Picking up God’s Seeds

Life is real weird, you guys.

Eight weeks ago I started on a new adventure.

Eight weeks ago I left a place I started to call home.

Eight weeks ago I left friends I started to call family.

Eight weeks ago I didn’t want to be here.

Eight weeks ago I was terrified I wouldn’t be good enough.

Today, I don’t want to leave.

I don’t even know how to begin to explain how grateful I am for this summer. I was able to work in an office I love doing work that actually means something, surrounded by some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I learned so much about what it means to be a professional, a supervisor, a friend and a woman of faith. 

I am completely at peace. I am in love with my crazy, beautiful life. I stopped worrying about being good enough and finally decided to live as the person Christ called me to be. I fit in here. I am thriving and healing. My strengths have been magnified. I am happy.

This happiness allowed me to be silent enough to really hear God speak to me in new and beautiful ways. I often pray to silence my own thoughts and worries in order to better hear Him, but I never expected to hear Him through my contentment. I hear so many stories about people growing close to God and hearing Him in their trials, but He seems to speak loudest and most clearly to me through my contentment. Maybe because finding this peace has been an incredible struggle and it’s His way of reminding me that I am nothing without Him, but with Him I can have an eternity of contentment.

I had to say “see ya later” to some people who truly impacted my life today, and to say it was difficult is an understatement.They gave me the most heartfelt gifts and said things that encouraged me in really incredible ways. One of them gave me a beautiful journal with a handwritten letter full of God’s words and love. As I sat on the floor in my room, sobbing about not wanting to leave this beautiful place, I decided to really pour into what she said. The Lord placed so many words on her heart for me, but what really stuck out to me on my first read was the Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed in Matthew 13.

Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have any deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among the thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

                         Matthew 13:3-9

Jesus explains that the seed that is eaten by birds on the footpath represents those who hear God’s word, but don’t understand it and let evil take the good from their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil is for those who hear the Word and are real excited about it, but fail to develop deep roots of faith. The seeds that fall among the thorns represent those who let their own fears and worries crowd out God’s call. The seeds that fall on fertile soil represent those who hear and understand God’s word and flourish because of that. (Matthew 13:18-23).

My letter is beautiful in that validates how I am thriving in fertile soil, by dedicating myself to truly hearing God’s call and pouring into scripture to better understand Him and His Truth. For a while, there was some hesitation from people (myself included, if we’re being completely honest) about whether or not I really was working in fertile soil, or the rocky soil with shallow roots. As I was thinking about this and praying on it, the Parable of the Yeast caught my eye.

Jesus also used this illustration: The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough”

Matthew 13:33

That wrecked me. Absolutely did me in. As I was struggling to understand why God placed me in Brockport and allowed me thrive and heal and grow, only to make me leave again so soon, I started to realize Brockport served as some fertile soil or little bit of yeast for me. Being here allowed me to grow deep roots of faith that will only continue to flourish, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. My experiences here, specifically the people I met, served as a portion of yeast in my faith life. I wasn’t here long, but this experience permeated every part of my being.

So while I’m terribly sad to be leaving, I know my path to God is in my heart; not on this earth. I am cultivating my seeds of faith in fertile soil. I will continue to thrive and heal wherever I am, because God will be with me wherever I go.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Joshua 1:9

 

A Ramble of Praise

Dear Lord,

Don’t mind me as I ramble Your praise.

I was sitting in Your house Sunday morning, listening to Your word surrounded by a community of Your believers, and I have never felt more at peace. I was overcome with emotion and gratefulness for your blessings. I think back to where I was just a year ago – I didn’t know You or Your Truth. I thought I did, but it can’t even begin to compare to how I know You now. Lord, I love you more and more every day; I need you more and more every day. My life is beautiful and meaningful because I accepted Your love into my heart.

As I was sitting there reveling in the glory of Your Grace, it started to rain. It was gentle at first, with the sun shining through the clouds. Then the clouds overtook the sun, and it absolutely poured. During that time, my whole world stopped. At first, all I could think about was Your goodness and how my life has changed since I recognized You as my one true Lord and Savior. I still heard the gentle murmur of the sermon in the background. Eventually that voice began to fade away completely; mine did too. I sat there in a beautiful, quiet contentment, watching the rain fall, surrounded by a community of believers intent on Your word.

