Talk and Walk?

I’ve been taking a walk every single morning for the past three days. A walk with Jesus. Each day, I’ve written about each one, intending a separate post for each, but only now did I decide to compile them. I’m hesitant to do this, because there isn’t an overwhelming point. You’ll see. I was also really hesitant because I didn’t want any of the days to not be emphasized when they were all bunched together. They are all really unique, and I’d love for you to read them all. However, Saturday and Sunday were probably my favorites, so if you’re in a time crunch or just want to not read all 2,000 words, just scroll down a bit. Much love.

thursday, 9/22

Do you ever go to meet with God, expecting Him to do something profound, and instead, He does something really simple? Or maybe He points out something you didn’t want to hear? Leads you somewhere you didn’t want to go? Creates an opportunity you don’t want to enter into? How many times do we expect God to do something amazing without wanting to give up our time, values, ideas? And stepping back, God’s idea seems really cool, pure, good, instructive. Because it’s who He is. But yet, your distractions and focuses heavily intervene.

I left with the intention of looking at the lake, taking a few artsy photos, talking to God as I walked, and returning in time for my 10:05 class. I did all of those things. The lake was gorgeous as always, but today, it was unable to be differentiated from the sky as many clouds covered the expanse over the water. Both the clouds and the water were together, and the outlines of the clouds glowed against the green land. It was also drizzling just in the slightest, and the air had a humid, fresh smell. Yellow and purple flowers presented themselves against the green and yellowing grasses and plants. Scenic. As I walked down a steep path to the lake front, birds and monarch butterflies covered the sides of the path. These birds didn’t move or fly away as I approached them, but instead, they aggressively plucked worms from the ground and walked through puddles.

As I finished going down the hill and transitioned to a path leading to a beach area, flies took the birds’ place. These flies surrounded me, landed on my jacket, my shoes, my hair, my hands. I want to pause to absolutely promise you I had taken a shower the night before and my clothes were freshly washed and dried just a few days prior. They were quite annoying, capturing my attention and essentially ruining the view. I became so caught up in swatting them or flipping them out of my hair. I was walking on this path right next to the rocks, venturing towards the beach area. Just prior to the beach area, there is a cross, made of two washed up logs, tied together with twine. It’s not perfect, the wood has defects and rests slightly slanted. But it stands. I went down with the intention of sitting there and praying, but I became incredibly reluctant after the flies seemed to follow me. So I took a photo, and walked back up to my dorm.

It’s funny isn’t it, how God works in ways so simple, but yet so clear and so personable. I knew exactly what God has trying to get me to notice through the abundance of flies. So many things capture my attention and prevent me from fulfilling my purpose. I think it’s harder for me to be in absolute awe of the close and intimate intervention occurring, just because I’m not prepared to give up things.  I consider myself to put people as a priority in my life over sleep, work, my needs, and lately, time with God. Even as I was walking down to the lake front, I was sending photos of the campus to friends. The first thing I did when I woke up this morning? Reply to everyone, everyone back home. Everyone I love. Everyone who I feel is deserving of my time. The thing I didn’t do when I first woke up? Read my Bible, pray, have quiet time.

My focus is placed in so many people and responsibilities, and I’ve realized I haven’t been making enough time for God. People especially have been taking a large amount of my time, and I’ve definitely deepened so many relationships, but most have been back home. I love people. I really do. I love people back home, my springhill fam, the roommates, and so many others. I love to love, love to learn, love to grow, love to know. People are really awesome. However, I’ve realized my focus is pretty much completely centered on my pals back in the 847, and it has really prevented me from fully submerging myself into the college life. It’s disrupted studying, bonding, sleeping, basically everyday activity. I’ve realized I need to be really intentional here at college if I want the same community here. If I want college to feel like home and to really grow in Christ, I need to limit my time talking through screens and focus on the actual humans around me. I need to devote morning time to devotionals instead of opening ten second snaps and responding to unread messages. I can be giving all of my time to growing in Jesus and loving the people I get to be with for only four years. You’re only in college once (hopefully?), and I really want to make the most of it. I want to look back on this first semester and remember a transformation occurring around October. I really do.

Tonight, a pal of mine came back and immediately wanted to tell me how God moved in her late night walk. I absolutely love how personable, individualized, and simple God can be. We walked down the same path, looked out at the same lake, and spoke to the same God. However, my story is one of an almost unwanted revelation, and hers was more of a night filled with God’s joy and presence. Both were things we needed, and additionally, they both included elements of the sky. For me, the fog engulfing the hills reminded me of how attainable God’s presence can be. For her, she shared how the clouds seemed to part at just the right angle, allowing her to see the stars clearly. Her sky depicted majesty, divine timing, and clarity. For her, clouds were a barrier; my clouds were a comfort. God is really cool. Like really really cool. Here’s a photo from today.

