A Love Note

You are trying so hard to live a perfect life. You have been striving to protect yourself from things that you cannot protect yourself from. You are grasping at straws in the here and now. You’re trying desperately to hang on to what you think you know because you’re afraid of everything you don’t know. But sometimes these dark places are necessary for you to see your need for God.
             You thought that being perfect would mean that you had control. It would mean that no harm would come your way and that in a sense, you would be okay. You could endure the hard moments and you would be untouchable as long as you did everything “right”. As long as you ate correctly, you would be free from sickness. As long as you did not spend money on unnecessary things, you would not need to rely on anyone else. As long as you read the Bible and went to church you would be a “good enough” Christian. But here you are, more broken than you have ever been. You cannot control the car problems that have cost you so much. You cannot control that fact that you have not gotten a full-time job yet. You cannot control your health issues.
           Somehow you’ve adopted the idea that when things go wrong, it’s your fault. And so you try harder. You try and you try and you try. But your efforts don’t get you very far. And when your life starts to take an unexpected turn you automatically assume that it is some terrible flaw of yours. You’ve developed this mentality that by having control of your life and doing things perfectly you would avoid hardships.
          You’ve been striving for something you cannot earn: grace. 1 John 4:16 tells you that God is love and His love is something you can rely on. Do you really believe this? Because the way you have treated yourself and the way you live your life says otherwise. It’s like you cannot believe that God would love you or bless you just because of who you are.
         Sweet girl, you are loved despite your fears. You are loved despite your flaws. You are loved despite your brokenness – the very thing that makes you human. This is grace. You don’t have to be good enough because Jesus has already stood in your place to make you whole before God. You are an adopted daughter of God.
         Stop trying to be perfect. Stop trying to be the filler for the holes in people’s hearts that only God can fill. Stop trying to create your own security. Stop trying to figure out your life. Quit trying to play God. He only wants you to act like His daughter. Where you are weak, He is strong. He can fill in the pieces of your life where you lack. He can provide for your needs because He has what you need. You only need to ask and trust that He will take care of you.
          “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit, is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28
          If you remember nothing else, remember that God is love and His love is directed at you. Let go of what the world tells you love looks like, and fall into the hands of the Loving Shepherd.

The Awkward Moments

I am back!

A few things you should know about me.

I am probably the most awkward person in the world. That’s how it feels most of the time anyway. Although, I suppose that’s a common characteristic among introverts. I never feel quite in the right place unless it’s at home in my own space.

This past Sunday, I went to church by myself and sat by myself. I definitely thought everyone’s eyes were on me as there were people sitting in the pew in front of me and people sitting in the pew in the back of me, and no one sitting in my pew. All I could think about before the service started was “People must think I am so weird or sad or something to be sitting in the row all by myself.” Ugh, the absolute worst. But even though I knew I would probably feel this way, I went anyway.

I am also a hopeless romantic. It’s bad. I am currently reading this romance novel called The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck which is very well written with minimal cheesiness if you know what I mean. Would recommend if you enjoy that type of book. But anyway, one of the characters, Blanche, says something that is really sticking with me: “Glory fades. The excitement of a new love, of success, fades. Then what do you have? People come and go. They forget about you faster than they befriended you. All that matters at the end of your life is whether you loved others, gave generously, and had a faith that will carry you through to the next life.”

I have been thinking about this a lot lately with all the decisions I have to make. What do I want my life to be about? Do I want to make choices based on fear or based on faith? Am I basing my decision making on other people’s expectations of me or am I doing what I think is the right thing to do? What does that even look like?

I think our smallest decisions are the most telling of what we value and what we want our life to look like. Since I know myself best I will say this looks like going to church even though I know I will have to sit awkwardly by myself because I know that’s where I am going to find community. Or choosing to do Whole30 even though it’s expensive to eat that way, but knowing that I need to do it in order to get my eating habits back to where they should be.

Are there choices in your life that you are having to decide between? Or is your life just not going the way you want it to? Think about the last few decisions you have made, no matter how big or small. What did they indicate about who you are and what you value? Did you let fear, faith, success, love, lust, joy, bitterness, anger, etc. dictate what you decided on? And how did your choice impact your life and those around you?

Being the awkward introvert is something I have always wanted to change about myself. I become so frustrated when I cannot be this outgoing, fun extrovert that I so desperately want to be. You know, the kind of person that everyone wants to hang out with or that makes the dinnertime conversation that much more exciting. And for a lot of my life, I have let my insecurity of this “awkward introvert” identity determine the choices I have made. Whether it’s deciding to not reach out to someone who might have needed the encouragement or not stepping up for something that I really wanted to do.

I recognize this now – my aversion to being an awkward introvert. And sometimes I still make decisions based on this fear of being “awkward” or not loud enough. But I am making more of an effort to make my decisions not based on my fears, but on my faith and my desire to make a difference in this world.

I hope you also see the strengths of who you are and what you can bring to the table and that you let these things help you make even the tiniest choices throughout the day because those choices are the ones that make up our lives. And if you are having trouble seeing these qualities about yourself, send me a message! 🙂 🙂 🙂

You Gotta Have Faith

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

I thought it would be appropriate to start with a quote from this great man who we are honoring the legacy of on this day. But, I also think this sentiment perfectly sums up what I have been learning the past few weeks.

