The Wonder of Nature

I want to stay myself the way I feel when I am in the wonder of nature – thank you, California.

The fact that I haven’t written a blog in months is a great indication of what I’m about to describe – this pandemic has hit me hard, and I haven’t been doing very well. For the first couple months I was often disappointed about things like everyone else, but even moving back into some normalcy of going outside the house again wasn’t enough to help me get out of the funk I was in. I started to feel symptoms of depression I hadn’t experienced in years; recalling how much it took out of me to overcome that exacerbated the hopelessness. I lost enthusiasm for the things I used to enjoy most and I found it uncharacteristically difficult to maintain a positive outlook about the future. The worst part was that I knew turning to the Lord during this dark season would be the only way to work through it, but my flesh did not want to. Have you ever been there – knowing that God would bring you solace but feeling as though you had no energy to receive it from Him? That’s where I was at: wanting God to help me but holding back from Him without much of any reason. I wasn’t mad at Him, but I wasn’t excited about Him all the time like I used to be – and I resented myself even more for it. A vicious cycle.

Here is where the wonder of nature comes in. I was finally able to take a long-awaited trip, a time away from the mundane and the tediousness of life as I felt I knew it. The anticipation of spending a week with my best friend Jasmine was one of the only things getting me up in the mornings, but being there was more therapeutic than I could have imagined. National Parks are one of the only things in the world that get my heart racing just thinking about them, so visiting two of them together was exactly what I needed. We gained 5,800ft of elevation over 22 miles of hiking and drove 1,020 miles over 26 hours around Northern California. An absolute dream.

Lassen Volcanic NP and Yosemite NP are some of the most idyllic places I’ve ever been. It was impossible to not feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as I stared at the infinite starry sky above me at our campsites, or as we reached the summit of the most challenging hike I’ve done to date, or when the truck would round a bend to reveal a new landscape that took my breath away. The mountains, forests and waterfalls spoke to me in a way that humans simply cannot. All of creation worships the same King I do and this week I was reminded of that. It only took a moment, a week immersed in God’s most magnificent handiwork, for me to feel alive again.

So as I head home to Virginia, less than four months away from a world of opportunity opened to me, I will take this perspective with me. I will relive the exhilaration of the brink of physical exhaustion mixed with zestful exploration until spiritual rejuvenation washes over me like waves all over again. I want to stay myself the way I feel when I am in the wonder of nature, and I am motivated to put the work in to achieve that. The Lord has been unwaveringly sweet and gracious to me for allowing me this time to recenter on who He is and who He is still making me to be.

Picturing the Promised Land

Why do you keep trying to picture the Promised Land?

During a time of such uncertainty where making plans nearly feels painful, I’ve been yearning for something absolute. Each time disappointment and defeat has washed over me in the last two months, I’ve had to choose to remember the Lord’s promises which prevail beyond what I’m able to plan for. Like most people, I have hopes for what my future might look like. I feel settled about certain desires God has placed in my heart, but frustration sets in when I realize that I’m unable to picture them in a palpable way. While on a prayer bike ride yesterday (highly recommended), I felt the title of this blog come over me with the question: “Why do you keep trying to picture the Promised Land?” I’ll use the Abrahamic covenant of the Promised Land to depict my conviction from this. Two thousand years before Jesus was born, through Abraham, God promised the land we know as Israel to His people. Abram (as he was first called) was living a comfortable life in old age before God called him to leave it all behind:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others”… So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed. (Genesis 12:1-2, 4)

When reading the Bible, it’s easy to miss the emotions behind the actions we read about. Abraham trusted the Lord without any other picture of this Promised Land besides knowing it as “The Land of Milk and Honey,” and left his life for the unknown, becoming the father of the Hebrew people. Abraham was a human just like you and me. Although his faith in the Lord was obviously enough to make the decision to obey, I doubt it was without hesitation. If God asked us to do something similar in today’s age, I imagine responses of “But can I bring this?” or “Will I still have that?”. Abraham likely had some questions of his own, but God’s promise was enough of a picture to satisfy his soul.

