In the Word, Lifestyle

When Love Isn’t All That Much Fun

What do softball and turtles have in common you might wonder? Let me tell ya…

It was a hot summer day out at the ball fields in my hometown. I was more of a “social player”… the type of athlete who cared more about being on the team her friends were on rather than the actual game itself because FOMO. You know, the kind of player coaches dreamed about. Anyways, I was up to bat, and with one of the pitches my bat made contact with the ball and made that sweet sound that meant I got to run to first base. I don’t remember where the ball went or how many bases I got to run, but I do remember hearing one of my teammates dad’s in the bleachers. As I ran down the line, he not-so-discreetly commented that “a turtle could run the bases faster than her!”

I never prided myself on being a fast runner, but man, those words hurt. Any confidence I had in my softball skills was damaged after that, and that comment has literally stayed with me for over 14 years. I can laugh about it now, but I also still remember how badly those words hurt and how much I detested that father from then on.

Maybe you weren’t called a turtle in your middle school years, but there’s no doubt that you’ve also been hurt in your life. We’ve all encountered people who make it really hard to like them, let alone love them. My example was silly, but I know there are so many of us who have been deeply hurt by other’s actions or words, or situations we’ve had to go through because of someone else’s decisions. Right now, who is hard to love in your life? When I look back at every season of my life, there is always a person or two who I’ve struggled liking or getting along with. And the humbling thing is, I know I’ve been hard to love for many people in my lifetime.

Sooo why am I writing a post about hurt and love?

Because right now in my life, God is telling me that loving people is something I need to get better at, and this past week He rocked my world with conviction on the topic.

I’ve been journeying through the book of John with a couple of friends and a few days ago I opened up to John 13. If you grew up in church you’ve most likely heard the story about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. When I read it this morning, something stood out to me that never has before.

Jesus is with his 12 best friends, celebrating the biggest Jewish festival, about to eat dinner together. He knows that his time on earth is coming to an end and that these moments will be some of his last before he’s arrested and later crucified. He also knows that one of his closest disciples, Judas, is the one who is going to betray him in the coming hours.

Jesus continues to blow the disciples’ minds by telling them that he is going to wash their feet before they eat dinner. Washing dusty, dirty feet was a chore usually left for the servants, yet Jesus wanted to teach these men something that could change the world.

When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord– and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.”

John 13:12-15

In his last moments, Jesus wanted these men to know how important it was for them to serve one another. He served them by cleaning their nasty feet as an example of what they were to do for others.

Now here is what stood out to me today that I’ve never thought about before. Sure, these guys had been with Jesus almost constantly over the past 3 years and he knew them super well. They were buddies. But among those 12 men was the man that was about to betray Jesus. There was also a man who was about to deny Jesus. And despite knowing these hurtful truths, Jesus did not leave them out of the blessed foot washing.

If you’ve been betrayed before, you can imagine how hard this would’ve been.

These men didn’t deserve to be served by Jesus, but it didn’t matter.

Jesus still loved them. 

Crazy, right?!

A little later, Jesus went on to say “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (vs. 34-35)

In his last moments, Jesus wanted to make sure that these guys understood that they were meant to serve and love others. 

As I was reading this, the Lord showed me that I do not get to choose who I want to serve and who I want to love. I, as a follower of Jesus, am meant to serve and love EVERYONE. That means if I ever see the turtle-comment dad again, I’m meant to love him. When I hear about abuse or neglect or the many ways this world is not fair, I am to respond in love and service. This doesn’t mean I’m supposed to agree with sin or just accept the world for what it is, it means that I am to remember that I am also the worst of sinners, completely unworthy of the love I have been shown by my Heavenly Father.

Is loving people always easy? HECK NO. It’s one of the hardest things we are called to do. Yet, in doing so, we are known as the disciples of Jesus. When we love the unlovable, we get to give others a glimpse of their Creator who loves them beyond comprehension. Thankfully, we aren’t called to do this on our own, and the Holy Spirit is always ready to help us.

Just as I’ve been challenged today, I’d love to challenge you. Who in your life are you struggling to love? Who in your life do you need to forgive? Who in your life needs to experience the love of Jesus?

I know there is someone who comes to mind for you. Let’s join forces and strive to spread the love of Jesus in one relationship at a time. Ask Jesus for guidance and wisdom and strength, because he knows that he’s calling us to something hard and beyond ourselves.

Remember that YOU are loved. How can you spread that today?

In the Word, Lifestyle

You’re Not on the Struggle Bus Alone

One of my favorite things about community is that God allows  us to be transparent with one another. If you’ve been blessed with a community that allows you to share real life, you know what a treasure you have.

