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god-inspired dreams (and learning how to dream them).

There’s a part of me that’s never been much of a dreamer. I’m a daydreamer, for sure– I’m in my own head a lot of the day, picturing what I want my life to look like. It’s an escape tactic, a “I wish this is how things worked out” picture reel, my ideal wannabe life playing in my head like a movie.

Except I’ve never really believed any of it could come true. Because daydreams are just dreams. 

Daydreams are one thing, fueled mostly by boredom and the what-ifs of life. But actually dreaming about my life? Something I’ve never done.

I’m a planner by nature, not a dreamer. A logical, dedicated, helpful worker bee. I need schedules, goals, and a plan. I have a get-it-done mindset. It’s the reason I love helping people: I want to be useful, to be needed to help get things done (even when I can’t get anything done in my own life). I’m the capable, reliable, what-would-we-do-without-you? friend that spends more time focusing on what she can fix and do in front of her rather than what she could dream up for the future. A lot of this stems from my perfectionist, earning/proving my worth mindset, but it’s ingrained in me to plan, work, and do, and not to dream about unrealistic ideas or thoughts.

 I like to do, put my words into action and actually accomplish something– something I never thought dreams could do. 

Dreams have always seemed lofty to me. Dreams were too much pie-in-the-sky, head in the clouds wishful thinking and less working and doing and earning that I was accustomed to.

I’ve never been a dreamer, imagining beyond the scope of what I can work towards or plan. If it’s not something I can map out and figure out and work hard towards, then what’s the point?

If there’s not an end goal, a point B, a light at the end of the tunnel, then I want out. I don’t just wanna sit around and dream about things that can happen possibly; I want to make things happen that I know will happen. 

Except I don’t. I don’t know that they will happen. I used to think I did. I had it all planned out, remember? Then God said no. And I had to say goodbye to a chapter that I thought was going to be forever. (and for the record: I’m so glad I did, because it’s changed my life for the better).

I had no clue what to do next. I didn’t have any plans, let alone dreams, to cling to.

It’s been a year almost to the day that my plans began to unravel. I’m happy to say that I’m truthfully in a great place— I’m in a job that i love, i feel at home with the people I live with, co-workers already feel like family, I’m enjoying my roles and responsibilities and actually feel supported and capable of the task at hand. Such. a. difference. I’m at such peace about where I’m at right now. Hallelujah amen.

But I’ve still not given thought to what my dreams of the future look like.

A few months ago at camp, my dear mentor Papa Steve told us at counselor training to “don’t just dream big. just DREAM.” Dream big, dream small, dream no matter the size. Just dream. The thought of dreams has been on my mind since then, but it faded quickly into the background due to in-front-of-me things like work and life changes. I didn’t have time for the abstract, lofty thinking that dreaming required.

Dreams are a big deal at the nonprofit I’m interning at. (Preston Taylor Ministries— they are awesome and you should totally check them out, especially if you’re local!). They have dream coaches that help kids discover and live out their God-inspired dreams, Fun Friday activities that provide enrichment activities for kids to work towards their dream and grow in the activities and dreams they’re passionate about, and summer camp opportunities to help kids at a more in-depth look at what their dreams could do.

All for helping kids dream about something more than they’re living in right now.

One of the major tenets of the mission statement at PTM is to help kids “discover  and live their God-inspired dreams.”

I’d literally never even thought of that phrase before PTM.

God-inspired dreams?! I’ve heard of God’s plans. I’ve heard of God’s will.  But dreams?! God inspires dreams?! This is all new to this type-A logical human, people.

On our get to know you posters, we were asked to write our own God-inspired dreams. I drew a complete blank, before scribbling something about writing on there that I have no clue what it means.

A few days ago one of my roommates/co-interns asked what I thought my God-inspired dream was, and I said I don’t know because I literally had no answer. 

Because the path I’d been going down? It was all in a plan. It was never based off a dream. I’ve never based my life off of a dream.

I’ve never dreamed like that, if that makes sense. I’ve never really thought so much about dreams as being something to really put thought into like I would a plan or a goal. They’re just… well, dreams. Ideas. Lofty wishes that don’t add up to much.

I’ve merely planned, and hoped to God that it would work out. But as I’ve clearly learned over the past year, that’s not always the best route.

So as I’m encouraging my kids to discover their God-inspired dreams… I’m learning how to discover my own God-inspired dreams, too.

Because I want to dream instead of just plan.

I want to wonder instead of work towards something that isn’t guaranteed.

I want to learn how to dream without the fear of the unknown crashing down around me.

