The Perfect Perspective

photoI have always known that perspective is an important thing to have, but recently I’ve been reminded of this lesson.

I’m not sure about your life, but I can tell you that there are things that happen in mine that feel like they will never end. Sometimes I feel like David after the dentist when he asks, “Is this gonna be forever?!” We have this feeling of desperation and helplessness when it comes to situations that we cannot change.

When it comes to these situations, these things in life that we just have to get through, I’ve learned that perspective is key. If I can remind myself that this situation, whatever it is, isn’t forever, it is much easier to get through.

If I said the phrase, “And it came to pass”, you would probably think about the Christmas story. I once heard a comedian use this phrase in the context of perspective. It came to pass. It didn’t come to stay! It WILL pass. It might take a long time, but it will pass.

Take a moment and think about your life in the context of eternity. ETERNITY. As in forever and ever. We can’t even wrap our human, finite minds around the idea of forever. The Bible says that our life is like the morning dew, there a moment and gone the next. If our entire life is just this tiny speck in the realm of eternity, how much does this one situation that feels like forever really matter?

I’m not saying that our situations won’t affect us. And I am certainly not saying that God doesn’t care about the things that happen to us. Quite the opposite of that actually. One of the most beautiful things about God is the fact that He does care about everything that happens to us. The fact that He cares about the little speck of eternity that is me is a huge deal; the fact that He is invested in the things that happen to me, that is life changing.

To find the perfect perspective, we have to look up. Looking behind us makes us regret the past, looking forward can make us worry about the future. Looking up reminds us of the One who holds our past, present, and future.

One of my favorite bands, Gungor, released a song that I just love. It’s called This Is Not The End. You can listen to it here. It talks about how this, this situation, this life, this semester of school, this illness, it isn’t the end. God has more for you, and He has it all under control.

No matter what you are going through, good, bad, ugly, or even worse, know that God has you in His arms. And know that this is not the end. Your life is a speck, but it’s a speck that God loved enough to send His Son to save. Take comfort in His love and care.

 

 

Journal Entries

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Last night I found one of my many, many journals. I read through the past five years of my life via late night ramblings and early morning prayers. Journals are so interesting. Even back in 2012, I had some pretty solid thought processes. Here are a few of my favorites.

“I’ve realized recently that while I am in the middle of something it feels like that one thing is my whole world. But there is so much more.”

That truth still applies to my life every single day. Perspective is a rare quality that I am constantly searching for. With perspective comes peace.

“TTYL”

Why did I ever, ever think that TTYL was necessary? If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that TTYL is NOT okay.

“If I don’t learn to be satisfied with Christ alone, I will never be truly satisfied, no matter what I gain. Boom. Done.”

Being convicted by your past self is a strange thing. Being content is not something that the culture teaches us, but it is so important. Attempting to always have the latest and greatest is a dangerous game to play. It never leaves you satisfied. Only God can do that. I also really enjoy the fact that the phrase “Boom. Done.” is a part of my journal on a regular basis.

“I got a really expensive sandwich.”

I wish I was making this sentence up, but this is in my journal. This was my, “I’ve never been in an airport alone before and I am flying home from Costa Rica solo and I don’t know what to say to myself” post. So full of wisdom and proper grammar.

“One of the most dangerous things a person can do is think about what might have been.”

Regret and guilt are not from Jesus. Don’t look backwards and wonder and wish and change your mind. Look forward and hope and plan and dream.

“It was so good, and it had ice!”

That random statement basically sums up my mission trip to Baja in 2010. We did manual labor in the desert for two weeks. On our last day in Mexico we went to a restaurant and at this restaurant they served ice in their beverages. I think a few members of my team cried with joy.

“I’ll wait. I always wait. Quietly, but not still.”

Sometimes when we ask God for something we take ourselves completely out of the solution. If I ask God for a solid friendship with a person, but never put any effort into that relationship, what am I doing? I believe in waiting on God to move, but I believe that God wants me to move too.

