on not learning

I feel like I’ve been stumbling through life lately. Just doing the next thing and not really growing in any noticeable way.

I like to figure things out. I like to know the why; I don’t like unanswered questions. I like problems to be tied up in a nice, pretty bow; I like to have an answer for everything.

So, as I sit here eating a blueberry muffin at 5:56 on a Saturday evening (my life is super exciting), I want to write a blog post. Scratch that. I feel like I need to write a blog post. But the problem is, I don’t know what to write about.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t feel like I’m learning anything important lately.

Sure, I’m navigating a new job and learning skills I need for that, and I’m (finally?) learning that sometimes you can’t read all pages of the textbook. Oh—I’m also learning that there are more entertaining shows to watch than Last Man Standing (sorry, Parker). But nothing of real substance…nothing that I can write about in a nice, organized essay.

Here’s the thing: I have a lot of questions right now. With so much pain in the world, I don’t know exactly what to think (besides the fact that God is always, always good and His way is always, always best). With so much of my post-college future unknown, I don’t know exactly where to direct my energy. And with several essays from two classes due tomorrow, I have decided that writing something irrelevant to either class is the best use of my time.

Ahem.

But maybe I am learning something, in the midst of all the not-learning. Maybe I’m learning that it’s okay to not know. Maybe I’m learning that it’s okay to go through seasons of life where you don’t have any lightbulb moments; it’s okay to have seasons where you wrestle with the hard questions. Maybe the purpose for these seasons is to get life experience to give momentum to the next season—to fuel the next lightbulb moment.

Maybe, just maybe, I need to learn to be okay with that. Not okay with being stagnant (because I don’t think that’s ever a good thing), but okay with not having all the answers and slowly stumbling along the path.

Maybe that’s what I’m learning.

See—look. There. I tied my problem up with a nice pretty bow.

reset

(First of all, I’m not going to mention that it’s already July and wow this year is going fast)

I ran across a caption I wrote on January 1st and it made me remember how important it is to check in on our goals throughout the year. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions per se, but I do thrive off setting goals (and I think it’s the best way to achieve success). Here’s what my prayer was at the beginning of the year:

We marvel at how quickly a year goes by, yet too often feel like the days drag on. So, on January 1st 2018, let’s remember this year with a special fondness because that was the year we finally learned to live life from a place of rest. Let’s open our hearts and homes and lives to each other and show Jesus even in the messiest days. Let’s remember to rely on Him daily, hourly. Let’s live this year with reckless abandon toward Jesus and his plan for us. Let’s make 2017 a year of exploring the depths of God’s word and changing our lives accordingly–not changing God’s word to fit our lives. Let’s face each day with bravery because we know without a shadow of a doubt that we are right where God wants us to be. Let’s embrace this gift of a new year. Let’s make 2017 a manifesto of grace, of mercy, and of courage to follow wherever He leads. 

I had to ask myself, am I living this out? We’re now seven months into 2017. Life is busy. Things are happening in our personal lives and in the world that can easily (easily!) become exhausting.

But today, this first Monday of July, let’s just take a moment to reset. To remember where we want to be in December. And to remember what really matters. It’s way too easy to lose sight of the Kingdom work we are called to do, because that work is invisible. We can’t always see the rewards; we don’t always see the fruit. But we aren’t called to see fruit. We’re called to be faithful sowers. I fail way more often than I succeed. (The whole come and see thing is hard, because real life is hard). But I’m thankful for grace and second (and third and fiftieth) chances, aren’t you?

 

reap & sow

This week, I was reading through Galatians. The entire book is full of reminders of who Jesus is and what he did for us, but Friday, one verse stood out to me. Hit me in the gut, so to speak.
 
Read this (Galatians 6:8): “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” 
 
It stopped me in my tracks. How often am I sowing to please the Spirit? In other words, how often do my thoughts, my words, and my actions line up with the Bible? Because I’ll reap whatever I sow. Catering to my flesh (aka my worldly, sinful desires) doesn’t reap fulfillment and peace in Jesus.
 
But to be honest, it’s hard. It’s hard to stay on guard, always making sure my thoughts, actions, and words line up with Jesus. And that’s why Paul penned the next verse—an encouraging reminder, a little extra push: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
 
So hang in there. The one who started a good work in you will bring it to completion. He who promised is faithful. Let’s sow to please the Spirit.

choose joy

In the midst of life’s chaos, it’s important to remember to choose joy. Unlike happiness, joy doesn’t come because of our circumstances, but instead comes from knowing the One who is in control of our circumstances.

I made these phone wallpapers as a reminder for myself to choose joy—maybe you’d like a reminder too? Just click the wallpaper you want for the download link…and feel free to share them with anyone who might need a little encouragement.

choose joy phone wallpaper pineapple 1choose joy phone wallpaper ocean 1choose joy phone wallpaper pineapple2

Happy Sunday, friends, and I hope you each have an incredible, joy-filled week.

