and easy Christ-centered relationships (that I'm beginning to realize are very rare). Thank you, Jesus, for all the simple joys. May I never forget to notice.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

new favorite quote

"By trying to grab
fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere." -Elizabeth Elliot


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Doubt.

It's funny- I finished reading the entire Bible on April 31st, and now I find myself doubting like crazy. All I know in this moment is that Jesus is either nothing or everything. He can't be in-between. He either demands no attention, or all attention. No devotion, or all our devotion. I have to be either hot or cold. Why is it so difficult to trust his goodness?


peace amid the wandering

I went to Jamaica (reminded that loving Jesus is literally the most important aspect of life).
My sister is married (now I have a weird sense that my husband could be anywhere...kind of creepy).
I decided to finished school in five years instead of four (which is currently making me feel like a failure at life, but whatever.)


Everything is happening so fast. Why does life fly along like a kite in a hurricane? It isn't this easy breeze in a hot air balloon that allows you to appreciate the moment or your surroundings. It is a whirlwind of confusion that moves at warp speed. So often I find myself walking around like a chicken with its head cut off (such vivid imagery... Why do we use that phrase?)
Perhaps these events aren't racing by, but maybe I'm failing at slowing down.
I am now deciding to return to waking up an hour early to make myself breakfast and listen to what God has to say to me for my day. Otherwise, I know I'll continue on this self-absorption trajectory that tends to result in destructive thought patterns. I'm not perfect. I never will be. I'm not worth all these endless thoughts, but He is.
Jesus once said that our relationships with those we love most should look like hate in comparison to our love for Him (paraphrasing of course). I can't imagine this ever being reality in my life, although I pray that one day my heart will be consumed with that sort of devotion. In light of His sufficiency, I can be content in spite of my glaringly obvious imperfections.




Wednesday, May 7, 2014

reality

Life is a painful, beautiful, emotional roller coaster that leaves us gasping for breath, dying to find a sense of purpose, someone to love, and someone to love us back. Thankfully, we can strap on our seat belts and rest, because nothing surprises Jesus. In fact, we know that he uses all the good...and the bad for some great purpose we will get see one day. Some days I wish I could see the blue print as I'm crying out for understanding in the midst of seemingly unbearable rejection and circumstances. He is enough-always enough. My doubt does not change His sufficiency.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Conundrums (what a great word)

I'm sitting under a portico, watching the rain fall and drinking a cup of coffee while listening to some girl talk about her problems with birth control.
Today I felt a sense of panic when I thought about working in a hospital all day. I hope this is normal during finals week. I don't mind hard work. In fact, I think I've been a hard worker all my life. I just don't like working for something I'm not sure I want to earn.  A wise person once said to "get trained for something you can use, not your hobby."

Joy is a choice. This I know, but why is it that so often my dreams seem in direct conflict with what is expected? I guess all this deep thought is pointless, because here I sit, outside Social Sciences waiting for history class to begin. No matter how badly I want to break the mold, I know I will go to class. I will apply to nursing school. I will graduate. Why? For whom? I'm not entirely sure. I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Alvin

There is an incredible human being on Kennesaw State's campus. If you came here, you probably wouldn't recognize him. You'd walk up, order your eggs, and be slightly surprised when he asked, "how are you?"
But, after a while, you'd get used to that as well, because he asks you every morning.
You would notice his name tag that says "Alvin"
You wouldn't know that he runs a homeless ministry.
You wouldn't know that he used to be homeless himself.
You wouldn't know that he loves Jesus deeply.

