mountains among skyscrapers

 

Walking the streets of Santiago with the hustle and bustle of millions of people. The air heavy. Cigarette smoke lingers. Voices, music, cars sound all around. Eyes down, thoughts all over the place, I block it all out. I walk with purpose, on a mission to catch the metro to continue the mundane, until I’m stopped at the corner. I hear myself audibly gasp. A smile spreads and I laugh aloud as I look up, as I look before me.

There they are. The mountains. The Andes. They stand before me, peeking between skyscrapers and above buildings. There they are in all their glory just like usual, but this encounter is different. This encounter changes me.


As I stood on that street corner, the Holy Spirit spoke boldly. The lesson learned, pondered, taught, nearly forgotten, but recently remembered. Full circle you could say.

The lesson was simple: I AM WITH YOU. The picture was breathtaking: the mountains among skyscrapers. The importance was more than I could have known or understood in that moment.


With my eyes lifted, a goofy grin on my face, I knew the truth. The buildings stand tall, but the mountains stand taller. The skyscrapers loom, but the mountains are still present. My fear, my uncertainty, my inadequacy rise to the heights of the Costenera Center. Anxiety and unknowns grow until I can’t see anything else, until lifting my gaze above them is too much. But there they are, those mountains, waiting to be seen. Amidst the chaos of the city, the Andes stand firm, unchanging. Amidst my overwhelming thoughts, God stands. Just like the mountains, He stands unchanging. He stands with me.

Fear grows, but the Lord makes His presence known. Commitments take over, but He is unmoved. Unknowns remain unknown, but He makes Himself known. Uncertainty addicts, but He refuses to give us up. Life overwhelms, but He surrounds with provision and protection. Everything is too much, but His “with-ness” is enough.


“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2

This verse and the picture of the mountains among the skyscrapers all scream this one truth to my forgetful soul: He is WITH me. He is Immanuel. He is GOD with us. It’s who He is.

As the Andes surround Santiago on every side, so does the Lord surround me, so does the Lord surround you.

There will be rooftops moments where the mountains clearly surround like the walls of Jerusalem and our souls rest, in unmistakably seeing their presence, and sometimes all we get is a glimpse of them between buildings. But no matter the moment, no matter the time, the mountains are there. They never change, never move. They’re constant. What changes is our posture. Are we looking up or down? Are we looking around, walking blindly by? To see the Andes around Santiago one has to look up. One has to choose a different posture, that of expectancy. We can always expect to see Him. We should always look up, ahead, between. It is only when we change our gaze to the steady, the unmoving, the Mountain in our midst, that the breakneck speed world turns slow and finally our souls can rest. For when we know the Presence before us, we know the One WITH us.


Despite seeing from the rooftop, I somehow forgot about the mountains, about their faithful presence despite the buildings in the way. I forgot about THE Mountain, the One that is bigger than all of my distractions and uncertainty. But a truth-telling friend reminded me, “When the distractions, the seemingly impossible tasks, the skyscrapers of life start to cloud our view, we are reminded of the mountains; never moving, never changing, never faltering. Just like those mountains, my God never leaves me, never changes, and is always WITH us. Remember THE Mountain, the Mountain forever WITH us.”

I’ll remind you and me now. Whether your view is from the rooftop or the streets below, your surroundings, the mountains, our God, remain the same.  We change. He does not. We move. He does not. We are easily distracted. He is always present. He dwells within and without. He is the Mountain among our skyscrapers. He is God WITH us.

 

 

Advertisements

lessons about us from the view

I imagine God forever in His heavenly workroom with a table covered in clay, a potters wheel, tools, every color of paint and brushes strewn about in joyful disarray. He’s singing, dancing, having a party while creating every piece of earth. He’s carving mountains and painting sunsets. He’s flattening some parts and making other parts rise to heights that leave you breathless. He’s shaping lagoons and sand dunes. He’s coloring the sea every shade of blue. He’s a creative genius at work.

With that image in mind, here’s the thing I thought as I stood exhausted, makeup less with bed head and dirty clothes before a beautiful lagoon surrounded by volcanoes.

God does this just for fun. He does this just because He can. He creates because He’s good and beautiful. And I am part of that good and beautiful. He says I am His masterpiece. He whispers that not even this before me is created in His image like I am. 

