You are a #Fighter

He’s always there. He never relents. Whispers in your ear day and night. Filling your head with doubts. Filling your heart with confusion. Taking every ounce of energy that you have with promises of something in return…only for you to turn around feeling empty, broken, desperate…Desperate for healing. Desperate for a hug and someone to tell you that everything is going to be okay…and someone to hold you hand during your journey. But He once again made you believe that you are aloneForgotten. Abandoned. Not worth someone’s time. Alone. So you sit, alone, silent tears sliding down your cheeks or uncontrollable sobs heaving from your gut. Believing that you have to do it all alone.

Truth: You don’t have to do it alone! You were never MEANT to do it alone!!

He has been filling your head with so many ‘what-ifs’ that those what-ifs readily roll off your tongue without you even thinking about it. You never said those things before. But now they are all that you can think about. What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t like me? What if I miss God’s ultimate plan for my life so I will have to settle for something else? What if God believes in me too much, so it turns out that I can’t do what God is calling me to do? They never end. If you aren’t careful, those ‘what-ifs’ will swirl around in your head day-in and day-out. No rest. No peace. Confusion. Broken.

Truth: Jer. 29:11- I know the plans I have for you. Plans for GOOD and not evil.

He delights to remind you of your past. All of your mistakes. Whether you’ve dealt with them or not. He reminds you of them at all of the wrong moments. He whispers into your tired ears that ‘nobody will ever love you if you tell them that’. So you keep it a secret, allowing it to rot and fester and destroy you from the inside out. He whispers into your ears that ‘nobody understands’ or ‘they won’t respond well’ or ‘surely they haven’t done anything like that, so they will think you’re a horrible person’! The shame. The guilt. It’s a heavy weight. Too heavy for you. You begin to slowly sink down to your knees and nothing in you dares to hope that you will ever hope again.

Truth: 1 John 2:1- “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.

Truth: Micah 7:19- “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”.

He loves to keep you down. Keep you depressed. Keep you pessimistic. Keep you thinking that there is no hope. God will not come to your rescue. God will not give you the strength you need. You shrink back into the corner by this time. It’s too dark out there. Too scary. Your strength and energy is gone. You can no longer see the way you used to. The ironic thing is, when you’re in the corner, you’re in the shadows. It’s dark. It’s probably even more scary than if you dared to inch your way forward. You can’t even see the chains that He has sneakily clanged onto your wrists…your feet. One-by-one until all four limbs are encased in the heavy, cold metal. You try to keep looking up. Keep looking for a way out. Keep searching for hope. For a helping hand. For God’s face. Anything. Before long, you have listened to the lies for so long, they are all you hear. About yourself. About others. Before long, He teaches you to look down. Down at your dusty bare feet. No show here. Torn. Blistered. Burned. Dirty. Helpless.

He is a bully. One that I think we have listened to for far too long. He speaks to us about our hearts. Our appearances. Our past. Our present and our future. I think a good prayer to remember to pray daily (or whenever the lies come at us fiercely and relentlessly) is this:

“God, rescue me from the bully. God, come quickly. I do not want to be taunted today. God, send ten thousand angles to cover me with their protection. God, let me believe your truth instead of the lies. Stand me up in strength with renewed courage and power. Go before me. Hold me. Defend me.” –Do you think I’m beautiful by Angela Thomas

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There’s beauty somewhere. There is hope and there are ten thousand reasons to keep fighting. Never give up and remember…that you ARE a #fighter.

{Love Letters} Still

It was a dark place. I know you can think about the time recently when you were in a dark place. I see your heart still searching for answers. Reasons. Your heart is constantly asking…

“Why, God?”

Why so much pain. Why so much wandering. Why so much depression and sadness with no way out?

You are my daughter. You have been chosen by me. You are mine! I never wanted that heartache for you, but I knew it was good for you. All I wanted was for you to learn to trust me. When there’s no way out. When there’s no hope. All I wanted was for you to turn to me and recognize me as your only hope. I wanted you to see me do things beyond your wildest imaginations and completely put your trust in me. Because I can be trusted.

