20 Things I Learned In March

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This month has passed by so quickly, and I feel like that might be a good thing. I didn’t have a great month, which is really sad because to me, March is that first-breath-of-fresh-air month right after the long & dark winter season. But here’s what I learned:

  1. Walking in the woods is such a refreshing thing. You should do it more.
  2. Be in community. Talk to people. Nobody will know how you’re doing unless you tell them what’s been up. Our friends love us, and we won’t burden them by unveiling our problems.
  3. Open that bible of yours. Soak in all that information, and take notes. Apply it in your life. Since the bible is the Word of God, it’s the only guideline for life that you need. Stop turning to people to tell you how to live, because it’s not their place anyway.
  4. Pray when you’re happy, when you’re upset, scared, angry, thankful, confused, need to rant. Pray when  you’re excited, when you’re unsure of what’s going to happen next. God is here for you, sweet girl. Just pray. He hears you, and cares about what you have to say.
  5. Going to a new place for the day & making wrong turns isn’t as bad as you think. Sure, you might not find good parking, but the photos you take on the way will be rad!
  6. Listen to the elder people in your life. Their stories will fascinate you.
  7. Wake up early so you have a chance to capture the morning light in a way you never did before.
  8. Explore new angles of things. Photography, situations, people, mindsets.
  9. It’s okay to talk to people who once hurt you, and it’s okay to be kind to them. It’s also okay to not want them back in your life.
  10. Write your poetry. It’s been a while since you did that. You have such a way of explaining the feelings you feel, and what happens around you. Use that psychedelic brain of yours.
  11. Sure, 9pm coffee might not make you stay awake like people, but if you want to stay up, you’ll never go to bed. Just have a cup of tea before you sleep.
  12. Instant photography is rad, but remember that you only have 16 exposures left, and you got 24 in February. There will come seasons & things that you will want to capture. Resist the temptation to use it all at once; that stuff is costly!
  13. Be a better listener. Your sister needs you, and is tired of seeing you zone out in front of her. Hug her more, tell her you love her more. Be present.
  14. Darkness isn’t bad, it’s merely a reminder that there will be light again.
  15. It’s okay to take things at your own pace. People are different. If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll be scared and stressed out.
  16. Try to be braver. But this is the key word you need to hold onto- try.
  17. You should really write letters more. The question is, will you?
  18. There are things you want so badly to experience. Things you want to be your life. But be patient, as it’s not time for you to experience those things yet. You will one day, but now, focus on preparing yourself for those things so that you’ll be ready.
  19. Do NOT drink coffee before going to lead worship. Practice or the real deal- you’ll regret it.
  20. God is real, you can feel His presence when you sing to Him. You feel all sorts of joy, and sometimes you sense that He’s holding your hand. Hold on to that. Doubt will creep in sometimes at unexpected hours. But crush that with the truth that you know.

If you reached the end of this list, that’s awesome! What things have you learned this month?

Anticipating Sunday

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Easter Saturday is always my one of my favorite Easter days because even though it’s the day of silence, where the world is without Jesus or hope for the first time, there’s still hope for us to who know the rest of the story. I don’t know what it is about anticipation, but I find it so intriguing, and exciting.

That day of silence after Jesus’ death must have been the most devastating state the world has ever been in. The disciples & His followers must have been so depressed like, “Jesus is gone…what do we do now?” They had no purpose to fulfill at this point, because the Great Commission wasn’t instructed yet. So they had no reason for anything anymore. God was silent, and Jesus was dead. What a dreary & discouraging day.

However, we as 21st Century disciples & followers know the rest of the story! Now that Jesus’ purpose has been fulfilled so many years ago, we now have that ability to communicate with God 24/7! We can still pray & have Him answer on the day of Silence. I think that’s really great!

To some, anticipation drives people up the wall. Waiting can be horrid to some. I can completely imagine the uncomfortable jitters, butterflies, little fleeting + recurring anxious feelings. But tomorrow holds so much more reason for me to be excited!

