Blooms

Thirteen.

That’s the number of jobs I have sent in inquiries and applications for since March.

Maybe not a terribly significant number, but of those thirteen, I have interviewed for three and things looked somewhat promising.

Only for me to be let down three times and have to start over from scratch again.

Now, I’m not one to have any desire to do a job I am not a good fit for, however at this point I just need to make money and have something to do this summer.

You start to wonder what is wrong with you, you know?

I’m in a summer of transition between schools on top of that, so perhaps ‘a little lost’ is a good way to describe where I’m at.

But after spending a week or so moping around feeling sorry for myself, not changing out of my pajamas some days, crying more than I care to admit and quite frankly being ridiculously dramatic, I have pulled myself together.

And decided this:

In every season of life there is a purpose and in every transition there is something to be discovered. In some it is a little more obvious – the season of singleness is a perfect time to not be distracted from your walk with the Lord by a relationship or to focus on self care and improvement, the college years are a time of discovering who you are and what your career and life might look like. But our lives are constantly changing, as are we.

There are times, seasons, where hard work and putting up a good fight while allowing God on your side, is required.

And there are other seasons where He has you where you are for great purpose.

Flourish there, where you have been so beautifully placed. Grow there, where you are carefully tended by the Master. Where you are is no mistake.

So, to the best of your ability, enjoy the season or transition you find yourself in right now, for soon it will change once again as another lesson to be learned comes to light.

And most importantly, bloom where you are planted.

A Million Sunrises

You could watch a million sunrises.

Share one hundred smiles.

Count the freckles on a face or the stars in the sky.

Hug a friend and never want to let go.

Laugh so hard that tears run freely down your cheeks.

Be awed by the twinkling of city lights.

Fall in love with another who lights your soul on fire.

Enjoy the sweet giggles of a child.

Or breathe in the sweet smell of a summer evening as the moon lights the night sky.

You can do all these things and more.

But even the most beautiful in life won’t ever, EVER, hold a candle to the love of the One who created it all.

So embrace the beautiful moments.

Experience the best.

Appreciate love and joy and friendship.

But never forget, not for a second, that through each little moment we can catch a glimpse of the Lord of the Universe, ceaselessly loving you and me.

Rescuer

There comes a point when you lose sight of the shore.

When you have been treading water for much too long and the waves begin to overtake you.

When you’ve run out of energy and are prepared to let yourself sink to the depths.

Giving up.

Drowning.

Letting go.

—-

In life, we are consistently faced with a choice in our struggles. It’s a choice to sink or swim. A choice to keep treading water or to give into exhaustion and let go.

The fact is, I am not aware of anyone who has not experienced a moment where they feel as though they are drowning. And that’s okay. We weren’t promised a carefree life. If we were, we wouldn’t really need Jesus, would we?

I noticed something today in the song Oceans, by Hillsong United. In the pre-chorus we hear “And I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves”.

It’s not a cry for the Lord to swoop in and lift us out of the water. We know that our Savior can walk right over that ocean like it’s nothing, but that’s not what the song cries out for.

It’s a call for just enough strength to see over the waves. Just enough to make it through.

Just enough.

God is more than capable of rescuing from the depths of the ocean, He is capable of infinitely more than we can ask or even imagine.

But sometimes, having to trust Him for just enough strength to make it through the storms of life is all we receive. Does that mean that God is unable to draw us out of our struggles? Not at all.

Does it mean that He is, in fact, unfaithful? Also no.

The thing I have noticed about life is this: this struggle will not last. There is an end in sight, but there will be other struggles and other painful moments to follow. Sometimes, it will seem never ending, but looking back there is so much growth that happens in difficulty. There will be point after point in life where you are pulled to the right or to the left, and are left with a choice. 

Do you allow yourself to be pulled under the waves?

Or do you trust the Lord of the Universe to give you the strength to tread water just a little longer?

 

Glory, forever

My favorite part about my church camp years wasn’t the outdoor activities or the service projects or even the bonding time with girls from my church…it was always the music!

There is one song that sticks out in my mind as I write this, the bridge and chorus of which goes like this:

“Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory
Take my life and let it be yours
We sing

Glory to God, glory to God
Glory to God, forever
Glory to God, glory to God
Glory to God, forever”

So long ago, I sang these words along with everyone else during worship. I find myself coming back to that now, wondering if I really understood the power within what I was saying.”Glory to God”…easy right?

What has been on my heart lately is glorifying God when working to better His kingdom. Ultimately, bringing others to Christ, volunteering and other acts of kindness – doing good things – is about God, and generally we say it is “all for His glory”…but it sure feels great when you get some of the ‘glory’ too.

If you knew me in high school, “glory to me” sounds more like it.

