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Faith, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Suffering

On Seeking More Than A Cure

July 1, 2015

SW_Jordan+McQueen

I grew up knowing we would go two places religiously.
Church and Church Camp.
They were my places, they were filled with my people.

Church was where I was baptized and Church Camp where I recommitted my life… every. single. summer.  The two places are so intertwined in my memory I cannot think of one without remembering the other.

No matter where we moved, Fairview was home and Wesley Woods our home in the woods.  I was my most brave self in these places; my most vulnerable and innocent, most trusting and free spirited.

Church and Church Camp were also two places I was most deeply hurt.

Church Camp was the thing that made me the topic of a mean girl’s xanga post in sixth grade.
Church Camp was the place I was told someone had “run out of grace” for another.
Church was where I was told to, “get the hell out of my pew.”
Church was where I shared that her placenta had maybe torn and it was whispered in my ear, “perhaps it’s for the best.”

And of course it wasn’t The Church or The Church Camp who hurt me- but in the same way the smell of chlorine makes me think of Thanksgiving, or a single line in a song makes me twenty-one again… the hurts and the memories and the people and the places are all tangled up together in this mess of emotion.

I don’t think it’s a surprise or coincidence or even that poetic to be deeply hurt in places where I once felt most at home.  I don’t think it’s a mistake or incredibly unjust.*

I think this world is fallen and we are broken.
I think this in not our Eden.
I think the places our hearts are most vulnerable are the places at most risk of being deeply hardened.
And more than that- I believe we are a culture more concerned with finding a cure for our hurts than healing from them.

Today, and every day, you have permission
to not be tough.
to cry if you need.
to question and doubt and be confused.
to have an extra cup of coffee and sit with Jesus.
to seek more than just a cure.

There is grace enough for your hurts at the cross.
And there is grace enough here for you!

Healing will look different for each of us, and it will take a different amount of time, but the same Christ.  I love you girls, and so wish I could sit with you through the hurt and heartaches.  I wish relationships were easier and childhood memories were always innocent.  But I pray healing will come so fully and so deeply that you will be even more yourself at the end of this journey than you are today.  I pray for peace and courage that surpasses all understanding to surround you today.  I pray your own Church and Church Camp places will be restored.

“I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.” ― Wm. Paul Young

*note:: if you are being abused or neglected, physically, sexually, emotionally, or otherwise- please seek immediate help and shelter from someone you can trust.  this post was written from the perspective of hurt feelings, mean girls, and people who just say the wrong things sometimes.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Faith, Family, God, Relationships

Bear the Armor

June 17, 2015

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YO GIRLS!

Happy Summer to you! Every Wednesday morning, it is a rush for me to think about you ladies who are reading the newest post with anticipation—for us to get to know each other better, for a refuge from the craziness of the day, for hopefully getting one more glimpse of the mighty, beautiful God we serve.

Lately, we’ve been focusing on who we are as individuals- the characteristics and qualities that God has given us. On learning how to use what we’ve been given for the kingdom of God, how to embrace our quirks, how to answer the question “Who Am I?” honestly. And I don’t know about you, but if I spend too much time in my own head, I go crazy with the future and tend to forget the now.

 I am obsessed with knowing the next thing. Graduation. Marriage. Job.

But what about when we have no idea? What about when a season of life is coming to a close and we’re stuck with a big fat question mark? When we know Jesus is an extraordinary Savior and we have nothing to worry about but we still want to know.

Dear friend, if you’re there, I’m standing right there with you.

I’ve recently stepped out of a busy season doing my own thing into one of assisting the people I’m surrounded by. I am a helper. I am a supporter.

 

Maybe in the tension of wanting to know what God is “going to do with our lives” we should just look outward. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment of all is, and He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Love God, love people.

 

So I’m starting a social experiment on myself and you are more than welcome to join me.

I want to be an armor-bearer.

No, I’m not enlisting in the military.

1 Samuel 14 is a prime example.

Read it if you have a minute.

Imagine this:

Once upon a time, highly regarded military men would have the weight of the army on their shoulders. It was their responsibility to make decisions, take care of the troop, and protect the camp. They casted vision for their team. By being in the military in the first place, you are expected to respect, honor, and follow the leaders of the army. So every major had one man. One armor-bearer. Someone they trusted with their lives to walk and fight alongside them. While the major may have two spears in his hands, he was defenseless. The armor bearer would be the one holding a shield- being their rear guard, their front guard, all the while fighting with their soldier.

