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Great Expectations

“… so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:9

I actually had the idea for this blog several months ago, but didn’t ever know how to really articulate it until now. The New Year seemed like as good a time as any to talk about expectancy and hope and goodness.

I’ve never been huge on New Year’s Resolutions- I used to make a few each year, but I’m better with short-term goals. (Weekly, Monthly, etc.) In 2016, I was with a group of friends for New Year’s, and we ended up writing out prayers over our year. We were actually encouraged to pray big prayers. Scary ones. Prayers that required boldness and faith and challenged us. I did. And throughout the year, they were answered. They didn’t all happen directly within 2016, but several years later when I looked back; I realized God had addressed each of those areas in my life, and it was beautiful. They weren’t all obvious, in fact, most of them were too subtle to notice until I moved forward and reviewed them with new perspective. Most of them were NOT answered in ways I was expecting. But all the answers were exactly what I needed.

Since then, I have tried to start off with prayers or declarations for myself and my life every January. Many times the Lord gives me a theme word based on what I’m coming out of or what I’m stepping into- or both. Sometimes the year starts in the middle of a mess, the middle of a big season. But I still get new hope and focus for it each time. This year, I didn’t ask God for any words specifically- but waited to see what He wanted to declare over 2019. And over me. I got lots of things.

My friend had a prophetic dream about me on December 31 (shoutout to Luke Trimble, you’re the best). Saying he believed that God wanted to Elevate me to new levels in 2019. A place of putting pieces together that I have been seeking clarity in. That I was being held close, seen and loved by the Lord and having it revealed in deeper ways. That it’s a time of being called out and up; a year of growth. Such a rich word!! I’m still praying into what that means for myself and others this year, believing to see things brought higher! On top of this, I have just been overwhelmed with the deep Goodness of God in this time. Just being reminded of it, and having such a hunger to see it in all parts of my life. And ever since November, God has been teaching me more about Thankfulness and just being entirely Grateful. These words are HUGE. If thankfulness is not at the very core of my being, then nothing else will be viewed from the right perspective. And I’m longing to have an even greater heart of gratitude. With this, I’ve stepped into a place of Anticipation and Excitement. I believe God is moving me into new places, new things, new people. Lots of Change. And I am beyond excited about it. Normally, I hate change. I crave consistency and routine and dread anything that will take me out of my ordinary. But when God brings it and He is in it; I have realized it is well worth releasing my schedule. I know that Big Things are approaching in 2019. Not just for me, but for others in my life as well. I heard specifically that Increase is coming. Along with being elevated, I believe things are going to move and shift all around me as I step into areas of abundance where God is moving me. I can’t wait!! Also this year, I feel especially provoked to remember that I am Beloved. Several years ago at a girls’ retreat, one of the leaders handed out mirrors with words on them that we were supposed to remember. Mine was ‘beloved’. At the time it didn’t mean much to me, until recently when I began to feel God just singing it over my heart again and again. I had forgotten all about the word and the mirror- but once I was reminded it all came back to me. I felt as though God was trying to teach me in new ways how beautiful I was; especially in my heart- and how He longed to reaffirm my identity. It is often overlooked and forgotten, especially when so much is going on around me. But even when I feel overlooked or alone or cast off, I remember that “I am my beloved’s, and He is mine.” I printed off a sticker of this and put it on my steering wheel- so as to always be reminded of who I am and whose I am. Everywhere I go, He is with me. And I am NEVER alone. I may not have someone calling me ‘beautiful’ but that doesn’t determine my worth. My maker is the one who fully knows me and fully loves me. He sees me and never forgets me. I often look at the word as be.loved. And it’s so true. I am loved. I need to remember that He loves me and allow myself to sit in it and feel it and truly be loved by Him.

Elevate

Goodness

Thankful/Grateful

Anticipation/Excitement

Change

Big Things

Increase

Beloved

All of these words have been given to me in regards to my life and my year ahead. That’s so much! It’s a lot to look forward to. I believe they are all connected in so many ways that I could never expect. But I receive them and look eagerly ahead to 2019.

