Tuesday, September 19, 2017

He is >

I have moments in life when I do things that I instantly regret, because I am scared to death that one thing will be enough to send someone running in the other direction.  Why does it scare me so much?  Probably because it has happened.  Probably because we live in a world of messed up relationships.  A world where we want to be the boss, be in control, and have everyone agree with everything.  We want everyone to see life, see the world the way we do.  We give in to the fear of being rejected or alone, and allow ourselves regrets for what was said or not.  We compare ourselves to this person or that person, and we forget that it isn't actually about any of that. 

I was reminded again today how easily it is for me to do things that I instantly regret.  A word here, a look there.  Or maybe it is just the words of self-doubt that I allow myself to continue saying over and over again, instead of truths that will build me up.  The words that I allow to echo in my mind as I try to push past them and live the best way that I can. 

For some reason when I always think about putting God first, it seems like that means that I have to be in this lowly position.  That I have to allow myself to not feel as worthy as others, or continue to compare myself to them.  I feel like I am required to just let people beat me down, believe them when they tell me or show me I am not good enough, and ultimately let their words run my life. 

These past few days the more I have thought about and pondered what it means that Jesus is greater, I can't help but think that my journey in this area has only just begun.  My life is too busy.  I can't be busy every night of the week, and still take time for prayer, reading, and pondering.  I can't fill every spare moment I have with people, and events, and keep Him as greater.  My life needs to be less focused on what I look like to everyone else, and more focused on the only one that truly matters.  For as long as I keep going on empty.  As long as I keep trying to fill every second of my day with things that aren't growing my relationship with Him, I will just keep feeling empty and unsure.  I will just keep seeing every action as a mistake. 

It is through growth and time with Him, I will be the best version that I can be.  Not filling every second of my day with stuff to do, doesn't mean that I am less worthy or popular.  It simply means that I need Him to be in control of my life more so than I need my own self to be in control.  I need to be able to stop, breathe, and just be sometimes. 

I need His love, grace, mercy to be at the foremost of my being.  So that my selfish, harshness is constantly being changed and deleted.  One day I hope that all people see of me is Him.  Until that day I have to just do the best that I can, knowing that my mistakes only make Him love me more. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Being on My Own Isn't My Greatest Fear

As I sit here typing this I am listening to a podcast on Singleness.  There are so many things in this podcast that I am latching on to that I want to share, but really I don't even know how to understand all that I am learning.  What I do know is that I am constantly trying to fight the fear I have of being alone forever.  Yet, that is not my greatest fear.  I don't fear being alone.  For I don't ever truly feel completely alone.  I know that I have a God that loves me, I know that I have people in my life whether they are here or across the ocean that I could call up, send an email to, or message and they would be there for me in a second.  I know that God ALWAYS provides for me in way of community.  Every single time I am praying for Him to show me what community means, He goes out of His way to help me see all that I have, and all the people I have.  He always shows me what it means to live in community.  Sometimes community shifts, sometimes there are misunderstandings, but I have grown through those times too.

I long for marriage, for that one person to come in to my life that I just click with, but I also have come to the realization that I don't want to give up my calling because of it.  I also don't want to be looked down because of it.  No matter how many times I say that singles in their 30's-40's don't feel welcome in the church I don't think we are still getting it.  I think that there is still this misconception that the best thing to do with singles is to try and marry them off, or give them extra ways to serve in the church because they don't have as many "responsibilities" as their married counterparts.

But I think that it starts with me.  It starts with me not looking down on my life or myself because I am single.  It starts with me not allowing the words that I have been called by those that rejected me, "whackadoodle," "piece of shit floating down the river," "golddigger" just to name a few to not keep replaying in my mind.  It starts with me understanding that I am not going to ever be perfect, but I was made perfect for the work I am to do on earth.  I was made perfect for those that are in my life.

I don't want to pretend like every day I am just fine being alone, because not everyday is easy.  Not everyday do I wake up thinking that I am SO glad to be single.  But you know what?  I don't mind the life that I am leading, in fact I am happy.  I am thankful for the opportunities that I have, and I don't look down on my singleness as something to be scoffed at.  I don't look down at my role as something that is lower than those around me that are married and trying to raise kids.

