Browsing Tag

Written by Kelsey

Community, Faith, Relationships

Real vs. Virtual Community

September 16, 2015

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When I was a kid the most “virtual” of a community you could have was to have a pen pal from another city that your mom probably set up or some school project paired you up with. You would write hand written letters back and forth, maybe add some crayon coloring or if you were real high tech like I was…you got on KidPix and added stamps, the original “emoticons”, to really get your emotion behind the letter across. I was part of the generation (which makes me feel old) that first experienced “virtual community”.   I was just hitting my preteen years when you could start signing up for a Hotmail email account and email your friends you met at camp instead of sending post cards through snail mail. I was in the generation that began chatting online using our very creatively made up AIM screen-names. I was in the generation that began texting…although none of us were allowed to because it cost our parents ten cents a text.

My generation was the beginning of something that on one hand held great advances in society, but on the hand other brought on some challenges and stumbling blocks that have hinder our ability to create real community. We’ve been given the ability to create false or masked identities to look better than we are or better than we think we are to those on the other side of the screen. We’ve been given a place to hide.

We now need to be a generation that fights for real community.

Now I am not saying that virtual community is all bad…I think AGLM is an example of what good virtual community can be…but only if it pushes you to go live away from your computer screen and seek real face to face interaction with people. Virtual community has value when it is supporting and encouraging you to go make a difference, it has value when it gives you a safe place of support for illness/adoption/causes/etc. and then encourages you to go create awareness and support for those in your own city and town.

But virtual community should never, ever take the place of face-to-face community. It’s the whole, “use in supplement to ________ not in replace of _______” theory. We as an AGLM community should always be encouraging each other to reach out in our schools, neighborhoods, churches, towns…we should be a support for each other not a replacement.   There is nothing more beautiful than gathering together to share a meal, being forced to sit across the table from someone for an extended period of time, savoring a home cooked meal (or just some really great Mexican take-out) and diving into each other’s lives.

What makes you hurt right now? What makes you come alive? What are your passions? What are your fears?   What makes you…you?  

Think about how “seen” you feel when someone takes the time to ask you these questions and really want to sit and hear the answers. Being seen though takes vulnerability, and lets face it…sometimes it’s just easier to sit behind the computer screen and type an email or comment on a blog post than it is to open your mouth and speak about where your heart is at, what your dreams really are, and what your fears may be to someone who can look you in the eyes and answer back.

Community is not easy. It can be messy and uncomfortable. It can be frustrating and hurtful. But it can also be healing, full of joy, and have the ability to bring relief to your heart’s desire to be known.   I think Jesus gave us such beautiful examples of how to create community with the way He lived his life and often in the simplest of ways. So often it simply included going into a home and breaking bread together. Meeting someone where they were; even at times walking into the home of people mourning a loss, shutting the door behind him, and allowing that small room of people to experience a vulnerable and amazing moment when he performs a miracle…only for their eyes. Community was always shown to go hand in hand with intimacy. It was in intimate settings with small groups of people.

Jesus wasn’t trying to be the popular guy at the large party and titling that “community”. No. Instead he was teaching people and meeting their needs in the comfort of their homes, at dinner tables, in boats, and in upper rooms. Yes, He taught on mountaintops and to crowds…but it was always him teaching a crowd…followed by him leaving the crowd to fellowship with a smaller, more intimate group. By us creating community in small settings it allows us to step into pain together, grieve with those who are grieving, get in the uncomfortable, sucky places in life and offer a place of safety. It allows us to laugh and find joy when the healing comes and feel a part of that healing even if it was for an individual, because it has been walked as a group.

This past year my husband and I have lost three homes that we had been under contract for at the last minute. It’s been a painful, frustrating process of getting excited, dreaming, finally feeling like we would have a space to call our own…only to be crushed, disappointed and left starting over at the end.   We have had a few key people walk the journey with us and while it hasn’t been them losing a house…them getting frustrated in our frustration, them getting passionate with us, crying with us, and rejoicing with us when the next good news comes…has given us the strength to keep going, it’s left us feeling less alone. It’s felt like a group effort and at the end a group celebration and victory. And while there are always seasons in life where community is scarce and we depend solely on Christ…we are created for community, we are created to not be alone.