I say all that to say, I didn’t have resolutions for this year. I didn’t have a specific prayer or even a theme word. (I had 10, haha) But what I do have is Great Expectation. I went into the year just so full and hopeful and receptive to every good thing that God wants to bring me. Open to all that He will do. Ready for all that will come. I’ve realized that His ways are always so much more beautiful than mine. His ideas are big, and I don’t want to stand in the way of watching them fold out. His love is infinitely huge and I want to be right in the center of it to receive every last thing that He has. I didn’t begin with a prayer or a goal- but I did begin with Him. And I am eager to continue through the year in exactly that position. Through the amazing things like all of these words display; and also the low points that I’m sure will come. <But sometimes we must be brought low to be elevated. Must experience hardships to recognize goodness. Must learn to be thankful when we lack. Sometimes change is hard and big things come through small disappointments. We may not feel loved but we learn to let it be.> Even if this is the case; the journey is beautiful, and years like this are the kind that change you.

I used the verse on top of the page because it’s so true. No matter how excited I am for this next chapter of life, God is even more excited. No matter how many plans and dreams and ideas I have, God’s are even greater. No matter how much I do, He has even more in store. But there was another verse that was so fitting for this as well. “Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…” Ephesians 3:20. FAR. MORE. ABUNDANTLY. God is so far above me- He already knows my thoughts, sees my dreams, and holds my life. This verse encourages me to dream and dream big. To pray scary prayers. To think daring thoughts. Cause He is already in them and He’s already lining my path with surprises. He’s already seen it all and said it was good!!! And that just kinda gets me excited! The fact that I can’t dream too big or ask too much or hope too high- yeah, that’s pretty dang thrilling to hear!

And He’s already started my year off in ways greater than imagined! Namely with the fact that one of my VERY BEST FRIENDS, Megan Alford- flew up to Pennsylvania to surprise me last week! Megan is a missionary in Jamaica currently, in the middle of a 3-year commitment. The last time I saw her was the beginning of summer 2017. Before I was gone for a month, then she moved down, and when I came back for a couple weeks before moving to PA- she was already gone! Since then, neither of us has been in the same state (or hardly even the same country) at the same time. It’s been so hard knowing she was in Georgia to visit while I was here- or when I would go down to see family or even go to Florida, but she wasn’t home. But on Dec. 31, she walked through my door (a complete shock!) and I cried my eyes out as I gave her the biggest hug in years. Spending the first few days of 2019 with her was one of the greatest blessings imaginable. God worked all that out- something that wasn’t even in my mind. AND, 2 weeks from now I fly out to Oklahoma to visit another one of my girls!! Jaclynn and her husband Andrew moved out there for his station in the airforce, and I get to see them and meet their precious new son!! Only God could organize that I get to see 2 of my greatest friends in the course of a month; girls I haven’t seen in years. This year is off to such a great start already- it’s not difficult to look for even bigger things around the corner! It’s gonna be wild but such a ride!

I do actually have 2 prayers for this year: Mainly this season. The first is “God, help me to become so much more aware of Your constant Presence.” And the second one, “I want to see You with my eyes open.” Both of these were inspired by our church’s time of focusing more on God going into this New Year, and those are the deep prayers He brought to my heart and mind. I start my days with thanksgiving and gratitude, and I ask Him for deeper revelations of Himself and His presence in my life. When this is my focus, my day becomes much more purposeful and productive. I walk around with His heart and His eyes. And that’s how differences are created.

So, hey there 2019. Let’s make things happen together.

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Self-Talk

Often, the best encouragement is the kind you give yourself.

We love to talk to our friends and family and leaders to have them speak life into us or pray over us when our situations get sticky (and this is a good thing). But the voice that you will always listen to most is the one inside your own mind. What you tell yourself will ultimately be what you believe.

Occasionally, when I need something to read or just when I think about it- I’ll pull out some of my old journals just to glance over. All of my journals are simply testimonies of what God has been doing in my life- seasons of pain + goodness, prayers, thanksgiving, stories of His goodness, examples of His faithfulness, and just everything I have been through spiritually and emotionally in life.

->> Side note: If you typically journal, I challenge you to do this. Pick one out from a specific year in life that you’d like to look back on; or just go through any of them and remind yourself of God’s love and how He has always been working in your life. And if you don’t journal, I encourage you to start! You could just write prayers, or testimonies, or questions to God. And try to also write down when/how He responded to you. What happened? What did He say? Find examples of His goodness all around you.

