Let me know if you can relate to this: I was talking to a friend today who was really struggling with knowing how to approach the Bible. She was talking about how she wished she craved it everyday, but she just didn’t, and reading it felt like a chore that she got nothing out of it. She said she was struggling seeing so many people share their quiet times on Instagram, and that she loves following people who love the Lord and share what they are learning, but that she just feels stuck with where to start. . . I’ve felt that way, too. Not just with Bible study at times, but with other things too. With my business—seeing others succeed quickly at what I’ve been working so hard for. With things that I am passionate about—and seeing those who just do it better or seem to have it all together. But here’s the thing—these people didn’t get to where they are without hard work. Without stepping into the struggle to even figure it out. We can’t just automatically have the ability without putting in the effort, whatever that may be. . . Whether it is Bible study or something else we are hoping to grow in or achieve, we have to show up. We have to have discipline. We have to be present on the good days and on the bad days. We have to prioritize things. We have to be willing to be molded and shaped and stretched. We have to do the hard work of showing up and continuing to show up. We have to put in the effort if we want to grow. It doesn’t just happen by hoping it does. So let’s encourage one another to step in and grow. To be willing to get messy and to persevere even when we don’t want to so that we are shaped and stretched into something we never imagined we could become. Rarely do we just know automatically know how to do every little thing well—it takes effort and growth and just doing the dang thing. So let’s do it, friends!
It has taken me so long to learn this, but it has been so worth it even when it has been hard. True friends aren’t the ones who just try to make your problems disappear and pretend that your brokenness and ugly isn’t there. They don’t make light of the hard things you are going through, instead they sit with you in it. True friends are the ones who stand there right beside you as you face it all. And I am so grateful to finally have found those people who are always in my corner, no matter what. . . Tag a true friend who is by your side no matter what in the comments and let them know you love them and are grateful for them!
Rejection. It isn’t something that is ever easy. Whether it is from a person or a job we applied to or something we so deeply put our heart and soul into only to get a “no,” it never gets easier. Even when the feedback is incredible and done in the nicest way possible, and a no is just another bridge you have to climb over in your journey to get where you are going, it is still hard nonetheless. . . I want to always use this space to be transparent even when it is hard. I love beautiful things and pretty pictures but don’t by any means let that fool you that life is easy and things are always going great. This week I’ve been sitting with the sting of rejection even though I ultimately believe it is for the best and just part of the journey of it all, but it hasn’t been easy. First I got an email from a publishing house I was dying to work with praising my writing but saying they can’t publish my book at this time. Which in the world of writing, you think you’d get used to no’s, but somehow they don’t get easier even though they are expected. And then the next day I heard that I didn’t make it into a writer’s group that I was dying to be apart of, and it was just a lot. And in those moments when it gets to you, it makes you question if you have what it takes and if you are worth it and all the ugly comes out. . . But it’s never the end of the story. Our hearts and our dreams may be rejected, but that doesn’t mean they are over. Because first of all, for those who have the hope of Jesus, we are already accepted fully, just as we are, and no part of our stories take Him by surprise even when they hit us out of nowhere. But the no’s don’t have to define us either. No’s just mean “not yet” or not as we expected. Sometimes they are a closed door leading us somewhere we never could have imagined, and sometimes they are just a mere stepping stone on the same journey. But either way the road is forward and either way the journey is bright. So even though I don’t quite feel like it yet, I’m embracing these no’s and excited to see what God does with them. Because He tends to turn things into yeses in His own way—ways that bring Him glory and somehow are also for our good.
I love the contrast, as sad as it may be. Saul, the first king of Israel, who was meant to be leading the people by the word of God and the gift of the Spirit that God gave him was so concerned about what the people thought of him that he ignored what God had to say about him. In all that God commanded him to do, Saul couldn’t follow through because he stopped looking to God to remind him who he was and instead turned to the people to define him. Peer pressure became his downfall, and he lost sense of who he was in the Lord. His story could have been so different but he allowed the world to define him and chased after things that didn’t matter because he wanted to be pleasing in the sight of his people rather than pleasing in the sight of his God. . . And then there is David, still a young boy when he goes and visits the army of Israel as Goliath taunts them day after day. There was nothing extremely special about this boy—when Samuel came to his father looking to anoint the future king of Israel, Jesse didn’t even bring David in from the field. And yet here the boy is, showing up, and he is angry. Angry on behalf of his God and this Philistine who is openly defying the God that David loves. And David’s oldest brother comes to him and asks what he is doing there and tries to destroy David’s confidence and character through his words, telling him to go home and be with the sheep. But David was confident in where his character and ability came from, and everyone who was telling him to leave couldn’t stop this man-child from swaying from who he was in the Lord and what the Lord had put on his heart to do. He knew his identity, and it changed everything. David became the king by which every other king would be measured, and an ancestor of our Savior. He loved God with all his heart, and yes he made mistakes along the way, but the world did not define him. It didn’t make sense for David to go up against a giant, but he did, because God was with him. Let’s be people who do the things that don’t make sense because we are firmly grounded in who we are in the Lord rather than chase after who this world wants to say we are.
I love summer evening gatherings with my family. Great way to start the weekend! What fun things do you have planned this weekend?!