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friday, 9/23

I went on another walk today. This time, I made it down to the lake and sat on the rocks in front of the cross. I passed a few runners on my way down, and a student sitting in the grass, alone. Today, the sky was a soft blue and was littered with clouds. No flies. No birds. Just peace. The waters were calm. I sat on a rock directly in front of the cross, and I looked around for just a little while. Peace. I put on the song Good, Good Father, and I just sat in God’s presence and tried to focus completely on Him. It was funny, though; at one point, I noticed the boy sitting in the grass could see me. One of the first thoughts I had was what does he think of me? I kid you not, immediately, a fly flew in front of my head and into the area beyond. I don’t think God could be any clearer. focus. focus on me. i’m right here. i’m right here waiting to meet with you. please, focus. 

And so I did. I pulled out my bible app, and I continued in the psalms. I read psalm 50, highlighted a few verses I enjoyed, and moved on. Psalm 51 overwhelmed me completely. I read it out loud, as a prayer, and I don’t even know if I can describe how God rocked my world in the moment (ps go read it). After, I felt warm inside. I had a new purpose. I felt redeemed. As I sit here and type today, my “redeemed” bracelet rests on my left wrist. It’s not uncomfortable. It’s where it belongs. It reminds me I belong. It reminds me of how God has prevailed these past few months. God is so so so so good. Redeemed. New, complete. My joy is found in Him. My purpose is in Him alone. My iniquities are overseen, and He sees me as broken as I am. Me, someone who is unworthy of His love. I don’t really know how to explain it besides acknowledging a surrender to Him. It was like a burden was lifted from me. Clean. I gave Him permission to take it, and take it He did. I looked at the cross, the waves, the little clouds in the sky. I felt new. I felt pure. I felt humbled in my father’s presence. It’s almost like my mind and heart were transformed in the moment. By no means am I perfect or anywhere near even mediocre. However, I’ve decided making time for Jesus, resting in his daily sufficient grace, relying on Him for joy, and bringing my burdens to Him are all things I need to do. I’ve learned new life is attainable. I’ve learned redemption comes with surrender. I’ve learned authenticity and simplicity coincide to create something beautiful. Redemption is acceptance of the grace awaiting you. I can’t articulate all of it, but it is truly beautiful. New life is beautiful.

As I walked back up the path, I approached the boy sitting in the grass. I wasn’t going to, but I felt prompted to at least ask if he was doing okay. So I did. He told me he was just praying, and as I walked away, I began to wonder just how many people have looked out over the bluff and contemplated suicide. The rocks, the crashing waves, it’d be so easy. I wondered if he was. I just kinda stopped, and I prayed for God to bring meaning into his life. Maybe I’ll see him again, maybe I won’t. But it was a thought. Here’s a photo from today’s walk.

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saturday, 9/24

This morning, I woke up two hours before my alarm, with a sense of urgency on my heart. Go to the rocks. It was all I could hear and think about. I threw on a sweatshirt, put my hair in a pony tail and went on my way. It was only then I wondered why? why would I need to go to the rocks? I talked about the boy sitting in the grass on my last walk. maybe he was considering ending his life? maybe there was a runner, standing near the cross again? maybe I needed to pray for someone? I walked down the usual trail and looked around to see if anyone was near the edge. A few people were running, but they were all running together, laughing and talking. The boy wasn’t sitting there. No one was there.

So I sat at the cross. My heart was heavy last night after reading about everything in the world, as you maybe read. I had read some psalms before I went to bed last night/this morning(?), so I was on psalm 55 and 56 for today. At first, I read them through and then reread different verses which really stuck out to me. I read psalm 55 again, and yet again, God blew my mind. It was yet another prayer. It applied to me, right now, right here, even though David wrote this many, many years ago. You should go read it, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t. Basically, David calls out to the Lord and describes his heart as anguished, his thoughts troubled, his being distraught. His enemies slaughter around him and go about causing chaos. He says he would fly away if he could; he begs God to carry out immediate justice by ending the lives of his enemies. Finally, he ends his chapter with the words But as for me, I trust in you. I sat in awe for just a little while and thought about what it truly means. Trusting means surrender of your fears and your desires. It means going into uncharted territory and living out God’s purpose for you. It means constant reliance and relentless seeking, but it also means following through and obeying. Trust is hard. But as for me, I trust in God. Those eight words gave me a strong feeling of joy and peace today. I’ve actually just had so much joy these last two days. God is good. So so good. There is no one, no place, and nothing in the world which is capable of bringing me this joy. It is overwhelming and overflowing, and I am content. I am redeemed. I have joy. But most of all, I have a God who loves me and never fails to amaze me. Guys. God is so good. Here’s a photo of the beautiful sky. God is so so good.