So, recently- I got out the oldest journal I could find (2015 is the year that I really got serious about documenting my journey with life + the Lord.) I was in the middle of just a funky week- nothing terribly wrong but nothing terribly right- although those kinds are sometimes the worst. I started flipping through the pages; filled with revelations from Bible study, experiences I had, relationships with friends and family, things God spoke to me in moments of silence, prayers I had prayed (some that were answered and some that weren’t), promises I made to myself and God, things I was grateful for and things I was frustrated with, questions I had, things I learned and things I didn’t understand. All of it. Real, raw, and honest. Completely vulnerable. Many moments I remembered vividly. Some I had forgotten. And some even sounded like the same things I was dealing with now; 3+ years later. Refreshing reminders and painful memories. But also joy and laughter and love. In those pages I found hope, joy, and confidence that the future ALWAYS gets better. I was reminded of prayers I prayed through difficult times and how God completely turned things upside-down in my life. I realized how much I have grown since that time, both spiritually and emotionally in maturity. It’s always encouraging to see what God has done in your life.

So in my messy week, these are some of the beautiful words God showed me from my past. Words that I had written, filled with so much life and encouragement- that I could speak over myself. Gentle reminders that God is good, life gets better, and never to lose hope. Even when it’s a bit discouraging in the present.

“Delays for us are not delays for Him. God works in the long-term.” {7-22-15}

-This was such a good thing to remember as I continue to patiently wait in many areas. Especially in the journey of singleness. What’s happening today isn’t just for now. Each moment prepares me for the future. It’s not about what I can see now but the big picture.

“If these emotions + affections keep me chasing after God, then they are worth it… God is preparing my heart for what is to come.” {9-8-15}

I remember vividly writing this. It’s a very bold declaration, and when I read it again, I questioned whether I still feel that way today. I was dealing with pain and heartache and was just hurt about relationships. Sometimes I don’t know how I prayed some of the things I did back then. But in my heart I do know it’s worth it. And the pain I felt back then has faded to a memory; just like all grief will eventually heal into joy.

“Not because we are godly, but because you are good. (Because you love us.)” {11-24-15}

This quote has been in my head the past 2 weeks since reading it again. It applies to every area of our lives. Why did Jesus die? Because He is good. Why do we get relationship with Him? He is good. Why do we praise Him? He is good. Why do I have a good job and a nice house and a great family? BECAUSE OF HIM. IT’S NOT BECAUSE OF ME. I DON’T DESERVE IT. I am tempted often to forget this. I find myself saying “I earned it.” “I deserve that.”  or “God, look what I did for you. Look how I live for you. I’m so holy.” But in reality, none of this is true. What I’ve earned is meaningless. What I deserve is death. And what I perceive as ‘holiness’ is simply the Holy Spirit living inside of my hollow shell. I in myself am nothing good. Without His goodness, none of this would even exist. I often forget to give Him the praise and thanks that He truly deserves. Reminders like this humble me, and magnify His Holiness.

“The struggle is real, but there is a joy that comes with struggling for Christ.” {7-23-15}

We will always face struggles and difficulties on this side of Heaven. But the journey is a joyful one if you are in it with God. When we struggle for Christ, His glory comes. When we persevere, His will is established.

If I am in His will, it will be revealed in due time.” {11-17-15}

My job is simply to remain. Stay with Him, stay in line. Stay awake and stay in the word. I don’t have to figure things out or work to make things happen. When I rest in Him, He does the rest. He lines things up and shows me what to do. He points the way and I follow.

Through this, I realized that a lot of what I’m going through now is actually the answer to prayers I have prayed. I asked for this! It may feel like it sucks right now but it’s actually good. This is how He is choosing to answer and bless me. I promised God some time ago that I would wait on Him for as long as it takes. Whatever that looks like. Even though right now I feel impatient and frustrated with how my life is going sometimes; I realize that He’s simply doing what I gave Him permission to do in my life.

The waiting gets hard when it takes longer than imagined. But do I want to change my mind about everything just because it is no longer easy? Yes, when I prayed that prayer in 2015 I didn’t expect things to take this long or for my life to look like it does right now. But did I truly mean it? Am I still willing to wait on God to move? Is He still worth it even nearly 4 years later?

// A writer constantly has unwritten content filling their head.

I realized this upon reading through these things. I hadn’t even thought about starting a blog, or going into writing when this journal was completed. But even before I knew it- I was a writer. It was already in me. And seeing all that I had written; it’s pretty obvious. This is what I wrote after reading through all of it.