I think we try to picture the Promised Land because we like to feel in control. Many of us trust God to make good on His promises, but we still worry because we can’t know what it will look like when He does. We know God will make sure we find a job that provides for our needs, but deep down we’re afraid it won’t pay enough to allow for the lifestyle we’re comfortable with. To that I say, we were never meant to live comfortably. We know God has someone out there for us to marry, but we worry it’ll take too long. Yet, we’re foolish to think we’re ready now, if God thinks we’re not. We’re scared we’ll never get to a place of contentment and happiness, but God gently asks if we’ve let Him show us what true joy looks like. God promises us a land of milk and honey in our own lives through intimate relationship with the creator of the universe. He allows the desires of our hearts to come alive when our hearts are aligned with His. Still, we struggle to fully trust in these promises because we do not know what they will look like– or more honestly, if they will look like what we want them to.

Did Abraham try to picture what life in the Promised Land would look like before he left his homeland? Probably. But remembering the Lord’s covenant to him and his descendants (including you and I) allowed him to confidently follow God’s calling. For me personally, this all calls for a ceasing of striving. I am quick to try to make things happen on my own, just because I know God has called me to something generally. This becomes a problem when I stop consulting God for each next step, and try to jump ahead to the Promised Land.

After Abraham and his family spent some time in the Promised Land (then known as Canaan), a famine hit and they were forced to flee to Egypt for food. In time, the Hebrew people were perceived as a threat and enslaved there for over four hundred years. This is what the Bible says during part of the journey of returning to Canaan:

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. (Exodus 13: 17-18)

How beautiful is it that God ensured His people would receive His promise, even though it may not have been the way they imagined? It wasn’t the quickest way, but it was the way God saw was best fit. If trying to picture the Promised Land is keeping you from wholeheartedly trusting in and following God, remember this…

What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you. (Genesis 28:15)


Easter Everywhere

Our celebration could never be canceled.

Today I drove around my hometown with the windows down, worship music blaring, my voice cracking as I sang as painfully loud as I could.

I passed dozens of families enjoying the sunshine, but their smiles felt warmer than anything else.

Someone on a firetruck stood tall in a bunny suit, entourage vehemently waving back to my honking.

A lively congregation of parked cars in a church lot raised flags & hands in reverence of our risen King, bringing me to tears.

All of this after watching my pastor preach from a laptop at the kitchen table in a tie-dye t-shirt.

Very few things about this Easter came as I would have expected weeks ago. But the story has not changed, and this celebration could never be canceled. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the single greatest act of love this world will ever know. Take today to digest the fact that Jesus was a human man who walked on the same Earth we do. He was crucified: nails hammered into his hands & feet, left hanging there until He died. Priests & passersby mocked Him with the audacity to laugh as he suffered.

Remind yourself of this again tomorrow.

Let us never forget the inconceivable sacrifice Jesus made so we could enter into relationship with Him. Let the story of Easter never lose its shock factor. Let us find joy in this season of uncertainty in the glimpses of His goodness we still get to witness every day, when we widen our perspective enough to look for it. The glory of Easter is everywhere.





What if comfortable has never been what we’re called to, and we fully trusted the chaos to be calmed?

The title of this blog has been sitting in my notes and drafts for months. This word “unhurried” was a whisper from the Lord quite some time ago. After the weight of accelerated schooling and striving for insubstantial goals caught up to me, I knew I needed to slow my pace. I even wanted to, but didn’t really know how, because it wasn’t something I was used to– I’d been go, go, go for too long. I’m always looking for the next adventure around the corner; oftentimes, I dissociate with the present because of this. I have a wild zest for life that I try to tame and preserve, but when I’m moving too fast it’s hard to do so.

What better time than in the middle of a pandemic, restricting us from the hubbub of our daily routines, to pause and consider how hurried we really are? My heart aches as the world collectively suffers sickness, fear, and disappointments. Cancellations have us scrambling to regain control and some semblance of normalcy. Our default mode is to get comfortable again amidst this chaos… but what if comfortable has never been what we’re called to, and we fully trusted the chaos to be calmed?

