Love like a Storm

There’s something powerful about watching a storm come in. You don’t have to watch it – you can hear it and feel it, too. The smell of the air clearing and the rain filling it up, the roll of thunder as it gets closer and the cool breeze that brushes your skin. The storm sort of fills you up before it even gets here – it hijacks your senses and sometimes, even, your mood.

It’s the little things, like noticing just how much the storm interacts with me before it’s even upon us that draw my heart into God. He’s a lot like the weather.

Sometimes the weather sneaks up on you, and you don’t even notice it until it’s right in your face. Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk in my office with the windows open and a fan constantly blowing on me. It was hot and I stopped smelling good shortly after my walk home from downtown on my lunch break. I looked up and unbeknownst to me it was raining. The sun was shining and the sky looked blue from what I could see, but it was raining. I totally missed it until it was right in front of my face.

Other times, like the storm that came in later, you can sense the change in weather coming and it’s all you can think about.

Some days I’m so wrapped up in my own world, my own complaints, my own desires and wishes that I can’t see what God is doing right in front of my face. I’ve been wishing for rain all day long, only to miss it when it comes.

And other days, he’s so apparent I couldn’t ignore him if I tried. But the way he fills me up, I don’t want to. I want to drink in every moment of feeling near to him and never forget it. I want to remember every feeling and apply it to the rest of my life. I want to grow, I want to learn, I want to be changed.

But also, no matter what we do, the weather is there. It won’t go away if we ignore it, and neither will God. He’s there and he’s waiting for us, hoping we will choose to walk with him and soak up his presence.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the holy spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. | Titus 3:4-7

This is one of my favorite sections of Scripture because it so clearly says not because of works done by us in righteousness. Friends, God loves you and desires a relationship with you. He has already paved the way for you to know him personally because Jesus bridged that gap between the brokenness of sin and the perfectness of God. He longs to renew you and father you in all the ways you haven’t been able to find on this earth. If you need prayer or have questions, I’d love to chat with you.

Have you ever experienced God moving right in front of your face when you were too busy holding your eyes closed? Or have you experienced him so blatantly like a storm?


Neighbors & Faith

Sometimes I don’t have anything particularly stunning to say, but I want to write anyway. I want to record the little moments when I’m so filled with joy and thankfulness for this place.

I love our new home. Last night I gathered with a team I serve on at church and we just laughed and laughed and worshiped together and encouraged one another. I’m absolutely head over heels for this church and I love witnessing how God is moving in this city.

My pastor is doing a series called “The Art of Neighboring.” It’s funny because he’s even said this himself – this is not the most theologically challenging sermon series he has presented. If you’re looking to hear something you’ve never heard before, this isn’t the series for you. But oh my goodness, this is by far the most challenging series I’ve ever heard. Isn’t it funny that sometimes the simplest, most blatant commands are the hardest to follow? Maybe funny isn’t the right word for that.

He’s been teaching on the command to love our neighbors. Our actual neighbors. Not the people who we go to church with… the people who literally live next door. Or in the same house, considering our apartment is one of three in one house. He’s telling us to get to know our neighbors. Yes, even the ones who I see out the window and then make judgments based on their clothing and the forty different people I’ve seen at their apartment over the last month we’ve lived here. The neighbors who intimidate me because they look different than me, they talk different than me, and their lives look different than mine. The neighbors who I pass by on the sidewalk when I take walks or runs. The neighbors who cook their food on the same patio we do.

I’ve never been so challenged. I love meeting new people, but I’m not one to go out of my way to knock on someone’s door with cookies and a smile, if you know what I mean. That’s so hard for me – but I want to do it! I want to meet our neighbors and know them. I want to show them that following Jesus is weird. Yes, it’s weird, but it’s weird because he is so full of love for all us, even before we knew him, and that is not how life tends to work in the world! He loved us so much, even before we showed him a single ounce of consideration, that he took our place. He bore the wrath of God for our sin so we can know God and love him and walk with him.

So the weirdness is so good because it’s freeing. It’s knowing that I’m free from the chains of seeking approval from others, the chains of “not being good enough,” and, yes, even the chains of “I’ve done too much.” It’s acceptance. It’s knowing that this life is a shadow of what’s to come. The joy I feel in this moment of reflection – the way my heart feels ready to burst – is a shadow of what’s to come. Man, I am excited to share that with my neighbors. The ones who live next door.