Awaiting Friday

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“I have such a burden right now, and I can’t even place what it is. But Jesus dies on Friday, and everyone is just going about their week like they have no idea what Friday even is. Soon, Jesus has His last supper on earth with His friends, and they are still unaware of the events that will happen a few hours from then. The world is a tarnished place, and I’m imperfect, and my imperfection caused His death. Everyone’s mourning begins on Saturday, but my mourning begins now.” -Taken from my Instagram, yesterday.

Easter is coming up quicker than I anticipated, and while the world is stressing over their annual chocolate hauls, and my family is organizing the epic annual Easter Egg Hunt (which I’m gonna win, again), all I can think about is the coming death of Jesus. You see, we often think about death as unfair. That’s exactly what Jesus’ death was. He was innocent, and innocent people shouldn’t die. I don’t even think people who deserve death should die. Death shouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, it does.

Friday is the day that Jesus dies on that famous Cross, the only death that could save us from our sin & imperfections that made Him die in the first place. It’s not fair that He had to die on my account. My heart curls in disgust at my sin. Before I wrote this, I was watching a tv show and pinning away on Pinterest. I was just going about my day like I totally forgot what Friday was. And it saddens me how easy it is for me to forget one of the most important days in history.

I think of the Passover feast that Jesus had with His disciples. He eats with them for the last time, and He tries to tell them what’s going to happen in the next few hours. But they’re all distracted by the food, by each other, and they aren’t focusing on the words that Jesus is trying to say:

“Soon, I am going to die.”

I can imagine that Jesus might have been frustrated with His friends. They’re reluctant to drink the wine and eat the bread, because let’s be real- is this actually Jesus’ body & blood?  I can imagine Jesus with His head in His hands saying, “Guys. It’s a metaphor. Listen to Me, PLEASE.” But they just can’t seem to understand.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how my imperfection caused Jesus to die because of me. It’s not fair that He had to die. But I know that it was for a greater cause; Jesus didn’t just die for me. He died to save the entire world from Hell. That proves His greatness & legitimacy. I’m incredulous that someone so perfect could love someone so imperfect like myself- it’s crazy! But I’m gonna continue mourning until Sunday- how important it is that we keep our hearts in check.

(Please note that this isn’t the end of the story! There’s more to come!)

He Trades Worry For Peace

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Lately I’ve been finding myself in a really weird place in my life. I have been so wrapped up in my problems, that worries just completely take over my mind. They consume my thoughts. Thinking about the future freaks me the heck out. I feel like I have too much on my plate. Lately, everything seems more frightening than it should be.

I usually spend my week subtly jittering with anxiety. By the time Sunday comes, I’m exhausted, and tired. But I sing the songs, and mean them with all my heart. I might hear people shouting with praise, and wonder why I’m not as enthusiastic as the rest of the congregation. Then, I’ll hear it. A little tug at my soul, a little kind word spoken to my heart.

“Be still.”

Most of the time, I’d stand still a this command, and be as quiet as can be. I need to hear what He wants to say to me. Sometimes I don’t hear anything, but regardless, I focus on who Jesus is, and His presence, and what He’s done for me. I let Him completely overtake my focus, and the worries of the week begin to vanish from my mind. He gently takes my worry, and sneakily places peace in there. I’m left to wonder, “Why was I ever worried?”

We all have hard weeks sometimes. That’s why Jesus is there.

He said “Come to Me, all you who are weary and have heavy burdens, and I’ll give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)

We can’t let things like worry & fear take our peace. We can’t let it win. We need to rely on Jesus for strength & bravery. When we can’t fight anymore, we have to go to Him for rest. He provides a place for us, but we need to be still.

Worship Night: A Brain Dump

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It’s currently 11:32 right now. As soon as I came home, I wanted to write about tonight because it was incredible.  I don’t want to miss any details, but I’ll probably miss at least one or two things. Where to even begin.

I always go into worship nights completely naive. I’m like, “Tonight’s gonna be awesome; I’m so stoked!”, but then God does His own thing, and it kinda smacks me right in the face. Who am I to limit God to just “awesome”? Then again, my little brain can’t find anything else that tops “awesome”. But that’s when God comes in, and then blows my mind. Does that ever happen to you?