 

*these are sized for an iPhone 6/6S, but should work for other phones, as well. Also, don’t save them from this post to your phone…make sure you go to the OneDrive link to get the best quality. 🙂

struggles and grace

Sometimes, days don’t end up like you planned and you struggle to accomplish anything worthwhile. Sometimes, you feel overwhelmed at the pile of tasks on your to-do list and wonder if it’s really possible to get it done. Sometimes, you feel like your goals are just out of reach and that you will fail if you try to grasp them.

But in those times, it’s important to remember that God gives grace abundantly. It’s important to pray as David did: “lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” And it’s important to remember that just because your day hasn’t been productive up to this point, it can be productive from this point on.

So here’s to the hard days, for they teach us how to press on. And here’s to the good days, for they give us hope for the future.

the gospel

Justified. Forgiven. Redeemed.

As we approach what is traditionally known as Holy Week, let’s take a minute to remember what the Gospel truly is. Let’s remember not only what we have been called to, but how we are called to go about it. This video is a powerful reminder of what Jesus did for us and why we have chosen to follow Him.

He’s very good at being God. Are we good at following?

twenty-one things I’ve learned

I guess turning another year older makes you a little more nostalgic than normal. I still have a lot to learn (as Socrates said, “all I know is that I know nothing”), but here are 21 things I’ve realized in the past 21 years. Here’s to another 21 of learning and growing!

 

  1. “stuff” isn’t really that important
  2. ice cream is always a good idea
  3. plans change, and that’s okay
  4. God is faithful—really, really faithful
  5. social media doesn’t replace real community
  6. road trips are good times to sit still and think
  7. snail mail should be highly valued
  8. opportunities to travel should be taken as often as possible
  9. it’s way more fun to cut your sandwich in triangles
  10. facetime is a wonderful thing
  11. having your life together by college is a myth
  12. daily quiet time really is vital (and there is grace to get back up when I fail)
  13. you can learn something from everyone you meet
  14. setting goals is the first ingredient of success
  15. colored pens make the world go ’round
  16. a change of scenery can do wonders for productivity
  17. sometimes holding your tongue is truly the best idea
  18. travel cubes make life easier
  19. spontaneity is good for the soul
  20. peppermint patties can make any day brighter
  21. sometimes opportunities come from unexpected places or unexpected people

What would you add to the list?

come & see

Though the sun was shining brightly overhead, Philip knew he couldn’t stay still. He had just met someone–someone special, someone different–and he had to find his friend. Finally, he found him: resting under a fig tree, trying to find relief from the relentless sun. Philip called out, “we have found Him whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!”
Nathaniel looked up. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
“Come and see,” was the only answer Philip gave.
His curiosity fully aroused, Nathaniel followed his friend to see the man spoken of by the prophets.
[paraphrase of John 1:45-46]

“Come and see.” Three simple words that have life-changing meaning.
Philip wasn’t the only one who used those words. Jesus used them, as well. Two disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus where He was staying, and Jesus answered, “come and see”–an invitation into the personal life of Jesus. John’s disciples ended up staying with Jesus–the King of Kings!–all because of three little words.
The Samaritan woman also spoke those words. A few chapters later, she encountered Jesus by the well. After a life-changing conversation with the Living Water, she couldn’t keep her joy to herself. She “left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’ They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.”
“Come and see.” That’s all it took for Nathaniel to meet Jesus.
“Come and see.” That’s all it took for John the Baptist’s disciples to enter into a close relationship with God.
“Come and see.” That’s all it took for a group of Samaritans to enter into salvation.
If Philip had merely told Nathaniel about Jesus, he might not have become a disciple. If Jesus had merely told John’s disciples where he was staying, they might not have spent the day with Him. If the Samaritan Woman had merely told the men what Jesus did, they might not have gone to meet Him.
“Come and see.” In essence, “come with me; come into my life. Let’s find Jesus together.” A vulnerable invitation hidden in three simple words dramatically changed the lives of many.
Come. And see. An invitation, a simple beckoning to witness something great. Are we inviting those around us into our lives to see what God has done, and not just telling them? Are we letting down our facades of perfection and letting others see the grace of Jesus and how much He has done in our life?
If we invite those around us to come in and let them see us at our lowest; if we share with them how we were once dead, but by the grace of God, are now alive; if we let Jesus live through us so vibrantly that He is the one they see…that is a testimony. If we invite others into our lives—not just our church buildings; if we aren’t afraid to show them the mess that we are (because only then will they be able to see the true mercy of redemption)…that is a testimony. That shows the grace of God. And when others see who Jesus really is? That’s when they let down their wall and open their hearts to God’s salvation.
We have been given a tremendous mission—to build relationships with those who need Jesus. To be real with them, to let Jesus shine through us. To pray for them, for their hearts, and for their soul. We were put here to be a shining light in the darkness. We were put here to invite them to come and see God’s love, power, majesty, and holiness.
Come and see. A beautiful summation of the gospel, really. I don’t want to shy away from being real and showing people just how much Jesus has done in my life. Will you commit to joining me?