Monday, April 3, 2017

defined by: God

                                               What are you allowing to define you?

The world defines happiness by success, education, popularity, wealth, freedom, and putting "number one" first. But God defines a happy life by satisfaction in Him, praise, service, surrender, and joy that only comes from Him.
The world defines love by passion and intimacy, even before marriage. The world says "anytime, any place", but God says "in my time and my place." God defines love by patience , self control, prayer, and often words left unsaid before two are married.
The world defines worth by a fit body, flawless skin, relationships, careers, where you live, who you are, your dreams, and more. The list is endless; how can anyone ever measure up?
 Even believers tend to fall in this trap of the world, instead of looking to God and His Word. This becomes dangerous when we start looking and living like the world, instead of Christ. I've also found that this "list" makes us hold ourselves to unrealistic and empty expectations.
As long as we are serving and living for God, in His will, He is pleased. He values us because He made us and died for us; not because we have lots of money in the bank, wear a small size, or have amazing talent. He just wants our love and our lives. You know what we need to tell ourselves more often? He designed us exactly how we are, knows every minuscule detail about us, yet still loves us without conditions. Christ designed and created us to be defined by Him, not this temporary body or set of circumstances. That ideal job, incredible relationship, or perfect lifestyle won't do it, but He will! God calls us to be full of faith, not flawless.

                             "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”
                                                              [Psalm 103:14]

We don't need to try to hide anything from our Savior; He knows and sees it all already. The standard of grace, not perfection, covers us. We are His beautiful, sinful, but loved messes. I'm reminded of the song"Beautiful Messes" by Hillary Scott and Family, that I heard at the perfect time a few week ago.

Are you spinning in a lie that keeps on telling you that you're not good enough?
And when you're looking in the mirror, do you see someone impossible to love?
Full of fragile broken pieces
We're all rough around the edges

We ain't perfect, no
We ain't even close
We got holes in our hearts
We got scars we don't show
But all that baggage we keep on dragging around
Ain't it time we start laying it down?
Lay it down at the foot of the cross
Give it to the One who can carry it all
Even at our worst, to Him, we ain't lost causes
Just beautiful messes

We're all David's; we're all Mary's
We've been liars, thieves and everything between
But don't forget God used the misfits just like us
To do the most amazing things
So bring your faults, your flaws, your secrets
And watch Him use those broken pieces

No matter where you are right now
Let thy grace come pouring down
It won't run out
It won't run out

Cause we ain't perfect, no
We ain't even close
We got holes in our hearts
We got scars we don't show
But all that baggage we keep on dragging around
Ain't it time we start laying it down?
Lay it down at the foot of the cross
Give it to the One who can carry it all
Even at our worst, to Him we ain't lost causes
Just beautiful messes

I've heard a few tell me that I have it made and am that "perfect Christian girl." What many aren't seeing is that I am far from perfect (and I mean far). I know this and I often struggle with trying to have it all together. I don't always make good grades in college. Not everyone agrees with the choices that I'm making for the future. I've never been in a relationship. I've really struggled with painful acne that has left scars the past few months. I have a tough time accepting the height and weight God made me. I worry too much about what people think, have a hard time trusting, don't always deal with situations as I should, and more. I struggle, fall, and fail, but these things do not define me. God defines me, and is still working on me! All I need is in Him, and I lack nothing that He will not supply. These past few months have had many dark days, but He is guiding me through with His light and is showing me everyday that He is all I need.

We are His lovely messes. Hey, let's work on being content and Him being our identity, not everything around us. It'll change our lives to finally start seeing ourselves (and those around us) like He does. Don't let the world, expectations, or yourself steal your joy. It just isn't worth it.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

merry christmas!

glory to God in the highest<<<

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with Child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.And she brought forth her firstborn Son,
and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger;
because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the LORD came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the LORD. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His Name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb."
[Luke 2:1-21]

Merry Christmas, lovely friends! I hope your day has been full of celebrating our Savior's birth! This birth was different than any other; it was the beginning of God's plan to save the world. I'm so grateful that He came down from His throne to be born and die to give us eternal life, even though we are so undeserving. It's not all about the presents, but His presence to the whole world.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

fighting for y o u.


[in the midst of all that you are facing in front of you, i am fighting and praying for you. but even more than i possibly can, Jesus is even more. take comfort and rest in that. Jesus is right beside you, even when i can't be. praying that He will show you His will and you will follow it. that is what i want more than anything for you, my friend. with God, anything is possible. you are in His palm; it'll be okay.]

