I woke up on my twentieth birthday with Scripture about joyful noise racing through my mind. I have heard Jesus a LOT lately. Every morning, it’s been different thoughts I find Him in, and that’s just the most beautiful thing. A few days ago, it was conviction about what my faith was in. Was it in Jesus or was it in financial aid or anxieties or people? Then, the next day I woke up and felt covered in “delighted in.” There was reassurance all day long. My daughter, I delight in you. I love you. You are delighted in. And let me tell you, I don’t feel that often, so I clung to it. THOSE are words that will rock you to your core. And then I woke up that Monday morning, and I wanted to make a joyful noise and sing to my God because He has been so faithful. Faithful in tangible ways because He knows. He knows that sometimes things go completely over my head, so now He puts them right in my face and says, “Look at what I have done for you.”
That day, I woke up and wanted to dance and sing and felt completely and utterly joyful. I felt like a kid dancing around after discovering a tutu for the first time. And this was all before coffee, people!!! Talk about God’s faithfulness in the small things, am I right? It wasn’t even 10 AM and I felt so freaking celebrated and cherished. My people. God, thank You for the people You have strategically placed in my corner.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. // Psalm 92:4
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. // Psalm 13:6
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! // Psalm 100:1-2
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! // Psalm 98:4
Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. // Ephesians 5:18-21
“Now You’re making me like You, clothing me in white, bringing beauty from ashes for You will have Your bride. Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame and known by her true name, and it’s why I sing. Your praise will ever be on my lips.” // “Ever Be” by Bethel Music
I have so many things to say today. Grab your afternoon coffee, settle into a comfy place, and listen to this song to start this all off because it’s beautiful and inspiring and all of the good things you ought to feel and truth you ought to know on this Thursday that feels oddly like a Monday. My eyelids are heavy, and I was on my second cup of coffee at 8AM. It’s all good.
I sat in my bed and sipped my coffee and watched inspirational videos for the morning of my birthday and painted my nails a bright red color and I loved every minute of it. My best friend drove into town and knows how to celebrate people so well. It’s crazy. And we cooked and ate and celebrated and jumped in a fountain that was deeper than expected and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to ring in two decades on this beautiful earth. God is so cool in the way He plans things for us, paying attention to the intricate details of our lives. It’s beautiful, really. Sit and think about it for more than a minute and it will blow your mind. I promise.
Dang, where do I even start? I’ve been MIA for almost a month now, so hello, I am back. The last month has been a whirlwind. When I say this is the closest I’ve felt to God probably ever, that is no coincidence. This past month has been the most beautiful, terrible, gut-wrenching, real, surreal month. It has been filled to the brim, if not overflowing, with experiences, beautiful feelings, summer nights, traveling, angry thoughts, chaos, dancing, and nights I’ve felt the bravest I’ve ever felt in my life. I went to New York City for 4 days and it was like living and walking inside my own dream but for real for 4 days. And I’d had all these encounters with God leading up to this trip, and I spent time talking with Him, asking Him to please show Himself to me in this city, not forgetting everything He’d said to me before this overwhelming concrete jungle took over my mind. And He was faithful (in my mind in these moments, of course He’s always faithful). I distinctly remember standing up at the top of Rockefeller Center, looking out over this city, and feeling so much smaller and more insignificant in the grand scheme of His plans than I had felt in a very long time, and that was exactly what I needed. Remember how small you are, and remember how big I am.
And then there are these people He has strategically placed around me. Just mentioning it makes me astounded at what a detail-oriented, sea-splitting God we serve. These people know my heart and soul, like they get it deeply. When I talk about wanting to be brave and honest, they get it and encourage me because those are good things to be. When I talk about being genuinely scared, not just anxious and stressed but downright scared, I have people who completely get it because they’ve walked through that Red Sea with God’s provision and a little extra courage and a hand to hold. When I need to be cared for, these. people. get. it. They might not completely identify with the sting of bad news or fresh heartbreak or my flavor of pain and confusion, but they love so earnestly. Those are the people in my corner. Whether I’m blowing out striped birthday candles and celebrating my butt off or needing to cry for a couple hours because it feels like the walls are closing in, they are quick to just be here, and not only that, but they are quick to remind me of Whose I am, and that is the best way to love.