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Today’s appreciation post goes to someone who has listened to any and every part of the journey I’ve been on these last few weeks. To someone who takes time to write letters. To someone who serves with complete surrender. To someone who is honest, admirable, and kind. To someone who pursues God more than earthly things. To someone who inspires youth. To someone who isn’t afraid to speak in front of a gym full of adults or a room full of junior highers. To someone who thinks deeply and is sometimes willing to share those thoughts. To someone who directs me back to God in everything. To someone who used to wear a neon yellow shirt, which had both a smiley face and also the words “Smile, God loves you.” Thank you for your time and genuine support. You’re a star.

xo.

Talk and Walk?

Passive Anger.

I read the news some days, and then remember why I don’t. It makes me sick. Our world is filled with such destruction and self ambition. There is not love, compassion, peace, gentleness or patience. Instead, people with no value for life, with evil intent, with little respect for those around them carry out their intentions. It makes me angry.

Death makes me angry. It makes me angry how little regard some people have for the gift of life. Life is a gift, and you should appreciate your own while celebrating and respecting others’. Today, multiple people were killed in a shopping center. Last week, yet another man was killed by a police officer. A few weeks ago, yet another police officer was killed by a man. We have no regard for life, and this destruction especially makes me sick. So many people have so much potential. So many people did nothing to provoke. So many people are just going about their every day life. Unexpected, unjustified, and completely unnecessary. Life has value. People matter.

Assault makes me angry. Brock Turner, who violently assaulted some woman behind a dumpster, is just one of many who have engaged in such acts. People live in fear, walking to their cars, taking the train, even going for a run. After such an episode, trust is usually completely destroyed. It’s not fair. It’s reckless, unnecessary, and absolutely disrespectful. People matter.

Racism and discrimination make me angry. I read something today where it talked about how many say “All Lives Matter” but then neglect certain stereotypes such as Syrian Refugees, LGBT members, those on food stamps, and those who believe in different religions. I’m not here to say I’m completely unbiased. I’m not. As a whole, our society has adapted this mindset. Sometimes, it’s extremely hard to see past a person’s sin and genuinely love them regardless. Other times, it’s hard to see past a person’s circumstances and take them in with authentic compassion. Life does matter. People matter.

I sit, angry at all these subjects of discussion. Our world has turned to chaos, and fear abounds. I’m additionally angry at myself for not doing anything. I’m angry at myself for living in fear. I’m angry at myself for following society’s mindset. I’m angry at my lack of love. I’m angry at my lack of urgency. Our world needs Jesus. It needs hope and a savior. It needs a purpose for life, a common belief, a passionate fire. Our world needs Jesus.

Where do you even start to be a light in such a world like this? How do you go about loving and relationally connecting with those who only aim to kill you? How do you see every person as a soul who needs Jesus just as much as you do? How do you realistically get up off the couch and live?

We have this hope, as an anchor for our souls, and that’s about the only answer I have for you. Pray for God to allow you to see specific ways in which you can serve and change your own community. Pray for trust and strength. Pray for your fears to be abolished. Pray for change only God can do. Pray for our broken world.

As all of this occurs, there is nothing my soul longs for more than Jesus. I cannot wait for peace, for restoration and redemption, for Heaven. My soul longs. My soul awaits this beautiful new life. It awaits joy and beauty. It awaits my savior, my refuge. There is nothing I want more than to run into His arms and experience His goodness. I long for Jesus amid all the yuck of the world. He is my hope, and the only hope in times like these. Oh, how my soul longs.

xo.

Passive Anger.

Live to Love.

Today’s post is going to be a short one, but I just want to remind you of the importance of loving the people in your life. If you appreciate someone, tell them. If someone has made a difference in your life, enlighten them. If someone has made you feel loved, thank them. If you think about an old relationship or someone you haven’t talked to in a while, reach out. If you see someone around you is drowning, offer your time, your advice, your love, your support. If you find yourself thinking about someone you love, tell them you love them.

When you’re with someone, be fully present. Listen to their words, their stories, their life advice. Listen and reflect on it. Try to remember what they tell you. Be fully present. Listen attentively. Savor their words. Write down their stories. Write down their favorite poems, memorable days. Save pictures from when they were young.

