Faith

Eternal Perspective Shifts

IMG_8575.JPG

I'm back! It's been two months since my last post, and I surely enjoyed the little break from having to try to form cohesive thoughts. That's hard enough to do just for myself some days, much less for others! But I'm happy to be back here sharing my heart with you, so I hope you're happy to be reading this as well!

I've been thinking a lot about perspective lately. It's such an important thing when it comes to almost every aspect of living that I can think of. Our perspective on any circumstance or narrative can either make or break it. Our perspective on this life in general will greatly affect our ability to experience it well or not. I'm in the process of teaching myself to have an eternal perspective and not just focusing on the ins and outs, the ups and downs of what is happening each day. I still want to do the little things well, but my ability to do that can be greatly hindered if I'm so caught up in the circumstance of this one moment that I don't have the big picture in mind.

This notion first struck me in a conversation about hope. How do we have hope or hold onto hope when our circumstances never seem to change or improve? This life is continually hard and it is difficult to see the good. There's a verse in 2 Corinthians that references our struggles as a momentary, light affliction*. SAY WHAT? Our troubles definitely don't feel momentary and light when we are in the middle of them. But when we consider this life here on earth in the flesh, it is just a vapor in comparison to the eternal life we have with Jesus. It's so hard for us to even wrap our brains around that because we are not experiencing that life free from tears or sorrow here and now, and we have never experienced it before. So we have to have faith that Jesus has better for us and we will be healed even if it's not on this side of eternity.

Other perspective shifts I've had recently:

-Thinking of others and not just myself, and trusting that the way things happen and change in our lives is an opportunity for Jesus to reveal something new and for faith to grow. So instead of questioning "why did this have to happen?", we can take Him at His word when He says that He uses all things for our good, and He makes all things beautiful in His time. And my present comfort and happiness does not hold weight to my heart or someone else's heart learning to trust His more.

-Changing the way I discipline and communicate with my kids to have the bigger picture of their future selves in mind and not solely trying to produce acceptable behavior in the moment. Yes, it would be awesome if they just learned to obey and "act right" everyday, but it's their hearts that matter. Just as God reminds us over and over in the Bible: hearts, not actions and deeds, are what matter most. I want to raise children that truly love Jesus and love others. End of story, because those things dictate everything else.

This summer and this break from a lot of the things I've had on my plate have been so good for my soul. It's allowed me to have the space to think, reflect, pray, ask God to refine and redeem areas of my life that desperately needed it. I keep saying how crazy this last year has been, but then I find myself saying it month after month as He has been so faithful to reveal Himself to me, to help me understand and know His heart more and more. Difficult circumstances are usually what brings us to the point of growth, and that's definitely been the case, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Because it means I know Him more and know Him differently and better. That will always be worth it. I'll take these momentary light afflictions any time, because eternity with the Savior of my soul is what is both here & now and also waiting for me.

*For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

What an Overdue Dentist Visit Taught Me About Jesus

Want to hear something I’m embarrassed to admit? A few weeks ago I went to the dentist for the first time since college. I’m talking it's been 10+ years. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off. At the beginning of this year when I started thinking about goals, I wrote “go to the dentist” on my list. If someone saw my list of goals I'm sure they were giving major side eye. But, I finally did it. I had to have a little pep talk from a friend as I made the appointment, and I was shaking and near tears as I sat down in the chair once I got there. I know this sounds dramatic, and yes it's embarrassing, but the anxiety was legit.

Want to guess what happened next? It wasn’t that bad. Honestly it wasn’t bad at all. All that fear and dread and avoidance for basically no reason.

So why am I telling you about a long overdue trip the the dentist? Because I think we all have some thing in our lives that we have made into a huge scary deal, and at the end of the day it’s not as bad as we are anticipating. We put it off, we avoid it, we don’t tell people about it, we are embarrassed about it, we are prideful, we are straight up scared. The list of excuses and fears is long in our heads.

Maybe it is that medical appointment you know you need to make. Or maybe it’s a dream or goal you have for yourself. Writing a book. Applying for a job. Asking a friend to coffee. Admitting something you’re struggling with out loud. Going to see a counselor. Losing that weight. Whatever it is, I know it can feel huge and scary. Your emotions can feel all over the map. 

But Jesus.

It’s not just a Sunday school answer, it’s the truth. He has put your spirit at rest and tied it to Himself even when everything in your soul or body yells otherwise. Me and Jesus, we talked a lot about the dentist leading up to and during my appointment. I know I'm always able to stake myself to Him as my steady rock whether I’m anxious over something as trivial as the dentist or something major like a relationship.

