Why I Love Wednesdays

Overall, I really like Wednesdays. Growing up, I would go to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wednesday nights with my family and family friends to get 99 cent kids meals. In middle school, I would go to church on Wednesday nights. In high school, Wednesdays were late starts during the school year, and it meant I could sleep in or go to breakfast with important people. Throughout my freshman year, I would go to a nursing home every Wednesday evening to spend time with residents. I really like Wednesdays. I’d go as far to say that I love Wednesdays.

I’m currently working at a Christian youth day camp, and God is so, so good. There are so many precious moments which have occurred within the past five weeks, ones I hope to never forget. In fact, most of my favorite memories have occurred on various Wednesdays. Each morning and afternoon, small groups take place. Typically, there is one counselor and about 10 students in a group, except for Wednesday afternoon. Each Wednesday afternoon, the entire team (20 kids and 2-3 counselors) sit in a big circle, intently focused. In my experiences, the campers have open ears and quiet mouths. They carry a new respect. Their souls are hungry. They come with no expectations, just eagerness to know more.

These campers have just come from a session about the Gospel. They have just learned about God’s plan to save the world. Throughout the week, they have learned that they were created perfectly in His image; they have also learned that their sin separates them from God. They have learned that God loves them too much to let that separation continue. They have learned about some of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. In the session, they have just learned that there is still hope because God sent His only Son to give life to everyone. Everyone. Everyone includes the liars, the stealers, the murderers, the adulterers, those who dishonor their parents, those who are prideful, the sick, the weak, the bullies, and even those who do not love God. They, as cute and lovely as they are, fall into the category of sinners and are in desperate need of a Savior. I also am no different. They have learned that all they must do is accept this free gift of new life out of a love and longing for God. They have learned that God desires to make them clean and end the separation present.

The small group begins; one by one, each counselor shares his/her testimony. When it is my turn, I tell my campers that knowing Jesus has changed my life. I tell them about the hard days. I tell them about days when I felt alone, days when I felt loved. I remind them God has been there through it all. I tell them about the mission trips I’ve been on. I tell them of the day I got baptized. I tell them I have found new joy. I tell them I have found genuine community and overwhelming love. I share how I am redeemed and called daughter. Sometimes, confused expressions are present. Sometimes, there are smiles. Mostly, there is a spirit of yearning, yearning for more, yearning for more of Jesus. At the end, they ask questions. My favorite question, however, is how do I accept Jesus into my heart? 

Today, we told them to close their eyes. “Raise your hand if you have already accepted Jesus into your heart.” Six hands raise. “Raise your hand if you are unsure about if you have accepted Jesus into your heart or if you would like recommit your life to Jesus.” Four hands raise. “Raise your hand if you would like to accept Jesus into your heart for the first time today.” Eight. Eight hands raise. Eight hands which soon will represent eight new lives. Eight new brothers and sisters in the kingdom. Eight new stories of redemption and God’s goodness. Eight new children who can share Jesus with others.

After they raised their hands, we told them to take a minute or two and tell Him what was on their heart. Did they want Him to clean something specific out of their heart? Did they need to feel loved? Did they need to pause and thank God for this beautiful gift? Did they need to remove something in their life in order to make room for Jesus? We sat in silence for two minutes as mouths silently moved. Words, so many words, headed up to the One who hears each one at the same time. To the One who loves each child so, so, so much, To the One who promises new life. To the One who changes lives. To the One who has bought each of these campers at a price.

We pray.

God, we know we are sinners. We know we have messed up. We know we are imperfect; we know are hearts are filled with some bad things. We know that our sin separates us from You. But we also know that You love us too much to let that separation continue. We know that You have sent Your Son to take our place. God, today we accept that gift of salvation. We accept Your freedom and love. We accept You; we want You to be king of our hearts. Please forgive us. Make us clean. Lead us according to Your plan. We love you, God. Thank you for providing. Thank you for being a God of love. Thank you for being a God of mercy. Amen.

Today, we told them to continually think the words “yes, Lord” over and over in their head if they wanted to accept Jesus into their hearts this glorious Wednesday afternoon. Some heads were nodding, many lips were moving. My friends, in that moment, I couldn’t help but smile. It was a big smile, one of those goofy ones that wrinkles your eyes. It was a smile that couldn’t be removed. It was a smile of joy, of great joy. It was a smile of celebration of new life. I felt goosebumps up and down my arms; the chills filled my entire body.

You see, Wednesdays at camp are considered GOSPEL Wednesdays. GOSPEL literally means “good news” and refers to God’s beautiful gift of new life. GOSPEL Wednesdays encompass a beautiful, redeeming proclamation. An invitation, a challenge. A true testimony of goodness and grace. A chance for new. An invitation for new life. Of pure, relentless joy. Of faith and fellowship. Of celebration of God’s mercy. An oh, how I absolutely love GOSPEL Wednesdays. What a beautiful opportunity to share life!

