Wednesday, February 25, 2015

on where we set our sights

It's funny to me how the Lord speaks to me in themes and in repetition. It would seem as though I'm a slow learner or have a stubborn streak. Last year, I chose to claim the word fearless over my life, hoping for a year of change and adventure. And boy, did He deliver. From a new job to a summer spent in Africa to a sweet man who changed everything, He delivered.

My tendency is to forget about what God has done and to find discontentment by looking towards all that is left to be done. I fret and fear about that which has not yet come to pass. When I look at my circumstances instead of keeping my eyes on Him, fear weighs on my heart like a ton of bricks. I physically feel the weight of thoughts not yet surrendered, and they torment me both during times alone and with others.

[via]

This year, our church has been working through the book of Acts. A few weeks ago, our pastor gently reminded us of three ways that the enemy seeks to thwart the purpose of the Gospel in our lives.

deception

This perhaps is the sneakiest of tactics used by the enemy. We find ourselves entrapped by lies when we succumb to the thought processes of the world. This often happens when we are not in the Word daily or are feasting on the world through excessive television, social media, and the like. God calls us to live lives that are rooted in His truth.

discouragement

When I keep my eyes on my circumstances or the circumstances of those around me, I despair. I find it hard to hold on to hope when I constantly focus on the negative situations which surround me, and I frustrate myself by getting caught up in the land of what if- questioning and doubting and over-analyzing to the nth degree.

distraction

This tactic is one that is so pervasive in our generation. We have learned to need to be entertained at every moment- whether with our phones or with a television screen. I for one hate silence, listening to music even as I fall asleep, afraid to be alone with my own thoughts.

These three tactics of the enemy have been present and unfortunately, successful in my life in the past couple months. It has been a daily battle to fight against the three and seek to take hold of the abundant life that God promises and desires. How do we fight? How do we find joy in the midst of a world that sometimes seems to crumble all around us?

[via]

1. Fight the trap of deception by being rooted in truth. 

It isn't enough to just read the Bible every day. We have to meditate on His word, which means that we keep it in the forefront of our minds. One thing that helps me is to write out Scripture on index cards and place them where I know I will see them. Right now I am memorizing Psalm 16, and each week, I just write out a new verse. I also listen to music throughout the day that reminds me of who God is and sets my mind on truth.

2. Fight the trap of discouragement with a grateful heart. 

I can find the negative in just about anything if I try. Case in point: I wanted a snow day so so badly. Today, I got a day off, but I was a sourpuss throughout the day because I was bored, my stomach hurt, and I didn't get to see my boyfriend like I thought I would. Mature, I know. Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts that fear and gratitude cannot coexist. So I cannot be afraid or discouraged or annoyed when I take the time to stop and tell the Lord, sometimes out loud, what I'm grateful for instead of counting up the things that I'm annoyed with at the moment.

3. Fight the trap of distraction by disconnecting. 

When I choose to believe that I must be "connected" at all times by being glued to my phone, I miss out on what is right in front of me. When I text or check social media while I am with others, I do not fully invest in the moment that God has given me. My mind is often full to the brim with clutter because I often choose not to unplug. A couple action steps I've been trying to take lately are to stop looking at social media or texting after 9 pm or at work and to be careful to not text throughout the day at work unless I'm at lunch or on a break. It is much easier said than done, and I'm not perfect. But progress is better than perfection.

The enemy wants us to be bogged down by fear. He wants us to live in the constant state of worry and doubt that paralyze us. But when we do this, we are robbing ourselves of the life that God has for us. The life He calls us to is so much more than a life of fear. It is life of joy and surrender. And while it is not always easy, it is always worth it. It takes courage to walk in the light and to trust that He is in perfect control of our lives. But when we trust Him, we can rest in His love, knowing that He is more than enough for our every need.


Friday, February 20, 2015

simplify

Yes, it is mid-February, and I am just now writing about my one word for 2015. So sue me. Grace over perfection, right? If you've been following along on this little blog for a while, you know that I have a tendency to over-commit. To say yes to all the things all the time. For years now, that way of living has kind of been my modus operandi. The root of it all is found in a desire to please others and to be found worthy in the eyes of man instead of God. It all starts with pride and selfish desires to be well-liked.

