TBM.

Total Berry Move.

That is what this blogging fetish has been referred to as (Thank you, Sam, if you’re reading this). Blogging is a total Berry move. And I am totally okay & in love with the idea of that.

When I first came onto the idea of creating a blog, I figured I would post once a week, just so I wouldn’t overload with the writing and blogging, but I am quickly realizing that I enjoy it too much to limit myself. Therefore, I will blog to my heart’s desire.

On Monday night, I felt the closest I have ever gotten to God. It felt like that small space into Heaven was right between my fingers. Millions of stars. Everywhere. The Savior of the world pulsing inside of me. In that moment, all I could imagine was 1) this is exactly what Heaven will be like, and 2) I could hear Him whisper, “Look at what I have created for you. Bask in its beauty. Take in this moment.” And that is exactly what I did. I could feel the twinkle of each star on my skin. Although there were people around me and fears to be faced, I felt full. I was completely full of every emotion the Lord could have filled me with. I was on the verge of tears, but also on the edge of feeling so alive. My cup was overflowing, and I don’t think I have ever felt so overwhelmed with emotion without any words or a message being spoken to me. Just the stars and my God staring at me. In that moment, I could feel my Savior say, “This is why.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I feel, I feel deep. I am an emotional person, and not just emotional in the crying sense, but I feel everything so deeply. I used to curse this quality because even the smallest of things could send me over the edge. Whenever I find myself saying “emotional,” it comes out like a curse word. I don’t like it. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. However, that word is slowly but surely taking new meaning, and now I’m learning to praise my God for giving me this quality of feeling things this way. It’s probably because I’m not the most present person, so when I find myself being present, which is a rare occasion, I become a sponge and soak it all in. I become emotional. I hate to admit that I’m not a present person, but I am always focused on my to-do list, what’s happening tomorrow, or what’s happening a year from now. I rarely find myself living in the moment.

However, Berry is changing that. I can feel myself being more and more present with each day that comes. Whether it be in deep, theological conversation with people in the office or just staring up at the stars God hung in the highest parts of the universe, I’ve started to soak it all in. The emotional side is coming back into me (the good emotional side), and I’m proud of it.

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Someone once told me that right on the other side of the things you’re afraid of is usually what God needs you to know or see. He’s waiting to reveal these things to you, but you have to take that step. I believe that some things you have to meet God halfway for Him to reveal these things to you, like conquering your fears, but I think that other things, He just blatantly shows you. I will be honest: I often question where the line is drawn between those things. What will it take for God to straight up reveal something to me or am I supposed to be making the next move? It’s not my kind of dance, and I think it’s tricky, but I think if you’re listening to God, you will know. There will be a contentment and a fullness in you to tell you what He wants. Going back to that person who told me what God would reveal through my fears: boy, was that person right. After conquering my fears, I had the ability to soak in something truly great. I was full. I had climbed to new heights, and God had captivated my soul.

You are complete. Here is your purpose: to realize how truly alive you are, to be present in these moments, to take it all in. Be a learner. Let my thoughts become your thoughts. I will comfort you. Look at these stars, dear child. Look at how beautiful you see them as, yet I still placed you first. Do you know how beautiful that makes you? Do you know how I see you? Look through my eyes. If you only knew how truly loved and cherished you are , my child. If you only knew.


One of my favorite things is that going to church and accepting Jesus is a fairly recent thing for me (a little over a year), so pretty much any worship song I hear is new to me. I heard “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” for the first time at Passion City’s The Grove, and my small group leader told me she had been singing that in kindergarten. I also fell in love with “Hosanna” at the Passion Conference. Also another oldie. Gotta love it. Well, at house church this weekend, we sang this song (another old-ish song, but still it was new to me), and I knew these were the exact words Jesus wanted me to hear.

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
Let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

I am learning to lose myself in praising my God, and that usually isn’t a thing for me. I am a very structured and obedient person who needs rules and guidelines and schedules for everyday life. I know, that sounds extremely boring. However, in just a month in a new place, physically and mentally, I am losing myself and in a good way. Jesus has arrested my heart, and it has been the best thing to ever happen to me.