 

So this concept is figurative in many ways for us ladies, but listen,

Imagine living in the woods far from home.

Since you are an armor bearer, their schedule becomes yours.

You strap on heavy protective gear and carry the weight with joy.

When your camp is attacked, you go with your friend into the fight.

Being attentive to all sides, you encourage them to persevere.

It’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s the tightest relationship you have now.

 

So when I get stuck in my own head about my future, my dream, my goals, the “what is God going to do with my life?”, I remember my duty and serious honor of being an armor bearer for the people God has given me to live alongside.

In 1 Samuel 14, God tells Jonathan to approach the enemy camp because He will deliver them into His hands. Jonathan tells his armor-bearer the plan and without hesitation, he gets up to follow Jonathan and says, “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” There is great trust there.

Being an armor-bearer means taking risks for people. I pray that I would be useful to God in other people’s lives because of this thought.

 

I want to be my husband’s armor bearer to lift Him up.

I want to be my friend’s armor-bearer, to be her loyal confidant and to lovingly walk alongside her in her engagement.

I want to be my mom’s armor-bearer, to remind her of the grace God has given her for today and that what might seem like loss and distance may turn into greater growth in our family.

I want to be my future boss’ armor-bearer to encourage them in integrity.

I want to be my 87 year-old neighbor’s armor-bearer, to be her companion when she has few and to make sure she knows she is still a blessing to others.

This is not a burden, it is a great joy.

 

So when I ask, “What can I do for them?” God gives me room to learn more about His heart of service, which is eternally valuable.

You know the over-your-shoulder, breathing-down-your-neck, how-can-I-focus-at-all person who can’t leave you alone long enough to finish something you’ve already started? Sometimes I get a sense that I am that way with what God is doing.

So let’s spend our time being thankful for Him and not just what He gives us.

Let’s spend our time standing for the people in our lives, the easy-to-love and not-so-easy-to-love, bearing their armor.

And when we give of ourselves, may we see more clearly

 

Great is Thy faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith, God, Relationships

The Waiting

May 20, 2015

kels (147 of 165)It’s time for a good ol’ girl-talk confession: I have never done relationships right. To the point where they’ve mostly all just been “flirtationships” that never became real relationships. I was always the go-getter, the chaser, the pursuer, the queen of DTR, being the first to ask the question of “where is this going” after just a couple weeks.

I probably came off pretty desperate. And maybe I was.

After watching guy after guy pull away after only just starting to get to know me, you can imagine how unwanted I felt. I thought something was wrong with me. And over the course of the next couple years I found out there was.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough…too tall, too loud, too dramatic. I wasn’t “too much” or “not enough”.

The problem was my impatience.

My thought process went something like this:

I see boy.
I like boy.
Boy has texted me for 3 days.
Boy must like me.
“Boy, do you like me?”
“I just want to be friends.”
*Crushed*

Oy. If I could just go back and talk to me then…

So you get the picture. You could have handed me a “Relationships for Dummies” book and I STILL would have messed it up. Because I wanted what (in my exaggerated view) everyone around me had. And I wasn’t about to wait for a guy to make up his mind and pursue me. I wanted to skip the whole process and get to the part where we were hand in hand, making plans.

It took a couple years for me to really understand all of this, to cut the guy-chasing nonsense, and to put all my energy into chasing the One whose feelings and intentions I never had to question. Once that relationship became enough for me and I’d stopped scanning every crowd for my future husband…a really great guy unexpectedly stepped into my life.

As I got to know him and things gradually progressed between us, I did everything differently. He was the first guy I ever allowed to pursue me. I resisted being the initiator and waited for him to make each move. And though it ultimately didn’t last, for the first time I got a glimpse first hand of what a Godly relationship is supposed to look like – what my role is, what a guy’s role is. And for a while, I was thankful just to have learned that, in that way, in that season.