It takes time to build trust in order to be transparent, amen? As we all know, showing who we really are and the real things we’re going through isn’t easy. So how do we get over this hurdle? How do we open up to people who may judge us or see us differently?

From my experience, something magical happens when one woman decides to share deep. She shares that she isn’t perfect, she doesn’t have it all together… she has struggles and sin and brokenness. Once one woman does that, the rest of the group has freedom to do the same.

It’s a hard place to get to, but it’s freeing and biblical and beautiful.

So, today I want to share some of my struggle because I don’t want you to feel alone. I don’t want you to think you’re the only woman out there who feels like you’re not holding it all together in a Pinterest-worthy way.

Well, here we go.

Last night, I had a mini-breakdown and cried in my husband’s arms for reasons that I couldn’t quite communicate.

I believe Satan’s attacks are so real, and he loves to attack me through my thoughts. I’ve been riding the struggle bus when it comes to balancing all of the wonderful things God has put before me… marriage, church planting, health, blogging, work… and I came to a point yesterday where I felt broken and guilty for struggling in the midst of God’s goodness and faithfulness to us.

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt so thankful for God’s great goodness, but also broken because you can’t handle it all perfectly?

This has described me to the T lately. I’ve been battling with the enemy. I’ve been struggling with sin. I’ve let myself wallow in guilt and shame mentally, while physically trying to look like I’ve got it all together.

As I cried last night, unable to explain what was going on, Brady picked up a Bible from the coffee table and started reading me Truth. (I thank God for this man all the time!) After that, he brought us to the Lord’s feet, prayed for me, and prayed that the enemy would back off.

It was the perfect reminder that I needed. When I’m feeling broken, I HAVE to turn to Jesus. There is no other option.

We are not promised that life is going to be easy. In fact, Jesus tells us that it’s going to be hard. But in the midst of the hard, we have the Creator of the universe to turn to for peace.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Friend, if you are on the struggle bus with me, I encourage you to turn to Jesus. Open your eyes and mind to Truth so that the lies flowing around in your head become more obvious. Talk to the Lord. Bow down at His feet and cast your burdens on Him. Cry with a friend. Let it all out, and let those who love you walk with you on this journey.

When I opened up my Bible this morning it flipped to the exact Scripture my heart needed:

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right Spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:9-12

The Lord cares for us deeply and hates to watch us struggle. And guess what? One day, the struggle bus won’t exist anymore. HECK YES!

Lord, we praise you for your goodness, no matter what our circumstances are. You are always good, and you are always taking care of us. Please restore to us the joy of your salvation, and uphold us with a willing spirit. Use us to bring glory to your name, even when we feel broken. In your perfect name I pray.

In the Word

When We Forget Our Purpose

This past week was definitely one of those weeks. You know, the ones where you have your schedule mapped out and you prepare yourself each morning for all that needs to get done. Things keep popping up on the calendar and you go into autopilot mode to make sure you are where you need to be when you need to be there and it’s a victory if everything gets done each day.

This past week was full and busy with great things, but amidst the busy, I forgot about my purpose.

I went into autopilot when it came to helping Brady prepare for our church plant meeting. Instead of remembering the purpose to our actions and words, I was concentrating on getting things done in the most efficient way possible.

I went into autopilot with my high school small group girls, concentrating on getting to our end time without any major problems rather than soaking in what God had for us.

I went into autopilot when I went to work, crossing off my to-do list rather than nurturing the relationships I have.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you have autopilot moments too?

I’m so thankful that God woke me up from this mode yesterday. First, He showed me the way I was living, then He forgave me for forgetting my purpose and the reason behind all of my actions. And now for the coolest part… He still wants to use me even after I messed up.

God has put you in a specific place for a very specific reason. You are called to a work that only YOU can do. He wants to use YOU where you are at, and He created YOU specifically for that roll.

I believe the enemy loves to distract us with busyness and to-do lists, because we tend to forget our deeper purpose and live in an autopilot mode that cripples our very specific calling.

So, if you are in a similar place as I was, I encourage you to do a few things.

  1. Talk to God. Tell Him how life has been lately and ask Him to forgive your lack of purpose.
  2. Seek Truth. When we forget our purpose, it’s always great to brush up on who Jesus is and why He’s worth living for. John is a great book to go to!
  3. Refocus. Write down who God has called you to be and the purpose He has given you. What did He save you from? How does He want to use you today?
  4. Start new. Praise God that you still have purpose and a calling, even when we forget about it sometimes. Today is a new day. Have grace for yourself and start fresh.