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Another new thing for me: I am exploring further into photography. I had come onto the chaplain’s office staff with a little bit of experience in photography, and I wanted to kind of branch out and expand my knowledge for all things photo related. Their amazing photographer had recently graduated, so I was kind of brought into that as well. Side note: I love having a bunch of jobs in this office because I’m able to get a taste for everything. Ministry, graphic design, photography, and I’m sure the list will grow.

Anyways, my job this week was to go around campus and learn what this new camera could do. It has been incredible. I climbed to the top of the chapel with hopes of shooting some pictures from a different perspective (and continuing to conquer my fear of heights), but sadly, after climbing up some large, rickety ladders, we discovered a wasps nest right outside the door, and I just wasn’t about conquering that fear that day. There are so many beautiful places on campus to take pictures though. I found myself in Barnwell yesterday, which is a little log cabin-esque chapel on campus. Everything from the lighting to the stained-glass windows was so unbelievably beautiful. Again, God was showing me new way in which I feel His love. I’m learning my love language with God, and I couldn’t be happier.

Alright, so this was a little long-winded, but I hope you’re enjoying hearing about all of my adventures at Berry because I’m having a wonderful time living this out.

Barnwell

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'”

Isaiah 6:8 NIV

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Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

You are

Worthy

Let that word resonate with you for a few seconds. Now, if you started this Monday morning rushing around the house, spilling coffee down your clothes, and running later than usual, just stop for a second. Or if you “woke up” from only a couple hours of sleep because your dorm room sink was overflowing (because I know I did) and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and frustrated, take a second to rest. Or if you woke up this morning, not feeling rushed or frazzled at all, but waking up and looking in the mirror to think, “Well, this is as good as it’s gonna get,” then give me a few minutes of your Monday morning.

God has placed you exactly where you are for a reason. Let that sink in. God has called you where you’re standing for a reason this morning. Put on “called” and walk around with the reassurance that you are not alone. God sees you as His perfect child of the light. Slink into that “perfection” for the day. God calls you worthy. You are worthy of love from the Most High God. Put on that “worthy” with a cup of coffee in hand and nice pair of shoes on your feet and some of that new lipstick you’ve wanted, but haven’t dared, to try to take on this wonderful Monday morning. Put on those new clothes of “true righteousness” and “holiness” & walk around with that new reassurance of a new self (Ephesians 4:24).

This past week, I reminded a dear friend of mine how God has planned everything out for our lives. How special and cherished does that make you feel? He knows where we will be in 20 minutes, 20 days, 20 months, 20 years. He knows the plans he has for you, plans to give you hope and a future, even when those plans are unclear to you (Jeremiah 29:11). Have patience with Him, dear child. He knows where He wants you. He knows the impact you will have on the world. He knows who your future spouse will be. He knows how many kids you will have & what colors their eyes will be & how they will eat their food. He knows what you find joy in, and He tries to provide as much of it as possible. He knows which relationships will better you and which will bring you down, which is why some relationships must come to an end. He gives us a hiding place when we need it (Psalm 32:7). He knows every little quirk you have. He knows what words of His draw you in the closest to His heart. He knows the way you like your coffee, the way you read His Word, and the routine you have in the morning. He delights in your heart & persistently seeks you out. He cherishes Your time together. He knows your purpose & the days He has set out before you. He formed you before He even hung the stars in the sky. He chose you before He formed the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4). He delights in you. He wants you. He loves you. Let those words sink into the deepest corners of your heart this morning. You are loved by the God of the universe. The King of all kings. Your Heavenly Father. Your comforter.

12-13 Moses said to God, “Look, you tell me, ‘Lead this people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.”

14 God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”

15-16 Moses said, “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you’re with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we’re special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?”

17 God said to Moses: “All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name.”

Exodus 33:12-17 MSG

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Little Tastes of Heaven

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver

It is 1:02 AM on a Saturday morning. Most people have gone home for the weekend, including my roommate, which is how I ended up here. Hidden beneath the exterior of an IKEA box, I found my journals from the past year and a half, which brought on nostalgia, which brought on the thirst for writing, so here we go. This isn’t the kind of nostalgia that makes you miss things, but rather a sort of nostalgia that makes you grateful for every little memory that sprung from those late night conversations and early morning journal entries. In my opinion, this is the best kind of nostalgia. It makes me sort of sink into myself and remember why I am sitting here in this moment.

