Too Long

Friday, June 26, 2015

How long has it been?

How long has it been since I let them speak?

How long has it been since I let the deepest worries of their souls flow out from them? How long?

How long has it been since I listened?

Their words were locked inside their hearts because I refused to hear them.

I spoke freely while they were silent - they listened, yet I couldn't do the same.

How long has it been? Too long.

Lord, give me the strength to have open ears, an open heart, and a discerning mind.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does no produce the righteousness that God desires.
James 1:19
Monday, June 22, 2015

Have courage, little heart;life can be hard sometimes, but God is always good.

 Let the riches of His love fill your spirit to the brim. Let it bubble out of your heart and soul and shine through your eyes. 

 Know that even though the waves are intimidatingly large, the water will always wash you clean. 

And when you simply cannot hold onto anything any longer, hold onto your Lord harder than you ever have before. 

Even if you don't, though, He will still hold onto you. Rest in the beauty of that.

Be Beautiful: Thoughts of a Daddy's Girl

Monday, June 15, 2015
     I attended a wedding on Saturday. It was absolutely magical. I cried. Very hard.

     I also learned something as I watched father and daughter dance their hearts out as they said goodbye to an old phase of their life and stepped into a new one. When the father gave his daughter away, he said he "happily" gave her away. (That was probably the moment I started crying, considering I am super sensitive to anything Daddy-Daughter related.) I was thinking about how hard that must have been, to let go of the daughter who was convinced at age five that the only person she would ever marry would be her father (that was my attitude, at least) and willingly give her away to God and her husband. But then I realized something: her father had given her away to God already, a long time ago, perhaps at the very moment she was born. I also realized that God had made her for the exact purpose of marrying this man and going off to anywhere and everywhere to give God the maximum amount of glory. And those two realizations made me realize something bigger, something I probably should have realized a long time ago, and something that I continue to realize as I grow in Christ: 

     We belong to God.

    (Well duh, you say.) Keep reading, though. I promise I'm going somewhere

     All humans are made by Him and through Him. We are all meant for His glory, but some of us rebel; some of us take our own path. Instead of embracing our purpose, the one that was destined for us from before the beginning of time, we search for our own personally crafted purpose, thinking that anything we create will better than anything God can create.

     The creation of mankind by God is no theory; it is fact, and until we accept that fact and all that it entails, we cannot find what we are truly meant for as humans.  We were meant to be beautiful beings who glorify God in everything we do. We were meant to point directly to His greatness.

     With this in mind, there is something we need to remember: Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; beauty is in the eyes of God.

     We sinners already rebelled enough by rebelling against God's purpose for our lives, and then we decide to rebel against God's version of beautiful, which really is the only version of beautiful. We've decided to change our gender and sexual preference and nearly everything else merely because we want to. We think that we can make ourselves beautiful, when in fact only God and His perfect love can. 

     I know this verse is probably familiar to most of you: 

"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b). 

     You've probably heard this one, too:

   God's version of beauty does not come from fancy dresses or the perfect shade of makeup. It doesn't come from good grades or popularity or a shining smile. It comes from your heart, and we all know, or should know, that the human heart cannot be beautiful without God's help because we are sinful (very sinful, in fact) beings. 

     1 Peter tells us that a quiet spirit is beautiful, girls. And it goes onto tell us the women are the "weaker vessel." Before you freak out about that, though, hear me out:

     Women are the weaker vessel. We're more emotional than men; we're soft-hearted, and that is okay. Don't be ashamed of your emotions. We  women are supposed to feel as deeply as we do. A speaker at The Wilds put it this way:

     Men are water bottles, and women are glass cups. They are both used for the same purpose, to hold fluid, but they are completely different. Glass is breakable, and water bottles can take a little more beating up. 
     The whole point of that rambling is this: 

     Christian girl, you're beautiful not because of what you are on the outside, but because of what God has done for you. When you rejoice in that, praising God for His amazing grace, your heart beams with beauty. When you open your heart to listen to others and truly care about them, you are using the renewed heart that God gave you, and that is beautiful. When you focus on your inward beauty, relying on God to renew your heart and soul, it will show. When you show your gentle and quiet spirit, nonbelievers will question where that beauty comes from because women today are taught that they are just like men, and they're just not. When they see that your quiet spirit is making you beautiful, then you can show them that true beauty comes from God. 

