“Most people just need to feel useful…

As long as I have Jesus, I will always feel useful- even if I occasionally feel lonely.”

“Of course, God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I heartily affirm these precious, anchoring truths. But if I am honest, the things that God might use to bring about this promised good can sometimes frighten me. Would He give me another dark year to sanctify me? Part of my current situation felt frighteningly familiar. Could He take someone from me that l love fiercely? I had to admit I was deeply afraid of what he might allow.” – Keri Seavey – “When God’s Sovereignty Scares You”

     My week has been ultimately turned upside down by the ever-present-yet-I-need-constant-reminder-of fact that God is God and I am not. The above Keri Seavey excerpt is a beautiful way to describe all that my heart is screaming. My last blog post focused on trust in The Lord, trust that He will provide, trust that He is good, trust that He loves me deeply as His very own. Delving into my struggle with lack of trust and unbelief, I came upon Keri’s blog post, “Has God Ever Scared You?”, which can be found here ( http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2013/11/26/has-god-ever-scared-you/). And my answer to the title question, is yes. Yes, I am battling with (the wrong kind) of fear of The Lord which stems from a lack of trust that The God of The Universe will provide for me. I know and fully believe that He works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), however, I am frozen with fear over the ways He may utilize to bring about the good He promises. This is where God is God and I am not comes into play. I honestly don’t know what I need, period. I do not know what is best for me, and I do not know how to provide for myself. I am positive you could put me in God’s ‘kitchen’ so-to-speak, surrounded by all the elements and ingredients that He uses to sustain me and I promise you I would still be unable to provide for myself. I am not the playmaker, I am not the chef. Much like in a regular kitchen, I could be fully stocked but not know how to mix and add ingredients to make something beautiful (or even edible really…). God is God. I am not.

He is sovereign.

     You know what is so easy for me to forget amidst fearing His sovereignty? His suffering. Christ has been here. Christ has lived in this self-centered, idolatry-stricken world while being fully man, which He did willingly for you and for me. If that doesn’t speak volumes of His goodness and love, I don’t know much else that will! He came down and endured the worst of the worst. So while He is fully sovereign, He is also fully loving and convinces us of His deep love while practicing his sovereignty by sending His Son. His hands that hold the world and control all of eternity are the very same nail-pierced hands that made a way for us to enter into a relationship with The King of Righteousness. Keri Seavey says it best when she says, “Freshly seeing God- the suffering, sovereign One- allows me to be freed from fear and move into trust again.” 

     Over the last week I have felt nothing but loss, I’ve begged the question as to “why me?”, and now, I am standing in faith knowing full well that The Lord very well may use my biggest fears to bring me good and His glory, yet trusting that He loves me and upholds me with His strong, pierced-for-me hands. 

“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

Nothing I Hold On To

I give it all to You, God, trusting that You’ll make something beautiful out of me.

     Sometimes in my walk with The Lord there are recurring themes that beg my complete focus. No doubt, He knows repetition is the quickest way to get my undivided attention. The recurring theme of the past few days, and really the past month, has been thankfulness.

Thankful: aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.
Grateful: expressing gratitude.

     Thankfulness can be considered a cure-all for an assortment of spiritual ailments- but recently for me, it is the only medicine that redirects my selfish heart. I am so sure that I can do nothing on my own power, yet I try daily. I am so weak on my own and attempting to do things on my own strength this week has led to me being sick and, quite frankly, totally burnt out. In scripture ( 2 Corinthians 12:9), I am reminded that, “His power is made perfect in my weakness.” Apart from Him, I can do nothing- something I need to be reminded of daily. 

     My story begins with a question I’ve found myself asking The Lord…”Seriously though, why are You messing everything up?”.

Ha.

That’s just a funny question to be posing to the God of the Universe. I know how absurd it sounds, yet it is a question I have found my foolish heart simply screaming. I decided it was probably time for some serious soul searching!

Here’s the issue, I think I know what I need. This leads me to strive to provide for myself first. I have been prioritizing myself and my wants, and not prioritizing sharing His selfless love. This has led me to “watching out for me and me only” instead of loving wholeheartedly with a focus on Him. Romans 8 reminds me that He, who gave His own son for me, do I not think will also sustain me?! My selfishness comes in the form of not wanting to love others simply because I feel they get in the way of what I think I need. In order to be an effective example of His love, I have to trust that He will provide for me. I have to trust that He not only knows what I need, but that He will also provide. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit easier said than done…

I have been wrestling this burning desire for control this week. There is one thing I have found that I can actively partake in to make a difference in this battle and that, my friends, is by being thankful. Earlier in this post, I defined both the words thankful and grateful. What I’ve found is that while gratefulness is an action, one has to first be thankful, having conscious awareness of His blessings. In my walk with The Lord, I am entitled to nothing, yet sometimes I have a selfish and entitled heart. Delighting in what I do have, I’ve found, is the quickest way to quell selfishness. I have to remind myself daily, if not every second, that when I put my trust in The Lord, I have no lack. An eternal mindset dashed with thankfulness acts to quell selfishness.