“Things I read had lined up with things I wrote in my journal just these past couple weeks! It’s so weird and crazy and amazing; I’m dealing the same things today that I was at 19… Not sure if I feel relieved or psycho. Some of it is the same issues I have still been experiencing. Some of it is new. Some of it I learned then but now I am learning again. I thought I had grown! I thought I had matured! And I know that I did in many ways- but I’m also still human. And I will always be. I’m sad my life hasn’t gotten easier and that I don’t have it all figured out yet. But I’m also relieved. I know I will get through it. All of it. Everything. I’ll grow. I’ll learn even more. I’ll see more of Him because of it. I’ll make it to the other side, just as I did before. Even if it all happens again, I know this isn’t the end. I’m frustrated, yet hopeful. Sad, but encouraged. Confused, yet at peace. God is still good now, just as He was.” {11-18-19}

Through this I had to remind myself that sometimes bad days come even during good seasons; that doesn’t mean I’m not doing well. My relationship status, my current emotions, or my daily ups and downs don’t determine my joy. Joy is a decision and a choice- it’s not always a feeling, and you can have it in spite of them. I may feel sad or lonely; but that’s not who I am. And how can I not be full of joy and hope when I’m reminded of God’s goodness and constant faithfulness to me? If He did it for me then, He will do it again. When I’m tempted to get discouraged about how my day is going, I just have get a new perspective. Days are just that- days. Yes, we need to make each moment in life count; but when you look back on your life, the bad days won’t count for much if you used your season well. A bad day doesn’t have the authority to decide or change who I am and what I choose to believe as truth in my life. Don’t let them get you down. God is still sovereign and He has given you everything you need to take control of your life- so make the most of it! It’s going to be good.

Peace Behind the Door

Isaiah 26:3- “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” 

Somehow, I manage to still be at peace and be hopeful even when doors are closing in front of me. Lately, so many situations have come up in my life- with relationships, opportunities, and school; that have left me standing in front of closed doors that I felt so clearly God had opened for me.

Several years ago- at 18; I would have already felt the stress acne forming and my stomach tying up in knots just at the first struggle with something like this. But now; somehow, I am at peace. I can’t explain it. Honestly, I don’t even recognize myself or the fact that I have remained so calm- but I feel God’s presence and am assured of His love, and somehow that’s all I need. Just the other day, I had a frustrating situation come up at work and lots of decisions to make. I somehow knew exactly how to handle it and remained calm throughout the whole thing; and even had a successful night in spite of it. Then earlier this week, I went to register for classes online through Kennesaw- a decision I have such peace and clarity about and know that God is in. But when I went to sign up; all of the classes I needed were full- and the main ones I had to take weren’t even offered online. I had to just put myself on a waitlist for 3 classes and was only able to sign up for one.

Previously when I went to college, I would have been stressed out and angry and upset. This time, however, I honestly wasn’t. I felt good. I knew this was what God had called me to do, and I am confident He will walk me through it. I may have to take different classes than planned, or go an extra semester, or sign up through a different school; but I know I will be provided with the wisdom and resources that I need. I called my mom and had a good talk with her; and even though I still don’t have it figured out or my sign-ups completed- I’m fully at peace. It’s almost foreign to me. Feeling so calm in the midst of confusion and chaos. Fully trusting God when it’s so easy to doubt. I’ve experienced many worries like this in my life and I don’t ever feel like I handled them with ease and grace but somehow this time I did. It isn’t me; it’s Him. Just proof of His life in me and reflecting through me, even in the frustrations of life. I still have no idea what my future holds as far as a job or even school. But I know that so far God has helped me through 100% of my most difficult days, so I know He will get me through this. I’m asking for wisdom and direction- whether these doors are to open or I’m to knock on new ones.

We sing so many songs about how God won’t fail us and how we’ve always seen His faithfulness; but when we are put in situations where we have to trust- that all falls away. Why do we say it or say we believe it, but we still go through life with so much worry and stress on a daily basis? We trust until it gets hard and then we wonder why God isn’t showing up. I was so convicted about the way I usually live and how I typically respond to these types of setbacks. But I sit here amazed at God and His greatness; knowing that He will continue to show up even when my flesh is at the brink. It’s almost easier to be at a place where I am at the end of my rope and there is nothing more I can do; because then I remember that none of this is up to me, and He is the one in control. He is ultimately the one behind the scenes working everything out in my life. IT WAS NEVER UP TO ME IN THE FIRST PLACE. And on the days where nothing seems to work out and everything falls out of place, I’m gently reminded with gratitude that all the weight of this is on His shoulders, not mine. Even when relationships or friendships seem to go south, (or any direction except the one expected) I don’t have to lose hope because God’s the one with the pen writing my story. When I feel like where I want to be and where I currently am don’t line up- I have to give it to God again. When I feel like things are being erased and scratched out, in reality I just haven’t read the end of the chapter He’s writing. God is the author and He doesn’t make mistakes in the pages of our lives. No matter what it looks like. I may feel like something just got ripped out or flipped around, like my heart is broken or my emotions are frayed; but the reality is that I’m still in the middle of the book- with no idea how the ending turns out. I may go through disappointments and unexpected hurts- I may not have the answers. But He does. And I have to remain confident that He is looking out for me; guarding my heart and guiding my life. And I’m learning to be not simply ohkay with that- but excited about it. I anticipate the unexpected because then I see greater moves of God when I’m not able to control things anymore.

