Real

“Oh craaaap, why did I just say that?”

“Is it seriously that late? I’ve gotten nothing done!”

“Please tell me I took my phone out of my pocket. Please tell me it’s not in the wash…”

Let’s be honest. These aren’t exactly phrases you’d typically utter on your average Instagram post or blog. They’re not the kind of thoughts you want to tell the whole blogosphere. As humans, we typically don’t stand on street corners with a megaphone yelling “Hey—guess what?! I’m a hot mess!”

But this is the stuff of real life, isn’t it? They’re the kind of thoughts we think in our everyday real-as-can-be-lives. They’re the kind of things we vent to our best friend about, but not the whole world. And they’re sure-as-heck not the moments we put in a scrapbook to remember ten years from now. They’re messy. They’re embarrassing. They’re the kind of moments you’d find on AFV.

A few weeks back, one of my good friends and I were taking note of this. She noted how on social media, our lives look perfect even if our real lives are falling apart. We post about the relationship but not the breakup. We post about the success but not the failure. We post about the final product but not the hours dying with a glue gun ready to call it quits. We like things photoshopped and auto-tuned. We like things to be perfect.

Now, to be clear, this is not a urge to post your entire life online. Many of us are private people would prefer to keep things between just a few close friends. That’s perfectly fine. Normal even. Nonetheless, there is one person who we should never keep our most embarrassing and painful blooper moments from.

God.

Unfortunately, this can often be far too easy to do. For many of us, being real with God can feel vulnerable or even downright scary. We worry whether we sound church-y enough. Whether we have the “right” kind of problems (as if there are any). We worry God will end up face palming and shaking His head as we give our whole laundry list of all the things stressing us out. But the truth? God already knows.

God knows about that dream you’re worried will never come to be. God knows you’re worried about schoolwork and grades and getting into a good college. God knows about that guy that’s been on your mind more than you care to admit. If you’re older, he knows about your marriage, your finances, and your children. He knows us at our high points and He knows us just as well at our lows.

If you look to the Psalms, it’s clear that David, who was “A man after God’s own heart”, was brutally honest with God. He showed a full range of emotion—from praise, to frustration, to sadness, to anger, to joy. Psalm 69 is a perfect example of King David’s honesty, as it reads…

Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help my throat is parched. My eyes fail,
looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.” Psalm 69:1-4

Throughout Scriptures, those with the strongest faith were the ones who were the most real with God, as Paul laments “doing what he does not want to do and not doing what he should do” (Romans 7:15) and Thomas outright asked Jesus for evidence of His Resurrection (John 20:25).

There’s nothing that we can ask or express to Gd that He doesn’t already know.

He is always someone we can feel safe to be real with—even with our most un-instagram worthy moments.🙂Unknown-1

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A Poem For Easter

Love Saves

Darkness, darkness aluminates the night

Scattered, battered, running in fright

Do you know him, do you see Him, hang from the tree

No I do not, said Peter, not once but three

Blood flowed, love showed, the sky glowed

Emptiness, emptiness, hovers over the land

As Jesus cries from the cross why has Thou forsaken this man

Who hangs in agony worse than we can know

All the while His love still continued to show

Arisen, Arisen, said the angel to they

Not on day one, day two, but day three

From the lips of angel He directed they

To see the empty tomb where Jesus no longer lay

Because it is finished, don’t you see here now

Love, love has saved us here, taken a bow

Because nothing could keep Him down, not a grave

Finally, with a risen Savior we’re saved

Not by mere man, or a hero in cape

But a God who loved us all, who has changed the day

This is why we celebrate, you see

Because of God’s love, poured out for you and me

Happy Easter everyone! I hope y’all have a great day! 

 

 

 

God Likes Us

Every once and a while, we stumble upon something that jolts us in a way that we didn’t expect.

For me, this happened recently, at my local Publix.

Like on many occasions, as we were checking out, my eyes wandered off to the magazine section, and even though I know most of the stuff over there’s complete trash (not to mention gossip), there’s always a weird impulsion to see what’s going on in good ole’ Hollywood. And, as I looked in the magazine area, I caught a quote by William Paul Young that caught my attention on a religious themed magazine: Not only does God love us, He likes us too!

For those of you who don’t know, William Paul Young is the increasingly popular author of The Shack, and whatever you think about The Shack, you have to admit, that’s a pretty insightful quote. And tonight, as I lay awake dealing with a particularly stressful OCD episode, I’m reminded of that quote.