A simple, sympathetic, moment of being frustrated with someone, a simple hug, a simple understanding nod…can mean the world to someone who feels alone and defeated. We should celebrate our friends. We should be cheerleaders through each other’s journeys in real life.

I would challenge you to sit with a group of friends this week or even just one individual in your life and really hear where they’re at. Push into it and dig a little. Offer a safe place for vulnerability, whether it’s for something exciting in their life or something that is hard…challenge yourself to meet them there. Not to just stand by and listen and just tell them how to fix it, but to really hear and walk next to them. Go sit face to face with someone and be the one to cultivate community.

Challenge your virtual community (AGLMers or others) to do the same and hold each other accountable.

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

Making the Audition

August 5, 2015

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I stood there waiting to walk in, willing my nerves to calm themselves so the nervous trembling I felt on the inside wouldn’t be visible outwardly. I watched as other girls bounced around confidently, clearly not worried one bit about what we were walking into. The number pinned to my back was scratchy and stiff and my unruly hair threatened to popped out of it’s confining bun, despite the pack of bobby pins and can of hair spray used to contain it. I felt out of place.

Here I was, walking in to audition for the Nutcracker. When I was five my parents took me to see the show for the first time and to this day I remember exactly what I was wearing and how excited I was.  Here I was about five years later watching it again, but this time it was my own studio performing one of the most attended Nutcrackers in Colorado. I sat in the audience in awe, watching the dancers tell one of my favorite Christmas stories, all dressed in beautiful costumes, and dancing without a flaw. There was sense of pride and ownership that welled up in me, knowing I was a part of something so excellent and I wondered if maybe someday, I too would have a chance to be on that stage.

As we were beckoned into the studio, all matching in our black leotards, pink tights, and high buns I glanced back at my mom who gave me a comforting, “you’ve got this” smile and I felt a little more confidence begin to rise.

I danced with all my might that day, half the time feeling totally lost and behind in the choreography, feeling like I must look like the awkward duckling trying to keep up.  I couldn’t believe it when I received the news that I had been put through and given a part. I was ecstatic…..until I found out what part. It was a part I knew well, because it was one of my favorite scenes, I loved how light hearted and fun it was….but I couldn’t figure out why in the world I was chosen. There was one thing I absolutely could not do during the audition that this piece required…..I couldn’t cartwheel. Not even a little. It was not a pretty site. I went to my first rehearsal stressed and confused as to how and why I was there, maybe they had mixed up my number with someone else and I would show up only to be embarrassingly dismissed. But no, there was no mistake. We jumped right in and before I knew it we were being told to all cartwheel, together, in a line, without kicking each other and land in the splits. BAHA. yeah right. After my first attempt and unfortunately almost injuring the girl next to me, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was humiliated. I was frustrated. This was not what I had dreamed. This wasn’t the beautiful experience I wanted. I was going to ruin the show because I was the only kid I knew who never learned how to cartwheel.  The ballet school’s director had been making the rounds to check on everyone and happened to witness the situation. I managed to make it through class and as soon as it was over and my mom asked how it went I lost it. The tears flowed and I felt like a failure. The director, who was your typical Ballet director (older, wise, rigid posture, strict) approached us. It’s one of those moments that will always hold an important place in my life’s journey. She looked me in the eye and with the kindest, but strongest confidence told me that she knew what she was doing when she placed me in that part. She knew I was not ready or fully trained for the position, but chose me because she knew I could battle through the challenges and come out a stronger, better dancer at the end. She explained that the performance only becomes beautiful, because of the passion and blood, sweat, and tears to create the raw emotion and skill which results in a beautiful, flowing, performance.  It was the journey that gets us there….the months and months of rehearsing every weekend, of sacrificing our social lives, facing injury and physical pain, and becoming more well rounded individuals both on and off the stage. She knew for me a silly thing like a cartwheel would be one of those challenges, especially when I was the only one unable to perform the task.