Standing before some of the most beautiful views I have ever been privy to and that was what I thought. I have now hiked the Andes, swam in saltier than the Dead Sea lakes, been surrounded by volcanoes, watched too many yet never enough sunsets and seen water too blue for words. Yet every single view has left me speechless, in a flurry of thoughts.

You see, there I was awestruck at His creation, His creativity and glory and I realized something. I am seen as more beautiful than all of this. In that moment the Lord challenged meHow can I declare beauty in everything around me, yet be hesitant to declare the beauty in myself? How quick am I to marvel at the mountains, but how slow to marvel at my own skin? How easily do I gaze at oceans and foliage in wonder and then question my own design?

The thing is, what I marvel at is God’s leftover. He colors rainbows with His leftover paint and fills lagoons with salt water, because why not? But when He makes humans, when He makes you and & I, He plans every detail beforehand to reflect Himself. He takes the most delight in hand crafting each of us with unique characteristics that mimic His. He molds us on the wheel, carving every detail of our being. He laughs when he paints our freckles & birthmarks because they’re part of his creativity. He gets messy with every paint color when He comes up with never before seen eyes & hair. He takes joy in forming our arms & legs because He knows exactly who they’ll hold, serve & the lands they’ll travel. He paints the sky & carves the mountains with the leftovers from His real masterpieces, us. His real creativity & joy comes out in the dreaming up of every man.

So how can we hate on ourselves while admiring the majesty around us? How can we feel insecure when we are created in the image of a God who made THESE masterpieces?  These pieces of creation are stunning and they aren’t even made in God’s image. They’re just made for His glory & our enjoyment. We are the ones made in his image. We are the ones who display the breathtaking beauty and awe of God himself. We are the ones worth dying for. We are the ones molded around His character. We are not His leftover, but His dazzling design. We are not an afterthought, but His forever first thought. What joy & rest we can find in the TRUTH that we are His masterpieces more loved & treasured than the most breathtaking view in all the world. I dare you to believe it.

what college taught me about food and my body

Last summer, as I was getting ready to start college, I had one huge unspoken fear. FOOD.

Most people are nervous about classes and friends. I was tied in a knot over food. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I would react. I didn’t know who would understand, if anyone. I wasn’t nervous about it, I was scared.

I was scared for months leading up to college. I would sit on my couch in my therapist’s office week after week and go over the same “what ifs.” What if this? What if that? All of my “what ifs” and my fears concerning food and my body were glaring me in the face. The only voices I could hear were telling me, “Just wait. You’ll be overwhelmed and out of control. You’ll eat too little and spiral downward again. You’ll never recover. Or you’ll eat too much. You won’t know what to do. You’ll gain the freshman fifty and no one will love you.” My ears were tuned to hear only fear and failure. My eyes trained to see only what could go wrong.

So I entered college, with these barely exposed fears. I had only just gotten used to my food routine at home and now it was turned upside down, inside out. I had no idea what territory I was embarking on.

I can’t say it was a perfect transition, because it wasn’t. I had a few meltdowns in the cafeteria. I had a few silent cries. I had some subconscious restrictions. A few calls and emails to my home base. Many frantic questions and fears and failures scribbled in my journal. It was not perfect, but I’m okay with that, because it taught me a few of the most important lessons I could’ve learned.

I was reading 1 Timothy 4 and it was as if the Holy Spirit lifted a veil from before my eyes and I could see a new picture of food. “Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars, who forbid people to marry and teach them to abstain from certain kinds of foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and have knowledge of the truth. For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is hallowed and consecrated by the Word of God and by prayer” (1 Timothy 4: 2-5). In the prior verses Timothy says that these things will come from “seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach.” These rules and regulations concerning food are not of God. They come from hypocrites and liars. Food rules and restrictions are not of the Lord. They are of Satan who seeks to use what God meant for good, to destroy us, to leave us unable to serve the Kingdom.

I read this passage over and over again, specifically verse four, because of the truth it spoke.

Food is good.

Food is good. It’s goodness itself. And it’s a central part of how we experience God’s goodness towards us. Food matters. Food is part of God’s new and good creation. He created food and He called it good. He didn’t call some foods good and others bad. It doesn’t say some foods or the “safe” food or even the healthy food. It says everything. (Read verse four again if you don’t believe me). He called them all good. He says everything, all foods, He created are good. Let that truth sink in.