I can’t speak for everyone, since I am only one person, but for me, this is too often an easy thing to forget. I know God loves me, as well as every other person in the world He created. And as a devout youth group attendee in my early teen years, I know literally every lyric from David Crowder Band’s ever-popular song “How He Loves” (“Ohhhhhh how he loves us oh, oh how He loves us…how He loves us oh!” Sorry, I had to do that). Nonetheless, while I know that there’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love, I often fall into the trap of believing there’s something I have to do (or not do) or say (or not say) or a way I have to act (or not act) to earn God’s “like“.

I’ve been a perfectionist pretty much since childhood, so I’m sure that plays into it. I have always strived for the best grades, to earn all of my teachers’ approval, and be the perfect Christian girl who has it all together (even when on the inside I know I’m not and I know I most certainly don’t). When I fall short it’s often an extremely aggravating experience for me and I tend to be far more dramatic about it than I should. I suppose in the back of my mind somewhere, I struggle with this false illusion (or delusion) that I can somehow be good enough and earn enough brownie points to earn God’s like. And as much as the Bible, churches, and evangelical culture tell me otherwise, old habits can be hard to break. Furthermore, this delusion can get all the more frustrating during an OCD episode, when my thoughts seem to be running in every sort of crazy direction with no control on my part—and I end up asking God for forgiveness 15 billion times for some frightening heretical thought or another.

As an OCD struggler, the lyrics to an old Anthem Lights song often ring so true for me.

Before I even know it I’m right back at the start. I’m doing what I hate and breaking my own heart“.

I think each one of us struggles with something. For me it’s OCD and perfectionism. For you, it may be something different. Maybe for you, it’s a struggle with an eating disorder, or a battle with depression. Maybe it’s self harm, or a temptation of some sort. Or maybe you don’t fit the mold of what you think a Christian should look like, and feel people judge you for it. I don’t know what your personal struggle is, or what difficulties you face, but I do know that even if your battle looks different than mine, the core feelings are often the same. Too often, faith can become a marathon instead of a resting place.

Nonetheless, in the midst of all of our our stress and failures and anxiety—God still likes us, delights in us even. Psalm 139:13 says

“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth…”

God knows every inch of our personalities, our pasts, and our scars. He knows about our doubts and questions. He knows about our favorite foods and why our favorite movies touched us so. He knows about that time that hurt like nothing else could. And yet He rejoices in saying that “This is my Creation, this is my son or daughter. There is no one else like them.”

Not only does God loves us, He likes us too!

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Some Thoughts On Patience

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

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I’m going to be honest with y’all—growing up is hard.

Statistically, millennials are the most stressed out generation of all four of the living current age groups (Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and Matures), according to a study on apa.org. Obviously, the cause of stress is different across the board, but many of the concerns are universal. College (and the cost of it), major life decisions, and trying to make it are a few of the many things that most young adults think about on a regular basis. Even for those still in high school, stress can be rampant, between bullying, peer pressure, and deciding on a future career.

Heck, even middle schoolers and elementary school students battle stress in some form or another! 

As a Christian, stress can be slightly easier to manage. There’s the assurance of a personal God who hears your prayers, a community of believers for support, and the Bible to turn to during our toughest seasons. Nonetheless, we still live in the world and have to find a way to deal with the pressures that come with it. Each of us have unique situations and drives that make us susceptible to some kind of stress or another. 

For me, I’ve always been an overachiever. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it often causes me to put huge amounts of pressure on myself to succeed. Wanting so much to be successful in life, I often find myself spending my thoughts and energy worrying about how to achieve my goals. Sometimes, it even causes me to envy those who seem further along than me—which as a Christian, is always wrong.

Meanwhile, in a crazy, stressed out, maddening world, Jesus calls us to do the opposite of what the world says. He tells Mary—the model overachiever seek him before her duties. He calls fishermen to be His disciples. He accepts the humble sinners over the knowledgable proud.

He tells us that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains.

I truly believe that if God has put something on your heart, He’ll work out the details of it in time. Nonetheless, sometimes God’s timing is different than our timing. Sometimes, He says to “seek first the Kingdom Of God and all of these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God has a plan for your life—but sometimes, those plans take time to unfold. Many of my hopes and dreams have taken time to come to pass, and I have no doubt that my current goals will take time and patience as well. That’s how God helps us grow. Before any dream, goal, or relationship, God wants to be number one in our lives. 

So many of us are Martha’s but God wants us to have the heart of Mary.

So many of us are worried about so many things, when only one is important.

This week, let us make a conscious effort to trust God with our stories.

After all, If we have the Maker of the stars as our author, how can we possibly go wrong? 

