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Faith, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Suffering

On Seeking More Than A Cure

July 1, 2015

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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, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Trudging Through The Mud

June 24, 2015

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I learned recently that in between winter and spring exists a season referred to as the “mud season.” It’s the time when the ground is slowly starting to thaw just enough for the snow to melt, but not enough for new life to spring forth. The moisture from the melted snow collects on the ground creating a layer of mud everywhere. It’s messy, ugly, and hard to drive on. As long as the cold remains, the mud season stays. It’s only when the sun begins to warm the earth and the ground fully thaws that the mud will recede and spring makes its way. Kind of depressing, I know.

For the last six months I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in my own personal mud season. This period of in between. Not the deadness of winter, but not the new life of spring either. I’ve felt aimless and hopeless. Lonely and lost. To tell you the truth, it is probably one of the darkest seasons I’ve ever walked through. And to get even more real, I’m not handling it well.

Six months ago I had plans. Plans for what this year was going to look like. Big dreams filled with big projects and great hope that God was going to use me this year for something amazing. That all the crumminess I had dealt with the year before would now be put to use to build up Jesus and His people and bring me that joyous harvest for all the previous year’s hard toiling. Wrong.

I found myself two months into this new year being asked to do something I didn’t expect. I was asked to let go. To let go of everything that made me feel like me. Ministries, passions, dreams, desires- all of it was to be handed over to God. Of course being the stubborn human I am, I fought back. I pushed and clawed. I sought new and different paths to get to where I wanted to go. Each time I did, God would slam the door close, reminding me once again that He was in control and what he wanted was for me to surrender to the mud. To embrace the season of the in between.

I wish I could tell you my immediate response was obedience and joy. I wish I could tell you that I was hopeful and expectant. But that’s a big ol fat lie. Instead, I threw a pity party. I cried for days on end. I stopped reading my Bible. I stopped talking to my friends. I got angry and bitter. If God was going to make me live in the mud season, He was going to have to drag me through it. And that’s exactly what He did.

One morning I was having breakfast with Kelly (you remember our lovely Kelly, right?) and she said something really impactful to me. She told me, “Maybe God is giving you this season to show you that even if your hands aren’t to something, you still are valuable to Him.” I knew she was right. I had built up so much of who I was based on everyone and everything around me that I thought as long as I had those things, as long as I was _____ kind of person, then God would love me and see me as valuable. But maybe, just maybe, He had to take it all away to show my how precious I was to him simply because I was me.

The idea felt simple enough, but is still a hard lesson to learn. Because as I moved forward, I didn’t know who “me” was. Some mornings I’d be picking out the clothes I was going to wear and I’d just start crying. I was so unsure of myself that even getting dressed was a struggle. Things I once loved didn’t seem to be as thrilling. Passions I once had began to fade. The me I had known no longer existed and I had no idea who this new Heather was. As time went on, it felt as though the proverbial mud was getting more dense and instead of walking through it, I was simply stuck.

Two weeks ago it all came crashing down. I had reached a point of exhaustion in this season of mud where I just didn’t want to go forward. Again, I found myself crying for days. Angry at God for keeping me here. Angry at my friends for not calling me to hang out or reaching out to me to see how I was. Angry at Jeff for getting to do something he loved. I had resolved that although I knew God was good, His goodness had run out when it got to me. He didn’t love me, because if He did, He’d get me out of the mud.

As Jesus would so lovingly have it, I happened to get a call from the one person who knew what I was feeling- my brother. He’s been in a mud season for almost three years now, and if anyone knew what it was like, it was him. After pouring out my woes to him through sobs, he laughed. Not because he saw my pain as funny, but because he knew something I didn’t. He told me that some days, it’s ok if all I can muster up to God are the words grace and strength. It’s ok if there are days when my legs are so tired of walking through the mud that all I can do is be drug through it by God. I just have to be willing to hold on.

Like I said, my brother is still in his mud season. But something he’s learned that I am working on, is moving from knowing to believing. I know God is good. I know He has a plan for me and that it includes me moving out of this season. I know it. But I don’t believe it.  Because when I believe that God still loves me, still has good for me, and won’t leave me stuck here forever…I begin to have hope again. I can begin to trudge through the mud, letting my legs get stronger as a result, able to run and embrace whatever lay beyond the in between.