Just, “be still” (Psalm 46:10). Watch me do amazing things. You can stop fighting so hard. I know you want your life to work out. I know you’re getting impatient at yourself and how you have been acting lately. I see your heart, remember? Here’s the secret you don’t want to hear, though:

You don’t need to fight so hard! I will fight for you! You only need to be still (Exodus 14:14). In the chaos and confusion, remain calm. Be still. Remember who I am and who I see you as…the woman that you will become. Beautiful. Strong. Godly. The woman I find absolutely beautiful and that I love so much.

When you’re doing all that you can, that’s all you can do! I will do the rest. Give it all to me. Trust me and you will find yourself not getting so exhausted all of the time. I can handle it when you can’t!

I delight to fight your battles! I am trustworthy. I am your refuge and strong tower:

“For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” {Psalm 61:3}

I am here for your every struggle. Your every battle. And I will fight it for you, if you allow me to. All I ask of you, is to wait and…be still.

{Love Letters} I believe in You

My beautiful Daughter (Yes, I did call you beautiful!),

I have watched you struggle this past year. A lot. I wanted to step in so many times and stop the waves that kept crashing down around you. But I couldn’t do that because I knew that you would learn so much more standing among the beautiful, strong waves than if I had lifted you up into my arms to protect you. But here is what you forgot:

I was right there beside you the whole way!

Every wave. I felt with you. Every tear. I cried twice as hard. Every gust of wind that knocked the wind out of you or knocked you over. I was there, reaching out for your hand.

But you lost faith. You lost the ability to see me, feel me, hear me. But I was there. You wanted to give up. There were times when you did give up! But I wouldn’t let you. I placed people in your life to make sure that you didn’t give up. I placed people in your life at just the right time to remind you who you really are and who you should be.

I see your heart. It wants to be beautiful. It wants to shine and be joyful and happy and love others. I know that more than anybody else. But I also see what is holding you back. There are things that are standing in your way, Dear Child, and you can’t enter into full lifewith those things tearing at your soul.

Your chains have made you feel safe. They have protected you from the unknown. They have protected you from being vulnerable and open. You felt safe. You’ve been there before; it was your default.

Beautiful Daughter, it’s time to let go of those chains that have gripped so tightly to your heart that you are trying to hold onto them. It’s time to let go of those chains that have made you feel like you are in a safe place, even if it’s one rung at a time.

There were so many times when you lost hope this year. A relationship you really thought you wanted fell apart, making you doubt anybody would ever want you. Making you doubt your worth. How beautiful you are. Other relationship problems were brought into the light…problems that you have stuffed down for years. Depression. The unknown. Bad grades. The list continues. You felt as though your life was thrown into complete chaos.

And you forgot I was there. You forgot I was the only hope you have ever had and I am the only hope you will ever need! You forgot how to dream so big that people think you’re crazy. You settled for ‘making it through the day’. I have so many more wonderful plans for you!

Your heart has scars that need time to heal. You have tears that still need to fall. Your mind needs time to wrap around what has happened to you the past several months. You time to think about why you have changed so much and who you really are and who you want to be. Remember, you have the power to change!

The point is, it will take time. It will be a struggle and a times you will question whether it’s worth it and if I am still by your side. Never give up. Keep going, because that path is exactly where I want you to be. Walking uphill, maybe. But it’s a path certain to end up in amazing places. I promise to be by your side the whole way. I will be there to talk to. Always. I will be there to wipe away your tears. I will be there to extend grace to your trembling legs as you making one small step in the right direction. Grace. It will cover all.

My Daughter, I love you. Yes, read that again…I love you! You are so beautiful and I have the most amazing plans for your life. The struggle is real. But change is inevitable. You got this! I believe in you.

Scooped into the Arms of L o v e

I wrote a little bit about last semester in a previous blog post. However, I feel like I really didn’t say very much.

