Thief of Joy

A few months ago, I came across a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that resided as the background on my phone for a week or two. I read it every time I checked the time (which is much more often than I would like to admit) and I thought I understood it in all its perceived simplicity.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Six simple words to a depth which I still don’t believe I fully conceive. Because I, as I have walked through nearly twenty-two years of life, have known in nearly every moment the depths of comparison and how often I have allowed them to steal my joy. If you’re still reading this, maybe you have too.

The other day I rediscovered some old images from a photoshoot I got to do with a talented friend. When she sent them originally, I remember being critical of them, but looking at them now I got to see myself as lovely for a moment. It couldn’t have come at a better time after I had spent the day psychoanalyzing the number of likes I had on my Facebook profile picture.

There are SO many negative things that stem from that deeply rooted comparison. It’s ugly. It rears up its head when we especially don’t need it’s company. It tears apart healthy friendships and eats away at fellowship with the Lord. I wonder how much it breaks His heart when we compare ourselves with His children around us.

 Once I realize the thought process I’m getting caught up in, I try to turn away from it – searching for verses and quotes to try to make myself remember that comparison that leads to bitterness is bad and I should just stop. Of course, it’s not quite that easy…

This time around, I found another quote, however:

“We won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated with purpose.”

It comes from Bob Goff. Wise words.

Friend, let your comparison fuel joy rather than steal it. This is the challenge, to find purpose and pursue it.

To leave no room for comparison.

And maybe when she gets more comments or likes than you and you’re wondering why or becoming resentful, you might reach out and compliment her too.

Or perhaps, when you feel like you don’t get the acknowledgement you deserve, find someone else to gift with what you feel you missed out on.

The way we share love through genuine compliments is a way to defeat the hold that comparison can have in our lives. It’s also away we live in our purpose in Christ, by showing His love to those around us.

As for joy? Well, that’s yours to keep and to share with those around you too and you’ll want to when comparison loses the space it once had in your heart.

A Girl I Used to Know

I stumbled across a photo of myself and it brought me to a point of reflection. Tough, but true reflection.

I used to know that girl, and I remember her well..


On her way to her first dance, in 8th grade, knowing that once she got there, it was unlikely that she would have any friends to dance with.
Squinty eyes, probably looking into the sun, and hardly able to smile because of how lonely she felt.

Her hair professionally done, just for fun, and makeup she didn’t usually wear only to feel even further from beautiful.

I know middle school isn’t great for anyone, but gosh, if I could block out this four year experience I would without hesitation. I had TWO friends, and many friend groups that would let me in and then want nothing to do with me. The lunchroom scenes felt dramatic and painful, I remember sitting down with the people I usually ate with, and them all getting up and leaving in 5th grade, I remember being told by my friends in 7th that I didn’t fit in with them because I was too quiet and should find somewhere else to go, the same year my grandpa died and a rumor went around my class that I wanted to commit suicide. Then finally 8th grade where I chose to leave on my own accord yet another group where most days, I felt ignored.

My goals every year were always the same: get a boyfriend, be pretty, fine a best friend – fit in.

I want to block it out. And sometimes, I do.

Then I stumble across things like a photo that get me all sad and reflective again over a season of life that built me.

I am so glad that I do not know this girl any longer. I’m so glad that the God of the Universe brought her to Himself.

¿Con Qué Pagaremos?

The only song I still have somewhat memorized from my piano playing days is “¿Con Qué Pagaremos?” arranged by Lorie Line. Roughly translated, its title means “With what can we repay?”. I’ve been thinking a lot about this question, especially on days like this.
You may have noticed that it is Good Friday. If you follow any Christian 20-something women, they probably shared a verse or quote to their story this morning about it. If you’re not familiar, this is the day each spring that the Church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

It’s on this day that I’ll probably turn to one of the gospels and read about His last moments, teary-eyed because thanks to The Passion of the Christ, I can now picture the excruciating moments as He carried the cross.

As He was nailed there.

As He breathed His last.

And there’s that question, scrolling ominously through my mind: “with what can we repay?” And I have to conclude that there is nothing with which you or I can pay back the debt owed for an innocent life taken in our places. It doesn’t seem very worth it for Him, to gain nothing in exchange for arguably the worst death you can die.

That is why it could only be done in perfect love. For me, for you too. Maybe you feel like you aren’t good enough to even come to His feet. Or maybe you know Him but still feel as though you owe a debt for the death we remember today.