I want to believe what Ephesians 3:20 says–that God can do immeasurably more than I think. Or imagine. Or dream. He can do so much more than I can– so why not dream up something? 

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I used to be able to come up with a million reasons as to why not– it’s not logical. there’s no plan. i’m not capable or ready or able to do the things that people dream about. i’d rather plan something small, something I can do that’s tangible and realistic.

But that’s not our God, I’m learning (sometimes the hard way, ugh). Our God didn’t call us to be planners that only do what they think they’re capable of. He calls us to let Him do the work in us, and that could take us anywhere and doing anything. Even something we don’t understand or don’t think we’re capable of.


Here I am. Send me. Those words are usually a casting call for those that want God to use them to do extraordinary things only He can accomplish, right?  They’re not meant to be said and then a path be planned and mapped out with pristine perfection– they’re meant to be lived. Boldly. Bravely.

That’s what dreams are, I’m realizing: they aren’t lofty wishful thinking. They’re bold, brave, loud declarations that God has given me these gifts and talents and passions to do something bigger than myself.  They aren’t perfect paths or well mapped out courses where I work from point A to point B. Dreams are where our skills, talents, and gifts intersect with the passions and desires of the heart God has given us. They’re where we discover that God has given us our personalities and talents for a reason– and dreams are what we create when we figure out these things about ourselves. 

At least that’s how I want to think–I’m in the process of changing my mindset on plans and dreams. It’s a work in progress.  I’m still in my planner, worker-bee mindset, proving my worth by what I do and how I plan my path. But I’m learning how to give my plans over and let God plant a dream in me instead. It’s a total life change, but I believe God can take my mess and make it into something I can dream of using, right?!


So. How do I learn to be a dreamer? I have no clue. Truly.

I don’t know what dreams look like, let alone God-inspired dreams. But my prayer currently is for God to show me my dreams– and show me how to dream. How to discover the dreams– the skills, the passions, the desires of my heart that He’s given me to pursue Him and his people better.

I want to dream God-inspired dreams and not plans of my own volition. I want to be willing to dream instead of work towards something that may not come to pass on my own.

I’m going to start discovering less plans for my life and more dreams.  I want to believe that God can do immeasurably more than I think… so I might as well take a risk and dream up something only God can do.

 

source: http://unfetteredpotential.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Aslan-Not-Safe-But-Good.jpg

it’s not safe, but it’s good.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis)

This quote has been swirling in my head a lot recently, as I begin to think about what this next year looks like.

I spent some much-needed time with a dear friend today– after being surrounded by awesome co-workers and roommates (who are ALSO awesome co-workers), I was so thankful for some time away with a friend who already knows and loves me well. We talked about the upcoming year and all it entails in detail for the both of us; we were on the way back to my house when she asked me, “do you feel at peace about it?” As in, do I feel at peace about this new crazy life change: new job, new roommates/co-workers, new slightly-different career path (at least for the year).

Yes. Yes, I really do.

Truly, I haven’t felt so at peace about something in a lonnnnng time.

Because I know that this is exactly where I am meant to be.

Am I worried about next week when we meet kids for the 1st time? Definitely.

Am I anxious about doing a good job, living up to the standards of my workplace? (plus my own ridiculously high standards) Absolutely.

Am I overwhelmed with information and unsure how to unpack it all before Monday? You betcha! 

Am I totally scared of the future year and what is going to unfold? Pretty much! 

(I was then reminded that of course these feelings are 100% normal before this kind of life-change! duh!)

But am I at peace about this year and what all it’s going to hold? 110%. Without a shadow of a doubt. 

Despite all the worries and fears about what this year is going to hold, I am at nothing but peace. Why? Because I know that this is where God has placed me right now. I know this is what I’m meant to be doing. And that gives me peace beyond all understanding, beyond all fear.


God isn’t meant to be safe. And neither are his plans for me.

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This year is going to be hard– we’ve heard it from multiple different people, in multiple different ways. Hard. Not easy. Difficult. Fun, yes, life-changing, yes, but easy? Nope. 

It requires a lot of me. It makes it impossible not to bow at the throne of grace and ask for it openly and often, because Lordy am I going to need it when I inevitably screw up.

It’s forcing me to accept the fact that I cannot do this year (or this day, or this hour)  on my own– it’s only through His strength am I equipped for what He’s going to do this year. 