But unfortunately that wore off a little too quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still thankful. But now I’m back to the waiting. Oh, the dreaded waiting…

I always wanted to be married in my early twenties. At 19 I thought I had plenty of time, but the second I hit 20, I felt like the clock started ticking. Now I’m 22, everyone around me is dating, engaged, married…and here I am. Single. And I feel like I’m WAY behind.

I feel like God has given me a love for a man I’ve never met and this strong desire for marriage…but my life is one big “not yet.”

So often lately I’ve found myself wondering if God’s holding out on me. Have you ever felt that? I mean, He already knows where my future husband is. He has the power to bring us together and free me from the torture (or so it sometimes seems) of waiting! So why doesn’t He? Where’s my Prince Charming? My knight in shining armor? When do I finally get my fairytale?

At times I’ve even found myself back in a place where I believe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I’m not growing enough, not praying enough, not close enough to God…maybe I’m too insecure, too unsatisfied with the Lord alone, too desperate for a worldly fulfillment. Maybe I have to fix and change all of these things in order to prove to God that I’m ready. Maybe that quick, teasing glimpse I had of a relationship was Him rewarding me for good behavior or something…and then I must have done something to mess it up.

Or maybe none of this is in my control.

Maybe, just maybe, the lesson is in the waiting.

Sure, there are without a doubt areas of my life God is still working on to prepare me for a future relationship, to mold me into the friend/girlfriend/fiancé/wife I will someday need to be.

But to get there, I have to wait. I have to rest in knowing that there’s a reason for the journey, a purpose behind the whole process. If we got everything we wanted when we wanted it, what would we ever hope for or trust God for?

I know this has all been mainly geared towards my fellow single ladies (“now put your hands up!”) given that that’s the season of life I’m currently walking and speaking from. But no matter what season you’re in, there is always impatience and always something you’re waiting for. So, my sweet friends, wherever you sit as you read this today – whether you’re waiting on a cup of coffee, a miracle, or your Prince Charming – remember this:

Hopes are high.
Dreams are overwhelming.
Desires are strong.
And patience is hard.

But the Lord is working in those lulls.
And there is joy to be found in the waiting.

Faith, God, Spiritual Life, Uncategorized

Discipline of Faith

May 14, 2015

AGLM (99 of 1)

 

I got on this morning excited to see what was written on the blog and didn’t see a post and the thought that…”oh no, I hope I didn’t get my weeks mixed up” hit hard. Sure enough it was my week to write and I messed up.  The funny thing about it is that I want so badly to show you my best. It weighed on me all day. I felt terrible.  I hated being the one who slacked, who was’t as committed. The one who didn’t think to double check her dates.

Since I goofed and was not prepared I’m going to be really really honest with you guys…is that ok? Ok good.

Today has been hard. Right now is hard. I went into my evening ready to sit down and write to you some sort of well thought through wisdom and my internet decided to stop working again. My husband and I somehow got into a big fight. I then cried in public at dinner because the exhaustion just couldn’t be held in anymore. Then I had that sickening moment…you know the one…where your face is red and puffy, your nose is stuffy from crying, you can’t seem to shake your emotions or clear your thoughts and you have to go sit…in front of people….in a loud crowded restaurant because that is all that is open with free WiFi. That embarrassing feeling that everyone must know you just bawled your eyes out (even though no one probably is staring at you enough to know). I sat staring at the blank screen fighting the tears that keep threatening to flow solely from exhaustion and defeat. What can I share with you?  That marriage is not always a walk in the park? That I lost my temper just an hour earlier? That I don’t always double check my schedule? That I’ve found myself ungrateful today for all the things I DO have and instead was beat down by the things I didn’t?   That while God has promised us something huge I find myself weary and my Faith growing thin?     Well that is what I am sharing. It’s all true. I am so reminded of my need for a savior in these humbling moments. These moments when I think I have something to offer that will be oh so special and it’s clear that all I have to offer you right now is real. Real tough, ugly, tear stained me.  In hopes that you, dear girl, would know that we have all been there…(I assume I am not alone)…we’ve all had those mascara running, want to hide in a hole moments in life.  As I re-read Steph’s post from last week and then read through the list of prayer requests you girls posted on Facebook I wanted to cry more. (Gosh what is wrong with me, someone bring me a tissue, lots of ugly crying going on here).  I read as you all shared in vulnerability your anxieties, fears, illnesses, hopes, new transitions, and longing for clarity in the unknown.