But…

How do I write about everything that happened last semester? Last year? How do I explain that I had some wonderful times…but I had some of the most difficult times I have ever had? So much has happened this year. So many words swirling around in my head, and I’m wondering which ones to share. (And by the way…this could get long…) If you read these words and say that I am a horrible person, you are probably right. (And by the way, I hate being vulnerable, but…here we go…)

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When Junior year started, I honestly wasn’t ready for the school year to begin. I was excited to live on campus for the first time. I was excited to see a few of my friends. But I really wasn’t ready. That mentality basically stayed with me the whole year.

Fall semester I only had 12.5 credits, which I have to say, was pretty great. (And for one of my classes I got to be camera op in chapel which was pretty fun, at times…and at other times it was pretty boring and annoying…but I liked it for the most part!) I didn’t have ANY tests this semester! Out of the blue, I had the amazing opportunity to shoot a friend of a friend’s engagement photos (which I have to say turned out beautifully and I just had a blast!). I reconnected with an old friend. We started dating. Things were going fairly well, for a little while. Then things went downhill at lightning speed.

My parents didn’t really approve of my boyfriend. My boyfriend didn’t really respect my parents and was in no way going to go out of his way to try to show them that he was a good guy and really cared about me. I ignored the warning signs. A bunch of old feelings about my parents and how they did things came back up, which was something I struggled with a lot. I just wanted to be happy. I thought I was happy every weekend I got the chance to go see him and hang out with him and a couple of his friends. But there were days I just couldn’t smile. My friends noticed and started teasing me about that, which just made it worse. I felt like everything I had and everything I ever wanted was being stripped away from me…one by one. An old friendship still hadn’t been restored. We still didn’t even talk, actually. One of my friends told me he likes me. I didn’t feel that way about him. It seemed like my parents didn’t want me to be happy (though now I can see their position a little better than I could at that time).

By the end of that semester, I was broken. I had broken up with my boyfriend a few months earlier (October). I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I was tired of school. I was tired of being at the same place where I have literally ALWAYS been. I wanted a great relationship that would work out. I never knew how much I wanted my family to like my boyfriend until later. I was hurting, and honestly I didn’t really know where to turn. I didn’t actively walk away from God during that semester (in fact, if you  had asked me how I was doing spiritually I would probably say pretty good…I was trying to do devotions and pray regularly…but maybe that’s not all there is to being close to God), but I didn’t actively seek Him, either.

I entered Christmas break feeling broken, sad, and tired. Christmas break, though, was pretty great! As it turned out, one of my friends couldn’t go home for Christmas, so I asked if he wanted to stay at my house. He ended up staying at my house for the whole 3 weeks of Christmas break, which was a lot of fun! He got to know my parents and my family. He got to know a lot of my extended family as well, when we went places for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My sister and her family also came home for a small part of break, so he got to know them as well. He also loved playing with my nieces and nephew (I have to say, it was pretty adorable). Something happened, though, that I wasn’t expecting at all. I never planned it (and if I had, I’m pretty sure it never would have worked out!). King and I started dating by the end of Christmas break. Like I said, neither of us planned it. We felt like God was completely leading us together…and we still feel that way.

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Also during break, I reconnected with God. I started doing devotions and praying every day of break. During those times with Jesus, I also started writing Love Letters (I called them) from Christ, which really helped me a lot. It gave me comfort. I felt like it was God writing those words directly to my heart. I didn’t even know what I was going to write about when I sat down to write…sometimes I would start off with an idea of what I wanted to say, and by the end it would be completely different. But it spoke to me. I knew it was completely from God himself. I needed that. King read every Love Letter that ‘I’ wrote and he really liked them and was very supportive and told me that I should keep writing them. I wrote quite a few over break, but no longer had time when school started up again.

The New Year was coming! I had never heard of thinking of one word that you want to describe the new year, until my friend Katie brought it up. I decided that that was a great idea, so I picked Positivity, mostly because I knew that I did a horrible job of that in the previous semester and I believed that was what God wanted from me.

When I was about to head into the spring semester of my Junior year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I didn’t feel quite as broken. I felt God’s peace through me each time I wrote a love letter. I was excited to have this opportunity with King and I knew that God had brought us together and that He had a plan for us. What I didn’t know, though, was that this was about to be the hardest semester I’ve ever had.