Not only does God call food good for us, He shows it’s good for Himself as well. When Jesus came to earth He ate food. He ate the same food as everyone else. He didn’t have some sort of “perfect heavenly food.” The food here on earth was perfect and literally sent from Heaven. It was, is, created by God in Heaven to be good and perfect for our bodies. Nor did He restrict certain foods calling them “bad.” He ate and drank what everyone else did.  Our food was good enough for the Son of God. I think that speaks volumes.

The truth is God made food. He ate food. He calls food good and He desires us to call it good too.

Food is a gift. 

Yep, you read that right. Before college I laughed at the thought of food being good, much less a gift.Food has always been fuel to me, something I need to survive. Nothing more and nothing less. But the Word of God tells a different story. Food is a beautiful, priceless gift to be received with thanksgiving and joy. Food is fuel, but it is not just fuel. It is the sole sustenance of our physical bodies. We cannot live without food.

I always yelled at God for making food. How could He do that? Why did He make me dependent on food? Why couldn’t food be optional or at least plain, bland, unimportant? The answer is that God could have made food just fuel. He could have even made us to be self-sustaining. But He didn’t. And you know why? Because He loves to go over the top for us. He loves to lavish grace, mercy and love upon us. One way He does that is through food. He sees food as a gift, a way to show us how much He cares.

It’s also a tangible way to remind us of our dependence on God in all things. We are not self-sustaining on purpose. We cannot survive without God providing food for our bodies. God made us dependent on food for a reason. He wants food, which we have to eat in regular increments, to be a constant reminder of how much we need Him and how much He loves us.

God hasn’t made food to harm us, but to bless us. God didn’t make food to cause division, but to bring people together. God made food and gave it to us as a gift. Food can seem like a burden, but with a changed perspective, food can become a beautiful, even holy, gift from our Father.

My body is good.

This is also something that I could not have said or seen a year ago. Before college, I made do with my body. I didn’t necessarily hate it, but I certainly didn’t love it. I tried to avoid it as much as possible, although being a dancer made that pretty hard. My body could have been described as “fine” or “okay,” but never good.

Now I can look at myself and say “my body is good” and really believe it. My body hasn’t changed at all. My mind has. My perspective on my body has changed. Slowly, my eyes turned from what my body couldn’t do, to what it could do. From what I didn’t like, to what I did. From reasons to be self-conscious, to the God who gave me a spirit of power and love. The Holy Spirit changed my focus. He realigned my vision for my body, with the vision God has for my body. God’s vision for my body is vastly different than my vision was.

God doesn’t care what size and shape we are. He cares what we do with our bodies. Yes, we are to be good stewards of our physical bodies because they house the Holy Spirit and are a gift from the Lord. However, God cares far more about how we love and serve than how we work out and what size we wear. He would rather us sit in His presence than anything else in the world.

So, yes, my body is good and so is yours. Our bodies pump thousands of gallons of blood a day. They get a bite of food through a complex system of compartments and valves. They know which things are welcome in the body and which are to be fought off. Our bodies are incredible. Not only that, our bodies are vessels of hope and joy for everyone we come in contact with. They are how we communicate the love of Christ to the lost and hurting. Our bodies are incredible. Our bodies are good.

We have to choose to believe that God made our bodies and He doesn’t make mistakes. He cannot. It’s against His nature, contrary to His character. That thing about your body that you think must be a mistake, it’s not. It’s good.

God made my body fearfully and wonderfully. My body is good. So is yours.

God knows.

College taught me that God knows. He knows all about my heart and soul. He knows all about my body. Nothing gets past Him. He knows what foods I like and what foods work for me. He knows what my unique body needs to function best.

I thought I knew what my body needed. I thought it needed less of everything. I thought restricting types and quantities of foods would be best, but God has shown me otherwise. My body is the Lord’s. He is in control of it, not me. Any action that attempts otherwise is a proud attempt at playing god.

The Lord is in control of all things, including my body. I may have thoughts, but His purposes for it will stand (Proverbs 19:21). My body, along with everyone else’s, is in His capable hands (Job 12:10). Though I want to believe that I know best, I have seen the folly in that. When I played god over my body, I sent it into a deep, dark pit, but when God has control my feet are placed on solid rock. God is in control and He knows best.


What was bad became good. What was fuel became a symbol of God’s love and grace for me. What was a grudgingly accepted gift became an opportunity for fellowship with others. What I believed was a mistake ridden body became a way to love and serve those around me. What I thought would destroy me, actually remade me. What I thought would be a burden carried alone became something shared among many. What began as my greatest fear in college became my greatest freedom. 