Knowing that someone believed in me, saw potential in me, trusted me to not totally screw up their beautiful end performance; someone who valued the journey and saw that a phenomenal piece of art wasn’t possible without the emotions leading up to it, was beyond humbling and motivational. It gave me the confidence to take on the challenge. You better believe I spent that whole summer practicing….I cartwheeled until I was covered in bumps and bruises and until I could cartwheel and land in splits perfectly every time.

It was one of the first tangible glimpses for me of what it means for God to use us despite ourselves. It was the first time the pain and trials in life seemed to have a purpose and didn’t feel so much like doomsday.  So often we are called to things we are unqualified for. Moses was not a speaker or leader, but God called him to be just that. So often I find myself wondering why God is calling me to do certain things, why me when there are so many others who are more prepared, better trained and able to face the challenges? Why is He allowing the challenges, trials, bumps and bruises along the way?  Knowing that God chooses to create us to be a bigger part of His beautiful story, chooses to use us despite ourselves and our lacking qualifications, should gives us that motivational nudge to push through, face the battles and strive to be the best us we can be…to transform our hearts. Instead of blaming God for our grievances and sorrows, to be at peace knowing He grieves with our hurts, but sees the bigger picture and knows our coming joys as well. Without the pains and trials, we don’t have the beautiful vulnerability and emotion to relate with each other, the pains that lead to a heart wanting to serve the broken hearted…it should be an honor and held with great responsibility to be a part of such a stunning journey, part of such a huge story, to be entrusted with facing such important challenges.

 

Relationships

Quality vs. Quantity

July 8, 2015

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You know the phrase, “quality over quantity”?  I had heard it many times, but over the past several years it’s been something I have thought over, prayed over, even cried over when connecting that phrase to relationships.  I’ve had a lot of lonely seasons in life, and I am sure I will have many more to come (having a husband does not mean you will never be lonely FYI).  As I’ve walked through these lonely seasons I have found that the value of “that” friend….you know the one…the one that texts you to check on you and invites you into their home and makes you a cup of coffee and seems to ignore the hot mess that you are and instead looks straight into your heart? The friend who can read you so well they know by your countenance not to ask you how you are in a public place because they know you hate crying in public. Instead they give you a quick hug and distract you with a silly youtube video. That friend feels rare.  I can be around tons of people and be struggling with something in life or in my heart and it pushes me closer and closer to the lonely pit’s edge. The more quantity there is the more exhausted I seem to be and the more unknown I become. It’s when I step out of the picture for a moment and ask myself who I could go to in an emergency, who I could go to and just be fully me for a moment…and I realize it’s a very tiny handful….but that tiny handful fills that lonely void in such a great way….it’s those friends who you may not even see for months on end, yet one encouraging text leaves you feeling like a little bit of you has been revived, you’ve taken a step back from lonely’s edge, and you start to understand this quality vs. quantity thing.

I’ve also discovered that you may be that friend for someone else and they may not be it for you…just like someone may be that friend to you and you may not fill that role for them….and that’s ok. You begin to learn where you put your heart and energy. You begin to learn that you may have a circle of “hang out in big groups” friends, a smaller circle of “pretty close, but slightly wishy washy” friends, the friends that feel more connection from you than you do from them, and then those other ones, the ones that are there to stick through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I’ve personally struggled most with those “I’m a friend to them but they’re not really a friend to me” friends. I’m a deep feeler. I’m either in or I’m out.  It has taken  is taking a lot of practice to lower expectations and see some friends as people I don’t expect reciprocation from, but that I am still a friend too. And it’s taking even MORE practice and self-reflecting to know when to step back and release a friendship. Girl’s, some friends can be life sucking. Sometimes WE can be life sucking. Sometimes we allow friends to be life sucking because we have unrealistic expectations for that friend.  As you, we, I grow and mold through the seasons God leads us through it’s important that we take time to asses these relationships. We are created for community, therefore introverted, extroverted, or the in-between….there is a longing for community, friendship, relationship. The relationships that come and go in life can either build us up or tear us down and it’s your/my responsibility to assess where we are. Is this a relationship that is difficult but challenging you to grow? Is it a relationship that leaves you anxious and exhausted every time you hang out? Is it a relationship where you could say you know as much about that person as they know about you? Is it a relationship that is unafraid to dig deep and approach the hard questions…always willing to end in respect and love for each other even in disagreements?

