Bloom

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.

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.

a Mountaintop Experience

“Times, whether brief or extended, where the power and presence of God was so palpable that it felt as if the veil between heaven and earth was very, very thin.”

As a responsible and motivated college student, naturally I decided to skip class one day last week.

I wish I could give you a justified reason for it, but in reality I just couldn’t do it anymore.

The last few weeks I have done a really good job of walking away from God, even though I am facing situations where I need Him most. After spending the whole summer with my friends and having everyone only a text away,  the start of the school year was a rude awakening. Frankly, I just feel lonely – when I am around others and when I am alone in my room. It is a constant ache and I haven’t figured out how to heal.

It is in those situations that you are supposed to turn to God, to put more prayer into our daily lives and to turn to Him in our loneliness, but for me that was easier said than done.

Finally, I drove to a nature center close to my house, searching for someplace where I could find God. I walked as fast as I could up the hill to the top, and out of breath I cried out to Him.

There is something very surreal and beautiful in these kind of moments. You see what is around you with very different eyes than you might normally, but I still wasn’t finding the comfort that I was seeking.

Two hours and more tears than I could count later, I felt a lot different. It wasn’t the mountaintop experience I was desperately searching for, but somehow it was better.

The reality was that I learned a lesson from this.

The Christian life is no smooth ride.

That being said, it also isn’t going to be some amazing experience every day where you feel God in every moment and you just know that He is there. You won’t always be “on the mountaintop”.

The truth is in the pursuit, are you willing to search each day for a reason to believe? Nothing can separate us from God except ourselves, so the question is why we manage to do so constantly.

God is in the tears. He is in the quiet moments; when you are studying or reading or simply just experiencing the silence. He is in the loud and overwhelming. He is there in the laughter and he rejoices when there is a smile on your face.

Just let that sink in for a minute. 

He is with you, alongside you, right now.

Whoa, man.

Why are we willing to talk ourselves out of something so beautiful?

The Lord of my life has pulled me into an eternal embrace, holding onto my feeble heart each and every day. I do not have to feel alone, ever. What’s more? He wants that with you too, even when you do not feel close to Him – even when those “mountaintop experiences” are over.

 

 

Adulting?

Guess what!

I am officially a college student of three days!

After being in the same school district for 13 years and seeing mostly the same people every single day for just as long, it is mind-blowing to be in a place where I am surrounded by different people and generally don’t know anyone in any of my classes.. The first few days of class, no one talked to each other and I was starting to feel uncomfortable and regret my college choice.

There are 26 University of Wisconsin colleges, half two year commuter colleges that transfer automatically to the larger 4 year colleges (ie. UW-Madison). I attend one of those two-year colleges. This means that I live at home and drive to school each day, rather than the traditional college experience involving dorms and food plans. When everyone in my graduating class was applying for school and planning where they wanted to go, and I decided to apply at Fox, most of the students I encountered acted like it was beneath them to attend there and live at home. When people would ask me where I was going, I began to tell them “just UW Fox .” JUST, because at that point I believed it wasn’t quite as good as one of the four year schools too, and it certainly wasn’t as impressive as heading off to some obscure private school out of state that, let’s be real, no one can afford anyway.

But I am learning day by day that UW Fox is EXACTLY where I am meant to be.

I can pay for my first two years easily without loans and only one scholarship, so joke’s on everyone else! But anyway, the point of this post isn’t to dis other schools or brag about my somewhat savvy financial planning. It’s to talk about how I believe I made the right choice and followed the Lord’s plan.

Like I said, after my final class on Wednesday still no one was really talking to one another. I get it, it is a new experience and everyone was uncomfortable, but I was feeling lonely and doubting if I would make any friends. I am a drama queen, so I kept telling myself I should have just gone to Green Bay (the school I am planning to transfer to) right away. But, I was holding on, because Wednesday after class, I had my first Cru Live. Cru is a Christian organization that exists on a lot of different campuses, and I was holding onto the fact that this would make me feel like I could make friends with other people.

There was pizza (selling point right there!) and some announcements, and then we split up into groups to share about ourselves and play ‘two Truths and a Lie’. Before we even began, the leader of our small group turned to me and asked, “Are you Mariah?”

This is a big deal for me!

I am not an outgoing person, people do not just know who I am. By confirming my identity, she made me feel so important and so comfortable. In high school I was always, someone’s friend, Chris’ sister – never just me.

I know it isn’t a big deal to most people, I get that. But I truly believe that God used her to bring me confidence in joining the group and about the school in general.

This is a new place for me. I know there will be some challenges, I know there will be some situations that are’t fun – even some that I will really hate. But I also know that through the people I will meet and through Cru, I will grow in my faith and this college experience will be about finding myself and who I am in God.