“I’ve learned this past year that I don’t have my life together. At all. But I’ve also learned that most people don’t.”

I still don’t have my life together, and that is still okay.

If you don’t journal, you are missing out on seeing yourself grow and change.

Journal entries are snapshots of emotions. In my journals you can see the times that I’ve had to stop writing because I’m laughing. You can see the wet spots from the tears that have fallen while pouring my heart out on a page. You can feel teenage angst and frustration. In my journals you can see me. My journals show my journey, and I love watching my past self grow.

Sisters

When I hear the word sister, three images immediately pop into my head.

There is this one:

sister-sister-posterI mean, if you didn’t watch this show in the 90′s, what did you do?

This one:

haynes-sistersI can’t tell you how many times I’ve sang this song and wanted that rocking blue dress, complete with that feather whatever-you-call-it.

And this one:

FAVThis one is my favorite because this picture is a picture of my sisters. My sisters are the best, let me tell you why.

My sisters make me laugh

When God made my sisters, He gave them this special ability to make me laugh, especially when I’m grumpy or sad. No matter the situation, each one of them can say something to make me feel better, even if I don’t show them right away.

My sisters drive me crazy

Not only did God give my sisters the ability to make me laugh, He also gave them the ability to drive me up a wall. I only have one button, but boy, the three of them know how to push it. And I love them for it. It means they know me.

My sisters are always around (figuratively speaking)

My older sister lives in a different state with her husband, but my other two sisters and I still live at home. I know that that won’t always be the case. But I know that at any point in my life, I will be able to pick up the phone and have a conversation with any of my sisters about anything. That is a great feeling.

My sisters know me, and love me anyways

If there is one thing that is hard to come by, it is full knowledge of who you are and acceptance of you anyways. My sisters and I have that. We see who the other is, their gifts and talents, their flaws and insecurities, and accept each other unconditionally. Even when we are at odds with each other, I know that my sisters understand me and love me anyways.

My sisters actually enjoy my presence

Believe it or not, my sisters and I like to hang out with each other. Maybe it’s because we were forced to be each other’s friends earlier in life as loner, homeschooled kids. But now, we genuinely enjoy each other’s presence. Sure we still get into fights; doors are still closed quite forcefully, and music is still turned up to volumes that are beyond listening capacity, but for the most part we like to be around each other.

166516_418280948252274_2111334063_nGod knew exactly what He was doing when He gave me my sisters. They make me laugh, scream, cry, think, and enjoy life for what it is. They are the friends I get to see every day (except for you, Alleson!). They are the most frustrating people I know, but also the most exciting. The best part about having sisters is that we get to do life together. We’ve grown up together, and we will continue to grow up together.

When it comes to sisters, I’m pretty sure I hit the jackpot.

Memories

Have you ever had that moment when you are completely floored with a memory? Just the other day I was in the middle of a scriptwriting session with my boss when my mom knocked on the office door (my mom and I work at the same church in the same ministry, so this isn’t out of the ordinary). My mom then showed me a text she got from a very, very old friend of ours, Mr. Mark Shipley.

We have known Mr. Mark since I was three or four years old, and he has been there for some major moments in our family’s history. He and his wife, Kaye, were my best buddies when I was a little girl. Mrs. Kaye was my absolute favorite person alive. So much so that I called the two of them Markaye and Morkaye. Mr. Mark was just more of Mrs. Kaye to me.

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The older I got, the more I appreciated Mr. Mark and Mrs. Kaye for who they were, devout Christians. Mrs. Kaye would go on mission trips all over the world, and I was so inspired by her. We moved from Illinois to Florida in 2004, but my best friend Rebecca and her family lived near the Shipley’s, so eleven year old me knew they would be taken care of. 1

About four years ago, we got a phone call from Rebecca’s mom, telling us that Mrs. Kaye had passed very suddenly from a blot clot in her lungs. Just like that, Mrs. Kaye was in Heaven with Jesus. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was in shock for a while. There just was no way that Mrs. Kaye wouldn’t be waiting in Peoria next time I went to visit.

