Browsing Category

Identity

Faith, Identity, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

He Picked The Wrong House

August 19, 2015

8678379517_21d2302f85_b

Ever since I was a little girl I always fantasized about one day living in a red brick house with a fireplace and a staircase. Coming from Arizona where every house was brown and stucco and the seventy degree winters made fireplaces seem irrelevant, my little heart longed for the cozy homes I saw on TV.

The day I saw the house is one I’ll never forget it. We pulled up into the driveway, a beautiful summer day, and there it was. Strong, proud, and a brilliant shade of red brick. My heart was already racing at what we would find once we opened the door and looked inside. I was overjoyed as I walked through this beauty to see a perfect staircase and a glistening fireplace. It was my dream home. It was perfect. It was mine.

After we bought the house and moved in, we were rifling through a bunch of paperwork the previous owners had left behind when we found them. Pictures.

You see, our house was built in 1938 and we were only the fourth people to ever live there. The people who we bought it from had purchased the house from a woman who had called it home for over twenty years. But when they bought it, the house was, well, let’s say, in need of a facelift.

We flipped through the pictures, seeing the house as it once was, and were overcome. We couldn’t believe that the beautiful home we were standing in had once been so hideous….so hopeless looking. But here it was today, remade and so stunning.

As I sat in my counselor Al’s office last year, tears spilling out of my eyes, I kept telling him how I felt so hopeless…so broken. I couldn’t see how the abuse I had suffered and all the horrible life events that came from that could make me anything less than a mess of a lost cause. Sure, maybe I’d find a way to cope with the pain. Maybe I’d even find a way to forgive and heal a little. But I’d always be broken. I’d always be the girl who was molested.

He told me of a book called The Prince Of Tides. The book was the story of a man who had suffered terrible abuse in his youth and how as a man he was finally able to start dealing with the pain. In one particularly graphic part of the book there is a scene where the main character is getting raped by his abusers inside of his home. As it’s happening, he looks out the window to see his older brother standing outside with their pet tiger. He goes on to say, “In that moment, I knew that they had picked the wrong house.” The older brother then proceeds to bust into the house with tiger and kill all the abusers. End scene.

Maybe like I did, you’re feeling a little bit like an old, broke-down house. Time and pain has worn you down, and you feel like merely a shell of the person you once knew. You want so badly to be remade. To feel beautiful, hope-filled, loved, and even useful again. But the scars are too deep and you cant imagine how you’d ever arrive at that place.

When heartache comes to us, the enemy, he thinks he’s won. He thinks he’s finally found the thing that beat you. But listen in real close sweet friends because I have something to tell you:

He picked the wrong house.

Hearing those words, for me, was like taking breath for the first time in forever. He picked the wrong house. I was not the defeated one, he was.

Ladies, I know the days can seem dark. I know and have felt the consuming feeling that our sin and shame and hurt can have over us. I know how it clouds everything we see, making day seem impossible and night our constant. But I also know this: you and I, we are not lost causes.

Much like my house, we are empty and broken shells in need of someone to come in, clean us up and make us beautiful again. Yes, there will be work to be done. Walls will be knocked down, things will be cut and removed, but there will also be rebuilding. Because we have Christ, and if He is with us then no amount of chaos or harm or abuse the enemy could ever throw our way will knock us down. We are a house on a firm foundation.

My lovely friends, you are not hopeless. Do you hear me? That weight you’re carrying that seems so heavy will not take you down. That light at the end of the tunnel that feels dimmer and dimmer….it WILL come. Because you, yes YOU, are a daughter of God and that means no abuser or mistake or death or break up or self-harm or addiction can ever defeat you.

THEY PICKED THE WRONG HOUSE

“Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of theLord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:16-17

My house, much like myself, was once a lost cause. A place of desolation. But today, we both stand tall, stronger than we were before. The scars of the past still remain, but only as faded remnants against a colorful canvas. Do not give up dear sister. The Lord is with you and you will overcome.

