The Fact That Love is a Gift

These past few days have been all about learning about give and take, effort and reward, work and life....it's been rough. So many unexpected things have come up, and I just keep ending up in situations that I've never been in before. Talk about out of your comfort zone. Then talk about how your faith has never been in this place before. Repeated unfamiliar territory really stretches it. And it's confusing. And I don't understand.

But, when I step back and look, I am still covered with love and grace. It breaks my heart sometimes--when I realize just how much I don't deserve it.

And guys, what I want you all to understand is that just because I step back and [have to] put something into perspective, doesn't ever mean that it gets any easier. Please don't ever believe this. Does this feel easy? Being so committed and leading things, starting to work for real and trying to do school work all at the same time? NO. Just NO. BUT when you are where God wants you (I guess I'll just find out soon enough the why of the where), it's worth it. I just love Him so much, and love being able to rejoice in His love. This is what I have to cling to when it comes down to it all. As "tied down" as I often feel because of my responsibilities, I have to remember that I have been set FREE in Christ, and nothing, no amount of work, supervisors, demanding professors, demanding friends, to-do lists that will never get done and people pulling at me can EVER take that away.

As one of my good friends who is a fellow blogger put it,

".....it’s bad when your identity is found in those things instead of Jesus and what he has done on the cross. He is more important and more valuable than any of your “blessings” will ever be and you should be willing to depart from any and every blessing of this world for the sake of following him if it comes down to it."
Even as I consider all of my options, I have to remember that if I EVER want to look ANYTHING like my Lord Jesus Christ, I MUST follow Him, wherever He leads me. And not just with my actions but my heart. If that means just to keep doing what I'm doing, then bring it on.
So friends, my advice to you is use the Bible as your DAILY weapon, keep your diligence in prayer and walk with Him every step of the way.

"Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
    for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
 He heals the brokenhearted,
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
 The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
    he casts the wicked to the ground.
 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
    prepares rain for the earth,
    makes grass grow on the hills.
 He gives to the animals their food,
    and to the young ravens when they cry.
 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.
 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
    Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
    he blesses your children within you.
 He grants peace within your borders;
    he fills you with the finest of wheat.
 He sends out his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
    he scatters frost like ashes.
 He hurls down hail like crumbs—
    who can stand before his cold?
 He sends out his word, and melts them;
    he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
    his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
    they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord!"
Psalms 147



The Word Invite


One of my new favorite words that I have come across is the word invite. It's a word whose definition is unlike anything else. The connotations around it echo feelings of joy, security, celebration and even a pause in time.

This is the word that has been missing in my vocabulary. I think of things in terms of "do" or "see", but not "come be with me". In the midst of me being thrown into a semester unlike any other, I am currently struggling simply to know where to start with all that I'm responsible for. A lot of it has to do with my attitude, as always.

Instead of having to drive people, think of it as inviting them to spend time with you, and go to a Bible study.
Instead of having to schedule an event, let it be a time to invite others you haven't met before and celebrate the completion of the first week of school.
Instead of having to go to a job interview, take is as an invitation to enter a work place.

Instead of having all of these things that you need to get done and feeling like your soul is rushed,

          invite God in to heal you of your misplaced heart.

"Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name."
Psalms 86:11
"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."
Romans 6:14


Everything In-between

I can't even describe these past few days. They've been fast, slow and everything in-between. They've been emotionally draining as well as spirit-energizing, all the while starting to shape this next year that I'm going into. It's a relief, really, to have so much to do and dive into the random business of it all.

These past few days have also been testing. So testing of my faith. I have been forced to shut doors that seem like good things, and take chances in opening others. I am now remembering what it is to be living with a bunch of people, which I love, and how sometimes that means pausing your life for them and allowing interruptions, to an extent.

It's been praying for people in the kitchen, inviting someone to donuts, having deep conversations in enos, eating meals on the floor, picking up right where you left off but still continuing to make new friends, the sharing of a story and a slushy, late night conversations about direction and families, spending a longer time together than you thought and a shorter time together than you would like to have.....it's these things that break my heart with the beauty of people and just how much God has blessed me. All of these moments and conversations are far from perfect, but they are the one way that I know I can worship God. Speech poured out in love is just a slight reflection of His love, and such a gift when given to others.

I am so tired from doing all of this and more, but my heart rejoices in the fact that I've gotten to resume walking with these people and can continue to learn to love them like He does.