We weren’t able to go up to the funeral, but we got a recording of it in the mail from Rebecca’s mom. It was mentioned in the service that I always called Mr. Mark Markaye, which of course made me cry. Mrs. Kaye impacted me more than I realized at the time.

So here we are, four years later, and my Mom gets a text from Mr. Mark. He had randomly remembered one day we ate at this little restaurant. It wasn’t a mind-blowing, big memory, but a quiet, simple one. It was one that brought smiles and tears to me and my mom. This is when I remembered that memories are so, so precious. 4I was young for the majority of the time we had with Mark and Kaye. I remember feeling very safe and loved when I was with them. They were like a third set of grandparents to me. But the time we spent with the Shipley’s is a time that I know we all cherish. Time is fleeting, and we don’t know how long we have to spend with people. This is why it is vital that we take advantage of the time we have been given.

Memories are funny things. They can make you laugh so hard you cry and cry so hard you laugh. They can make you feel happy and sad. But I believe that even the saddest memories are better than no memories at all.

Mrs. Kaye lived a full, Jesus loving, people caring, always smiling life.

Make memories. Take pictures. Be where you are. Don’t waste time on silly, little things that don’t really matter. Laugh with your friends. Cry with them too! Don’t let life just pass you by. Make your life count.

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White Blank Page

I had already decided by 7 o’clock this morning that today was not going to go as planned. I had unintentionally been awake since 5am feeling sick to my stomach. Also, I walked straight in to the doorframe of my bathroom around 5:45am. Happy Monday, Gabs. Luckily, the pain on my face dulled the pain in the rest of my body. Joy. Running on four hours of sleep I went to work my 8:30am-5pm job, which I love, by the way. No sarcasm for real.

Of course, my day did get better. Free Sonny’s at the office for lunch certainly helped, as did the beautiful weather we experienced. And there is nothing quite like a good Spotify playlist to get you back in the groove. As I sit, exhausted, in my room with a bruise starting to form on my nose, I remember that every day is a new one. As Anne of Green Gables said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Was I a grump today? A little bit, yeah. I probably have a few people to apologize to for being so snarky. But tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes (yet!).

No matter what happened today, tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is a white blank page, ready to be written on. My attitude regarding my day and my actions during the day determine what is written on the page. I love to look at life this way, as a writer it gives me perspective.

Lamentations 3:23 reminds us that God’s mercies are new for us every morning. And what an encouragement that is! It doesn’t matter what I did today, God loves me always.

Days like these always end with a dessert called humble pie. Guys, I am a human and will fail. And that’s okay. It’s actually beautiful because in my failures, God can shine through.

So no matter what your today looked like, remember that tomorrow is a white blank page, that you have a Father who loves you regardless of yourself, and that He can use things like stomach aches, bruised noses, and Sonny’s to remind you of His greatness.

The Power of Being

When someone asks me how I am doing, my response ninety-nine percent of the time is something to the equivalent of, “Good! Busy, but good!” Our society glorifies people who are busy. For some reason, we see busy as good, as something to strive towards. I can’t tell you how many times I have boasted on my multi-tasking abilities (like I have any). But where does it say that being so busy that you can’t see straight means you are doing something right?

I go to a young adult service at a local church on Fridays. One night the pastor spoke on the Sabbath day. He talked about how we are to keep it holy, and why we should take a Sabbath. As someone who has grown up in church, I’ve heard this message a couple times. But, as always, I learned something new.

The Bible tells us in Mark that Jesus left everyone, early in the morning, to be alone with God. Obviously spending time with His Father was a big deal for Him. If Jesus, the One who can do anything, felt like He needed to take a breather, than who am I to think I can do anything less?