Make every effort to end conversations on good notes. Make every effort to beg forgiveness and return it when it is asked of you. Make every effort to love relentlessly and let people know they matter on a daily basis. Make every effort to reach out to those who need it. Give more than you take, but still allow people into your life – they want to hear your stories too. Give your love. Give your time. Sacrifice for the people around you. Sometimes, it seems like you’re the only one giving up your values, your time, your work, your advice. Sometimes, it is that way. However, there are or will be people in your life who will solely be pouring into you and sacrificing for you. When you sacrifice, it really does matter. When someone sacrifices for you, let them know it matters. Be generous. Be generous in your time, advice, love, hugs, money, laughter. When people offer to spend time with you, accept it, even if it means sacrificing something.

Life has value. People have value. People have depth. People are created in God’s image. People need love. People were built for community. People have things to offer. People will support you and love you even when you can’t seem to love yourself. People are beautiful, especially on the inside. People are wise. People can be trusted, even if you’ve experienced otherwise. There are good people in the world, there are others who need to see good people in the world. All people deserve to be loved.

Don’t take any moment for granted. Value life as something beautiful. Value people as intricate creation. See each day as an opportunity to love. Life starts and ends abruptly. Make your life matter. Strive to be what others may need. They may need love or hope; maybe they need you to take something off of their back and carry it on yours. Remind them they’re not a burden. Remind them you’re there. Remind them they matter, they’re not alone, they are supported. Strive to give what people didn’t even know they need. Be a light. Take every moment possible to invest in people and learn their stories. Value every moment.

You never know when someone’s last breath may be. You never know the last time you’ll hear their laugh. You never know when a hug will be your last. You never know which story may be the last they will tell. You may never greet them at the door again. You may never be able to receive or send another letter. You never know the place you’ll see them last, the time, the day. Life comes and goes. It’s quick, a breath of air, and then no more. It can haunt you, or you can overcome it. You can love with passion and cherish those around you. You never know when the opportunity will leave you, and you’ll be left with only regrets.

Live with abandonment and sacrifice. Live with passion. Live with love. Live with purpose. Live to the fullest.

xo.

Live to Love.

College Mems S1 E3.

This is another one of those posts – where I don’t want to just be complaining all the time, but I’m going to do a small rant and then end on a better note. Overall, the college life has been going pretty great. I got to talk to my brothers over the phone last night for the first time since I left in August. I officially made the worship band here. I’ve seen some really cool clouds and sunrises. I’ve made many friends. I’ve been more normal about eating. I have some friends coming up this weekend. I’ve received a package. I attended a worship service. I’ve been reading my psalms on a daily basis. I haven’t overslept or forgotten about any assignments. Like, honestly, college has been really good to me. I love my school.

However, I am personally feeling a bit like Eyore. I don’t really know why. Inside, my mind is exhausted, and I really struggled to see my purpose today. I woke up feeling nauseous and fatigued, even though I had gotten almost eight hours of sleep. I woke up feeling just dreary and inadequate. I attended my first class, at 8:05 in the morning, and I just sat there and went through the motions. All of today, I haven’t been present. I haven’t felt joy. I haven’t felt good about my work. I haven’t felt engaged in lectures. I haven’t retained anything I’ve learned. I cried today. I went and sat in the chapel on campus, in the back row, and just essentially yelled at/cried out to God. I wanted to know why. I wanted to know why there was pain. I wanted to know what would come of it. I wanted to know why. And even now, typing this out, it seems illogical of me to even question God’s works in someone else’s life. It just didn’t seem fair. I rested my head on the pew in front of me, and just sat there, fatigued, angry, sad, conflicted, overwhelmed, lonely. After a few minutes, my phone vibrated. Almost annoyed, I went to go check it, and it ended up being a friend affirming God’s work through me. I remembered for a short minute as to why I am here. However, as I stood back up, I put on my mask over everything running through my mind. I went upstairs and decided to go outside for a few minutes to look at the lake. The sun was shining, breaking through the clouds and reflecting off the blue, crashing waves below. There were marks from airplanes visible in the sky, and clouds covered the horizon and atmosphere. It was absolutely the most beautiful view of the lake I have seen during my time here. These few minutes were perhaps one of the few moments I felt joy today. He creates beautiful things out of the dust, and He is sovereign, even when hurt, loss, and pain seem to prevail. All my feelings of anger, resentment, disappeared. I was in awe. I just stood there, looking like a fool, and breathed in the fresh air and concentrated on the art looking back at me. I’ve included a picture of the sky, just because it’s absolutely lovely. No filter needed.img_20160915_091932992

