It won’t always turn out how you think

“Just enjoy where you are at.  Just enjoy this moment, let yourself soak up this moment and don’t think about anything else, but right now. Breath it in, this experience, this day. Just be still.”
Oh that is so hard for me.  It is so hard for me to not let my mind wander and jump to all sorts of conclusions, because I am that girl.  The one that jumps to the worst possible scenario or five steps ahead.  (Can I get an Amen!) I have always been that girl, leaping ahead instead of just living in the moment. However, I have learned a few things about myself in these last couple of years.
It won’t always turn out how you think.
Ladies and gentlemen, this year didn’t turn out at all how I thought.  It took a while, but I have finally found my sweet spot.  After years of rolling around in a weird awkward tension of not yet, but already adult hood.  I have found the spot where my soul is at rest.
I started this year with the theme of REST, thinking I have been so exhausted trying to figure my life out.  Trying to dream new dreams, have hope again after some major disappointments and despair over life. God did that and more, not only did he teach me to be at rest in him, but he also taught me how to wait for him alone and put all the longing onto him. 
God gave me strength to finish well, to finish strong, to go after things that I wanted and not deny that where I was at was not okay.  He gave me permission to be confident in the skills and talents that he has given me, he opened the doors.  He gave me strength to let go of insecurities and fears and run forward.
As I stepped into a new role at work, and a new place to live, God stirred other things in my heart, he pursued me, he drew me near him, and showed me how much he loves me.  

He revealed how much I hold up walls against him, only fearing his judgment and anger.  But instead finding, a Father whose love has no match or end.  A Father that has never abandon, given up or just tolerated me, even at my very worst.  (Oh, and there are so pretty bad moments.)

Friends, never have I felt at ease with God as I do now.  Not to say I have arrived, (I used to think that everyone else had and I would never) or that I have figured it all out, because there are certainly things that are still confusing and anxiety ridden.  However, my trust in the one that knows how it all ends is stronger than ever.
After reflecting this last month on how God has transformed my life and my heart, my heart is bursting with excitement to see what he does in this next year.  I already feel it.  His doing more than I can ask or imagine and I can’t wait. 
Oh, I serisouly can’t wait, to see the lives he changes, to see how he would change this world, bring justice, and peace.  I can’t wait to meet the new people or find myself in new places.
With all this to say, my theme for this year is to Be Present and to Be Joyful. 

Too much of the time, I spend in the past or the future, but I want to be here, right now, and leave the rest to Him.  I want to be in the moment and really live for now, this time that God has put me in.  I don’t want ot look back in 10 years and long for this time back too much or regret not enjoying it more.  I want to know that I lived this moment, this season to its fullest. 
As for joy, God has renewed the joy within my heart in a myriad of ways and I want to share that with those around me. Joy of salvation, eternal joy, joy of a hope unseen, all of it! 

I work in a job that is easy to forget the joy, because it is hard on a daily basis and we need joy. We desperately need it and our students need it too!  I want to be known as a the joyful one.  I want to be known for my joy.

Friends, my challenge to you is to set your minds and hearts forward in hope and joyful expectation in how much God can change in year.  He is without bounds or limits, nothing is impossible for him. 
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Because HE loves me.

When all seems lost and confusing,
…….He gives us direction because He loves us.

When we mess up and try to cover up
…….He knows, draws us near and still loves us.

When are drowning and feel like nothing goes right
…….He rescues us because He loves us.

When the waves keep coming
…….He gives us an anchor, because he loves us. (Hebrews 6:19)

When the darkness surrounds us
…….He gives us a light because he loves us. (Psalm 18:28)

When feel empty and have nothing life
…….He fills us up because he loves us.

For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

When we are alone and weary
…….He provides for us people and himself, because he loves us.

When we are trapped by anxiety and fear
……..He storms the gates because He loves us. (Psalm 18)

As my soul is thirsty to hear every day, our God loves us to a depth and width and breadth that I will never fully comprehend.

photo credit: Iceland via photopin (license)

Many are the things that tell us that he doesn’t.  The world is drowning out the truth in our hearts.  The darkness, the hurt, the injustice, the anger, the loss, the grief, fights to crowd out His truth, that He loves us.

We are quick to say we are sinners and deserve God’s wrath.  We see the sin that we are capable of on a daily basis.  We are surrounded by it.

But are we quick to remind ourselves and each other that HE, the God of the heavens and the earth, the God of Abraham and Jacob, the commander of the Sun and Moon, loves us?

Are we quick to remind each other that above all else, he first loved us?

We can quickly name off the thing in our life that say otherwise.  But when we start with his love, perhaps those things will look different.