I’m slowly coming to see that it’s in these moments when are at our greatest discomfort, feeling the least like ourselves, that we can fully see God for who He is and who he dreams for us to be. Sometimes it just takes us walking through the mud.

If you find yourself like me, trudging through your own season of in between, sister, you are not a lone. I see you, I ache alongside you, and I too am silently whispering moment by moment to God to just give me grace and strength for today. Together, let’s keep holding on to Christ, working to believe that spring is coming. Until then let’s embrace the mud, and with each step, find hope that whatever is next is just around the corner.

 

Faith, Spiritual Life, Theology

Why I Don’t Love Devotionals

June 3, 2015

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Growing up, my family went to every weekly church event. For me this meant Sunday school, children’s church, choir practice, church supper, GA/RA’s (it’s okay if you don’t know what this is) and Bible Drill. I loved church, but once I hit about 10 years old, I went through a church burnout.

One afternoon while I played Tetris on our ginormous computer, as my parents told me to get ready for church, I gave them what I thought was a valid reason as for why I didn’t need to go to church. They still do not let me forget what I told them 15 years ago.

I simply said, in a bit of a sassy tone, “But I already know everything in the Bible.”

What was my little 10 year old mind thinking?!?! Yes, this is humorous because I actually believed what I said, but also, ironic because as I am finishing seminary this year, I feel like I have more to learn about the Bible than I ever have before.

When I was 10 years old, I wasn’t reading the Bible on my own, others were reading it for me. Once I got a little older and started reading the Bible on my own, I struggled to read it consistently and then actually apply what I was learning when I did read it.

Then I discovered devotionals. Wow. Those were nice. You could read one verse, a short paragraph about the verse, a scripted prayer and feel good about completing your “quiet time” for the day. Plus, the devotionals didn’t include the “boring” verses and passages…

Okay, so I am being a bit sarcastic. The devotionals did help me get a tiny tip of my toes wet to read the Bible and think through application, but I was on a surface-level type of relationship with God. It’s kind of like if God were to have an Instagram and I followed him and even interacted with him on his pictures but actually never met him. Cheesy, I know, but true.

I don’t want to completely hate on devotionals. I recommend them at times. And sometimes I read them in addition with my own time of reading God’s word daily. The danger of them is when we neglect reading God’s word for ourselves because we are reading someone else’s words about God’s word.

I don’t want a devotional to mediate MY relationship with God, ABBA, MY Father.

Are Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” words divinely inspired? No.

Are She Read Truth’s words divinely inspired? No.

Even my favorite devotional by Elyse Fitzpatrick? No.

I am glad that women are speaking out about the importance of reading and applying God’s word, but we have to be careful to not read just ABOUT the Bible by imperfect humans instead of reading the perfect, always true, words of the living God. (2 Timothy 3:16)

God has chosen to reveal himself to us through HIS word. He has given you letters and books that are inspired by God and are not flawed or erred. If you received a letter from your best friend or boyfriend, family, etc. would you just read one sentence in the middle of it and put it down for the day?? NO! You would want to read the entire letter to get the whole message or context. It’s even more so true with the living and active word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

As Jesus-followers, we have God’s Spirit dwelling inside of us who illuminates the scripture for us to hear intimately and personally from the God of the Universe! The entire Bible reveals to us who God is and how he wants to work in us. This includes the boring parts and the more interesting parts. If we really believe the Bible is completely God’s word then why would we want to ignore or neglect certain parts that we don’t like?! That would make us trying to be equal with God.

God’s word has changed me. It brings me life every day. It pierces my soul. It revitalizes me when I am weary. And it gives me joy and energy because it reminds me of my purpose for each day, and for the rest of my life.

Have you given God’s word a chance to change you?

If you haven’t read the Bible on your own before, are struggling with reading the Bible consistently, or just need help with where to start reading (which is true for everyone!), let me give you some suggestions that have helped me form a daily habit of reading the Bible:

