Each new page.

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This happened. It was beautiful. And I totally cried.

Lyss, I’m so excited for you as you begin this amazing new chapter in your life. I know that this man you’ve chosen was created by God specifically for you, and I’m thankful for how He brought you two together.

You are my once-in-a-lifetime friend; the one who knows the Whole Story. And I’m not going to let something as silly as a few thousand miles (seriously, who’s counting?!) keep us from sharing the rest of life’s adventures. We will learn to enjoy phone conversations, whether we like it or not : )

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I love you, I miss you already, and I’m so proud of you.

Change, trust, and going higher.

It has been a season of big changes, and my poor little heart is still trying to catch up.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night about contentment, and whether or not we felt like our lives were moving forward. On one hand, I’m fulfilled and content where I am, but on the other… I know that there is so much more to come. And part of me is ready for that.

Thing is, if I’m being completely honest, I’m a comf0rt-zone person. (Hey, c’mon. Stop with the nodding and the eye-rolling – I’m fully aware that I’m stating the obvious.)

I’d be the last one to instigate big change. The last one to allow my neat little world to get messy with new things. The last one who would volunteer to hold things and relationships dear to me with an open hand, in order to reach for better.

But maybe I’m stuck in neutral.

What if it’s fear that’s keeping me where I am? Is what I stand to lose really more important to me than what could be waiting on the other side? Maybe it’s time to pull back the curtain and make brave decisions, by the grace of God. And that sounds a lot larger than it likely is. I guess the bottom line is that I want to start operating with a little more faith, and a little less fear. To continue to learn how to view things and situations through the lens of eternity, rather than allowing them to be colored by my “right now.”

We’re offered so much hope, and so many promises, and yet so often I remain in what is comfortable; risking great things by maintaining my death grip on security.

Am I willing to be insecure in this life in order to be made fully secure in the life that matters?

We’re never promised that this life will be easy.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 (NIV)

In fact, I think it could be said that the most promising seasons of growth come through adversity.

It’s a bold statement to say that I’m ready to risk it all to obtain Jesus. Painful changes? Those words fling the doors open wide and invite them in for tea and cake. But then again, as someone once said to me, “reality actually is no respecter of persons or personal space. It just kinda crashes through the door.” We’re not in control anyways, but somehow we convince ourselves that we can shut ourselves in, creating and controlling our own little ecosystem that will be protected from outside interference. (And yes, I know… two three door analogies in one paragraph. I have no excuse.)

I’m challenged again today to put my confidence in the Lord, because confidence in ourselves (or in other human beings) will always fail us. I’m willing to learn how to hold this life with an open hand and to trust in the Lord for my security, in order to gain through Him what I cannot on my own. I’ve been reading and studying the Songs of Ascent lately, and you guys… It’s pretty much exactly this. You have to let go of where you are, in order to go higher.

Sign this  cautious, comfort-zone-loving, change-avoiding girl up.

 

Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion;
they will not be defeated but will endure forever.
Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.
The wicked will not rule the land of the godly,
for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.
O Lord, do good to those who are good,
whose hearts are in tune with you.
But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.
Take them away with those who do evil.

Psalm 125 (NLT)

Thankful for hope.

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We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

Romans 5:3-4

It’s (not) all about me.

I had written a post on some of these thoughts already, that was waiting in my drafts before I hit publish. And then Davi said it so much better, and I got to thinking about it again.

It should be such an easy thing. We know that it’s worth it to seek the Kingdom of God first. We know what is and what isn’t important in light of eternity.

And yet, I don’t know about you… but I so often find myself choosing the lesser. The now. The easy, the “me,” the one that satisfies my flesh.

Instead of saying no. Instead of pursuing something higher. Instead of setting myself apart, putting my foot down, and choosing eternal things.

I choose 90 minutes of Hollywood. I spend money on things that I think will make me into the version of myself that I think I want to be. I worry that the sweater I lent to my sister will come back with a hole in it. I agonize over things I can’t change. I set my desires on things that I’m not even convinced God wants for me.

I wonder how that must look and feel to our Heavenly Father. Humor me, will you?

He’s sitting on His throne, surrounded by storehouses full of good gifts. There are so many that they’re spilling out- they’re everywhere. (But in an orderly way, of course. He’s not a God of disorder or chaos, we all know that.)

And He sees me. He smiles, and says, “Child. I love you.” And He reaches down and picks up this gift of peace. His smile widens, and He holds it out. This is exactly what she needs. 

And there I am. My back is turned, my head is in my hands, and I’m worrying over something that’s too big for me to carry. Something that He already has the solution to, it’s just not the right time to hand me that answer. That gift. I choose the worry.

Here’s another one. I’m exhausted. It’s been a long day, and tomorrow and the next day are going to be even longer, busier, and more stressful. I’m worn out, and I’m empty.

And He sees me. He smiles, and says, “Child. I love you. Come sit here next to Me, and let me minister to your soul. Let My love, and My presence wash over you and restore you. Tomorrow isn’t going to be that bad, let Me tell you why.” And He pats His knee, the way you would to coax a little child to come and sit on your lap.

Instead, my exhausted self sits on the couch to catch up on the TV shows I’ve missed; wanting to block out the stress of the day past and the ones to come. And when the screen is quiet an hour or two later, the stress and the worry are still there. If anything, they’re more overwhelming. And His countenance, as He watches me, is sad.