I see the tears on your face
I watch your friends walk away
Oh, I've been there too
I've been there too
I see the nights you can't sleep
I hear your broken heart beat
Well, I've felt that too
Yeah, I've felt that too

For you, my body was broken
So you are never forsaken

Start walking with your head held high
The future is bright
Heaven's gates are open wide
Every trouble that you ever walk through
Peace, my child,
I am, I am fighting for you, you
I am fighting for you

Tell me you're a lost cause
And maybe you're too far gone
Oh, that's not true
Yeah, that's not true
I gave up my last breath
So you can breathe again
I died for you
I died for you

For you, my body was broken
So you are never forsaken

Start walking with your head held high
The future is bright
Heaven's gates are open wide
Every trouble that you ever walk through
Peace, my child,
I am, I am fighting for you, you
I am fighting for you

I'll never stop, I'll never stop
I'll never stop
Death couldn't keep me away
I'll never stop, I'll never stop
I'll never stop calling your name

Yeah I'll never stop, it's true

Start walking with your head held high
The future is bright
Heaven's gates are open wide
Every trouble that you ever walk through
Peace, my child,
I am, I am fighting for you, you
I am fighting for you, you
I am fighting for you

Monday, October 31, 2016

o c t o b e r.

["though seasons change, your love remains."]

I don't want to believe that today is the last day of my favorite month. It has slipped through my fingertips just as fast as it came. There is just something about the leaves changing colors and blowing in the crisp breeze that excites my soul. It reminds me of the beauty of life all around me, and that change can be lovely too.

Especially this month, I have found myself fighting against change, because I am most comfortable in what I know. I can't always see beauty in growth and change, like I can in October. The leaves may be there, but I can't always hear them. The colors may be there, but I can't always see them. The breeze may be there, but I can't always feel it. The new beginning may be there, but I can't always touch it. Down deep in my heart I hear Jesus calling me to have faith and trust more. I can't always see, hear, feel, or touch the Lord's work in my life, but it is still there. We hear and read a lot about faith, but has it really sunk in to our weary hearts? "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." [Hebrews 11:1] It's a simple definition of faith, but a hard one to grasp, especially when we are in a desert season of life. We so desperately want to see, touch, hear, and know the answers. While there are times when God answers and asks us to trust Him in tangible ways, there are also times when it is not His will for us to see evidence. These times test us, but He will bring us to the other side as He holds our hand.

Often we are so busy looking for the answers that we forget that, ultimately, He is the answer. In Jesus we find all that we need, but we have to seek Him. This is the time to have the closest relationship with the Lord that you ever have. Don't wait. It doesn't matter what today, this week, this month, or year has been like. He just wants us to come, just as we are...to Him. I'm so grateful that I don't have to wait until I have it together before I come to Him. I'll be honest, this October has not been like the others. It's been lovely in a lot of ways, but it hasn't been the same. Like a lot of times, I have had expectations. I'm convicted that I miss out on fully enjoying times in my life because I'm so hung up on expectations. Just the other day, I read a verse in my devotions that hit home for me in this area. "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him." [Psalm 62:5] Expectations only being from Jesus are what I desperately need. My expectations only disappoint and ruin things, but His don't. In a world so shaky and full of change, we can rest in our Unchanging, Faithful God! God knows all things [actual and possible] that could and will happen. His wisdom means He will always do what is perfect and best for us. My Savior has worked all things together for good so we would be exactly where we are now, and end up where He wants us to. There are no dark corners or unknowns in God's eyes; He sees it all. Sometimes, this just gets me. The God who created this universe has a specific and stunning plan for my life. He has done this for me and you whose sins nailed Him to the cross. Not only did He die on the cross so we could have salvation, but after that He blesses us beyond measure and gives us a life to live for Him. Woah. If that doesn't amaze you, I don't know what will!

During October I've been overwhelmed at my full plate and saddened at adventures that have been paused, but God is still faithful. Savoring the last day of October, I remember some that this month has entailed. I am reminded of the tears I have shed, and the prayers I have cried out to the Lord as I wash my pillows. I am reminded of the long, but precious day yesterday spent with the Lord and littles as I look at my mini pumpkin. I couldn't help but smile as I helped Garrett, Owen, Caleb, Elizabeth, and many others into the bouncy house. At only two or three, they needed a helping hand. Some of them don't know me very well, yet they trusted me. So much more should we trust our Heavenly Father who we do know to help us! We can't do it all nor should we try to, but He can.
As I read "Trusting God Even When Life Hurts", I am reminded of every circumstance this month that has molded me and helped me to trust God more. Listening to lectures and writing a paper, I am reminded of the many hours I have spent studying. My grades haven't always been perfect and sometimes the work is piled sky high, but I have learned loads.