The rain stopped suddenly and the sun came back out, shining brighter than before. I couldn’t help but feel like I had been cleansed and refreshed. I don’t know, Lord. I just felt new and clean and loved. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I believe I have been called to Brockport for a reason, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

I am so happy and content with my life. Lord thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for confidence and comfort when I started to doubt You and second guess Your plans for me. Thank you for this beautiful life. For showing me love and happiness. Thank you for continuing to surround me with people who lift me up and encourage me, show me what it means to be a Christian and ultimately bring me closer to You. I have learned and grown so much in my time here. I have developed as a person and as a professional. Most importantly, I have grown deeper in my relationship with You.

I was driving home today, looking at Your beautiful sunset, singing Your praise with my windows rolled down, and I couldn’t help but smile. Your world is absolutely beautiful, Lord. I felt your presence so strong and I was so incredibly happy. You are so good. I am so grateful to know You and to need You. I love You with all that I am. I am both honored and humbled to serve You. I know that as long as I continue to trust in You, I have nothing to fear.

Thank you, Lord.

What is Love?

I talk a lot about this big heart of mine because it’s something I’m really proud of. I wear my heart on my sleeve almost 100% of the time. I am motivated by my desire to love on people. I love fiercely and I love well.

Recently I have been thinking about what this all actually means. I mean, I talk about it all the time, it’s very much embedded in my identity, but do I really understand it?

If you type “definition of” into Google “definition of love” is the second option that pops up. Google defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection”. That definition kind of sucks if you ask me.

So, I headed to Dictionary.com, which defines love as “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person” and “a feeling of warm, personal attachment or deep affection”. This is a little better, but it’s still missing something.

My next stop was Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster offers a much more in-depth definition of love, including “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”, “attraction that includes sexual desire; the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship”.

So far, love is an intense, tender, passionate affection, personal attachment and sexual desire. Meh. I’m not entirely convinced. There is so much more to love than that, right?

I went back to Merriam-Webster and scrolled a little further. The fourth definition says “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as 1) the fatherly concern of God for humankind. 2) brotherly concern for others”. 4b says “a person’s adoration of God”.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

I have recently had the opportunity to get to know another believer, and she is incredible in more ways than one. We had dinner together the other night, and she asked me to tell her about my faith. It was the first time I had ever really shared my entire faith journey with someone, and it was a really beautiful experience. I tend to ramble when I get nervous, and so I pretty much rambled through my life story. As I was talking, I began to realize that the Lord has always been by my side. He has been calling to me my whole life, even after I continued to turn my back on Him. He has been with me through every struggle and hardship; protecting me in ways I don’t think I will ever fully understand. You guys, I have really struggled with life. I have questioned my worth and the value of my existence. I have fought my way through immense suffering, all the while questioning the battle. Even when I was succeeding, I wasn’t truly happy. I wasn’t really living. I shared these struggles with my new friend, and ended my story by saying that my struggles are the reason I love so hard. I know what it feels like to not feel loved or worthy or cared about. When I said this, I meant it in a worldly way; that I had struggled to feel love from people on this earth. Her response blew my baby Christian mind.

You love because you accepted His love.

I struggled for so much of my life because I kept turning my back on the Lord. I refused to accept His love. Without His love, how could I even begin to understand what it means to love here on earth?

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This verse is often used in weddings and in romantic relationships, and it’s beautiful and inspiring. It is used as a guide for relationships. But it’s so much more than that; it describes the Lord’s love for us.

I know the Lord loves me. He was patient with me on my journey to Him. He never once gave up on me, and has endured with me through every fight. He didn’t demand His own way, rather He was kind and rejoiced when I finally heard His truth and came to Him.

I love because God loves me.

…God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…

1 John 4:16-17

I love because I accepted God into my heart.

I love because God is love.

