If I’m Being Honest…

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Have you ever been completely honest with someone even though you were scared to death? Have you ever faced that moment where you laid everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, on the table for them to analyze and pick apart? You knew you would face the possibility of judgment for your actions, but what you were facing could no longer be held in anymore?

Last night I faced that moment. A simple conversation with my friend Emma turned into a heart-to-heart, and I became the epitome of “all the feels.” I don’t let my guard down easily with people (I know that doesn’t make sense since I’m sitting here telling you this story now), but I don’t. I’m an open book in so many, many ways and in other ways, I refuse to show any amount of affection. Seriously, if you want to see awkward just watch me hug my sister or my friend Kaelan. I don’t get affectionate often. But last night, I finally let my guard down with one of my closest friends.

Letting my guard down, allowing myself to trust in abounding ways, is something I have not done in a couple years. I was unashamedly honest with Emma. I told her things I have been holding in for an incredibly long time. I told her things that are probably the bravest confessions I’ve made in this time frame.

It’s not like she didn’t already know. She is one of my closest friends after all. But the importance is after all this time, I finally felt like the door was open, and I wanted to admit it. I told her I was done hiding, I was done pretending, I was done fighting by myself, and I needed someone to know.

The experience was liberating and a moment of revelation for me. Who am I to say God is working something wonderful in my life, something meant to bring Him mesmerizing of amounts of glory, and then never tell anyone about it? I realized if I truly believe God is working these things in my life, I should not be ashamed of what people think or how they perceive it. It’s God’s plan for my life, not theirs.

The same way I had to learn to stop rejecting grief in my life, I had to learn to simply let God work in my life, but not be afraid to let others be apart of that process.

I sit behind a computer screen a lot and talk about and glorify my faith journey. But in theme of honesty, y’all deserve to know I struggle. A lot. I’m still being shaped and molded into the person God wants me to be. I’m still trying to learn how to heal from people and situations that consistently make me feel like I will never be good enough. I still look at God and wonder how long he plans on having me wait for His promises. I doubt if I even understand His promises for my life. There are times I’m confused by his plan for my life. I just struggle.

Had God shown me His plan for my life six years ago, I would’ve ran the complete opposite direction. Who willing wants to face moving (well, that part I did want), heartbreak, anxiety, death and all the dreams for their life turned upside down. Had God shown me that where I am now, is where I would’ve been six years ago, I would’ve never moved, I would’ve never let myself fall in love, I would’ve distanced myself from everything and everybody in efforts to preserve my fragile soul from a world of hurt.

However, that’s the very problem. Had God shown me the entirety of His plans, I would have planted myself like a tree. God cannot show me the entirety of His plan because He knows I am humanly incapable of grasping how bad and good will somehow combine for His glory. He knows how unwilling I would have been to follow. That’s instead why He walked me through it, step-by-step, building my faith to trust Him every step of the way. Though, as I stated earlier, it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle comprehending His plan, because I do. But, it’s still a journey we make together.

I think I’ve told this story before, but on the plane back from Guatemala in 2014, I swear I met my guardian angel. As a bit of back story, I had been broken up with my ex-boyfriend for four months, I was deep in grief and heartbreak, and I truly had no idea where to go in life anymore. I was at the epitome of loss and I felt like confusion toward the circumstances in my life displayed a lack of trust in God. I was hopeless. This, combined with my trip to Guatemala, placed me on a plane from Miama to DFW reading The Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall.

Halfway through the flight of trying not to break down and cry, the lady seated next to me asked about the book I was reading. We strung up a conversation over the book that eventually led to the apex question – “well, why are you reading it?” I could not have held back if I tried.

I told her everything. I told her how I was in love and wanted nothing more than a future with that boy. I told her how things got difficult, in a matter of weeks our relationship ended, and I was left heartbroken. I told her I was hurting. I was confused. I admitted I wondered if it was apart of God’s plan for me to get married. I even flat out told her I thought I was a far better match for him than his new girlfriend. (Please don’t judge, I was heartbroken and in need of a confidence boost) Every feeling I was trying to cope with and understand, I dumped on this complete stranger on a plane.

I held back tears, but she heard the authenticity in my voice, and I heard it within hers. The conversation she proceeded to carry with me struck me. She told me the story of two boys who lived in a neighboring house to hers. The boys started dating a pair of friends, yet all felt something was wrong. The four of them sat down to talk and pray because they believed God was calling them to date the other. So they amicably ended their relationships and began new ones. All are now happily married.

Maybe she made this story up. Now that I go back and tell it, it seems like she was. Honestly, I don’t know what to make of this story. I certainly don’t believe she was telling me to date my ex-boyfriend’s brother (awkward, right?). But I think it was the bravery to follow God’s calling, no matter how risky, complicated, confusing, or difficult was the message she was trying to relay to me.

Beyond that, she told me I would be married, and to someone who loved God more than me. She reminded me it would be my choice who I married, and who I gave that chance at my heart. Yes, I know I shouldn’t place the possibility of my future in the hands of a complete stranger, but I can never forget the words she spoke to me. Her assurance was the comfort I needed. Like so many things in my past, a little moment with a stranger became a big moment in helping to shape who I am becoming today. I refuse to deny that because then I’m denying myself.