 

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

When I Grow Up

July 15, 2015

kels (63 of 165)When you’re little, everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up.

You say things like…
A vet.
A gymnast.
A princess.
Or whatever mommy does because she’s the coolest person ever.

Now everyone knows what kind of toys to buy you for Christmas and what the theme of your birthday party will most likely be. Because that’s all that matters when you’re 5.

Then you reach high school, and you’re expected to be more specific and realistic and map out life after graduation, even though that’s so. far. away.

So you say things like…
A journalist.
A marine biologist.
A chef.
Or a reality tv star, because if Snooki can get rich quick that way, so can you.

Now you’re going to change your mind 37 times because no one seems to understand that you can’t decide what you want to eat for lunch, much less what you want to do with the rest of your life.

Then one day you wake up, and all of a sudden you’re 22 and you have no idea where your life is headed.

That’s exactly where I found myself a few months ago. The day I thought would never come…came.

Adulthood sprung up on me, and despite all the preparation, I wasn’t ready for it.

I was living with my parents with no rent and no real responsibilities. I was settling for a part-time job and putting my dreams and goals on hold. I knew I wanted to be in ministry. But when it came down to picking a path, I realized that’s a very broad area of interest, and I didn’t know how to narrow it down. So I stayed stuck.

Until God said, “Move to Nashville.”

WHOA.

On one hand, I was STOKED. I love Nashville. There’s just something about the area that has always made me feel (dare I say) at home. And I’m all for adventure and travel, so in theory, it sounded like a great idea to me!

But on the other hand, I was extremely confused. Because that’s all God gave me. Just a destination. He left the rest of the details completely unknown. Like where I would live, how I would support myself, and what my purpose there would be.

Despite my confusion and questions, though, I had this insane amount of peace and confidence that one way or another, Nashville was where I was supposed to be.

So I did it. Less than a week ago, I packed up my life and I made the long one-way trip to Tennessee. God provided temporary living arrangements…but I still need a place of my own. He provided a part-time job…but now I’m going to have bills and just a few hours a week isn’t going to cut it anymore.

So now I’m apartment hunting.
And job searching.
Trying to meet people.
Looking for a church.
Making a life of my own.
As an adult.
And I don’t have a CLUE what I’m doing.

It’s scary.
It’s intimidating.
It’s overwhelming.

Man, if you only knew the amount of tears I’ve cried this week, over goodbyes and finances and confusing circumstances and just not knowing.

And in all of that the only thing I can do is run to Jesus.

It’s in these weak, vulnerable moments with Him that I hear His truth so loud and clear.

So I want to invite you into the pages of my journal, into a conversation I had with God recently that started with questions and doubts and ended with a renewed confidence:

It’s times like these, when You’ve taken me out of my comfort zone, when I have to decide…do I still trust You? Do I still believe You are who You say You are – Provider, Protector, Comforter, Father? Can I still cling to Your promises? Are You still bigger than my problems?

Yes. The answer to all of that is Yes. I know You have brought me here for a reason. You will never leave me or fail me (Deut. 31:6). Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). I don’t understand any of this right now, and it scares me. I hate not knowing. I’m so uncomfortable with not knowing. But I’m not supposed to know everything. All I need to know is that You are good. And that You have plans to prosper me, not to harm me – to give me a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). You have promised me this. You never promised me an easy transition or all of the answers. You only promised to love me, and that is enough.

I’m 22 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. And that’s okay. I don’t need to know. My calling right now is just to be obedient one day at a time. And I know I’m not the only one. Whether you’ve just entered high school, graduated college, or are in between jobs, you’re probably faced with a lot of the same questions, and maybe a lot is still unknown. But remember who is in control of it all. He has a purpose for the season He has you in. There are lessons to be learned and preparations to be made before we can enter into new, bigger, more exciting seasons. It’s a process. But the journey is important and worth it. The journey thus far has made you who you are right now. And the journey ahead will make you who you’re meant to be.