 

If you’d like to learn more about foods role in lives, read “A Meal With Jesus” by Tim Chester. I read it my first semester of college and it changed my world. I have no doubt it’ll change yours too.

 

a harvest story

Most of life is spent planting seeds. Planting seeds of faith, hope, joy and love. Planting seeds and praying they grow. Praying that someone waters them. Praying that the seeds fall on soft soil hearts. Beyond the initial planting and occasional watering and prayer we are removed from the growth process. But sometimes you get to experience the harvest and let me tell you harvest time is my favorite time!

After a long ten days being a camp counselor, I was tired. I loved each of my campers and was learning so much from them, but I was definitely doubting my influence. I was praying to be content with simply seed planting in my campers, trusting that God would do the watering. But then God decided to show off and let me be a part of another one of His incredible harvest stories.

“Let us not grow weary or lose heart in doing good, for in due time and at the appointed season we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9

A friend sat us down and said we needed to share, so share we did. I told my story. She told hers. Our mutual brokenness quickly bonded us. She was vulnerable and real and the raw hurt of it all ran deep. But Jesus ran deeper. I could feel her pain, because her pain had been my pain a couple years ago. But that reminded me that my pain, our pain, is always His pain too. My heart broke for her, but His heart had been broken for us both because He loves His daughters that deeply. Just as I wished I could give this girl a glimpse of the complete freedom to come in surrendering everything to Christ, so the Lord desires to show us all that we have in Him. For everything I felt, He has felt it a million times over again for all of eternity.

In the simple act of sharing our stories with each other, His mighty healing power brought redemption beyond my imaginings. I, and then we, prayed freedom & hope over her in Jesus name and He delivered wildly. He lavished freedom upon her, because that’s just who He is. In His great love for this dear girl, He rained hope & grace & redemption on her. He set her feet upon the path to freedom and ignited the Spirit within her. The joy she suddenly had in the Lord was written across her face and it was beautiful. I was content. I was in awe.

As if that wasn’t enough, a few days ago I got a text from this sweet new God-friend, that reminded me again just how powerful our God is. I’m writing about it here, because I can’t help but brag on God. Only He can do things like this.

“I don’t even know what to say. I am so thankful that the Lord saved YOU and I hope you know how greatly you have changed my life with your story, encouragement, and truth. I will forever treasure the words you have spoken over me and that you have written. You have shown me for the first time what freedom and bravery look like and I am overflowing with hope and joy that I haven’t felt in SO long. After reading your letter I threw away my hidden self-harm blades which I NEVER thought I would be able to do. The Lord is working through you in mighty ways, Arden, and I hope you never doubt your influence because it is more powerful than you know. “

Yes, praise the LORD, you read that correctly. She threw them away. Those blades she kept hidden for times when she needed to inflict the depth of pain she felt inside. Those blades that had cut deeply into flesh with the hope of inflicting some kind of pain that might possibly mimic the intense self-hate she felt. The blades that were used when the voices got too loud and the hopelessness and worthlessness overwhelmed. She threw them away. She did what I couldn’t fully do for years and I’m in tears. I happy danced and happy-cried and gave thanks in my room, because GOD IS SO GOOD. He is mighty to save.

But she didn’t just throw away the blades she used to hurt herself. She threw away her old self that was coated in fear, shame and hopelessness from years of bondage to anxiety, depression and anorexia. She threw away the old and embraced the new that God offered. He had been patiently waiting for her to take the complete newness she received at her salvation. She took hold of hope and joy. She’s clinging to Truth in the face of lies. She’s throwing all kinds of chains off and dancing out in freedom.

She wrote “bravery is a choice” on her hand everyday for two weeks. But she did more than that. She actually made the choice to be brave. In throwing away what she had used to cope with pain & hopelessness & the devils lies, she chose brave. The enormity of that action still leaves me speechless. I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t experienced this kind of bondage can understand just how brave you have to be to make such a choice. She chose to believe the Truth when the lies where much easier to believe. She chose hope when most would choose hopelessness. She is BRAVE because she is choosing Jesus and He is always the bravest choice we can make. 