One more and I’ll wrap this up, I promise.

I’m restless. My life isn’t what I expected it would be at this point, and I’m looking for fulfillment. He gets a sparkle in His eye, and He tries to catch my attention. “Daughter, I have an idea. Remember how I’ve provided you with an income that more than supplies for your needs? I mean, you’re not always the wisest with it, but I know you try, and I’ve seen improvements lately. Except for ______. You probably shouldn’t have bought that with My money. But I digress (because I’m God, and I’m allowed). Child, look. Do you see that need?” And He gently turns my head to look upon the face of another one that He loves so much. “I could open up all of Heaven, and shower down gifts upon them, but I have another idea. What if we surprised them by having you meet their need? Wouldn’t that be great?! They’ll be so blessed, and just think of how you’ll feel when you use My money that I’ve given you to help them. And look- here’s a special gift of joy that you’ll receive in return if you help Me with this project. Daughter?”

Instead of having my heart tuned to the voice of my Heavenly Father, my mind wanders. If I purchase this, or look like that, and have this gadget… then I’ll be who I think I want to be. If I fit this particular societal mold for someone of my age and position, surely then I’ll be fulfilled. (Conforming to this world, anyone?) And I pass up this incredible opportunity to be a co-conspirator with the God of the Universe in blessing someone we both care about, choosing instead to find my own way to fulfillment.

I don’t want to ignore His gifts any longer.

I know it’s not going to happen over night, but I’m planting my stake in the ground right here. I’m making this an open declaration, to make myself accountable. I’m probably going to continue to hear the Holy Spirit whisper an “oops.” to my spirit as I make mistakes, and that’s ok. He doesn’t demand that we get it perfectly right on the first try. He made me. He knows my shortcomings, and He’s willing to work with me on them. And I know that as I make choices to course-correct in these areas, a lot of other things are going to fall into place. Because, Matthew 6:33 people. That’s the bottom line here.

It’s not about me. It’s about my eternity.

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

My story.

We all have hurts in our pasts.

Scars, struggles, stains…

Some more than others, but we can never really tell from the outside, can we?

So, this is a story about a girl who had her share. Not more than her share, because God knew what she could handle.

Just her share.

She left it in her past and set her eyes on Jesus, but it was still there. Lingering in the background; always.

Until one day, there was a confrontation with Truth.

 

Are you addicted to the story?

 

The answer was a begrudging yes.

If I let go of this hurt, I’ll still be broken but I won’t have an excuse.

If I choose to release this person, I’ll have nothing/no one to blame.

Even though I had gone through the process of “forgiveness,” and even though I had prayed for and received a great measure of healing, I was still holding onto “the story.” I was, as the question so glaringly presented it, “addicted to” the story.

So I’ve been in detox. Rejecting the thoughts and excuses, replacing them with truth.

But it’s my testimony. If I let it go, what will I have to share?

Grace.

A girl who was hurt, isn’t hurt any longer.

The girl who carried baggage has a spring in her step from knowing true freedom and joy.

Redemption wins.

I think I can safely say that I’ve reached the point where I Thessalonians 5:18 is beginning to ring true in my life. I was told it was possible, but to be honest… I’m not sure I ever fully believed it.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

And reading this verse again, I see it. It’s not just God’s will for us to be thankful, but it’s God’s will that we face these circumstances (*unless we’ve come into them through rebellion or disobedience, of course).

He knows that there will be pain involved. He knows that the circumstances are far from easy.

But the reward He desires for us requires that we identify with His sufferings. He knows exactly how much we can handle by His grace, and He knows what richness lies in store for those who overcome. 

These things… I would have never chosen them for myself. Or anyone- not even my worst enemy, if I had one. But if I hadn’t walked through it, I wouldn’t know Him as I do. I wouldn’t be the person I now am by His grace. And I wouldn’t have the experience of His grace in the way that I’ve known it.

I want to become addicted to a new story. His story. The story of His grace and redemption at work inside the heart of this girl.

It’s not my testimony, though, it’s His. I’ll gratefully share it as He provides the opportunity, but it’s not mine to own.

So that’s my story. A girl who was rejected and redeemed, scarred and sought after, hurt and healed.

Grateful for grace.

His story.

Letting go.

 

Is there such a thing as intentionally losing control?

I think that’s what I’m supposed to be learning these days.

To hold people, things, and situations with an open hand.

To maintain my peace in the midst of changes and challenges.

To replace insecurities with hope.

 

May not sound like much, but big things are happening over here, folks.

 

Feel the silence
There’s war beneath our skin
Let it begin
It’s hard to fight
It’s hard to lead resistance
It’s our hearts we’re up against

This world it keeps us
Promising freedom
We thought we could belong
But we don’t belong here
Don’t let us wander
To arms of another
Oh father, yours forever
Let us be a hostage of peace

 

Looking Ahead…

 

…To big changes.

…To building community.

…To learning how to be real when it counts.

…To being adventurous.

…To learning grace.

…To authenticity.

…To being intentional.

…To victory.

…To surrender.

…To growth.

…To more.

Praying to see these things in my life as I enter my 24th year… and more!

So thankful for where He has brought me from, and where He is continuing to lead me.