What I've Learned This Summer

Lets just say--this summer has been epic. Not all of it has been pleasant (actually, most of it hasn't been. At all...), but I mean epic in the sense "big".
I had a feeling towards the end of last semester that this summer would be one that would prepare me for the rest of my life. Maybe that's a big feeling to feel, but I just got that impression.
And boy, was I right.
He has been working on my heart hard-core this whole time. Times when I didn't even know it. Times when I didn't even expect it.
Now I look back, and see His work.
Here's what I've learned this summer:
~ My favorite color is now purple. Why? I don't know. It's completely an obsession now though.
~I really like being around people.
~ I want to go somewhere else overseas.
~ It takes a storm to create a new norm.
~ I may want to blog for the rest of my life. And I just might.
~ You have to meet people where they are.
~ You security is to be found in God and God alone.
~ Prayer can be anything.
~ Trust is easy when you understand how BIG God is and how small you are.
~ Make the choices you want to. You'll simply live happier and without regret.
~ I don't have to post every little thing I learn or feel or do or know.
There is value in thinking more about your words, whether they are said, posted on Facebook, blogged, typed or texted.
~ I continue to be overwhelmed by how much God loves me. Seriously, all the time.


The Plunge

And just like that I'm back to school. It's almost like the summer never happened. It felt like picking right back up where we left off, but feeling exposed while walking out in the open around campus.

It's overwhelming.

I have so many new responsibilities and positions to get used to, and so many things "up in the air" or "to be determined", it's kinda stressful.
However, despite all the craziness, I can kinda take a deep breath.
God has used school before, and He will use it again.
God has used people before, He will do it again.
God has used me before, and He will do it again.



About That Time Again...

My second year of school is getting closer, and as much as I miss my friends and the routine and the self discipline of doing work, my heart is breaks to leave Shelbyville. Like, I'm seriously going to cry when I leave. I've just now gotten to know people and simply be known....who doesn't love to be known places? I've just begun to make connections in the community and really begin to feel the vision of my church.
But now I have to leave.
Don't get me wrong, I'm SO super excited and know I am called to do things there that only I can do. It's just that I've actually been here long enough to make a new normal.
Every day for the past few days I've paused at certain times and simply taken stock of my conflicted feelings. It's really confusing and really depressing sometimes. The good, bad and ugly all come with it, it just looks different there than it does here. But hey, that's just what it is.
Going back to school is simply my Next Step.
I just hope I don't take it with a heavy heart.


My New Favorite Verse and an Undivided Heart

It was one of those days when you are feeling so beat down by everything...
Lies creep in your head and shake the truth that you know so well.

So what did I do? I called on my God in earnest.
I am beginning to be able to discern the sincerity of my prayers more and more...

Are they real?
Are they serious?
Are they selfish?
Are they holy?

This one was sincere. I asked for God to speak to me through His word. I did my best to trust that He would answer, even though I had no idea how He would.

You know why God answered this prayer? Because it was humble. I could no longer keep these lies at bay, or try to defend myself again. Nothing I was doing was working, and I wonder if my heart was even behind it...."Do you want to get well?" is a question you must ask yourself often and honestly answer. This time, the answer was yes. That's why I left it up to God--no longer to me. This is the verse that He gave to me:

"Teach me your way O God, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name."
Psalms 86:11
So, with this newly memorized verse, I have begun to dwell on it and have decided that an undivided heart is something that I want and so desperately need. A heart all for God and none for me, one so that nothing will be anything else compared to the light of His glory in my life.


No Longer, No More

I'm sitting here at Harvest, the local cafĂ© on main street. It's a rainy day, meaning it's quiet and calm inside. And my feet are really cold. As I sit typing, I am watching people through the windows walk past the door, hesitate, then come in.
This reminds me of what I have been doing--hesitating, then taking a step closer.
This summer has been one that has revealed this hesitation to truly follow and an obsessive, selfish focus that I have on me and what I do. God has taken these misconceptions and broken me with his everlasting love. The result?
Someone who now understands more of what it really looks like to live consumed by your faith.
Like, when it is more than something you just feel. When you are able to act on it not based on what you want to do, or what you feel.
 Being able to be more able to live like this, I know that I can't even go back to the way I was living or who I was
the more you get to know God, the less you hesitate.  
(P.S. I am also watching cars just sitting in the middle of the road, trying to decide where to go, and people pushing pull doors.....)