A month ago, I bought seven plane tickets. I was accepted into and registered for a study abroad experience of a lifetime, with a backpacking excursion to follow with my best friend. She and I stayed up on the phone for hours on end over many nights, meticulously researching and planning for this dream of a trip. As you know the story to go, my study abroad was canceled by the school and it is no longer safe to travel to Europe at all. I prepared myself through prayer as best I could for this outcome, and the Lord truly gave me a sense of peace about it from the moment I got the news. I meditated on Psalm 112:7– even though I’d read it before, its simple grace resonated differently: “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” 

But of course (and I’ll say it bluntly), this still sucked. We were devastated, and we’re still trying to sort through the logistics of rescheduling our trip with the same amount of uncertainty of when this will end looming over us. I’m no longer able to graduate according to plan. By God’s grace I’m still able to finish my main program by the end of this year, but part of my coursework has to change and that sucks too. I’m confident anyone reading this could come up with some way their lives have been altered by COVID-19. We will forever remember this time as one that was unprecedented in today’s society, but I challenge you to spend it learning to be okay with “unhurried.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rescheduling events and wanting to get things back in order– but we can do all of this without the haste. Before I started to write this, as I sat at my desk this Saturday morning, I felt rushed to get as much work done as I could. Although nothing was urgent (and I’m sure I have plenty of time at home in the coming weeks), my mind is trained to keep up with my obligations any time I have the ability to. I wrote a blog last year called “On Pacing” which serves as a reminder to slow down on the rat race. Today, with our paces being involuntarily slowed and our resources being cataclysmically stripped away, it’s important to rest in our one true provider.

“So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? Or my drink? Or my clothes? Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” -Matthew 6:31-34

Childlike Faith

Do you want to be an astronaut veterinarian?

If you ask my seven year old brother what he wants to be when he grows up, he will tell you he’s going to be an astronaut veterinarian. We all know that’s not impossible, but it’s also highly unlikely. In the mind of a child, he will be whatever he wants to be. He’s not worried about how he’ll pay for college and the complexity of achieving both career goals certainly doesn’t faze him; his ingenuous response is full of faith.

I think most busy adults would agree that they’d love to be a kid again. Life is so much simpler when you don’t have to pay the bills, take care of others, or make life-altering decisions. But as it goes, we spend the majority of our lives post-childhood earning credentials and climbing ladders. It starts in school when we’re compared against elusive standards and continues as we enter the workforce– the same evaluations, just adding in a quest to earn money. If not as much as possible, at least enough to take care of obligations. We transition from whimsical aspirations to mundane routines which are dependent upon our own ability to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. What if instead, we lived out of the providence of our Father?

As the Lord has begun to shift my perspective this year, I’m understanding a new side of our relationship than I had been used to: childlike faith. There is a lot to learn from the mindset and position of a child.

Matthew 18:2-4 (TPT) reads:

Jesus called a little one to his side and said to them, “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm.”

I love this translation because there are a few truths I’ve gleaned from it that may not be as easy to recognize otherwise.

  1. Dramatically change your way of thinking. Becoming like a child is not a simple task– it essentially requires us to rewire our brains and begin to see the world differently. There is a drastic difference between the way children think and the way adults think, but we can effectively manifest both when we mesh dependence with wisdom.
  2. Become teachable. Pride is a sin issue many of us struggle with. If it’s not yourself, I’m sure you know someone who is too stubborn to admit they’re wrong, and hesitates to take correction. We must host a humble spirit.
  3. Continually humble yourself. “Continually” is the key word here. Learning to surrender our control to Jesus is a process, and within that there is always grace for ourselves and those around us.

Childlike faith is all about innocent and unrestrained trust in God. In the most practical sense: why should we worry if God’s not worried? I’m no bible scholar and I’ll never claim to be. But for me, what I’ve learned from meditating on this concept is that the Lord has called us to leave behind our busy lives of striving and simply let Him be our Father.

Let Him provide for you. Listen to his instruction.

Believe that He will take care of all your needs AND bring your dreams to fruition.

Live out of that headspace, and become like a child again.

Make Time for Your Maker

Because He has all the time in the world for you!

Here we go again, another blog post I was prompted to write a bit ago but wasn’t sure how. I’m learning that you have to live out what you’re sharing, then just go for it when you’re ready to write.