All you'd notice is a smiling stranger who stands resolutely joyful despite a seemingly monotonous occupation. I think we would all do well to take his advice-- "you have to learn to look for God in all the little things."
Every smile.
Every face.
Every struggle.
Every doubt.
Every worry.
Every uncertainty.
Every soul.
You see, there is little bit of God in every person. He created humanity in his image, and if you look closely, you can see glimpses of His beauty, though often tainted by the ugliness of sin.
If you took the time to look, you'd see God in Alvin.
He uprooted a glaringly obvious flaw in my character, and I will forever be grateful. He reminded me that I fail to truly see people. I fail to take the time to invest in every person my path crosses. So often I rush through my day, my thoughts racing ahead, leaving no room to notice the present and the people that surround me.
I've been made aware, once again, that true joy can only be found as you live in the moment, cherishing every opportunity by intentionally striving to make an impact.
Today I'm feeling thankful for the example of this faithful Jesus follower.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

distraction

I don't mean for this to be a depressing post, but even as I write this I know it will be, because I can't imagine how to end in a positive way. Lately the only time I take to write freely is when something is wrong, or I feel too weak and discouraged to speak my thoughts aloud. In case some poor soul is reading this, I apologize. You should probably stop reading at this point, because I'm about to continue.
Humans are funny--we all have a need to feel loved, but deep down we know we cannot be loved until we are truly known, and so we begin a quest. It's a quest to be heard, and understood, and, ultimately, loved. If you don't have this sense of need, there is most definitely something wrong.
The question is, "what do you do with this seemingly bottomless pit of desire?"
For me, the answer has become painfully obvious in the past few weeks.
Once again I find myself reminded (in not such a fun way) that Jesus is the only one who cares to know every detail of my life, and loves me perfectly despite knowing all the gritty details.
 People will leave, stop loving, stop caring, stop being, but He remains.


All I know is this- if I had the kindest, most caring, selfless, and overall best human being as a husband, that pit would not be filled. It may be for a week, a month, maybe even a few years, but he would fail. Regardless of when he let me down, the questions would become:
 "where is my hope? Where will I find my love?
Yes, I have been distracted. I have been seeking for love in all the wrong places. I have sought to be known by boys. I have been selfish. The truth is, the more I think about me, the more dissatisfied I become. I'm ready to listen, to care more about others than myself, and to rest, once again, in the arms of Jesus.

There I know I will find purpose beyond temporary pleasure. I'm so glad He's waiting.

Monday, March 24, 2014

a quick update

My schedule is crazy and I have every reason in the world to be stressed.

I have...

-A chemistry test on Wednesday
-A world history midterm on Wednesday
-An english paper due on Wednesday
-A political science paper due on Wednesday
-An interview for a job on...you can guess

I also have no idea where/who I'm living with next semester. I booked a plane ticket for Miami on a day I have a test I forgot about and haven't prepared for (U.S. History on Tuesday).

...But I'm choosing to trust, and it's been a weird-awesome experience. God already gave my professor a merciful spirit and he's letting me take the U.S. test after spring break. I look forward to relaying how He carries me through this trying time in His faithfulness.  I want to be able to look back on this time and His provision. He is faithful when we rely on him to provide for all of our needs.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

things I've learned in February

-boys are confusing
-when you go running by yourself late at night you get yelled at by obnoxious fraternity guys and break your ankle
-joy is a choice
-loving can be difficult
-community is necessary
-family is a worthwhile investment
-apologizing goes a long way in relationships
-it's easier to preserve your pride than to pursue experiencing/accomplishing something great by being vulnerable
-I should be vulnerable
-chocolate wins. Every time.
-flowers improve mood
-boys are sensitive
-being kind is a struggle when you're scared
-be kind anyways
-discipline is impossible without the right motivation

Saturday, February 15, 2014

questions

Do you know what you believe? And if you know, do you care enough to investigate further? And if you believe and investigate, do you live it out?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"When I am faithless, He remains faithful."

Today, I'm very aware that Jesus is so much better than anything else. When this feeling flees and hard times inevitably arrive, I hope I will continue to remember the One who never leaves nor forsakes. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

wise words from unexpected places

"We accept the love with think we deserve."

-The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"The opposite of love is indifference."

-The Lumineers

Saturday, February 1, 2014

rivers, woods, and mountains

Is it possible that we're actually closer to God when we're surrounded by nature? Maybe not, but I know it's therapeutic for my soul.


Friday, January 31, 2014

the beauty of reality.

