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?

 

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. ♥

Beautifully (Part 2)

If you read my recent post, Beautifully, you may know that I decided to go the month of February without wearing makeup. It was an interesting and difficult experience that I would like to share with you.

I have to confess, the first two weeks or so – and especially the first few days – I nearly forgot that I wasn’t using any makeup and I would pull it out and set it on the counter only then to remember that no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t use it. In part this was because of the fact that I had become so used to going into the bathroom first thing in the morning and slathering on foundation, blinking into mascara and putting on chap-stick at the very least. There was also a part of me that truly did not want to put myself through this, and just wanted to give up and forget I had ever decided this in the first place.

But mostly, it was difficult to look in the mirror at my hyper-pigmented, scarred and blemished skin and small eyes that begged for mascara and eyeliner, and not be able to cover it up and hide the things I really didn’t like seeing in the mirror. So many times I argued with myself in the morning, coming close to slipping up and falling back into the routine I had become so used to.

But I didn’t.

I’m not writing this because I want pity – or recognition for muddling through it for that matter.

But, In blunt honesty, the entire month was hard.

Really hard.

I avoided mirrors so I wouldn’t have to look at myself. I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing what I was, but even that was unconvincing.

My most powerful lesson came after I had begun to wear makeup again.

I play piano, have for eleven years, which means I often get volunteered to play for events – especially at church. Anyway, the women’s ministry we have at my church had asked me to play for them at an event on Saturday, which meant I got to listen to the speaker they had lined up. She said something important in her lesson that I didn’t realize the power of until I was driving home after the event. It sounded a little something like this:

It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter if you are “too thin” or “too fat”, whether you have wrinkles or scars. You are made, fearfully and wonderfully in the image of God, and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and WORTHY despite the things you don’t like when you look in the mirror.

I’m paraphrasing a little, but this was the context of what she said, and I was blown away. It seems like women are told something like this all the time – by our parents, our friends, our significant other – you name it. How many of us actually believe it? Ha.

Yet, to doubt our own beauty and worth is to doubt that God’s creation is perfect and that he made each of us, knit us and molded us so intricately.

To not love ourselves and how we look is, frankly, an insult to God’s handiwork.So why is it so easy to pick and choose what we like and dislike about ourselves, and beat ourselves up over those things we have deemed unworthy and not beautiful?

I wish that I had a good answer for this, but I truthfully don’t. It’s hard to love the things we find so easy to hate. There are many days that I get so worked up in comparing myself to others and picking apart my flaws that I bring myself to tears. .

I see so many others feeling the same, and it breaks my heart.

So, if you are reading this, I challenge you. 

Don’t allow makeup to enslave you like I did, like so many other women have.

Freely, unashamedly look into mirrors and tell yourself how beautiful you are – even if you don’t feel that way – until you believe it. God made every piece of you, He has numbered the hairs on your head and He loves every last inch of you. In you, He created a lovely and fearless soul and He will gently remind you day by day how much you are worth if you let Him.

I have challenged myself to do the same.

Because I can promise you that you are fearfully, wonderfully, beautifully, intricately made in the image of a perfect, glorious and loving God.

Be loved, beloved

There are, arguably, four types of people when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

One, the couples who celebrate this holiday. They’re the ones who post photos of flowers or chocolates from their significant other, or a photo of the both of them. They might have a romantic meal, or give a card to one another. They at least try.

You know what I mean.

Next are the rest of the couples, who don’t really do anything for the holiday. Maybe they have been together two long to care anymore, or they have mutually decided that ‘Valentine’s Day is stupid’ and refuse to participate.

There are also those who mourn or miss past relationships on this day, reminiscing on what could have been even if the relationship ended for good reason and often claiming that they hate this holiday.

Can’t say I blame them…

Lastly, there are those who have never celebrated what is known as Valentine’s Day because they have never had a significant other to celebrate it with. Yeah.

Maybe there are more than four, in fact I’m sure there will be people who don’t fall into these groups. But I’m sure you get what I am trying to do here, bear with me.

I count myself in the last category. 

But unlike a majority of people who find themselves as chronically single as me, I don’t dislike Valentine’s Day. As I have grown in my faith throughout the years, I have found that I can often see God and His love in ordinary, every day things.

And yes…even in Valentine’s Day.

February 14th begs the question: what is love?

Love is not measured by boxes of chocolate, cards or bouquets of flowers. (That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with buying your girlfriend flowers, those couple dollars spent really will make her day. But still.)

It’s so much more than those little things.

Love is only one thing, one word, one name…. (drumroll please!)

Jesus Christ.

Here’s the deal:

You have been loved by Christ from day one, loved so much that he would willingly suffer and die so that you and I can have life. 

He loves you when you are happy. He loves you when you are sad. 

He loves you on those days when you look in the mirror and hate what you see. 

He loves you on the days you feel beautiful. 

He loved you all those times that you didn’t measure up to the world, and all those times you succeeded too. 

Every promise that the Bible gives us, every beautiful thing we have been given, and through every heartache and every blessing we are constantly reminded of the enduring love that our Savior has for us.

God’s love is often referred to as agape, which translated from Greek is most closely ‘unconditional love’. If you need a quick refresher on what this means, here you go.

It’s easy to forget all this, I know. No matter how you feel about today’s holiday, there is a love that tops everything we could possibly experience here on earth. I want to remind you to consider this love that you are so freely given.

So, beloved child of God, be loved today – and every day. You are worthy. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

 [Photo found on picmonkey.com]

 

 

Beautifully (Part 1)

Today might just have been the worst I have had for awhile and even though part of me would love to throw myself a pity party, I won’t bore you with the details.

I’m the type of person to ‘go home and cry about it’ whenever something bad happens. This is not a good quality, I know… But this particular “crappy” day acted as the smack in the face that I honestly needed. So instead of my usual moping on the couch with comfort food and Modern Family, I decided to seek out the reason behind the fact that today was simply the breaking point to a few weeks of not feeling myself.

Here’s the deal: I’m really skilled at faking it, but most days my self confidence is definitely lacking, and for whatever reason this had been even more of an issue for the last month or so. My life is filled with so many awesome women, yet I can’t help be a little intimidated, constantly wondering why I am not as beautiful as them.

I realize that this is a question straight from the pit of Hell. I get that. But some days, I ask it anyway. So in a feeble attempt to make myself feel better, I have become reliant on makeup. I’ve never been one to wear a lot of it, but I have been one to hide behind the makeup I do wear.

I guess a little bit of backstory would be good here… My mom used to be a consultant for Mary Kay, so I have had access to makeup for as long as I can remember. I got my hands on my first tube of mascara in sixth grade – next came foundation, and you know the rest of this story.

Maybe it is because I am very introverted, or perhaps it is because I take everything that is said to me a little too seriously, but it freaked me out when someone would point out that my skin wasn’t blemish free, hence I caked on the makeup to try to hide it. When it was addressed that I have “small eyes”, eyeliner became my best friend. In fact, I haven’t gone out in public without any makeup for years.

First of all, I realize that there are women who can confidently go without makeup and are perfectly fine with it. I am not one of them. That being said, I have come to the conclusion that I want to be!

So for the next month I am going to step wayyyyyyy out of my comfort zone and not wear a drop of makeup.

It is going to be a challenge, but my prayer is that it can teach me that my beauty comes from within, not from covering up and hiding the things that I think aren’t beautiful. Because deep down, I’d rather be known for having a beautiful heart than for having a pretty face.

Here goes!

Do not let your adorning be external—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

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.