 

Write a list of things you are thankful for, I did. I’ll admit that at first, it was hard, but when things started coming, they just didn’t stop! 

creation’sbeauty.sweetfriendship.
WillReaganworshipmusic.God’sWord.Chickfila.salvation.
wisecounsel.technology.
hardshipsthatallowmetogrowandlovedeeply.
thingsIcannotcontrolthatpointmetoHim.
coffee.prayer.thebeach.doctors.skin.havingajob.passionsanddesires.
bloggers.painthatmakesmeappreciatehappiness.grandparents.
Romans8.cleanwater.laughter.summer.handwrittenletters.facetime.
quiettime.peoplewhosaythankyou.

beingblessedbeyondmeasuretoevenhavealistofthingsIamthankfulfor.

I am empty without You, Lord.

All of my life, in every season…

You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.

    At some point on this long journey called life, we all have a “dry spell”. Working with youth, I am often presented with the seemingly perplexing statement, “I just don’t feel God.” While God isn’t a feeling, love is. It’s hard to sit and wait on The Lord, especially when you don’t feel Him moving. I’m so thankful to serve a God who moves and works regardless of my recognition of His presence and His doings. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a “seasoned” Christian who has not walked through a spiritual desert. While we all desire a life full of mountain peaks and oases, we would never know the high of a mountain without the low of a valley. Water is only made sweeter held to the dryness of desert. 

     This semester, I have walked with The Lord through some seemingly unending deserts. Although I have not always felt His presence, I have never doubted it for He is faithful. You know how I can be sure of His omnipresence? My track record for getting through hard times is 100%, I am safe in His hands. Instead of looking for our way out of the desert, we need to be looking at what He has to reveal to us in the desert.

     I have learned three pretty important things about desert walking and I’d like to share them. These are the three things that kept the lies of the enemy at bay as I walked in the way of The Lord, knowing He is good and He is faithful.

1) Authenticity with The Lord is vital. I believe that sometimes as Christians we are discouraged to feel anything but happiness and thankfulness towards our Creator. This year, for the first time in my life, I sat down and began a prayer with, “Lord, I am SO frustrated with you.” I got up from that prayer closer with and more trusting of Him than I had ever been in my entire life. The Lord knows our hearts, our thoughts, our feelings. Relationships thrive on communication. Being real with Him, being vulnerable with Him, leads us to a place of trust.

2) Prayer is vital. In my latest dry season, I spent more time saying, “The last thing I want to do right now is pray. I want nothing to do with that.” Surprise guys, when I find myself saying those things, those are the times I need prayer most. Even if I’m just praying for a desire to pray, communication is key. There is no hiding from The Lord, so why not come to Him? John Piper said it much more eloquently than I – but something along the lines of when your mouth is proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, even in the times when you’re down and your heart feels nothing- no, especially in those times, your faith shines through. That’s powerful faith. It’s easy to trust Him on good days, but I long to walk with Him all of my days.

3) Community is vital. During spiritual dry spells, we are increasingly susceptible to buy into the lie of shame. We flee. We run from the issue, but standing in community and shedding light on the issue is essential. Christian community can love us and pray for us and encourage us. Having just been through a dry spell, that’s something I desperately needed. We are called to carry each other’s burdens in Galatians 6! Although a ship of one may struggle to stay afloat during a storm, a crew of many skilled sailors works together to keep all members afloat!

In the desert, you’ve got a total of about two things to focus on. The countless grains of sand or Him. Grains of sand, are just that. Though they may be many, they are no match for The Lord or His Children. There’s not much to distract us in the desert, providing a unique time for our undivided attention to The Lord. 

God is my victory and HE IS HERE.

You Call Me Out Upon The Waters

All my life, I have loved control. I think that’s a pretty common part of the human condition because in someway we all struggle with loving control. The hard thing about this love, or addiction for some of us, is that it is totally impossible to be in control of our own lives. Some things are beyond our control and in those dealings, we must learn to trust the faithfulness of our Creator, who is good- ALL the time.

This week, moreover this semester, has been about surrendering. I started off the semester at a Cru conference where the theme was “surrendering” and honestly had no idea that I was on my way to starting a long journey towards freedom in The Lord.

This week, specifically, The Lord has given me an amazing opportunity to be a leader, yet it is terribly uncomfortable. Social anxiety is such a real struggle in my life. Not only did I have the opportunity to lead, I have been given the opportunity to shine as a disciple of Christ. Instead of embracing the opportunity, much like Jonah, I ran. I, being positive I knew what was best for me, chose my plan over His. Let me tell you how that went…and how it will always go when I chose my ways over His…it failed. I failed. It was not fun. Instead of the mild discomfort that may have come from being open and sharing my faith, I chose to not partake in expanding the Kingdom- which is much worse. While I am disappointed in my missed opportunity, I am also reveling in The Lord’s unending grace and mercy, dusting myself off, and continuing on this journey that is my life with an eternal perspective. The Lord often calls us to places of discomfort, but you know what, that’s why they call them growing pains. Whenever we are obedient in situations that are uncomfortable, The Lord blesses those things. Growth comes from places of discomfort. We are promised that in John 15:2: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

The Lord gives and takes away, but ultimately works for our good- another promise found in Romans 8. So next time you find yourself questioning The Lord and His plan, remember that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). No, they are far greater. So great, in fact, that even if He told us what He was up to, we would not believe it (Hab. 1:5). That sounds like something I want to be a part of!