Behind the Scenes

Sometimes I love walking behind buildings to see the alleys. They are often dark and littered, but always interesting, There are flimsy stairs leading to who-knows-where, multiple doors, windows, colorful dumpsters and unwanted things crammed underneath stairs and porches. It’s messy.

And often the state of my heart is messy, like this back alley. Sometimes dark and littered, and not frequently cared for because I’m too busy making sure the storefront looks presentable and impressive. I shove all the things I don’t want to deal with or am too embarrassed to show others into the back alley where they can’t be seen – inside my heart.

When I walked past the front of this restaurant, I saw the open 4pm- late sign and from the fancy lettering, I could tell it’s an uppity place. I wondered if we’d ever try it out and thought we might even get dressed up to go there. I didn’t see the trash littering the back alley and graffitied walls. I think that’s often how you see me – smiling, presentably dressed (unless you drop by our house unannounced) and well versed in the words on this page. But you don’t see that I’ve been eating too much bread, neglecting to run and becoming dangerously addicted to Netflix. You don’t see that sometimes my time in the Word is hard or doesn’t happen at all, or that I struggle to find the words to encourage a heart in need.

I’m very excited for this upcoming season of Lent. I’m excited for this season to remember Christ and the great, great debt he paid in our place. I’m excited to grow in discipline and faith as I suffer only the slightest fraction of the suffering he took in our place. I’m excited to wade through the litter and forgotten places of my heart and meet Christ there.

Whether you plan on partaking in this upcoming season of Lent, I hope you will take some time to reflect on the great sacrifices our Savior has made for you. He paid our debt so that we might know God and be reconciled with him eternally. He did it out of abundant love and obedience, for you and for me.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. – Romans 5:6-11

Let’s rejoice together and remember the payment he made for us.

on judging each other

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” We’ve all heard that phrase more than a time or two.

And we kind of hate it because we still judge books by their covers. Am I right? Well, this week I’ve really been thinking about that phrase in light of people. We know we aren’t supposed to judge people by their appearances, or even the feelings and character traits they put on the outside for us to see.

But, if I’m honest, it’s hard not to judge people. It’s easy to think her personality is annoying, why is he the way he is? What kind of outfit is that? It goes on and on.

But this week God has been showing me over and over again that I just can’t do that. When I do–I’m missing out. I’m missing out on hearing God’s story through those people. I’m missing out on how God will use me in their lives, and vice versa.

I very easily forget that the people who rub me the wrong way, the people I don’t understand, and the people who are different than me are part of God’s plan just as much as I am! I realize that sounds very…. stuck up. But, I’m trying my best to be honest here.

I guess I’m learning that the world doesn’t revolve around me (big surprise) and everyone isn’t supposed to be just like me (again, surprise). Instead, God has made all of us in his image… so we are all designed to look like him!

The girl who drives me crazy, she’s a daughter of the King. The guy whose voice is annoying, he is a son of the Most High. The girl who does whatever it is that I don’t agree with, she is my sister and fellow heir with Christ. All of those people were created in God’s image and all of them have a story to tell–a story in which God is showing them more of Himself in every chapter.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. {Romans 15:1-5}

In this season, may prayer for a welcoming heart be abundantly on my lips. Lord, make me into a woman of grace, who sees more than just the outermost layer of your children.

Have you checked out this giveaway?? You don’t want to miss out, I promise.

Admitting a daily struggle.

This is about to be a huge mess of hunger for others’ approval, anxiety that God won’t provide, and proof that my thinking I need to prove myself or earn things runs deep deep deep. So buckle up and try to show a little grace as you enter into the post-graduate I-need-an-awesome-job-stat anxiety.


So now that we’re married and we’ve both graduated college, every single person I see asks me, “So, what’s next? Do you have a plan? Are you going to start looking for another job…?”

Okay, maybe not every single person…. but many, many people. And I know it’s out of the kindness of their hearts! I really do believe that.