While having a faith conversation with a friend about spending time with God (particularly through church), I felt Him tell me that I needed to “practice what I preach,” if you will. While I’ll humbly say that I know I put a fair amount time into my relationship with God if I’m comparing myself to some other people, I realized in that moment that I wasn’t putting as much time into it when I compared myself, with myself.

When I first went all in for Jesus in 2017, I was in a place of brokenness where I didn’t know how I would survive the day without spending every waking moment dwelling with the Spirit. It seemed as though I was in prayer each minute I wasn’t spending talking to someone, and nearly every activity I did was in attempt to draw closer to Him. I remember waking up at dark-thirty every morning to watch the sunrise on the beach before classes as my quiet time (sidebar: remembering this is one of the only things that makes me wish I still lived at the beach instead!). Every day I would pray the same thing (amongst others of course): Lord, please set me on fire for You. And man, that prayer has been being continually answered daily since then.

I also remember a distinct prayer I often repeated as well: Lord, please forgive me for the times in my life where I am more distant from you than I am now–because we both know those days will come. I find myself thinking about this often, which would be good and well if I took each of those thoughts and turned them into a fix for the problem. Sometimes it’s easier to forget about God when we think we need Him less–when our pain begins to subside, when our circumstances start to change for the better, or when we become more confident in who HE is transforming us into. Since that moment in conversation with my friend, I knew I needed to be more intentional with my relationship with Jesus because He is so intentional with me.

I honestly couldn’t be happier that I’m making more time for my Maker again. I can feel the difference in my day to day wanderings in physical presence and thoughts alike. As I’ve opened my eyes, ears, and heart to recognize how He’s moving, I’ve seen my specific prayers answered in insane ways I could’ve never came up with on my own. The best part is that I know He will continue to move in this way as He responds to bigger and bolder prayers throughout my life.

I want to share a few practical tips for how we can spend more time with Jesus, even when we feel our schedule is just too busy and overwhelming for much more. Disclaimer: none or even all of this could be a substitute for complete quiet & alone time with God in prayer, attending church, or serving in any capacity. More-so, they are suggestions for how to turn your everyday tasks into opportunities to spend time with the Spirit.

  • Talk to God, out loud, in your car or shower. There is something so powerful about speaking to Him outside of our heads and being bold enough to hear our own cries to Him–or letting others see you cry in the car when it gets that good! You have to do these things anyway, so you might as well use them to connect with God. Turn on some worship music too if you’re into that, to help position your heart toward Him.
  • Go on prayer walks. This is personally my favorite way to experience quiet time and has proven to be incredibly impactful in my life. Sometimes I’ll do it around my apartment and pray out loud, non-stop for about 30 minutes while walking back and forth between rooms. Other times, I’ll go on a neighborhood walk or hike while listening to worship music and just being quiet for a while to let Him speak to me. Anddd, you can get your steps and exercise in this way at the same time!
  • Pick a verse of the day/week to dwell on in your in-between moments. This could be the verse of the day on YouVersion (an awesome Bible resource!) or you can search for one based on your current situation. Try to memorize this verse and find ways to apply it to what you’re experiencing. While it’s important to spend as much time as possible in the Word, this is a great way to be encouraged while you’re stressed or overwhelmed, by simply taking breaks during your day to remember God’s promises.
  • Find ways to speak to (or ask) others about Jesus in your day-to-day. Whether it be in the lunch room at work or on your usual phone call to your parents/kids/friend, figure out you can encourage them or how they can encourage you. If you have a friend who you know loves Jesus and you just want to know more, casually ask them about the church they go to. Ask your loved one how you can be praying for them before you hang up the phone. You’ll be surprised how God will respond when you are incorporating Him in your daily interactions with others.
  • Pray until you fall asleep! So many times I’ve gone through a mental list of people/things to pray about and woken up the next morning realizing I didn’t get to finish. And that’s okay! I was able to spend my last moments of the day talking to God and that sets me up perfectly for remembering Him first thing in the morning.

These are just a few simple ways we can try to spend a little more time with the Lord amidst our busyness. God wants to spend every single minute of your life with you, but we can’t experience the effects of this unless we let Him. I would love to hear any suggestions others may have on how they choose to make more time for their Maker! If you’ve read this and struggle with how to spend time with God, or even trying to find the desire to, PLEASE reach out to me. So many people miss an opportunity to transform their life in this way, and while I’m striving to get better every day, it would be great to help encourage someone else in this area too.