It’s making me have to think about my boundaries, my helper, got-to-fix-everyone tendencies,  and my people-pleasing, everything-has-to-be-perfect standards. I’m going to have to learn how to let my standards go, help those that want to be helped and give the rest up to the Lord because I am not superwoman or everyone’s keeper (even when I want to be), give myself grace when things go awry or when I need a break, and lean on other people for help and criticism and guidance down this road, cause I cannot do it on my own (i’m really bad at this part).

It requires me to love myself and people I work with and for very well, even when I don’t feel like it.

It’s going to leave me exhausted in every sense of the word some days. Some days I’ll be filled up, some days I’ll be running on fumes, barely scraping by. I know that.

And this is all from the first two weeks, y’all. I haven’t even met my kids yet! And it’s already causing me to think through the way I do and am going to do things this year. That gives me hope that this really is going to be life-changing, no matter how hard.

There is nothing safe about this year. Nothing safe about taking a leap of faith into this year of pouring into these kids we get to serve and teach, into each other as co-workers and roommates, into our supervisors and other co-workers– there is nothing safe about diving in head first into the unknown.

There’s nothing safe about God and the road he’s called me on with this internship. But it’s good.

It’s so, so good.

It isn’t safe. It isn’t easy. It’s a little bit scary and already slightly exhausting.

He isn’t safe. His plans aren’t easy. His ways are somewhat terrifying and overwhelmingly exhausting, especially when I want my way.

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source: my friend Amy (it fit perfectly with this post!)

But it’s good. But He’s good.

Is he safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.

God and his plans sure aren’t safe. But they’re full of Him, and that means that they are immeasurably good. And that gives me more peace than I could have ever imagined. 

I couldn’t find a clip of the scene on youtube, so here’s my favorite song from the Narnia franchise! (brought to you by my beloved Switchfoot)

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the choice. {an anxiety-induced honesty hour}

I’m sitting outside, on our wonderful, brand-new deck. It feels perfectly cool outside, and I can see a few stars above me (I could probs see more if I turned the deck light out, but writing a blog post in the dark doesn’t sound all that funsies). Stars bring me comfort instantly, so I keep looking up towards them for some sliver of hope and peace that tomorrow’s going to be better than what today has felt like. That peace is barely there, but barely is better than nothing so I’ll take it.

Honesty hour: My anxiety has slowly been increasing over the course of the day, mostly this afternoon/evening as I start to prepare for the week ahead. Trying to figure out transportation stuff, plans for tomorrow and the upcoming week, realizing that I had something to do that I didn’t realize I had to do (oops). It all adds up and sends me spiraling. My nerves are pretty shot, I’ve been a bit shaky all day leading up to the first official week of work. We don’t have kids until next week; this week is mostly preparation for kids, training, office hours and such, so our “real” jobs haven’t even begun yet.

And yet, I have a pit in my stomach that hasn’t gone away all day.

Mostly the thoughts and worries are unwarranted and silly. Some of them need to be dropped for now and brought back when I can actually process them.

But alas, they’re still here. Pounding inside my brain, refusing me one moment of peace before I start this new chapter tomorrow.

Transitions are always hard for me, but I’d thought I had already conquered this one, gosh dangit. (Or I thought I’d get a break this time, since it was relatively easy. Guess not?).

But I realized all the worries, concerns, bad thoughts all share the same voice:

You are a failure. 

You’ve failed before you’ve already started. 

You’re going to fail this. 

You’re not ready for this. 

You’re not up for the challenge. 

You’re a screw up. 

You can’t do this. 

You’re not wanted.

All the minute worries and fears all spiral together into this one colossal  anxious train of thought: i am not good enough for this.
I’m going in to a brand-new place, living with 4 virtual strangers that are slowly becoming friends (I hope), doing a job I’ve never done, given more responsibility than I’ve ever had. How am I supposed to be good enough for something so much bigger than me?

yesterday i wrote about how I was freakin’ chosen for this role, for this time in my life. And yet today, my brain decides that all of that was a lie.

I don’t want to believe that, y’all. I really don’t.

So in the midst of my shakiness and my pacing-the-floor anxiousness, I’m reminding myself that I have a choice. 

I can choose to live into what anxiety says. Or I can choose to throw myself into who God is, and what he’s doing. 

He’s in the middle of my mess, front and center in the chaos.

He’s not watching it unfold from afar. He’s smack dab in the heart of it with me, trying to show me what He’s doing and why He’s working this way. I’m just too caught up in all these feelings and fears to see Him in the midst of it. 