But this is how I typically react:

Well, gosh. Yes? But I don’t have a “plan,” or really even know what kind of job I want. I mean, I can think of jobs I’d enjoy, but….

At that moment, I feel like I should have some detailed, master plan with everything already figured out. Why? So that person approves of me. So they’ll think I have it all together. So I can rest my worth in having a “glamorous” job. So I can be “credible” and “have value” because I have a job that sounds good?

Seeing those words, releasing those feelings breaks my heart. I know I shouldn’t feel like where we are now isn’t good enough. Sure, it’s not our dream, but it’s not not good enough.

So, to answer your “What’s next?” question with 100% honesty:

I have no idea, and I’m extremely overwhelmed and anxious because of it. I think about applying for jobs all the time, following up, how to make our resumes stronger, etc. I could think about that constantly all day long, wondering if we’ll ever find the jobs we’re searching for… and hearing that question over and over again, “So…What’s next?” just sends me spinning into that cycle again.

So here’s the redeeming part of all of this ranting:

I have no reason to be anxious at all! 1. Because God told me not to be anxious, but we’ll get to that in a second. And 2. Because we both have jobs, a place to live, and enough resources to survive…. isn’t that all we need anyway? And isn’t that proof that God is taking care of us right now?

Yes. It is proof and it is all we need.

 God has fully provided for us in every way. But I’m not satisfied with that because I forget so easily my worth isn’t found in all the titles I run after.

We already have jobs, but not the jobs we paid for 4 years of college to have… not the jobs we think will fulfill us or jobs we’re passionate about or the jobs other people will nod their heads in approval toward.

So I feel like we’re waiting.

Waiting for Jake to have an awesome ministry job that he loves, waiting for me to have a job people “approve” of me having, waiting to see if we have to move before we “settle down,” blah blah blah.

Isn’t that awful? So I feel anxious! Anxious to get to the next step when we have those things everyone thinks we should have in order to not have the “What’s next?” question thrown at us every time we turn around. I’m anxious to get to those places because I think it’s all up to me to get there. I think that I have to do all the work to get there and earn it.

You know who I’m forgetting here?

God. It’s like I forget he exists in these moments!

So, really, what’s next?

Well, we’re in it. We’re living our lives, working our jobs, trying to build up community, ministering in the here and now, and trying to follow Jesus today. Because where we are now matters and has purpose—more purpose than the imaginary “what’s next” lifestage that may or may not ever actually happen!

So, enough waiting. We’re living, instead… and we’re living with joy in our current circumstances, praising God for each new day.

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil–this is God’s gift to man. -Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?… Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. -Matthew 6:25, 34

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. -Colossians 3:1-4

Those Scriptures are dear to my heart today as I try to remember these truths.

Half Marathon Training: Pushing the Pause Button

Well, friends, I don’t have it all together.

I started training for my half marathon two weeks ago and the whole time I’ve hated running. Now for any of you who have been reading or talking to me over the past few months… that is definitely not what you’re used to hearing.

It’s not what I’m used to feeling, either! I desperately want to love running again, but this training schedule is not helping me get back on track. Most days I’m discouraged because I didn’t perform the way I wanted, which leads to me hating running even more… and the cycle is ugly, let me tell you!

 I’m not sure why I started feeling this way, I just know that I need to take a break and run for me… without the pressure of how far or how fast…. just running because I enjoy it and feel good doing it!

The thought of “pausing” my training really bothered me because I had started posting about it all over this little blog and telling everyone I knew about my training. I didn’t want people to think I was quitting or just couldn’t keep up with it.. And then I remembered, it’s okay not to have it all together. It’s okay not to have a perfect training schedule. It’s okay not to run as far as you’d like one day. Or several days. And it’s okay to admit that to people… because your worth does not rest in whether or not you do this training schedule. Or in what people think of you. Your worth is set in stone in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Thankful for that HUGE reminder today!

So, just so you all know, I am taking a break from my training schedule. I’m going to keep running, but I’m not putting pressure on myself to perform for a while. For now, it’s about enjoying the body God gave me to use. I need to get back to that place where I’m excited to run… then I’ll get back to thinking about my half marathon 🙂

Runners: have you ever felt this way? What do you do to get out of this “funk”??