My team went from doing 3 songs, to doing the entire service, because a friend who was leading the beginning of the service needed helpers (I was basically voluntold, but God had different plans for tonight, and I’m not fit to argue about it). I knew most of the songs already, so considering the fact that we hadn’t practiced them, I didn’t have much to worry about. As we begin singing, I looked out at everyone in the congregation, and it was so wonderful to see everyone so immersed in their own little world, alone with God. I could see how God was meeting with us individually, and I knew that He was about to do big things tonight.

We come to the middle of our setlist, and people begin praying & declaring as loud as possible. I couldn’t help but smile at how pleasing God must have found it all. I knew He had the biggest smile on His face. I let myself become totally at His disposal, and then I heard a woman praying about how she wanted Him to teach us how to pray. That’s what I need. I spent so much time away from prayer, that I don’t know where to begin anymore. I have to start at square one. I need God to teach me. (You can bet what I’ll be reading in my bible for the next week or so!) I began praying over this generation, how there’s so much depression & sadness. Everyone often feels so alone, and I just want to learn to be a friend to them. It’s so important.

We finally sang our set of songs, and it was a very quiet & real moment with us all. People were praying with each other, and truth was being spilled from all over. You could truly feel the presence of Jesus. I could barely feel my legs anymore, and my arms were sore. But you can bet that I didn’t even care. The lights were so hot, but I didn’t even mind the fact that I was sweating through my thick sweater. I was truly joyful, almost childlike. I haven’t felt like that in such a long time. I hope you get to experience the childish cheer that I felt tonight. I’m in awe at how much He can do. He exceeds our expectations, always.

What a joy it is to know the Savior, and to know that He knows you too.

 

The Love We All Crave

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This Friday is worship & prayer night! I will be leading alongside my team for 50% of the evening, and our ending song will be Met By Love by United Pursuit. It’s a great song, and it might be one of my favorites that we’ve done in a long time. It’s simple. United Pursuit has a simplicity about their lyrics that I really like. The chorus really struck me, and I thought about it for the last few days.

“We can run straight into Your arms unafraid, because every time we need You we’re met by Love, and we can lift our hands to heaven, full of faith, because every time we worship we see Your face.”

Jesus comes to meet us whenever we ask Him to. He is love in human form. What is love? There’s a bible passage that encompasses all that love is.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a)

Can you see how Jesus is the human form of love?

Some of us feel like we have to earn His love and acceptance, but that’s not the case at all. All we have to do to get His love is ask Him for it! He gives it freely, at no cost (which is awesome, because I don’t think I’d have the money for it, haha)! His love is what this world looks for, high and low. We don’t need to look very far.

Sometimes I enter into worship completely messed up, and I can’t help but wonder how He doesn’t just discard me to the side. I’m in awe at how He still calls Himself my Father, and He still comes to me when I call out for Him. He just comes to my level, and sometimes I get the feeling that He’s sitting right next to me. Most of the time I don’t know how to feel- I’m just stunned. He reveals Himself to me in the coolest ways! I’m amazed at how He reveals Himself to us when we need Him. It’s really sweet to know that the Savior of the world, who sits at the right hand of God Himself, still comes to meet me when I ask Him to.

God is a simple God. It requires practically nothing to get Him to come to you. Just your request.

Is He Still Worth Chasing?

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I remember before I had moved, I wasn’t reading my bible as often as I should have. Granted, I was busy packing stuff. However, I had no excuses. I haven’t prayed as much either. But I know that my love for God hadn’t weakened. I still had a passion for learning about Him, singing to Him, and telling people about Him. I knew that my relationship & friendship with Him  was at risk. I had to fix it somehow, but how does one go about such an endeavor? Telling the Creator of the universe, the One who came to save you, me, and the world, that somewhere along the line I made a mistake? So I got thinking. For a while, almost every night when I was in bed alone with my thoughts, I would think some pretty heartbreaking things.

‘Am I still worth working on?’

