18 rocked my world.

I’ve been back and forth on the second book. Fear has been restricting. Doubt has presented speed bumps. Selfishness has been creeping. I want to want this desire for me. Not for anyone else. I want God to put this desire back in me so I can have those feelings, not for anyone else, and that’s selfish. “The book that’s waiting to be written is still being fed,” and, “If you can take them [the people you tell about the truth of these creeping insecurities] straight to the heart of God with that, that’s the gospel.” That was the advice I was given this week. It was all like a slowly boiling pot of water, and all of the bubbles of insecurity just boiled over yesterday. I didn’t even know it was there, and you can’t address something if you don’t even realize it exists.

What’s to say what I have to say to people is the best thing to say or the best way to word what I want to articulate to people? Insecurities feast. I have a seat at the table, but I continue to let insecurities eat away at me. And they aren’t always evident or super obvious, which are the worst ones, the quiet ones. The ones you continue to build your life over.

Patience. Waiting. Staying. Not running. I am learning to be patient. Very very very foreign concept to me. I like to just get things done and plan and move the heck forward. I’m like a bulldozer. I just like to plow through things and move the heck on. I’m a thinker. I’m a planner. I’m a doer. I’m not a sitter. I’m not a waiter. I’m not a let’s-see-what-happens-while-I-wait kind of person. That’s just not in my blood. Sometimes I’m even too quick to jump to do things, and that’s where the mistakes step in. However, I know I’m quick to jump because that doesn’t give the insecurities time to cut in for a dance. I dance alone. And then I break my ankle or make a fool of myself, whatever dancing metaphor you want to insert right there. (Metaphors are our friends).

You are perfect in all of Your ways. 

You are perfect in all of Your ways. 

You are perfect in all of Your ways. 

I want to do what is good and pleasing to Him. I want to be patient in pleasing Him. I want to love like He has loved me, and I think that also involves patience. I want to extend grace upon grace to every person I interact with, and that involves staying. I want to love well. Loving well includes selflessness, patience, and staying. I trust that these are the things the Lord has called me to be. He is perfect in all of His ways, so I have to trust that this is exactly what He wants for me.

The reality of my morality slammed into me like a train yesterday. We have staff lunch once a week, and my boss always says she wonders what we will talk about, but it usually just starts rolling out of God-knows-where. Yesterday, we talked about how messy our brains get, and she said, “Just wait until you start thinking about eternity. That’ll get you.” And it did. Eternity led to Heaven led to me beginning to understand my own morality. But you blink, and 19 years have gone by. 19. 

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I love talking about Heaven. It actually makes me tear up when I imagine it. No more tears. No more pain. No more sadness. No more mourning. Heartache will be gone. The old will pass away and the new will come. You won’t miss people anymore. You won’t be angry about death. More importantly, you won’t be angry with God. You won’t feel like God isn’t listening. You won’t feel the need to hold grudges. You won’t be anxious. You won’t worry about messing up. You won’t be a people-pleaser. You won’t strive anymore. You won’t have voids to fill. You won’t have doubts. You won’t have fears. You will have a full heart. You will have joy. You will be with your Maker. Heaven. These are the things I hope to be true.

I don’t know about you, but I just ripped away about half of my person by eradicating some of those things that fall under the “won’t”s of Heaven. What does that tell you about you and I? We belong to a God who isn’t of this world. We belong to a Creator who doesn’t dance with these “won’t”s. What are we made up of if not the striving and people-pleasing and the anger we’ve placed our identity in? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to quit wasting time and find out. I want the full heart and the joy and the Kingdom here, but that doesn’t happen when you mix in all of the other things. Fear and joy can’t coexist. Jesus tramples on all of that. All. Of. It. Jesus and joy just meld together. I’d like to be worked into that equation. I’d like to be sandwiched between Jesus and an overflow of joy and love that comes with knowing Him. I know there’s a better metaphor somewhere out there, but that sounds pretty satisfying to me. I want to know my Deliverer and Creator intimately and deeper than I know any earthly thing. 