I’ve been wondering why GOSPEL Wednesday only happens ten times each year. I wonder why GOSPEL Wednesday is often put on hold as camp ends and will only be resumed when camp begins again. I wonder why GOSPEL Wednesday doesn’t happen fifty-two days, or even three hundred and sixty-five days, each year. Where is my sense of urgency? Where is my boldness? Where is my passion, my eagerness?

I’m making a goal. This year, I want to make each Wednesday a GOSPEL Wednesday, and I want you to consider joining me. Fifty-two people each year will have the opportunity to hear a beautiful and honest proclamation of God’s invitation to new life. Honestly, I’m scared. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to be able to truly accomplish this goal. Then, my friends, I think about how short this life is. I think about the hopelessness in the world. I think of the potential I have. I think of the beauty of this goal and the impact it can have. Will you join me?

Each GOSPEL Wednesday, I am aiming to share some of my testimony. It doesn’t have to be long. During camp, we make a child-friendly, four-minute version. We briefly cover our life before Jesus, highlight important encounters with Him, and spend the most time emphasizing our life after accepting Jesus as our Savior. Then, we ask if they have questions. I’ve decided that it’s okay if nothing happens in that moment. It’s okay if people wrinkle their eyebrows at you or walk away. It’s okay if people don’t ask further questions. It’s okay if three thousand people aren’t saved instantly. Right now, I am yearning for boldness and intentionality. If they do ask questions, answer them as best as you can or point them to someone who can answer them better. I want to create opportunities for honest conversation. Then, pray for those people you have talked to. It’s really that simple.

Just some thoughts.

And oh, my friends, God is so good. He is a God of redemption and love. He is a God of justice, and He is to be feared. How awe-some is our God? How beautiful, how merciful, how patient, how absolutely incredible is He?

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

xo.

 

Why I Love Wednesdays

Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance

I was at church for Easter on Sunday, and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched a four-year-old child dance in the aisle as music played. He was jumping up and down, turning in circles, raising his arms, and smiling while doing so. Around me, people began to nudge each other and break into a smile when they saw his energy; it was infectious.

I see his reaction to Jesus’ resurrection, and I wonder why it is not also mine.

I think we all ought to dance a little more often. I think we need to celebrate new life with a little more passion. I think we need to express our gratitude with a little more abandonment.

I think it would be a beautiful experience to walk into a church and see a congregation dancing, raising their arms, and singing loudly. I want to see joy. I want to see surrender. I want to see new. I want to see Jesus be celebrated.

Easter is a great celebration. This life is a glorious celebration. Each new day, each new opportunity, each new breath is a divine celebration.

So let’s dance it out.

xo.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance

13 Reasons Why You Are Valuable

Cliché and unoriginal, but I feel it’s important. It’s been ten days since the series launched, and it’s already captured the attention of many, simply because it is applicable to many. I think it’s an important reminder of the value of life, and that’s one of my favorite things to remind people of. So below lies 13 Reasons Why your life is valuable.

1. You are you.

And there is no one else like you on this planet. No one can fill your shoes. No one laughs just like you do, and no one can be everything you are. You are unique, and you are special. You are alive, and you are breathing. You have left footprints all around this earth, and no one else has walked your specific path. You have your own perspective of the world; you are an individual. As Dr. Suess once said, “there is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

2. You have purpose.

Your breath proves this. You are alive, you are here, and you have purpose. You are continuing to breathe and live, and you have purpose. It may seem obscure, it may seem little, it may seem nonexistent at times, but you have purpose. Your life alone gives you purpose, and your experiences further shape your purpose. And hey, sometimes your purpose changes along the way. Sometime you have a flawed misconception of your purpose. Sometimes you need to define your purpose.

I once read a blog post called “How to Discover your Life Purpose in about Twenty Minutes.” In it, the author gives a simple exercise: open a blank document, write the words “what is my purpose in life?” at the top, and begin writing until one of your reasons makes you cry, or rather sob. The author listed over 100 before he found himself emotionally moved, and he noted a few reasons along the way which also resonated with him deeply. Maybe it won’t take you twenty minutes. Maybe it will be more like a week, a few months, or even a decade. You have purpose.

3. You are talented.

I wish I could tell you each individually how talented you are. Some of you are talented leaders. Some of you are talented at being bold. Some of you are talented at speaking out and standing up for your beliefs. Some of you are incredibly talented at loving others individually and often. Some of you are talented at serving relentlessly and bringing awareness to needs. Some of you are talented at guiding others and being someone they can rely on. Some of you are talented at art, music, drama, singing, and dancing. Some of you are so talented at making food. Some of you are talented at always being loyal and dependable. Some of you are talented in subjects like chemistry, physics, math, english, history, economics, psychology, and writing. Some of you are amazing at memorizing things and making people feel special when you remember little details. Some of you are so talented at listening and caring for others. Some of you are talented at remaining calm and bringing peace into situations. Some of you are talented when it comes to athletics. Some of you are talented at bringing joy with you and making others around you laugh. Some of you are talented at telling stories. Some of you are talented at knowing where you are and giving directions. Some of you are talented at understanding others and having empathy for them. Some of you are talented at asking questions. Some of you are talented photographers and snapchat users. Some of you are talented in being with different groups of people, like children, high schoolers, or the elderly. You are talented in so many more ways. I promise.

