All I am is Yours!

I recently came to terms with how poorly I do with change. It’s bad, you guys. To make matters worse, instead of pushing into the Lord, I tend to stray. I get stuck in my worldly fears and stress and forget about my relationship with my Deliverer.

I recently started a new job (my very first Big Kid Job!), and gosh has it been slow to start. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely and utterly excited and grateful to be here. But to be perfectly honest, these past three weeks have been hard you guys. I know it doesn’t make sense, but I have had more down time than anything else, and I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. It has been hard moving away from Tom. Real hard. Much harder than expected. I also don’t know anyone here, so it has been pretty lonely. I got stuck in my head and started to drown in negativity, and I began to question my purpose (only it wasn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds written out here).

Thankfully, our God is pretty incredible. He provides. He delivers us. He is constantly moving in our lives; working in us, with us and for us. Most of all, He loves us.

Tom and I found a new church in my new home, and the message last Sunday was pretty great. The church is doing a study on Colossians, and this message was about Preeminence. Don’t worry – I had to look it up too. It’s the idea of superiority and greatness. Pretty cool, right? Our God is the best (and only) God. He reigns over all. He is our Deliverer, our rock and our Father.

You know how I said I stray from the Lord in big transitions? And that I lost my purpose? Well, in turns out the two go hand in hand.

for in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:16

All things have been created through Him and for Him. Our purpose is in the Lord. Our purpose doesn’t come from jobs or hobbies. It can’t be found in relationships with people or significant others, no matter how wonderful those relationships are.

Our purpose is in the Lord.

My job is a calling. It is an opportunity to live fully for Christ. It is a response to the Gospel, but it is not preeminent – it does not reign supreme in my life. My relationship with Tom gives me such incredible joy. I believe the Lord brought us together to live in Him and work for the Kingdom. I love Tom with my whole heart, but our relationship is not preeminent. It is an opportunity to exemplify the Gospel.

As hard as I might try, I will never fully find my purpose in my career or in my relationship. I find my purpose in the Lord. I have to hold fast in Jesus; remain steadfast and stable in the Gospel. When I fully submit to the Lord and really, truly respond to the Gospel – gosh, that is when I feel filled with life and purpose. That is when I am living the way Christ calls me to live.

Life update: I mentioned I moved and started a new job, well that’s because I finally graduated with my master’s degree! Yay! That explains why I haven’t posted in a while. Grad school is hard, you guys. Moving forward, I plan to blog weekly. The new church we have been going to is doing really great things, and I’m learning and growing weekly. The goal is to share that with you all! But, I am starting my first real job, so I might miss a post here and there. If you’re in the St. Louis area and in need of a church home, I’d encourage you to check out City Lights Church, it’s real good stuff you guys. Anyways, pray that I’m able to find my purpose in my Creator and that the Lord continues to use me to be a light for His Kingdom. Pray that my relationship with Tom continues to strengthen and that we always strive to live with and for the Lord.

for He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:17

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On Prayer

hail mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. holy mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, amen.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to pray is to speak to God, especially in order to give thanks or to ask for something; to make a request in a humble manner; to address God (or a god) with adoration, confession, supplication or thanksgiving.

hey God, just wanted to say thanks for all you’re doing in my life.

I was raised in a (semi) Catholic home. We went to church on Christmas and Easter and the occasional Sunday. I started going to Catholic school in 6th grade and went to mass every Wednesday through 8th grade. I went to Catholic high school and then to a Catholic, Jesuit university. My only real understanding of faith was academic. I took classes on the history of Catholicism, the sacraments, saints and a myriad of other things. It wasn’t until my third year in college when a very dear friend invited me to mass that I started to understand more about what faith felt like. I hadn’t been to church regularly since 8th grade and, to be honest, I wasn’t all that interested. I mostly kept going because it was important to my friends.