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And tomorrow. 19. A whole year of “adulthood.” I was just talking to a dear friend about this the other night. When did we get to the point where we were allowed to make “grown up” decisions, like what we want to do with the rest of our lives or who we want to spend it with? That’s insane to me. Who entrusted me with this? I think sometimes I can get way too caught up in those details and then it feels like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, but that’s not what God brought us here to do. It’s not what He sent Jesus to do. He sent Him so we could have freedom for free, freedom in full, debt-paid-no-weights-capital-f Freedom.

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18 rocked my world. In the best and worst ways. I wish I could sum up all of the feelings I am feeling when I say, “18,” because the blood, sweat, and tears that went into 18 are indescribable. I can’t imagine being in the same place I was a year ago, and let me go all nostalgic on you for a little bit. 18. Lots of goodbyes (too many in my opinion). Lots of hellos (all have changed my life in good ways). Completely new world in the bubble. Photography kicked off fast, which I am super grateful for (the people I’ve met in the photog world are incredible). I’ve continued to learn how to find joy in the small things. Life is beautiful. God was gracious in transitioning and revealing His will for my life, even in small bits & pieces. God was gracious in teaching me how to love myself, again slowly but surely, and not without pain. And in that, He has transitioned me into learning how to love others well. And these are my people, the people who God so graciously allowed me to cross paths with in my 18 years here on this earth. These relationships have been cultivated with love and thankfulness and a joy that goes beyond my understanding, and I also don’t have the capability to even be able to put that joy into words. God did me a solid when He placed these people in all the right places. I can’t imagine doing life without them in the world. His love surpasses all knowledge. His power is immeasurable. His mercies are innumerable, and I can testify to that. Every single morning, I’ve chosen to do life with God in it.

You see, if I can even begin to help bring His Kingdom here on earth, I’m living life to the best of my abilities. And that is my strongest desire: to know my Creator intimately and to continually strive to bring His Kingdom here. I continue to pray that He would use me as a vessel, broken as I may be, to pour His love and Word onto this earth. That is my greatest prayer. Use me, Jesus, until the day I get to meet You face to face. And I have to believe that a God who loves this deeply and this relentlessly will continue to pursue me. He has carried me this far, and I have faith that He will carry me Home and into a beautiful eternity with Himself.

“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” // Isaiah 62:5

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We have a seat at the table.

I see you. That’s what God says to me in my moments of discouragement. I see you & I acknowledge you, even if you don’t realize it. You might not know what I’m doing yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything. I think so often when we don’t see results, we assume that nothing is being done. I am guilty of this. I want results. I want to be aware. I want to know all of the behind-the-scenes work that gets me where I’m going, but unfortunately, or fortunately, God doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m in a mess of a board game & God is control of all of the pieces. Much like the life-size chess game in Harry Potter where Ron gets nearly obliterated. Yeah, some days I feel like that ginger kid who almost died while trying to be a knight in a life-size chess game. So don’t feel alone in feeling under-the-weather/discouraged/at-a-loss-for-words-or-encouragement-or-inspiration.

Sometimes, I’ll get into these little rough patches. Nothing dramatic or traumatic has occurred. Nobody has died. I haven’t lost anything near and dear to me. There are just days when I am more aware of my dramatic separation from God, like I’ll be waiting the next 80+ years to ever experience intimacy with the One who created me. And that might sound sort of hopeless. So don’t feel alone in your desert-minded state.

Sometimes, I get pessimistic like nobody’s business. I would consider myself a generally joyful person, but there are days when all I want to do is say, “Screw the world,” and I know you’ve felt that way too. I know that to be 100% true. All the wrong moves are being made. You’re saying all the wrong words. And you just keep digging a deep deep hole of crap. So don’t feel alone when you’re feeling glass-half-empty.

Sometimes, I like to cry. I like to turn on My Sister’s Keeper, crawl into my bed, and sob for a good hour. And then I feel better. I have no idea why I like to do this. I will also sit and watch wedding videos whilst eating dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans to make myself feel even more pathetic than I actually am. It just happens. It’s like a sadness coma. So don’t feel alone in your little lake of self-induced tears.