A passage from my current read I Don’t Wait Anymore has stuck in my head the last few days:

he's there in my“So you see it comes down to one thing. Every day I have a choice. I can focus on how life doesn’t look like I wanted it to, how it’s moving at a crawl… I can worry if something much worse is going to happen if I walk on into what’s ahead of me. 

Or I can choose a song. I can choose to sip my coffee slowly and keep my eyes on the goodness tumbling down from the sky, choose to keep my heart in a place of total, unwavering praise. Because He’s there in my snowstorm.”

He’s in the storm with me. He’s in the fears and worries and concerns. He’s in the unsureness and stress and unanswered questions.

I want to choose to believe him when he says, in Grace’s words, Come. I’m here. And it will be okay, instead of choosing to think that everything is not okay before it’s even started.

He’s not waiting on us to beckon him into the storm to help us; he’s waiting on us to see Him already there, ready to fight with us. He’s already there. I’m wavering between that being comforting or upsetting. Comforting because of who He is, and his love for me to be in the storm with me; upsetting because of how I’m feeling and how could he be here in this with me and not help me?!? UGH. 

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credit: dallas clayton

Anxiety happens. The questions, fears, overthinking and internal fights with myself are going to happen- they just are a part of my life. Especially when I’m at a more stressful/transitional point in my life as I am now. But I have a choice. I can give in to fear and believe what it says about me. Or I can trust that God is in this with me, even when I’m not feeling or seeing Him just yet. 

 

I can believe in what my brain and emotions tell me I am, or what He tells me He is.

I want to choose Him. But the fears are so loud, the questions and uncertainties playing like a constant record in my head. It’s a battle that is nowhere near over tonight or tomorrow, but I am working towards choosing Him. Choosing to trust and believe that He is in the storm with me, that He will calm the storm and bring peace and hope, even if it’s in small places.

Choice is a powerful, slightly scary thing. I long to make the choice that leads me to less of fear, and more of Him. I hope I can figure out how.

one year later {god’s timing is real, y’all}.

Today was odd.

(Today meaning August 5th- technically I’m writing this at 1am 3am on the 6th, but roll with me here).

Not the day itself– I spent most of today at a work retreat, preparing for my new internship to begin (I’ve mentioned it here a bit, I’ll go in-depth about it sooner or later). The day was fine. Busy, information-filled, slightly loud and people-filled and spirit-heavy, which was wonderful.

But something about me and this day just felt off. I don’t really know how to describe it.

It took me until now to realize it: the date.

I had messed up my daily calendar, thinking today was August 4th. When I flipped it to the 5th earlier this evening, something caught my attention. What does August 5th mean? What does this date have to do with anything for me?

After a few minutes of thinking and some social media investigating, I remembered.

August 5th, 2015. The day I started student teaching.

My whole body went cold. And then tears came.

At first it was tears of grief. Really, it was a year ago? This whole hellish chapter started this day last year. I cannot believe it’s been a full year since that day. This day (well really, the next 2 days) began a living nightmare that I still have a hard time grappling with.

The year that’s been since then has been pretty hellish thanks to student teaching. A lot of wondering and questioning and grieving what was and what was supposed to be, and fear of what was unknown and what was to come in consequence. A lot of wondering why–after teaching was the only thing I ever wanted to do, why was it suddenly not? Why? Why dangit, why?!?! It was all I ever wanted. Ever.

Never in a million years would I have ever thought this day last year I’d be where I am today.

This day last year I was so excited and optimistic and prepared for a life of teaching (at least I thought I was).

I had my whole freakin’ life planned out, y’all. It was mapped out. I had no Plan B for if teaching didn’t work out, because it wasn’t supposed to. It’s all I ever wanted!

And then I didn’t want it anymore. And my whole life fell out from under me.

After I thought about the sad part of this season for a bit (I’ve already done my grieving of this chapter, y’all; there was no need or desire for me to go backwards to it), I then realized something else:

God’s timing isn’t foolish. Nor is he.

God’s timing is literally perfect. I used to not get that, because I wanted things on my terms and done my way and that’s how my life got flipped turned upside down.

I wanted things on my timetable, in my control–but then God is all: look at me now! Do you see what I’m doing here! 

Don’t you see? I hear him whisper.

Then I put two and two together.

August 5th, 2015 was the day I started student teaching.

August 5th, 2016 was the end of my first full week at my new, completely unplanned internship.

The internship that would have never happened if student teaching had worked out. The same internship where I’ll be using my degree and the things I was trained and taught to do as a teacher, but in a different setting with a different set of kids. The internship that fell into my lap and was offered to me a week before graduation– after months of agonizing over the “what’s next?” questions everyone was throwing at me.