I went from 12.5 credits and no tests to 17 credits (the most that I’ve ever had) and tests ALL the time. I was still tired of school and still didn’t think I completely wanted to be here. Before the semester started, I was hoping that ‘life’ would be easier this semester, since school was getting so much harder. I had made it through an easy school semester but hard ‘life’ semester, so now I figured that would switch. I really think God had different plans for me (again). School did get a lot harder, and I really just didn’t want to do it and didn’t really see the point. Life was hard too, though.

So, now I guess it’s time to be really vulnerable and real…there were actually times when I was so depressed that I wouldn’t have minded (in fact, I kind of wanted) to be in a car accident or something. I didn’t really want to die, but I wouldn’t have minded getting hurt. I wouldn’t have started one on purpose of course, but if it happened, I thought I would be okay with that. Thank God that never happened.

It was a semester of many tears, fears, failures, and freak outs. Afraid of failing classes. It seemed like everything I tried to do, I failed at it. And I definitely failed at my word for the year: Positivity.

I’m not really sure why King stayed with me through the whole mess, because I was a mess! But he was usually there to let me cry on his shoulder or just hold me when I couldn’t even tell him what was wrong. I was a mess and he stayed anyway. I couldn’t be more grateful for that, because without that I would have fallen even more apart that I already was.

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Yes, I was a mess. But then God brought the opportunity to go on a missions trip to Mexico into my life. That trip really was life changing and it was just a blast! I met so many new people, I had the amazing opportunity to speak to a young girl in my cabin who I felt like I could relate to probably the best out of the whole team, I got to use a couple of my passions (photography and music), and I learned so many things about God and myself. I learned that I could do so much more than I think I can. Because He will give me strength. And He will qualify me.

Coming back to school was hard. We came back to bad weather (after having amazing weather in Mexico). We came back and it was much harder to see God and His hand in my life again. I came back to the same struggles of school.

All of this past semester wasn’t bad, though. There were good times as well! We hung out with a lot of people. I got close to a couple people that I didn’t think I would. We went on a couple trips with a bunch of friends, people I barely knew at the time, but then got to know because of that (snow camp, Mexico…). I really did start to be more outgoing and I started talking to more people and hanging out with a large group of people again. Then life got tougher and I distanced myself a little more. I regret not making more relationships…or the ones I had stronger. I guess there’s always next year though 🙂

I have so much to think about this summer. And work through. And learn. And pray about. But I can do it because I know that when I run to the Father who has been here the whole time (even when He seems distant or silent), I am scooped into the Arms of Love.

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I am Home

Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke?

Yeah. The guy who took all of his Father’s riches and wastes them all, selfishly on himself. And eventually returns home, probably head bent down. Shame in his eyes. Seeking love. Seeking forgiveness. But refusing to ask for it because he knows he doesn’t deserve it. Yeah, that guy.

We like to look at stories like that and think that we would never do that! We would use those things in a mature, God-honoring way and we would never allow ourselves to get that far off track! At least, I think that. Maybe you don’t and are much more spiritual than I am.

Well.

Guess what? I think we have all been Prodigal children in at least one time in our lives. Think about everything that Christ has given to you. He has lavishly given us his grace, mercy, wisdom, and peace. He loves you. He gives you amazing gifts that you do not deserve. But yet, how many times have we taken what He has given us, and turned away from him? Maybe not outwardly. We still do what we’ve always done. Go to church. Talk to peers and others about God and what He is doing in our lives. Maybe we don’t even realize how far away that we have actually walked from God until we suddenly wake up one day, look behind us, and wonder where God is. Wonder how far down this path you have gotten yourself down before you even realized that you have lost sight of the beautiful places that God was leading you towards.

The path, full of thorns, was tough and full of mistakes that probably could have been avoided.

Maybe you thought you were seeking God, but you really weren’t.

The troubles that you were walking through left you exhausted and confused.

But even then, there were times when you felt God. He gave you people that you needed. He guided people to say what you needed at the right time. He was there.

What if there is such a beautiful life ahead of you? One full of peace, dancing, joy. Even among mistakes, failures, loss, confusion, struggle, exhaustion…what if there is still a beautiful horizon somewhere. What if God really does have amazing plans for your life, but He’s simply asking you to be in this place for now.