I want to shake things up. I never want to sink into complacency or feel thirsty for inspiration. I want it to just happen, which is why I let a friend cut my bangs last week. I hate that I feel the need to do crazy things to spice up my life though, like there has GOT to be something that I’m missing, that we’re all missing, and I can’t for the life of me put my finger on it. That’s where the frustration has come from and built up to the point where I don’t even know why I’m doing what I’m doing anymore, and it took some downtime to actually realize that. I don’t know why I’m doing what I’m doing and that scares me.

What is my purpose? What have I placed my identity in? Where does my worth come from? Where have I established myself? Why have I established myself in these places? Why do I fit where I fit or gravitate towards the places I am?

The troubles of my heart, they’re tearing me apart. How I need Your saving hand to grant me a new start. Lonely and afraid, I call upon Your name. Save me from my enemies, and cover all my shame.

A cliche thing I constantly hear, but always rings true: A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. Just like eating a cookie doesn’t make you gain 30 pounds. It comes in waves & we take it in strides.

Sometimes I pray for rain. I do. And sometimes, a Saturday morning calls for a floppy hat, Land of a Thousand Hills coffee, and brunch in a small diner with my best friend, whom I hadn’t seen in over 5 months. And sometimes, just sometimes, you will become incredibly aware of the way God is handcrafting your encounters & helping you navigate your life. Today was one of those days.

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Currently I’m… #2

Loving: Short weekends with family & friends, and working 40 hour weeks. I love it. I love consistency. And I love a good dose of home.

Learning: How to intentionally love myself well so I can love others well.

Reading: When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James. I’m only a couple chapters in, but this book is all the good things about women and theology, one of the most big-difficult issues I’ve encountered. And I have plans to read all of the Harry Potter books over the next 3 months, but we’ll see how that actually turns out.

Eating: Dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans. Thai food. Homemade vanilla iced coffee.

Excited about: New people. Ministry. Discipleship. Inspiration. Photography. I get excited really easily, so this list could go on for days. Excitement for days. Joy in the simple things.

Needing: Baby cuddles. Things can get super chaotic in my brain, even if things aren’t crazy all around me. Baby cuddles help with brain chaos.

Thinking about: Watching another episode of Grey’s anatomy. I’m obsessed. Downright addicted. What I would give for a large honey almond latte and to crawl into my dorm bed and watch countless episodes of Grey’s. McDreamy & Meredith forever. (I’m on season 2, so no spoilers).

Thankful for: Forcing myself to buy a two-piece bathing suit much to my discomfort. I’m pushing myself out on a ledge & I am thankful for that. I’m thankful that the sun stays up later in the summer. For baby cuddles. For kitchen dancing. For coffee in the afternoons. For inspiration & dreams & brainstorming. For naps. For time with my mommy. For spontaneous moments. For beauty found in the littlest moments of life, like stumbling upon a new farmer’s market near my home with cute home decor & a coffee shop & organic food. I’m grateful for unexpected joy in things you didn’t even realize could bring you joy.

And sometimes, you will stop and realize how incredibly beautiful this life really is, despite the discouragement and technical difficulties. We get to revel in each others’ brokenness. How incredible, that we’ve been offered a seat at the table with the Most High God. And today, I rest in that: we have a seat at the table. And that’s where I find my worth.

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I come in simplicity.

Yesterday, I moved out of the castle. It was a sad day (not just because of the long haul & four-hour process). I looked at my empty room for the last time and knew exactly what I would miss: the way the morning light comes through the window and dances on the furniture. I have some fun memories of morning dancing in that second story castle room. That would be my favorite thing/thing I’m going to miss the most. However, I moved into last summer’s dorm & it officially feels like summer. You know how certain smells will remind you of certain times in your life just like certain songs will make you nostalgic or the way certain words are said will remind you of specific moments? That’s how this dorm is. This dorm smells like summer.