One big aspect of my personality is that before becoming more stable in my faith, I had a tendency to manipulate people. I’ve always been really good at reading others, which is an excellent skill to have, but also a dangerous one. 

Accepting Jesus as my Savior didn’t my thoughts and desires and turn them a complete 180° right away. As I grew, I constantly struggled with the desire to share my faith just to get attention and recognition for myself. Sometimes, my intentions in offering advice or caring for people were skewed – remember, I was good at saying the right words. This caused me to very poorly love some people in my life and ultimately lose valuable friendships – eventually some people in my life could see right through me to my true intentions: to glorify myself.  

I loved hearing things like “you’re the best Christian I know” or “you’re such a good person” and believe me, I heard those words more than a few times. 

But later, I also heard words like “you’re such a hypocrite”. 

And were they wrong?

Looking back on the years of growing I have experienced, especially the last year and a half of being in college, I can freely admit that that was who I was. It hurts to know that I could be so unkind to others and have so little respect for the sacrifice that Christ made for me on the cross that calls me to love others unconditionally.

But I am not that person anymore!

As I have grown in my relationship with Him, God has really just broken my heart for the people in my life who don’t know Him. I touched on this a little in my post, Think Again. Sometimes when I think about it to much, I find myself crying over the brokenness of the people in my life. It has become less and less about me and I have realized that even if my intentions had been pure, I could never even hold a candle to how incredible God is and how infinitely He should be glorified.

I guess what I am saying is that I just want the people in my life to know Jesus. I want them to know that they are loved, that they have value and it isn’t found in friendships or popularity or school or creating an identity for themselves. I don’t have any desire for the affirmation that I used to receive, I’ll take the harsh words if it means that God is placed on a pedestal and I am humbled.

One day, we will bow at the feet of the Lord of the Universe up in Heaven. There will be no more pain or hurt and all glory and honor will be His, for endless days.

Until that day, I pray our hearts break for those around us who don’t know Christ; that we would be fearless in our pursuit of Him.

And that we would no longer live a life for our own glory, but for His.

Take our lives and let them be yours.

More Than Gold

Where does your value come from?

Do you find it in your job? In relationships? In getting good grades?

In school? Family? In trying to love the image you see in the mirror?

In finding love?

In finding happiness?

Is it from being wanted or needed?

In always seeking something better?

Do you rely on the possessions you own or those you hope to own someday, because those will finally make you happy?

In the car you drive? The phone you use? The shows you watch on Netflix?

In what others think of you? In fitting in?

Where does your value truly lie?

Because I can tell you wholeheartedly that you can never find your importance in anything this world has to offer you.

It will never, ever come close.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I keep coming back to Psalm 139, where these verses come from. It’s really beautiful scripture and every word just hits me over and over.

You are so loved.

You are so loved.

You are so loved.

And then I forget it, every time.

But sometimes God makes his incomprehensible character visible to me and I think I get to just catch a glimpse. He knows me so well, that it is always in something beautiful like a sunset, in unconditional love from a friend or in a song, and it brings me full of tears to my knees.

And I am reminded again, “You are loved.”

Each and every once of us wasn’t just some mistake and every part of us was perfectly placed just as it is. Knitted, I love that word, knitted, in our mother’s womb starting day one, but planned from the beginning of time.

I am fully convinced that if we truly understood how much God cares for us, we would be crushed by the magnitude of His glory and grace. Crushed.

Yet our measly little human brains just don’t get it.

So we go back to forgetting where our value comes from and we find it in everything but Christ.

Yet when God created the Universe, He knew right then and there that in 2017, the world would need one of you. Reading my ramblings on your computer or phone, right where you are.

Broken pieces and struggles, accomplishments and all.

I guess what I am trying to get at is this:

What is the point in finding your worth in all the things of this world when you can find it in something so much better?

What does it matter if you have everything you could ever want on this Earth if you never know how loved you are by the Lord of the Universe?

What’s the point?

Maybe it’s just because I needed a reminder myself, but I hope you remember this now and always… You are worth more than you will ever comprehend to someone who died to know you. Because what matters isn’t the superficial things we try to fill the voids in our hearts with or try to find our value in.

What matters is Christ.

You are worth more.

Fix My Eyes

Guard your heart above all else,

it determines the course of your life…

…Look straight ahead,

and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

Mark out a straight path for your feet;

stay on the safe path.

Don’t get sidetracked;

keep your feet from following evil.

Proverbs 4:23, 25-27

My recent thoughts have been pretty focused on what my career might be. I know that I have time to figure it out, but I feel like I am somehow behind since I don’t have a clue what I want to do. I’ve been sending out emails to advisors and researching in an effort to calm myself only to realize that this caused more stress than comfort. The more options I am presented with, the more confused I get and it is honestly starting to make me a little crazy.But yesterday, instead of putting off my homework by stressing about my future career, I decided it was time to get caught up on my Bible reading – still putting off my homework, but shh. My readings was the first four chapters of Proverbs. I almost gave up and talked myself out of continuing after Proverbs 2 but I am sure glad I didn’t. The last piece I read is the set of verses you see above. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Over and over again we have heard that God has a plan for our lives. I know I’m really hoping that this is the truth, but the harder part of this is truly trusting that He is in control. It’s easy to say we do, but whether or not we act on this is the goal.