My life doesn't have less meaning because I am single.  Nor do I have less of an impact on this world.  One day I hope and pray that God brings someone into my life with the same desire for the nations that I have.  Someone who would jump on a plane at a moments notice to go share His love in the deepest part of the world.  To sacrifice time, money, and a comfortable life for furthering the Kingdom.  That's my prayer and hope, but until then I will be thankful for my singleness, and I will keep showing the church how to welcome singles.  I will keep having conversations with my married friends, teaching them  that saying "God's timing" doesn't really help.  Guiding them to understand what it truly means for singles over 30 in the church to be accepted.

For my greatest fear isn't being on my own.  My greatest fear is that I will allow my singleness to become a bitter way that I keep myself from loving God with my whole heart.  My greatest fear is that I allow my singleness to become my focus, instead of my desire to go to the nations.  My greatest fear is that I forget who my King is and replace Him with something that is less than.  That is my greatest fear.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What does it mean to be focused on Jesus....

Do you ever come to a place where you wonder what you have been believing in?  You wonder how you continue to walk down the path of faith when everyday seems to be a struggle to understand who Jesus is, what He did, and if you even really believe that it is true.  Not too long ago I thought I was the only one.  I thought that this struggle to understand my beliefs was an original thought for me.  Little did I realize just how wrong I was/am.  Every day I encounter people that are perplexed by faith.  They feel like the deeper they get into knowing who God is, the more they get away from understanding Him.  It seems to be this crazy battle between what we want to believe, and what is truth.  We want to make our own way, figure it out, but we are unwilling to sacrifice time and people to do it.  We don't want anyone to look down on us for our beliefs, we don't want to stand out.  We just want to keep going on this path that makes us look good to the world, but is doing just enough to get by with Jesus.

I am guilty of it.  Guilty of wanting to "fit in."  Wanting people to like me, and so I don't stand up for my faith the way I should.  I give in when it is convenient, and I let others determine what my faith means to me.

Today's sermon had an illustration about water.  Righteousness is obtained by thirsting for it.  Thirsting for it like nothing else.  When I examine my depths, and look at who I am.  My thirst isn't for Jesus.  Not like that.  Not like He is the only thing I want and need.

My thirst is often times for things that easily distract me.  Drinking my problems away, or gossiping, or just filling my time with people before I go to the throne of my King.  Leading a life that is trying to fill the voids with anything and everything but the love of Jesus.

How different would my life look if I found as much joy from  getting up early to read my Bible and pray, as I do getting up early and teaching kids in China.  I don't know how to describe how happy it makes me.  I hate mornings.  I really hate them, and I never once hit my snooze button and go back to sleep when I have a class to teach.  Why can't I never hit my snooze button when it comes to getting up to read my Bible and pray?

Why am I not longing for time with Him the way that I long for time with my students?  Why is He not bringing that kind of joy to my life?

Sometimes I think it is because I don't feel Him all the time.  I don't always understand his presence, and I can't just check him off a list of things to do.

It takes time and effort.  It takes moments of longing.  Moments of quiet.  Moments of pondering who I am, and where I come from.  Moments of understanding that I don't deserve to be saved, but I have been anyways.

Mostly it takes moments of boldness.  Boldness to sacrifice a little bit of sleep in order to pray and read.  Boldness to stand up for what I believe, even if I am going to get scoffed at.  Boldness to love from the deepest part of me.  Boldness to be a follower of Christ.  Boldness to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Boldness to stay focused and keep moving forward on the journey.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

When we say love...

It seems to me that a lot of emotions are because of expectations that I have for other people that they don't meet.  Is it possible that my expectations continue to be unrealistic, or is it just possible that I haven't yet met people that care to meet the expectations?  Maybe it is a little bit of both.  I definitely feel like I go in and out of moments of feeling like I belong to one group or another.  My life is a tapestry that weaves in and out of people like wind passing through an orchard.  Sometimes people leave marks that hurt me.  Most of the time they leave marks that heal me, that fill in the broken places and help me find my way again.