Today I will put on cover up because my face is currently littered with blemishes. Thousands of girls will take pictures of themselves and edit them until all flaws are virtually invisible. Instagram filters will romanticize their surroundings. The finished product will express a confident woman with incredible skin, a bright smile, and great hair who does amazing activities in her spare time. Beneath the facade is a little girl who is trying to be seen and heard and loved. Men will take pictures in the mirror, flaunting whatever muscle they possess, hoping to be noticed and respected.  In one hand-held device we have the ability to glorify and flaunt a life that we don't live. This kind of power is scary. We can easily live two lives. One is relatable, the other intimidating. One offers hope, the other encourages envy. One has the ability to be bold and confident, while the other is a means of gathering courage and confidence from the affirmation and appreciation of other people. 
The point is, we desire perfection. We seek after it like gold. At times we can avoid vulnerability by showing only the best version of ourselves, while the messiness of day-to-day living remains hidden.
I don't own a smart phone, and this is not because I'm cool and too hipster for trendy gadgets like iPhones. It's because I don't believe I'm strong enough. I fear my tendency to seek acceptance from the wrong places. 
Striving for perfection is my attempt to be good enough---an attempt to be self-sufficient. 
Imperfection necessitates God's intervention. As Christians, we should be the most vulnerable of all people. 
 If Jesus is so dear to our hearts, then what gave Him that place of importance? Yes, it's the very word we hate--imperfection. 

There's no hope for a hurting world in fake lives. So let's be real, Christians. Let's stop hiding behind perfect pictures. Let's not hide our blemishes, hurts, scars, and our struggles, for those drew us to Truth--the very pains that led us to the cross where Jesus gave us His perfection in exchange for our belief and surrender. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

song of my thoughts

this pretty much sums up how I'm feeling about God and someone else in my life right now:

...kind of dramatic I know. I don't feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest like the illustration above^^ Just to clarify.

striving to rest



A repetitive theme in my life is the inability to rest. My mind is running on high alert. I'm trying to slow down. The moment I sit still, I think of a million productive activities I could be doing. It is truly exhausting. I don't think it's normal for rest to require discipline and work. Learning to lean on Jesus, and desperately searching for a way to accept His grace. I want so badly to feel like I've earned it, but the reality is that I cannot earn His favor. I simply must accept and rest in the mystery of His delight in me as His daughter. This I'm finding to be very difficult.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

another day

"His mercies are new every morning." He is as faithful as the dawn. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

hello?

Air force or civilian life?
Stay where I am or move colleges?
Nursing or law enforcement?
I have so many questions and so few answers.
I often wish that God would thunder down a loud, unmistakably clear answer. In that case, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, I know I would do whatever He asked. As it is, it would seem that He remains silent--I know He cares less about what I do and where I go than He does about the posture of my heart, but I would really love some specific direction right about now.
Do you ever wish God worked like an ATM?
Do you ever treat Him like one?

...I do sometimes. 
Unfortunately and thankfully, He doesn't work the way I sometimes beg Him to. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

fate

So there I stood, in the sandwich line, contemplating white or wheat when a voice spoke up from behind me:
"Is this the only place to eat around here?"
I turned to find a  tall man with a military haircut and a very confused look on his face.
I smiled.
He smiled back.
"I just arrived here. This is my first semester at school."
Next thing I knew, we were seated outside, eating our sandwiches together, and I was telling him everything freshmen know about my University...which, as it turns out, isn't much.
"...so are you religious?"
My head snapped up from my almost-empty bag of chips.
"um...I wouldn't call myself religious. I'm more...spiritual."
"but you're a Christian?"
"Yes."
The conversation progressed and I began sharing what I know about my faith. He would ask questions and relate painful stories about combat in the war, and I would answer and listen carefully to the hurting man's past.
Two questions he asked stuck out in my mind:

1. What about the people stranded on an island who've never heard about Jesus? Do they just go to hell? What's the deal with hell anyway?