Faith, Identity

Who I Want To Be Or Who I’m Gonna Be

April 29, 2015

 

Scelte

When I was five, we were asked to share what we wanted to be when we grew up at our kindergarten graduation. Me, with frizzy big hair and my semi-toothless grin proudly stated that I was going to be an artist. The confidence in which I conveyed this dream would have left anyone feeling certain I was about to be the next Picasso.

In fourth grade, I was once again asked to write an essay about who I wanted to be when I grew up. This time, I said an archeologist. I wrote of my vision to travel around the world discovering and naming new dinosaurs and foreign tribes, putting myself into the history books of tomorrow. It was quite the inspirational essay if I do say so myself.

In high school we were encouraged to select electives that would prepare us for hat we wanted to study in college. Seeing as I now wanted to be a nurse, I took anatomy and physical science. I was going to work with babies, maybe even do medical missions. I was a woman with a dream.

Here I am at age 33 and I am neither an artist, archeologist or a nurse. I never became the teacher, missionary, massage therapist, or counselor that I had also thought I’d be either. Life has a funny way of not taking us the places we had envisioned ourselves going.

Sometimes I look back at my life and wonder what would have happened if I had lived overseas for a year as a missionary or gone to get my masters degree after college instead of working. Would I have been happy? Would I have ever met Jeff or even been married at all?  The rabbit hole of what ifs is endless and one I’d rather not dive deeply into.

For two months this question of who am I has been swirling around in our little AGLM world. We’ve pointed out the significant and insignificant, allowing ourselves to see something deeper to the labels we give ourselves. Something other. Something that some might even say is holy.

But what’s the meaning of it all? What does it matter if I’m average or a storyteller or a bad dancer or dreamer or memory maker? Sure, it’s a part of me, but so are a lot of other things. So why the big flippin deal?

I was recently in Phoenix visiting my family and was out having coffee with my brother one day. We’re pretty close he and I, and often can turn the most stupid conversations into something deep and spiritual. I really like that about us because it allows me to know that God is in and a part of everything….even the small and the silly.

It was during one of these conversations that my brother said something incredibly profound to me. He said, “I’ve come to the place of realizing that there’s a big difference between who I want to be and who I’m gonna be. In order for me to become who I want to be, I have to be willing to take big and radical, sometimes even crazy steps with God.” 

If I had really wanted to, I could have been all those things I dreamed of becoming as a little girl. I could have taken art classes or studied science or gone to nursing school or taken a short term mission trip. But I didn’t. I went another way. Not necessarily the wrong way, just another way.

From the moment our lives are given over to God, they no longer become our lives. We are now a part of a bigger story- given a bigger purpose. The little quirks and personality traits that make us up are not just there to make us happy and fulfilled, they are meant to draw us further from ourselves and closer to the cross. In doing that, we meet a crossroads of who we want to become and who are going to become.

I think for a while I lived with delusion that if I just obeyed God and read my Bible and went to church, God was going to give me all I wanted and a life full of happiness. That every answer and season of growth would just be handed over to me on a golden platter from heaven with a note from God saying: “Here’s your future Heather, hope you like it. Love, The Big G.” Boy was I stupid.

In thinking about the things I am these last two months, it’s really helped me to see who I am not, but who I’d like to be. Sure, I’m a dreamer….but am I a dreamer willing to risk it all to follow the dream? Yep, I’m a navigator, but am I willing to let go of the reins and let someone else direct my course? If these things are meant to give me more of Jesus, what am I doing to help me achieve that? Or am I so caught up in me, that I miss Him completely?