I can’t say this awe and joy lasted for the rest of the day. After I returned to my dorm, stress and and slight desolation ensued. I read some Psalms, and it’s kinda funny how it’s been working out. I received a letter from my mom around two weeks ago, but didn’t open in until a few days ago. In one of her paragraphs, a three letter sentence stood out from all the others. Read the Psalms, it said. Today, I read Psalm 39, where David cries out to God, asking Him to hear him as his anguish increases and his soul looks for hope. On days I’ve been filled with joy, the majority of the chapters have reflected God’s goodness and mercy. On good days, there have been blue skies and clouds over the lake. On bad days, I’ve woken up to fog and dreary storms. I love storms (however). Do you ever realize how close the clouds are to the earth during foggy days? I imagine God draws near on days when I feel like I have come to the end of myself. Anyways, the Psalms and the clouds have really been extremely relevant to my life and ever changing moods these past few weeks, and I’m kinda liking loving it.

Perhaps one of only other moments I felt true joy today occurred while I was with my special friends. Extra chromosomes are irrelevant, disabilities are overlooked, appearances are discarded. Abilities are cherished, souls are loved, people are poured into until they feel like they matter. I sat at the end of the table next to her. She was a quiet one, but she kept stealing glances across the room. Jeremy, she said, was his name. Sometimes, I admire these kids. Their joy over the simplest things is absolutely admirable and often times contagious. To watch a girl my age fantasize over the perfect boy in her eyes brought me joy. The joy in her eyes traveled to her dimples when he came over and gave her a hug. She doesn’t see his disabilities. She sees his heart, his caring spirit, his authenticity. Then, someone else came over, and he politely shook my hand and asked me to dance with him to the pop music playing in the background. He explained how he’s been doing the salsa since he was eight, the tango since age nine, the cha-cha he never even had to learn, and could do the worm effortlessly and flawlessly. And most definitely he could. As he flopped on the floor, spun a girl around in circles, jumped as high as his hand could reach, my heart got just a glimpse of his joy. He doesn’t care what other people around him think of when they see him dancing. He dances because he is happy, even if he’s the only one doing it in a room of 50 people. Next, yet another unique human came to the volleyball game with us. He cheered for both teams, yelling out numbers, commenting on plays, constantly smiling and paying attention to forty girls who will probably never do the same for him. Yet, he doesn’t care about it. He lives in the moment. He doesn’t care about people’s responses or what they’ll do in return. He lives to live and love.

What if we tried to follow their example? Loving relentlessly, smiling at only each others’ presence, cheering each other on in their talents? What kind of world would we live in? I love my buddies. I love their joy. I love their spirit. I love their kind, empathetic hearts. I love their smiles. I love their appreciation for life. I love their bravery, commitment, but most of all their love. Their joy too. These young adults inspire me to be filled with the love and joy and passion they have for life. They look for abilities, they find joy in simplicity, they treasure you. I wish our world contained more people like this.

Today’s appreciation post goes to a lovely mother I know. She has her hands completely full, but it never stops her from giving all she has left. She makes killer tea, gives satisfying hugs, and takes time to listen to whatever you need to say. She is strong, strong in the Lord, strong when you’re not. She is patient, she is beauty, she is grace. She is as loving, as empathetic, as caring as a mother can get. She is a committed wife, one who puts her husband above herself whenever she has the opportunity. She is a servant, devoting as many hours as she can to the people around her. She doesn’t let her disabilities stop her, only uses them to spread the gospel to additional groups of people. She is hospitable and gracious. Above all, her dedication and love for God is contagious. She makes you want what she has. She inspires you to rest in Him during any and every circumstance. She puts young students above her. She devotes her weekends to being with them. She trusts them with her messy. She invests in them without ceasing, always a phone call away. She is lovely in every way, and I’ve been so blessed by her presence in my life. She continues to rest in God even though, this past week especially, life has thrown some pretty real stuff. Prayers always appreciated.

xo.

College Mems S1 E3.

I AM.