I could go on and on about this girl, this story, this God. But there are a few things I want you to take away from this story. First, and most importantly, GOD IS AWESOME. He deserves all honor and glory in everything, but especially in these moments. These moments where our lives are used by Him are beautiful. They are another opportunity to point back to Him who did all the work. We are just His instruments. I am simply an instrument in His complex orchestra. And I will praise Him forever for the opportunity to have a front row seat to see the way He works. Second, the Holy Spirit is real. He is alive and working within us and around us. I never want to forget how the Holy Spirit moved in this situation, how thickly he saturated every aspect of it. I pray I never forget that He’s working right this very moment. I pray I never cease being blown away by the power of the Spirit. Lastly, I want you to see the power of shared stories in the hands of the Author of life. God wrote your story and it needs to be read. You need to share it, because other people need to hear it. Others need to see living, breathing testimonies of God’s redemption. Sometimes it seems pointless, but as a wise Audrey once said “never doubt your influence.” Never doubt the impact your story can have on another’s story.

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.  2 Corinthians 9:6-9

This girl blessed me more than she knows, because just as she was given hope through me, so was I given hope through her. It’s not everyday that I get to see this kind of fruit. Most days are seed planting days. But God throws in these joyful harvest days to remind us that we do not labor in vain and that He is constantly at work. Every smile, every word, every action are seeds planted, parts of the stories being written around you.

So I thought camp was seed planting season, but apparently God had other plans. Keep planting seeds in Jesus name. I promise God will blow you away when you get to experience the harvest moments and be a part of a joyful harvest story such as this one.

A letter to the girl who listened…

To the girl who listened. From the God who always listens.

You did the hard thing. You said no, when all you wanted was to say yes. You took the hard way, instead of the easy way. You took the road much less traveled, when the easy road was right there with your name written all over it. Chances are friends were telling you to pick the easy road. It was a good road. I would’ve been there. You would’ve seen me.

But instead you picked the hard road. There are only a few people on this road. It’s not quite a party. A few friends advised you to take it and a few friends might be travelling it with you. Your name wasn’t written anywhere on this road, but My name was. That’s why you picked it. It seemed like the wrong choice, but you saw My footprints and you knew.

You heard My Spirit’s promptings at the gate and you listened. You listened when it was much easier to tune Me out. You said “yes” to me when you could have easily said “no” without major consequences.

Do you know how happy you made Me? Yes, I’m the God of every living being and am forever being praised in Heaven and on earth, but do you know that YOU brought me joy when you said yes to Me? Hearing you choose Me over him made me smile. I chose you over My Son because I love you that much and I love that you chose Me over man, because you love Me that much.

I know you think you caused hurt beyond repair, but I’m a God who redeems and heals all brokenness. This is no exception.

I know you think you broke a heart, but actually you’re part of the building. Sometimes things, people, have to be broken down before they can be built back up. It hurts, but it’s worth it.

So the decision you made was a hard one, but you made it because you listened to my Spirit. I want you to know I see this. I see your obedience and I will honor it (Jeremiah 7:23).

So you chose not what was necessarily “right” but what was right for you. That is one of the hardest decisions to make. However, I promise I’m enough for you. In fact, I’m more than enough. I could never reveal to you all that I am, because it is simply too much (Exodus 33).

So you said no to something good in order to wait for something better. You may not see it now, but your hard decision will be worth it as you see the work that I am doing and will do in your heart. I will not leave you undone. I will finish the refining work in you (Genesis 28:15).

So you kind of regret your decision. You think maybe you heard the wrong voice and made the wrong choice. Maybe people are saying you were wrong, but if they are it’s because they don’t understand My thoughts and plans for you. They can’t. They don’t know that this is part of the making of My people. This is part of Me refining you into the most beautiful gold (Micah 4:11-12).

So you’re on the hard road now. Maybe you’re wondering why you  chose to listen. Maybe you’re looking over at the easy road and wishing you were there. The grass is always greener, right? But let me tell you something. That road over there was a good road. I would’ve been there. You would’ve seen me. But this road is a better road for you because on this road you won’t just see me, you’ll feel me.  You’ll know me more. You’ll depend on me. You’ll have no choice but to cling to me and let me carry you.

To the girl who listened…let me continue to speak to you. Let me satisfy your every need. Let me heal your heart. Let me love you. 

 

 

Craving Connection

Hey you. We might know each other. We might not. But, regardless, there are 5 things that I know for sure about you. You want to be seen. You want to be heard. You want to be known & understood. You want to be loved.

And you and I are very similar, we want the same things. We both want to be seen, heard, known, understood and loved. Everyone wants the same thing. Everyone is searching, seeking out and craving the same thing. We are all craving connection.