Nothing is wasted or meaningless. God knew that I would be anxious when I had flashbacks of a terrible night. God knew that college would be tough, and some days I would want to quit. God knew that I would be disappointed when I found out I wasn't eligible for a college scholarship. God knew my sister's flight would be delayed, and that she would be gone for nearly a month. God knew that I would have to say "see you later", and start to miss a friend terribly. Not one detail passed by God without Him knowing. He knew about it all before, during, and after in complete detail; much more than I know. Just as He knows the hurtful things in life, He knows the beautiful things that make us smile. This month some of them have been: a bonfire, holding children, encouragement from friends, college Bible study, a new book, singing in choir, a phone call, and more.  He cares about the bigger picture, but also the intricate details.

The Lord is truly teaching me during this time, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. There is no safer or sweeter place to be but in the midst of the will of God. Difficulties are just opportunities to learn to trust God more. No matter what He chooses to work through, may I always say "Thy will be done."

With God's daily sufficient grace, I am striving to settle into the uncertainty and discomfort. It is painful and challenging, but He sees it necessary. Whatever He sees fit to use to bring glory to Himself and change me I should not question. There is evidence everywhere of how good He is and how much He really knows what He is doing! Life is a gift from the Lord, and I'm just so blessed to be able to live it. That is still true no matter what happens in the coming days, because nothing can change the Lord. He is still on the throne, and we are still in His palm. Let this be the time, in the middle of all the chaos, that you find rest as you surrender. It's really just one big adventure with God. Though seasons come and go, Jesus remains. I don't know about you, but I am pretty excited at what He is doing now behind the scenes that we will see in the future. Hold on, because this will be one glorious journey with Jesus if you only let Him work in and through you.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

it's w i l d.


  Life has been a whirlwind the last few months; coming & going, growing & changing. I've been to camp at the Wilds, seen friends graduate, seen friends move away and go back to college, worked like crazy on college classes, been accepted into Crown College for the spring, gone on a few adventures, met new friends, reconnected with old friends, been broken-hearted, and have drank way too much coffee [just to name a few].  Just when I think I've caught up, I turn around and there is more. I've got to let go of perfection and expectations, because life is wild and it isn't about that anyways. Sometimes it isn't all about the destination that we are working towards, but how God uses the journey to get there. Even though it is overwhelming, makes me anxious, and brings me to my knees, I am grateful. I have this hope as an anchor for my soul; Jesus. It'll all be okay, and if its not...it's not the end.

It is easy to rush the process and want to have already arrived where we so badly want to be. If we were able to speed time up and get to where we wanted to be in life, we would finally be there. But, consequently, we would miss out on many blessings and lessons. God wants us to experience the whole journey for a reason; nothing is worthless, wasted, or unnecessary. It all has a plan and purpose, whether we see it in the moment or not.

If nothing else gets accomplished in this waiting season of my life but God's glory shining more and Him teaching me to soak up every moment, it will be worth it. We only see a corner of the picture; a page of the story, but God sees it all completely. There is no detail that God misses.

I know life may seem so tangled up now, friend. I am there too, in many ways and areas. I don't have the answers and neither do you, but I know One who does; Jesus. When we seek Him and find Him, we have all that we need. Let it soak in for a few minutes; He is all that you need, nothing lacking.
Jesus as my priority. Jesus as my focus. Jesus in my family. Jesus in my friends. Jesus in my studies. Jesus in decisions. Jesus in my thoughts. Jesus in my actions. Jesus in my prayers. Jesus in my devotions. Jesus in relationships. Jesus in my social media. Jesus in my attitude. Jesus in my love. Jesus in my counseling others. Jesus in my heartbreak. Jesus in my pain and other's pain. Jesus in my past, present, and future. Jesus in the darkest corners. Jesus in the insecurity and fear, so that I might be confident and full of faith in Him. Jesus in it all is the answer for contentment and true joy. That new job, opportunity, friendship, relationship, or answer might be appealing, but it won't make you happy or satisfied like your Savior can.