For such a long time, I did not get why after wanting to be a teacher MY WHOLE LIFE was I supposed to not be one. I didn’t get it, and it grieved me so much. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around why my plan didn’t work out when it was the only thing I ever wanted.

Now I get it. Literally a year later. To the DAY.

God ain’t no fool, but he sure likes fooling me into learning crap the hard way.

His timing is seamless.

This week last year, I was beginning what I thought was the beginning of the end of my college/ figuring out my life’s work chapter.

This week this year opened a whole new chapter. A new chapter that wouldn’t have come to pass if student teaching had panned out as I’d planned, if teaching had been the right path.

God does things when we surrender our plans. It’s not instantaneous or laid out as I may want it to be, but it’s perfectly planned out. On his time.

For such a time as this, I was meant to be here. It was perfectly planned and orchestrated, down to the literal DATE, y’all.

God is funny like that.

So my tears of grief (and regret, let’s be real), soon turned into tears of awe. Tears of relief that he really does hold my world in his hands, that he really does plan it all for my good, even when I can’t see it.

He knows. He sees. And He times things greater than I ever could. 

Hallelujah for that.

Bonus story: i turned my Bob Goff/Love Does calendar over to the 6th, and this is what I read:

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A year later, I can finally look back and say that it’s never been more awesome for my plans to fail.

five minute friday {hidden}

it’s five minute friday time! woohoo!

today’s word:

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Today I was reading the book I Don’t Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton while in the doctor’s office. Grace’s blog was the 1st blog I really ever followed, so I was excited for her book– and it hasn’t disappointed.

She was writing a bit about visiting Corrie Ten Boom’s house (if you don’t know her, google her, she’s awesome).  She told a story about a piece of embroidery hidden in her house, below the hiding place she used to shield people from the Nazis.Here’s the quote from the book (i posted the quote after time because it’s long):

“The tour guide reached past Dana and me, pulled the frame from the wall,and turned it over. The back was a straight-up mess. If you’ve ever done any stitching, you know what the underside of something like that looks like– an ugly tangle of threads with no visible picture at all.

That’s the side we see, Corrie would say. In our pride, when He weaves the dark threads in with the bright ones, we forget that He can see the upper side– the real picture, the intricate design– while all we see is the mess. “Every thread is important,” Corrie said.”

God sees the whole picture even when it’s hidden from us, and all we see is the messy behind-the-scenes moments.

When all we have is crazy, or broken, or frustrating, He knows that it’s all going to be a part of the greater story he’s telling. Even when the end results are hidden from us, we know that He’s going to make the mess and tangled threads we try to weave together and make something beautiful from them.

As Grace says earlier in the book, “In that deep place, God was weaving wonders from the mess.” 

Even when the big picture is hidden from us, God is weaving every thread-no matter how long or short or pretty or ugly– into something  for our good and for his glory. He’s weaving wonders from the mess of threads we’re making, even when we don’t understand what the picture’s going to look like. 

Let us not worry about the parts of our story hidden from us right now– for they will all be woven together by the Master Creator into something far better than we could ever piece together ourselves.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

doesn’t really go with the topic of the post, but it was stuck in my head the entire time writing so here ya go…❤

 

five minute friday {create}

taking a break from my Friends bingeing to join five minute friday this week! it’s been awhile.

the word for this week:

 

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I like this one!

Everything I make or create is in worship and to the glory of the one who created me.

Art and crafting is one of my primary ways to worship. I’ve always been a hands-on learner– I like doing something with my hands to help me understand or learn new things. And that quickly translated into my faith life too: I love writing out verses in a pretty (for me) script, or drawing some sort of art to represent a Bible story. When I have quiet time, somehow someway usually my crafting supplies comes out, and I make something out of it: scrapbook pages etched with scripture, canvases painted and drawn on. It’s an outward expression of worship: something tangible to remind me of the words, the story, the God I love.

Bible journaling is a “trend” so to speak right now: people are starting to use journaling Bibles and arts/crafts supplies to draw, write, create pieces of art as worship to our creator. I quickly got on board, buying a journaling Bible and some supplies with Christmas money. It’s basically what I was doing before, but IN my Bible, which I loved. I could turn to a specific verse and write/draw/create something that went with that verse, contained in the Bible. I love it.