Maybe, instead of wondering where God is and what He is doing…….maybe God wants you to focus your thoughts on HIM. His goodness. What He has done for you! Other people that He has placed in your life for a reason…people that you can encourage and lift up and walk through life with 🙂

This Prodigal Daughter has returned.

I will probably stray a few more times. Forget to focus on God, instead of my problems and failures. But she is here. She is back.

I am home.

How Did I Become A Senior?!

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Junior Year. Done. BAM. ❤

It’s about the time of year to look back over the past semester (and school year). To me, it feels like this is the end of the previous year and the beginning of a new one, since the school year just ended.

But Anyway…

Looking back over this semester, it’s crazy how much I’ve gone through and what God has been teaching me through all of it. I can’t and I won’t post everything that I probably could, but here is a short piece of what God has been teaching me over the past few months.

One | God will give you the strength and energy that you need exactly when you need it!

I find this difficult to remember when I am going through everyday life here at school…but I really saw this when I was           in Mexico during Spring Break this year. Although the Mexico trip is a long story, I will just say here that I saw (and felt)         firsthand that God will give you strength and energy when you have none but you need it! It was really awesome being         able to see that, really for the first time so clearly!

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I LOVED being on the worship team (or one of them). I had so much fun and I did something that I didn’t think I was good enough to do. I had a blast getting to know the band better and worshiping God with all of the kids! It was exhausting, though, and chapel was definitely one of the main times that I asked God for strength and energy.

Two | God opened up the door for me to allow more relationships into my life.

I’m not into being vulnerable. Sometimes I would rather be left alone. Guess God knew that that wasn’t what was best         for me. First, he gave me a boyfriend who is super extroverted. Second, I became more extroverted. But I soon                   realized that I couldn’t just be there with my body. I need to be invested in order to be a good friend and in order to               actually get to know the people I started hanging out with. I didn’t do a very good job at that. Not yet. But maybe I will           still have time 🙂

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Brianna and I roomed together this year. Junior Year. We had a great year together as roommates but it appears that God has different plans for us for next year 🙂

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I didn’t expect to get too close to Amanda when I first met her. I didn’t really expect to get very close to very many, if any, of the girls in the big group of friends that King hung out with and the same group that I had distanced myself from last year. But Amanda and I got to know each other fairly quickly and we are rooming together next year! (And after a huge, difficult, kinda stressful time trying to find a room where everyone was happy with other girls too, we even have a room, even though it wasn’t exactly what everyone wanted. Maybe this is what God wants).

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By the grace of God, we have been together for 4 months. Four months of beauty. Four months of struggle. Four months of laughter, stress, tears, fear, anger, confusion, love, learning more about God. And I can’t wait to live the next months overcoming the next obstacles that are thrown in our way because I know that God has put us together for a reason and that we can overcome anything because we are together and God is on our side ❤

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I never thought I would go to JS with many of these people. Big groups were never my thing a year or two ago. But here I was, surrounded with people that I was beginning to call my friends. Thrown out of my comfort zone, but I was learning to take it in and enjoy it 🙂

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I started getting to know this girl a lot better (yes, just in time for her to leave for Columbus next year…). We played basketball together. Played volleyball for fun together a few times. Went out together with our boyfriends. She’s a great girl and I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to get to know her a little better over the past couple months (:

Three | God restores.

           Maybe not all at once. Maybe not in the way that you would hope for…or as fast as you want. But He will. He’s still                working on this. I’m still waiting for some restoration.

Four | God cares about your desires.

I can’t lie. I wanted a boyfriend. Pretty badly. So badly that I lowered my standards significantly and convinced myself that those things didn’t really matter. Until that was stripped away from me too. Then He gave me someone that I never expected to be in a relationship with. Like at all. But he has so many of the qualities that I always wanted.

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We make many funny faces (especially him! It’s a wonder we have any decent pictures at all!).

There are so many more things that I could probably say about this past school year. And maybe I will write about it again. But all I can say now is, I’M A FREAKING SENIOR!