“Move your heart closer and closer to God, and He will come even closer to you. But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting.” James 4:8

Chosen, Not Rejected

Let His voice sing louder.

This is my second time sitting down to write this post after at least a month of knowing it needed to be written. I’ve recently recognized a heart issue I have: rejection. Not being (or rather, feeling) chosen. Somebody else getting what I wanted. Again. This rejection I’ve felt has come from friends, men (shocker), job situations, and even family members. It’s a heart issue that I didn’t want to admit I had for quite a long time. I stopped writing this the first time because it felt too difficult. I didn’t want to think about all of the ways I’ve felt this rejection, this feeling of being unwanted. I didn’t know if I could muster the right words to actually encourage someone in this area when in reality, I struggle with it more than I probably even realize. But of course, as soon as I closed my laptop and walked away, a perfect example of those feelings entered my day and left me feeling rejected. In that moment, God whispered to me to start again. He knew I needed to write this post for myself as much as someone else needs to read these words.

Does this issue of rejection sound familiar to you? Watching someone choose something or someone else over you, or watching an opportunity you prayed for pass you by? I’m sure all of us have experienced this at one point or another. Once I realized this is a daily struggle of mine, I knew I needed to actively pursue a path to freedom from these feelings. A few weeks ago I found something out which made me feel the ultimate rejection of not being good enough, not being wanted, and not being chosen. That night, God spoke a word into my heart that I’ve echoed to myself daily since then: “I chose you before your existence and I still choose you every day.”

In that moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of sorrow and guilt for having put so much value into the opinions of man when the only acceptance I’ve ever needed from anyone, I’ve had since the beginning of time. I’m here to tell somebody something today.

You’ve spent too much time thinking about why that opportunity didn’t pan out. 

You’ve wasted too much of your precious energy getting angry at people for leaving you out and forgetting about you.

You’ve occupied too many days wondering what you could have done better to earn the acceptance of someone who never should have gotten that much control over your heart in the first place.

Even as I continue writing this, thoughts of rejection keep filling my mind. The times where I wasn’t chosen by someone else still creep in. I can’t help but think of when I’ve been forgotten, left out, or abandoned. It’s a continuous battle to put the words of the Lord at the forefront of our minds and let them sing louder than those of any other person. But when we learn to, His voice becomes a comfort stronger than the fuzziest blanket or best home-cooked meal you’ve ever had.

Jesus will never forget about you.

Jesus will never leave you.

Jesus will never abandon you.

He only wants to remind you that you are chosen, not rejected, and He wants to keep choosing you every single day. Forever.

“Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children–this was his pleasure and purpose.” Ephesians 1:4-5

Pray like it depends on God, and…

Prayer never goes out of style.

For as long as I can remember, starting in childhood, I’ve struggled with anxiety in a number of different capacities. As I got a little older throughout middle and high school, depression started to creep in alongside of the anxiety. I spent years going to therapy and taking numerous medications to try and combat what I had been dealing with. Both definitely helped. By the time I got to college I had stopped going to therapy and eventually got off of all the antidepressants I had been on. And while I’m confident that I am in a world of a better place now than I was then, I’ve accepted that those things will never really go away entirely.

Anxiety is something that I face on a near daily basis. I’ve found many helpful ways to cope, but the panic attacks still present themselves on occasion. Depression on the other hand, has almost been a non-issue for a while now. While life events can cause seasons of sadness, I have grown to easily distinguish the difference between normal feelings of being down and the depression I used to feel every day. While I had hoped that living in Colorado would help keep my happiness up throughout fall and winter, this past week has reminded me of a bitter friend of mine: seasonal depression. It’s almost like I woke up one morning and felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks that felt all too familiar. I suddenly began to feel every non-desirable emotion, every day, for no explainable reason.

Once I accepted that these feelings of depression were not okay for me to continue dealing with, I was determined to make a change from what I usually do when this happens. In the past, I’ve just let the feelings fester until something just changed on its own. But this year, I’m making the conscious decision each day to dwell in God’s presence instead. To be honest, it’s not always easy and it’s not always fun. I sometimes have to force myself to listen to uplifting music instead of sad music that will only make me feel worse. I have to choose to keep spending time in the Word instead of wasting my time away with TV, social media, or whatever else can be a distraction from what God is trying to say to me or do in my life.