Something I noticed soon after starting Bible journaling was how much of my perfectionism is wrapped up in my creation: if it wasn’t perfect, or didn’t look like that super talented artist person’s illustration, then it wasn’t good enough. I would try to fix things that didn’t need fixing, until I would mess them up completely. My handwriting or painting skills or drawings didn’t look how I wanted them to look (perfect). I’m very crafty, y’all, but artsy I am not. And I struggle with that: a longing to create, but not the talent I want to do it to my standards.

I lost sight of why I was journaling in the first place: to worship. to honor. to glorify. to learn. to express my thoughts and feelings on what God was/is teaching me.

I create to worship my Creator, not to worship my art. 

That’s what creating is about for me: creating art, in my Bible and out, that reflects the love and heart of my Creator and all He is doing in me.

And all I create is pleasing to Him, if my heart’s in the right place.

a few examples of my creations, ones I love and ones I don’t (but all pleasing to God):

 

 

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the [year] where it happens {cheers to 24}.

my inaugural post of my wordpress site last year was a post the night before my 23rd birthday. It’s funny going back and reading that post night, 365(or 366?) days later.

23 didn’t go exactly as I had planned. That might be the understatement of the century, in my book.

I didn’t become a teacher. I didn’t graduate in December (an extra semester never hurt anyone, right?). I didn’t find a teaching job and begin my lucrative adulthood job and life. The year was full of new, scary things, just like I’d written there would be. But they weren’t the things I’d thought were going to happen.

Actually, none of the things I had planned to happen worked out.

But you know what? I’m glad they didn’t.

This year was hard. Harder than I’d imagined it was going to be, for different reasons than I thought it’d be.

But I loved it. After I dealt with the aftermath of quitting student teaching, I loved a lot of this year.

I wouldn’t have had an extra semester at Lipscomb– or a semester on-campus again. I needed that (both to be around Lipscomb and to have a break from living at home), so it was one of the biggest blessings to have that bonus semester.  I wouldn’t have had the chance to get to know the people I did or take the classes I took (well, I wouldn’t be mad about that one, sorry Lipscomb EML department!).

I learned a lot about myself this year. I learned how much I can handle, how to give myself grace and a break when I need it. I learned what I’m capable of and what I need to say no to. I learned a lot more about myself via therapy (thank you Jesus for counseling) that helped me connect a lot of dots between my life and my mental illness. I learned what it takes to grow up in different ways and different areas in my life (and not in others–I will forever be emotionally a toddler and that’s just who I am, whoops).

That said, I struggled a lot. With doubt and frustration and second thoughts, with uncertainty and the future and dealing with the “what’s next?” question without pulling my hair out. I was in autopilot the last 4 weeks of classes, just trying to get by. Then I struggled with leaving Lipscomb after the fact. Struggle was a big part of this year, at just about every turn and corner. Anxiety and depression still overwhelmed me at times, and I struggled to get out of the depths.

Some things might have been better if I had stayed the course (more predictability and stability, perhaps, and less future stress).  I wouldn’t have struggled as much, wouldn’t have as much pressure to figure out what I want to do with my life– I already had it figured out, I thought. But I didn’t. And it took a lot of strength to admit that to myself. (I’m glad I did, but it sure made my life hell).

 I wouldn’t be the same me if life had turned out how I had it planned last year.

I had to learn even more to trust Jesus, and to press into who He is and what He promises me. Even when I don’t feel it or understand it, He’s always come through. He hasn’t disappointed yet, but it’s still so daggone hard for me to let go and let someone else plan my way. But when I do? His plans always turn up infinitely sweeter than my own.

He got me through this year. He taught me how to lean–on Him, and other people. Community has been a big theme for me this year– my need for it, and my finding it through online channels (my online communities have been a lifeline while I’ve lived at home, away from most of my friends). He helped me understand who I am, and how who I am and who I’ve been all make me who I’m supposed to be. He reminded me how much he knows me and what I need, and loves me exactly how I need to be loved. He helped me understand joy as something I am, not something I get. He helped me find peace greater than myself.

He taught me what it truly means to be a beloved mess, even when I didn’t think those two things went together. 

I look back and see all the good things that came from the hard things— from trips and random adventures, to getting a college diploma (late is better than never) and finding an internship that fits me perfectly a week before graduation. I met new people and made new friends and got to know the ones I have better (and let them get to know me). I chose the brave things. I did the brave things, the bold things. I chose the things I wouldn’t typically choose for myself.

I learned to cook (still learning) and became a dog mom to a puppy that was as close to a newborn as I want to be for a lonnnng time. I discovered new hobbies and passions and new ways to worship and love the Lord a little better.  I discovered netflix and learned when to watch and when to go socialize (praise the Lord I didn’t know about netflix when I started college). I laughed a lot. I cried, sobbed a lot– both at my own plight and the crazy world we’re living in. I learned how to lean on people and tell them when I’m actually okay or not, and when to ask- and accept- help. I took risks when I needed and stood back when I needed to do that, too.