4. You are a blessing. 

You are a blessing to me, you are a blessing to those around you. I am thankful for you, and I am not alone in that. My friends, you bring unique qualities to the table. You bring “new” into my life and the lives around you. You bless others with your story, your presence, your passions, your talents; you bless others with you. Because you, just you and nothing more, are a blessing to many.

5. You are absolutely irreplaceable. 

You are a beautiful masterpiece. You are uniquely special. You are one-of-a-kind, a hidden gem, a precious treasure. You are precious, and your life is irreplaceable. Your life has such value simply because it is yours. Your life is not an accident; it is not to be lightly lived. You only live once. Your life has irreplaceable, incomparable value.

6. You are loved.

Oh, how you are loved. You are so loved. You are loved by me. You are loved by people in your life. Sometimes, it’s hard to feel loved. It’s hard to respond when people don’t react the way we expected or show love in ways we are not responsive to. It’s hard to feel loved when it seems that you are the only person reaching out. It’s hard to feel loved when you are alone. Trust me, I’ve been there. However, I assure you that you are incredibly loved and cherished. If you ever, ever doubt this, reach out. Send me a text that says “love me.” I’ll do my best. Talk to someone. Write down moments when you felt loved. Do not doubt this, because, oh, you are so, so, so loved. Words cannot express.

7. You are enough. 

I’m going to remind you that your life is enough. To put it simply, you are enough. You are strong enough. You are smart enough. You are good enough. You are pretty enough. You are thin enough. You are brave enough. You are funny enough. You are creative and good and organized. You are open enough. Your love is enough. My friends, you are enough. You are not perfect, and neither am I. But you, just you as you are, are enough. You are enough for me, even if you don’t think you are ___ enough.

8. You are an inspiration. 

Golly, I wish I could express how much everyone around me inspires me. So many of you inspire me to be a better person. I am constantly inspired to be more present. I am inspired to serve and listen attentively. I’m inspired to study more and laugh more.

I think we don’t tell people that they inspire us enough. Today, I was scrolling through social media, and I paused on a post of a girl who went to my private school. She’s five years older than me, and she was my book buddy when I was in first grade. Many years later, I watched her lead songs in chapel when she was a senior in high school. I watched her create community and make beautiful music. She’s been someone I’ve strived to be for the last twelve or so years. The post expressed an organization’s gratitude for her, and in the moment, I got consuming chills like never before. For some reason, I started tearing up and smiling huge because I knew for a fact she was changing lives. In that moment, I reached out to her and essentially told her “hey, you inspire me a lot, and God is doing something cool in you.” Sometimes, we don’t know the impact we have on people. I’ve admired her character from the distance for a majority of my life, and I’ve never brought it up until today.

I guarantee you inspire someone. My internet friends, you inspire me to blog more often and write better and be vulnerable. My friends back home, you inspire me to work hard and love well and create a community here at school. My friends at school, you inspire me to laugh more and make music and be me. My leaders and mentors, you inspire me to lead and listen and return the love I have been given. You all inspire me more than you will ever know.

9. You have passions that impact others. 

Your life is valuable because you have individual talents and desires. You have such distinct thoughts and values, and your passions have the capability of helping others. For those of you who want to go into health services, you have immediate impact on lives. For those of you who participate in #blacklivesmatter and women’s marches, you have the potential to impact lives around you. For those of you who desire to volunteer, you can bring hope. Passions as simple as music, sports, travel, food, exercise, animals, you name it, impact lives. Maybe you’re an inspiration to someone. Maybe you bring immediate hope. Maybe you spark passion in the lives of others. We shape each other, and your passions are capable of influencing the lives around you.

10. You have a voice. 

Your life has value because you have a voice, and this voice should be heard. You have stories and thoughts and ideas unique to you, and sometimes sharing your story is one of the best things you can do. Your voice has the ability to bring hope and love through the words you speak. You can encourage others and make them laugh. You can have deep conversations about the world. Your voice has the capability of bringing about new inventions and thoughts. Your voice deserves to be heard, not stuffed away and disregarded. You can use your voice to impact others. Do not be afraid to use your voice, because your voice matters.

There is something freeing about using your voice. It gives you a sense of belonging and contributing to society. Freshman year of high school, I didn’t talk all of first semester. At home, I wrote in my journal obsessively and refused to share my thoughts with others. Halfway through high school, I started this blog, and it became a way for me to indirectly communicate. Later, I became more comfortable sharing my thoughts and engaging with others. Through this url, I’ve seen just how much words carry value. Sometimes, certain sentences have spoken to people in ways I would never imagine while writing. Since then, I’ve learned using your voice is important. I’ve learned your thoughts have value. And my friends, your voice is important, and it gives your life value.