Most nights it just felt like I was going through the motions. I said the prayers, sang the songs, stood, sat and kneeled at the appropriate times. It didn’t really feel special or valuable. Then one night at mass, after a particularly difficult week, I found myself deep in conversation with a candle on the altar. I was crying out for help in honest desperation. It was the first time I felt a personal connection with God. I continued to explore that relationship and eventually decided to get baptized and become Catholic. My decision was based on a calling to grow closer to God. And, if we’re being honest, familiarity. I knew I wanted a relationship with the Lord, and Catholicism was the only religion I knew. It was the only path to God I knew. It turns out becoming Catholic as an adult takes a lot of work. I took classes, had meetings, went on retreats and wrote letters. I studied, a lot. Somewhere along the line I lost touch with God. I never felt like I had a personal relationship with Him. I felt like I didn’t know how to pray.

I didn’t know how to talk to God.

All of my interactions with the Lord were scripted. I was constantly talking at God, but I didn’t ever feel like I was actually talking with Him. I said Hail Mary after Hail Mary, I was always mumbling the Lord’s Prayer and praying for the well-being of everyone I could think of. It all felt so forced and formal. So, I strayed.

Then, life happened. I graduated and moved to Missouri for grad school. I was struggling. So, I turned back to my Hail Mary’s. I turned back to familiarity. I turned back to God. God knew I was ready for a personal relationship with Him. He blessed me with some incredible people that showed me what life was like with a relationship with Him.

I started praying. Often. At first it was mostly just Hail Mary’s and the Lord’s Prayer. I prayed for the well-being of those around me. Then, my faith started to change. It grew and deepened in ways I didn’t know were possible. It became personal. There were prayers of thanksgiving. Confessions. Cries for help. I shared my dreams and my fears. There were prayers of adoration. I thanked Him for little things like crunchy leaves and fuzzy socks, and big things like my chosen career and my incredible boyfriend. Next thing I knew, my life became one giant, personal conversation with the Lord. I finally feel like I have a beautifully personal relationship with God. My God. My Savior.

Here’s the thing you guys, prayer can be pretty much anything you want it to be. I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy tonight, and a dying patient asked one of the doctors to pray a Hail Mary with him. It was the first time I had heard the prayer in a while, and I was surprised at how beautiful it sounded. Now, I know it’s just a TV show and they were acting, but you guys, it sounded so beautiful and genuine. You see, prayer isn’t all about the words. I think prayer is about your relationship with the Lord. He loves us. He wants a relationship with us. If that relationship comes through a Hail Mary or two, that’s cool, and if it’s thanking Him for fuzzy socks, well, then that’s cool too. What matters is that we live for Him. That we are constant and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). That we trust Him. I think prayer is about our heart.

in those days when you pray, i will listen. if you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. “i will be found by you,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:12-14a

faith, freedom and femininity

The Lord provides, you guys. He redeems. His Grace is beautiful and boundless. He gives freedom through faith.

This weekend has been freeing in the most beautiful way. It was far from what I expected or hoped for, but somehow better than I could have imagined.

One of my biggest struggles in life is the fear that I’m not enough. That I’m not pretty enough or thin enough. That I’m not doing enough or giving enough. I feel like there’s always something more I could, and should, be doing. I’m afraid that because I’m not enough, I will inevitably face abandonment in every area of my life. And when those things happen, I feel like I deserve them, because I’m simply not enough.

Well, I had a realization this weekend, and it was the most freeing thought I have ever experienced. Those fears and self-doubt, while they feel real and huge and earth-shattering, it’s really just Satan trying to weasel his way into my heart. And you know what, our God is bigger and greater than evil, so I have nothing to fear.

Lucifer fell because of his beauty and his pride for that beauty. His fall gave him this intense desire to attack beauty. He seeks to wreak destruction on the physical manifestations of God’s glory on Earth. He has a special hatred for women, because women represent the heart of the Lord in the most beautiful and captivating ways.