Ever since high school, having faith has seemingly been easy for me. It’s not that life had necessarily been unchallenging – that would be further from the truth. It’s just that my faith was the only thing I had to cling to when my circumstances seemed insurmountable.

2017 was a different kind of challenging. It was like living in a dessert. Miles and miles of sand and dry heat stretched before me with no sign of relief in sight. I had hit a dry season, where nothing was going the way I thought it was supposed to. I was beginning to think that God had abandoned me here in this dessert. My struggles, my doubts, my insecurities seemed so big to me that I thought maybe they were too big for God too. In writing this out now, it sounds ridiculous to me, but I was so overwhelmed by all of these emotions that I didn’t understand where God was in all of this.

So, I did the only thing an independent, take no help, show no weakness girl like me knows what to do and I tried to forge my own path and figure my life out on my own. I put so much effort into trying to make my life look put together and into trying desperately to control circumstances that were way out of my control that I started to feel like I was going crazy. (My friends and family may debate that I had already gone crazy before that but that’s beyond the point)

The harder I pushed, the more confused I became. I no longer was in this dessert all alone, but I was all mixed up in this dessert and unsure of which direction I had come from and which direction I was headed towards. I had lost my vision.

“Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

Over and over again in the book of Joshua, we see the words that express that God is with Joshua and the Israelites. God does not abandon Joshua when life gets hard. He does not leave Joshua to fend for himself against his enemies. I began reading the book of Joshua at the beginning of the month and I am already blown away by the number of times that God has expressed that He. Has. Not. Left.

With social media, marketing strategies, even just walking down the street, it is so easy to get distracted by what everyone else has and what everyone else’s life looks like. My confusion began the moment I let myself become so distracted that I forgot that God was walking beside me. I felt like a complete failure for making it all this way to Washington, D.C. for grad school only to find myself questioning everything I had always known to be true and everything I thought I knew about myself. But I have come to the realization that all this confusion has come from me fighting against myself and trying to kickstart my life all alone.

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-15

The truth is, I wouldn’t be in Washington D.C. if it was not for God’s provision. I would not be writing this blog post from this beautiful city at this moment if it was not for God’s grace because I probably would have left a month ago. But I am still here, and God is still good. Though I know I often forget it, the truth is God is still here with me. And when I write in my journal and say thanks to God for all that He has done for me already, I am reminded that God has not abandoned me in my suffering, in my doubt and in my dry season and He has not abandoned you either.

Faith is messy and hard. It’s not something that makes your life easier, as I may have thought in the past. But I now know more than ever that I need to continue to cling to my faith, ESPECIALLY when I cannot see the whole staircase because I really do want to see what is at the top.

Mission: Ice Cream

Blogging is such an interesting concept. There are so many different types of blogs out in the interwebs – how-to blogs, lifestyle blogs, informational blogs, opinion blogs. You get the idea.

They say it’s best to have a focus when you’re blogging. Something you’re an expert on or passionate about. Honestly, I haven’t quite figured that out yet for my own blog. My life doesn’t have direction, nevermind my blog. But I do know that sharing my story is what makes me feel less alone. Through sharing my story, I hope you find the strength and courage to share yours too. I do believe we are meant to share our lives with others. So it’s my hope that, if anything, through the ups and downs I’m sure to experience when writing this blog, that as you read it, you feel a little less alone too.

I’ve deemed Sunday the day of exploring. Yesterday, I went to Union Market in the NW quadrant of DC because I really wanted ice cream and Union Market I had been told has lots of delicious foods – which they did! But I had one mission and one mission only and that was to find the ice cream. And I succeeded. One amazing scoop of pumpkin speculoos…perfect for an 85 degree almost fall day.

IMG_2051.JPGFor those of you who don’t know me, I have made it my mission to go to as many ice cream places as I can. I don’t exactly remember when this become my mission, but I do remember a time when I hated ice cream. Freshman year of high school. The worst year of my life. The year the words Eating Disorder swirled around me like a cold winter breeze. The year all I could do was go to school, come home and do homework and then curl up in a ball and cry.

The memory that sticks out to me to the most during this time was when my dad one autumn night went out into the frigid cold weather for the distinct purpose of buying me a single scoop of ice cream from Friendly’s. I remember requesting strawberry in a cup because it sounded like the healthiest flavor and cups didn’t contain calories. It took me 3 DAYS to eat that scoop of ice cream. Every night I would eat a few small bites, and then stick that cup back in the freezer. How I savored each and every bite. It’s interesting the memories that stick with us during our lowest valleys.

Fast forward to now when I indulge in as much ice cream as I want. I think it’s an unconscious effort to defy that year and who I used to be. Our pasts become our ghosts. As much as we would like to leave some of our past behind, it somehow makes its way back. It fuels our biggest passions, our personality, our dreams even. It is important that we don’t dwell too much on the mistakes we have made or upon the “could have been”. But I also think sometimes, while we are trying to put up our best front and move forward, our past gets in the way.

I don’t know what battles you are facing today, or this week, or this month. But I do know that it imperative that you share it with someone. Get it out. Scream, cry, whisper it to the person you trust most. Or if you’re not sure who that person is, or aren’t quite ready to share yet, write it out. Write a letter, a postcard, a journal entry. It’s after we stop focusing on burying our past, that true growth can begin. Your past is part of your story. As much as you might want to escape it – it is a part of you. Maybe this is your season for embracing who you once were so that you can become who you are meant to be. Be strong and create the bridge from your past to your future.