11. There are so many little things about you.

I love learning about people. I love being “compassionately curious,” as one of my leaders would call it. I love to ask people what their favorite scent is. I love to know how much ice you like in your water. I love to know what you’re passionate about and what you would do if you were more bold. I have a list of 60 questions on my phone to ask people just because I want to learn about them. I genuinely love learning about your quirks and story and the little things that make you you. These preferences and attributes give your life meaning. They shape you as a person, and they bring value into relationships as you begin to learn about one another.

12. You have a beautiful opportunity to change opinions. 

You are capable, and you have just as much potential as Abraham Lincoln did. Promise. I think sometimes we set our expectations too high. We expect that we can bring about world peace or create a extremely influential organization. Sometimes, we don’t need to do that. Sometimes it matters in the little moments and in your immediate community. You can make others feel loved by refuting common negative opinions about them. You can change outlooks on the world; you can bring hope and joy. You can give others a reason to live.

Last month, I was volunteering in a three-year-old room at my church, and there were about ten three-year-olds and one six-year-old. This six-year-old had down syndrome and was at the functioning level of a three-year-old. I was playing with one of the three-year-olds, and our conversation went a little bit like this:

girl: i don’t like when she’s here. she’s mean and doesn’t share and doesn’t listen to the rules.

me: hey now, did you know that sometimes she has trouble understanding what the rules are? just like how you’re learning to read, she’s learning the rules in the classroom. sometimes, we mess up, just like you mess up in reading, right? she’s still learning.

girl: she’s not like us though. she looks funny and acts mean. 

me: what? well first, i think she is still learning the rules and isn’t trying to be mean. she just doesn’t know what’s right or wrong yet! (girl: oh). and hey, i think she looks a lot like you! (girl giggles). how many eyes do you have? (two). how many ears do you have? (two). how many noses do you have? (muffled “one” among more giggles). 

This continued until the girl looked me in the eye and said “I’m going to go play with her now goodbye.” And for the rest of the service, she sat by her and played with her. Whenever the girl would hit her, she would say in a soft voice “that’s okay,” and proceed to give her a hug. 

You don’t have to change opinions about big things. You don’t have to bring every single person in the world hope. You don’t have to create unity of political beliefs in America. You don’t have to stop wars. You don’t have to be the next Socrates. That might not be completely attainable in the time you have here. Instead, be realistic. Focus on what you can do. You never know what you are capable of. Find value in influencing others and impacting the world.

13. Lastly, You are called son or daughter by the King of the World.

I’ve waited until now to bring Christ into the picture, because I want you to believe your life is valuable even if you don’t believe in Jesus. I respect that, and your life matters equally as much as the lives of people who do believe in God. You are valuable. Extremely valuable.

When we bring Christ into the picture, our value starts to come from Him, instead of from our own selves. He is the one who made us. He is the one who gives us purpose, and His purposes give us life. He gives us talents to use for Him. He calls us a blessing and promises to care for us. He made you unique and wants you to be His son / daughter. He loves you more than you are capable of understanding, and He will love you unconditionally with a perfect love that is incomprehensible. He says you are enough and you don’t have to do anything to earn that title. He gives you the capability of inspiring others. He places others in your life so you may impact them. He created every little quirk, passion, and desire of yours. He created the world, and He created you in it intentionally. He is the reason you are here, and He is the only way you will find joy, grace, and love in this life. All good things come from Him alone.  He is the reason you are here. He is the best reason for you to live your life.

So tonight, if you are searching for answers or value, seek Him. I love you all dearly, and I hope you will always remember that your life has incomparable value.

xo.

13 Reasons Why You Are Valuable

College Mems S1 E7: Jumbled Paragraphs

Hello, hello. I’m sorry it’s been so long. I’ve just made it through two weeks of absolute chaos. Utter mayhem. In the past two weeks, I’ve had to register for next year’s classes (which is still in shambles, I’ll expand later), choose next year’s rooming situation, take eight quizzes, take five exams (four in one week), give a ten minute presentation, attend two flute lessons and six rehearsals, write three papers, and give two concerts. But I’m here. And I’m alive and not too sleep deprived, but even so, I haven’t had much time to stop and just be.