Talk about freeing. There is no reason for me to live with guilt or fear that I’m not enough. It is because I am a woman, filled with the Beauty and Grace of the Lord that I am attacked. Now, this doesn’t excuse anything that has happened in my life, or give me an excuse to suffer or become arrogant. Rather, it provides freedom and understanding, and reminds me that I am not alone.

Beautiful, right?

These thoughts came together even more in church this morning. The sermon was about Ruth and the ability to overcome anything with faith because faith offers redemption. Redemption through friends and family. Redemption through new beginnings. Redemption through Jesus. Sure, my life hasn’t been perfect, and I have been hurt deeply, but that’s ok. My journey and my trials have shaped me to be the woman I am today. The Lord has blessed me with a beautiful community and a new beginning. I am experiencing a joy I never knew existed. My heart and my life are for the Lord. I have nothing to fear.

I am fiercely loved by the Creator of the universe. The One who hand placed the stars in the sky. I was created to carry His glory in a uniquely feminine way. He knows my name and cares for me deeply.

The Proverbs 31 woman is certainly something. While I can’t say I’ll be spinning wool and flax or dressing in fine linen and purple gowns anytime soon, I can draw some inspiration from her. I can breathe easy knowing my life is in His hands.

she is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

Proverbs 31:25

my strength comes from HIM

for i can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

I really like when I can see scripture active in my life. This is a common verse, I’ve prayed on it many times, asking for strength for anything from writing it on top of a statistics exam, going on a big interview or even just getting out of bed some days, but tonight, I found new peace and meaning in these words.

Things have been less than pleasant lately. Work is hard and exhausting. School sucks. Everyone is stressed and miserable, and I don’t know how to help. I was curled up on my couch tonight, watching an awful Lifetime movie thinking about all of this when I realized, that despite how dreadful things have been, I’m actually pretty okay.

It was about this time a year ago that my eating disorder really started to take over. I was struggling with life; stressed beyond belief and feeling like I had no control over anything. You could say it started out innocently enough, I was “too busy” to eat. I was “so stressed” I never had an appetite. While these things might have been true at first, they definitely became my excuse. My eating disorder became my only coping mechanism. I felt like the only thing I could control was what I did with my body. I felt like I could prove to the world that I was capable of handling everything, and so strong I could do it all without food. Woof. The interesting thing is that I am easily more stressed today than I was a year ago. And I’m in recovery. Doing well. Not relying on starving myself and overexercising as my only coping mechanism. Why? What changed?

I can say I have changed. That I’m stronger now and I have learned better ways to manage my stress. Or I could credit my community. I have a few strong, encouraging relationships today that I did not have a year ago. They provide a sense of support and love that I have never experienced before. I could say I don’t have time to deal with an eating disorder. That I need the strength and energy that only food can provide. I could say all of those things and they would all be true, but the real reason I’m doing okay is missing from that list.

I am healthy and coping with my stress because I have put my trust in the Lord. I give my anxiety to Him every single day, and I (do my best) to trust Him. Yeah, I believed in God a year ago, but I was lacking a real relationship with Him. I prayed every once in a while, but my prayers were awkward and scripted. I didn’t have a close, personal relationship with the Lord, where I could just chat with Him about life and my stress and struggles. I couldn’t see the beauty in things the way I do know, because I didn’t truly trust Him.

Today, I’m almost always in casual conversation with the Lord. I do my best to live my life in a way that truly glorifies Him. I see the Lord at work in my life in beautiful ways, and I trust that He has big plans for me. I am stronger today than I ever have been because I know He lives in me. I truly believe I can do anything, because the Lord is on my side.

Here’s the thing you guys. The Lord loves us something fierce. More than we will ever be able to comprehend. He wants us to succeed. We just have to trust Him and let our strength come from Him.

for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

everything is beautiful

It’s November. Can someone please explain to me when that happened? Woof. November means beautiful fall colors. November means crunchy leaves and cool breezes. November means the end of the semester. November means stress. And so far, November means negativity. Negativity sucks, you guys. It’s overwhelming and draining and unnecessary. It pulls us away from the Lord. Not cool. But, we’re human, right? It happens.