This, I thought, was a God-thing, because I've struggled with this question more than any other in my walk with Jesus. I told Brent what I had come to conclude without being entirely sure about my answer.
"I think that God can reveal himself through His Creation (Romans 1). I know that God is loving and He desires that all come to know Him. I think that there are people who believe that Jesus is the Son of God that we haven't discovered. That said, ultimately, because we aren't perfect, we're separated from the perfect God. We deserve hell, because we constantly reject God in favor of our own desires. He would have to deny His own perfection to accept us in that state. Therefore, in His great love for every single human life, he sent his only Son to die...and anyone (really anyone) can choose to let Jesus' record of perfect cover their record of imperfection and every sin they will ever commit. It's a story of mercy and grace, not a story of condemnation; all they have to do is believe and take the first step toward following Jesus. To answer his question, I had to answer yes, those people go to hell if they do not choose Jesus. I don't understand it, but I've experienced God's goodness and I know that He is good and He is just. It isn't just that any of us should receive eternal life in paradise. It isn't just that I should have the option. Hell is just."
Brent was a little disconcerted with my answer, and so was I, but I felt a strange sense of confidence that what I said was truth.

2. Isn't Christianity narrow-minded and arrogant? How can you say all those other religions are wrong?

I surprised myself with this answer...it literally came from nowhere.

"It's an awfully small god who's willing to share glory with all the other gods that are out there. I want to worship a God so big, powerful, and worthy that He's unwilling to share that glory with any other. People say Christianity is a narrow mindset, but I think they're being narrow-minded when they claim that one way to heaven couldn't possibly exist."

Every answer was the result of a lot of wrestling with God and seasons of doubting His goodness. Many tears contributed to those conclusions. It was so fun to discuss religion with someone who was open. I have no idea where Brent is right now, but I'm thankful to have met him.

By the way, I chose wheat.

Monday, January 13, 2014

happiness and daisies

My birthday was about a week ago. It was incredibly anti-climatic. Nineteen just isn't a very exciting age. I still can't have a beer with friends (legally) and I can't own a gun. So what can I do? Well, I've been thinking about it, and there are a few things that are great about being nineteen...
1. I get to walk with Jesus one more year
2. I have another year to meet new faces
3. It's 365 days of trying new coffee flavors
4. Another season of new life experiences (hopefully caving and a visit to Ireland)
5. I get to enjoy snow, watch spring arise and the leaves change
6. It's one more year of friendship with some very dear people
7. Lastly, on my birthday I always receive daisies--and very few things in this world make me happier.

Friday, January 10, 2014

hmm

I'm often caught between relationships and adventure. I want to experience life. I want to sky dive, backpack through South America and Europe. I want to climb an impossibly high mountain. I want to take a road trip across the United States. I want to get paid to take pictures, write stories, and travel. I want to study abroad.

...and then I think about it. I think about the relationships I'd sacrifice. I think about the people I'd miss. I think about the value in hard work and learning to be content.
At times maybe I really do believe the grass is always greener on the other side...I should work on that.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

back

I had my first day of Spring semester classes today, and so naturally I had to resume my blogging to delay doing anything productive. There in-lies my thought. Is it really counterproductive?

I sat in World History today and was fascinated by my Professor who claimed that we had all forgotten how to think...specifically Americans. Interestingly enough, I had heard that thought only days before at a conference.

I believe that, living in an instantaneous society, we've forgotten how to rest and how to learn. I'm reminded that true learning has much more to do with resting, reading books, and thinking than a grade point average.
I want to become intellectual. I want to care less about grades and more about learning.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

typical tuesday

I didn't do much social media in high school. Now that I'm in college, I have a Facebook that I use as an excuse to not do anything. It would seem that it's time to take a break.
Missing the mountains. 
In other news, I'm going to be at school four days after the University shuts down- eating Raman noodles and cereal. I work Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday and I'm hoping it's slightly less eventful than my first shift. 
Are there people in your life who you see and you want to say a million things to, but nothing comes out? When they walk away, you can't decide if you would've changed anything, or if you would've just sat there and said nothing again. I have people like that. It's true that "some things are better left unsaid." ...even if it may relieve you to say them in the moment. Then again, we should be sure it isn't our stubborn and prideful selves being afraid of vulnerability, because vulnerability inevitably leads to either acceptance or rejection, and many would claim rejection is a tragic fate. 