My grandpa recently sent me a care package that included a book I’d been wanting to read for quite some time: The Circle Maker. I am absolutely certain that God got my hands on that book exactly when I needed it. I read fairly regularly, but with this book I spent almost all of my free minutes working my way through it. Because of it, I’ve been praying more than I have in a long time. While other spiritual disciplines are not typically a problem for me, like reading my Bible and going to church, I find myself often forgetting to pray when I truly need it. I just allow myself to wallow in my negative feelings and hope that God will pull me out of the pit. But after finishing this book, I got one key principle for me to focus on: pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on you. 

This was exactly what I needed to hear throughout this time of year for me, and author Mark Batterson made it easy by repeating that line many times throughout the book! I so often succumb to my feelings of despair because it’s easier than trying to do something about them to feel better. But that is not what the Lord has called me to do. I have to make the daily decision to trust His sovereignty and put in the effort on my side of things to help Him, help me get to where I want to be.

I remember during my worst times of depression in school, I was unhappy with where I lived. I felt like I didn’t belong, like I was meant for more than my small town, and that frustrated me. I probably prayed 100 prayers asking God to get me out of that place–both physically and mentally. Now here I am, living in one of the most gorgeous places out there, feeling like this is where I was meant to be all along. And it’s all because God brought me here, honoring the work I put in along the way to get my education and advance myself through my career. He numbered my every step until they led me right to Colorado, right when I was supposed to be here. He has proved faithful to get me through 100% of the hard times I’ve faced so far, and He will continue to do that for the rest of my life when I’m willing to put Him first in my life above all the noise.

So while the cold weather seasons may be a tougher time for me (and I’m sure many of you), I trust that God will bring me back to a place of joy when I’m constantly seeking Him in prayer even when I don’t feel like it. I guarantee He will do the same for you.

P.S. Read the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson!! It was truly life-changing for me and I’m believing the same for anyone else struggling with feeling distant from God.

P.P.S. I drafted this post a couple of days ago, then this morning I watched my home church’s latest message online. It was about our value of “Pray First,” in which our pastor mentioned the same exact saying that was repeated throughout the book! Only God.

Not Afraid to Fall

The seasons have nothing on me anymore.

Fall has never really been my season. Not because I don’t like it–believe me, I could not be more excited for sweater weather, the changing of leaves to my favorite colors, or the holiday festivities. Bad things just tend to happen to me during this time of year.

For the past three years, I’ve had some pretty dramatic life events take place in the September/October time frame. Cliff notes of Fall ’15, ’16, & ’17: I got myself into some trouble, totalled my car, & had a highly adored relationship end. Because of these things, I’ve had some trouble getting into the autumn spirit this year. To be perfectly honest, I’m terrified that something negative will happen again. As great of a place as I’m in now that I live in Colorado, I can’t help but feel like I’ll have to come down from the high at some point, & that naturally it’ll happen in the pattern that it has been.

I used to be a pessimistic realist. I would have a grounded view on what could happen, but with expectations of the worst. However recently I’ve been slowly transforming into an optimistic realist. I figure out possible outcomes, prayerful for the desires of my heart with faith that God’s will is sovereign over my plans anyway.  But now that fall is here again, I’m struggling to maintain that mindset. Ever since I found out I was moving to Colorado, an answered prayer to be placed somewhere that feels so authentically like home, my testimony began to evolve. I could have been called to move essentially anywhere, but God chose to bring me to a place where I’ve become more fulfilled in him and happier with myself than I ever have been. But of course, this didn’t mean that I would magically become perfectly content in every area of life.

In the time since I’ve fully settled in, I’ve been dealing with some heart issues. Haven’t we all? Whether it be bitterness, rejection, or resentment (a few of mine), anger, unforgiveness, or guilt, these things affect the way we perceive our circumstances. Thankfully, I’m wildly aware of those emotions and how they’re affecting my daily life. I talk to God about them all the time, & do my best to work on improving, but it’s never easy. In the thick of summertime, it was much simpler for me to ignore the parts of life which had me feeling that way. However with the change of seasons, this year in particular is coming with many changes in my personal life. Pair that with my history of ill-fated autumns & it’s a recipe for worry about the months to come.