“I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.” // Charles Spurgeon
I have read this quote before, but I read it again a few days ago and have clung to it because that’s something I want to learn how to do. I’m beginning to be less resistant to change (BABY STEPS). It’s still difficult and I still put up a fight, but God has been kind and faithful in teaching me to relinquish control and allow Him to work in change without kicking and screaming (as loudly). If you’ve read the blog before, you’ve probably read something about being completely known and still loved. I think God has been able to use that for me to lean into lately.
I’ve been reading a lot and writing a lot and listening to a lot of music lately. I’m close to the end of Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies and there is so much goodness in this book. God has spoken to me a lot by using this book to teach me about grace and what that looks like to be gracious to myself and not just to other people, because I think that’s really easy to forget. It was cool, I actually got to a chapter on forgiveness the night I needed it the most. It was the night before I left for New York City and there were some pretty messy circumstances that threw me off, so I sat and soaked it in. All of it. “And it doesn’t even say, ‘Just try.’ It says, If you want to be forgiven, if you want to experience that kind of love, you have to forgive everyone in your life- everyone, even the very worst boyfriend you ever had – even, for God’s sake, yourself.” I read those words, and thought, God, You really are in this room. He felt the hurt. He saw the confusion. He has been with me everywhere I have gone, and these very raw moments were no exception. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I didn’t even get angry at first. I just sat. And I absorbed. And I said, “God, what the hell are You going to do with this?” And the minute I thought the words, He settled my soul and it was already well. The comfort I got came when I had read more of Anne Lamott’s words, woke up at 3AM to drive to the airport and go on a (now even more) much needed vacation, and I realized: I was still me and he was still engaged. I was still a whole person. I was still completely known and still loved. And although I was still confused and hurt and feeling a lot of feelings, I won’t diminish that fact, I also knew that I was never supposed to end up with this person, but I knew who I was and I knew Whose I was, and no piece of my identity was tainted in someone else’s path of choices. And that was when I began to see, I am becoming less resistant to change. And I’ll say, my reactions were purely from Jesus. There is no way in the world that I would have reacted as gracefully if it had been up to me. But it was up to God, and He said no: we’re going to learn about change and grace and you’re going to live it. Get ready. Because it’s happening.
I sat on the plane at 8AM, way up in the clouds somewhere, and every fiber of my being wanted forgiveness. In full. I wanted to forgive him. And now God’s got me alone, and He’s slowly teaching me what that looks like.
“But the way I see things, God loves you the same whether you’re being elegant or not. It feels much better when you are, but even when you can’t fake it, God still listens to your prayers.” // Anne Lamott
So I have woken up every morning since then, adventured in my favorite city, sipped from more cups of coffee than I can count, grew closer with some really solid friends, cooked a lot of meals together, ate some kick-ass birthday cake, and felt delighted in through the entire process, even in the valleys. There’s courage in walking through the chaos and joy and mess and sorrow and dancing in order to get to the refined person God has equipped you to be for the next season. And I know that’s happening now. Sometimes it seems like we’re just floating along from one season to the next, but when you stop and think about it, there is so much detail and precision that God has put into YOUR life. Each and every single person’s life. That is crazy to think about. Every dent, every thought, every stupid decision, every feeling, every footstep, God has mapped out before You and knows exactly how it will pan out. Slowly, but surely, God is reassuring me of His kindness and steadfastness and grace, and right now He is being loud with it. And I’m diggin it. I wish I could sum up in only a few words what this past month has looked like, but it’s honestly just so good. Outside looking in, circumstances don’t look 100% because there’s a lot of change and mess, but God has been so sweet and kind and just this constant voice above everything else, and that’s more than I could ever ask for.
“Yeah, You lift me when I’m sinking, like the swell of mighty oceans. The power of redemption, yeah, it gives me wings to soar.“
So today, I feel inspired (with the help of the extra coffee and some of dear friend’s old spoken word videos). I feel encouraged. And I’m beginning to feel more known, not only by the people around me who invest in me, but also by a Heavenly Father who never stops seeking me out and relentlessly pursuing me. And it’s the most beautiful thing. I love this life.