No, I still don’t have all the answers (in fact, I have hardly any) but I’ve learned the secret to remaining content and peaceful in the midst of unknown. It still isn’t easy, and every day I wake up hoping there is a magic pill to help me get through this faster (I’m sure a lot of us do). There are many times I am tempted to give up, and the world would tell me to quit. But I have found new pieces of God’s love and grace through this that I’m confident I may never have experienced otherwise. His face shines on me constantly and I’m so thankful. I could not do anything without Him. I pray for clarity and wisdom and open doors- but I also appreciate the things I’m learning through the difficulties. All that He chooses to teach me when life gets hard. Peace doesn’t mean everything is easy but that I can have hope even in the difficulty. I press on. I press in. I’m so undeserving, but He is good. And I stand here today in this season of gratitude: Full of thanks, because I have found peace beyond situations and circumstances and understanding. Whether the doors open wide or jam themselves shut, He is good and He’s got me. I have every reason to trust Him.

Open Heart: Pt. 4- on PRESENCE

“There is never a non-sacred moment. His presence never diminishes. Our awareness of His presence may falter, but the reality of His presence never changes.” -Max Lucado

 

Recently, in the middle of prayer and just waiting for answers; God told me that this is not a season for words. And with just that, I knew exactly what He meant. I’m in a season where I don’t need people to say cliché Christian phrases or quote the Bible at me. I don’t need to speak much when I go to pray. In fact, I don’t even need God to say anything. I need a season of quiet- not of words, but of power and presence. As soon as I heard it, I agreed. I was tired of people throwing out useless encouragement at me throughout my season of life or repeating petty stories to try to make me “feel good”. I didn’t need to hear things- I just needed to feel. To tangibly feel love from people and to feel the physical presence of love from God Himself. I knew that words wouldn’t help me anymore- I just needed love. My prayer after followed like this:

God, make me more aware of your Presence.

I need to feel it more- because when your presence comes: everything else fades away.

Nothing matters, and nothing stays

Even though entering a season of silence was going to be tough- I was excited about it. Because I knew it was what I needed, and I was confident God was going to give me whatever else I was lacking as well. There are things words can’t do for you, and I was tired of hearing all the noise. I was ready to feel and know the goodness of God. The Bible says, “Taste and see”. Hearing is only one of our senses- so why should we value words above anything else? I needed to feel, smell, see, and taste the love of God in this season; so words alone just simply wouldn’t cut it. It’s not enough.

Honestly, so far- it’s been incredible. I seek out the silent places. I crave the quiet; I do my best to avoid the talk and the voices. I tune out. I go to public places to be with people; but I don’t always listen or speak. I just want to be. To hug and laugh and smile- tangible love. I’ve kind of avoided the deep conversations, not because they’re detrimental (I usually love deep conversations and can turn any subject into some profound discussion) but because they’re unnecessary. They aren’t doing anything for me in this stage of my life. I need laughter, I need fun. I need peace. The heart-to-heart talks aren’t feeding me in this stage of life and that’s alright. I’m ohkay with the silence because it’s good for my soul.

The other day- I was honestly somewhat confused and amazed. I realized that I felt so close to God in this season; His presence was so tangible. And I never felt a separation between secular and sacred. Everywhere I went I just sensed His presence so strongly- and I was constantly very aware of Him. However- I hadn’t spent nearly as much time in my word as I normally do, and many of my times with Him simply were just sitting. Or journaling. Or worshipping. Very little reading. At first I felt guilty, but then I remembered what this whole season was about: no words. I wasn’t finding Him through the Bible because I was finding Him everywhere else. I didn’t need to be fed the word because I was feasting on what was inside of me and around me. I didn’t need His voice because I was in constant life with His presence. His presence was so thick and tangible and constant, that I didn’t have to rely on anything else. Why should I feel guilty for feeling so close with God; that instead of simply reading His letter to me, I just choose to sit with Him? I would find fullness in the simple act of being. This is a season unlike any I have had before- but I can’t deny that He is completely present. He is in this. I may not understand or be able to explain; but I know what He said and I know who He is. The words don’t have power like the life does. Bill Johnson says it best in his book, When Heaven Invades Earth: “It’s God Himself we long for…. We can and must know the God of the Bible by experience.” He goes on and on in the chapter about how the book (the words) doesn’t hold the power like His presence and His being. We must know God, know His voice, and live through the presence and the spirit daily. This is what I’m discovering in this time. Letting go of what I know- what has me feeling safe and comfortable- and clinging to His active presence. His spirit. His breath. Following the God of the Word instead of the Word of God.