I hope you had a happy Tuesday! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

real talk

I spent some time with my best friend today and we officially decided that doing the right thing sucks sometimes. I guess no one promised it would be easy. Some days the path just seems a little rockier and  narrower than usual.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

not sleeping

I don't sleep much these days.
My mind is preoccupied with unwanted thoughts. Why is it that I often want the things I can't have, and I  don't want the things I should?
"don't you think that daisies are the friendliest flower?"
Absolutely, Meg Ryan. 
I've decided that the suburbs of Atlanta are clouding my mind. I started work on Friday. I almost ate a deep fried rubber band (not my fault), I did the wobble with some drunk people, I dropped a napkin on a man's dessert, and I walked out at 2 a.m. Still, I'm thankful to have a job.
I wish I had some inspirational thought tonight, but I don't. Life is hard sometimes and occasionally I wish I had someone to bring me daisies and Hershey's chocolate bars when it all becomes overwhelming.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

listen to this as you read... just because.




meandering

I'm a people watcher. Big time.
Right now...
A boy wipes his face with tired hands as he stares despairingly down at his papers.
Someone scrolls through social media while their notes sit unstudied on their lap.
The pizza maker flirts with an unsuspecting girl who fills her plate with garlic rolls and smiles distractedly.

They're all headed in a direction.  They're headed to finals, and then eventually to graduation, and then eventually to a job, and probably, down the road, to a mini-van with four kids.
We often have plans, but we don't always have dreams. Sometimes we let society choose our plans, sometimes we let our parents, expectations, or logic, but I think that the future should belong to our dreams (as Disney Channel as it sounds...)
For the moment, I'm feeling a little aimless and thinking maybe it's okay to wonder. Maybe it's okay to explore until I figure it out. Maybe a little wandering is good for the soul.
Dreaming often involves failure, always involves faith, and sometimes involves pain, but it leaves no room for regret-and for that reason, I think it's worth it.

May we be brave enough to do what it takes to discover what we want.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

stupidity

Do you ever say things you shouldn't? I do...all the time. They can be the truest statements in the world, but they're also completely unnecessary. Why do I say them anyway? Recently I've realized that I'd rather say unnecessary (maybe hurtful) things, than feel like I'm left humiliated and unloved. It would seem that I'm perfectly willing to be unkind if it means preserving my pride and satisfying my desire for vindication. Tears dry, pain dulls, but apparently my ego is too fragile to heal. The ironic part is that the Lord of the universe allowed himself to be humiliated to the point of going to a cross, and I can't seem to get over a little indifference.

Monday, December 2, 2013

time

It's finals week! I literally haven't picked up a book to study. I just can't believe it's already here. It seems like yesterday I arrived at Kennesaw State with an incredible amount of expectation. First semester is drawing to a close, despite my doubt, and I'm hoping that a sense of urgency will overtake my current state of apathy. Time is flying by faster and faster (the old people are right)--the days often seem slow, but months pass like a breath.
May we learn to cherish every moment, knowing that there is something to learn or appreciate in every menial task...every rainy cold Monday.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

mistakes

A few days ago I went home, and I made a
mistake. It was a busy weekend, but the few free hours I had, I spent sitting in an old barn with my horse sleeping on one side and my dog sleeping on the other. In that moment I was content. There was a sense of peace that cannot be described with the written (typed?) word.
The peace didn't last, and next thing I knew I was swept into a nasty whirlwind of discontent. It came like a wave, and I felt like I was sinking--like I was being left behind while the world was experiencing  new and exciting things. I became weary of doing good. My faith faltered, and I lost all belief in what I had previously known to be true. Within a day or two, I was pursuing something I didn't want, because I simply wanted to feel something. I craved excitement, the thrill of the unknown and the unexplored.
The excitement was real for a moment, but it was fleeting. I'm left feeling empty.
I'm sickened by how often I run towards things (people, Netflix, food, morality) for comfort, satisfaction, and distraction when I know the source of everything good.
May our relationship with Jesus become so personal that we are unwilling to compromise it.