What does love really mean though?  Does it mean allowing people to bring you down, or does it mean that you sometimes have to be okay letting go?  Does it mean that sometimes the most loving thing to do is walk away and say good-bye.

Walking away is so hard.  It isn't in my blood, it isn't a part of who I am, or want to be.  The older I get (I know how that sounds), the more I understand that there are just some people that can't be in your life.  For whatever reason they don't value me as a person, or I am not in their radar right now.  Maybe my life is too much for them, or they think I am too needy.  For whatever reason they have chosen to make our lives cease to cross, or only cross in very shallow, artificial ways.

That's not what love is about.  Love isn't making time for someone when it is convenient.  Love is sacrifice, and time for just that person.  Love is making sure that those around you feel your love no matter what.  That you don't just replace someone in your life with someone else because they are easier, or because they allow you to just be the worst version of yourself.  Love is crossing oceans, listening to hear not argue, and understanding that there are going to be quiet growth moments.  Love is communicating, and not always giving the harsh answer.  Love is loyalty, and celebration. Love is never forgetting to apologize.  Love is humble.  Love adores.

Maybe my expectations of love are unrealistic.  I don't really think they are.  I also don't think that there is anything wrong with a broken friendship.  For in the broken pieces I feel like I am able to see and touch Jesus even more.  In the brokenness I am able to grasp that no one has it altogether.  A harsh word here, a stab in the back there.  Each moment allows me to understand the grace that I have been given.  The grace that I have been given allows me to give it to those that have bruised me.  It also allows me the strength to let them leave.  For holding on would be worse for both of us, than just letting go.

I hold on to grace, I breathe deeply, and I let the wind move through the orchard, weaving a beautiful tapestry in my memories, and emotions.  I am not the worst person in the world, and I don't have to let that tapestry be filled with dark places of doubt and insecurity.  For there are more colors waiting to be woven through.  Colors that want to fill my life, to be a part of my everyday, and to build me up.

I'm thankful for the wounds, because they just make the colors that much more bright!  Thankful for my colorful tapestry that finds beauty in the ebbs and flows of life.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

36.....on my way to 40

I never in a billion years would have thought that 36 would come so quickly.  It seems like just the other day I was celebrating my 29th birthday in Thailand, expecting some great things to come into my path in the next year.  Here I am still awaiting some of those, while other dreams have been fulfilled.  To say this last year has been difficult would be an understatement.  It has brought me to new places that I never thought I would even have to touch.  It has taught me who I am and who I want to be.  It has also taught me how much I am willing to give up of myself for someone else.

As a Christian I sometimes walk a fine line between what I believe to be the right thing, and what I actually want to do.  Standing up for myself has always been hard for me.  I am strong, but I also absolutely hate other people to be upset with me, or to think for even a second that I have hurt someone's feelings.

A year ago something happened that changed that in me a little bit.  Actually it changed that in me a lot.  I kind of stopped caring.  I stopped caring about hurting others, and I started looking at what was right for me.  It wasn't meant to be in a selfish way, but looking back now I kind of think that is what it turned into.  I put my own feelings first just about every single time, because I was afraid of being destroyed again.

I let this thing that had happened take over me.  I let it consume me, and I let it change me.  I allowed someone else's words to become my truth, and my value.  I allowed one circumstance to allow me to give up on who  I knew myself to be.  It almost destroyed me.  It almost made me crawl into a shell and never come out again.

I wish I could say that I ran to Jesus during that time.  I wish I could say that my faith grew so strong.  But it didn't.  Instead I hid within myself.  I became the person that second guessed every single friendship I had, thinking that none of them were real, and that I was surrounded by people that were only waiting to stab me in the back.  It is literally the worst kind of feeling to have someone that you have known for 20 years tell you everything that they have always found wrong about you, and basically what a horrible person you are.  And then feel like everyone you meet is going to do the exact same thing.