This is what I wrote after discovering all this and hearing Bill’s perspective as well:

~~~ I had a revelation- and it sets with me so well! I’ve been craving so deeply the love and the presence of God lately- in this season. But yet I don’t usually turn to the Word… Why do I not want to open my Bible when I have such a strong desire for Him? Because it isn’t about what he said, but what He’s saying. His live presence. His active voice. I have so many Holy Moments sitting in my car. (seriously) With music playing or just sitting. He just comes in and invades everything. And I don’t have to ‘read my Bible’ or ‘pray a prayer’. I’ve already invited Him, so He just comes. And I don’t want Him to leave. I don’t crave the scripture because His tangible presence is so strong and so real. It completely sustains me. So why do I need anything else? My spirit is alive with the Holy Spirit Fire- and I want that so much more than just religious intelligence. ~~~

Open Heart: Pt. 3- on CHANGE

“The only thing that is constant (in life) is change.” -Hercules

 

I never knew how much you truly change in your twenties. My friend Heith used to always tell me that by the time I was hitting thirty I would be a completely different person; and I may not even recognize myself. (I was around 19-20 when he said this). And I would smile and nod- while also rolling my eyes a little. But this year proved that statement to me in just a few short months. And ever since it started; change has been extremely consistent in who I am.

I didn’t really expect to change. I didn’t believe people when they talked about how different they were “back in the day” and just assumed that they had ‘grown up’. I thought only events could change you. Besides the radical “Jesus saved me and changed my life” stories, I honestly didn’t believe that change was such a vital part of life. (Obviously circumstances and situations change, but I’m talking about personality change and emotional change.)

And then we hear stories about how “People change”. Typically, this is for the worse. Or it’s a lifestyle change. Things that you control yourself. Changing the way you eat or your daily exercise. Quitting an addiction or changing the way you treat people. These are things we control. But all the changes I’ve experienced are things that have just happened. Either because of what has taken place in my life or simply because I’m not done growing yet. A lot of it is God moving in my heart and making me into a different person- the process of being perfected that takes a lifetime. And I honestly think some of this change isn’t change at all. It’s simply me discovering who I really am; who I have been all along- which is a completely different person than I have known my entire life.

Life changes you. God changes you. My personality is different. I have always been an ‘extrovert’- and although I would still call myself one; I now see the value and the need to have time to myself. I often choose to decline things or people simply because I want solitude. This was never the case growing up. I felt like if I wasn’t doing something every night then I had no life. I couldn’t say no to anything. But now I actually value being alone sometimes- and I will do whatever it takes to get that. At this point in my life, I much prefer one-on-ones or intimate group settings over large gatherings of people. I need depth and intentional conversation- more than the shallow passing-by exchanges in a crowd. My likes and dislikes have changed. Food preferences, entertainment choices, activities that I deem as “fun”- all very different than what I enjoyed growing up. Some of these may be ‘season of life’ things; but I honestly believe that many of them are just ‘new me’ things. It’s kinda weird a lot of times and I still don’t understand it- but I can’t deny the reality that I am different.

My dreams, desires, preferences. My goals are different. Not just long-term, but even immediate goals. They all look so unlike what I’ve had before. It’s not even all spiritual stuff. I know that moving across the country and going to an intensive ministry-based school will change you for the good and affect many areas of your life. And yes, this did happen. But honestly a lot of these changes are just regular, normal life stuff. Even the way I process and think has radically developed as time goes on. I may have always been an external processor; but I have never loved writing the way I do now. I have never unlocked and fallen in love with this aspect of creativity like I have lately. I need to write. It helps me to get out of my head and put everything away so as to better live in reality. Now, I do believe that this is how God made me all along; and I just had to discover it. I never knew before what I truly was to become, but I am seeing more of my real self everyday. I am made aware of just how different of a person I am becoming as time goes on.

As you go on the journey of growing into who you are and who you are meant to be, everything changes. That’s just life. That’s how it goes. How it’s supposed to go. And once you realize the truth- everything you’re not has to get out of the way. God wants it like this. Why it happens in your twenties? Probably because those are some of the most critical years of your life when you begin to step into independence and become your own person. When you realize the “you” outside of your parents and your family and your backyard. So once we step away from all familiarity in life; that’s when God can start to show us our true person and purpose.