You see the Sabbath at the beginning of the whole world. On the seventh day, God Himself rested. Why do we feel like we can constantly be going, when even God rested? Let me say this, I can’t do more than God can. If God needed a break after six days of creating, than you know I need a break after six days of living!

One of my favorite stories, one that convicts me the most, is the story of Mary and Martha with Jesus. Luke tells this story. Jesus and His disciples came to stay at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Martha was the busy one, always moving. I’m pretty sure her love language was acts of service, because she spent the entire time working to make sure that dinner was on time, that the silverware (or whatever it is that they had) was clean, and that the house was spick and span for her special guest. Mary, on the other hand, probably had the love language of quality time. She decided to sit at the feet of Jesus and gain wisdom from His words. Martha gets all upset with Mary and goes to Jesus to say something to Him about it. His response is one that always gets me, every single time:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen better, and it will not be taken from her.’”

Yikes. Here is the thing. I am a doer. If I have the option, I will do something instead of sitting still. I’m sure many of you are the same way. If Jesus came to my house, I can easily see myself as Martha, stressed out about the fact that my cake over baked and that my chicken is dry.

My point in all of this is as follows: sometimes, doing is overrated. I’m starting to learn that there is a power to just being. Mary was with Jesus. She was just there, soaking up His every word. Jesus left everyone to recharge by hearing from His Father. And here are me and Martha, cleaning up the house, doing the homework, serving at church, and not thinking about stopping to be with Jesus at all.

There is a song I heard for the first time that night at my young adult group. It’s called “I Will Be Still”. I’ll put a link right here if you want to listen to it. It is a beautiful song. Can you imagine just being still? I think that is exactly what God wants for us. It’s why He made the Sabbath. He wants us to be still, to be rested and restored by Him.

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Why Marriage Isn’t The End

I was recently able to spend some time catching up with a dear friend of mine. In our time together, sipping frappes from McDonald’s, we talked about how many of our friends are in serious relationships/getting engaged and married. My friend and I, who are so very similar, decided that while marriage is something to look forward to, it should not be seen as the end goal. There is so much more to do than get married and have kids. For the past month, I have spent more and more time thinking about that conversation. Here are a few things that have been running rampant in my brain about why marriage shouldn’t be seen as the end.

    1.   Marriage will not end your insecurities.

I think many people, myself included at times, believe that marriage will solve the problems they have. That cannot be true. What is a relationship if not messy? Marriage is the joining together of two imperfect people. I believe that my insecurities are only magnified in relationships. I don’t think that we can expect anything less in a marriage.

    2.   If marriage is seen as the end, you will be disappointed.

Will marriage be wonderful? I’m sure it will. Will it be an exciting adventure? Absolutely! But if I look at marriage as the thing that will make my life what I think it should be, I will end up disappointed. Too many girls are brought up on books and movies that end with a wedding. Life does not end when you get married. A beautiful adventure begins, one full of joy and heartache. If marriage is the sole thing we strive towards, aren’t we just asking for disappointment when it isn’t all that the romantic comedies say it is?

    3.   Marriage is not my reason for living.

Women who see their only purpose on Earth to get married and have children sell themselves short. I’m not saying that I don’t want to get married and have children one day, I do. I eagerly anticipate those days, but I don’t sit around and long for them to come. The reason that we are alive is to give glory to God and point people to Jesus. That is our purpose. When I get married, my marriage will give glory to God and point people to Jesus. When I have kids, the way I parent will do the same. But until then, I plan on making sure that everything else I do, whether at school, at work, in the car, or at the grocery store, gives glory to God and points people to Jesus. I want my life to count.

Marriage is not the end all. Jesus is.