The truth is, there is nothing by which we can repay because WE DON’T HAVE TO. A free gift of grace was His last breath when the world went dark and the veil was torn. It’s a gift you owe nothing more to than to accept it as your own.

And spoiler alert: He raises again, defeating death forever and ever. That celebration is a few days away.

A Look Back Through Fall Semester

This school year I started to use a plain notebook I already had and make it into a bullet journal planner rather than buy one. It has been fun to be creative, but my favorite implementation is a reflection page at the end of each month. For the next few days, I’m going to share a few of my reflections with a photo taken from that month. I think it’s important to look at where we were at different points in our lives & to acknowledge how far we have come and what has changed. Here’s a glance at 2019.

September

“In you, Lord, I have found my rest”

Not an easy month. Sometimes, not a good one either. But in reflecting at the end of it all, I can see that God is present, meeting me right here once again. I miss Medora, but more than that, I miss the peace with God I experienced there. I’m realizing as I step into this new semester, though, that peace isn’t in the place – the location. It’s much more than that.

Peace from the Lord is beyond understanding and isn’t found because of setting, rather in who He is and what He promises us, His beloved children.

In you, Lord, I am learning where my peace is found.

October

“Yes, work toward a degree and work toward earthly friendships, but do so in His name. Chase the author of love and One who created you first. How are you supposed to figure out your purpose in this world if you don’t first follow the one who created your purpose?

Try your best. Study for the test. Do some squats. But focus fully on His name. And in your weariness, brokenness and on days when you are overwhelmed, breathe in and out. Then, look at where your feet are planted. God put you where you are for a reason. He’s gotten you this far. Why don’t you trust Him with your tomorrows?” – Unknown

I do not enjoy school. What is even the point of this constant, stressful grind? But even worse is knowing that it ends in a few months and I have to prove that I learned all I claim. October has been a month of trying to trust that He has me in this midst for a purpose – and that it’s a good one, better than I could even understand. My reminder as a new month begins: Just keep walking forward. You will be blessed as you believe the Lord fulfills all His promises, and He promises you life abundant. Cling to your hope and guide, alone.

November

“And He said to me… daughter you are in a desert, but I will send rain. There is aching, there is wandering, but my love will come rushing. You’ll be swept up in waves of grace. And you have no idea just how far I am going to carry you.” – Unknown

Do I give thanks in all circumstances? This month felt long – just preparation for hard classes what feels like every day for more hours than I have. I’m crazy nervous and frustrated by how little focus every other area of my life seems to have gotten. This is the first semester that school has my attention, and all my attention needs and craves Jesus. In answer to the above question – no. No, I don’t. I’m praying for the ability to let the joy of the Lord be my strength because I’m not living that. He deserves my gratefulness even when I don’t feel thankful for the circumstances.

December

I like the idea of reflection on life whenever possible, but I find that I am not always very intentional with or honest about it. Considering all that happened this past year and trying to understand what it all means has been much more difficult than I would have expected. Often in my mind, the bad has a way of outweighing the good so while I can acknowledge the joy that was 2019, what I can see much more clearly is the hard. A little dramatic, right?

All I can decide and conclude is that God has been faithful to me, in my unfaithfulness especially, which is frankly the majority. I do not deserve even for a second to be used in a campus ministry or to have met people from all over the world this summer or have the incredible women in my life that I do and I am so very grateful. And I suppose I am also grateful that life is a roller coaster of moments and peaks and valleys – the highs are so much sweeter when the lows are spent in the loving arms of Jesus.

#Dressember

We are a week into this 31 Days of Dresses Challenge and right about now is when I should post another statistic or two on my social media about the impact of trafficking on the world around us. I could tell you how “my heart” is for victims of trafficking…but that wouldn’t be entirely truthful.

Today, all I can think about is how I don’t lay awake at night hurting for those trapped in modern slavery because I live a life of blessing and comfort.

How often do we forget that all that we have isn’t a reality for everyone in our world? Maybe a better question is: how often do we not care?

I should have a heart for those who continue in bondage — spiritual or physical. Why? As a follower of Christ, a truth I believe is that Jesus redeemed me from sin. He has given me freedom. Therefore, I am a freed slave.

As I continue to grow in my relationship with God, it slowly becomes more and more my desire to continue in the ministry that Jesus himself began during his time on earth, to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18).