 …that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…

Ephesians 3:16-17

(emphasis mine)

Sister and friend, you aren’t in this alone. Today is new, grace is wonderful, and you are loved. Don’t forget it!

In the Word

Get Out From Under the Basket

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You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 

Matthew 5:14-16

I’m a dreamer.

If I have a spare minute or two to think, my mind wanders to the possibilities and “what if”s of life. I can get myself hyped up about the unknowns and excited about the different ways I imagine God leading and using the ministries and passions He has put on my heart.

Are you a dreamer too?

I don’t think being a dreamer is a bad thing. I think dreamers are needed within the Kingdom to help bring heaven to earth. But with dreaming, there is also struggle.

I struggle with knowing how to take steps to make my dreams happen. I struggle with knowing how to be used with where I am, HERE and NOW.

If I can get real and raw with you, I’m in a stage of life where I’m struggling to know how God wants to use me. I have big dreams in my head, but knowing how to turn them into reality is tough. What steps should I be taking? What do these dreams mean for the place I’m in right this second?

As a dreamer, it’s tempting to get caught up in the possibilities and forget about where God has you, right now.

Right now, God has created you to be the light of the world. He has set you on a stand to display His light where you are at, no matter what your circumstances are. Right this second, He desires others to see your good works and to receive glory because of them.

I love Matthew 5:14-16 for a lot of reasons, but one of them is the picture of being a light on a stand. God never covers us up. We are always in a place where we can shine His glory to those around us.

I have realized that when I’m dreaming and putting my hope in the future I tend to forget about how God could use me, right now. It’s almost like I’m putting myself under that basket Jesus is talking about.

Church, let’s get excited about the Kingdom and God’s plans, but let’s also focus on how He can use us where we are at. We are the light of the world! Today, tomorrow, and through every stage of life.

Jesus, I pray for your Church. I pray that you will use our unique gifts to bring You glory today. Help us focus on the task at hand while also being excited about all You have to do in the future. Thank you for loving us and making us your light to the world. In your name I pray.

In the Word, Lifestyle

Calming Your Anxiety

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Anxiety is a real thing.

There are days where I wake up and my chest feels heavy from the start. I have a long to-do list for the day, I’m probably behind on a task or two, and I’m not sure how the future is going to play out. I want to feel in control, but on these days, I feel like I’m not quite sure how to do what I need to do and get away from that drowning feeling.

Oh, you’ve experienced these feelings, too? I’m glad I’m not alone.

We are human, and humans seem to like control. We like to know what’s ahead. We like to feel accomplished with our days. We like to make plans for ourselves and hope they play out.

I’m learning more and more that I’m a planner. I like to have steps A, B, C, and D all ready to go. Having a plan isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when step A isn’t directly followed by my step B, I feel a loss of control and anxiety sets in.

Enter: Jesus

A sweet friend of mine recently reminded me that Jesus was human, and He understands the weight and burden that comes with living in this world. He knows it’s not easy and He has compassion on us as His sons and daughters.

He doesn’t want us to worry about the future. To wonder if our plans are going to play out. To try and figure out every single step we need to take with our lives.

He loves us, and he wants to take the burden and control away. Now, giving Jesus control is easier said than done. I have to give him the things I’m worried about every single day… sometimes multiple times a day… in order to lessen the anxiety I might feel. BUT we have a Heavenly Father who WANTS these things from us. He WANTS to walk with us through the unknowns of life, and he WANTS to guide us each and every day.

I recently went live on Facebook with some practical steps we can take to give God our anxiety and worry each and every day. I’m also going to put them here so you can get all the details about what’s been working for me.

  1. PRAY. Just like Philippians 4:6 says. It’s crazy what can happen when we talk to God about our lives.
  2. Get in Scripture. Ask God what He wants to tell you and open up your Bible. There is Truth in there, which is exactly what you need when you’re anxious.
  3. Talk to someone who can be your voice of reason. You need someone to love you and pray for you… and call out your crazy when your worries just don’t make sense.
  4. Exercise. When we are taking care of ourselves physically, we are also contributing to our emotional health. Go on a walk, dance to some music in front of your mirror, do a quick home workout… just get moving.
  5. Focus on TODAY. Forget about tomorrow or next month, and do your best at what God has given you today.

So, if you’re experiencing anxiety, know you aren’t alone. I’m with you, sweet friend.

What other tips do you have to battle anxiety?