So, here I sit a year later.  I just spent a night making crafts, drinking fun drinks, and sharing laughter.  It wasn't one of those crazy nights.  It was just nice.  It was nice to know that people were there for me because they wanted to be there.  It was nice to spend time with people that were ready to make sure that I felt valued and loved.  Did my heart hurt for those that weren't there that I wish would have been, of course it did, but you know what?  I am going to stop wishing this person or that person would allow me into their life.  I can no longer put my worth in the value of others.

It is a process, one in which I will continue to grow in for the rest of my life.  But it is such an amazing process.  I don't spend my life wishing ill of others.  I will never be the person that wants others to fail, or the minute a person steps out of the room I am saying everything I can against them.  I don't play games, and I don't compare myself to what others think or do.  But I love hard, and I let words change me.  I will continue to do those things because that is who I am.

I love deep and hard, once you are my friend... it is usually for life, unless you push me away.  I don't put up a fight if you push me away, because I am a worthy friend.  I may not be the prettiest friend you have, or the skinniest, the funniest, or the most athletic.  But I guarantee you I will always be there to pick you up whenever you need it.  I guarantee you I will always drop what I am doing if you have a family emergency and need someone to be by your side.  I will be the first to take off work if you need someone to hold your hand because of a death in the family.  I will laugh with you, and make the most of the time we get to spend together, on those days when the sun is shining bright.

So, for this next year, I continue to learn how to love well. I continue to learn how to be the person I was before I got broken.  I continue to let people leave that want to, but hold on tight to those that want to stay.  I continue to be who I feel called to be, and I make it my goal to spend a little more time reading and praying than I did last year.

I am so thankful for the gift of time and friendship.  So thankful that there is always going to be growth.  Mostly I am thankful that I get an abundance of grace and mercy on a daily basis.

Here's to 36... may it be the year that I develop more love for those in and out of my life.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why I choose to stand....

This week has brought a lot of tears.  Some of them due to the fact that I am an emotional wreck on week's like this.  Others because of my actions or the actions of those around me.  The thing is that I could easily find myself hiding in my room away from everyone and everything.  Just going out into the world when I had work or stop by the store for this or that.  I could keep quiet when I see posts being made that I don't agree with.  I could live my life not impacting anyone or anything, just going through the motions day in and day out.

That's not how I believe that I was meant to live my life.  That is not what I believe that I was created for.  I see so much hate in this world.  I see so much making fun of this or that.  Labeling all republicans this or all democrats that.... and it makes my heart hurt.  Labeling all people with certain skin color one way, and all people with certain skin color another way.  People sharing posts that are talking about how great the confederacy was.  How the confederate flag was a Christian symbol.  I just can't do it anymore.  I can't sit on my computer and be okay with all of the hate.

Here's the thing you don't have to agree with everyone.  We won't actually ever all agree.  But to claim that people need to just be okay with how things are in the world, that a statue is history, and tearing down a statue is going to somehow damage that history?  What?  Claiming that black people shouldn't be upset because of a confederate flag or statue.  Frankly you are wrong if you think that.  And here's why....

There was a time not too long ago in our country when white people thought they were superior.  Do you know what?  There are actually still people who feel that way.  There are also black people that have had to deal with the bruises, and damages done by their ancestors having spent so many years enslaved just because of their skin color.  The statues of confederate men, mean nothing but making a hero out of someone that believed owning another human being was okay.

Are we really going to teach the generation coming up that we can't take down statues of people that should not be heroes, because it is going to ruin our history?  Are we really going to teach them that our white history is more important than the good of our country.

Our country is bleeding.  There are people so angry right now that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get their voices heard.  You know why that it?  Because we haven't been listening.  We are stuck in whatever world we think we live in, only trying to take care of ourselves.  I'm done letting my country bleed, letting my neighbor feel like nothing.

Do I think that there are people of every color with hate in their hearts?  Ofcourse!  But you know what, there are also people of every color with love.  There are also people of every color waiting to be heard, waiting for you to reach out a neighborly hand and listen to how they feel.