A few weeks ago, I went to Wisconsin for a week of camp, and it was absolutely amazing. Each morning, a few other girls and I woke up reasonably early to spend about an hour engaging in devotionals and listening for God. One particular morning, we were down on the dock, and the conversation turned from God to different topics, which was fine, but it definitely interfered with the focus of the morning. I decided to stay down while others went to breakfast because I didn’t feel satisfied. I felt like there was more. I sat on the decaying wood, looking out onto the lake. It was a foggy day, almost like the lake and its surroundings were inside a cloud. Since last year, God has definitely shown me His presence through an abundance of clouds in times where I doubted. The entire bus ride for the mission trip, there were clouds in the sky no matter our location or time of day. Even at night, the silhouettes of clouds were visible in the moonlight. The summer before at summer camp, there was a cloud in the same place over the same trees whenever I visited the lake. Clouds are God’s way of assuring me I am not alone and immersing me in His presence. As I sat on the dock, looking out into the foggy day, I decided I wanted to give God a chance to speak to me.

If you’ve been following my journey, you know for a while I completely missed God and created an outward appearance which honored Him, but deep down, I was searching, lost, and empty. Something I’ve really been trying to do is learning who God is. Remember how I talked about whale watching? I don’t just want to hear about God or hear about how He works in other people’s lives. I want to know Him. I want His plans to become mine. I want to learn His character. I want to reflect His love and goodness. I want others to see Him in me. As I sat there, I knelt down, and said who are you. For the next minute, I sat there, waiting. Moments later, my thoughts cleared. I couldn’t make sense of anything. The words I AM screamed inside my head. Excited, I waited for the sentence to finish. I AM.. your Abba Father? Worthy of your trust? All you need? How would it finish?

It never did. There was nothing more.

As someone who has a reasonably easy time locating passages in the Bible, I headed over to the book of Matthew, Matthew chapter sixteen. In this passage, Jesus asks Peter who he thinks the Son of Man is. Peter responds You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I read and reread the passage, intent on finding the words I AM. I had no access to the internet or anything to search where the appearance of I AM is in the Bible. I sat on the wood for a good ten minutes trying to find the passage, but unsuccessful. I knew God had described Himself as the I AM at some point throughout the Bible. I began to be frustrated, not understanding why I couldn’t find it. I was legitimately angry I couldn’t find it. I flipped quickly through all the gospels and tried to use the index. Finally, I found it. Exodus 3:14 “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” I found a really nice commentary later on which described what I AM truly means:

It is generally assumed that this is given to Moses as the full name of God. But perhaps it is rather a deep and mysterious statement of His nature. “I am that which I am.” My nature, i.e., cannot be declared in words, cannot be conceived of by human thought. I exist in such sort that my whole inscrutable nature is implied in my existence. I exist, as nothing else does—necessarily, eternally, really. If I am to give myself a name expressive of my nature, so far as language can be, let me be called “I AM.”

He is. He will be. He is sovereign. He knows all. He is ___. He is your peace in the storms. He is your joy in the dark times. He is there. He is present. He is loving. He is longing for you. He is a good father. He is the source of love and joy. He is all you need. He is worthy of your trust, your life. He is more powerful than your fears. He is bigger than your doubts. He is risen. He is savior, abba, yahweh. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. He is the beginning and the end. He is the Lord of Lords, King of Kings. All is created by Him, and without Him, there is no life. He is hope. He is your protector. He is a just God. He is your kinsmen redeemer. He is, was, and will always be.

He is all you need.

I’ve been constantly reminded to depend on Him and Him alone these past few weeks. College is definitely a blast, and I’ve already learned a lot. However, I have yet to find a community like the one built at home. I have yet to find a group of people who have the same passion for God as I do. I have yet to find someone I can physically go to when life isn’t going great. I have yet to find people to study with. I have yet to find people I legitimately trust. I’ve been depending on the people back home and God alone to keep me going. And trust me, I love you all, but it’s really cool to be isolated and be put into a position which requires you to fall on your knees and realize only one person is in control. Somedays, I wish I was only a fifteen minute drive away from your house. I wish I could see you twice a week. I wish I could give you a hug. I wish you were physically present. I wish long phone calls and letters weren’t our standard communication. Despite this, I’ve learned God has a similar stance. His arms are open, waiting for us to come to Him. He is not lonely; He just loves you so much. He wants your vulnerable parts. He wants to hear from you. He wants to speak to you in some way or another. Unlike your friends, He’s there all the time, even at 1:30 AM when you’re anxious to the point of illness. He listens. He is a good father. He alone is enough.