I listened to Hamilton nonstop like every other Broadway nerd, read good books that changed my life, and saw one of my favorite singers perform live less than 24 hours after buying a ticket. I saw friends get engaged and married and have babies and love me and each other so well. I had to grow up and deal with my problems head-on instead of cowering behind being a kid. I had to learn how to fight my own battles– because this year was my battle, all on my own.

So yeah, it was hard. But God worked through the hard and brought me out a lot happier, a lot more grateful, and a lot more excited about the future instead of fearing it.

I wasn’t quite ready to grow up and be an adult last year. 22 was so unbelievably hard, and in a lot of ways, 23 was a year to recover (and deal with its own drama). I wasn’t quite ready to face adulthood when I was still mentally in a hole that I  couldn’t see out of.

But now, here’s 24. And while I still don’t always feel quite ready to be an adult (i laughed at camp when i was called an authority figure), I’m ready to face adulthood now. I’m ready for the next new thing, the new chapter.

plansteps
source: jmunsta.com

While I logistically know what’s in store (I’ll be interning at a local non-profit for the next year), I know now how God can change things and mess up my plans in an instant. And if he does change the plans or creates new ones– I trust Him with them more than I trust myself with my own plans. That’s the difference going in to this year for me– last year I was so certain my plans were laid out and perfect, only to have to wave the white flag and surrender myself to Him after I had it all figured out. This year, I’m waving the white flag first-– knowing that I cannot plan this thing on my own, and that He will direct the path and the plans in front of me infinitely better than me doing it on my own.

I know whatever happens, 24 is going to be a good year– because it’s going to be full of Him, community, new experiences–and full of growing up.

So, this is the year where it happens. The year I finally start doing the adult things and stop being a student (that is so weird oh my gosh). This is the year I take a bigger step towards the future and what God has in store. This is the year I’ll take into my hands, hand them over to His hands, and step back and watch Him do what He wants with me.

I’m a lot better me when I’m in it with Him.

23, you taught me a lot. You were not the easiest year, but that may make you one of the better ones I’ve had. Cheers to 24, growing up, and surrendering this year to whatever God has in store. It’s going to be great because it’s going to be full of Him. 

Jesus, I surrender it all. All of my 24th year is yours to do what you want– I can’t wait to see where You lead me.

**if you’ve been under a rock and don’t know where my title came from… listen and educate yourself, please:

Thanks Natalie for forcing me to listen to Hamilton. And thanks to all the people that walked with me through this crazy year.

if love were enough.

I’m loved and adored– of this I’m sure. By my family, my friends, mentors, teachers– they remind me of this fact daily. I’m beloved by God, and am dearly loved even when I don’t feel like I am.

But knowing I’m loved is not enough to make my depression go away. 

love is not enough to make me not anxious about the future, the past, or the present. 

as much as I would like for love to be enough to cure me of all my ails, mental, physical, and emotional– it’s just not.

Love was not enough when panic attacks kept me up every night for 3 months.

Love was not enough when I cried nightly in fear that I wouldn’t wake up the next day. When I refused to sleep in fear I’d die in my sleep.

Love was not enough when I considered walking across the street into traffic. Or when I googled pill combinations to kill myself in my sleep.

Love wasn’t enough all of the times I’ve thought that the world would be better off without me.

Love wasn’t enough when depression grabbed hold of me after quitting student teaching, or in middle school when I was drowning in fear and apathy(or in elementary school when i said I just didn’t feel like living anymore. it’s been a long journey, people).

Love wasn’t enough when I felt alone in a crowded room.

Love wasn’t enough when I was diagnosed with GAD and encountered my mental hell– the hardest thing I’ve been through to-date.

Love wasn’t enough to save me from myself. 

There are so many times I’ve wanted love to be enough. No need for counseling or medicine or vulnerability required when friends ask how I’m really doing. If the love of my friends and family was enough, I’d never struggle with this crap. But it’s not.

Love isn’t enough for cancer or dementia or a stroke. We can’t love diabetes or traumatic brain injuries away. We can’t love mental illness away either–it’s not called illness for nothing.

If love were enough, I wouldn’t be anxious about my next chapter, no matter how excited I am for it.

If love were enough, I would not spend my nights terrified of having more panic attacks. I wouldn’t pray for God to wake me up the next morning because I’m unsure if I will or not, and it scares the living daylights out of me.