Are you willing to fix your eyes on God and His plan for your life? Instead of being consumed by all the distractions this world offers to us, we can place all our trust and focus on the path before us and following the steps that God has mapped out for us. Will we slip up? Absolutely! He wants us to trust Him so much that we are willing to let Him pick us up and carry us through the turmoils of life every once in awhile. But if we are focused on avoiding evil, following God’s will and guarding our hearts from life’s temptations and distractions, the course of our lives will be for the glory of Him.

In my case, that means that someday I will know what my career is meant to be. Instead of panicking and annoying advisors with my confused emails, I have to be focused on what lies ahead and listen for the voice of the Lord.

The best part? God’s plans are so much better than anything we can work out. It will be so worth it.

Glow in the Dark

The glow in the dark stars on the ceiling are making me a little sad and sentimental.

You know, those little stick on stars that light up when you turn off all the lights, stuck to the ceiling so lovingly by your parents.

Or grandparents if you had some like mine.

My brother and I used to frequently stay overnight at my grandparents’ house when we were younger, leading my grandpa to stick up those plastic stars on the ceiling of the guest bedroom. They are perfectly placed there, maybe even in constellations, to this day. I know this because I am laying under this “sky” as I type.

They’re a little faded now. You have to squint your eyes a little to see them these days.

It’s almost metaphorical.

Spending the night ten years ago meant renting a movie or playing games, popping some popcorn, baking cookies, being teased mercilessly by my grandpa and falling peacefully asleep under a sky full of pretend stars. It was a house filled with the love of both my grandparents, and their two little dogs.

Gosh how I miss that.

These days, the dogs are up there hanging out with Jesus.

My grandpa is too.

It’s strange how the world changes around you and you just have to keep pressing forward. In the midst of my whole world changing, I hardly have time to notice.

I wasn’t at the hospital much when my grandpa died. It was my senior year – I had things to do, plans to make. I didn’t have time to think about it, and really, I don’t think I wanted to.

Now I have a little time to think, and miss him.

Now I have a little time to think, and I’m thinking.

These days I spend a night or two with my grandma when I can. She’s lonely without her husband and her dogs to keep her company and she’s a little sad because she knows she is slowly forgetting.

She gets confused and calls me by my cousin’s name sometimes. She misplaces everything and she stopped driving and using the stove. She asks me the same questions or makes the same statements in conversation. No, it isn’t funny. Yes, it is painful to watch.

Sometimes, I get jealous. It seems like my parents care more about her than they do about me as I try to navigate college and figure out life. Selfishly, I allow her to irritate me when I know with every fiber of my being that it isn’t her fault.

But I don’t want to be stuck in that. My grandma is a woman who loves the Lord. She loves other people and always puts them before herself. She and my grandpa left their life in Kansas to come here to be a part of mine and my brother’s lives.

I am grateful for the life I’ve gotten to experience with them and the life that is yet to come.

Because moments matter.

Life moves quickly. Here I am, with a head full of thoughts.

Under a sky full of faintly glowing plastic stars.

Think Again

If you read nothing else on this page today, I want you to read this: without Jesus in it, life is hopeless and empty, even if it doesn’t seem to be.

I got a taste of this first hand this a few months ago.

On my dad’s side of the family, I have two cousins – a brother and sister who are close in age to my brother and I. We have basically grown up together, although more recently have moved apart a little and seen one another less because of busyness.

When given the choice between a family event and a retreat for Cru, I wanted so badly to choose the latter. I would have built relationships, had intentional time with God and just have had fun. But ever since I realized that both of these events fell on the same weekend, I knew where I was supposed to be, and that was Middleton, WI, with my family.

My cousin has apparently gotten in with some bad friends, friends who encourage her to party and in turn her grades have slipped. Who knows what else she has done! She has become cold, cruel and painfully disrespectful to her family. As a recent high school graduate, she wants nothing more than to get out of the house and have the “college experience” – not taking into account that going to an out of state school will leave her in deep debt.

She’s never been much for conversation, but now things were even worse. There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but I just couldn’t find the words. Her parents obviously had a strained relationship with each other, not to mention their relationship with her.

I’m not really sure why God wanted me there instead of enjoying quality time with my Cru family. I hurt more after this weekend in May than I had for a long time. All I know is that I was there for some reason, whether or not I ever see the fruit of that.