Don't be like I was, avoiding and dreading and letting fear win over something that doesn't warrant it. The fear may be real, but so is our hope in Jesus, and His love is able to cast out our fear. I'll tell you (and myself) the same thing I tell my five year old when he gets scared: we get to serve a God who is sovereign over all things, even fear itself. He commands the winds and the waves and even the darkness. We may feel the fear in every fiber of our being, but it doesn't have to dictate how we live.

I hope this embarrassing and random story about the dentist leaves you with a little bit of encouragement, but if you get nothing else from it, please just go ahead schedule your next dentist appointment. Don’t let one missed appointment turn into 15 missed appointments, cool? Cool. #neededthreefillings #shockeditwasonlythree #alsohavetogetmywisdomteethout #remindmeofthisemailwhenthatappointmenthappens #youshallnotfearthedentist

This post is an excerpt from my monthly newsletter. Click here if you'd like to subscribe!

IMG_8232.JPG

Trust in Jesus

Happy April. I wanted to share a snippet of my newsletter that went out this month! If you would like to get my monthly newsletter, you can subscribe here!

I'll be short(ish) and sweet today, and share with you something God has really been teaching me over the last month. He is so faithful and persistent in His love and pursuit of us, at whatever cost. "There's not wall you won't kick down, lie you won't tear down coming after me", right (from the song Reckless Love by Cody Asbury)? He is not hiding His truth or desires from us, and we don't have to over analyze and make things as difficult as we do for ourselves. If He wants us to know something, He will reveal it to us. I can find myself stuck in a cycle of asking and asking and asking Him to show me things, especially in instances of struggle or conflict. He's been telling me to stop obsessing and analyzing and trust Him to tell me things in His time. Sometimes (most of the time) we aren't equipped to carry the weight of the knowledge we so badly want. And sometimes there's nothing more He needs to tell us about what we are asking. It's like we are constantly trying to eat of the tree of knowledge instead of going to Him, the Tree of Life. I guess that shouldn't be surprising to think about it, but it is. He is the life and He promises to give us all we need to live. And all He requires of us is to trust Him. Even the tiniest amount of faith is more than enough. He is faithful even when we are faithless.

Need an example of His patience and love for us even when we are stuck in doubt? Head to Judges  6 and 7 and read the story of Gideon. Gideon asked God for so many signs and reassurances, and God never got angry, but instead reassured him over and over again, even using people that didn't even believe in God to show Gideon that He was real.

He goes before you, securing your victory before you even get there. He reveals things as you need them, and His timing is always better. He's after our hearts, not the outcome of the circumstances. May we continue to go to Him and trust Him for the journey, because He is Life.

IMG_3350.JPG

Made New

I’ve been interested in art for as long as I can remember. It started like all kids with paper doodles, and eventually led to me drawing on every piece of furniture in my room (which my mom was amazing enough to allow me to do) and painting my closet doors in black and white designs. The first time I held a film camera in my hand and pressed the shutter, something inside of me lit up and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Cue me deciding not to go to college for psychology, and instead choosing photography. Thankfully this was before I actually set off for college months later.

Art, colors, textures, light…they’ve all shaped the way I’ve seen the world around me. I finally decided to have a go at painting a few years ago. I don’t know exactly what pushed me to do it other than a deep desire. Kind of like that moment with the camera 10 years prior. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. And turns out, I was kind of decent at it. And in turn successful at making art for other people. But then I found myself in a “rut” of making art I didn’t love, not sure what my style or “voice” was in the art world. And then I had another baby and life got busy, and the paint brushes stayed put away for a while.

And then that stirring up thing happened again. For months and months I kept seeing these visions of the kind of paintings I wanted to make. They weren’t like anything I’d done in the past. And they were beautiful. I loved dreaming of them and taking photographs as inspiration for them. But for some reason or another I just hadn’t brought myself to actually try to make it happen. I would like to say it was for lack of time, but I think underneath that was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That they wouldn’t actually be as beautiful as I was envisioning them to be.

Honestly I could have let myself sit in that fear and funk, and I’d still be here two years later with paintings in my mind and not on canvas. But I hit the breaking point of saying I either have to just go for it, or I need to walk away from this dream.

So I went for it.

I remember the canvas laid out on my floor in the living room (I didn’t have an easel, desk, or any type of “real” workspace back then). I cranked my favorite worship album on, and got to work. I don’t know how far into that first painting I was, but I know I stopped and just started crying. Because I was bringing my idea to life. And it was working! And I had decided to push past fear and doubt and step into what I believed God was giving me.