Jesus, I pray for those who are reading this. Help us give each day to you. Help us focus on what the day holds, and help us to do our best at what you give us. Thank you for your grace when we worry and stress, and your willingness to carry our burdens and guide our lives. You are so good! Thank you for your plans that are so much better than anything we can dream up for ourselves. In your name I pray.

 

 

In the Word

The Heart Behind the Name

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com·mu·ni·ty (noun): a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals

For the majority of my life community has been a gift I’ve taken for granted. When I look back, I see the Lord’s provision through different friend groups in each stage of my life, where it was easy to find fellowship. It wasn’t until I entered a major transition period — moving back to the States from overseas– that I realized what a gift the ease of community had been thus far. Not that I was completely on my own, but finding a group of people in the same life stage as myself was a huge challenge that left me feeling dry, discouraged, lonely, and craving relationships.

Have you been in that place before? 

Through that season of life, I learned how easy it is for us to take God’s good gifts for granted. I grasped the importance of why God created us to live as a body and not on our own. I started praying desperately for a community again.

Since then, the Lord has been so sweet to me in answering my prayers. (Thank you Jesus!) He is providing me community in a way I never expected and through new and old faces that I’m so glad are part of my life. Through this process, he has shown me the value and need of community, and put a vision on my heart to provide this gift to as many woman as possible.

I adore the passages in Acts that tell about the first body of believers forming. We are told that they were together, that they had all things in common, and were of one heart and soul. (Acts 2:44, 4:32) Although it is a couple thousand years later, I believe God has the same desire for his people today. You and me. His chosen ones.

We aren’t meant to do life alone. 

Along with all of this, a passion for honoring God through health has grown like crazy in my heart. Living a healthy lifestyle has improved every area of my life. I feel more confident to branch out and be who God created me to be. I am letting go of a sin issue with gluttony that I’ve struggled with my whole life. I am learning to honor the temple I’ve been given for the Holy Spirit to reside. And I’m learning to have grace for myself in the process, because it is far from perfect.

I started to ask, If we aren’t meant to do life alone, then that includes health… right? Are other women struggling to find community here, too? 

As these passions have grown, I’ve loved seeing them collide in full force. I started praying for vision. For a community for women to grow in health together. And with that, the Lord led me to 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 

We are chosen. We are His people. And we are called out of darkness into HIS marvelous light to proclaim His excellencies! Pursuing this calling with a community gives me the chills, friends!

With this, a mission statement was born.

Called Into Light is a community for women to honor God in all areas of health together; spiritually, physically, and emotionally. 

The exciting yet nerve-racking thing with a vision and a dream is that God doesn’t lay out every single step for you right away. But with that comes the journey of following the Lord, stepping out of your comfort zone, and living in faith. I’d be honored if you would pray for this community. That we would seek the Lord in all we do and be reminded of our purpose in every effort. 

If you are seeking community, fellowship, accountability, or motivation in your health and life, Called Into Light is here for you. Please email me if you are ready to find your place!

 

 

In the Word, Lifestyle

OVERCOME

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

J o h n 1 6 : 3 3

This morning I was sitting down at the kitchen table with my coffee, Shakeology, journal and Bible. (Can you say perfect morning?!) I started journaling and praying about some of the hard things that are going on in my life and in the lives of those I love. My struggle with self-control when it comes to food… the hard parts of marriage… sick family members… the struggles of clear communication.

I had my music jamming through Apple TV and the song Overcome by Desperation Band came on.

All authority, every victory is Yours

Savior, worthy of honor and glory
Worthy of all our praise, You overcame
Jesus, awesome in power forever
Awesome and great is Your name, You overcame

Are those lyrics not amazing?! Guys, I was literally sitting at my kitchen table with my hands in the air, PUMPED because of the victory that already belongs to our Father.

As I was sitting there, he reminded me that HE HAS ALREADY WON. He has OVERCOME this battle that I have with food. He has OVERCOME the confusion that comes with marriage and learning to be in sync with someone. He has OVERCOME death and pain. He has OVERCOME every struggle that the enemy throws our way. He has OVERCOME death in order for us to be His forever.

He is battling right beside you. He is fighting for your life and his glory, eternally.

So, my friends, where is God fighting for you, right now, this very moment? What area of life do you need to give to Him? Where can you ask him for strength as you battle together?

No matter what you’re going through, you are incredibly loved and cared for. If you don’t believe this, let’s talk. I used to be in your place.

Jesus, thank you for the beautiful people who have taken time to read this post. I pray you remind them that YOU ARE FOR THEM. You are fighting beside them, and eternal victory is yours. Thank you for finding us worthy to fight for. Thank you for finding us worthy to proclaim your name. In your powerful, victorious name I pray.