However, throughout this disorganized season, I’ve been constantly reminded of God’s presence. If you know me, you know I love clouds. I absolutely love clouds. I don’t really have one specific reason why I love clouds. I think they’re beautiful, I like how they are always changing, and I see them as a tangible way to imagine God’s presence. Sometimes, it’s strong gusts of wind to grab our attention; other times, He speaks in soft, gentle breezes. Almost three years ago, I wrote about how God is like the clouds, constantly moving in everyday life though we rarely slow down long enough to notice. If you focus upwards for a minute or so, you’ll notice the clouds are gradually dancing across the sky and changing shape, sometimes color. God is always moving, but we’re often too busy to stop to acknowledge His presence. These last two weeks have been extremely busy, but I can honestly say I’ve been reminded of His presence so often. I’ve woken up to snapchats of clouds from friends. I’ve looked out the library window to see a sky overflowing with clouds. I’ve gotten up at ungodly hours to go watch a foggy sunrise. It’s been a beautiful reminder of His peace and perfect nature covering and overcoming my stress and shortcomings. I’m including some of my favorite cloud photos, simply because they are lovely.

 

In my spare time (ha), I went back and read through some of my older posts. This will be my seventy-second post, and it’s amazing to go back and compare old thoughts and habits to who I am today. This url has absolutely changed my life. It’s given me the opportunity to encourage others. It’s become a release. It’s taught me the value of vulnerability and community. It once gave me an opportunity to speak to over three thousand people about how cool God is. I’ve made some really amazing internet friends, and it’s sparked conversation. Occasionally, I get “you made me cry” texts, and honestly, I just want to let you know I am thankful. I am so thankful for your love and support, and I’m just really blessed.

A few weeks back, I was scrolling through a textual study of 1 Corinthians 13, and I really liked this:

 “Love says that I am, essentially, exactly what every other human being is. On the universal scales, there is no difference at all.  None. My soul is just as putrescent, just as sinful, just as corrupt as every other soul. In the realm of identity and difference, there is only identity. God alone is different. The subtlety of my arrogance is to not see my identity with all that is human. And when I do not see my identity, I cannot recognize the difference. Love reminds me that the chasm between my Creator and myself is infinite, but the chasm between me and every other human being is insignificant.”

Sometimes, I find myself forgetting my status as a human. And I just thought this was a beautiful, well worded reminder to constantly love. We’ve been talking about the five love languages (quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch) in my Communications class, and I’ve been reminded of the importance of loving people individually. Not everyone’s primary love language is the same, and some people may express their loves in ways which don’t coincide to your personal primary love language. I’ve been constantly reminding myself of this, because deep down, I want to be a person who expresses my love for people in extremely individualized ways.

I’ve been realizing how poor I am at adequately loving people. Especially in the past two months, I want to acknowledge my disordered priorities and my impeding bitterness. Ever since I’ve gave up instagram, I’ve realized how shallow a majority of my relationships are. There haven’t been many times I’ve felt this alone. I’ve been learning that my expectations for others are unattainably high, and I become disappointed when they aren’t lived up to. I’ve been learning that I try to live up to others’ expectations and I often fail. I’ve been learning that I often find my self-worth in others. If I am not good enough for him, I must not be good enough. If I cannot be what they need, I must not be needed. I’ve been learning that I am an incredibly selfish being at my core. I love serving people, but sometimes I serve people to gain their praise, their friendship, their affirmations. Deep down, my motivations are imperfect, even if my actions bless others. I’ve also been learning that I get incredibly annoyed when my standards are not reciprocated. Annoyed may be lightly used. I was mad this week, incredibly mad, and I honestly don’t remember the last time I’ve been “mad.” I don’t get mad. I don’t let myself get mad. Usually, I’m able to laugh things off and call it a new day. If I’m being honest, I’m still mad. I’m mad because I don’t feel loved by those I try the hardest to love. Lastly, I’ve also been learning that it’s okay to let people walk away, even if it’s not what I want. And as they walk away, it is important to be present when they finally walk back. I’m learning. I think it’s a good spot to be in, but parts of me just want to skip ahead to the “I learned” phase.

On a brighter note, I’ve truly been finding community here at college. I’ve been asked to lead a band next year, and I’ve been continuing to meet new people and learn about them. I’ve started eating dinner twice a week with a wonderful group of people, and overall they’re really just a blessing to me and it makes me happy. I’m really happy here, and I’m happy I can say that with confidence.

A few months ago, I asked a lot of people what they would do if they were more bold, and it was really neat to see people be challenged when giving their honest answers. I love learning about your thoughts, your drive, and your unique opinions. This month, I want to ask people what they are passionate about and why. I want to remind you of purpose. So comment, be involved, speak your mind. Don’t just be a bystander.

Happy Palm Sunday!

xo.

College Mems S1 E7: Jumbled Paragraphs

A Letter to My Beloved

You, you who are reading this, you are “My Beloved.” This is a message from the one who calls you beloved, worthy, chosen, holy, and redeemed.

My Beloved, you may not know me, but I know every intricate detail about you. I know your thoughts, your desires, your fears, your plans, your struggles, your pride, your everything. You are My Beloved, and I am your Abba. This means I am your Father. And unlike your father here on earth, I am a perfect Father. I am the perfect Father, and you are My Beloved.