So why does all of this matter? Because in the moment of honesty I shared with my friend Emma, I realized I wasn’t scared anymore. The same way my moment of honesty with the stranger on the plane gave me a solace that I needed. I didn’t want to feel crazy for sharing very real experiences I had with God and others in my life. I just told her and decided we’d sort out the details later. I realized I could move forward with God’s plan with a sense of grit. I didn’t feel ashamed of the work God was doing in my life. Maybe I didn’t find the all clarity I wanted from my conversation, but what I did find was a bravery I didn’t even know I needed. I went to bed last night and told God “whenever it’s time to lay it all out on the table, I’m ready.”

Being honest reminded me that it’s okay to struggle. Honesty reminded me of who I am, and what my worth is in Christ, which I really needed. If I’m being honest, as hard as it was let my guard down, I felt free.

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Music Wednesday: The Band Perry

Easily the best group of siblings to perform in country music (at least in my opinion). Their songs are authentic, her voice is raw, and I think that’s what makes them so real. They are personable, their songs are fun but still hit close to home. These siblings are all amazing singer/songwriters and I love the amount of time and energy they put into the work. It truly shows in all of their music. Not to mention, Kimberly absolutely rocks the curly hair and red lipstick. So sorry, T Swift (not really).

As one of my favorite groups in country music, it was only a matter of time before they got a music Wednesday dedicated to them. Like some of my other favorite artists, I’ve decided to list multiple songs because it’s too difficult to pick only one.

All of these songs “seem” like breakup songs, and granted they are. Yet, breakup or no breakup, they are still incredible songs and ones you can always hear on repeat when riding in my car with me. The lyrics are real and in my opinion, that’s why the songs don’t get old.

Forever Mine Nevermind

Now on the outside this is the usual fun song. The beat is great and it’s a GREAT song to sing along to. Need a confidence boost after a breakup? This is definitely your go-to song. It’s the typical “you broke up with me, but that’s okay because you’ll never find anyone better.” I mean, who doesn’t love songs like that? Obviously the lyrics of “That you could do better? Never” and calling someone a piece of dirt can help you feel better. My favorite line in the song? “So I smashed my right hand open when I smashed the nose on you, ’cause you smashed my heart when you did what you said you’d never do.”

Back to Me Without You

Quite the opposite of Forever Mine Nevermind, Back to Me Without You is a good song to wallow to. This is the song you listen to when you’re hurt and you’re really just trying to figure out how to move forward. In the song, Kimberly talks about the feeling of having a homeless heart after going through a really tough breakup and the difficulty of putting faith in someone only to have them break your trust in the end. This is one of those songs that just hits hard. My favorite lyric from the song comes from the bridge – “I added rain to your ocean, what did it do I meant nothing to you, you made grief my chief emotion, why’d you have to do what you thought you had to do?”

Comeback Kid

You know the meme with the cop on his radio that says “warning to all officers in the area – shots have been fired”? That describes this song. It is resilient. It is a song of empowerment. Back story? It refers to the band splitting with their former record label and firing back at critics. They even take a jab at their song “If I Die Young” in the second verse by stating “I’m gonna finish what I started now, you interrupted me with all your doubts, how dare you forget where I started out” while repeating the “uh-oh” melody from their hit. The verses and chorus synthesize together in something different yet still very fitting for the band. It does have a pop sound to it, but it’s still country, and it’s the Band Perry so their lyrics speak volumes. My favorite part of this song? The bridge. “I believe in what I am; I believe in what I was. I believe in losing you I’ve never been given so much. I believe it’s been a year, the worst one I’ve ever lived. I believe I’m better now than I have ever been.”

Have an empowering rest of the week friends!

The Cause of Christ

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Kari Jobe released a new song, I’m not sure how long ago, but I just heard it this past week. The song is beautiful, though it did take me a couple times of listening to it before I finally registered what she was saying.

“The only thing I want in life is to be known for loving Christ. To build His church, to love His bride, and make His name known far and wide.”

It’s a goal I believe all Christians should have. I would like to say about myself that at the end of the day I’m someone trying to walk with God and give Him the glory the entire way. But I also see my failures every day and I’m reminded I’m human. I find myself acting like Abraham in many ways and saying “but God maybe if we did it this way” instead of just walking and trusting with the Lord.

It’s a journey to go down. I try to live by the idea of “don’t think less of yourself but instead think of yourself less” but at the end of the day, I know that’s not always true.

God has done amazing work in my life, and I mean truly transformational work. But that doesn’t mean the work is done yet. We’ve have our ruts and those moments where I have to ask God where and how he wants me to go forward. There’s always the moments I look at God and say “well, I think this can wait.”

The cause of Christ is a continuous journey. My fire for God is not by any means something that just happened overnight. I had to learn how to trust God. I had to learn how to saturate my life Christ.

