Monday, April 7, 2014

Simple and Intentional

"It is for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

Walking through downtown Charleston with Lynda while we dreamed about one day doing ministry together, even though I'm buying plane tickets to Colorado and she is fundraising to be the hands and feet of Jesus in 11 countries for 11 months.

Sunday afternoons that smell like fresh bread and sound like my roommates' laughter.

Gardening with Kim as she unknowingly helped me identify lies I was believing while we pulled weeds in her front yard.

Fresh flowers to celebrate Spring.
Afternoons of fishing and the first lake jump of the year.

Thursday night dinners with Molly, snuggles from the babies in the church nursery, the long walk home from work on sunny days, and the smiles that came with phone calls from friends in different time zones.

These are the moments I'll remember from the most challenging season of my life thus far.

Sure, I'll probably remember hard things too like crying on the phone to my mom and telling the Mrs. Angie, the lady that cuts my hair, that I was just going to drop out of school and become a nomad. I'll remember the big moments too like my first marathon and spending spring break in the woods and teaching my first large group lesson.

But what stands out the most are the simple, intentional moments.

I have found myself echoing the words of Ann Voskamp when she said, "I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, in the moments before I sleep."

Likewise, I think relationship with Jesus is not based solely on big, momentous occasions, but on small, every day moments that make up a beautiful life.

Of course, the night I accepted Christ will probably always be vivid in my mind and I can no longer think about New Year's without remembering celebrating it in Nicaragua. But even more than the mountaintop feeling that Jesus has let me experience time and time again, I remember the sweetness that comes from the intentional nature of Christ.

The first time I read Isaiah 61 out loud.

Each time He reminds me that I am and always will be good enough for him.

Sunday mornings where truth from the Holy Spirit echoes off the walls during worship.

Small, intentional moments.

I'm writing this because I don't think I'm the only one who has found themselves craving a life full of small joys. I don't think I'm the only one that is tired of living event by event and instead wants to see Jesus in the every day.

The good news is that when we pray for nuggets, when we look for Christ, he delights in overflowing our lives with the true joy that can only come from him.

Today, I am praying that God would never cease in giving us the chance to live simply and intentionally. I pray that day by glorious day each one of us would be blessed by small, simple moments with Christ.

PS. Allison Vesterfelt and Tsh Oxenreider have both written beautiful books that speak on the idea of living intentionally despite chaos.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thoughts on Babies and Dreams

My arms are sore from holding babies yesterday. Its not like I needed another reason or anything, but having a two-hour glimpse at the life of a baby mama definitely solidified my belief that moms are super heroes.

I walked around today thinking about the little lives I held in my hands yesterday and the little dreams that sit in my heart everyday and wondered if God was trying to teach me something about the two.

I thought about how babies and dreams both grow slowly and then all at once. I thought about how sometimes they overwhelm you and scare you but how fears are overshadowed by love. I also thought about when your dreams seem to poop on you and how babies do that too and you have to clean up the mess but you still find them beautiful and at the end of the day you still want to hold them tight and never let go… sorry I talked about poop.

Anyways, I thought about the babies that go straight into Jesus' arms and the dreams that go unfulfilled. I don't know what to say about loss but all I know is that it stings. Broken dreams and broken hearts cut to the bone and leave lifelong scars. Losses shape lives just much as gains do. 

Coincidentally, I read a blog post by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, about dreams that don't work out and the impact they have on others. You guys should all read it because he is way more eloquent than me.

Yesterday when I gazed at these sweet babies, I felt hope. It was the same kind of hope I feel when I think about grad school and future adventures and a life full of possibilities rooted in Christ. It's a nervous kind of hope, but the kind that pushes you forward and not back.

Later I'll be thankful for what Jesus showed me through all of these jumbled thoughts but for today,

I'm thankful for sore arms and a full heart.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Racing with Joy

Ya'll I ran a marathon this past weekend.

I'm in shock that training is over, that I actually went through with it, AND I loved every minute of it. I think it's hilarious that I had as much fun as I did because when I ran my last race in high school, I said I was done with racing and never wanted to do it again. Oh how the tables have turned.

I've been so thankful for the way Jesus has blessed the past four months of training. I'm just gonna make a list of it all.

  • He's shown me that he LOVES seeing me happy and contrary to popular belief, wants me to do the things I love.
  • He's shown me that my physical imperfections don't define my beauty, or my worth, or even my ability to accomplish big dreams.
  • I've grown to love myself more. I know that's cheesy but try looking at yourself and who you are a little less critically… it'll do wonders for your heart.
  • I learned the importance of mental strength in fighting lies. If I had a quarter for every time Satan told me I would never cross the finish line, I'd be rich. Luckily Jesus was whispering the whole time that he believed in me.
  • And most of all, Jesus taught me to be okay with having dreams and chasing them! God made us with hearts full of dreams. Run after them! Do it wisely, but do it.
I don't think that Jesus gives two hoots about what time I finished in. And I really don't think he's too worried about whether I run another step in my life. But what I do know is that he wants me to live this life to the full and let it be full of joy. Who am I to say no to a little adventure?

Thursday, December 12, 2013


This past Sunday I turned 21. I promise this post is not what I think about drinking because 1. No one cares about my opinion and 2. There are many other things that are way more fun to write about.

Like the top 2 reasons why I looove celebrating my day of birth.

There are some things I don't really like about birthdays. I don't like surprises and get so awkward when people tell me or sing happy birthday to me because I don't know what to say back… This year my most common answer was, "Thanks, my mom did a great job!"

Gah so awkward. Moving on. 

Reason #1 why your day of birth is super fun: Celebrating all that happened in the past year.

I got to live with the gemstones (going on 2 years)!
Also I just now realized that it looks like my armpit is sweating in this picture.

I got to be a part of this hilarious small group.