Take the time to re-learn who you are. Especially in your twenties. Honestly though, I believe this is a process that never ends; so we should be aware of how we change later on in life as well. If God never stops working on us and we are continually learning and growing- then we can’t expect ourselves to stay the same. The intentionality we have with getting to know our spouses and our children should be the same as the way we get to know the person in the mirror. Constantly. Re-learn who you are. We should like who we become! The changes in our life will keep reflecting more of Jesus as we continue to follow Him. If not, ask God to help.

I have only lived in Pennsylvania for a year, but everything is different. Much more than my hair color and fashion choices have changed. But I’m learning to be alright with that- and to love who I’m becoming.

Open Heart: Pt. 2- on MEMORIES

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
-Andy Bernard, the Office

Yesterday I decided to go through my camera roll to delete some of my pictures and try to clear up some storage. I started all the way at the top; like- High school prom, haha. I went through each group of pictures and scrolled through the months like watching a flashback of my life in slow motion. Each picture held a vivid memory; I could go back in my mind to the exact place, time, day, and people that I was with. I could remember the conversations and the laughter. Even the pictures that were taken in hard times or bad situations still produce fond memories. I can look back on those times and see everything that God taught me and all the ways I grew through each season.

Some of the photos were old songs or jokes that I shared with friends. Some were just screenshots of texting conversations that still make me smile. And the rest are filled with people that I love. Most of these people I still communicate with on a regular basis. But there are some that I rarely ever see. That I haven’t spoken to in months. Or that I just haven’t kept up with in these last few seasons. People that I miss and love greatly. We each ended up in different places in life- going where God led us, and perhaps only being together for a season. It’s hard and I miss these people more than words- but I’m also thankful. I hate that here on earth we are bound by time and distance and space. I wish every person I knew could continue my life journey with me until the end. But that isn’t how it works here. People come and people go. It’s sometimes sad, but often beautiful; how God places pieces of our lives together for certain times. Even when places change and people move in or out- the puzzle only gets more beautiful and more bright as life goes on. And there is the exciting expectation that we will one day get to be ALL TOGETHER when we get to heaven. Not bound by time or space or distance- everyone will get to be everywhere at once. No more reminiscing, just living.

Honestly, looking back at all these pictures got me feeling very nostalgic. Part of me wanted to go back in time to when each of these memories were made and just re-live each one all over again. Then the other part of me was just so overwhelmed with joy and excitement through the realization of how amazing my life has been. How good it is now. How much I’ve done and how far I’ve come and who I’ve encountered along the way. Realizing how blessed I have always been and how it continues now. In my current season. With the people I’m currently loving and doing life with. Yes, I miss the “good old days”- but I’m also right in the middle of the greatest days of my life. Just don’t miss it as it goes by. Don’t get too busy missing the people of your past to lose the ones of your present. There are ALWAYS people in the season you’re given. Love on them.

My old college roommate texted me the other day and I was just overwhelmed with emotion. Joy- because of all the wonderful years we shared together. Longing- because we no longer have that and I miss it. And Gratitude- because through that conversation I realized how amazing my life is. It was good then, and it’s good now. She said in our conversation just a simple phrase- “I hope the Lord is continuing to bless you.” And it hit me. He is. He has always been blessing me. It took someone else’s reminder for me to realize it. Every season is its own blessing. The people it brings, the laughter, the places, the experiences.

Some of those people are divinely purposed to be in our lives for more than one season. Our family- some of the only people who will ever really understand our journey; because they have been there for all of it. But then there are those friends that God gives us- just because He is good. Those chosen few who remain. Despite the school changes, or the different jobs, or even the moving of hundreds of miles away; there are some that remain. I can’t explain why or how- but I’m so thankful for these precious few. The ones that you still keep up with even when you’re on totally different paths and doing very different things. The ones you confide in throughout the years of separation. The ones you can go months without seeing but then reconnect as if you were never gone. These people are rare and so needed in our life journey. They help us to remember where we have been and where we are going; and the work God is doing in our hearts along the way. They can encourage and love us better than any others because they know us so well. They have BEEN THERE. They help us to appreciate our friends that come through each new season because they know how much we need them.