People are going to disappoint you. They’re going to mess up; they’re not going to be present when you think you need them the most. People cannot give you effusive joy. People cannot satisfy you. People will let you down. People will not even know they’ve let you down. People will sometimes enter into your deepest wounds, take a look, and then leave. I’m no different. I’m going to disappoint you. I’m going to be too busy. I’m going to not answer the phone when you have come to the end of yourself. I’m going to mess up. I will not be able to meet your needs. Not intentionally, by any means. People are broken. People make mistakes. People disappoint. People are not perfect. However, He is. He is perfect. He will not disappoint. He has a purpose for you. He hears your cries and sees your pain. He knows your pain. He knows your hurt. He knows your challenges. He knows isolation and abandonment. He knows worry and depression. He knows what’s hurting you the most. He also knows what’s ahead. He has great plans for you, ones to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE.

So when you are disappointed, when you are questioning everything, when you can’t move on, when you don’t see a way out, when you feel isolated and abandoned and alone and useless, when you feel like there’s no purpose, when you feel like you could never be used by God, when you feel like you are isolated and won’t be able press on, when you are questioning the future, when you aren’t sure where you’re called, when you feel like no one could ever love you, when you feel like you can’t trust anyone, when you think you can’t feel peace or joy or receive love, when you’re full of fear, when you don’t think you’re living up to expectations, when you’re sick and in pain, when you feel like you’re not good enough, when you doubt your ability, when you compare yourself to others, when you honestly believe you have no purpose, when you feel like giving up and quitting, when you feel like nobody cares, when you feel like you have too much to handle, when life relentlessly throws thing after thing at you, go to the one who is. I AM is there and has overcome. He is bigger than your doubts and fears and the lies flooding your head. He is there to let you know you are loved. He is there to let you know you have purpose and value. He is there to listen when there is nobody else. He is there to give you the peace your soul longs for, the love you’ve always hoped for, and the joy which seems so unattainable.

You are not a slave to your doubts or fears or unworthiness. You are not a slave to the lies in your head or the judgement of others. You are not a slave to the burdens you carry. You are not a slave to all the things you can’t seem to do. You are not a slave to your broken friendships. You are not a slave to death or homosexuality or guilt. You are not a slave to your body image or your biggest insecurities. You are not a slave to addictions or lust. You are not a slave to your past. You are not a slave to the world.

 

He can redeem you. There is a chance for you to leave all those things behind and experience new life in Him.

Earlier this summer, I purchased a simple bracelet which had the word “redeemed” on it. I wore it for only one day, and then I decided I wasn’t going to put it on my wrist again until I legitimately felt redeemed. What is it like to feel redeemed? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. I know freedom entails. Redemption comes from acceptance of God’s sacrifice for you. It involves leaving everything stopping you from reaching Him behind. It involves loving and serving and trusting. It involves dismissing things not from God and refusing to let them define you. It involves constant communication and complete surrender. This summer, I’ve publicly surrendered my life to Christ. I came up from under the water and felt a taste of new life. I’m not quite sure if I feel redeemed. To redeem is “to make (something that is bad) better or more acceptable, to exchange for money, an award, etc., and to buy back.” You and I have been bought with a price. God exchanged His only son to give you life. He wants to make you better, complete, more than just “acceptable.” Will you accept this offer of redemption? It’s waiting right there for you. It is within your reach, within the realm of your grasp, just sitting, available and free.

All He asks for is complete surrender and submission.

That’s all I have to say for today. I’d also like to let you know I have never felt more empowered while writing than while drafting this post. Words have never come so easily, thoughts appearing so clearly. I broke into tears a few times throughout writing, just because God is so good. While writing, I’ve been listening to my “quiet christian” playlist, and certain songs came on at just the right times. God is so good. Tonight, I firmly believe your lie is in here somewhere. Your lie, your struggle, your doubt. I firmly believe God wanted you to read this today. I believe He can speak to you right now. Redemption is real. He is real. He is good. Tonight was a rough night, but even so, He redeemed it. He took away my anxiety and replaced it with joy. Tierza Joy. He took my fears and replaced them with peace, my pain with restoration, my isolation with a feeling of acceptance and love.

Thank you for reading pals. Happy Labor Day.

xo.

I AM.

College Mems S1 E2.

Its Friday, and I have successfully completed one full week of classes, haven’t missed any homework assignments, and only cried once this week. I’ve also eaten ramen twice, made new friends, and read a few chapters of psalms since we last talked. I am absolutely exhausted, proud, and overwhelmed. I can’t say I’m filled with joy, but I have a certain peace of mind. However, I didn’t this morning. Or last night. So as usual, I’ll just write about it.

