I feel like I haven’t written in a while. You would think it’s because I have a job that keeps me busy but I still don’t have one of those yet. But, I did adopt two new additions in my life. I adopted two kitten sisters and can I just say that they are the cutest things. I’ll let you judge for yourself 🙂 Their names are Anna and Elsa (from the Disney movie Frozen).
Okay, back on track now. I have recently purchased the DVD “Soul Surfer”. If you aren’t familiar with this movie it’s based on the true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark attack. In the movie, Bethany is challenged to not focus on the fact that she lost her arm but on the bigger picture of what God is doing in her life in spite of her loss. If she stayed focused on her lost arm, she would have missed out on the amazing ministry opportunities that the Lord had for her.
“Keep this in mind tonight… the devil loves to make us focus on the little that’s wrong
so we miss the big picture of all that’s right.”
It was about a month ago when I got an email from my internship site for this coming fall that they might not be able to be my site due to some legal issues. I got the email in Wal-Mart where I proceeded to tell my mom what happened and balled my eyes out…in the middle of Wal-Mart. I felt like my world was crashing down and the path I thought I was headed down all of a sudden looked unsure. I started questioning my move back home to Charlotte because I still didn’t have a job and now it looked like I wasn’t going to have an internship. I was focusing on my own mountain of problems instead of focusing on the One who can move those mountains. Well, it happened to be that day that I had planned to attend my first women’s life group through my church. I wanted to go but I didn’t because all I wanted to do was stay in my room and mope. But I went anyway and cried on the way. I composed myself when I got there and when I walked up I knew I was at the right place. These ladies stood up, welcomed me and each gave me a hug. I had never felt so loved by people I had just met in my life. I opened up a little about my current situation and they were so attentive and concerned. Needless to say it was wonderful.
It wasn’t long after that that I started hanging out outside of group with some of the girls. It’s been through these interactions that I have realized me being here right now is not about a job or an internship but about the relationships that I am forming. It’s about how the Lord wants to use me to be a friend and mentor.
So, even though in my heart I knew the Lord brought me back to NC things didn’t go as planned. However, when I took a step back and realized that the Lord was teaching me to focus on Himself and on the ones around me, my purpose became much bigger than myself. Being a child of God my calling is higher than myself.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I have always grown up with cats but I came to the point where I wanted a dog. I thought they would be fun and a great companion. I dreamed this imaginary lifestyle in my head of the magic a dog would bring to my life. This past week I found a dog that I liked and seemed sweet. However, after I adopted him it became very clear to me how much work a dog can be; especially compared to a cat. It wasn’t just the work but his personality was work because he needed some special training that I wasn’t aware of before hand. The ending of this story is sad because I had to give him back to his foster home. I knew I wouldn’t be happy so I went with my gut. I learned the hard way that adopting a pet shouldn’t be taken lightly. This dog’s personality didn’t fit with my personality. It was hard. I didn’t like any minute of it.
Something that I’ve struggled with is looking at other people’s lives in life in person or people online that I didn’t know and wishing I had what they had. I would wish I had a certain style of fashion. That I had their breed of dog because they made it look fun and cute. That I had their body. The list goes on. I have tried to fit my life into someone else’s a that’s not right. I have my own life and I am made to have certain things based on my lifestyle and personality.
Sometimes what you think you want isn’t what you actually need. Maybe I will get a kitten instead of a dog and that’s just how I am made-a cat person. I can’t force myself to be a dog person if that’s not my personality. I can’t be a doctor because I’m squeamish with blood, wounds and illness because God created me to love people in a different way. I can’t force myself to have a certain style of clothes because I just have my own taste, a type of musical interest, or even a type of guy. So, I ask the question:
How do I know what’s right for me?
I’m at the point in my life where I am trying to fit into who God made me to be. I’m out of college and now in the real world. I don’t know what I need. I was challenged by a friend who trains dogs to make a list of qualities and characteristics that I would like in a dog and that way I can filter dogs easier. I have decided to take this challenge a little deeper. I am asking myself the question of what other lists in life do I need to make? This is why personality and strengths quizzes are so popular. We don’t know who we are and meant to be. Now, a quiz can tell you a lot about yourself but I believe that the only person that can tell you who you are and meant to be is God. He made me and you!! I am going to make lists for different aspects in my life and then take that list before God and pray over it. It’s a list of things that I think I need/want but then I’m allowing God to whittle that list down or change it.