My Beloved, I want you to know how much I love you. Before you walked this earth, I sacrificed my only, precious, oh so beloved son in exchange for your life. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He walked this earth and spread the good news of my love and my promise to give you new life. I allowed Him to die in order to enable you to live. It was an awful, painful, humiliating death. He was beaten and whipped, hung naked on a cross, mocked by everyone who gathered. His body was broken for yours. He endured this pain so you wouldn’t have to. This is how much I love you. I have given my only son in exchange for your life. I promise to give nations in exchange for you. Oh, My Beloved, I hope you can begin to understand how much I treasure you.

My Beloved, I now give you opportunity for new life. This new life is sweet. It is good. It is the best life possible. I don’t mean it will be easy all the time. But, I promise you I will be with you when it isn’t easy.

Oh, My Beloved, if only you could realize I am here. I am here, and I am here to cover you. I cover your weakness with my strength. I cover your loneliness with my presence. I cover your fear with my power. I cover your shortcomings with my perfect nature. I cover you with everlasting love; I sing over you while you sleep. I delight in you.

My Beloved, why can’t you see me?

Here I am. I am in the clouds, I am in the breeze. I am in the sparkling snow, the panting dog, the breathtaking sunset. Here I am, in the chaos of life. I am in the little things. I refresh you with storms and water overflowing. I show myself through the bright colors on fall days.

My Beloved, I created you. I created you fearfully and wonderfully; I created you in my image. I created your gifts, your personality, your passions. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are enough simply because you are mine.

My Beloved, I am the source of life. I give you breath; I sustain you. I uphold you. As you pass through deep waters, I will not let you sink. I will be with you. You will not be overwhelmed. When you pass through the fire, you will not be consumed. I will protect you.

My Beloved, you are mine. I long for you. I made you beautifully, and I want nothing more to be invited into your life. My arms are open. I am patient, and I long for you to run to me.

My Beloved, I want you to seek me on your worst days. I want you to feel my perfect presence when you feel alone and afraid. I want to comfort you as you cry. I want to bless you with simple joys. I want you to trust me. I want to be your number one. I want you to believe I am greater.

My Beloved, I am greater. You prioritize so many things; you constantly juggle more than you can hold. You listen to everyone else around you as they realize they are drowning in this world. You overload yourself with classes at school. You focus on the appearance you create online. You seek after romantic love, unsatisfied with your relationship status. Oh, you seek after all the wrong things. You seek material objects, control, stability, perfection. You strive to fit the expectations society give you. Oh, My Beloved, why do you waste your time?

Oh, My Beloved, can’t you see? Here I am! I am greater than everything you seek. I am in control. I have a great plan for you. I give you love overflowing. Seek me with your whole heart, and I have promised to give you what you desire. My Beloved, I want you to desire me first. I want you to desire me first and trust that I am enough to satisfy all your other desires.

My precious and worthy child, I expectedly await for you to seek me. My Beloved, come to me as you are. Come broken, weary, and hurt. Come from wherever you have been. Come to me with everything you carry. Come to me. Then,

Lay down your burdens.

Lay down your fears.

Lay down your doubts.

Lay down your shame.

Lay down your pride.

Lay down your need for control.

Lay down your expectations.

Lay down your tears.

Lay down your past.

Lay down your regrets, your mistakes.

Lay down your worldly desires.

Then lay down, and rest. Rest in my perfect presence. In my presence, you will find peace. You will find joy and delight. You will find me. I am a God of love, and My Beloved, I adore you. I cover you with mercy and grace. I will give you hope. I will give you a future. I want to redeem you and make you new. I want to give you new life.

My Beloved, lift up your face. Taste and see that I am good.

I am good when you are faced with tough decisions. I am good when you are in the middle of heartbreak. I am good when you feel alone. I am good when you are barely hanging on. I am good when life is going well. I am good when you are overwhelmed. I am good when you are anxious and depressed. I am good when you want to give up. Through it all, I am still good.

Like a shepherd watches over his sheep, My Beloved, I will watch over you. I will take care of you. I will lead you back to me. I will restore you.

My Beloved, I love you. And I will always long for you. I long to be your Abba, your perfect Daddy. Oh, how I love you. Run to me child, run hard.

Love, 

your perfect Abba Father, your Daddy God.

A Letter to My Beloved

College Mems S1 E6: Things I’m Learning

It’s just about that time of year. College choices. A variety of emotions accompany the word “college.” For some, it’s fear and doubt, others joy and high expectations. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it’s okay. It’s okay to be unsure, and it’s also okay to have a plan set in stone. I’m about halfway through my second semester of college, and I still don’t have it all together. I’ve wanted to compile a list of things I’ve learned at college for a while, but the problem is I’m still learning. So here’s a list of things I’m learning.

