stand strong and be courageous, for HE will not forsake you.

I could gush about God for days, you guys. He’s the coolest. I’m constantly amazed at the incredible ways He moves in my life.

Last week I was struggling with really trusting the Lord. A lot of my prayers were focused on guidance and strength to not only seek the Lord with all that I am, but also to truly trust His will.

Some days I’m all about His will. I mean, I always am, but some days it’s definitely easier than others. Some days, I’m like “Yes! God has a plan for me, and it’s the greatest thing ever, and I know I’m here for a reason!”. Other days, not so much. On those days it’s more like, “Alright God, I know you have me here for a reason, I’m just not super sure what that is at this exact moment. I’m doing my best to trust you, but it’s a struggle right now.”.

My struggle to really trust God’s plan for me often presents itself in the form of discontentment with where I am in life. I get frustrated about my job or the town I live in. Sometimes I get on these kicks where I think I know more than I do, and so I try to figure out how to do more because I feel like where I’m at just isn’t enough.

Woof.

I get so frustrated with myself when this happens. For real though. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, from my community and relationships to the opportunity to pursue higher education. Yet, sometimes I still feel like it’s not enough. Sometimes I get so bogged down with my job and grad school and life in general, that I feel like there has got to be something better for me. Let me tell ya, that’s a pretty sucky feeling.

Church on Sunday, though. Man. I felt like all of my prayers were answered. The message was incredibly convicting and encouraging. It was all about the book of Joshua, which, I wasn’t super familiar with. The sermon was about being courageous and really letting go and trusting the Lord. Joshua goes through some pretty crazy things, and the Lord needs Joshua to truly trust Him. The Lord knows this isn’t easy. He knows we question, and sometimes need reassurance. In the first 9 verses of the book of Joshua the Lord commands Joshua to trust Him, saying “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9) threw times. Three times in nine short verses! The last time the Lord shares this commandment, he adds “…do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).

How can we be afraid if God is with us?

Having faith takes courage, you guys. I feel like that’s not something that’s ever talked about or allowed. It seems like faith and trusting the Lord is always presented as this super easy thing that is just a given. Sometimes it is easy, but sometimes it really isn’t. And that’s ok! The Lord works best in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He wants our vulnerability and our fears, so that our strength can truly come from Him.

Here’s the thing, you guys. God is so good. Stand strong and be courageous. He is always with us. Even in grad school. Even on Mondays.

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Celebrate half birthdays

Yesterday was my half birthday. I didn’t even know that was a thing, to be perfectly honest. But one of my very best friends is a big fan of half birthdays, and she has been mentioning mine on and off for a while. I didn’t think she’d actually do anything, because, like I said, I didn’t know half birthdays could be a thing, but she definitely did! This wonderful woman baked me a cake! How cool is she?! And if that wasn’t enough, my boyfriend also surprised me with flowers! Sunflowers! My absolute favorite.

Tom (the boyfriend) is one of my favorite people ever, and one of my favorite things about him is his sense of logic and practicality. Celebrating a half birthday is in no way logical or practical. But I love birthdays, and he knows how much I love birthdays. He went out of his way to celebrate me with thought and intentionality. He’s the best, you guys.

This all might not seem like much to get excited about, but let me tell you, I felt so loved and cared about. God moves in the coolest ways. He has blessed me with an incredible relationship and beautiful community. I love these people with my entire being. They have taught me so much. They have strengthened my feet on my walk with Christ. They are the most encouraging people I have ever met. They are a beautiful, tangible expression of God’s love for me. They remind me every single day that I am enough. That I have a purpose in this world. That I am loved.

don’t just pretend to love others. really love them. hate what is wrong. hold tightly to what is good. love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.

Romans 12:9-10

So here’s the thing, you guys. Celebrate half birthdays.  Celebrate the small things. Give someone flowers for no reason. Share a genuine compliment. Take the time to pray with someone. Take any opportunity you have to share an authentic expression of love with someone. But don’t just do these things to do them or to complete your good deed of the day. Find joy in celebrating and lifting each other up.

The thing is, when you love on someone, you aren’t just sharing your love; you are also sharing Christ’s love.

be still and know that HE is GOD.

I woke up on Monday feeling completely overwhelmed and dissatisfied with where I am, and that feeling has carried throughout my entire week. And that has been the opposite of pleasant, let me tell you.

I had a wonderful weekend that gave me a small taste of what real life could be like. I spent it with someone I care very much for and his beautiful family. I spent some time in the city. I was productive without being even a little stressed. I was surrounded by incredible people. I had fun. I felt comfortable and at ease. I was happy.

Then I came back to my reality. Living where I work. In a tiny town. Going to classes that don’t meet my expectations in the slightest. Struggling with a severe lack of motivation. Stress City. I was overcome with this awful sense of dread and discontentment. I want more. I want to do more, see more and be more. I feel limited and stagnant.

I’m a processor. I need movement and conversation to understand where I am and how to move forward. Everyone seems just as busy and overwhelmed as I am, so I didn’t want to share my burden. I injured my knee over the weekend, thought I was okay to run on it on Tuesday, but definitely made it worse. All I wanted to do was run, but even walking was painful. So there I was. Curled up on my couch. Stuck. Lonely. Hurting physically and mentally.

I reached out to a friend who lovingly told me that crying is okay, and reminded me to lean on the Lord, because he’s there whether or not I’m running, and that He says be still. I complained, saying I felt helpless, and she said that will be a struggle until I learn to accept the fact that I am not in control.

Gulp. Yep. True fact.

So, I cheated a little. I couldn’t run, but I couldn’t sit in my apartment anymore either. I went for a nice, long drive. Our God is in no way limited to movement, but I really needed movement.

I re-wrote that sentence ten times trying to make it sound better, but it doesn’t. Because it’s pretty awful. God isn’t limited, but I needed to be in control. No. That’s not how it works!

be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.

Psalm 46:10

Bottom line, His grace is enough. Seek the Lord and trust His will. Our lives should be lived in such a way that honors and glorifies Him and His plans; not what we think is best for our own lives. He has placed us where we are, at this exact moment, with love and intentionality. It may not seem like much now, but trust that He has a plan for us. Life is good you guys, and it will only get better.

trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6