No one can make the decisions for you about your friendships, but as hard as it may be I would challenge you as you are facing new seasons to assess your relationships. It may be time to step away. And sometimes those stepped away from relationships are just for a season…while you both grow in new ways and they will be redeemed in a later season. Maybe it’s a relationship that you have been putting a wall up against, because it would mean really getting vulnerable and being intentional through some hard times. Remember quality vs. quantity? Is it bringing quality to your life even if it’s just you being a friend without reciprocation? Is it bringing quality though challenges and pushing you to be a better you? Is it quality because you feel refreshed and at home with that person?

And THEN there are the other hard questions. What kind of quality are you bringing to your friends? If you are leaving frustrated and drained after every meeting, you most likely aren’t giving the best that they need either….that or they won’t appreciate your best and that energy could be spent on a friend who is longing for that intentionality.    I have had some friends who I am completely exhausted by, feel unappreciated, abused, and only brought out when their other cooler friends aren’t available. I’ve been that friend that will listen to the venting sessions and gets texts through the night…but then won’t get acknowledged in public or even asked if I’m ok when I’m crying. Girls, I cannot lie….it hurts. But it hurts a little less after spending years learning that those friends only get so much of my heart. They only get so long with me before it is time to pour my heart into someone who needs and wants it more. Because they aren’t benefitting from the relationships just as much as you aren’t.

Girls, we are meant to live life and live it abundantly.  There are going to be a lot of times in our life that just don’t make sense. And it’s in those times that you want to know that your tiny ounces of energy are not just thrown to the wayside, but treasured. That even if things are not reciprocated, they are needed and received. You need to know that even in those lonely dark moments, while you may not have a lot of people to surround yourself with…you have even just one person who could understand or encourage…even if it’s not available everyday. No amount of people can fill the empty space and voids. Take it from someone who has cried tears over dozens of people…someone who has felt so guilty about letting go of a relationship because surely it isn’t the Christian thing to do, that it suffocated key parts of who God created me to be. Just as seasons come and go….some friends are only meant for seasons. Some may come back in and some may only be a memory in your story. All play a part in life lessons, growth, challenges, and building your story. But not all must remain throughout the next chapters. Some NEED to remain. Some NEED to be fought for. Some may go through the eb and flow of you carrying the weight for a season and then them carrying the weight for a season.

Many of you girls asked for more conversations on relationship. I could write a book on what I have learned about friendship in my life. The joys, triumphs, humble moments, pain, and tears. I could write about friendships redeemed after years had passed, and friendships that were so unhealthy they were being used to destroy me and distract me from moving forward. And I still find myself baffled and confused by this crazy thing we all long for…Friendship. Spend some time this summer reflecting on who you surround yourself with. Who is getting those precious pieces of your time, life, and heart.

Faith

Let’s be God’s Promise Believers

June 10, 2015

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We are often asked when we are little what we want to be when we grow up. We are told to dream, to have the confidence to be whoever we want to be. We are told that we can do anything. We spend our days dressing up as Doctors, Ballerinas, Firemen, Artists, Rockstars, Detectives…we are engulfed in the innocence of believing these make-believe moments and have no doubt that we will be what we want to be when we grow up.

We are taught in elementary school about the historical figures who did great things, took great risks, and made huge impacts (whether good or bad) on our world, country, and states.  We learn about the great things presidents did, wars that were won, etc. However, we begin to lose the stories of the failures, the numerous rejections people face until that one acceptance that pushes them forward. As we grow older we hear less about the businesses that started in garages (Amazon, Google, Mattel just to name a few) and more about how we need to plan smartly, take the safe steps to make sure we are covered and secure. All through college I was told/taught how to present myself in an interview, what steps to take after graduation to get the perfect job, and how to work my way into success, even if it means giving up myself in the process.  While striving to work hard and always do your best is a necessary lesson that can lead you to success…risk is often left out. When risk was talked about it was fit into a controlled box that was still very thought out and had a fail proof back-up-plan. The definition of “risk” means that there is possibility of loss and failure. The words “vision” and “dreamer” are often used but then, when implemented, they often are looked on as immature, naive, and childish.