  1. Start reading a book in the Bible that you want to read. Some good books to start with are John, or any of the gospels, Ephesians or any of the “smaller” books (technically they are letters) in the New Testament, also the Psalms or Proverbs. Or you can combine and read a book in the Old Testament and New Testament.
  2. Start with reading just a little at a time. If you go through Psalm, read 1 Psalm a day. If you go through John, read one passage or part of the chapter a day and just continue every day reading through the book.
  3. Don’t start by trying to read the Bible all the way through, beginning in Genesis. That’s tough for me to do too. And don’t be discouraged if you have tried that and had to stop. God has given us freedom in where to start reading! It helps to read in order from where you start, but I would suggest starting in the New Testament.
  4. Whatever you read for the day, read it a couple of times or more. Ask yourself questions like, “What is the author saying in these verses?”, “What is this revealing to me about God?”, “What is God teaching me or telling me through these verses?”
  5. Journal what you are learning as you read. Journal prayers to God from the verses, whether you use the verses to pray back to God like Psalm since it is a prayer, or just ask God to help you remember the words you are reading for the day.
  6. I hope A Girl Like Me never becomes a resource for you that would replace your daily time with God. Some other godly women advocate this same hope. I would recommend Jen Wilkin who has published a very useful book on studying God’s word on your own. Also If Equip is a very helpful resource if you want guidance on where to start reading on your own.

I would encourage you to read Psalm 19 before you move on from this post. Look it up in Google if you don’t have a Bible near you. Today I am praying that those words would be true in the heart of A Girl Like Me readers, meaning YOU!

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Where are you reading in God’s word currently?

 

Faith, God, Spiritual Life, Uncategorized

Discipline of Faith

May 14, 2015

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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

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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

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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.

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.

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Redemption, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Remain

February 25, 2015

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17

On January 31st, as those words covered the gathering, my heart grew and my life changed. Brendon and I stood at the altar, surrounded by the dense tropical forest of south Florida and more love than I have ever felt in my life.

Everything is new. My last name. My official state of residence. My college degree. 2014 was a year of discovery in my life and God began clarifying my dreams for His purpose. Since we all rang in the New Year with sparkly dresses and noisemakers, or for me, my parents and their friends eating chocolate cake and playing ping pong, life has been a flash mob of wedding planning, marriage, settling our home, and living on a tour bus.

So much change. GOOD change! And in all of this movin’ and shakin’ I realize that there is one single thing in life that is constant. And that is the truth of the gospel of Jesus.

God remains. That’s it. He is steady. He is faithful.

 

“…as surely as the sun rises, He will appear…” hosea 6.3

 

To the ladies of A Girl Like Me,

The six of us writers are for you. We are for you because God is for you.

We want to challenge you and walk with you in life.

He cares about you deeply—deeper than what we can possibly know.

In times of distress and in times of joy, admit it!

Let your community bear burdens alongside you and celebrate with you.

God remains in every instant of our lives,

in every country of our world,

in every cry of our souls,

in every promise that He has said.

Rest in His faithfulness today.

 

Choose to speak life.

Choose to be encouraging in a society of criticism.

Choose to reject hate and replace it with compassion.

 

May we be a group of women- quick to run to Jesus, ready to obey God, sensitive to the Spirit working in this ministry, confessing our dirt and sharing our joys, embracing the growing pains and always armed with the Truth of the gospel of Christ.

Whatever changes you are facing, whether it be moving to a new place, switching schools, stepping into a new season of any kind, may you face that new season of life with such grace. Grace that Jesus laid down His life for.

So here I sit, in the back of a tour bus somewhere in north Florida, feeling like a baby calf that was just born- covered in goo and awkwardly wobbling around on my new blogging-legs. Honestly, I just want to write something that will stick with you.

And all I can think of is a Snowy Owl. Snowy Owl parents fiercely protect their young. They know their babies weaknesses and defend their nest. They perch on the highest branch of the tree to look out over the community seeking to provide adequate food. Instinctually, they adapt to change in the climate. They know when their babies are ready to fledge… to fly out of the nest for the first time. To courageously start the next part of their story.

Isn’t that like God?

To protect us and love us in our weaknesses.

To provide for us and prepare us for change.

To be ever-present and all-knowing.

To be our guardian as we face new beginnings.

And remain with us through all time.

 

“…the Lord will fight for you. you need only to be still…” exodus 14.14

 

May we all be fledglings.

Ready for what is to come.

Consumed by His love.

With faith to fly.

 

 Here are a few lyrics to the song “I Will Follow” by Vertical Church Band:

When the sea is calm and all is right // When I feel Your favor flood my life

Even in the good, I’ll follow You

When the boat is tossed upon the waves // When I wonder if You’ll keep me safe

Even in the storms, I’ll follow You

I believe everything that You say You are // I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart

In the good things and in the hardest part // I believe and I will follow You