I fully believe God places dreams and desires in our hearts. He wants us to step into the gifts He's given us. He wants us to dream big and trust Him with the process and outcome. Maybe creating a piece of art isn’t your calling or doesn’t even sound that scary to you, but I bet there’s something like that in your heart. Something you dream about that feels too scary to say out loud. He takes our desires and plans and turns them into something even better than we can try to come up with on our own.

I named this first painting I did “Made New.” It marked such a turning point for me. I was learning to try things and not live in the fear of failing. I was learning to trust God and trust my gift. He kept reminding me that He makes all things new. And that He make all things beautiful in His time.

I’ve had quite a few people ask and encourage me to share more about the meaning behind my paintings, and I knew that God was also asking me to share more openly with you here! My hope is to make this “story behind the painting” a regular series here on the blog, so if you like this kind of content let me know! I will let you know when the original painting is still available to be purchased (updated: “Made New” sold after this post was published). I’m also linking some available prints! Maybe you need this visual reminder to keep dreaming, to make brave choices, and to know that He is in all things, making them new and making them beautiful.

IMG_6961.JPG

2018: Year in Review

Believe. It’s the word I chose at the beginning of this year. I also wrote down things like authentic, intentional, bold, brave. But believe just felt like it summed the whole thing up. Because if I could believe the truth about who I was, then everything else would flow from it. My prayer was that it would be a year that I would let go of lies that had held me back, and stand firmly on the truth of who God made me. I wanted to believe that I was capable, that I was created with gifts and with purpose. All I had to do was to step into that boldly and let Him work.

I had no idea what this year would hold for me when God gave me that word. But, He knew. He knew how much I’d need to lean on and rely on Him this year. He knew that I would have to dig into Him with all that I had, that my own resources would never be enough to get by. This year may have been unexpected for me, but He wasn’t surprised.

It would be impossible to sum up what this year has given me in just one simple blog post. But I’ll do my best.

I shared on instagram a few days ago that I was having a hard time navigating this whole end of the year/start of a new year thing. That last year I was the girl with the goals and the plans, and not to say that I didn't accomplish them throughout the year, but I was just swiftly reminded that I need to hold my plans loosely. It’s been hard to get my head around setting New Year goals this time. I think mainly because in order to move forward you have to sort through what you’re leaving behind.

From the get-go, this year was crazy. The first week of February is when I found out I had the BRCA2 mutation. And it’s set the course for much of my year. I feel like this year was sectioned off by “before my surgery”, “after my surgery”, “before my second surgery”, and “after my second surgery”. There was so much waiting, so much anxiety, so much unknown. A lot of pain, physically and emotionally. It’s hard to pinpoint other highs and lows of the year because BRCA2 and mastectomy were the banners hanging over a lot of it.

It’s been a freaking hard year.

But.

It’s also been such a year of growth, and there has been so much good. And I’m going to venture to guess a lot of that good wouldn’t have been possible without the hard. Trudging through the hard taught me so much about myself, about God, about trusting, about humility, about patience. There were many chances to let myself cave under the weight of it, and some moments I did. But I know I can look back and see how I’ve gotten through it and am stronger because of it. I chose to believe that God was still good. I chose to believe that He had things under control, even though I desperately wanted to be in control sometimes. I chose to believe that He was who He said He was, and that I was who He said I was.

Our trials, our circumstances, our hardships…they are all opportunities to grow our faith, to know Him more. I was the girl with the plan, set out to live my best year yet. But I believe that His plan was better. His goals for me were better. A lot of the things I wanted for myself still happened - embracing the season I’m in, being more honest and vulnerable, living well, living authentically, being present and more intentional, being healthy. Those things happened. But not because of me. Because of Christ in me, the hope of glory.

As I get ready to step into 2019, I’m still dreaming and hoping for things. There are goals both in my mind and written on paper. But He’s taught me to hold them loosely. He’s asking me to step alongside Him as we walk out this year together. Surrendered to Him and His plans, trusting Him as we go. I’m hopeful for the year ahead. I’m expectant and excited to see what He will do and where He will bring me. I’m anticipating knowing Him in new ways, and I’m praying I will continue to believe that His way is better than anything I could dream up. I’m praying that for you, too. Let’s set goals. Let’s dream big dreams. Let’s step into our callings. And let’s not forget who is the author of our stories, and whose ways are higher than our own.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

IMG_2244.jpg