Earlier this year, I read a couple books that helped shape my vision for this year. The Best Yes and Make It Happen are two books that the Lord brought to me at just the right time. While reading The Best Yes, tears were constantly flowing. It was as though the words were written just for me. One take-away that I constantly come back to from Lysa's wise words was that "The disease to please is not the same as the command to love." Boom. Drops mic. In Make It Happen, author and entrepreneur Lara Casey candidly writes about her struggles and shares the story of how she lost almost everything when she chased perfection. As a female eldest child, I know a little something about the desire to be perfect. I also know something about the exhaustion that ensues when chasing perfection leaves you coming up short again and again. It just is never worth it.

[via]

The word simplify has been one that the Lord has been stirring around in my heart and soul for quite some time now. To make time for what matters and to cut out the needless filler stuff has long been a desire of mine. However, it is much easier said than done. To live a life of abandon to His purpose instead of my own and to seek His glory and not my own is so much easier to write about here than to walk out in the flesh. But the Lord calls us to do what is best for others and for His kingdom.
I don't know about y'all, but at the end of my life, I don't want to be found faithful to programs, but rather to people. My life is not about what I can contribute to a program or a ministry, but rather about how many people the Lord has led to the cross through my testimony. I'm in awe that He even chooses to use me, hot mess express that I am.

One thing I've struggled with in recent years is a genuine desire to change that lacks a plan of action. This year, I've been using the Power Sheets from Lara Casey's shop, and I am somewhat obsessed with them. To some, they may seem like a crazy type A resource that is a bit intense and overhyped. But to any devoted Power Sheets user, they are anything but. Writing things down has always been a way of commitment for me- to write something down means that I am serious about it and want to take action. The Power Sheets system is different from traditional goal setting in that it takes you through a preparation stage that allows you to think through and envision your year. Each step has purpose and forces you to think through whether or not the goals you are making support your vision and your core.

[via]

In thinking through what I wanted this year to look like, I knew that I wanted to guided by love- not for myself, but for the Lord and others. And in order to love Him and others well, I knew that it was time to take steps toward the thing I feared most- simplifying my life. So many questions, fears, and doubts ran through my mind as I wrote out my goals for this year. What if people are disappointed in me because I don't say yes to everything? What if people need me and I am not available? What if I can't stick to a budget? Blah blah blah...the questions go on and on.

But God
is faithful
is strong
is true.

And His love never fails. His purpose for me is good, and He will not let me fall. I don't check off every little box on my Power Sheets each week. I still sometimes say yes to too many things. But I am not to be all things to all people. There is only one Savior, and it's not me. So I focus on how to love Him and others by ensuring that I'm at my best.Will I fail? Oh yes, I will fail. I will fail my own expectations and those of people around me. But I find my peace not in others' thoughts and their opinions, but the security of my Father's love. And when I do that, I find that His restful peace far surpasses the fear of failure. In fact, He compels me to keep moving and pursuing Him, which, after all, is what He created me for in the first place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

on singleness, part III

[via]

Last fall, I wrote a couple blog posts about singleness. You can read them here and here. Little did I know that in a matter of months my life would be turned completely upside down by one very special man. Having done the singleness thing for my entire adult life, I was in for quite the surprise.

Imagine my delight when last October, I met and began dating my now boyfriend, Rory. If we are friends in real life or you follow me on Instagram, you've seen his sweet face. Sorry I'm not sorry for being sickeningly mushy. It's been a wild four months, but oh so very good. Rory is pretty much my complete opposite. I'm loud, he's quiet. I'm a spender, he's a saver. I speed, and he follows the rules. I'm black, he's white. Need I say more? Rory is wonderful, and he loves me well. He takes care of me and always considers me. He laughs with me about stupid things and calls me on my crap.