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
-Galations 6:9

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." -2 Cor. 12:9

Thursday, November 28, 2013

thankful for the random.

Today I'm thankful for:
1. The new-found ability to plow through awkward conversation until it becomes comfortable
2. The beauty of a simplistically designed house
3. Little girls with bows in their hair who remind me that life isn't as serious as I make it out to be
4. Security separate from people's affirmation, appreciation, or affection
5. Pumpkin cheesecake, corn casserole, and mashed potatoes
6. A warm fire, a cheesy movie, four dogs, and family
7. Unfailing love
8. Possibilities
9. The arrival of Christmas decorations
10. Southern accents, sweet tea, and hospitality

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

forever changed

There's a question I've never been able to answer...
"What's your favorite movie?"
Mission accomplished. I have an answer.
It's Elizabethtown. Watch it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

homeward bound

Because I begin every blog by telling you where I am and what I'm doing, I won't stop now. I'm on my way home for Thanksgiving break, but I couldn't resist the urge to find a spot to read with a Chai latte. Consequently, I'm sitting in a cozy coffee shop/book store on a leather couch, staring out at the wet coldness outside. Have you ever wanted something so bad it almost physically hurts? When it finally happens there is a strange mixture of euphoria and dread all at the same time? Part of you knows it's all wrong, but another side of you doesn't care. If you're still tracking with me, then I just thought I'd share some invaluable information about this condition.
Pray.
That's all you can do. Pray like hell that somehow God changes your mind and your heart. If not, that He would simply take the wheel--rip all control from your hands before you lose all faith that His best is your best.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

a coffee kind of christianity

Two exams down, a headache from staying up too late, and I'm sitting under a tree. My tree. Yes, I have a tree. It's a beautiful magnolia located right at the center of campus. There's a man in a janitor's uniform trying to hacky sack, but I think he's new at the game. It's almost as if he's desperate to find something he enjoys after a long day at work. I understand. The sun is streaming through a tree with orange leaves and it's casting colorful shadows over my boots causing me to wonder at God's creativity. I had a deep conversation with a dear friend today, and it resounded in my soul and thrust me into thought. Therefore, I naturally wandered to my thinking tree with a cup of coffee and my computer to tell you about these probably not-so-interesting thoughts.
There is a disturbing sect within Christianity today. It's a flannel-wearing, C.S. Lewis reading, coffee shop inhabiting, tattoo acquiring, lets-be-different, outdoor equipment collecting type of Christianity (why you need outdoor equipment to sit in a coffee shop I'll never understand). Dim the lights, light the candles (we must set the mood), sway back and forth as someone leads us in a chorus that repeats itself a million times. Where have we gone wrong? When did the focus shift from daily picking up our cross and following Jesus to comfort and coffee at all costs? When did we begin chasing a feeling rather than the Savior? When did we exchange the doctrine of a holy God and an urgent gospel for the study of complex doctrines and the reading of popular preachers? When did the strangest statements become the "deeper" and more profound? 
None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but combined into a lifestyle they beg a question. Is this attractive? Is this what the world is searching for? Is this what the world needs? The answer is no. No, there is nothing intriguing about this new religion. In fact, it's practically stereotypical. This is a faith that creates a self-centered, self-absorbed, self-help, reflective, introspective type of walk. Wear certain clothes, buy unhealthy amounts of coffee, read the right authors, and have a defense for your position on predestination. If you can check all of this off your list, then congratulations, you made the club. The truth is, this is just another way to live for yourself--it only looks better from the outside. I think Paul would laugh from his prison cell. Jesus is experienced best when we follow his commandments, not when we talk about them. Hardship is guaranteed, but therein true joy is found as we know we do not labor in vain. We don't have to be poor, we don't have to deny our "normal" lives, but we redeem the simple things, we give our all when we don't feel like it, we follow and obey Jesus in the littlest areas of our lives. That is what the world needs--not a faith that causes us to withdraw from our reality, but a faith that practically applies to any and every part of reality. May we begin to live out this faith and show the world the hope we have in Christ. I love C.S. Lewis, coffee shops, flannel, outdoor equipment, new ideas, and, yes, tattoos. So lets enjoy it all, but may the world be struck by our outpouring of love, service, and dedication in all the mundane of the day-to-day. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