I’m not sure where you’re at in life. Maybe, like me, you find yourself staring at that crossroad between want and gonna. Between the easy path of just going with what’s safe and secure or the radical one with great potential but a ton of risk. Maybe God is asking you to quit that job or ministry. Maybe you are meant to dump that boyfriend or stop hanging out with those toxic friends. It could be you’re feeling led to move away from home, go to a different college, confess that sin, get counseling, and simply just let go of the death grip of control you’re placing on your life and future. And my question to you, my sweet friend, would be…”Which way are you going to choose?”

I want to look back another thirty-three years from now with a smile on my face. I want to know that instead of choosing my comfort, I chose Jesus. I chose to do the work, even the painful ones, if it meant allowing my heart to be molded into Christ’s likeness. I want to say I did the nonsensical, the radical, the unsure and the unsafe. I want to feel with confidence that I did everything I could to move towards Christ in becoming not just who I want to be, but who HE wants me to be. Because any other life outside of that doesn’t seem like a life I’d want to have.

So, my beautiful AGLMers, what’s it going to be? Are you going to stay the girl you’re gonna be, or are you ready to become the girl you want to be. The choice is up to you.

 

Identity, Uncategorized

I am a Memory Maker

April 15, 2015

aglmblog3 (7 of 1)I am a photographer, journaler, doodler, sentimental keepsake keeper.

I have a box of journals dating back to my childhood, the pages filled with all the little and big life moments I deemed important. I kept notes and letters from friends and family, I have loads of photos and each one has a story I could tell to go with it. My childhood best friend and I went on a little getaway while I was in Colorado and spent the evening reminiscing over old notes to each other (written with gel pens of course), giggling over our KidPix obsession, and going through old photos. They were all filled with stories and memories that were evidence of a God breathed friendship that even 10 years apart couldn’t sever. I’m just sentimental to the point of probably keeping way more than I should, but I love stories. My stories and other’s stories.  I love remembering. Not dwelling on things but remembering how important this story is that God is writing.

I love to capture moments.

I am a reminiscer.

Oftentimes I wonder if my passions and love for these things is bad. I hang out with my minimalist friends and fight the panic in the back of my mind that I need to go throw all of my keepsake boxes away right now, because I have too much. I find myself wondering what they will think if they see my non-minimalsit house someday filled with walls of photos and bookshelves of memories. I read all these blogs and articles about how we should put down our cameras and I fight the guilt of knowing I constantly have either my camera or my phone camera in hand. I question if I am missing out on life because I am trying so hard to capture it. I wonder if what my natural desire is is wrong because society is telling me so.  I try to stop and remind myself that neither is right or wrong. I can learn a lot from my less sentimental friends, my more minimalist friends, but God has created me to love stories. It overflows to how I relate with people, how I desire to serve people and how I experience life fully.  I do understand that we need to be present in the here and now, we need to set aside distractions, however…when something is a natural passion and desire, the thing that makes you come alive, pursue it.  Capturing memories is a natural part of me. Even in those crazy times when things don’t go as planned I love to make a memory of it, to laugh through it and capture it, so it can be reminisced about later.  I love instagram not because it is social media but because in this season of my life I have been just too tired to journal (which is so sad), but it allows me to capture snippets and memories of everyday. I can capture those silly moments when things don’t go as planned, travel gets crazy and laughter takes over.  It allows me to look back and read through the short captions and remember where we were a year ago, a month ago, a week ago. Matt and I love looking through and being reminded of just how blessed we are, how God has brought us through so many ups and downs. Plus I love scrolling through other people’s stories.

Taking my camera out to capture nature, architecture and people on the street is a form of worship for me. It requires me to slow down and often stop to take time to look at what is in front me and capture the moment. It forces me to take everything in and acknowledge that I serve a great God.  Plus, most of the moments end up becoming fun memories. When we were wandering Paris my sweet husband was so patient, we would set up the tripod at night to capture the City of Lights and since each photo takes several seconds to shoot we could end up sitting there for an hour or more. Those moments forced us to slow down from our usual rushing to each site and just sit and really soak in where we were. Be present with each other and take in with wide eyes what an amazing setting God had brought us to.

