Monday, November 4, 2013

I rejoice in being exactly what I am...

As I chatted with my best friend on the phone tonight, she remarked, "I wish my life was somewhat exciting so I'd have more to tell you. You have so much going on!" And it's true: I have a lot on my plate right now. Spiritually, I'm fighting sin hard and determined to align my heart with His. Personally and emotionally, there have been some serious upsets lately, things I never thought I'd face, and yet here I am. Psychologically, I'm in the process of going back to counseling, a good idea for those of us with psychological crosses to bear, especially during these transitional times. And truthfully, I live for Sundays, the day of rest that I gather with my church family to be restored and find peace in that Communion. 
In all of these things, I keep looking back to the Cross, to the sacrifice of Christ. I find myself trying desperately to quiet my soul and just be still in the Presence of the Creator. That's where I want to be: resting and waiting and listening for His voice. This poem speaks my heart well.

I do not know 
when I have had happier times 
in my soul
than when I have been sitting at work, 
with nothing before me
but a candle and a white cloth,
and hearing no sound 
but that of my own breath; 
with God in my soul
and heaven in my eye.
I rejoice in being exactly what I am
- a creature capable of loving God,
and who, as long as God lives,
must be happy.
I get up 
and look a while out the window.
I gaze at the moon and stars, 
the work of an Almighty Hand.I think of the grandeur of the universe
and then sit down
and think myself 
one of the happiest beings in it.

These words are so beautiful that one would think they were written by a poet of great renown. But no, rather they were written by a poor Methodist woman in the 18th century. May my heart reflect such simple joy in God as hers did.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

In the night, my Hope lives on.