In my singleness, loneliness, I can be quick to think that God has forgotten me, that he doesn’t love me.  But when I say He loves me enough to give me this time, this season to learn and grown closer to Him.  To give me rest and knowledge of him so I am first His before anyone else’s.

In our unanswered prayer, we can say that he doesn’t hear us, that he doesn’t want to bless us.  But when we first say He loves us, those unanswered prayers look like our dependence, our reminder that he is the giver of ALL things.

In our trials, we can say that he has left us alone and made our lives hard.  But when he say he loves us enough to provide opportunities for our community to love us.  He makes a way for us to see his Church as a helping hand.

Friends, are we quick to see Him as a God who first loves?  


Fully Known, Fully Loved

Ugh, gross, another Valentine’s Day themed post.  Seriously.  I know, I know, I really don’t want to be THAT person. 

Honestly though, this has been on my heart for over 2 months, so it isn’t really just about Valentine’s Day.

What I DO want to talk about is holding ourselves back from love. But I don’t necessarily mean the romantic kind.  Because the romantic sort of love begins somewhere else. 

This thought is a burden on my heart and the forefront of my story for a long time and is the cause of some weary and lonely days. 

“I am afraid that once they really get to know me, they won’t want to be my friend.”  I uttered these words over a cup of coffee with my bible study leader, whom I desperately was afraid of being real with.
This was after years and years of unraveled friendships as a teenager.  I came to college searching for friendships that would be the answer, that would fix that loneliness in my heart.  It was a line that would continue to linger in my heart for years to come.  I would just show enough of myself, of my heart to gain friendships, but never fully letting in anyone.
This has often held me back from admitting sin, or being real with friends.  I cared so deeply of what people thought of me.  In so many ways, I held it as an idol in my heart. I still do.
But what I found was that a fear had grown deep in my heart. Would anyone be able to penetrate my heart?  Would I always be this guarded?  Would I always feel this lonely?
We often times, hold out on people.  We put them at arm’s length because we are afraid. At least I am.  I find myself often lonely because I have held people at bay because I don’t want to let them all the way in.

This thought struck me, as I was complaining about why I am the person that does things for other people, but people don’t often serve me.   (Okay, I know that sounds extremely ungrateful and selfish.) But the point I am getting at is that people can’t serve us if they don’t know us.They don’t know us because we don’t let people in.

 And….we don’t let people in because we are afraid. 

Afraid of what happens when they really get to know us.
Afraid that if we are our true selves and we care for them, they will disappoint us or hurt us. 
Afraid of being rejected.

So we put up walls, we learn how to be independent and not attach ourselves to anyone.  We learn how to show only what we want people to see.  We learn to protect the very parts of us that we don’t want anyone to see.  This is so easy in our Facebook and Instagram culture, with just a picture showing people what we want them to see of our lives, not the mess beyond it.

If you are like me, there is corner of your soul, that longs to be fully known and fully loved. Even with our built up fortress around our hearts.  We long for someone to take a sledge hammer to our walls and see our muck and jump in anyway.  We long for the unconditional love that our hearts are created for.

Friend, I don’t write this because I have fully grasped this, but because I know the loneliness and these are words that I desperately need to hear, truly.

Psalm 139: 13-16
For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

He shows here in the Psalm that he already knows us.  So much more deeply than anyone else ever could.  We cannot keep any part of us hidden from our creator.  Even more so, he loves us.  Despite everything, he loves us. God loves you, he loves you.  Can we let that sink in….
Psalm 31:7
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
    because you have seen my affliction;
    you have known the distress of my soul,

We so are loved by the God of the universe, what do we have to fear of men. God knows every bit of muckiness in our heart, and yet he still sent his Son to die for us.  
When we rest secure in that, what do we have to fear?  What can others do to us.
 
Really it comes down to the fact, do we believe what God says about us? That we are adopted into the family, that Christ has covered us, that we are now righteous in his eyes.  Do we rest secure in that?  Do we believe that to be true?
If we do believe that then we can do as Detrich Bonehoffer says: 
 “Because Christ stands between me and another, I must not long for unmedi-ated community with that person .. , ‘Christ between me and an other’ means that others should encounter me only as the persons they already are for Christ … Spiritual love recognises the true image of the other person as seen from the perspective of Jesus Christ. It is the image Jesus Christ has formed and wants to form in all people.”
We can fully love others, and let others fully love us, when we know that God fully loves us, and fully accepted us.  We do not have to fear rejection, because we have been accepted. 
Friends, take heart, we are fully known and fully loved by a God who sees us and welcomes us in, under his wings, into his family.