Began adventuring in the big CO.

Went on the Spring Break adventure of a lifetime

I got baptized!!

Climbed a couple of mountains.

Made memories with these goobers.

Met friends from all around the USA.

And stuck my toes in the Atlantic Ocean after wayyyyy too long.

Reason #2 why your day of birth is super fun: Celebrating what is to come!

This list is obviously subject to change because I don't know the future but here's what I'm already thankful for in my 21st year:
  • Bringing in the new year with my camp friends! Oh my heart.
  • Running my first marathon!
  • Being one step closer to getting to have my own classroom! Okay this is actually terrifying and invigorating at the same time…
  • Spending the summer working with Children's Hope Chest in Colorado Springs and Swaziland… seriously the Lord is too good to me!
  • Living in a lake house with 7 other beauties next year.
  • Making more and more memories with the best friends a girl could ask for.
  • New Lessons: in my walk with Jesus, in learning to be a teacher, in how to live life with people well.
I feel like this post is super mushy and tender and nostalgic but what can I say? I love all things corny and cheesy and clique. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sometimes I laugh so hard at myself when I think about how the things that I have wanted in life have drastically changed.

I used to ask for a pet monkey every year for Christmas until I was like 10 and found out Santa wasn't real. It was the first thing on my list every.single.year. I had this elaborate plan to make chimpanzees into seeing-eye-monkies to help blind people. I mean they could have made their owners breakfast and everything! It would have been great.

I think it came from watching the old school Little Rascals episode where Spanky tries to turn Cotton into a monkey. I'm still a little bitter that there was never a chimpanzee sitting under my Christmas tree but I guess my parents had their reasons…

One time get a dog named Bella though. She used to jump up from behind me and pull my pants down. She was the worst.

Then I was in middle school and I asked for a drum set. My parents said heck no to that one and I'm sure my siblings were praising the Great Lion of Judah because I would have been so annoying. In high school, I wanted things for the guitar that I can only play Silent Night and Hold Your Hand on. I'm not exactly sure why I was convinced I needed to be a musician of some sort but I think it had to do with my love for Taylor Swift and a boy telling me that girls who played guitar were soooooo cool.

Lately I seem to only want plane tickets, mostly ones that say that my final destination is Colorado. I'm in love with that place and those people. Maybe this is a phase, I don't know. Or maybe Jesus is growing and changing this southern girl's heart.

 It's too soon to tell if the big CO is just a place I'll visit and always love or if it's where I'm headed after graduation. Until then I'll be praying that I'll live the life that Jesus dreamed up for me whatever it looks like and wherever it is.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Eyes

I remember being in the second grade, sitting in the backseat of Mama Bear's car saying, "Mom you have got to go talk to my teacher because her handwriting is sooooooo scratchy." And then getting fitted for glasses the next week. 

I remember sprinting around the doctor's office to look out of windows because I'd never clearly seen leaves on a tree or individual blades of grass or even the freckles on my very own face. I remember how good it felt to finally see.

I remember being in the fourth grade and my eye doctor telling me he thought I was responsible enough to wear contacts. I remember the first couple of weeks walking around with these little guys in my eyes being terrified that one would unexpectedly pop out and I would be helpless, without sight. As the years went on though, I stopped worrying. They became so familiar to me that I stopped remembering I was even wearing them. They became my invisible lifeline to the world of sight.

I remember all of these things because last week I lost my contacts for three days and it was the worst. Having peripheral vision even with glasses? Not a chance. Wanna go on a run? Forget about it. It was awful and I actually cried about it at one point. But just as I was sitting in the middle of my floor so mad at myself, I remembered the joy I had the very first time I put on a pair of glasses.

Our desperate need for Christ is not circumstantial and does not lessen with time just like I will always need help seeing every single day. King David rights a psalm where he says, "Restore in me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 50:12)." I want the joy I had in the beginning of my walk with Jesus. I want to run around with a new eyes seeing the world that He created. I want to savor the joy of life with Jesus forever.

For me, following Christ is sometimes a hard balance between being comfortable to sit in his love and constantly being blown away by that same love. My feelings ebb and flow and I let my joy follow their current. Maybe I'll never truly figure out the balance, but I know that Jesus is just as sweet today as he was the summer day that I gave my life to him eight years ago.

So here's to old joy becoming new. Here's to beauty made from ashes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You Are Welcome Here.

I think about how blessed I am way too little and how weak I am way too much. I see the mistakes that I make and worry that they'll hinder Christ's work in me. I forget that Jesus is kind. But tonight, like so many other Wednesday nights, I was reminded that He is the kindest man I'll ever know and loves to give his children good gifts. Apart from Jesus what's the best gift he's ever given me? Community.

If you've listened to me talk for any stretch of time over the past two years, you have probably heard me ramble about the church called DCF or my house church, (kinda like a community group) the Lilley Pad. I am in love with the community there and in all honesty, I dread the day I am called away from this place of peace and joy and laughter and beauty. I love this community for many many reasons, but lately I've been blown away at the way the church body loves on and cares for each other.

DCF dwells on the good in each person. When they look at me they do not see my flaws but my Father. Their eyes do not land on my sin and mistakes but settle on the Cross of Christ and the role it is playing in my life. So often I walk in with a heavy heart and leave overwhelmed with the Lord's joy. I wish I could adequately describe this place and these people and the way that Jesus moves in each conversation, hug, and cup of coffee but I can't.

If taking sneaky photos of people was my job, I would be rich.

Tonight as we ate dinner, worshipped, and prayed I just kept thinking, this is what love looks like. It's not always a can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of love but slow, intentional, laughter and joy filled moments with people that care, really care about your heart and life. It's a group of people pausing to sing, 

"Holy Spirit you are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for. To be overcome by your presence, Lord."