I'm really struggling with patience.
There. I said it. It's out.
I am completely and thoroughly impatient in many areas constantly. But this week in particular, I've been clawing at the floors of Heaven, trying to get God on board with my plans, and get things going in the "right" direction. It's hilarious that I think I have a good idea at all. But just wait. It gets even funnier.
I've been making my list, presenting it to the Lord, and feeling it bounce off the ceiling and into my lap.
"First of all, this whole teaching thing, Lord. I mean, I love kids...but I don't know why you want me in this. Do you even remember last semester, Jesus? It was so not fun. What if this semester is the same? What if I really am bad at this? Also why am I in Jackson if I can't find my niche in a classroom? And while we are on the topic of Jackson, God, shouldn't there be a husband here for me? I mean...I've got a great idea for one, but You haven't really told him that yet, so I'm still waiting. Do you see how old I am? 23! And I'm not getting any younger down here. So, are you going to work on that? Oh and what about my friendships? Shouldn't this be different? Shouldn't that be better?"
And on and on I go.
On Friday, I was reading Galatians 5:16-26, the passage we are working through at City. As I thought through the fruit of the Spirit, I realized something. "Let's see, love was Pastor Russ. Jordan was obviously joy. Kyle preached on peace. So, this week..." That's right. This week's sermon was on PATIENCE. From Friday on, I knew that I was going to get my butt kicked at church today. I dragged my heels getting there today. Sitting in the pew, I could feel it coming. Matthew Marshall started preaching...and it was nothing like I expected. I expected this sermon on how to be patient like the Lord. But instead, this was about how to be patient FOR the Lord. Prophetic patience, if you will. For as my hope is in the Lord, so should my eyes be on Him. Not on my current struggles or worries or pains, but on the prophesied Coming of the King. I should be patient in knowing that He is coming, and He will make the wrongs right. He will wipe every tear from every eye, and He will set the captives free. How much bigger is His plan to do all these things than to rescue me from my tiny worries!
So, though I know He is completely concerned with me and my needs and my cares, I instead choose to love the Lord by putting my hand on the plow and trusting that He indeed lives and will come again.
I don't know about you, but the time that my worries overtake me are usually nighttime. I'm very vulnerable to the lies of the devil when I am tired and alone. Today, we sang a song that completely changed my perspective on the night. I hope that by hearing these truths, you, dear reader, will be reminded of the Truth of the Gospel, and be assured that though your nights be dark, our Hope still lives on.
Listen to this song, and be reminded of the peace and hope we hold.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Here in the South, we overuse the word "bless." "Bless her heart" to the girl with the too short skirt. "Bless his heart" to the sweet chubby cheeks of a toddler. "Bless this food" for every meal. And on and on it goes. But as I sit down to write this blog post, I can't seem to think of a more fitting word for my life: I am so blessed. I am constantly asking for blessings of the Lord. And boy, am I trying to be a blessing.
Let me give you a few details: First of all, it's summer, a blessing for all teachers. I'm enjoying some time off and spending my days nannying a tiny girl. She's as sweet as pie, and I love playing mommy. I finished the spring semester as strong as I could, and I'm spending lots of time rethinking my classroom and my strategies as a teacher as the baby and I enjoy babbling sessions and naptime.
I'm living in a lovely new apartment with the perfect roommate. I'm not even joking; she's incredible. Kate's....well, Kate's giving and kind and loving and she just understands me. We have way too much fun together, and spend many hours at the pool, chatting and reading aloud to each other from our respective books. (Her pick? "Captivating." Mine? "The Happiness Project." I recommend them both!) We also spend more time talking into the wee hours of the morning, and usually end up crashing mid-sentence. She is a gift from the Lord, I am certain. Our apartment truly looks like home, and I'm sure eventually I'll get my act together and make my room look that way too.
Another major change has been the Lord's direction to a new church home. Though I loved my years at Englewood, the Spirit was very clear a few months ago that I needed to follow Him. So, I gave up my comfortable seat in the pew, and sat in a metal chair one Sunday afternoon at City Fellowship. My heart was immediately warmed, and my soul nourished by the songs, preaching, and sweet communion. I'm still settling in there, but I truly adore City, and I'm excited to discover more of why the Lord has brought me to this sweet family.
As far as asking for blessings, I've been clinging to the Cross and asking for some specific things, especially in the area of spiritual growth. We are going through the fruit of the Spirit at church, and I see the buds of those fruits...but I want to see more in my life. I'm eager to see how the Lord can change my heart into His heart.
I'm also asking for some serious direction in my life, especially in the area of jobs and happiness in that area. I know that the Lord has a perfect plan for me, and I am dying to see it. This last semester was very lonely and very hard. Honestly, I've completely avoided anything to do with teaching this summer because I was so turned off to it. But I know that He will renew my love for His calling on my life and He will draw me close as I prepare for another school year.
Genuinely, I'm also asking for the blessing of a family. Not another one to be adopted by, rather I want to start my own. My heart is longing for all of the joys of the future, and I often find myself chatting that up with the Father.
I won't brag about being a blessing, but I will say that I particularly have enjoyed using my sewing talents this summer to make sweet little baby blankets for newly born and adopted ones. I'm also getting to use my henna skills a lot more which is so fun and rewarding.

All that to say, I'm blessed. I'm happily awaiting more blessings. I'm learning to be a blessing.
It's a good life.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bitterness: It'll eat you up.

"Leave it in the darkness, and it festers and gets worse. Confession is opening the door to a dark, stale, dusty room, and inviting the light in to make it fresh and new again." -Lee Wilson

When the wisest man you know speaks, you listen...and you take his advice to heart. There have been many things that Lee has said to me, but this one has stuck with me. I have it saved in my phone, written in my journal, etched in my brain. Lee's wisdom is right, even when I am simply confessing my sins in front of myself and the Lord.

Bitterness has been the big one that I've let fester lately. Without going into too many details, last fall I was hurt very badly by someone I trusted completely...and since then, I've been bitter. Sure, I've bitten back angry words, only speaking my true feelings to those closest to me. I've never spoken ill of her, just expressed my sorrow. But man, have I been completely bitter.

There was a moment this week that I realized just how bitter I was towards her: the moment I rejoiced at her suffering. That's not an easy thing to confess, and I'm definitely not proud of it. But it just clicked for me at that moment. I had let all this yucky, festering sin build up in my heart, and it was changing how I reacted to things.