     We all were made for this beauty because we all were made to be God's. He wants to reclaim His people. Whether we like it or not, we were created by a perfect God, and we will never truly be beautiful until we embrace His version of beautiful, and we can't have His version of beautiful without accepting His grace and letting Him change us. 

     And now I realize why the father at this wedding was happy to give His daughter away to God and to her husband: When his daughter was born, this father knew that the beauty of God's grace was what was best for his daughter, and he wanted what was best for his daughter. He also knew that his future son-in-law would challenge His daughter to live for her Maker and to be beautiful in His sight.

   So, if you get one thing from this post, know that a life in Christ is what is best for you. Giving God glory is your purpose. You are meant to be beautiful, and you cannot be beautiful without the beautifying grace of our Amazing God.

Four Lessons from a Growing Soul

Saturday, June 13, 2015
      I spent last week at The Wilds of North Carolina and I learned so, so much. We were in the Word about six times a day: morning chapel, God and I time, God and I time follow-up, Christian Life Seminar, and an evening service. And oh, it was such a blessing. I've learned too much for one post, but perhaps I'll sprinkle a little bit of what I learned into later posts. For now though, I want to communicate the main idea of the whole week:

 1. Life is not about me.

    It never has been, and it never will be. Admittedly, I'm a little embarrassed that it took me this long to realize, but I'm glad God finally got through to my stubborn heart. 
    This life is about giving glory to the One who created us. God is holy and perfect; there is no flaw in Him. For that, He deserves praise.
    Giving praise to God is the very purpose for which Adam and Eve were created. God was great then, and He is great now. Not only is He great, but he is loving and full of grace. His love is so big that He would die for us. A lifetime of praise still isn't enough for all that God has done. I can never repay Him for what He has done and keeps doing for me, but I'm going to live my life trying. I know God will continue to give me grace when I lose focus, as I know I will again.
     My role in this life is to give God glory.

2. I'm going to mess up, and when I do, I can't give up; I have to get up. 
     I'm not perfect. I never have been,  I never will be, and sometimes (okay, most of the time) that is really hard to accept.. Following God when life is good is easy, but when I mess up, I tend to throw a tantrum. Like a three year old, I tend to (figuratively) sit down, pout, and refuse to move. When the going gets tough, though, we cannot sit down and pout. Our times of weakness are the times when God's strength is perfected. We have to keeping moving and let God hold onto us. The times that are tough for us are the times when we can shine God's light all the more. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, "But [the Lord] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Let God's power rest on you when you're weak. Through Him you can accomplish His will for your life.

3. Christ is enough.
     Sometimes I think that the only thing I'm known for is running away from God. Running to other sources of "happiness" won't suffice. I know that now. I should have figured that out a long time ago. I had been told so before, but often we can't learn something unless we experience it for ourselves. Now I know: Christ is enough. In fact, Christ is more than enough. With Christ in your heart, you will have more joy than any guy, girl, substance, or experience can give you.  Psalms 63:3 says, "Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You." Rest in the fullness of God's love and the protection under the shadow of His wings.

4.  Life isn't sectioned off: It's all or nothing.
     I've learned that living for God means living for God in all areas of life. You can't choose to glorify God at church but not at school, or with your words but not with your music. A true God-lover seeks God's glory in every aspect of his or her life. This is it, Christians. The Bible you have sitting on your nightstand or bookshelf is your whole life. Read it. Study it. Believe it. Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, as Paul writes in Philippians 3:14. Live fully and honorably with grace in your heart. Forgive and move on. Loves others. Love God. 

     Christians, press on. This life is not about you or me; it is about God. Like the old hymn says, "Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe." You will mess up, but don't lose hope. Get up because Christ is enough, and press on towards the goal. Someday, I know it will all make sense. Life may seem confusing now, but God uses the worst circumstances to make something good. He has put you where you are for a reason, and He will lead you where He wants you to go. There is fullness in God's love, and a life lived for Him is a life lived to the full.

Some Words to My Dear Friends Out There:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I’ve been a prideful, arrogant mess. I’ve hidden behind Word documents and black and white scribbles, desperate to make myself known. I’ve searched for life in promises of new places, wanting to be a part of something bigger, when I have life here. Right here, where blood runs orange, I have so much: I’m part of the Body of Christ; I am redeemed and forgiven; I have duties to tend to right here, right now.