friday night

I just finished my classes for the day, and the weekend has officially arrived. I'm not feeling particularly social, but contemplating taking myself out on a date tonight. I bet you're thinking that's really pathetic. Here's the pathetic part: I'm really excited about it...a $7 dinner somewhere old, a good book, and a steaming cup of coffee. That's my kind of Friday night.


I'm thankful for:
1. beautiful fall trees
2. smiles from strangers, 
3. soy milk when you're trying vegan
4. laughter
5. girls who inspire me to dress better
6. clothes 
7. friendly commons employees
8. possibilities
9. friends who care deeply
10. God's sovereignty
11. legs that work
12. diversity and the beauty in every face

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gratitude

A wise person once said, "gratitude makes everything enough." I feel like this must be true. As Paul sat in prison he said, "in all circumstances, I've learned to be content." How? It can only be the result of perspective. He saw his circumstances in light of eternity. In light of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. In light of who he was in Christ.
Forgiven.
Loved.
Accepted.
Chosen.
Treasured.
A saint.
Guaranteed a future without pain or sorrow.
Beloved.
Yes, in light of this, I can't find much to be negative about. Can you?


Friday, October 18, 2013

college.

The air is crisp and the leaves are changing. Pumpkin spice lattes are back. Girls are breaking out the boots. Fall is now officially here, and I'm missing home more than ever.
 I'm sitting in the only Australian Bakery I've ever heard of. Country music is playing softly in the background, and it feels good to be away from campus and school. Although I could easily use three or four hours of studying, instead I'm choosing to sit here. I'm just going to sit, sip my coffee, eat my meat pie and soup, and watch the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy. As much as I love that show, I'm wishing I had a good book...maybe a romance. I'm convinced they're good for the soul. Maybe I'll try to find a used book store.
If I could be anywhere at this moment, I'd be on my horse, wandering through the woods with no destination in mind. That's the problem, I think. There's always a destination. Always something we're working towards, but the destinations never seem to end. It's just one after the other. Some days I feel like everyone else is moving on and I'm falling behind, desperate to slow down and enjoy simple pleasures.

Fun fact about college for your day: it steals your water bottles. I can't find two of mine. I don't know what KSU is doing with them. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

part of my heart in africa

Sometimes it can be hard to describe life's experiences...
The trip was wonderful.
God is revealing how fallen I am apart from His grace.




Tuesday, July 16, 2013

love.

This year I have been on a quest.

I've been searching for thoughts about love.

Jesus said that it was the most important aspect of a Christian's life.

The greatest commandment: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The second greatest: love your neighbor as yourself.

As yourself.

Wow.

That's a lot sometimes, isn't it?

Heard a good quote about it today: "It is the very nature of love to forget itself for the sake of others. It takes their needs and makes them its own. It finds real joy in living and dying for others as Christ did."

Sometimes true love requires total denial of what we really want.

That's true in our relationship with Jesus. Because we love him, we have to deny the desires of our flesh.

The beauty of it all is that we can do this, with full confidence that our heavenly reward is waiting and the Father is watching.

May we all have the courage to live out His desires....and begin living what He's already working in us.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

fyi

Dear Blog Reader,

If you were with me right now we'd be sitting on my roof watching the stars. I saw a shooting star tonight, but I forgot to make a wish because I was too deep in thought. What was I thinking about? I'm glad you asked...

It didn't look quite this awesome
There are two types of people in this world (there are really a lot more, but for the sake of making this statement more dramatic we'll go with it) -the kind that wear their emotions on their sleeves and the kind that don't.