Go Ahead…Love The Crap Out Of Everything

“There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything. Negative people find their walls. So never apologize for your enthusiasm. Never. Ever. Never.”

-Ryan Adams

I’m not exactly sure who Ryan Adams is, but he said this quote & I love him for it. Sometimes, I question my natural enthusiasm. I seem to be MUCH more excited than the general public. For example, let’s say I have a lunch date with a friend at noon. Around 11, I can’t focus on anything out of pure excitement. Okay, so maybe that’s more in line with ADD, let’s just chalk it up to a bad example. I feel like I feel emotions on a 10-fold scale compared to everyone else. While at times it can be frustrating, it is perhaps my favorite thing about myself. I’ve recently found myself apologizing for my childlike excitement and trying to taper my expression of enthusiasm… Let’s just be honest, it is 100% who I am, there really isn’t any hiding it. I’m excited, my use of hyperbole is ridiculous, I love the crap out of everything- but that’s what makes me, me. I’m done apologizing for who I am.

You should be, too. Be here now. Be fully you.

#soundoff

A Quick This & That

It’s time for a little novel chatter my friends!  Let me just tell you, this summer I’ve caught a crazy-beyond-crazy addiction to books and reading. I will read anything and everything and I will love it.  However, there is one book that I have read recently that stands out above the rest. That’s Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the target audience is for anyone of the college age, but that didn’t take away from the beautiful story-line that was Kate and Tully’s friendship. Definitely a chick-book, guys beware, but in all seriousness most well written book I have read in a while! If you haven’t yet, you best get a copy…and while you’re at it you might want to grab some tissues. #sappy

 

In other news, the Nanny Diaries life is going pretty well. I am a full time nanny to three beyond precious children – Slugger, Littlest Aviator, and the Middle Artist. I promise pictures and stories of our adventures will follow! Oh but let’s talk about the worst part of the Nanny Diaries…saying goodbye. I know that I have a little less than a month left with my kiddos. Spending all day every day with the same three kids can really touch your heart, how do you walk away from that?! This summer has given me just the glimpse of parenthood I need to know that I will not be having 3 kids each a year apart, but none the less it’s taught me how to love and live like a child again. It’s so funny, the ups and downs of a child’s life. I can go from the much despised Cruella-DeVil to the BFF in 0.234 seconds!

 

Till tomorrow<3

Growing Up & Other Ironies

There have been so many moments in the past two months where I’ve said to myself, “Is this what is meant by the term, ‘growing up’?”…
I have reached a wonderful point in life where I have become incredibly self-aware and self-supporting. Of course, it’s not all sunshine. There’s never enough time or sleep but there is plenty of laughter and loads of irony.

I guess it starts with my Peter Pan obsession. I will admit, the story has forever made a child out of me. I refuse to grow up. In the way Wendy refuses to grow up in the first few chapters. I am honestly a complete child at heart…the heart that I always wear on my sleeve. There are those moments, however, which strike me so deeply. Moments I realize I am, with each day, growing further and further from the idea of needing someone to care for me. It’s literally like standing at a threshold of life. As a child I firmly believed that I needed people. I needed them wholly and completely and indefinitely. I distrusted my ability to handle life and all it’s messy beauty on my own. Nowadays, I find myself counting on me. I guess Whitney was right when she sang, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” I have learned to take life less seriously, have become far less dramatic, and I take the actions of others far less personally than I have ever before. Let me tell you, if this is what it means to grow up…I’m content 🙂 Although, I’ll always have my moments, I believe we all do.

Perhaps all of this has been stirred up by my growing, unyielding passion for the study of cancer and my devotion to finding a cure. I have found my faith growing substantially as I pursue the tough and extremely rewarding career that is childhood oncology, as well. I find with each trial I face and the emotions that go along with hardship are being used to fuel my passion. I think I’ve found the one thing that fulfills that drive we are all born with. The drive to discover our purpose. Growing up certainly isn’t easy, but what you don’t understand as a teen is that it all works out, if you let it. I’m certainly not done either, but I know that God is for me and that I choose happiness. To quote a great friend who I owe much to…”You can let every situation make you one of two things…bitter…or…better. Choose better.”

I challenge you all to see past your current circumstances and keep your eyes focused on finding your passions, purposes, and dreams!

Potential and passion are NOTHING unless paired with hard work and perseverance!

Hop to it. Live out loud and love without limits!