I have had a difficult time desiring to spend time with the Lord. There. Said it. Got that out of the way. I have a hard time with desiring to come into His presence even though He has promised me that I can always run back to Him & abide in Him. I think it’s extremely difficult for me to understand a God who won’t be hot & cold with me when that is what my heart is tuned to do. I step in & out, and I doubt a lot.

You know, I ask for things. I don’t get them (with good reason). I don’t ask for things, and then I get them. And then I wonder why He entrusted me with these things & if I’m even qualified enough to handle the calling the Lord’s entrusted me with. I doubt. I doubt a lot. A lot a lot.

Some mornings, I wake up & I can’t imagine not getting into His Word and trying to drink deep and understand this God, whom I have put my faith in, so why wouldn’t I try to communicate thanksgiving to Him in some way? But then some days, I wake up and I just want to want Him more. And I’ve finally come to the realization that that’s normal. As Christians, we so often get little tinges of shame if we’re not seeking every minute of every day or reading devotionals or memorizing Scripture all the time, but I don’t think that’s what God intended for us. YES, He wants us to come to Him, to seek Him wholeheartedly, and in an unbroken world, there would be no separation from us and God. But He knows we won’t desire Him all the time. And I’m finally learning to rest in the brokenness and find peace where I am for trying my hardest to feel the feelings going through me and seek Him even in the midst of that.

And how beautiful is it that He chooses to USE our brokenness? He uses our brokenness to display His grace & mercy for humanity. I have come to find that the days I am the hardest on myself are the days when I am longing for perfection, and not just perfection, but Jesus. I long for Heaven to be with my Jesus. Our hearts are wired to find Him, in any circumstances. Our hearts are wired to long for something much greater than ourselves, that’s why we keep striving. However, striving can go one of two ways. We can shift and strive for earthly things, earthly success, earthly relationships. Or we can strive for an image that resembles that of Jesus. We can strive to be more like our Maker, and that speaks volumes to the world around us.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” // C.S. Lewis

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I came across this journal entry of a girl, Julia Tarter. I never had the pleasure of knowing such a light in this world, but the more people I get to know, the more people I find knew her. Friends of friends knew her, and her life sounds painstakingly beautiful. The Maker used her to her fullest potential, and I can’t quite articulate a better image of what it looks like to truly find joy from God. After she passed away a couple years ago, friends began to post this list from her last journal entry, and I have pined over this words. The beauty & simplicity of such a list (and you know I love lists).

  1. Christ is enough for me.
  2. Christ is more than enough. 
  3. In everything, Christ is enough.
  4. Jesus knows my heart.
  5. Jesus calls me His beloved.
  6. Jesus meets me right where I’m at.
  7. Jesus leads me.
  8. Jesus laughs with me.
  9. My trust is in my Savior.
  10. My hope is in my Deliverer.
  11. My passion is from my Creator. 
  12. Christ has died to set me free.
  13. I live in freedom in Christ alone. 
  14. The only opinion who matters is the Lord’s.
  15. I am clothed in righteousness.
  16. I am pure and holy.
  17. I lean on my Father’s strength.
  18. I am completely loved.
  19. I am completely full.
  20. I am completely satisfied in Jesus.
  21. I am forgiven.
  22. I live out of an abundant grace.
  23. I live an abundant life.
  24. I long for Heaven to be with my Jesus.

By being rooted in these truths, my life is an overflow of how good my God is.

And there is something about repeating these Truths to yourself, something so easy & beautiful, but hard to accept. There is a peace that comes after accepting the freedom Christ has freely given you. The hard part is getting there. Now, I wish I could write you a tutorial book on the How To’s of accepting God’s love & grace & freedom and learning how to live in that, but the truth is, I can’t because I still struggle with accepting it. Do people go their entire lives doubting? Will there be a day in my life when I do not doubt? When will I accept this freedom? How can I show others this life in freedom and love? I don’t know. But I’m trying. And this isn’t to say that I have never accepted God’s grace because there are days when I couldn’t feel more alive or more aware of what Christ has done for me. Some days, I take the freedom and I run with it and I dance in it and I know it to be the only definite Truth. The truth is that every day you live is a day closer to seeing Heaven, but if you stop and soak in moments that Jesus has entrusted you with, you will get little tastes of Heaven along the way.