The most joy I ever find in my life is when no matter the circumstances around me (which is incredibly difficult at times), every part of my mind is focused on Christ and His word. Holding true to the word of God is the only way I’ve made it through those tough, confusing, and frustrating times in life. And when I hit those ruts, those are again the moments I realize how greatly I need my life saturated with scripture.

So how do I do it? It’s fairly simple actually.

  1. Read scripture every day.
    But I have homework. But I have to work. But I’m tired. But I don’t know where to begin. What if I do it wrong? Believe me, these are ALL excuses I have used. I’m convinced if Satan can’t make you bad, he makes you busy. It is a discipline, I will not lie, but it is a discipline that is worth it. The more time we send in scripture, the more we can see it transform our lives. That in itself is a great reward.
  2. Memorize scripture.
    Okay, so I don’t recommend asking me to cite a verse for you word-for-word. I’ll probably fail that test. But understanding scripture, having it written on your heart, knowing the meaning of what God is saying, that’s the important part. The more we read scripture, the more our lives are transformed, the more we will begin to find these verses sticking and impacting our hearts. Our minds are then transformed even more.
  3. Worship with God.
    Do you sing in your car? Don’t lie, I know you do. And I’m not calling anyone out because I do too. There are times it’s a full-blown concert in my car and that’s okay. But one of the biggest ways I found to transform my daily life is to begin every single day by worshipping God. For the past 2 years, I have been unable to get ready in the morning or drive to school/work without listening to worship music. I also make new playlists every few months to keep it changed up. There’s something about when I take the time to meditate with God that helps me throughout my day. We all worship differently, but finding the music you love helps. Need some ideas? I’ll list some of my favorites at the end of the post.
  4. Write scripture down.
    Maybe this is just a “me” thing, but I remember things so much better when I write them down. (It’s also why I take hand-written notes for class) Plus, I’m a writer so writing what I’m reading and thinking helps me process it. It’s not uncommon to find sticky notes and sheets of paper taped around my apartment with scripture on it. Plus one of the biggest things I do is at the end of every devotional is find a key verse and write it at the end of my journal. The connection between my hand and my brain helps bring things to a new light. Maybe it’s worth giving it a try?
  5. PRAY.
    I don’t think I can ever emphasize the power of prayer enough. It is a direct line of communication with our heavenly Father. If you’re praying, God is hearing. I think Max Lucado says it best when he talks about how the power of prayer is in the one who hears, not the one who speaks (yes, I paraphrased that too). Some of the best conversations I have had with God, some of the moments I have heard him the loudest, the moments I have shared the most intimate portions of my life and heart with him have come through prayer. Prayer provides solace, comfort, strength, and also challenges us to live out the truth God is speaking to us. I probably sound like a fangirl here, but it’s worth it. Prayer changes things for us. It is so vital to our spiritual lives and we should use it daily.

So there you have it. The cause of Christ is nothing more than a journey. No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter the circumstances around us, it’s walking with God to find joy and bring glory to His name in everything.

Then we too can utter the prayer of Kari – “It is not fame that I desire, nor stature in my brother’s eye, I pray it’s said about my life, that I lived more to build your name than mine.”

P.S. Don’t think I didn’t forget song ideas!

  • Come Thou Fount – David Crowder Band (FAVORITE)
  • Messiah/You’re Beautiful – Phil Wickham
  • Here as in Heaven – Elevation Worship
  • Lead Me to the Cross – Hillsong
  • Be Thou My Vision – Ascend the Hill
  • How Great is Our God – Chris Tomlin
  • Build Your Kingdom Here – Rend Collective

Obviously there are tons more, those are just some of my favorites (and by some of my favorite artists) Give them a try!

Veterans Day in Pictures

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They are are the ones who saw the silence of the night. They are the ones who heard the screams. They are the ones who have seen war. They are soldiers.

They fought for their country. They fought for their flag. They fought for each other. They are soldiers.

They are husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. They are brave. They are loving. They are soldiers.

Today, I had the privilege to take the day off and venture to downtown Fort Worth. I stood in line with hundreds of others as the city, VFW halls, and VA program honored our soldiers. We honored those who looked death in the face and marched forward with lion-heart courage. We honored the Gold and Blue Star families from Vietnam. We tipped our hats. We cried during Taps. We thanked our soldiers.

The whole experience was emotional. The last Veterans Day program I was able to attend was in jr. high, and I only got to go because I was singing the National Anthem. This time was different. My heart was filled with warmth. I saw the veterans and their loved ones around me and I felt at home.

I smiled and clapped during the C-130 flyover. I couldn’t stop the tears streaming down my face during Taps. I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Even better, I was able to capture it all on camera. While I took over 150 pictures, I won’t share all of them in order to spare you some time. But, here are some of my favorites.

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R.E.D. Friday’s. Until they all come home

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To the veterans – and active duty soldiers – your nation thanks you.

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And a special shoutout to my favorite veteran, my Poppie, for fighting tyranny in WWII. I am eternally grateful to the sacrifices made.

For God & Country.