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Twenty

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Day Twenty: Describe the best day of your life to date

Truth be told, I’ve had a lot of really good days in my life. I can remember clearly days that I first met the friends I have now, accomplished dreams, and faced fears. Nonetheless, the greatest day of my life—the day that many of my good days have hinged on—is the day that accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

I was young-ish when it happened—past the age of Veggie Tales but too young to have any major mistakes or regrets in my past. I was eleven years old and I was reading a tween series called The Ponytail Girls (Each book came with a free scrunchie!) and at one point in the book, it talked about accepting Jesus into your heart. By this point, I had been going to church with my mom for about two years and was beginning to learn a good deal about the Bible. I knew that I wanted Jesus, so I kneeled down on my bathroom floor, and prayed the prayer.

This was my come-to-Jesus-moment—with a teeny-bopper book and a  shower right next to me. No joke. 

Considering the seemingly ordinary nature of the moment, it may seem strange to some that I would point to that day as my greatest. Nonetheless, I believe that many of our stories have small beginnings. The decision to accept Christ was the start of my journey as a Christian, washed in the blood of Jesus. It was my way of saying that I’m all in—if having Jesus in my heart was the way to have Him walk with me through my days, than accepting Jesus into my heart was what I was going to do.  

That moment was the start of one of the greatest adventures of my life. I have the peace of knowing that God holds my future and that He has a plan. I’ve had a sense of stability through some of life’s hardest moments—from heartbreaks to friendship drama. Most of all, I have the assurance of eternal life with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you’re reading this and have never made the decision to accept Christ, than I strongly urge you to do so. All you have to do is confess that your a sinner in need of a Savior, ask for forgiveness, and accept His grace. 

You may just look back on it as the best day of your life. 

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Nineteen

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Day Nineteen: If you could spend fifteen minutes with any celebrity, who would it be and why

I’ll be honest, when I first starting thinking about this challenge, I had no idea how I was going to approach it. I have a couple of celebrities who I like and admire, and just a few short hours ago, I was planning to either write about Britt Nicole or Tim Tebow (Both awesome people, right?). Nonetheless, just now, God revealed to me who it is that I would most like to meet and who I would like to talk about in this post.

Jesus. 

If I could spend fifteen minutes with literally any person, I would spend that time talking to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Could you imagine what it would be like, getting to talk to Jesus Christ—in flesh and actually have a conversation? To me, that would be a dream come true.

There are so many things I’d ask HIm. I’d ask about my life. I’d ask about my family line, and those who came before me. I’d ask about my future, and my past—all those I’ve encountered over my years on earth. I’d ask what it was like, coming to earth as God in flesh, and living His life, knowing that He’d die in the worst possible way.

 Most of all, I’d stand in awe of Him. I’d stand taken back by the fact that He created the world, and knows each of us by name. How He created everything from nothing, and how He’s written each of our stories before we were born. I’d thank Him for all He’s blessed me with—my family, my friends, my life. It would be an experience too overwhelming to even write about.

The lyrics to the old song by MercyMe, I Can Only Imagine, sum it up best.

Surrounded by your glory

What will my heart feel

Will I dance for you Jesus 

Or in awe of you will I be still?

Will I stand in your presence 

Or to my knees will I fall?

Will I sing Hallelujah?

Will I be able to speak at all? 

I can only imagine

I can only imagine…

How about you—if you had the chance to spend fifteen minutes with Jesus, what would you ask Him? What would you say? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below! 

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge #2: Day Two

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Hey everyone, I hope your day has been pleasant! Sorry I’m posting this a little late in the afternoon, I went to see a movie today and just got home!

Today’s prompt is “Describe the good, the bad, and the ugly of yourself“. I’m not quite sure how to go about doing this, but I’ll do my best!

The good: I believe that I’m an overall nice person. I try to be kind to others and hardworking in my aspirations. I also try (sometimes unsuccessfully, as a fallen human) to put Jesus first in every area of my life.

The bad: As I’ve written about in various places before, I tend to struggle with OCD and perfectionism. Struggling with OCD/Perfectionism isn’t a sin, but it can make it harder to focus on the important things in life and keep my priorities straight.

The ugly: Sometimes I have a tendency to speak without thinking. I’ve gotten better about this, but sometimes if I’m in an argument, words will spill out that I never should have said. Furthermore, as a fairly type-A kind of person, I hate being wrong—which can sometimes manifest itself in pride.

The good news is, God’s grace is enough to cover us—even when we feel like a bit of a hot mess.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says “But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

None of us are perfect and we all struggle with a host of different issues, but Jesus took our place on the cross so that we may spend eternal life with Him. He’s there in our sins and our strengths, are successes and failures.

Jesus is always more than enough—in the good, the bad, and the ugly.