 

We are all walking a story of faith. It may look different for each person. Maybe the faith is yet to come, maybe it is there, but you are waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. I often find myself impatient, weak, grasping hold of the promise, but fighting that doubt that maybe He isn’t going to follow through, because the days keep passing me by.     As my husband and I read our Daily Streams devotion last night, we were reminded of a great detail to faith that we so often forget and miss when in the middle of the waiting. And I felt led to share it with you all:

“All things are possible to him that believeth” Mark 9:23″

“The ‘all things’ do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith. Real moral fibre is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?  Keep on believing God’s Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God’s Word and being moved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line. Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes. In the lives of all the Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses, and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.

For example, in the case of Joseph home the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms;

‘The word of the Lord tried him.’ It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word  God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocency, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.

These were the hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development that, ‘when his word came’ (the word release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.

No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.”   ~Streams in the Desert May 12

 

Oh how we so often want to hide those things that make us less than perfect, tuck those “flaws”  away to be felt alone in the dark car, behind closed doors, away from faces. We want to put our best foot forward, we want everyone on social media to see the happy, faithful, strong women that we are…or we go the opposite and run to our phones and complain about how terrible our life is and how God just isn’t meeting you where you need to be met. Lets all get to the point where we can look at each other and see each other’s hearts. acknowledge that we all have our moments of defeat, discouragement, fear, and just the need for a good cry….but then let’s wrap our arms up under their shoulders, stand up straight and challenge each other to keep putting one foot in front of another…to not sit in the weight of one bad day, to not sit in the complaining that the days are going by and God made a promise…so where is our immediate gratification? Lets challenge each other to walk through the discipline of faith. Together.  Today was not a great day. But I’m going to choose to get up and face tomorrow as an opportunity to grow in that discipline, so that I may be used to my fullest when the victory of Faith comes. Would you join me?

God, Spiritual Life

on going through the hard places

May 6, 2015

As a feeler, and justice seeker, and writer
I desperately long for things to have meaning.
I have a deep desire to do work that matters, to write honestly, and talk about the hard things…
requiring me, to actually go through the hard things.

But not just go through the motions of the hard things, actually. go. through. them.
Intentionally and with purpose… with expectation-
like someone who has been promised something more.

If I’m being honest with you, I haven’t been going through through my hard things lately.

I am at that place
The exhausted place
The long list place
The poured out place

The kind of poured out people can see on your face-
but they don’t ask about
because the look both demands to be acknowledged but begs to be left alone.

That place where one more thing
becomes just another thing
and that one more thing doesn’t mean anything.

The hard place.

I haven’t opened my journal in over three months- for fear of what I might put in writing.

I haven’t paused at the end of my prayers just to listen- for fear of what I might hear. And I haven’t read the story of Job because maybe, just maybe, I want to stay here for a minute and not feel guilty on top of my frustration and sadness.

I say all of that, because maybe this week we can meet in the hard places.

It’s easy to write about the faithfulness and fulfillment of promises in the dawn-
to encourage and challenge one another when we’ve made it through-
to point to a Bible Verse or Ann Voskamp quote that helped give perspective.

Dear ones, I’m not through the hard places-
and most days I’m not going through them gracefully.
But this is what I know-most times most times
there is beauty just beyond the hard places-
andGod is not just beyond the hard.

The miracle of God is that he dwells in both-
the easy and the hard.

His presence is not waiting for me to get over myself in this season.
His gentleness is not moved by my frustration.
His goodness is not dependent on my journal writing.

Today, my prayer and my challenge for those of us journeying through the hard places is to truly truly go through them- wrestle through them if need be.
Not as people who have lost hope, or as “just make it though” women.

But set apart.
confident in His promises.
brave in our actions.
bold in our prayers.
seekers- not only of meaning- but of Him.

 

“Thank you, God, for the things you heal, the things you redeem, the things you refuse to leave just as they have been for what seems like forever.”
― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

 

P.S
Some of the things helping me through my current hard places are
Boldly I approach (The Art of Celebration) by Rend Collective
Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
fresh flowers, morning cups of coffee, and handwritten letters from my sponsor baby

 

What helps you go through the hard places?

Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life

I am Praying for You

April 22, 2015

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If you’ve ever left a comment on the Community Board, emailed us, or reached out in any other way, we’ve probably told you that the writers of AGLM are praying for you. And if you’ve never been told that, I’m telling you right now: we are praying for you! We believe prayer is a necessary and powerful time with God. Since we are mostly an online community, we don’t get the opportunity to sit next to you, hold hands with you, and reach out to God with you in prayer in person.

So we say that we are praying for you- which we are- but I wanted to use this post to write it out for you. I am excited to get to know each of you more, and I know this post isn’t about me, but it’s about my heart for you.

Has anyone prayed over you before? Maybe your answer is no. Maybe you’ve been prayed over 1,000 times. Either way, put your name in this prayer and know that we are for you because Jesus is for you. Read this prayer over a friend too!

Let this prayer be a battle cry for when you feel anything less than absolutely loved.

Read this as if we were sitting next to each other.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Heavenly Father,

You are the joy of heaven and earth. You are far more beautiful than we can know. You are set apart and high above any other love of ours. You are the light in us.

We fix our eyes on You as You hold us in the palm of Your hand, God- how could we be afraid?

We see You clearly as loving and merciful and just. We know You are for us.

How glorious You are to consider my prayer for these ladies. I rely on You to teach me about Your grace and mercy every single day. Only You can know my entire heart and how to restore it.

God, I pray for the hearts of our readers. Thank You for the community of A Girl Like Me, Jesus. You have connected us all over the world as a sisterhood to learn more about You. May they be encouraged by the words of this blog and realize that they are not alone both in their hardship and in their joys. May the women of this ministry feel Your presence in the reading and writing of these posts, the community board, and every other conversation.

We seek Your presence, God. We want to learn from the community of the Trinity and how to live in community with each other. Jesus, You have been above our every mountaintop and below our every valley. You know us and You don’t leave us to defend ourselves. God, we realize that we need You- in our hurt, in our depravity, we call You sovereign.

 

Father, I lift my friend {                     } to You.

You created her and You know her.

I pray that as she walks through the joys and trials of this life that You would make Yourself known to her.

God, in her work and in her rest, let her feel satisfied just with knowing You.

Thank You for the unique gifts that You have given her. They matter.

Thank You for the heart you’ve put inside her. It will change the world.

Thank You for guiding her. Give her patience to wait and realize what You are up to.

Thank You for her family and friends that challenge her and point her to You.

Build up her mind, Father, to be ready to stand up against the attack of the enemy. Don’t let her believe the lies that she isn’t good enough, smart enough, old enough, anything less than enough. Guard her heart from anything that is not of You.

 

When I am worried, You reassure me with your love.

When I am anxious, You calm my heart.

When I am weary, You invite me to rest in You.

When I am alone, You come near.

When I am afraid, You tear away the lies.

 

Lead us into the light of your Word and let us consider only You, God. We stand on Your gospel as the ultimate truth. Thank You for loving us so that we can know how to love each other.

 

Amen.

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am Average

April 8, 2015

kels (144 of 165)

As I was preparing what to write for our “Who Am I” series, to be really honest with you (which my goal is to always be honest with you), I really struggled to tell you who I am. I know that I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a student, a chocolate lover, a social butterfly, a coffee drinker,

But as I looked at my life I thought, I have nothing to catch people’s attention.

It seemed easier for me to write what I’m not than what I am. I am not the girl who gets asked to model or be in their fashion blog. I am not the girl to ask for cooking tips. I haven’t started a creative or successful business. I am not a great writer. I don’t have fancy handwriting (and the calligraphy classes won’t help me). I am not athletic. I wasn’t popular in high school. I have nothing “spectacular” to put on my resume. And I definitely don’t have any secret or hidden talents.

I am what the world would say is “average.”

And again, as I am really honest with you, I can tell you that I have always struggled with being okay with this.

Growing up to this day, I am always quick to admire a skill, talent, or job and I immediately start racking my brain on how I can get there too. When I was little and went to the ballet, I immediately thought, I can be that some day. When I heard a beautiful female vocalist at church, I immediately thought, I can do that and be like her! When I see a successful business, my first thoughts are, “What do I have to do to get there?!”