“Give me a childlike heart. Lead me to where You are ’cause I’m coming back to my first love, only You.”

And lastly, I have come to find that my biggest desire, as of now, is a deeper relationship with my God. I long for intimacy with Him. I long long long to find a deeper-rooted and more intimate relationship with my Maker. Whether that be in writing my prayers or singing at the top of my lungs, I know He hears me. There’s the first step in accepting: understanding that He hears our cries. Empty-handed, but not forsaken.

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Elephants in rooms.

Goodbyes suck. I’ll be the first to address that elephant in the room. And I’m also extremely bad at them. Surprise.

I sat in a church pew a couple nights ago & sobbed my eyes out, more than once, because change and I have a bad relationship. We will never see eye-to-eye. Change wrecks my heart & so do goodbyes. I understand why those have to be a thing, but I still have a strong dislike towards them.

And now I have all of these things to look forward to this week, especially since I finished my last Spanish final ever (praises for my last ever foreign language class). Coffee dates & a worship night & nights out with friends & photo shoots & watercolor painting & some much-needed and well-deserved quiet time, but in all of this & as excited as I am about the craziness, I pray that I don’t miss God in all of this. I pray that I wouldn’t miss Him in the sadness of goodbyes or the overwhelming feeling of being in crowded areas or the butterflies of new things, but that I would find Him in the midst.

I have a serious problem with over-planning/over-booking. I get really excited about free time and then I make a bunch of plans and then it’s not free time. I pray that I wouldn’t overcompensate for all of the goodbyes I have to say this week with a ton of plans. Staying busy is what I’m good at, but this also leads to missing the small details God has scattered throughout precious times. Today, I left my to-do list in my dorm room because they really are all mindless things. Sometimes it’s setting these boundaries or standards for myself that makes everything a little bit smoother.

I’ve had the most random things moving through my mind this week, and I mean my mind has been moving at about a million miles an hour for the entirety of the past few days. Mental to-do lists. Day dreams. I need coffee. Planning for time when a nap will take place. Bible verses. Song lyrics. More to-do lists. I need more coffee. Dinner times. Coffee dates. Boundaries, I should establish boundaries. Completing assignments. Boundaries. Taking pictures. Finding time to edit pictures. Eating. I really do need to sit down & think about these boundaries. Spoken word videos. Take-home tests. Misplaced favorite pens. Misplaced sunglasses. Misplaced coffee mug. Let’s talk about boundaries.

Let’s talk about boundaries.

These are the things that have frequently been coming to my mind lately, and I’m not talking physical or conversational. Those aren’t as much of a problem for me. It’s the time thing. I love to give my time, sometimes too much. I love to dedicate my time to people. I love to be intentional with my time. I love quality time more than most things. I think all of those are very good things, but there’s a way to do it proportionally. I forget I’m an introvert & will go crazy without just me time. I easily forget that.

Boundaries are hard & I’ve always looked at them as a thing to be hated because I just like to say yes. But boundaries are beautiful & empowering & all the good things. And that’s what I’ve felt lately: all the good things.

And now tonight, I have the pleasure of sitting in a living room with some of the closest people to family I have here at Berry while we get paper plate awards & recollect this past year. Doing life with these people is incredible & if I don’t stop myself now, I’ll get all nostalgic and sad, so I’ll leave it at this: I can’t imagine having navigated my freshman year without such a stable family unit & I cannot even fathom not seeing some of these people every day. Without realizing it, the impact they have had on me will affect the rest of my years here at Berry, and even into adulthood. Words won’t do a good enough job of describing how much their mentorship has meant to me.