I have officially been living back in NC for 2 weeks. I have to say, it hasn’t been quite what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great and I am happy to be back home living for free while I get my feet on the ground. But, the Lord hasn’t stopped taking this advantage to teach me a lesson. Even more-so than in the first of the year is He stripping me of comforts forcing me to rely on Him. It’s obviously something that I need to learn or else He wouldn’t be trying (I’m stubborn).
It’s hard to be fully dependent on God when I like being independent. Any of my previous roommates would tell you that I am very independent and am often called the “mom” of the group 🙂 Even when it comes to my faith I like control. It’s the “I can do it myself and I can do it better” syndrome. But, that’s not how this Christian relationship with God works. Shoot, it’s not even how any relationship works.
All God asks of me (us) is my (our) lives. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26) This command initially sounds easy. I mean, when we first become Christians it’s all new and exciting because we have a new life in Christ but as we grow we realize how hard it is to say no to temptations that flood our lives every single day!!
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him…”
I believe that this verse that Paul writes to the Philippians is exactly where I’m heading. I HAVE LOST ALL THINGS (my daily comforts) to GAIN CHRIST. The question that I need to ask myself, and I challenge whoever reads this, to ask what in my life do I consider worldly comforts that are taking away from the comfort I need to find in Christ? These worldly comforts aren’t necessarily bad, like a job and friends, but how much emphasis am I putting on them? Am I constantly bitter because things aren’t right at this moment? Finding myself in this state causes me to want the Lord to return quicker so that I can be rid of the filth that crowds my life. How far am I willing to go to make my life more like Christ and prepare for that glorious day?
The time has come for me to leave the people and places that have been my home for the last 6 years. I have now moved back to Charlotte, NC to start a new chapter of my life. I read a quote once that said that we can’t start a new chapter of a book if we keep re-reading the last one. It’s true. If I wanted to move forward in my life, I had to turn the page and follow where I felt the Lord leading me.
Lately I have had to make some life changing decisions. These decisions were made easier because I have been immersed in such a Godly community at CIU for the past 6 years that has taught me how to pray, how to read the Word and given me plenty of counsel from amazing friends. I couldn’t have been more blessed to have the people in my life that have been with me the past 6 years. I look back to Freshmen year and I was a completely different person (thank goodness). I have come so far emotionally and spiritually. I don’t have any doubt that the friends that I made while I was here will be friends till the end. I don’t think that I could finish life without them =)
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
I think that I have been spoiled by my church family. I would NOT have made it without them by my side. Getting the privilege to minister to my girls has been such a blessing. I am so proud of them and hopeful in the women that they will become! They have ministered to me in some of my darkest hours making me laugh and to remember to be joyful in the Lord. I always knew that I could go to anyone in authority with an issue and not be judged but welcomed and prayed for. The church has stood beside me when my family was in crisis and supported me in life changes. They always speak wisdom and have such a passion for growth not just for their body as a whole but for the individual members.
“But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
1 Corinthians 12:23b-26
I am excited to see where the Lord is going to lead me next. I know that I will be in Charlotte for at least a year. After I officially graduate I’m not sure where I’ll end up. I am learning to take things one at a time and not get ahead of myself or the Lord. As I sit here I am tearing up. Saying goodbye hasn’t ever been hard for me but this time there are so many goodbyes all at once. I just keep thinking that I have been so blessed by everyone and I wouldn’t have changed any part of it!
I am 9 days away from making my move from South Carolina back home to Charlotte, NC. My life is about 80% packed in very well labeled, color-coded boxes that are taking over my apartment. I have finished my campus classes and just have to finished my one online class. I am almost done with school and that’s weird. I mean, school has been all I’ve known for 20 years of my life. What comes next? What follows school? You mean, I have to be a big girl and find a job? Find my own place that’s not in the safe space of my wonderful Christian college? Make new friends on my own? Yikes!
Saying that I was scared would’ve been a understatement. I say “was” because I’m not scared anymore. The past few weeks I have been challenged to not focus on what I don’t have (a job, my own place, new friends) but to focus on what I do have (a free place to live with my wonderful parents, job potentials, a church). After I have done that, then I can put on my warrior face. I am called to be strong and courageous because the Lord is with me wherever I go and if he is with me, nothing can stop me.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Here Joshua has all reason to be terrified and discouraged. His leader, Moses, has just died and now he is the Lord’s choice to lead the people to the land that had been promised to them. I don’t know about you but if I had to follow up Moses’ work I would feel a little under qualified. But, in this first chapter, the Lord has a little pep talk with Joshua. This gives him the courage and strength to talk to the people and encourage them! That’s exactly what I needed. A pep talk from God. How many of us need a pep talk from God? Sometimes we do and we need to be reminded of who God is and that we shouldn’t be worried, terrified or discouraged because the Lord is always with us. This is a prayer I’m praying over my life everyday because it is so easy to get distracted and to focus on all the things that I’m lacking and forget all that He has provided for me.