Girls, as a lot of you are heading into a new season of leaving for college or maybe about to head into the real world…wipe the slate clean and get ready to take risks. If God has given you dreams, created you to be a visionary…chase that. Work until you are too exhausted to think straight, take a nap, and get up and work some more…but do not give up on those dreams and do not let someone tell you that you are too much of a visionary. The world needs you. God created you with that gift. Don’t let the world squelch the four-year-old you who believed that you could do great things. Do everything with excellence and don’t expect a single thing to be handed to you (and be grateful for the blessing when something does). Work hard and when someone laughs at you or looks you in the eye and says “what have you got to offer, you’re just ________(young, a kid, a nobody). Keep your head up and move on.  You get the choice to walk humbly, but not lacking in confidence.Always keep the humility…know that without God your work is limited, but with Him it gives Him not you the glory.  You get to be a living, breathing example of the great things God can do through you, you the dreamer, you the visionary, you the one willing to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail until you make it…learning from each failure as you move forward.

Walt Disney’s first animation company went bankrupt and he was fired from a job after being told he did not have enough “imagination”. He was rejected around 302 times before he finally got the financing to start Disney.

And hopefully we all remember the story of the great man who invented the light bulb. Edison is famous for saying

“I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work.”

What if he had given up after trying 100 times? 5,000 times? 9,000 times?   The only time you should stop is if God directs you to do so.

Now all this “don’t give up, keep dreaming, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t” is great, but as Christians there is a deeper reason for this. It takes away the you. It takes the self glory and the “I did it” and instead points to the glory of the big God we serve. It puts you in the position to be a tool and a testament to His faithfulness.  When God calls you to do the impossible, to be a crazy visionary and you work hard, make sacrifices, and sit in from of person after person being told that there is too much risk, you must be too young, you don’t have what it takes….you keep trusting God not men. You keep walking faithfully because if He calls you to be obedient, you be obedient. If you’ve checked yourself, you have peace and you know that you have a calling, you keep going even if it seems like the end isn’t happening how you thought it would. When God promises, He keeps those promises, what may look like failure to the world could just be the next step freeing you from something that in the end, better prepares you for the job. Your faithfulness and perseverance is seen and gets to give God the glory when it all begins to fall into place.

Girls, lets be the modern day Noahs, acting in obedience even when the world says it’s crazy, let’s be the Abrahams and Sarahs, trusting that God’s promise would be fulfilled even if it means waiting patiently for years, let’s be the Josephs, persevering through the the desert times and trust the process even when we can’t see the whole picture…even when you seem crazy. And let’s not be those alone. Let’s be the women who stand next to the other Noahs, the other Sarahs…lets support and push each other forward in those visionary dreams and God spoken promises. Let’s walk together in unwavering faith…together.

I know you probably weren’t coming here for a pep talk on chasing dreams, working hard and facing failures. I’m sure I am repeating myself from past posts, but it seems to be a season, a relevant subject and something that so often is getting shut down. We are slowly become too safe, full of back-up plans, and heads full of other people’s opinions and voices telling us what we are and aren’t capable of. It’s time we start fresh, clear those voices and get back down to the one voice that matters…the one that created you, the one that has called you to be a tool for His glory, the one who has planned great things for you. As so many of you are in the season of new transitions remind yourself that there is one voice that matters. Advice, mentors, older and wiser people are needed and hold value…but always go to prayer first…seek His direction, check where you feel most at peace, question whether a goal is a self-set, self-driven dream or if it is a God given calling.

Go be dream chasers, visionaries, and God’s promise believers.

 

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?

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.

Identity

I am an Anomaly

March 18, 2015

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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.

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

Out With the Safe

February 18, 2015

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Oh dear daughter, why do you think you must choose to shrink back, take the safe road, and hide behind your insecurity? Why are you so afraid of what others may think of you IF you fail? And why do you think of them as failures at all, isn’t that just the term the world has conjured up to beat you down, the word Satan has whispered in your ear to cause you to think less of yourself, resulting in comparison to those who seem to succeed and have it all together? Especially when those “failures” came from a heart so beautifully wanting to honor and serve your Father. Do you think I would nudge you to move if I thought you could not walk?