These hopeful and aspiring thoughts can last up to a good 24 hours and then they vanish when my brain starts kicking in and brings me back to reality.

As I was asking God to help me write this post, I asked him to give me transparency and his truth to encourage whoever reads this, but at the same time, I asked him to encourage me and help me to look past my “average”-ness and see who he wants me to be.

He said, “Be Faithful.”

I want to do BIG things. I want to change the world. I dream. I see opportunity, but right now, I have no idea what to do or who to be in this world. I ask myself, “How can I do BIG things when the world sees me as average and when I feel like right now I have nothing to offer?”

I just pray and wait. I am almost finished with 20 years of school and will have a master’s degree. The world tells me to run after success, gain status, and accumulate more and more money. But that doesn’t make my heart jump. That doesn’t seem satisfying. To say, “I am a successful woman,” may be what the world sees as above average, but that’s not who I want to be. I am not living for this world.

As I spend more time with the Lord, my heart changes.

I want to be faithful to my God.

When I read the Bible more, I learn that the women who God chose to use in big ways were by the world’s standards average, or maybe even below average.

  • Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was a very ordinary girl like us! Nothing special by the world’s standards, but God chose her to be the mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ. (Luke 1)
  • Look at Esther, who also was just a very average girl, nothing special about her family except that her parents weren’t around, no successful career or path, but God chose to use her to save an entire nation! (Esther 2)
  • Look at Ruth, who lost her family, had no one to provide for her, no career path, yet God used her in a scandalous, remarkable way to be a part of the his plan for salvation, in the lineage of Jesus. (Ruth 1)
  • Look at Sarah, who doubted God when he told her his plan. She actually laughed at God because she thought, who am I that God could and would want to use, and God still used her despite her initial response to be the mother of the lineage of Jesus! (Genesis 18)

Do you see that these women who God chose to put in the Bible and to use as a part of his plan for salvation were just average, ordinary women?

They weren’t the popular, successful, talented-blogger type.

They sinned, doubted, feared, and questioned God. But they also listened to God and then were faithful to what God was calling them to do out of their ordinary lives. And God used them in His for story for eternity.

Whatever you think would make you “above-average”, whether it be a better body, more money, a popular blog or business, being accepted into a certain school, having a boyfriend or husband… all those things are very temporary and will never satisfy you, but being faithful to the task God has for you, wherever you are, is an eternal investment.

I am praying for you and myself that we can confidently say to the Lord while embracing our average-ness and during our ordinary days,

“I am faithful.”

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am A Navigator

April 1, 2015

o-WOMAN-DRIVING-facebook

 

I’m a terrible driver. I know it’s a total cliche to say that, but seriously, I suck. I can’t parallel park, back up, or drive a stick shift. I drive way too fast, and I get distracted way too easily. (More often than not it’s by my phone which is a massive no, no I know) I’m the girl that could potentially be so lost in my own world that I’ll get home and have no idea how I even drove myself there. Let’s just say, I’m not going to be winning any awards in this category for, well, like ever. However, in the world of driving there is one thing I am excellent at: navigation.

I am on point when it comes to directions. I can usually use directions once to get to a place, and from then on I’ll remember how to get there. I can read a map, and very rarely do I ever get lost. I am not one of those girls (cough, like my mom, cough) who somehow can only find her way by the landmarks around her. You know, like, turn left at the Burger King and then it’ll be just past the rock that looks like an elephant type of directions. I actually know where north, south, east and west are thank you very much.  I think in another life, I could have totally been some awesome sailor, getting my ship across the seas by only looking at the stars. Ahhhhhh…wouldn’t that be nice?!?

If I’m being totally honest with you though, sometimes my arrogance of being so good with directions turns me into a bit of nagging brat. I can’t tell you how many times Jeff and I have been driving somewhere and we’ll get into a tiff because I keep trying to tell him where to go.

“You need to get over.”

“You’re going to miss our exit.”

“Why are you going so slow?”

“You know, this way would be a lot faster.” 

I kind of get in this know-it-all mode- almost as though there is no other way to reach our ending point than the one I’ve laid out. So often, I find myself stressing about the path to our destination that I fail to enjoy the ride.