I can't say that I immediately let go of all the bitter feelings. There is a lot of damage there, and I have to work through that. But I've been brought back to reality. As a Believer, I cannot just sit here in sin and not do anything about it. I must take action, and fight against it with the strength of the Lord.

I wrote in my journal today: "I'm counting on the Gospel to wash away the bitterness in my soul. I need to get into the Word---and into the Light."
I'm praying to be "washed in the water of the Word..." and for that washing to cleanse the mess out of my soul.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Let's expound on those thoughts, shall we?
Listening: Yes, I've been converted. I'm a TSwift fan, now that she has an incredible new album. It is now part of my regular rotation. 
Loving: Does this need explanation? Doesn't everyone LOVE funfetti cupcakes?
Thinking: Yes, you read that right! I'm now a second grade teacher! Praising the Lord for His goodness!
Wanting: I just want to share this time with Natalie. Phone calls just aren't cutting it. 
Needing: I'm just a baby my classroom is going to be looking pretty bare. I want to go raid the Dollar tree ASAP.
One Little Word: BREATHE. I'm overwhelmed and overjoyed....both of which seem to take away my ability to breathe. I've got to remember to do that! 

Linking this post up at Farley's Oh Boy Fourth Grade! It's my first time, so this is an interesting test for me. :) 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A New Chapter.

I've spent many moments pondering this blog post. How to begin...what to write about...where to even start... I suppose I will start with the good news: I finished student teaching and walked at December graduation. I have one January class, and I'll officially be a Union alumnus. As of January 25th, I'll be a licensed teacher in Tennessee (and able to receive licenses in almost every other state, for those of you who were wondering). On top of that, it has been a hectic Christmas season for my family...and I haven't managed to chronicle any bit of my life here in my corner of the web.
Through all of this, it seems that the reigning theme of my life currently is transition. January is sure to only bring more of that, as I apply, interview, and Lord willing, land a teaching job. After those months of student teaching, I'm simply itching to have my own classroom and my own students. It's just the desire of my heart.
Though this is not exactly the most exciting update, I do hope that I can beg you for prayer through this transition. Especially for these three things:
  • A car. I am still without one, and having a job will require one. 
  • A place to live in the Jackson area after January. I'm not picky, but I would like a bed. :)
  • A job. A classroom. A place to do what I've been trained to do.
I've seen the faithfulness of the Lord so often this past semester. I'm so full of hope for the future that I can hardly contain it. I'm just anxious to see how this new phase of my life unfolds. Knowing the Author of Life can really make a girl thrilled to read the next chapter.                    

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Teach us to number our days.

Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months...and suddenly, I'm standing here, looking at Thanksgiving and wondering where this semester went.
And then I remember.
It went to days and days of working with kindergartners.
Nights full of lesson planning.
Days filled with 5th graders.
More nights of planning.
But there has been more than that.
Nights full of laughter and conversation with friends.
Late nights dancing in the commons.
Hours spent in church services and choir rehearsals.
Time spent just being here in this moment.

And honestly, it has just swept over me like a giant wave. I've been lost in it, simply going through the motions. There has been little time spent thinking through the days...and much time spent doing.

Sadly, there has been little time spent praying. I didn't realize just how little I was communicating with the Father until one night, He just flat out told me. "You haven't spoken to Me in two weeks." Two weeks? It couldn't have been that long! But as I did the math, I knew He was right. I had been swept away and wrapped up...mostly in my own emotions. I didn't want to tell the Lord how I felt, and so I didn't speak to Him at all. However, in all of this there is an encouraging lesson. Though I stopped speaking to Him, He never stopped speaking to me. His voice was constantly on my ear, even when I didn't want to hear Him. The still small Voice was very real to me.

I'm once again astounded by His faithfulness. The silent treatment isn't fun for me, and I imagine it isn't fun for Him either. But He has stood by me. "There is no shadow of turning with Thee" is once again true. For my God is unmovable and unchanging. And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Backed by a Powerful Army in this Battle.