Did I not call you a child of Mine?

Did I not call you by name to rise up and be life and light in this world? Just as I was with Esther in her chambers as she prepared to risk her life for her people, just as I blessed and honored Ruth as she courageously chose the path of integrity and compassion despite the risks that came with breaking culture, just as I was with Mary as she humbly accepted her role to carry the greatest gift of all…when she could have said “Oh no God, you’ve got the wrong girl”….I too am with you as I ask you to step out and move. I am the same God today as I was then. You are no less a daughter of mine than they were. My dreams for you are not any smaller.

The dreams you dream are beautiful….but just imagine those ten fold, as my creativity stretches far beyond what your sweet little dreaming mind can fathom. All I ask of you is to step. Step towards the unknown, the less “safe” route, the risk that goes against the grain. Dare to believe that great things can happen with your obedience. Dare to believe that every “failure” as the world labels it is just a perfectly created opportunity for growth, gained wisdom and motivation to keep jumping to the next stepping-stone in preparation for the miracle because there is no end point. Finishing the book is not the neat and tidy end, getting the degree is not the last chapter, starting the orphanage, serving the mom, winning the gold is not what finishes and leaves you with a “success” badge. Choosing the adventure is the success. Choosing to get back up is success.

 You get to choose.

You can choose the safety of decisions that can be wrapped in your control, tied up neatly with a bow and leaving you with a small content little life or you can chose the great adventure of throwing your hands up and leaping into the unknown, listening to my still small voice urging you ahead, resulting in dreams and victories only possible when you give me your tiny fist of control and let me breathe life into dreams unimaginable.

Daughter, dare to believe that I will weep when you weep and I will hurt when you, my child, hurt…but I will hold you through it if you let me, so that your heart, that has now experienced the pain, hurt, fear, and joys can be prepared to serve and live and dream without limit in the great story I am writing for you. So you can then use the strength gained to walk alongside and shoulder the burden of others in those pains and hurts.

You get to choose to step up and be part of a generation of change. To no longer shrink back and let others take your dreams. YOU get to choose to be a woman of boldness and courage, to face the insecurities, tear through the walls of fear and feelings of unworthiness and grasp hold with all your might the miracles God wants to do with you and use as the vision and example to others.   Your choosing to jump gets to be an open testimony to those around you and in the moments when you “fail” you get to decide what those around you see you do as a result….get up and keep leaping? Or stay defeated on the ground and miss out on what was waiting just beyond the next bend.

I am not calling you to live in the safety and comfort of the fluff that settles in a cloud over your culture, I am not calling you to just get by and do the minimum so you can check off a list the little things you accomplished in your own strength. NO.

I am calling you to a recklessly abandoned, relentlessly passionate, overwhelmingly out of your control adventure that will blow your mind.

I am challenging you to act on those small nudges you feel from me without hesitation, taking the risk of failure and defeat….knowing without a doubt that no matter what the world may say, you are walking in victory, because you are Mine. You are moving. You are living. And you are choosing to not just live safe, but to live free and alive.   Daughter, you get to begin new. You get to choose today to start a new way of living. A new way of shining my light…no longer from the cracks in your fists holding tight to the safety and comfort of control, but instead bursting from every inch of your body and soul.

 

 

 

“Let’s be women unafraid to step into our role as His children, let’s own that role and carry the responsibility of what comes with it….being living examples, modern day Esthers, Marys, Lydias, Sarahs, Ruths….Let’s continue the legacy they began.”

Faith, Fear, Spiritual Life

Sorrow for the Soul

January 21, 2015

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New.

Yes the pains are old, still healing; the trials still need to be faced. But there is new. New chances. New beginnings. New dreams.

 

It has been a year (or 8) of trial after trial. It has been one painful moment after another, feeling like I’m treading water, barely keeping my head up. I’ve often felt like I am screaming for those around me to see that I’m hurt and drowning and instead of reaching out a helping hand I’ve had insults and lies thrown in my face… “You’re being dramatic”, “You need to just move on”, “You are just fine.”

