Faith

Speak Truth in Love

Insert all the October sentiments here.
My hope has been to bring you more frequent posts, but sometimes life just doesn't allow for it. And life just felt a little too overwhelming for me to come up with words to share with you last month. I found myself searching for the right words, some bit of encouragement, but as I was lacking that in my own life, I just didn't know how to push out and share it with others. You can't pour from an empty cup, right?

I'm thankful to report that things have been a lot better over the course of the last few weeks. I'm being much more intentional about taking care of myself and paying attention to my mental health. Doing things like taking my vitamins, changing some supplements to directly address my brain, exercising, drinking water, etc. etc. (all my vitamins and supplements are linked here). Lots of grown up things happening over here, y'all!

I wanted to share with y'all something I wrote about over on instagram recently, with a little more elaboration:

I think it’s such an amazing thing that we get to walk through this life with people by our side. It’s so cool to think about how as believers, we are connected and get to be a part of one body. Sometimes that feels hard because we don’t always believe exactly the same and our personalities may clash. But because of this one amazing thing we have in common…Jesus…we get to still love each other well.

One of my favorite things I’ve seen in scripture lately is how Paul was so angry and so passionate about the choices other believers were making, and how he did not hesitate to “call them out”. BUT…He did it in love. He called them “my brethren”. He said they were his beloved friends, and he grouped himself with them even though they weren’t on the same page about things. Even though he was so frustrated with them, his motivation was LOVE. It wasn’t a need to be right or to prove someone else wrong. It wasn’t to belittle them. He loved them enough to stop and point them towards the truth. There was once a time Paul was walking in a lie and needed to be called out. And that probably is the same for you, too. I know it is for me.

I love nothing more than to see women walking this out with one another. I know it’s hard. I’ve not always done it well, and I know I’ll continue to not do it well sometimes. But this was just such a good reminder that there shouldn’t be a reason for us to be at odds with one another. We are on the same team, fighting the same common enemy. And it’s not each other. If the body is at odds, it won’t function well. I am praying for women (myself included) to rise up, to speak truth in love to one another, to celebrate the fact that even though we might not all be BFFs, we do have the greatest thing imaginable in common. And that trumps everything else.

As my pastor says at the end of every Sunday message, "go be the church". Let's go out with Jesus as our primary message. Loving Him, and in turn loving people. Imagine how that could change the world.

Eternal Perspective Shifts

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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!

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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.

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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.

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