Isn’t this just like our journeys with Christ? It’s funny…I feel like I’m letting God be in control. I’ve given him the car keys, put him in the drivers seat, and even let Him start to drive the car. But as soon as we get on the road, my controlling navigator ways takes over and I begin barking orders.

“No, that’s not the way to my happy ending.” 

“Hey, you’re going way too slow. You really need to speed things up.”

“Umm…why are you going that way?”

“You know, this way would really make me a lot happier.” 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to navigate my journey. Grabbing the map of my life and redirecting it’s course. Funny thing is, much like in real life, I end up being more stressed and worried about the process that I simply am not able to sit and enjoy my life as it’s happening.

Maybe the path and life you have envisioned for yourself isn’t the road you find God taking you down. Maybe, like me, you find yourself looking at your GPS and trying to reroute and navigate yourself a shortcut. Maybe God is driving you away from that job or boy or college or friendship and you just cant help but think He’s got it all wrong. That his way is too long, too slow, and way too hard for you to go down. So we grip our maps tighter, scream a little louder into His ear and begin to demand that we are the navigator, so listen to us!

Friends, put down your maps. Turn off the GPS, shut off the google maps, and in the words of Elsa… LET.IT.GO. Yeah, His way may be longer. His way may not look as easy or pretty or full of all the things we think will make us happy and fulfilled. His way may be none of those things, but you know what it is? His way is better.

His way is the way to true life. You can’t just let God drive your car, you have to also let Him captain it.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve tried to steer things in my own course. Sure, there were happy moments. Moments I thought were some of the greatest I’d ever have. But they weren’t life-giving moments. The paths I navigated may have left me happy, but they never left me feeling alive. And when push comes to shove, I’d rather feel alive.

So let’s agree, shall we, to unclench our death grip to the outline we’ve made for our lives. Let’s instead, roll down the windows, put our feet up on the dash and enjoy the ride. Let’s get a little wild and embrace the excitement that can (trust me, it can) come from not knowing where the next turn will be. Because who knows, what’s waiting around that unknown corner might just be the best thing that’s happened to you. All you have to do is go.

God, Identity

I Am a Storyteller

March 25, 2015

kels (145 of 165)For as long as I can remember I have had an affinity for words.

Not just individual words, like, “Today I discovered the word splendiferous and now I want to use it all the time in everyday conversation.” (Though I really did come across that recently and have since tried to use it every opportunity I get.)

I’m more fascinated by what words can do when they are strategically ordered to form a song, a poem, a script, a prayer…heck, even a grocery list! But the power when those words become a story…now we’re talkin’.

I used to be obsessed with reading. I could get lost in a good book for hours on end. When I was younger I could be very persuasive in having my bedtime extended because I simply couldn’t stop at chapter 25 when Harry was just about to face Voldemort in chapter 26! And if I had a dollar for every time I got caught in bed with my book light under the covers at midnight…let’s just say I wouldn’t have college debt to pay off right now. As I got older, my dad would always tell me I was going to be a horrible navigator once I started driving – I couldn’t learn directions if I always had my nose in a book while in the car. He was right.

But I couldn’t help myself! My vivid imagination ran wild as I flipped each page. Each word came together to create a world that I could see and step right into. I valued the details. The big ones that built up the important parts of the story…and the little ones scattered throughout that just brought it all to life.

It didn’t take long for me to become quite the storyteller myself. Everything was a story. I’ve always joked that the biggest difference between my sister and I is that when asked, “How was school?” her answer was always, “Good,” – short and sweet – while I spent the next hour diving into what I ate for lunch, the hilarious thing my friend said in the hall, which teachers were actually cool and why, and how many times I got in trouble for talking in class (shocker). Every single mundane detail of my day was important to me.

Sadly, not everyone saw it that way.

For a while, any time I would start to talk to my friends, I would get things like, “How long is this going to take?”, “Is this the Reader’s Digest version?” or, “Ok, skip to the point.” There was eye rolling and laughter, all inserted under the safe bubble of sarcasm. But it wasn’t safe. It hurt. And it conveyed to me the message that there was something wrong with my attention to detail.

I let this get to me for a while. I tried desperately to change. I stayed silent a lot and wouldn’t contribute much to conversation.

But guess what?

I was miserable.