I don't...it's probably unhealthy the amount I don't.

I feel like the Lord is showing me that I need to be more vulnerable.

...even typing the word "vulnerable" makes me anxious. This could take some serious work.

In other news:
-I'm now officially excited about South Africa.
-time moves too fast
-I need to start thinking about college and buying kitchen supplies...ahhhh


Monday, July 8, 2013

quote for your day

"If we really believed that God meant what He said, just imagine what we would be like! Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He says He will be?"

Sunday, July 7, 2013

a new hobby, jesus thoughts, and time

I haven't blogged in almost two weeks. Therefore, I'm taking this opportunity to go a little crazy and post twice in one day.

I have officially gathered all the necessary equipment to become a hard core climber. My oldest brother is teaching me the ropes (pun intended). I'm excited to see what becomes of this endeavor. Ever since sports have ended, I've been searching for a new way to stay active. I'll let you know how it goes!

So I leave for South Africa in two weeks, and after that I'll be off to college. I'm trying to be excited, but I don't feel anything. I don't know why...

I heard a good devotional thought today.

The more time we spend with Jesus, the larger he becomes in our lives. We begin to sense His presence and sufficiency deeper than before. However, when we allow busyness, distractions, and "life" to take us away from being intentional in prayer and reading the Scripture, He becomes a seemingly small and unimportant part of our lives. Our perception of people begins to seep into our perception of Jesus.

So true.

I've been very distracted lately, and I could hardly tell you why. It feels like a random combination of people, task lists, and agendas.

May the depth of His love, His goodness, and His common grace propel us to set aside some time to listen as He speaks.

Trying to learn to surrender time.

sisters

They're the ones you talk to about everything. They're great listeners, and great talkers. They're easy to laugh with, and easy to cry to. They're okay in silence, and join with you in loud obnoxious outbursts.
They're late night coffee runs. They're a movie night with a year's supply of chocolate. They're workout partners and fellow diet procrastinators. They're the listeners of a million things you probably shouldn't have said...your greatest secret holders. They're one of your dearest friends and inevitably your maid of honor. They're your personal cosmetologist, fashion advisor, and dating coach.

I'm thankful for mine!




Thursday, June 27, 2013

wishing

114 dollars to be in paradise. Mumford and Sons are going to be in Atlanta. I'm so tempted to buy a ticket...but they're so expensive.

Save.

I have to remember to save for college.

Don't worry, Mumford. We'll meet someday.




Saturday, June 22, 2013

boys, dating, and the like

Had a date with Jesus today. Life has been a crazy mix of work, friends, and family. It was so nice to escape to a field and let my thoughts go. I sat in a field, leaning against Daisy (my '98 lexus) with a cup of coffee in my hand and watched the sunset.

It's amazing how often I've said that He's enough, but how rarely I rest in that truth. 

Today, I rested. 

I've felt so joyful and content lately...not always happy, but I've definitely been joyful. For instance today I dug through a dumpster looking for the phone I lost, sprained my ankle, and screwed up several orders at work. Needless to say, I've had easier days. Somehow though, it was marked with a sense of peace.

I'm being reminded that, as Christians, our satisfaction is entirely separate from our circumstances. What a spectacular truth!

I feel so free to pursue whatever God wants for my life. I've dated different boys, but I'm okay if a relationship isn't in His plans for me. He is enough to satisfy. Every time. 

There is so much freedom in that realization. There's freedom to love people without worrying about what they think. There's freedom to be yourself. I think girls panic that they'll be alone, and so they pursue boys relentlessly, but Solomon urges us to, "not awaken love until it pleases." May we learn to rest in the single life!
Today I was reading in Romans where Paul says to "love one another with brotherly affection." That's our call, and so that's what I'm trying to do...with every single person my path crosses.

 It's silly to think that I care more about who I spend the rest of my life with than my Creator does! He holds every detail in His hand. I will go full steam ahead with life:  college, nursing school, some big city for a while, and missions in a 3rd world country...and if I can fit a few dates in, so be it.