Maybe for you it’s not capturing photos or journaling memories. Maybe it’s cooking. Mixing the ingredients together to create something that smells and tastes incredible. Maybe it’s building something, creating something, playing an instrument, organizing, etc. Sometimes God gives us gifts for us to enjoy and to use to give back worship to Him. He created us unique and individual to offer service and gifts to the world around us. So if you cook…take the time to do so, enjoy it fully, cook simply because it brings you joy, do it for yourself and do it to serve others. If you are gifted at playing an instrument, play. Play for yourself in a quiet room, enjoy it, do it as worship, serve other people with your gift. Whatever your gift may be instead of feeling like you should adjust to be more like so and so or fit into such and such group….use those gifts. Don’t allow them to become idols or distractions…instead use them as worship to the One who blessed you with them, use them to serve and bring joy to others. Those gifts and things that make you feel alive are part of you. They play a part in your identity.

Be you.

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 😉

Identity

I am an Anomaly

March 18, 2015

aglmpost (1 of 1)
I was the wild child. Not in the sense that I made terrible choices or lived recklessly, and I wasn’t the hyperactive kid…I was a wild spirit. I could day dream for hours and get completely lost in another reality.  I had my own sense of style and couldn’t be fit into any box, I was a girly girl who was covered in mud and wore pants under my dress. I owned Carhart coveralls and had forts in haylofts and then would get fancied up for dance recitals and tea parties. I’m even ambidextrious. I love good music but also have a weak spot for riding in the car with the windows down and some country or cheesy pop music blaring from the radio. I’m super OCD about very random things, I am very particular about how I clean and how I present things when staying at other people houses, but then I am a creative mess and have “organization” on my computer that makes no logical sense to anyone but the voice in my brain.  I hate going to sleep in a messy bed, so I make the bed before I go to sleep, but I rarely make it in the morning.   I watch Law and Order and Criminal Minds at night when I am babysitting or alone in big dark houses, and then spend the rest of the night analyzing every noise and going through scenarios in my head of what steps I would take if someone jumped out at me. I am deathly afraid of sharks and under-water things and swimming in oceans or even lakes often results in hyperventilating and picturing something eating my legs off. As a child I was even afraid of the grates in pools because surely there were alligators or sharks in there.

Oh where my imagine could take me.

I would even tell my friends who slept over about the elk or other wild animals that would come through the windows in the middle of the night…my stories were so descriptive that I would then believe them and not be able to sleep.    At 28 I still find a giddy joy in being home alone, playing spa night, eating ice cream out of the tub and watching shows like High School Musical or Dance movies. I grew up with dreams of being a missionary in Africa…and also playing a role in Newsies and being a back-up dancer for a famous singer…on the side I was going to be a pediatrician.

I’m an anomaly.

I don’t fit in.

I get into weird, annoying moods and act like a five year old needing attention because I’m bored (just ask my husband).

I hate being alone for more than a few hours, but I don’t like big parties and crowds. I’m an extroverted introvert. I love one on one and small groups.  I work best in a busy coffee shop with noise around me…partly because I love to people watch and partly because it makes me feel less alone in the world.   When I am excited or passionate about something or I am just really tired, I fumble my words like a kid with a stutter and then get even more flustered and look extremely, socially awkward.

I’ve gone through seasons of wondering why I am the way I am…sometimes even wishing I was created differently. But as I’ve walked through this life I have continually come to the realization that, not in a cliche way, I am who I was created to be. The years of dreaming, fighting, laughing at silly things, seeking adventure and excitement…have all prepared me for the steps ahead. They’ve molded me to be the person needed in certain jobs, certain friendships and even in marriage.