15 Things I Learned This Weekend

1. I can survive an 8 hour drive alone, even with crappy radio.
2. My eating disorder is my (unhealthy) coping mechanism.
3. Michigan is one of my least favorite places in the whole world.
4. Queen size beds are the best.
5. Some people will always suck, but I think they’re just meant to show you how good the important people in your life are.
6. Family is stressful.
7. I am unbelievably happy and content with my life.
8. Not starting and ending my day with my bible sincerely throws me off.
9. The people who actually care about you are infinitely better than the people who are supposed to care about you.
10. Driving down a country road with the windows down and radio blasting on a sunny day is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
11. I have so much to be proud of in my life, and the potential and drive to continue doing incredible things.
12. Long drives are great for talking to God.
13. I love those friends that you can pick right back up with, no matter how much time has passed.
14. Choosing faith and building a real relationship with the Lord is the best decision I have ever made.
15. People say you have to experience something bad in order to truly realize how good you have it, but I think it takes experiencing the best in life to realize how bad you’ve had it and how far you’ve come. I think that lesson is one of the most motivating.

Life as a Baby Christian

God is good, you guys.

Words can’t begin to describe how much better my life has gotten since I accepted the Lord into my heart, and decided to intentionally live for Him. I still don’t fully grasp what that means, and I don’t know that I ever will, and I that’s ok The mystery of Christ is huge, and I don’t think we’re meant to completely understand.

I have recently gotten to a point where I can own and embrace where I am in my walk with Christ. Two of the most important people in my life are strong in their beliefs and are actively pursuing a relationship with the Lord. To be honest, they are the reason I came to really know the Lord. While it’s incredible to have these people to support me and to look to for guidance, it can also be quite intimidating. They know so much and seem to be so confident about their beliefs and their relationship with the Lord. They both serve as inspiring examples of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world. They constantly share the Lord’s love and light in their words and actions, and I am so grateful to know them and to live in their light. They are both also pretty open about their faith and never hesitate to chat about things, which is great, except for the whole intimidation factor.

I finally broke down and told one of them about this a while ago, and she lovingly called me a baby Christian. At first, I wasn’t sure how to take it. I knew it wasn’t a bad thing, but I really struggled to identify with it. I embraced it for that night, and asked some of the “baby Christian questions” I had been struggling with. For example, do my baptism credits transfer? What about the Lord’s Supper? Do I have to adhere to a specific denomination? What does it take to “officially” become a Christian? You guys, I felt so silly asking those questions as a 20-something. Isn’t that stuff I should know? Thankfully, my friend embraced me with love and answered my questions and engaged in conversation as best she could.

I took ownership of my walk with Christ, and spent a lot of time on Google and pouring into His word and praying for discernment. It was working out pretty well for me. I love the Lord with all that I am, and am committed to knowing Him more and more everyday. I am excited about pursuing my relationship with Him. I continued to have conversations about God’s goodness and what it means to be a Christian, but I never fully grasped on to my identity as a baby Christian.

Until Sunday.

You have been believers so long that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.

Hebrews 5:12

This verse came up at church, and I had the opportunity to talk about it with someone after the service. Being a baby Christian isn’t a bad thing, and I’ve always known that. What I didn’t realize, however, is how much of a gift it is to be a baby Christian. I’m coming into my faith on my own. I’m pursuing God in the way that makes the most sense for my relationship with Him. Everything is new and inspiring and beautiful.

This conversation after church helped me realize my identity as a baby Christian can also be a gift to those around me. As I’m learning the basic things about God’s word, others are forced to think about things that may have become habit or second nature. I get to ask questions and have conversations about things people haven’t intentionally thought about in a long time. This gives them the opportunity to evaluate their faith and possibly become even more active and intentional in their pursuit of the Lord.

So, here I am, owning my status as a baby Christian. I need support on my walk with Christ. I need you to pray for me, and to pray with me. Show me what it means to have faith on fire. Share in conversation with the Lord with me. Tell me about His word. Share your favorite verses and stories with me. Share the context and meaning of those verses with me. Tell me what the Lord is doing in your life. Do you see Him in me? Share that with me too. Are you struggling with something? Please, share that with me too. Be open when I try to talk about my path. You guys, I’m so excited to be discovering my faith and getting to know the Lord. Sometimes I just want to gush about how incredible He really is. Hear me and gush with me!

I could continue to gush now, but I’ll refrain and simply say again, God is good.

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2