This craving unites us. You can look at anyone and know that at your cores you both desire the same things. You know why? Because you were made to crave these things. You were made to crave connection. But you were made to crave The Connection. It’s only under this ultimate connection that our craving is satisfied.

You want to be seen. You want people to notice when you walk in the room. You want people to smile at you when they pass by. You want people to give hugs and high fives. You want people to notice when you fix your hair or get new glasses. You just want to be seen. We all just want to be seen.

You want to be heard. You want friends to listen to your rambling stories and stupid jokes. You want family to listen while you relay the events of your day in great detail. You want your opinions and ideas to be heard and considered by those around you. You want to have a say in things concerning you. You really want to be heard. We all really want to be heard.

You want to be known & understood. You want to be known by those around you. You want close relationships that mean you can talk without words and laugh without retelling the inside joke. You want loved ones to know you so well that they can tell how you’re doing before you speak. You want your story to be known, so that you can be understood better. You want people to “get” you. That’s what we all want, to be known & understood.

You want to be loved. You do. You want to be loved for your flaws, your mistakes, your insecurities and weird quirks. You want to be loved even though you’re no good at sports and you laugh too loud (maybe even snort!) at the worst possible times. You want to be loved because you’re a good listener and a great story-teller. You want to be loved for your adventurous side and your book reading side. You want to be loved for everything you are and everything you are not. We all want to be loved for these reasons plus a million more.

Don’t think these desires make you weak or needy. You were designed this way. You were designed to want and need other people. “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). But we weren’t just made to be physically present with other people, we were made to connect deeply and honestly with other people. We were made to laugh and cry with others. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). We were made to share our lives with others, to encourage & speak Truth to those around us. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are supposed to live in connected community as the body of Christ. That’s what we were made for. That’s why we crave it.

If we were made for deep connection with others, then why do relationships with man, even the very best ones, not satisfy us?

Because while we were made for connection with man, we were first made for intimate connection with God (hello, Garden of Eden!). He is who our hearts ultimately crave. Connection to other people is good, beautiful, even necessary, but connection to God is irreplaceable.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1)

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1)

“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” (Psalm 107:9)

Only Jesus parches our thirst and satisfies our craving for connection, because He is the Living Water and the deep relationship that we were made for. In John chapter 4 Jesus responds to the Samaritan woman at the well and says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again (will not be satisfied); but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst (because the Living Water satisfies our craving); but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). Jesus is what who we crave. He is the connection we desire. He is the one who will always listen, always see us. He is the only one who will ever fully know and understand us. He is the one who loves us unconditionally. And it is out of this deeply connected, satisfying relationship with Him, that all else should flow.

So you over there on the other side of the screen. Three things to take away from this:

  1. You were made to crave connection. You are not weak or needy or less than. You are human, made in the image of God who is the epitome of connection.
  2. Other people will never satisfy your craving for connection. You will never be heard enough, seen enough, loved enough, or understood enough by people. Similarly, you will never listen enough, love enough, understand enough or know enough. 
  3. God will always satisfy your craving for connection. Always. I promise.

You are seen, known, heard, and desperately loved forever and always by the One who really matters. Rest in that.

 

The Cross & The Tomb

If I’m being honest this semester has been hard. So good, but hard. It’s led me to be amazed by Jesus, but also appalled by own sin. But God remains faithful. He sent just what I needed through a simple text that held two questions that have wrecked my narrow, self-centered mind and brought me back to my knees.

What has the Cross set you free from? And what has the empty tomb set you free to do?

That’s it. Two short, self-explanatory questions. But they hold so much meaning. So much freedom when taken to heart.

These questions were asked for the specific purpose of video to be shown at a Good Friday service on campus, but they have meant so much more to me. I’ve thought about them all week long and I hope I never stop asking myself these questions, because they point straight to the Gospel and to the heart of Jesus.

The answer to these questions is the point of Jesus death and resurrection. He didn’t die to make a big scene or rise again to freak people out. He didn’t go through Hell (literally) and experience the crushing weight of every single human beings sin just so we would throw parties every spring. No, he died and rose again to set you and me free. That’s all. That was His purpose. That was the will of the Father, to set his children free of sin by the death and resurrection of his most beloved Son.