Details are a part of who I am. Storytelling is both a quirk and a gift. Sure, there are times when it’s a bit excessive. I realize that. And I do still try to reign it in when necessary 😉 But at the end of the day, I truly believe that the Lord made me a detail-oriented Chatty Kathy for a reason. I notice and appreciate the little things more than most people. And I value the intricate stories of others – I love to listen and discover what makes people who they are.

I’ve grown to understand the heart of God in such a unique way. He is the master storyteller. Maybe He could have summed up the Bible into a short article, but He didn’t. He gave us 66 books of very specific words, each word having a purpose. Sometimes the details seem irrelevant and we want to skim over them to “get to the point.” But think of your own story. He wrote that, too. How unexciting would our lives be if God didn’t include the little things?

Everyone has a story. It’s your testimony. And it’s still being written. There are big, climactic moments, and there are the “fillers,” the seemingly insignificant memories and happenings. All of which God is using for His Glory.

So let’s embrace the details! Because there’s nothing wrong with being a splendiferous storyteller 😉

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am A Dreamer

March 4, 2015

 

beautiful woman traveling on a vintage car

I guess you could say that I’ve always been a dreamer. When I was seven I pretended that one of the canopy bed posts on my bed was Tom Cruise. We were dancing at some fancy gala, of course, and as the entire place had their eyes on the two of us, he dipped me real low and gave me the most glorious and life-altering kiss my young heart could conjure. In reality, when I leaned back for said mega dip and kiss, the post on my bed (AKA Tom Cruise) snapped and my entire canopy bed broke.

Through most of elementary and middle school I would sing as I walked to and from school so that if some famous movie director or talent agent was out mowing their lawn or getting their mail they would hear me and make me famous. I even went so far as to write a fan letter to a boy I saw in a movie, convincing myself that we’d become pen-pals and then eventually fall in love and get married and have famous actor babies. Side note: said actor only did the one movie and never acted again, so bullet dodge. 😉

As I grew older my dreams became less outrageous and a bit more grounded. It went from celebrity fairytale love stories and fame and fortune to just mild success with an epic everyday-type romance thrown in. Every relationship became THE relationship-every job opportunity became THE job I was supposed to do. My dreams may have moved out of the clouds a bit, but they were still very far from reality.

Life moved on as did many of my dreams. I began to see that so many of the things I had dreamed for myself weren’t coming true. Jobs weren’t working out, relationships were ending, success preceded failure and my desire to dream started to fade.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

For most of my life my dreams were set around me. How could I be happy? What would make MY life great? Although my dreams may have been praiseworthy, heck, even Jesus focused- they were missing one key element, Christ himself.

A dreamer can never reach the end of their rainbow if they first can’t acknowledge the Dream Giver. 

Look at the creativity of the Father. The way He paints the sky in oranges and reds during a sunset. The way a tiny seed can bring forth trees that provide food and nourishment. Humans who can think and feel and create just like God. He IS the original dreamer and He is also the giver of dreams.

We are constantly in a hurry to get to our dream-fulfilled that we forget to stop and look at where our dream began. 

Who gave you that love for music? Who put in you a fiery passion for missions or business? Who gave you the ache for a husband and family? The Dream Giver!

God is not out to destroy your desires. He’s the one who put them there! The place we tend to get so lost in is that He puts those desires there not so that we seek out their fulfillment but rather that we seek Him and allow our fulfillment in Him to bring about those desires.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” Psalm 37:23

Friends, let’s be women who dream big with God.

Women who live in huts in Africa.

Women who preach and teach to the masses.

Women who fight for injustice and poverty.

Women who act, write or sing words of truth and hope and freedom.

Women who are faithful to their husbands and loving to their children.

Women who take risks and don’t live in the safe.

Women who aren’t afraid of the impossible because we know that with God, ANYTHING is possible.

We have been granted the greatest of gifts my friends. We have been allowed to dream alongside the One who hung the stars and soothed the seas. All He asks is that we delight in Him, handing over our finite earthly dreams and allow the immense mind-blowing plans HE has for us become our dreams. Because whatever His best is far outweighs anything we could ever hope for. So will you give your him your dreams?

I may not understand a lot, but I do know this:

Who am I? I am a dreamer.