I got settled into my new living space, and life went at a steadier pace again. I was still, if not more eager to get to church on Sunday, excited to connect with my kids on Friday nights, eager to sing my adoration in worship, and be still in the presence of God. I knew that I was still worth working on, by God’s standards. Of course I was, or else He would have discarded me long ago. I am a flawed human, where shiny things steal my attention, and other things make me curious. I am a child full of wonder, and sometimes my wonder doesn’t work in my favor. But God has always been there, never leaving me, and always wanting me to be a better version of myself. He is always working on me.

The whole time I’ve been writing this post, I came to the conclusion that I’ve been asking the wrong question. Yes, I’m worth working on. That’s always been true, and I’ve always known that. But when I’m in a time where I’m not spending time with Him, the question shouldn’t be “Am I still worth working on?“, rather, it should be “Is God still worth chasing?”

The answer is always going to be yes. He is still worth chasing, because when things are hard, and your world feels like it’s spinning out of control, He’s constantly with you. He is always there, holding your hand, and asking you to come to Him. It’s okay to admit to God that you haven’t spent time with Him and you need His help. He’s not afraid or mad. He wants you to be the best version of yourself, He wants you to come to Him, and He wants you to see that He is worth it. God is still worth chasing because He is constant in a world that is unpredictable!

The Importance of Vulnerability

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I’ve been super interested in Polaroid photography, and when I got a Polaroid camera, I was so intrigued! I took this picture earlier today, and at first I was unsure if I liked how it turned out. The greenish area seems as if the ink didn’t disperse properly when it was developing. I like it now, though! You see, life isn’t always perfect. Most of the time it’s messy, raw, unlike anything we ever expected. Allow me to elaborate!

A big part of our worship team’s mission statement is making sure that all of us, including those outside of the worship team, feels like we can be open with one another. It’s so crucial for us to not have a facade around family, otherwise nobody can support us. When I’m going through a difficult time, I know I can talk to my team because I feel accepted and cared for. I don’t feel like I have to be someone else in their presence; I can be myself.

God doesn’t need us to be anyone but ourselves. We are not perfect human beings, in fact, we’ll screw up more than we’ll do good. The beauty is that God loves us no matter what, even if we screw up! That’s what’s been on my mind for the past two years. This summer, I went to work at camp as a counselor; a week long mentor to younger kids. I made sure to tell them every day that they were welcome to be themselves, that they didn’t have to pretend. From the moment they walked into my cabin, we became a supportive family. I shared my broken past with them, different experiences I’ve had, and how God still loved me through it all. Being real goes a long way.

Vulnerability goes hand in hand with authenticity. When we have the courage to be ourselves, we give others the chance to hurt us or take advantage of our weaknesses. But it’s when we trust others with the truth that makes us who we are, that’s when we can truly be free to be unashamedly ourselves.

 

 

The Importance of Community

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Story time!

A few weeks ago, I was officially asked to join the Sunday worship team. I was ecstatic! This has been a goal of mine for so long, so it felt great to realize that I finally reached that goal.  This meant that my singing & abilities to  lead a group of people into worship had improved significantly! I was really proud and excited to see where I would go from there. But I had moved, so being on time for practice was a worry of mine. I kept my worries to myself for a few days because I didn’t want my team to be upset & kick me out. I quickly decided that instead of just dropping the opportunity, I was still going to attend the meetings. But I was going to go on hiatus until I could figure out a solution. Not too long after that, I realized that my team members still deserved to know why I wouldn’t be at practice regularly. So I took a deep breath & told them everything. Many of them offered me a lift, and were very caring, to my surprise. Now I’m able to go to practice on time! This is all because I reached out for someone to help.

Why is community so important? It’s important because it’s so easy for us to hide behind facades, and pretend to be okay when we’re not. How can people offer support and help if we don’t open up and say, “Hey, I need help. I’m going through a tough time. Can you help me?”

As someone who values community, I try to be as transparent and real as I can, in order to allow others to relate to me. This is how I let people know that I am there to listen to them. We all need to know that we are cared for. We need to feel like we can open up to others. When that doesn’t happen, community and friendship don’t flourish. Instead, it diminishes, and weakens.

When we’re in community, people want to help us if we’re having difficulty with something. We are meant to be there for people. We’re not meant to endure struggles by ourselves. Only when we tell people what’s going on in our lives, is when they can give their support. Community is family.