I don’t want anyone to walk away from this post and see it as some sort of bitter rant against marriage. I promise it isn’t. One day I plan to get married and have children. But in the meantime, my life as a single woman is going to give glory to God and point people to Jesus. My relationship with Jesus is more important than any relationship I will ever have. It isn’t that I hate marriage, I just love Jesus more.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Preeminent Video

Preeminent Video

Sometimes I forget how big God is. Then I see a video like this and remember. God is truly Awesome. If you have never spent time on Relevant Magazine’s website, I highly recommend it. Most times I read an article and wonder how they got into my brain and made sense of all the thoughts jumbled inside. So solid. Enjoy this video and be encouraged by the God who loves you.

Reasons Why The Weekend Rules

While I am not the kind of person who hates the weekdays and loves the weekend, I will be the first to admit that the weekends certainly have their perks. Here are some reasons why the weekend rules.

048I’m sorry, but do you see these beauties? Who wouldn’t want to spend ALL DAY SATURDAY in them?

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Weekends are the pretty much the only time I have to do any of my crafting/reinventing. I have so many projects currently half finished in my room. Here is one of them. Eventually this will be on my wall with five other ones. Maybe by July?

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Nothing says weekend like hats that make you look like a sk8er boi, meeting a creepy Santa, and hanging out at the Gaylord Palms hotel in Orlando in an 8 degree room with the coolest (PUN) ice sculptures on the planet.

I also spent the weekend with my BFF, eating Taco Bell at ungodly hours and watching romantic comedies from the 90′s. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan ALL the way. We were too busy stuffing our faces with nachos and trying not to wake up my family from laughing so much to take any pictures. I’m so disappointed in us.

055I’ve also found the weekend to be a wonderful time to refocus and remind myself of who holds everything that happened in the past week and everything that will happen in the week that is to come. Even when I fail, which is often, God never does. How encouraging is that?

Guys, lets take this week by storm.

2013: A Year In Review

2013. I didn’t know that one year could be so full of life and change. As I look back on all that happened this past year, I find myself surprised. This year has been so life changing. Here are 13 things that happened in my life in 2013:

1. My family went on our best vacation yet. Only four more years until the next family cruise.

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2. I decided to change my major. Education majors are overrated, right?

3. I quit my full-time job to go to school full-time instead of part-time. Finally!

4. I was able to baptize 3 students from my church. Seriously, such an honor!

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5. My good friend got married! Bridesmaid swag.

6. My brother-in-law came home from Afghanistan. Reunions are beautiful.

7. I decided to start a blog! It has been so rewarding.

8. I turned 21. Old maid status.

9. My work was published in a book! Probably the most exciting thing that happened this year.

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10. I ran my first 5k with my family. Blood, sweat, tears, and horrible running times. We all got better though!

11. I watched the most precious little boy for 3 months full of dirty diapers, spilled baking powder, and so much joy.

12. I spent hours and hours laughing until I cried with my two best friends. They bless my heart and challenge me so.

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00313. I learned that God has a way of doing things that is much better than my own.

This year has been surprising in so many ways. At the beginning of the year, I had no idea I would be where I am now. This year I learned that I can make as many plans as I want to, but God’s will prevail. And not only will His plans actually come to be, but His are so much better than mine.

As I’m sure everyone can say, there have been some good times, and there have been some not-so-good times. But through it all, I know that God was present and working through it all.

I wonder though, what does next year hold? This year has been full of transitions and changes, will next year settle everything, or will I be as uncertain as I am now? As far as uncertainty goes, I think its a good thing for me. Being uncertain keeps me searching, it keeps me from getting into a rut, and it keeps me dependent on God to show me what is next.

Everyone always says that life is an adventure, after 2013 I think I believe them. As for 2014, I can only wait and see. I do know a few things about 2014 though. I know that no matter what happens, God is already there and is able to do far more with it than I can do myself.

I have a feeling though, that 2014 will be my best year yet.

So here is to the new beginnings that come with a new year. May we take advantage of the time we have and do all the things we wish we had done last year. May we live our lives without fear of what is to come because we know the One who holds all.

Happy New Year, friends.