I’ve been told over and over in life that I cannot do something or I would not succeed at a venture…and it only fueled the fire in my wild soul to prove that if God calls me to something I can succeed no matter what failure is spoken over me. I find laughter in times that most would deem inappropriate, which allows me to laugh in the hard times as well. I find adventure in life, and reason to celebrate anything from successfully getting through a crazy day to landing a dream job. Our moto is “there is always something to celebrate” and if there isn’t an occasion, we will make up a reason. Because of who I am I have lived a crazy full life….every week feels like a month. I have met incredible people and dreamed up incredible things. I have traveled to beautiful places and lived in rich cultures. And I am constantly having to remind myself that those experiences happen because God created me with this personality. This fighter, free-spirit yet even-keeled, odd ball. It allows me to get out of my own way and jump and laugh (sometimes cry) through the stories and the moments life brings me.

I sometimes wish I could be the cool extrovert, the super smart brainy girl, the trendy fashonista, the emotional sensitive one, the skinny, small chested, fit into anything girl…but then I wouldn’t have my story, my own sweet friendship with Jesus that has come from those intimate, sometimes hard adventures. I would be living someone else’s story. I want my strong, spirited, odd personality to allow me to do great and brave things, to be bold and make waves. I want my grand imagination and dreams to trail blaze a way for others to find their dreams, and be encouraged to step out with courage.

So girls, let’s laugh at our quirks, let’s not take ourselves so seriously, lets embrace our gifts and use them to be brave women with unwavering relationships with Jesus.

Identity

I Am A Horrible Dancer

March 11, 2015

I am a horrible dancer.
The worst.

It’s not so much that I can’t dance…
it’s just, I have measurably zero rhythm.
and that’s sort of necessary to dancing-
or so I’ve been told.

And this wouldn’t be so terrible-
except I. Want. To. Dance.

I’ve wanted to dance for a really long time.  When I was thirteen my mom finally signed me up for a dance class.  I took ballet and jazz- but surrounded by girls who had been in “baby- ballet” and “toddler- tap” I didn’t last very long.  I danced for a year, but didn’t sign up for another after our spring recital.

Years later, the number of Friday night, “I just want to dance” texts sent out from my phone while I was in college is absurd.  Embarrassing even.  What’s worse is what inevitably happened next.

We would get downtown, and I would choke.
After all the getting excited and getting ready and getting downtown…I stood to the sides and watched the dance floor from a high top table.  I couldn’t get myself out on the dance floor.

It seems silly to admit being emotional over dancing, over movement.
But being a terrible dancer is something I define myself by.
I measure myself with a failing dream.

If I’m choked up over wishing I could live a life with a little more rhythm,
I have to wonder- what seemingly short fall do you define yourself with?

I’m a little bit older now, but my [lack of] ability to dance hasn’t changed much at all.
My desire to dance hasn’t changed either.

Praise The Lamb! my understanding of God the Creator has-
and He has been patient with my slow understanding of being an image bearer.

 

We have an amazingly creative God.
Literally, He created all the things.

So when I think about Him creating man and woman in his image (Genesis 1:26)
it’s easy to think about the creatives in my life-
the musicians, and artists…and dancers
to see them as images of the Divine.

But love!
We are made in the image of God.
All of us, every single one of us.
Individually created with an identity that points back to The Father.

When I focus on my terrible dancing I forget my image bearing origin- 

We are fallen image bearers, feeling guilty for things we ought to embrace and embracing the things that ought to bring guilt.

We may be displeased with the ways he wants to reveal his glory through us because they don’t look like the ways he reveals his glory through others. We’re uncomfortable with the implications and become confused about our own desire.

-from Emily P Freeman’s, Million Little Ways

 

Take heart sweet girl! Dancer
Christ came to reestablish our identity-
showing us what it means to be fully alive,
how to live on earth as we were intended to live-
A life of complete dependence on the Father.

Dancer, or poet, or engineer,
terrible singer, or cook, or athlete-

It’s time to remember the Spirit of power and love and a sound mind who lives within us.
It’s time to live as though we believe we have something to offer.
It’s time to release our authentic terrible dancing selves into the world.

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.