God looked at you in your brokenness and said, “You are worth my most beloved Son.” Jesus accepted the will of His Father because He thinks, “You are worth Him dying the most shameful, excruciating death imaginable.” Your freedom is worth that much. Do you understand? You are worth that much! If you had been the only person on earth, Christ still would have died for you, because you’re worth it. I’m worth it. We are worth it.

And now by the power of His blood we walk in freedom. But let us not be a people that take the Cross and the freedom it gave us for granted. Let us not be complacent with our freedom. Let us not remain in our jail cell, in our sin and shame, when Jesus has unlocked the door and invited us to walk out of the darkness into the Light with Him.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Here are my declarations of Freedom and I encourage you to write your own!

The Cross has set me free from fear. From the fear of failure and the fear of not being enough for anyone or anything. The empty tomb has set me free to share peace with others and let them know just how ENOUGH they are because of Whose they are.

The Cross has set me free from the shame of my sin, my past. And the tomb has set me free to walk confidently in the forgiveness and redemption that is graciously given to me everyday.

The Cross has set me free from the bondage of expectations. I no longer have to strive to live up to my own and others expectations in order to be loved. And the tomb has set me free to give myself and others grace when we fail.

The Cross has set me free from the need to be perfect. Because the Son of Man chose to become flesh and blood in order to die for my imperfections, I can live an imperfect life while being loved by a perfect God. And the tomb has set me free to do just that.

The Cross has set me free from the bondage to lies about who I am and whose I am. The tomb has set me free to walk in complete freedom trusting that I was made for such a time as this, by a God whose plans know no bounds.

The Cross has set me free from a life of timidity and fear of man. And the tomb has set me free to live a BOLD and BRAVE life for Him, sharing the Gospel without fear of man.

Verses to read: Romans 8:16, Isaiah 61:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, John 16:33

Let’s Lead A Rebellion

Ladies, enough is enough. It’s time to call it quits. It’s time to put your foot down. It’s time to say, “NO.” It’s time for a rebellion.

Rebellion: refusal to obey or accept normal standards; resisting convention

Now, if you know me, you know that I am one of the least rebellious beings on this earth. I am a people-pleaser. I will do everything in my power to not rock the boat or cause confrontation. I was the person that would cry if I thought someone was disappointed in me, the kid that was afraid to order food or go shopping in case what I picked wasn’t “right.” I was the person that would lay down and invite you to walk all over me for fear of causing a problem.

I am not rebellious. I am not someone to call for a rebellion, which is the very reason that a rebellion is desperately needed.

I know that I am not the only girl that has felt like she’s too much and not enough. I know I’m not the only one who has felt unworthy. Unworthy life, of being seen, known & loved. I know that my sins are not unique to me. I know that the lies I believe(d) do not stop with me. I know that feeling ugly or (dare I say) fat is not something that only I have faced. I know that I’m not the only one who said nothing when they wanted to scream or followed along when they wanted to lead. I know I’m not alone in this. You’ve probably experienced the same.

Friends, let’s lead a rebellion. Let’s start a revolution.

Revolution: a sudden, complete and radical change

It’s been a long time coming. But the time is now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month or year. NOW.

Let’s lead a rebellion against lies. Against shame. Against fear, anxiety and depression. Against evil. Ultimately, against Satan himself.

Let’s be defiant. Let’s resist and rebel against the standard of perfection that sucks the life out of us. Let’s revolt against the idea that we have to show everything to be worth anything. Let’s stop the comparing game and start saying, “good for her, not for me.” Let’s be people that stand strong underneath the pressure to gossip, be exclusive, and form cliques. Let’s fight the arrows (lies) that fly with our shield of faith and breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:10-18). Let’s declare over our lives, and the lives of those around us, “I am enough.” Let’s declare worthiness over every soul and every story.

Because you see, the battle is not with each other. We are allies, not enemies. The battle is against Satan, the thief who came to steal, kill and destroy all joy, hope and godly relationships (John 10:10). So, let’s join together and fight for Truth.

Let’s be the people who stop the cycle, put an end to it all. Let’s not settle for bondage, but fight for freedom (Galatians 5:1). Let’s be a generation of women too overtaken by our Jesus to care about anything else. Let’s rise up and be bold enough to ask hard questions and have real conversations. Let’s look at each other and the world in light of God’s grace and glory.

It’s time for a rebellion and it starts with you and me.