I think our negativity often stems from a sense of dissatisfaction with where we are in life. We are constantly looking for more. We want to have more, do more and be more. We are always looking forward to the next stage in life, instead of enjoying where we are at this particular moment. I know I’m guilty of this dissatisfaction. It’s an easy trap to fall into, because we don’t always see it as negative. We don’t think it’s a bad thing to aspire for more, and honestly, it’s probably not. I think it’s the lack of satisfaction and happiness with where we are and what we have that is the real issue.

yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. so I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-12

Everything is beautiful for its own time. I think we can struggle with contentment because we know we are made for more. Our time here is temporary. Earth is just a holding zone; it’s not our permanent home. The Lord has blessed us with this desire for eternity, but we still don’t truly understand what that means. We can’t. Honestly, I don’t want to understand it either.

As stressful as it is, life is beautiful now. The very things that stress us out the most are some of the our greatest blessings. We can’t even begin to imagine the incredible things the Lord has planned for us. We need to take a step back and remember that where we are now is a blessing. It is part of our adventure; part of our plan. A few years ago we were looking forward to getting to where we are today.

Here’s the thing you guys. Life is good. Enjoy it. Be where you are. Play in the leaves. Drink good coffee. Watch Netflix documentaries about Quidditch. Tell someone you love them. Relish in the things that make you happy.

this is only temporary

so let’s not get tired of doing what is good. at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6:9

So much of this life as we know it is temporary. Things like our friends, jobs, and stress; it’s all fleeting, simply fading in and out of our consciousness. We know that. But somehow, that knowledge doesn’t seem to lessen our struggle. We struggle to understand why good things have to end and bad things have to happen. Welcome to life, friends.

Lately, I feel like I’m stuck in this place where not a lot of anything makes sense. I’m not sure what direction my life is going, or what my ultimate destination will be. Sure, I have ideas and goals, but who knows what will actually happen. You see, my struggle is more with why I’m stuck in this temporary place. Why the Lord has placed me in this situation where I feel stagnant and useless. Where I feel like I’m not making a difference in the slightest, when all I want in life is to make a difference.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely not all a struggle. There is a lot of positive in my life right now. The Lord has blessed me with an incredible relationship with the best guy I know. I’ve got some pretty stellar friends. I’m graduating with my master’s degree in seven months. God is good. Boom boom.

I just can’t seem to wrap my head around this temporary state. I feel like I’m stuck in this awkward limbo phase of life, where I’m not really a Big Kid yet, but I’m definitely not a kid anymore either. I know I’m called to do big things with my life. We are called to proclaim the Good News and share the light and love of the Lord with the world. I know that. So then why am I here? Stuck in a tiny town with a community that is dwindling? Struggling in a seemingly meaningless job? Struggling with how to best support and care for the people around me?

Here’s the thing you guys, my life is not my own. My life is for the Lord. Yeah, I’m stressed, overwhelmed, confused and burnt out, but you know what, it’s only temporary.  When we get caught up in these struggles, I think we forget just how big our God really is. He’s so much bigger and greater than any worldly struggle. In all reality, we have no idea what our lives will look like in the next five minutes, weeks, months or years. Well, maybe the next five minutes, but you get the point. That means we have to be intentional with our time. Love authentically. Dedicate ourselves to really making a difference. We can’t waste our time stressing, because in all reality, it’s only temporary. When your situation feels meaningless, turn to the Lord. Focus on Him and His goodness. Bury yourself in the Word. Stop thinking about why your situation doesn’t matter for you, and try to understand why you matter to someone else.

So here’s the thing, you guys, do what is good every single day. Don’t waste your time or energy on things that don’t matter. Don’t give up. Do trust the Lord. He has incredible plans for us, and at just the right time, we’ll start to understand.

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.