Here's the thing about Rory, though. As much as I love him and as grateful as I am for him, he's not Jesus. He doesn't complete me. He complements me in that where I'm weak, he's strong. He helps me understand how to gain a new perspective when I need to calm down or check myself. But he cannot completely understand me or know my innermost thoughts like Jesus can. He's human. And he has faults. I haven't found many, but I know they exist. ;)

In getting to know Rory more each day, I find out more about myself and my need for Christ. It is so easy to idolize him and forget where my help comes from. I see my selfishness when I want things to go my way instead of compromising. I recognize my need for the Lord when he can't just solve all of my problems. I realize that Christ truly is my only hope. Friends, I tell you these things to remind you of Truth. No matter our state in life, our hope is in Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. He woos us, romances us, and gives us life from death. What better joy can we have but to look to Him in all things? As we prepare for the Lenten season, let's remember our true source of hope and truth in all seasons, single, married, young, and old- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Ten: Best Books of 2014

[via]
I haven't composed a Tuesday Ten post in months, and it feels good to be back, friends! Last year I set out to read a book a month, and being the nerd bookworm that I am, my goal was exceeded. This year I have resolved to do the same. If you're like me and are always looking for a good book recommendation, here's a list to get you started in 2015. In no particular order, I give you my top ten books of 2014:

1. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Y'all. It is no secret that I enjoy a good post-apocalyptic YA novel. The Divergent series delivers. If you're behind the times and want a well-written series that will keep you turning pages past midnight, pick these books up. Now.

2. Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough by Kristen Welch
I read this book while in Uganda, not knowing that one month later I would be on a plane to Kenya. This book moved me to tears and inspired me. Kristen writes of how her faith is shaken, tested, and fortified as she and her family do what some call crazy and impossible to love the women of Kenya.

3. A God-Sized Love Story: Beautiful Redemption From Beginning to End by Gretchen Saffles
I've mentioned Gretchen several times here on the blog, but I am continually blown away by the purity of her heart for the Lord and her genuine desire to love Him more and make Him more. She encourages me in ways she doesn't even know about, and I am privileged to call her friend. Her story of finding love is sweet and breathes life to those who are weary and waiting.

4. A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman
My friend Rachel and I had the privilege of meeting Emily in October when we traveled to North Carolina for the day At the Barn, and it was such a sweet joy. Her book calls out the artist in all of us, awakening us to live out the art that we were made to create with the gifts that God has given each one of us.

5. Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider
For years now, the Lord has been whispering one word over me: simplify. There are so many things wrapped up in that little word, and this book speaks to every area of our lives, challenging us to examine the way we live and question the reasons behind the seemingly insignificant decisions we make.

6. Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women by Sarah Bessey
I picked up this book thinking I would hate it, but instead found myself weeping. Sarah's words are incredibly stirring and beautiful, causing you to examine your heart and life in the light of Scripture and think through your beliefs on why we do what we do within the church. Amazing work.

7. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
This book y'all. Hilarious. So much laughter. A must-read.

8. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
Redeeming Love  is one of my favorite books of all time. Y'all, Francine Rivers can weave a story. The way that she uses historical contexts to bring to life stories to encourage, inspire and move her readers is amazing.

9. Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie Downs
This book came at such a perfect time for me last fall. My friend Rachel and I read through it together, and it was such a great catalyst that called out the bravery in each of us. I highly recommend it for those who want the courage to do brave things that seem impossible and scary.

10. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
So technically this a children's book, but it is such a wonderful read. I read it back in the spring in one day, and a couple weeks ago finished reading it aloud to my second graders. This book is incredibly well-written and gives an insight into the mind of an "ordinary kid with an extraordinary face." It will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. A definite must-read.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Currently: February

Ladies and gentlemen, the blog is back. After a long hiatus, I will be resurrecting the blog this month. It's been too long, and I've missed the practice of writing. It is oh so good for my soul, and I was beginning to love this little space and the community of the blogging world. For now, here's what's been happening in my neck of the woods.




hearting: Right now I am loving the simple things- my favorite pens, a good salad for lunch, and quality time with friends. 
reading: I'm almost done reading Make It Happen by Lara Casey, and it has been such an incredible book. The way Lara so openly and honestly shares her story is such an encouragement to me. 
pinning: This year is the first time I've made a vision board, and I liked taking the time to consider images that I thought would represent what I hope this year holds for me. 
eating: I've been eating all the Halo and Cutie oranges I can get my hands on. It's been a slow battle against some nasty sinus junk around these parts, and I am trying to get all the vitamin C I can. 
anticipating: Not going to lie, I am looking forward to my next day off from school. The winter blues are a real thing, people. I'm greatly anticipating a day off on President's Day in a couple weeks. 

Linking up with Anne of In Residence and Jenna of Dearest Love today. :)

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...