  1. Resting. Rest sometimes seems impossible. There’s always more to study and more social events to attend. I’m learning the joy of power naps, and I’m also finding more and more value in sleeping more than seven hours a night. It’s perfectly acceptable to stay in the library until 2:00 AM a night or two every week. You will have late nights, and you will anxiously await the day you can sleep. You may find yourself awake for twenty hours of the day, and some days you may have classes for six to seven hours. Even so, you will soon realize you are not invincible. Rest is vital, and it’s not exactly optional. Choose your all nighters wisely.
  2. Failure. You’re going to fail. You may fail an exam or you may fail to meet the goals you’ve set. People will also fail you. Doubt often accompanies failure. Maybe you’ll doubt yourself, your major, your friends. It’s okay to doubt. It’s not okay to make impulsive decisions based on your doubt. Don’t change your major because of one failed quiz. It takes work, but you can recover. Don’t doubt someone’s appreciation for you because of something they say or do. It’s really easy to overanalyze and jump to conclusions. Everyone carries their own baggage, and sometimes their stress will be put on you. Finally, don’t doubt your ability. You are capable of overcoming even when it seems impossible. Drink some coffee, smile, and rise. (also you’ll probably end up drinking coffee if you didn’t before college. i didn’t think it could happen. it did.)
  3. Eating. There are so many different approaches to this topic. Some people have problems with remembering to eat, others have issues with making time to eat. Others eat enough, sometimes too much. Even others compare themselves to their peers and decide to stop eating. Eating healthy in college is hard. Keep produce in the fridge and bring sandwich bags and pack small snacks for busy days. If you find yourself struggling with an eating disorder, tell someone. Tell anyone. It could be a friend from home, a roommate, and often, the counselor’s office is pretty confidential when approaching these situations.
  4. Stress. You will be stressed! Duh. Your hair will fall out. Your body will be exhausted. Your mind will be torn in many directions. It’s important to remember to breathe. Focus on what you can do. Focus on the task at hand, not the task ahead. Pray. Get a hug. Take a walk. Take a shower and cry in the shower. Organize something. However, avoiding your task list because you’re overwhelmed isn’t going to do much for you. Write down everything you need to do and go down the list. Anyway, you’re going to get pretty good at managing stress. Good luck.
  5. Patience. I live with eight other girls in a suite originally designed for six people. The nine of us share two toilets, one shower, three sinks, one fridge, a microwave, and a toaster. We don’t have a common living area. Something I’ve learned is the importance of loving patiently. You may be the one to clean up after everyone. You may be the one to massage everyone’s feet and get rid of their headaches. You may be the last one to shower. Your food may not fit in the fridge. Your roommate may turn on the lights when you’re trying to nap. The room next door may keep you up an extra hour when they blast music at 1:00 AM. You may need to take care of the hairball resting on the floor of the shower. You may be the one to vacuum your room every. single. week. You may buy all the soap and cleaning supplies. You may need to listen to people. Patience. People deserve to be loved, and living with strangers is going to be challenging at first. If you need a rant, call someone back home. Love patiently.
  6. Community. I am so blessed to go to a school which values faith and openly advertises bible studies, chapels, and worship nights. Go. Get involved. Find a small group to meet with every week. Get to know the people on your floor. Don’t sit next to your roommate if you have classes together. Meet new people. Be bold. If you don’t, someday you’re going to come to the realization that everyone around you has already made their circles. It’s going to hit you hard. Everyone stresses getting involved. It’s so cliché. But it’s true. Start from the beginning, because it’s a whole lot harder to work up the courage halfway through second semester. Embrace community, and learn to be authentic and vulnerable with people. They may just become your lifelong friends.
  7. Love. Some people go to college and find the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. Some don’t. Some do during their senior year. Find peace with where you fall. If you do fall in love, yay. If you don’t, yay.
  8. Home. Your home will soon become your dorm room. Your dorm room will become your safe house, but you other days you will avoid it at all costs. Your family will miss you. Some friendships from home will last, others won’t. It happens. And it’s sad. But, you can be incredibly intentional about maintaining them. I love to ask how I can pray for my friends back home. It allows me to be in communication with them and remind them I care. When you come home for breaks, spend many moments with people you love. Also, when you come home for breaks, you’re going to want to go back to school immediately. When you come back to school after break, you’re going to want to go home. Some days, you won’t want to be in either place. That’s normal.
  9. Class. Go. To. Class. It’s important. You’re paying big money for this. Give your professor a reason to like you. Get those participation points. Appreciate the opportunity you have to learn. 8:00 AM’s aren’t cool. Neither are three hour long night classes. Either way, you need to go. Learning is neat, and often, your professors are actually really interesting people. Maybe the topic isn’t, but some profs will tell you about their personal life. Go to their office hours if you have questions. Try to get to know them as a person. My anatomy and phys prof used to be a Latvian Rhythmic Gymnast. Who knew.
  10. Faith. Your faith becomes up to you in college. It is up to you to make time for Jesus. It is up to you to find a church. It is up to you to watch sermons. It is up to you to find time to pray. It is up to you to find a community who will help you foster your faith. Take initiative. Run towards God. Go on prayer walks. Ask how you can pray for your roommates and friends. Find a few people you can have really deep theological conversations about. Keep a prayer journal. Jesus is the best thing you can run to in college. It’s also never to late for redemption. You will go through dry seasons, but run back to Him. He wants you and awaits you with open arms. Make goals of areas you want to grow in your faith. Set high expectations.
  11. Time. Time goes by so fast. I remember the day I moved in. I remember my first audition, my first class, my first chapel. Cherish these moments. Write down something happy each day. These years are going to fly by. Be present, and enjoy your crazy stay.