I have known sorrow. I have known suffering. I have known mourning. I have known pain. And I am far, far too acquainted with fear. That enemy of worry that comes in like waves and refuses to leave, asking questions of me and the world around me and suddenly making everything look different. Anxiety that sucks the life out from me and causes me to wonder about who I am and how my personality and circumstances make sense in this world. All of it swirling around until the sky becomes the ground and I don’t know which way is up anymore. . . Fear. Sometimes it creeps into our lives so slowly that we don’t notice its quiet entrance. Other times it marches right through the door and makes us question all that we believe in. It can wreak havoc on our lives, forcing us to do things that we never thought we would do, or keep us stuck so that we don’t move our feet, too paralyzed to move. Yes, I have known it all. . . Lately I have been reading so much about the Israelites in captivity. How sorrow and mourning is meant to be temporary and joy is everlasting. At the end of the book of Isaiah the call from God comes–the call out of captivity. The call for the chains binding His people to break. For freedom from the shackles holding them in place. Calling them out of their captivity to stake everything on His promises, telling them to leave all defilement behind them and take none of what has held them rooted in fear behind them and go forth with the confidence that He will be with them. He will be with us. . . He told His people and He is telling me. He is telling you. There is nothing to fear. He wants us to go out in joy and be led forth in peace, to prepare joyfully for the future and the rest of our lives and not to fear it. He doesn’t want us to live in fear, so renounce it. Command the chains of fear that are so binding to break. In His name, don’t allow fear to make you retreat anymore. Instead allow love to advance in so that you can soar, soar on the heights nestled under the shadow of His wings where He shelters us fully. Because our bravery comes from Him. He is for us and not against us. He is for us.
Dear friend, God is with you in every season of life. In the times of splendor and in the deep and utter depths. He doesn’t just look our way when we are doing good and doing all the good “Christian” things. No, He is also so very present with us in our messes and in our struggles and in our sin and the things that tempt us. . . We don’t have to perform for Him. We get to be our true selves, even if in this season that means down on our knees shouting at Him because everything feels so wrong. He’s a big God. He can take it. You don’t have to get all your ducks in a row. You don’t have to follow a checklist or find some way to suddenly become good enough. Truly, there is no such thing. You are already the apple of His eye, whether you know it or not. Whether your life looks like it or not. He adores you and pursues you, not just in your victories, but in your struggles as well. . . There is no mess that is too big that God cannot clean up. No depth that is too deep that He can’t reach us. No thing that is so bad that He won’t forgive us. Because of grace. Because of Jesus. Because of the cross and the resurrection. We don’t have to be good enough. We don’t have to have it all together. We can have the messiest pasts in the world, and God can still write redemption into every part of our stories. Don’t think for a second that He only pays attention when everything is going right or only for the “good” people. He is with you in every season that you are in, and it is often those very struggles and those messes and the deep things that we try to hide that lead to the most victory in our lives when we turn them over to Him. He’s not afraid to step into the mess with you, friend. Just invite Him in.
Honesty hour: For the last couple years I really had been thinking that I would be single for the rest of my life. Not because I had given up on the chance of believing that love was out there for me or that God was going to bring someone into my life, but because for the first time I was truly loving my single life. I loved the freedom it afforded me to do whatever I want and go wherever I want and never have to check in with anyone. I was happy on my own and thriving in certain areas because I had that time to myself that I truly began to look at my singleness and think if this is the way my life is going to be until the Lord brings me home, I could actually be okay with that. I mean, I wasn’t 100% convinced I was okay with it, but I was close. . . And then I met Bobby. Like I said, I was happy in my singleness but then this guy came into my life from out of nowhere (thanks @eharmony and @molly_aileen for taking over my phone) and suddenly things shifted. It’s not like I felt like I was giving something up to be in a relationship (although it definitely does change things!), but rather that I had found the person that was worthy of me growing from doing life on my own to sharing that life with someone else. I have been gaining so much that I never expected to ever have in my life even in all those moments in my early 20s when all I wanted was a boyfriend and all I did was daydream of romance. . . I can truly resonate with the Apostle Paul when he says that there is a certain goodness to singleness because of the way it frees you up to pour into the Kingdom in a special way that is just different when you are in relationship. And there is a certain kind of goodness to having a partner that you get to build the Kingdom with. Because at the end of the day, that is what we were created for—to give God the glory, no matter what our relationship status is. And He may surprise us along the way with a story we never imagined we would have. I’m currently living in mine and it has been the best adventure I’ve been on yet!
Our stories matter. They absolutely do. The best way that we can be stewards of the gospel is to share our stories. Is to share who God is and what He has done in our lives. Our lives are meant to be the proof of who He is. Whether that means writing a bestselling novel that reaches millions or releasing an e-book with your name on it identifying who you are and what God has done. Whether it is through ministering in this online world where anyone can see and stumble upon your blog and also be quick to have an opinion on everything that you say. Whether it is through pictures that show your life or a journal where you recount your experiences and what you are learning along the way. Whether it is through sitting down and talking to your kids about your life and your experiences and your testimony and who God is to you because they will learn first and foremost about who He is through who you are. Our stories are one of the greatest weapons we have in our arsenal on this spiritual battlefield that we can carry along with us along with those that God already gives us (Ephesians 6:14-18). Our stories matter because we matter. God shows us that over and over and over again. . . We have stories to share and people that need to hear them. We have bridges to build and hearts to reach. Our stories can open doors that would otherwise remain closed. They can speak to someone that may have not heard in any other way. They can build community and compassion and understanding and empathy. They change us and change others and can reveal God to the world. To the ends of the earth. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing. . . Your story matters. Don’t ever forget it. God wouldn’t work so lovingly and persistently and even painstakingly in our lives if they didn’t. Sharing it can be one of the biggest offerings we can ever give our God. Thanks for being brave and being willing to show your heart and share your story. It matters.