 

I don’t say this to play a victim or seek pity. And it has not been lacking in its little life raft moments and blessings. I look at every step of my story and even the hard times and painful moments brought growth and opened doors to the next step. We’ve had some very key characters play a role in our story.

 

Last year our word of the year was closure. It was one that, at the beginning of the year I was not too excited about. I knew with closure there is often facing pain. Shutting doors that are hard to shut and walking through necessary trials in order to get to the next chapter. When we were given that word I had no idea just how huge it would be throughout the year. I had no idea I would face saying goodbye to our house, saying goodbye to my mom, weeding out unhealthy friendships, living in a foreign country, saying goodbye to my career of 14 year and so much more I cannot even touch on here.

Most nights in 2014 I went to bed crying to my husband feeling like I was alone and crazy. I’ve fought to feel. Fought to process the situations we are in. Knowing in my heart that there are blessings and joys to come, but these moments of pain and sorrow must be faced…wondering why it is so hard for others to step into it. I’ve had dear people in my life base our relationship on our interaction (or lack of) on social media, instead of picking up the phone. I’ve had my relationships weighed out in the number of “likes” I’ve given them, and people tell me that despite my drowning status it was all my responsibility to hold all the responsibility of the relationship.   All I wanted was for those people to acknowledge the pain. Step into the story. And yet on the other hand I have this hope and excitement because of that pain, because of the sorrow we faced.

 

I opened my Streams in the Desert app this morning, praying about how and what I would write today. Feeling the tornado of mixed emotions. Joy and sorrow. Hope and grief.   As I read, it felt as if my whole last year was written on the page (but much more poetic, beautifully worded):

 

“When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul. And unknown capabilities of experience and service…..Sorrow is God’s plowshare that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be the normal force up all our souls’ capacities; but in a fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly.” ~Streams in the Desert 1/20

 

 

It was definitely a year of soul plowing. We closed the chapter on last year and I took a deep breath. Now that the doors were closed we could only move forward.   We now stand in a year that has promised to be our year of Jubilee. A year we have fought for and pursued for a good 8 years.

A year that without the sorrows of the previous year, would be only another year of blessing taken for granted.

 

Had we not faced the trials, sat in the emotion and pain. The miracles today, the blessings that overwhelm us would not seem like the miracles they are. There would be nothing to contrast them; the deep sigh of relief walking into this year would not have been so great.

Without this last year, my feelings of complete humility and extreme gratitude at what God is placing in front of us would be only a slight fraction of what they are. I would have no victory story, no miracle.

 

We are being promised Jubilee.

 

A promise that sadly, I find myself scared to believe. Scared to believe God would actually fulfill a promise. To think that the dreams we dared to even whisper into the dark last year, the dreams we felt would remain forever just that…dreams. Could be coming true beyond what we could imagine. The big dreams that we put the limits on, the dreams we said “we dream THIS, but we would be perfectly ok with just this fraction of the dream.” Seem to be in the works being fully filled and more. I more naturally want to prepare myself for the next battle. It’s what I have become good at. But I am reminded of the promise long ago that the time is coming. It may take 8 or even more years…but it is coming.

I am here to tell you that God’s promises prevail. It may not be the instant gratification we are so used to in our culture, it may take walking in obedience when things don’t make sense, it may mean facing excruciating pain, we may not understand it all, but if we don’t give up…the promise will come. Throughout the waiting and fighting process He was still fulfilling His promises, He promised to never leave us and He didn’t, He gave us fair warning before every season that something was coming…we had to chose to be aware of the heads-up, we had to chose to cling to that promise.

 

Don’t get so used to the trial, that you are afraid of the blessing. I have to fight the fear so often…when a possible miracle is ahead, a blessing is here…I often become afraid that I’m getting my hopes up only to have them crushed. I love “new”, yet I shy away in fear of being hopeful.

So this year we are stepping into “New”. Stepping into Jubilee. Daring to Dream. Daring to voice those dreams.

They may not turn out how we thought…they may turn out beyond what we thought…

 

If you wait patiently, you may be able to look back and see just how intricately all those pieces had to be put into place first in order for God to go beyond your wildest dreams and make it your reality.

Keep your eyes open, your ears aware, and your hope intact.