To all my anxious seniors, breathe. Whatever you end up choosing is going to enable you to learn. You will discover new things about yourself, and you will experience new things each day. Pray, but also know God will use you wherever you go. You’re allowed to be bold and ask for confirmation. Even after you get to school, it’s important to ask for God’s reaffirmation. Sometimes, His plans change. If there’s something on your heart, run towards it. It’s going to work out. So breathe, resist senioritis, enjoy your last days of gym class and bell schedules, take those AP tests, go to senior prom, and trust that it’s going to be okay.

xo.

 

 

College Mems S1 E6: Things I’m Learning

College Mems S.1 E.5: Control

I like order. I like having organized drawers and folded laundry. I like when all my socks have a pair. I like when all my pencils are facing the same way. I like when all my shirts are hanging the same way. I like when all my dishes are clean at the same time. I like when my binders don’t have mess of papers stashed in the front pocket. I like when my trash can is empty. I like when the color of my notebook matches the color of my binder.

These preferences don’t result from OCD. I don’t think I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I think it’s a little more like Obsessive Control Disorder. I don’t necessarily feel overwhelmed because messes are present. Rather, I like to rid of disorder because I am overwhelmed in other areas of life. Cleaning and organizing are things I can control. I can control when I do my laundry, vacuum my room, sanitize my desk, make my bed, organize my drawers, etc. I like order, but I like order because I can control it. I like being in charge and feeling responsible. I like feeling accomplished and seeing the work of my hands. I like walking into an organized environment which I have created.

We all like control. When life gets out of control, we tend to wear a mask until it gets torn off our faces, revealing fear, sorrow, pain, anger, addictions, and insecurities beneath. I’m extremely guilty of this. I’m guilty of wearing a mask which tells the world “I’ve got it all together, look at me!” I’m guilty of typing “I’m okay,” feeling torn between wanting the recipient to believe me, but also wanting to be seen. I think some of it comes from not wanting to be a burden to others. Most of it, though, comes from a desire to be seen as strong, capable, and enough.

So right now, I’m going to be honest and tell you I’m just getting by. I’m physically exhausted. I’m emotionally drained. I’m spiritually fatigued. I’m mentally overwhelmed. Tuesday was one of the longest days I’ve had in a long time. I had two exams, two quizzes, and two papers due, a flute lesson, rehearsal, and a large load of work due for Wednesday. I also spent thirty minutes crying on the phone with a friend because of some news I received. I didn’t find time to pray or spend time reading my bible yesterday, and I haven’t in quite a while. I’m overwhelmed. Right now, my desk is sanitized, my laundry is all hanging the same way, the rest of my laundry is all folded (missing two socks), my dishes are done, my trash can is near empty, my floor is vacuumed, and every single drawer is organized. Even my mail drawer. After cleaning and organizing everything, I am yet again reminded I still have no control over life. Cleaning didn’t fix any of my circumstances. It just made everything appear in order.

Isn’t it crazy how fast God can intervene and remind us of our impotence? My friends, we are not in control this life. We do not tell the sun to rise or command the sea to be calm. And sometimes, it’s really hard to accept. It’s hard to accept we are weak, incapable, and living in chaos. In times of confusion, heavy burdens, and long days, it is crucial for us to give our concerns to the one who is in control. It helps to know that God is good (ps. 136:1). He is always good. It also helps to know He promises us His plans are the best plans. He intends to give us a hope and a future (jer. 29:11). Lastly, it helps to know you don’t have to walk alone. You are a child of a God who loves you and promises to go with you through deep waters (isa. 43:2). It’s easier said than done, but we don’t need to be overwhelmed, to fight for control, or to do it all by ourselves. Let go. His arms are open, and He is more than capable of carrying it all. Unlike humans and coping tactics, He doesn’t disappoint. He also loves you. A lot.

In all my years, I’ve never participated in Lent. Last year, I did a devotional each day during the forty days, but I didn’t give up anything aside from time. This year, I’m giving up instagram and snacking, and I’d love for you to keep me accountable for it. I also want to remind you that Lent isn’t a second opportunity for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a time to create space for God to show up. By giving up things which are of great importance to us, we create room for Him and remind ourselves that He is more deserving than anything else. This year, I’m giving up and expecting to encounter God in new ways. I’m giving Him control over my circumstances and desires. I’m ready to let go.

xo.

College Mems S.1 E.5: Control