This semester has flown by...and not with a gentle breeze, mind you. I've been caught up in this mighty rushing wind, gusting along through my life and pulling me along with it. I would be lying if I said that I've loved it. There have been many moments that I have enjoyed...and at least as many that I have greatly disliked. I'd be dishonest if I didn't mention that depression has decided to follow me around again. It's even more of a daily battle right now. I'm so grateful for the Lord's faithfulness...for I've found again that He is the only One who will truly remain faithful.
As I face the coming weeks, the work that lies ahead seems daunting. Hours to account for in the form of lesson plans. Minutes to fill with distractions from depressive thoughts. Seconds to tick by while I wish moments away. It's in those moments that contact with the Lord is necessary. He is the Lifeline that I cling to.
Each battle comes with a need for new armor, for the old armor is already dented. New coping mechanisms, new ideas, sometimes new medicine...the latest has required all three. I'm thankful that I have those options, as so many others fight this battle alone.
Alone is something I have often felt lately...but something I'm truly not. God has been gracious...and He has blessed me with an army to back me up. A little group of sophomores that I thought I was taking under my wing has truly taken up my burdens with me, and keeps my sanity close by. In fact, I was just told by one of them, "praying for you as I fall asleep." What a gem he is...and the rest of them as well. I didn't know I would need them, and now that I have them, I don't know what I'd do without their support and encouragement.
Though this is not the joyous update that would seem appropriate to my last semester of college, it is fitting, for the joy that is here is found in Christ. The hope that I have is from the Lord. The love that I know is not from humans, but rather from the Creator. And the human love has been given to me by God Himself as a promise that He will never leave me alone.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thankful, yet again.

Today, I am grateful for...
a. surprise friendships. Not that I am ever truly without a friend, but I've hit a lonely spot lately. The Lord is faithful to provide new friends to fill that void. I'm so blessed by those who are close to me, both new and old.
b. clean sheets. I've recently discovered the glories of having one's detergent and fabric softener be the same scent. Tonight's bed is so marvelous, both in scent and softness.
c. hot water. After a few days of illness and a bad headache, there is simply nothing like a hot shower. Even washing my hands with hot water seems to help. I'm so blessed to have hot running water.
d. forgiveness. I've been reminded yet again of my need for forgiveness. The Father is so faithful to wash us clean. I'm amazed at His grace.
e. white. The purity, the classy crispness, the blankness waiting to be filled. I adore it. Seeing white through the eyes of the Gospel is an experience like none other.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Sinful Jill-of-All-Trades.

I often end up envious of that girl who seems to be able to do everything. She has a 4.0. She is never stressed. She is a leader in her sorority or club. She mentors younger girls. She is a small group leader at church. She makes crafts and gives them away. She has a daily quiet time with the Lord. She is always smiling. She is the Jill-of-All-Trades.
On the other hand, I am the kind of Jill-of-All-Trades you do not want to be. Rather than dabbling in all of these edifying and encouraging options, I am constantly dabbling in different areas of sin. One day, I'm terribly greedy, wanting to hoard all of my friends to myself. I'm envious of others' success. I'm jealous of friends who have what I want. I lust. I waste time. I put myself first. I gossip. I lie. It's almost like I find sin...and then I wallow in it, like a pig in the mud.
I do all of these things on a daily basis.
And I ignore the convictions in my heart. 
But suddenly tonight, the one night that I was determined to fall asleep early, I found myself in the midst of obvious sin....and I was greatly convicted. So convicted that I felt like I needed to shower to somehow get the sin off of me before I could even process the matter. 
But, sitting here in my bed, I am reminded of a quote that speaks to this conviction in my heart: Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”  John Newton spoke my heart more concisely than I ever could. I am a mess. A huge mess, both inside my heart and outside...but the Lord has saved me from my mess. He has whitewashed the sin out of my heart, and replaced it with a rich ground for the Fruits of the Spirit to grow out of. And even now, as I feel the weeds of sin growing in me once again, in my conviction and confession, He is gently removing them, root by root, and smoothing the dirt over so that I can start anew. 
I am so very thankful to serve a great Savior, a Savior who so willingly loves me, even in the midst of my mess. Even when my brain is screaming the lies that depression causes...even when I cannot seem to shake a sin out of my life...even when I forget to ask for direction...He lovingly leads me, and I am never alone.