*This posts theme courtesy of the ever lovely and insightful, Caroline Morris. Thank you for spurring this rebellion on*

 

 

To the Girl Without a Date

To the girl without a date,

You are seen. You may feel invisible. You may feel at times that you don’t exist. You may wonder if you have an invisibility cloak that hides you from the view of all guys. But, you are seen.  You may not have guys clamoring for your attention, but you are still seen. At parties, you may be the girl that stands alone. At dances, you may be the girl that is never asked to dance. In your friend group, you may be the only one without a “significant other.” All of this may be true, but the real truth, the truest truth, is you are seen. Jesus knows the desires of your heart and the perfect timing for each of your desires (Psalm 37:4, Ecc. 3:1). He sees all things and you are no exception.

You are known. You may look around you and feel as if there isn’t a soul in the room who really knows you. You may feel like no one, especially guys, would ever care to know you. You may be discouraged and feel alone. You may feel like you are simply too much to handle or not interesting enough to know, but you are known. You may not have guys lining up to talk with you or even a date in the foreseeable future, but you are still known. All of this may be true, but the truest truth is that you are fully known by God who made you cell by cell for an individual purpose that no one else can fulfill. Ya, that guy across the room may not care to know you right now, but the only Guy that matters wants nothing more than to know you right this very minute and to have you know Him.

You are beautiful. You are. You’re probably rolling your eyes or laughing under your breath right about now, but it’s true. You may not have guys fawning over your outward appearance or gushing about your beauty. You may not be “magazine material”  or have a guy that tells you you’re beautiful daily. You may feel unattractive or plain on your best day, but the truth is that you are beautiful. If you’re anything like me, then you still don’t believe me. So let me tell you a secret…no one on earth will ever be able to convince you of your beauty until you are convinced that you are worth being called beautiful.

You are loved. You may have been hurt in the past or simply overlooked. You may feel unlovable. You may believe that there is nothing about you for a guy (or anyone) to love, but you are wrong. You are so very wrong. Please hear this: You. Are. Loved. You may have moments, memories, that seem to prove the contrary, but the truest thing about you as a human being is this: you are loved. It’s that simple (John 3:16).

You are worthy. You are worthy of love and affection. You are worthy of respect and honesty. You are worthy of faithfulness and gentleness. You may not consider yourself worthy of anything, much less of these characteristics. You may have been told you are unworthy by someone or had a guy in your life that made you feel unworthy of good. You may have done, been, said, seen things that left you feeling completely unworthy of all good. You may simply believe, for whatever reason, that you are inherently unworthy regardless of anything you do. But that, my friend, is simply not true. You are worthy.

So, to the girl without a date, you are seen. Even if you are overlooked in the moment and feel invisible in a sea of pretty girls, you are seen by the Father. Even if no one asks you to dance or looks your way, you are still seen. You are seen by El Roi, the God who sees. No matter where you go, you will always be seen by Him. There is not a place you can run that will hide you from His gaze. He has His loving eyes on you forever and ever.

To the girl without a date, you are known. You may look around and see the couples, hear the stories and feel alone, unknown, unworthy of being known. But you are not alone and you are entirely known. In fact, you were known before the beginning of all time. God sees you and wants to know you intimately. He wants nothing more than to spend time with you. He wants to capture your attention and to have a relationship with you. You are known by your Father from the inside out.

To the girl without a date, you are beautiful. You probably look around and see the girls that have guys fighting for their attention and wonder what makes them more appealing, what they have that you don’t. I bet you come to this conclusion–they’re more beautiful, thinner, funnier, more outgoing and fun, more of everything that you are not. But I want to challenge that. They are beautiful, but so are you. You are altogether beautiful and there is no flaw in you because you were perfectly made in the image of a perfect Father.

To the girl without a date, you are loved. There doesn’t have to be a so called “prince charming” in your life for you to be loved. Look around you at all the ways that God is loving you in this moment through His people and his creation. You are SO loved. So loved that someone died for you. And better yet, He died to save your life. Is there a better, more novel worthy love than that?

Lastly, to the girl without a date (or the girl with the wrong date), hear this: you are worthy. Just because there isn’t a guy pursuing you right now, doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of one. You are worthy of a man that will respect and cherish you. You are worthy of a guy that treats you with patience and gentleness. You are worthy of a gentleman and of being treated like a lady. So, be that lady and wait for a gentlemen. Because you are worth waiting for.

I will leave you with this: You do not need to be thinner or taller or funnier or smarter or more talented and flirtatious or anything else under the sun. You are seen, known, beautiful, loved and worthy just as you are, date or no date.