Lately I’ve been running out of my positive momentum, and it’s been easy for me to feel like the good has run out on me. To feel like God’s giving everyone what they want except for me. I often neglect to remember how far I’ve come or how much I’ve been given because of the emotions that cloud my vision. I wrongly choose to focus on my losses instead of my gains. I fear that my waiting seasons will last much longer than I hope for & the inconveniences in my life will be much worse than I plan for. I only see what other people have that I don’t, instead of realizing that I have everything I could possibly need.

As I enter into my jinxed time of year, I’m struggling to maintain the optimism that I take pride in. What if my circumstances don’t take a turn for the better? What if I have to go through another loss this fall? It’s during these times of questioning that I have to remind myself of a powerful truth: despite any circumstances, I have everything I need in Christ. It doesn’t matter what this season holds for me, because there is nothing I can’t face when I put my trust in the one who holds the universe in his hands. I will choose to see the remainder of this year as an opportunity for growth, self-improvement, and contentment. Whether something unexpectedly wonderful happens, or the “trend” of events continues, I will see it as God teaching me to make the most of exactly where he has me, when he has me there.

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

For your good & His glory

God never overlooks our pain. In fact, He’s using yours for your good and His glory as you read this.

In the more recent months, I’ve learned more about myself than the years of my life prior, combined. This includes becoming aware of some personal characteristics (but actually, challenges) of mine, a couple of which have seemed to become more noticeable to me amongst all of the life changes I’ve had lately. For some reason by what I know was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, today I felt compelled to share a bit about these struggles to hopefully create some encouragement from them. For whomever might read this post, but probably more importantly, for myself as I’ve grown increasingly discouraged by the way they’ve affected my life.

As a prelude to the more specific characteristics, you must understand that I’m an exceptionally emotional person. While any of my closest friends or family could tell you that, only God really knows what I mean when I say this because it is easily what I would consider the primary descriptor of my personality. Because of this, I tend to get my hopes up very easily at the slightest possibility of a positive or desirable circumstance. This is my first challenge. I get extremely excited about things, even if nothing is guaranteed, because I’ve become a way more positive person than I ever used to be. But then sometimes– life happens. Things end up differently than I expected. It’s at this point where the next challenge comes in: I feel stupid and embarrassed about the expectations I had set, things I had said to other people with higher hopes than I should’ve had, and the level of disappointment I subsequently begin to feel. I’ve struggled with anxiety for the majority of my life (a story for another day) and I’ve learned that changed plans and the most minor of disappointments are a couple of the worst triggers of that for me. Whenever these feelings of disappointment, anxiety, or embarrassment set in, I simply tell myself that I’m never going to get my hopes up again because all I ever do is get let down.

Yeah, because that’s the right attitude to have. This is one of my greatest challenges, to accept when things don’t go my way, with grace. Because often life just doesn’t go the way we expected it would. Sometimes people let us down, hurt our feelings, or turn out to be different than we’d hoped. Sometimes God tells us “not yet,” and we have to wait a little longer for the object of our desire. It’s at these times where I need to remind myself that it’s okay for me to be upset about things, and I should never be ashamed of feeling that way. If God cares enough to number and name each of the stars (Psalm 147:4), shouldn’t I know that He cares about what’s disappointed me?

Our God cares about all the minute details of our lives. He sees me when I’m crying without even understanding why. He sees me while I wait for what my heart so badly longs for. He sees me when I’m disappointed over what others might say is something insignificant or unworthy. And the best part? He doesn’t judge me for a second. I can put my faith in Him to deliver me through whatever size trial is phasing me, just as I’ve seen Him do time after time in my life and the lives of others. Sometimes the trial for me is as small as being excited to go somewhere one evening, then plans being changed at the last minute. Other times it’s bigger, like going many months hoping for something I’m not even sure will ever happen. Whatever your trial is, just know that the Lord sees your pain, and He is actively working to change circumstances, hearts, and lives for your good and His glory.

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s spirit is right alongside us helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28