Life is not cloudy or unknown to Him. Jesus has the answers and is the answer, so we need to trust Him for them, before them, and after them. Everything and everyone precious to us He holds in the palm of His hand. There it is safer than ever before. In the midst of His will is truly the best place to be, even if its a painful place to be in. It will be worth it, you'll see.

"I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."
[Psalm 40:8]

Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps."
[Psalm 85:13]

"Teach me to do thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name."
[Psalm 86:11]

"I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning."
[Psalm 130:5-6]

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
[Matthew 6:33]

He rewards those that patiently endure. This season is necessary because He's using it to prepare us for the next coming thing. He knows what is needed to teach us and prepare us for what He has planned next. He is the author of our story. I'll be honest, I've had a fairly detailed outline that I badly hoped was God's plan. Even though some things may be looking like they are far away, He is still working in many ways I cannot see. Even the good things in our lives we must hold loosely that God may have the room to work. Not my will, but thine be done.

As a friend always tells me, "trust that no is only redirection, and that there will be a greater yes down the road." With His help, I'm striving to settle in with the discomfort and unsettledness, and let Him do His work. Let's face it; life is predictably unpredictable and wild. We don't have to face it alone though, Jesus is with us always. No matter what you are facing, He is right beside you. Rest in His faithfulness as you hit your pillow tonight and possibly start to think about why you are here and not somewhere else. May we take comfort in this; though life may be unsettled, unsure, and unknown, He is not! No matter what happens in the coming days, weeks, and months, He is faithful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

hallelujah.

all i have is C H R I S T.

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
 
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
O Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

(Sovereign Grace Ministries)

No matter what the Lord gives or takes away, I will always have Him. He is my everything. Hallelujah, all I have is Christ! Hallelujah, Jesus is my l i f e! I'm holding onto Him tighter than ever, as He draws me nearer.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

eighteen.

With only a day until I turn nineteen, I am looking back on this last year and remembering all the tough but wonderful lessons & memories. I want to thank my family and friends so much for their love and support, but most of all, Jesus. Without Him, I would be a totally different person and in such a different place. Thank you, Lord, for all you have done for me, and for who You are.
I love you.

Eighteen things to tell my eighteen-year old self...

One// If you work hard, do your best, and give it to the Lord, things will happen and fall into place.

Two// Graduation and education is important, but it does not need to consume you. The key is balance.

Three// With God all things are possible---He has answered prayer so many times and will continue to (salvation, counseling problems, scholarships, school, camp, and more). I don't need to be anxious or stress out, but pray and wait.

Four// Don't put so many burdens on yourself. Give them to Jesus. Don't wait until you are overwhelmed before you bring them to Him.

Five// Always place a huge priority on your time with God. If nothing else gets done that day but quiet time with Him, it's fine. He is not just important, but THE MOST important.

Six// Hard times reveal true friends. Hang onto the genuine people, but don't be afraid to let the others go.

Seven// Just because friends move to college, get into relationships, and get married doesn't mean that they have forgotten about you at all.

Eight// Don't be afraid to just be real and honest. It may be hard at times, but it is always worth it.

Nine// Prayer truly changes things. Don't stop; keep wrestling with it until it comes to pass.

Ten// Don't settle for someone just because you are lonely. The right one is *always* worth waiting for.

Eleven// You don't have to figure it all out or over-analyze. Let the Lord work things out in time.

Twelve// Just be yourself. It takes too much time, is too stressful, and no reason to be like others. God made you to be YOU, not someone else. Embrace it and learn all that He wants you to, as you become the godly woman that He wants you to become.

Thirteen// Your first love won't necessarily be your last. When someone you deeply care for is with someone else  and you part ways, it hurts, but it will be okay one day. At every ending there starts a new beginning. Remember how far the Lord has brought you through it all, and tell your heart to beat again. Use this time now to draw closer to Jesus, and in His time, the right one will come into your life.

Fourteen// With the Lord's help, you can do a lot more than you think. Sometimes it is hard and takes a big leap of faith. God has got you, and will do great and mighty things that you don't even know about yet!

Fifteen// Some people are crossroads for a season, and others are destinations who will stay in your life forever. Don't try to change things; God always knows best.

Sixteen// The world and people in it may sometimes break you, but God takes the broken pieces and puts you back together more beautifully.

Seventeen// Telling your story helps you to heal, so share it when the Lord prompts you to---it will help you and others.

Eighteen// Be open to new possibilities---you never know what God has planned for you just around the corner.

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." {Psalm 55:22}