As an outsider looking in, all I could see was how empty and broken this home was, and I felt the weight of those things too. At one point during the weekend, I cried in the bathroom; at another, I went downstairs to blindly watch my brother and other cousin play video games. I felt like more of a “broken vessel” than I could have imagined. All I could think about was how my cousin had found her worth in something that wasn’t Jesus, and how much I wished I could change that but felt helpless to do so.

By all worldly standards, my cousin was doing great. She fit in and I would describe her as popular based on the people she knows and hangs out with.

But to God? Hmm.

I’m not saying a life without Jesus in it can’t be somehow good. By some stroke of luck, one can spend their whole life never seeking the Lord and be perfectly content. For some people, its not the life struggles here that cause them to seek God, but the eternity in hell that poses a problem.

Maybe those who turn to partying and friendships that lead them astray truly are happy in life. Maybe families who are all breaking a little at the seams manage to be okay without Christ.

I wouldn’t know.

But, I do know this. Whether or not you feel like you need God, you do.

I’ve seen it time and time again, not only in my own life, but in the lives of others.

God takes lives who are lost, people who have turned to partying or substance abuse, people who have depression or anxiety, those who are questioning their identities, those who have turned to relationships and sex to fulfill them, families that are falling apart; He can take every last broken piece, even in those who don’t know their own brokenness, and make them wholly and entirely His.

 

It’s not about religion, but a relationship. And like any relationship, it takes a little work.

But its worth it.

Because we ALL need Jesus.

 

 

The photo above was taken by my friend Desmond, whose photography I now have permission to use on my posts – talented guy!

On the Job

Today was my first day of nannying for the summer. I’ve been going back and forth from excited to dreading for the last few weeks, and this morning I woke up a mixture of nervous and excited. It was a beautiful morning and I had high hopes that my first day on the job would be a success.

All three kids were awake when I got there at 7:30. They had already eaten breakfast, the TV was on and everyone was behaving. It was going great!

Until we went outside.

Kids were in the pool playing, I was picking up towels and avoiding getting splashed by the water fights happening in the pool, the dog was running around the yard. Then the oldest decided to walk to and ice cream shop with a friend. We got mom’s permission, all was well.

Or so I thought.

The dog, a year-old poodle named Ellie, wanted to follow them. I held onto her until they were out of sight so that she wouldn’t run off. Then, set her back on the ground. She sniffed around a bit, picked up a toy and put it down, then she must have remembered that she wanted to follow, because she took off after the girls.

I ran after her, calling her name over and over.

She was on a mission. 

The car didn’t stop.

She was dead on impact.

The rest of the day is a little bit of a blur. The parents were contacted, we rushed to the vets office, there were lots of tears and lots of apologies. I talked to the nurses in the vets office, who asked what had happened. One of them, somewhat jokingly, said “Not a very good first day, huh?” I laughed it off.

But really, ouch.

Her words, which were said with no intention of harm, had me sobbing as I drove home to the comforting arms of my mom after all was taken care of with the family.

I feel like a failure. I know it’s not really my fault, but I was the adult responsible, I was in charge. I’m still grasping for something I could have done, something I could say to fix it. But I can’t.

And I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my first day…for lack of a better word…really sucked.

The most important thing, though, isn’t that I had an awful day, or that a family lost a very dear friend and companion. On my drive to their house this morning, I prayed that God would do with this day what he wanted to, and that it was in His hands. It would be easy, then, to blame Him for the day I had – after all, He was in the driver’s seat!

I don’t know why this happened, I don’t know where it fits in God’s plan, but I do know one thing that I will believe until my dying breath: God is good.

Even on the days that aren’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Rest

Just some thoughts from quiet time today…

Truly my soul finds rest in God;

my salvation comes from him.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation;

he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2

Can one allow their soul find rest in God alone? Not in searching, in wondering about the future or regretting the past; in losing themselves in friendships, work or school, relationships, but in Him alone? Yet our souls can reside there, in Him alone and not in all of those other distractions.

Our salvation comes from Him.

Through the cross we are saved.

Redeemed.

Beloved.

Not because of anything that we did, but because of what Christ did for us. Even though we are each in our own way unworthy of such a sacrifice, still it was freely given.

So now I can sit here, in awe, because He is my salvation.

And every time we hit what can only be called rock bottom, there he is.

The rock at the bottom.

Unmoved, unwavering, and waiting patiently for us to run back into his open arms.

A fortress surrounding us.

Protecting.

Defending.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, can penetrate the ultimate protection freely given to us by the ultimate protector.

No storms of life, no trials, NOTHING can separate us from God’s love, and because of that we cannot allow ourselves to be shaken from where we stand.

Oh sweet soul, you have been wandering for much too long. Allow Him to be your protector, your salvation, your fortress, your rock…

And most importantly,
just rest,
you are beloved. ♥