For me, as the days of this month go on and people donate their time or their money to the prevention and awareness of modern slavery… all I can really claim my own is a humble prayer. It isn’t for more money donated to my campaign or cute outfits every day, or even that I would be able to convince you all that this is an issue close to my selfish heart.

It’s simply that God would show me how to love in a different way, and that He would give me “His heart” for the oppressed.

Words Like Honeycomb

I honestly don’t know why I try to go to coffee shops to try to get work done, because I just get distracted by observations.

Overwhelmed by them, even.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks this morning with my back against the wall, facing the room of people. No one here is alone except me, and they are all middle-aged women meeting for coffee dates.

Interesting, in and of itself. I feel young, and a little lonely.

So I listen enough to catch a word or two – glimpses of conversation in a hectic room.

And these women, they gossip. They talk about their husbands or the choices their kids are making, they tell long dramatic stories. And they complain, oh my goodness, do they complain!

I just wonder why our words find their focus on tearing others and ourselves down.

Is it just easier? Is there fulfillment in it?

Maybe I sound judgmental… I’m not trying to be, really. Because, while I may not have a husband or kids to complain about, my conversations can reflect the very same attitude.

The thing is, the words we choose to use and the attitudes we walk into a room with have an incredible amount of power!

I was reminded of a verse while I have been sitting here and it seems worth reflecting on:

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Proverbs 16:24

Words that have power? Words that are sweet?

Encouraging, pleasant words bring enjoyment and health to the person in front of you.

Why aren’t these the words you and I are always making use of in our conversations?

I think I want more of that and less of the gossip, the complaining, the tearing myself and others down.

I hope you might, too.

 

Looking back at ND

If I ever doubt the grace of God (and I will, believe me), I hope I think back to this summer in the Badlands, where His grace was more evident to me than it has ever been.

This summer I have been selfish. I did not look on the people around me with love when I should have, I avoided hard conversations, I was not often honest in the areas where I was struggling.

Yet, I saw God move in this little random town in North Dakota in a way that I can’t even express.

People who had never heard the gospel before asked hard questions, I found friends from all over the world and got to love and be loved by them so well. I was met with a peace that brought healing from my last semester and rejuvenation for the one to come.

When you trust the Lord with something like your summer…even if you withhold a few of the parts of that thing…He is able to do more than you could ask or imagine and move in profound ways.

Now that I’ve been home for about a week, it has been too easy to slip into complacency when it comes to my relationship with the Lord.

But God in His continual grace just reminds me gently how loved I am here at home too and that my summer was no mistake. And He reminds me that I can fall back once again into His arms, despite how many times I will try to pull away.

The First 5 Days

Things I learned in the last 5 days of doing life in North Dakota:

1. God will meet you where you are at, wherever you are at, even if you travel hundreds of miles to get there. As soon as we arrived for our first day of Cru Summer Mission, I was met with a few days of rest and peace. I can’t even begin to tell you how desperately I needed them after this last semester – the most difficult emotionally and educationally I have had. Now that we are in Medora and settling in, I have fallen in love with this little town and the people in it. I can’t wait to spend the next 11 weeks here and I couldn’t be more assured that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

2. This walk with God can be joyful because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This has really been the theme of mission so far in our quiet time materials and group meetings. If I claimed to have any boldness in my faith I would be lying through my teeth. It is through His Spirit that we are able to live a life that honors God, not through any of our own strength or actions. One thing I have always struggled with is finding joy in my walk with the Lord, and honestly being jealous of people who seemed to have found that joy. I am starting to see that I was trying to do it on my own strength, but it is through His Spirit that I am equipped to find a joy and peace in everything.

Uffda (apparently an expression North Dakotans use)! God is just so good.

A Summer in the Badlands

Summer 2019 I have an opportunity to participate in a leadership development project with Cru in the city of Medora, ND. For 12 weeks, I will be living in Medora with the 325 people that come here to work for the summer. We will work during the day and participating in leadership development and outreach projects in the evenings and over the weekends.

Every summer, our mission has the opportunity to influence people from the nations that gather to live and work in Medora. This summer, I will be able to meet and work alongside people from around the world as well as those from the U.S. We pray for them, befriend them, and seek to point them to Jesus as the Way. the Truth, and the Life. We disciple those that respond to Christ. We have the opportunity to minister to them as we do life with them and pray that God will take the gospel to other places as they leave with a love for Jesus and heart for their people.

For more information or to consider supporting me financially, check out my personal giving page.