So earlier this week, I attended a job fair for on-campus jobs, and I was incredibly disappointed. Most of the organizations were only hiring upperclassmen (or just anyone who wasn’t a freshman aka not me), some were off campus (still questioning why they were there), and yet others weren’t even hiring at the time (again why even show up). However, after walking around, I found a guy who was hiring, who wanted my resume, and who scheduled an interview with me based on my availability. Turns out his conception of my availability and mine were completely different, and he kinda just shut me down right after the interview this morning. In all honesty, I don’t want a job first semester of college as I am adjusting to a new way of life; I’d rather start second semester and be able to manage all aspects of everything. However, as per my parent’s request, I applied for a few different jobs. Initially, I was relieved it didn’t work out. I realized I would have more time for my school work and making friends and managing independence. As I went back to my room, I realized I would have to tell my parents it didn’t work out, and I honestly felt like I would disappoint them. They both had congratulated me and told some family and friends.

I hate being disappointed. I hate people telling me one thing and doing another. I hate when trust is lost, and I hate moving on from disappointments. Probably one of my biggest problems with humanity is the fact that we disappoint each other really easily, really well, and half the time, we don’t give it a second thought. They could be big things, like breaking a relationship or not attending important events or something as small as a missed phone call during rough days. I hate being disappointed. Something I despise more than people disappointing me? Knowing I disappointed someone else. As I typed out the message I was sending to my parents telling them about my dilemma, I was overcome with anxiety and genuine fear I would disappoint them. Especially after sending the message, lies began to fill my head. Ones like why would they want to hire you anyway and they’re so disappointed and you really messed up this time. It was weird because I totally knew they were lies and had no authority. It was also weird because I didn’t even want the job in the first place. I knew they weren’t from God. I knew they weren’t true. For some reason, however, they consumed me. At that point, I decided to just go apply for another job, because maybe they’ll hire me and then my parents won’t be as disappointed. I scanned my desk, looking for anything to do.

I realized I hadn’t opened my jar yet today. My pals back home (who are absolutely amazing in so many ways) had given me a jar labeled 100 reasons why we love you. My fingers reached in, and I prayed in the moment, something like God make this one good. I need to feel better. I pulled out one, small, orange slip, and the word on it read deserving. The word alone really hit me. Some days, I don’t feel worthy. I don’t feel good enough. I don’t always feel like I even deserve to have the life I do and the friends I do. Somedays, I feel like I can’t engage in certain activities due to past events. It was then and there I realized two things. A, everything going on in my head was a lie, and I don’t need to give into lies because God’s words speak power. Secondly, I realized my friends are great only because they point me to God, and God is really the only one I need to be depending on. My friends can give me God’s truth and a safe community, but my joy and peace need to be coming from God. God is the only one who can calm the chaos inside of me and replace my depression with joy. After going to my classes, I came back to my dorm and told my roommates the news. Instead of pity, one of them enlightened me about a job opportunity she knew about. Rather than your typical office job, this job allowed you to be working with special needs children regarding areas like homework, dorm assistance, and their responsibilities on campus. It’s not official yet by any means, but my heart is totally there already.

Isn’t it funny how God sometimes uses pain to increase our joy and dependence on Him? If the first job had turned out, I wouldn’t have had a potential opportunity to work with beautiful humans. If the first job had turned out, I wouldn’t be as grateful for the second possibility. If the first job had worked out, I wouldn’t have had to depend on God this morning. Upon returning, I opened my email, and an additional employer had contacted me and asked me for an interview later next week. Since the job with the sneeds kids isn’t official, I’m scheduled and set, but I’m totally prepared to decline the offer and spend the rest of the year hanging out with my favorite kinds of humans.

He knows what you need. He knows what you want. He knows your heart’s desires. He wants you to cry out to Him and tell Him what you want. He’s an Abba Father, or a Daddy God. He doesn’t disappoint. He gives you grace when you disappoint, though calls you to a higher place and expects you to adhere to his commands for you.

Today in my Bible course, we talked about some really cool stuff, and I’m so content knowing I’ll be learning even more about God’s goodness and creation and everything. And to think Christianity is illegal in some countries gives me even more appreciation to have the ability to take this course in a college classroom setting.

I’ve also been reading a chapter or two of Psalms each morning and night, and I’m extremely content, but my joy is not quite effusive. However, today is Friday, classes are done until Tuesday, I’ve vacuumed my room, I’m cozy, I ate grilled cheese for dinner, and I get to sleep lots tonight. It’s a pretty good day overall. I also wore overalls today, so of course it was a great day.

Okay fam, this is all I’ve got for today. I’m predicting I’ll be pretty busy these next few months, so I’ll apologize in advance for my perceived absence. However, I will update you on my employment status because I’m sure you’re dying to hear the results.

much love.

College Mems S1 E2.