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Sunday night, I was reminded why God placed me at Berry. I can’t imagine not doing life with all of these people & I can’t even begin to explain the growth that has come out of this year. Immeasurable growth from an immeasurable God. I know it’s been a few weeks since the last post, but it has been wild, to say the least. Everything is happening so quickly, and honestly, the end of the year completely sneaked up on me (I thought it was snuck, but apparently sneaked is a word…who knew?).

My roommate and I just spent this past Sunday night on the floor of our dorm, her last night, and talked for 4 hours. Coffee brewed, gummy worms, Reese’s, dark chocolate covered espresso beans, a camera, silly videos we cry laughing about, long prayers, and all of the pillows and blankets from our beds right on the floor. This conversation was a good one. I mean, knee-deep in the messiness of our hearts but also how beautiful this growth and messiness and brokenness has been this year. Aside from myself, she has been the one who has witnessed the growth and seen it firsthand. Unfortunately, we began to form this unspeakable bond over Jesus and boys and dancing and coffee-drinking and heart-to-hearts mostly over the past few weeks, but that only means that sophomore year is going to rock our worlds.

Knee deep in it. She gets me. She knows my heart & soul & I can’t imagine walking through freshman year with anyone else. She brings out my crazy & my sass at the same time, and if you ever find a friend capable of doing that, you’ve found your soul sister. On a more sappy & personal note: Thank you, Annie, for being the voice of reason and lover of my soul in this messiness. Thank you for walking with me & learning growth from the bottom up. Thank you for 1 AM dance parties to Beyoncé & Walk the Moon.  Thank you for morning jam sessions to Steffany Gretzinger. Thank you for understanding that coffee is a way of life & not just an addiction. Thank you for always listening to my venting or life talks or boy talks (especially the boy talks). You have an effortless & beautiful love for the Lord & an obedience to follow what He has mapped out for you. Never lose that. I love ya, soul sister. 

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For three nights in a row, I sat in a car for about 2-3 hours every night until 1 (or 3) in the morning & I had some of the best conversations I have had to date. Side note: I have had some of the best conversations in the past week with some of the most important people in my life. God’s rocking it in the relational spectrum of things in my life. And in each conversation that was had in that car, I remembered the season that God has me in.

Intentionally learning how to love myself well so that I can love others well.

God’s hitting that one out of the park. Completely knocking it out. I have fallen in love with getting to know people’s hearts & their passions & why they do the things they do the way they do them.

Yesterday, I sat on top of my friend Kellye’s car at the top of Myrtle Hill cemetery, what seems to be one of the highest points in Rome, and we just talked. We reminisced on this past year & the lessons we’ve learned. She understands my love for words. She gets it. And we talked words that describe the seasons we’re both in, and I kept coming back to that phrase. Intentionally learning how to love myself well so that I can love others well. I also came to the realization that I am a super aware person. I have always know this about myself, but I never knew what to call it, but now I do. I am aware. I love to analyze and distinctly recognize what is going on in my life, and I think that’s how I came to know that phrase so well. I like to recognize my efforts or why I’m doing what I’m doing or what little things I’ve done a lot of lately, and this may sound extremely exhausting to some people, to be that aware so much of the time, but I love it. It’s a comfort to me.

And so I will continue to navigate this extremely aware season of intentionally learning how to love myself well so that I can love others well because I think that’s what ministry and mentoring looks like. And that is my heart.

Sappiness is one of my strong suits. It’s my forte. If I could sit around & write sappy love story sad movies and provide people with chocolate and coffee and sappy love letters and all the good things that make you joyful cry for the rest of my life, I would totally do that. I would get into the business of messy hearts. Messy hearts are my love language. Messy hearts, including my own, are what I am beginning to understand.

This year. One for the books. And honestly, I’m sitting here trying to find the culminating words to identify this year & all I can think is: growth & adventure & newness. I like those words. As Annie would say, “It’s been 9 months. Like a full term pregnancy.” (Disclaimer: this had nothing to do with anything whatsoever & that shows you how random our relationship really is). And these have been some of the best months of my life thus far. God outdid Himself & now I’m sitting at the end of my freshman year with a complete loss for words. Just grateful. So grateful. My cup overflows.

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