My goal is to be a neighbor.....and to not get on FB as much.  It's just breaking my heart to see the hate that people don't realize they have.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Passions and Surviving...

Have you ever gotten in a place where you are happy, yet you know that there is more to your life than just going to work, going home feeling exhausted, and going to sleep.  Sometimes I find myself in this zombie-type existence.  I feel like I am watching my life slip right out of my hands, not really doing what I feel called to do, and wanting my passion and zeal for life back.  I took a new job that is completely different from anything I've ever done before.  It was overwhelming at first, as most jobs are.  But it is also really easy.  There is not a whole lot that I can do to mess up as far as ruining anyone's life.  Yes, I could definitely make a mistake that might impact someone, but most of the mistakes I make could be fixed and I am able to pass the "tough" calls to people that get paid more than I do to handle those situations.  But it is not my passion.  I am thankful for it beyond words and the people that I work with, but I know that it is temporary. 

Sometimes I think we feel like we have to be stuck where we are because it is scary to step out of the box that we have taped shut.  It is scary because we oftentimes feel uncomfortable, and unsure of ourselves when we are in a new environment.  That is what starting this new job was like.  It was scary, it was hard, but it was necessary.  I may not have my passion and zeal back, but I am building up who I am again, and who I want to be.  I don't have to worry about people criticizing every single thing that I do.  Sure I have certain numbers for my calls that I have to meet, and expectations that are put on me.  But, I don't go home every day feeling like I have failed.  I don't go home every day wondering what person is going to email me or call me to tell me how horrible I am.  Maybe it seems like I might be exaggerating, but I don't feel like I am.  Take a moment to tell the people that help you out, thank you.  I have never been thanked more in my life than I am being thanked on a daily basis, for simply answering people's questions about their financial aid.  What if we would thank our doctors, our teachers, our police officers, our mailwomen/men, our cashiers, our electricians with the same kind of thanks that we prefer?  What if? 

Are you ever just in the surviving mode?  I feel like that is where I was last year.  I just had to survive the year. I couldn't think about next steps, or what I really felt passionate about because I just had to make it through.  I just had to get through the horrible moments of feeling so sad that I didn't want to be around anyone.  I had to work through the words that were said to me, and the way that those words made me feel.  Sometimes we just have to survive.  Sometimes life isn't about thriving, it is just about making it through moment by moment.  

As I ponder over events that took place throughout the YEAR of 35...I am so thankful that I have come out on top.  I feel like the YEAR of 35 almost broke me.  I was an emotional wreck most days.  I took things way too seriously and sensitively.  I got jealous easily, and I managed to take words to heart way to often.  I wouldn't change anything that happened in the YEAR of 35 except maybe one thing, which doesn't need to be broadcasted to the entire internet.  But that one thing was a mistake that I made in trusting someone I shouldn't have trusted.  But even that taught me something. 

I am a better person because of this year.  I am more loving, and kind.  I am also taking things a lot less sensitively than I used to.  Sure I still have my moments, because everyone does... but I have figured out that my life can't be based on others.  Looking to others for what they think about my life choices or even just me as a person isn't going to do anyone any good.  I have to be me.  Either take me for all of my faults, and quirks, or don't.  I will never pretend to be perfect, but I also will never stab someone in the back.  That's not the person that I am, and not the person that I ever want to be.  I don't want to be someone that constantly needs to be the center of attention.  Or who has to put down one friend in order to be accepted by another. 

We are all on a journey.  Sometimes that journey takes us to places that bring out our passions, and sometimes that journey takes us to places that help us realize what are passions truly are.  Life is about the journey.  The uphill battles, the moments in time that make you understand exactly how much strength and endurance you have.  The journey isn't supposed to be easy.  Some days it will be hot, and sweaty, and you will feel like dying.  Other days it will be breezy and cool and just right for walking up a windy trail.  But every single day counts.  Every single day is a new opportunity to discover the passions that have been planted inside. 

So this year.... the YEAR of 36 is for passion, life, and finding a place to live with joy.  It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.