Throughout the Bible there is this command to be joyful even in the midst of hard times. In the Old Testament with the Israelites and then in the New Testament Paul instructs believers time and time again to rejoice and be glad. Now, it’s easy to say that we are joyful in the good circumstances but when our life take a turn for the worst so does our state of heart.
It is SO HARD to do this. It’s hard to be joyful when life throws me a curve ball. It’s so hard to be joyful when I want to focus on my current situation and try and figure a way out instead of focusing on God who’s already got it figured out. This is the difference between biblical happiness and joy. Happiness comes from our circumstances while joy comes from the Lord. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
This is joy. This is contentment. This is trust.
I think I have said before that I don’t like to “grow where I’m planted”. I like to think ahead to the next step. To the next thing that is going to happen in my life. But when I do this, I miss out on the beautiful things that God has for me here in this moment. When I do this I’m saying that I’m not content with where God has me right now. That there is something wrong with the circumstances that my life is in. I’m always looking for a way to improve where I’m at not thinking that where I’m at can be great if I focus my attention and state of mind on God and not my circumstances. I am learning that as I am shifting my focus toward God and his glorious riches He has for me right now, I see my complaining slowly die and I start to rejoice even though I may be hurting. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). I love where I am and who God is making me into. I have joy in that. Yes, my circumstances will cause me hurt sometimes but as long as I keep my focus and faith in God, I will always have joy!
A prayer that I saw my favorite Lysa TerKeurst post on Facebook recently,”God I love you. I don’t love this situation. But I love you. Therefore, I have everything I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and will walk through until I get to the other side of this. I trust in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.” This is a gut-honest prayer. I love it! I will have joy in Jesus Christ even though I may not love my current situation. This is true joy…not happiness.
I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, is the most precious thing in all thinking.
I am heading into a HUGE transition in my life. I am closing one chapter of my life that has been all I’ve known for the past 6 years in just under a month. Yes, I am moving on to bigger and better things but that doesn’t make the transition easier. I am hitting quite a lot of bumps along the way too. Over the past few months I have been planning and trying to set things up for myself in regards to where I’m going to be living and where I’m going to work. This has been a daunting task and quite stressful. I have a lot that I could grumble about as I transition. Things aren’t going the way I thought they were. There are doors being shut when they were open not long ago and I feel like there aren’t any other doors left. I want to pound on the doors demanding that they open up but I’ll be the first to tell you that when God shuts a door, only He can open it back up so that it’ll work out to our benefit. If we pry it open, it won’t be pretty. Waiting for God to open the door up is what I don’t want to do. I’m stuck in this transition and it’s hard. I want a job, I want a nice apartment, heck I admit that I want a decent guy in my life but God isn’t ready to give me those things yet. Yes, I know that I NEED a job and I NEED a place to stay so I assume (hope) that those will come sooner rather than later but the guy thing…well that’s just going to be in God’s timing and not a door that I force open. When I force a door open I am being impatient and I am settling for second best. Settling for second best is NOT God’s best. It’s not even MY best. It’s just something that I see and I want to snatch up because I’m doubting that God will bring something better. If a door shuts I want to bang on it because it’s gone and I doubt that He will make another door appear. I had an apartment lined up but I just found out that the rent will be significantly higher than I planned so that door shut (for now at least). I want to bang on it because it was there and I doubt that anything else so great will come along. I had a relationship but the door closed and even though it was my decision to close it, a part of me wants to bang on the door because my flesh doubts that anything else will come along. I am looking for a job and I am banging on doors like crazy but nothing will open. It leaves me feeling hopeless. These things I know God will present to me in His time and I will have the apartment that is best and the man that is best and the job that is best.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Yes, here in Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples that those who knock the door will be opened but I don’t believe that this verse should be read without looking back one chapter to where Jesus is telling his disciples HOW to pray and ask. We are to pray and ask according to the will of God, with a contrite spirit, asking with faith of who God is and not for things that we deserve but because God wants to give us good things because He loves us.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
This is the key to our prayers and getting through the transition when we feel like there are doors shutting. The key is FAITH. One thing that has helped me get through the helplessness is to stop focusing on the problem and focus on God’s faithfulness in those prayers that He has answered in the past. I need to stop banging on the doors that have closed and have assurance that they closed for a reason and that there will be something better and best for me…and for you!