God has picked me up, set me apart, and placed me in room 173 in a hall at Berry College because He knew exactly what He was doing with my heart. I’m trusting that He knows the plans He has for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me a future. Jesus knew I would need this night without a roommate just to dance around my room (with great enthusiasm) to Taylor Swift & Rend Collective. He knows the words that set my soul on fire, which is what I found myself writing about this morning.  This thirst for Him can only be quenched by His Word and this incredible quiet time I have been persistently seeking.

There was a conversation had today that switched my perspective on something major. It was one of those conversations where you want to pull out your phone and start taking notes, but you feel like the person would think you were texting and it would be rude (I took a couple of notes anyways). Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to soak in all of this new knowledge from one of the most amazing, God-fearing women I have ever met (and luckily I work with her, so I get to hear new things from her quite often).

We’re judging ourselves and we’re judging each other and we’re scared to death that this [relationship with God] isn’t actually happening.” – Erin Moniz

We get this idea and set up these expectations for how we think we should hear from God. On one hand, we’re saying that God is always here and speaking through people, His Spirit, and His Word, and pouring into our lives, but then on the other hand, we’re sitting here, desperately waiting and wanting God to say something, loud and clear. We question whether or not He is actually here, while we’ve already said that He is always here. She told me that God is always speaking into our lives, but we just have to learn His voice and learn how to turn off the noise around us long enough to get what He is trying to convey to us. I think that has definitely been a hurdle that I have yet to jump because I am a very structured person who believes that God will speak to me in very specific ways, but I learned today that is rarely the case. Not only does He use His people, His Spirit, and His Word, but He uses quite literally everything around us. And now that I think about it, I have consciously found Him in many things over the past month (house church, bike rides, notes in the margins of my Bible, letters, relationships, car ride conversations, speech class, coffee, new worship music, etc.). However, so much time is spent focusing on these distractions that when we hone in and try to focus on God’s voice and seek Him out, we get lost.

If we were able to teach ourselves how to cut out that noise, we would be able to hear God’s voice. Now, I wish I could give a “How to” on this one, but unfortunately, I’m still learning how to do this too because it does not come easily. You can’t just sit down one day and say, “Alright, God, speak to me.” It just won’t work like that, or at least it definitely hasn’t in my experience. Try it out and let me know what happens.

Another thing is that it is so hard for us to understand that we don’t have to present ourselves a certain way to God. You know, I don’t have to set up my Bible, my journal, and my coffee, all nice and neat, and make my bed before I jump into my quiet time. I don’t have to get up, take a shower, brush my teeth, and get dressed before I pray to God. I could just open my eyes, first thing when I wake up in the morning, pull the sheets back over my head and preach the gospel to myself, all before 7 AM.


And I know this was all very scatterbrained, and I kind of haphazardly strung together thoughts, like Christmas lights, as they came at me, but I’m new at this. I enjoy it though, so here goes nothing. Here’s to a new season.

Here’s to the craziest experiences and adventures I’ve ever had in my life. The never-ending theological conversations in the chaplain’s office, which leave me wanting to seek Jesus even harder than before. The many “first times.” The items I have crossed off of my bucket list (karaoke & clubbing, among other things). Learning that I should probably never sing “Time After Time” for karaoke ever again. Ever. The evening bike rides, I find myself taking quite frequently nowadays, to watch the sunset. The naps I have taken in my trusty ENO. Fawning over little fawns (I’ve also learned how to make puns…incredible ones at that). The sarcasm I have so gracefully decided to pack up & carry with me into college. The strengthening love for my coffee pot (we’re actually in a very committed relationship now). The photo strips on my wall that remind me where I came from, because sometimes everyone needs some of that. The carefully thought out letters from a dear friend, which make my day. The fact that I can make “adult” decisions now. The stories in the Bible that God draws me in with. Here’s to God revealing Himself to me through sunsets, Guatemalan coffee, and an empty college chapel. Here’s to having little tastes of Heaven with each new day.

 

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