Thinking back on all of this and just realizing these things was so beautiful for me. I could hardly delete any pictures because each one was so full of love and joy and goodness. Each picture was just proof of the Lord’s blessings over me throughout my entire life. I wanted to laugh and cry. Wanted to go back in time but also wanted time to stand still in the moment. I was overwhelmed by just how good my life had been; how great my friendships were. And how great my life is now; how beautiful these friendships are. Many of them are different, but some are still the same. And I can see God’s hand in all of it. His work in every single piece of my life. It’s honestly surreal, and something I hope each of you can experience. I hope you’re all able to be hit with these realizations throughout your life as well. Those moments that make your head spin and your heart stop. And where time stands still as you are overwhelmed by HIM.

The past is full of memories and the future is full of hope. But in all of it, I hope we don’t forget the goodness of the present. It’s people, it’s joys, it’s blessings. And as my longing for seasons of the past grows, so does my appreciation of the now. It’s a beautiful picture that continues to amaze me.

Also, heaven is gonna be so freaking awesome when our memories coexist with our reality and we aren’t separated from anyone through space or time. It blows my mind but I can’t wait.

Open Heart: Pt. 1- on LOVE

The next few entries will be mini-articles; just segments of my journals and thoughts on some of the deeper things God has been revealing to me over these past few weeks. Honestly, I could make each of these topics into a full post- but I have had so much to say and so little time to write, so I decided to condense them into a small series-type. Letters to the world from my heart. I’ll be more regular on posting these so you can keep up with them as a group. It’s something different, but I hope you enjoy.

 

“There is only one happiness in this life. To love and be loved.” -George Sand

I love love. Always have. I’m kinda actually a hopeless romantic.

Have I ever been in love? Hard to say. I’ve loved people- and loved men. Still do. Have I been infatuated- oh yes. But what about that deep, real, love? The enduring kind. That goes on even through the long, hard, times. The persistent kind. The kind where you can look at each other and just know things. The way people talk about a new crush or the way people in a committed relationship gaze into each others’ eyes. I want it. (and I think we all do.) How can you not? I look for it- but at the end of the day, it has to find me. This stuff just happens. We can’t force it, we can’t imitate it. We can’t create it on our own.

Honestly, how can we really know love until we have met the definition of love Himself? How can we fall in love if we haven’t first been in love with Him? It’s who He is. John 3:16FOR GOD SO LOVED. Maybe the 4 most important words in the Bible. It isn’t about what He did but why He did it. It was for us! It was for love. That is why we love. That’s what we look for. It’s our longing. What we seek. It’s what we truly want. I want to know love, so I can be ready when it comes. I want the real thing.

Sometimes I think I’ve found it. Found a piece of it. But I don’t know. I’m not certain. And that’s the mystery of life. It’s uncertainty. But when it’s right and it’s God you just know.  There’s peace in the mess and rest in the confusion. In the chaos. True love doesn’t have to be chased. Or worked for. Or even deserved (wow). It happens and it is and it does. It’s beautiful. And I will wait for it. Because what I’ve seen and known and have is too beautiful to sacrifice or compromise. It’s worth whatever it takes. I want the real thing. Real love.

In the shower one day (because all good thoughts come in the shower) I was hit with this thought. Maybe some sort of movement, maybe some sort of phrase. I felt God telling me something that I have learned throughout recent years that many girls (and boys honestly) do not yet know. The idea that being single isn’t scary. And that just because you’re alone, doesn’t mean you are lonely. These feelings may come but they don’t dictate who you are. I feel like I have come to realize this in entirely new ways throughout my single life- and others really should, too. No, I don’t want to be single; but that doesn’t mean I have to feel insignificant or less than or not enough while waiting on my time. I am loved– by the creator of my soul. I am enough– no matter what season I am in. And I am important– not only to my future partner but to this world and its design. I’m needed even now in this season and my life is significant. Please know this. Please believe it. Your life is not empty just because a person isn’t in it. It doesn’t start just because you get married and it’s far from over even after that. I know it’s hard and it doesn’t make the desire for love go away. It may not get easier, but it can get better. I’m here with you saying I know it will be worth it if we are willing to wait. For my girls- and my guys. Please. Let’s remind ourselves of this as we fall in love with Jesus.

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single isn’t scary

alone isn’t lonely