And I make mistakes just like everyone else.

I’m a mess. I’m no asset to God’s Kingdom. I sit on no pedestal. I’m a person, a person who makes mistakes and messes up over and over again on a daily basis.

So I suppose I’m trying to apologize. I apologize for trying to act like I own the world when, in fact, I own nothing. Everything on this earth belongs to the One who created it, the One who created me, and instead of bowing down before Him and humbly submitting, I’ve stood tall, certain that my way is the best way. I apologize for proclaiming the name of a loving, perfect God when in truth all I wanted was my own prosperity. I apologize for making you believe the illusion that I was acting in a godly manner when my pride ran deep. I apologize for trying to lift myself above others because I felt they were receiving more praise than they should have.

I apologize for being human: terribly, completely human.

Now I’m in a place of some sort of brokenness. Nevertheless, in this brokenness, I’ve found hope: I have hope in a God who loves me beyond reason because that is simply who He is. I have hope in a God who continues to change my heart and soul for the better for His glory. I have hope in my Savior who gave himself up so that I may live again, showing perfect humility, the humility that I aspire to make present in my everyday life.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll arrive at camp. There, at my home away from home, I plan to look inside myself and make room for selflessness. So until next week, dear readers, keep me in your prayers, as you’ll be in mine. 

Take Me to the Sea

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Take me to the sea.

Oh, how I long to be clean.

Oh, how I long for the salt air,
the rolling waves,
the peace of purity.

Take me to the sea.
Take me to the place where peace is always found on the upside of a wave,
where wrongs wash away with the sand of the shore,
where faith is strong and hearts are clean.

Finding the Colors of Who [He Is]

Monday, June 1, 2015

So many colors:

Orange laughter bubbling out of pink, smiling mouths,

Yellow memories making minds happy,

Blue, brown, and green eyes, listening and watching, waiting and accepting,

Lavender summers and periwinkle winters,

Turquoise springs and maroon falls.

Their colors are bright and sure.

My reflection, hidden by mirror smudges, taken apart by its own eyes, is black and white.

It searches for a home, antsy in its own skin.

Do I even know who I am?

What I feel has no color.

I search for meaning in orange laughter and lavender summers, but their colors evaporate when they touch my skin.

The yellow memories fade like a sun tan.

The maroon of autumn seems too chilly to bear, and periwinkle winters turn skin dry.

So I close my eyes and expect blackness.

Instead, I see You.

Your color is unknown and nonexistent, but it is beautiful.

You smile, and the pinkness of it is greater than I have ever known.

Then, You open your arms, and I fall into them.

The color of this feeling is too joyful to produce.

When I open my eyes, I expect no one, but You really are there.

I look into Your eyes filled with too many colors to name, and I see myself.

All of a sudden, though, my image doesn’t matter because I have seen You.

My heart becomes full, and as I look deeper and deeper into Your eyes, I see a pink smile, my pink smile, all because of You.

     So, so sorry I've been gone so long :) I was finding out who I am, if that 's a good enough excuse. I'm not sure I even know yet, but this I do know: My identity comes from the One who is is higher than I, my Creator, my Savior, and my God. Although the colors of me may not appear yet, Christ's colors are so great that they don't exist yet. They're outside the spectrum of visible light.

     I've learned that we humans put people in boxes. We expect them to be paper-made, one-dimensional beings, and we're just not. We're complicated and emotional and irregular and unique, only, of course, because that's how God is, just on a much, much bigger level. When we discount the uniqueness and complexity of humans, we're telling God that His creation is boring. Of course, we're humans, and we put people in boxes because that is all our minds allow us to do.

      I probably get as annoyed as anyone else about stereotyping, but I've decided something: the world can put me in whatever kind of box they want to as long as they don't put my God in one because He  is where my identity comes from. I am redeemed; I am a new creation; the Living God dwells inside my soul. I am His. So, if you insist on putting people in boxes, which, by God's power, I'm going to try my best not to do, please don't put the Creator of those people and the Creator of those boxes in a box. There's not box or even universe big enough to fit Him inside.