If love were enough, I’d never have to worry about the feelings of hopelessness or loneliness or darkness that surface when I’m struggling. They’d never appear, because love triumphs those things– but not when your brain works against you.

If love were enough, I’d never have to take medicine to fix the chemicals in my brain that try to convince me to self-destruct. Every. single. day.

If love were enough, the voices in my head that tell me I’m not enough or forgotten or unworthy would never interfere with the voice of God’s, calling me beloved and welcomed and wanted. 

But love isn’t enough for me to overcome this hell on my own. I can’t be loved into my broken brain being healed.

Love helps. Love heals parts of me. But it doesn’t fix. It doesn’t cure. 

Love– and being loved– is an incredible thing, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not enough to save my life. I love that people love me– without it, i wouldn’t be me. But it’s not what makes me better. I have other things (like medicine and therapy and sharing my story) to fight for with me. I have strategies and plans for when my anxiety goes haywire and I don’t know where to turn. I have friends I can call or text when things get muddled by the darkness and I begin to feel lost. I have God to lean on and cry out to, even when that involves me screaming and crying about why this is what’s been given to me to suffer through.

~

I’m thankful I’m not in one of those places right now— for the most part, I’m doing OK currently; but the reason I’m writing this now? It’s because I know I’ll be there again. I know that my anxiety will have me sobbing, scared out of my mind. I know depression will encircle me, creating a darkness and loneliness that robs me of life. It’s a cycle that ebbs and flows, and I know that it’s something I will battle all my life, probably. It will hit me like a punch in the gut, like a shakiness I cannot overcome on my own.

And the last thing I need someone telling me is that “oh but you’re so loved, how can you be depressed? you have so much going for you, how can you be anxious?”

I am so loved. I do have a lot going for me right now.

But that doesn’t mean anything to my mental illness. I could be in the happiest time of my life and it steal me of my joy (and it has). It doesn’t care about what’s going on or who I am or how loved I am.

It’s a thief that steals and kills and destroys. It’s a liar that makes you believe what it says about you, no matter what other voices say.

And it doesn’t care one bit about how loved you are, because it will do everything in its power to make you feel as unloved and useless as possible.

Love is not enough. It will never be enough for me to save myself. 

But I sure do wish it was. 

 

This song kept coming to mind when writing this– Against the Voices, Switchfoot

 

This one too… Rain Clouds, The Arcadian Wild (I have talented friends).

psalm 34 17 18

anxiety-induced ramblings.

when my heart, my life, are overwhelmed… i write. Because nothing else calms me quite like words do. My words are probably rambly and scattered, because that’s the current status of my brain.

I just got back from camp counseling at Impact on Saturday, and after catching up on the lack of sleep (or good sleep, I should say), I’ve truly just felt out of sorts. My anxiety was for the most part at bay while at Impact (besides some circumstantial events that caused me to be on high alert), but now that I’m back home, in my old usual rhythms… my anxiety is infinitely more amped than it has been in recent weeks.

I physically feel horrible. (I was up every hour on the hour last night because I could not sleep!). I mentally feel like my head is spinning. Spiritually I haven’t even begun to unpack all I learned and gained from the week’s events.

I was in my element for a solid ten days. Around community that loved me fully, that loved Him fully, that wanted to love and mentor kids and each other alike. I loved it. Even when it was exhausting.  It gave me the opportunity to pour myself out and be filled at the same time; it gave me the chance to mentor and share my love and life with others-something that I hadn’t been able to do in awhile. Being there surrounded by so many of my kind of people gave me some clarity and focus on things I’d been wanting/needing to work through: I remember sitting there multiple times, talking to my girls or sitting in worship dancing like fools and the words, “i love this” kept popping into my head. I love this.

I love being with teenagers. I love helping them know and love God better. I love helping them find their story by sharing my own. I love being a part of a ministry that helps others find and know Jesus like it did for me.

I have no idea what this means for me and my future whatsoever, but I know that it didn’t keep coming up for naught. There has to be a reason behind it, right?

Anyway, ending my digression for what’s at hand: ever since leaving, and coming home, I’ve been just plain off. I feel shaky and sickly and just plain miserable physically; mentally I feel like everything is going wrong and nothing is right. Emotionally I’m homesick for a week I never expected to have such an impact (no pun intended) on me, and feel plain rung out. Drained.

Coming back to my normal has sucked. After being surrounded by people for 10 days, I’m back to the quiet. I’m back to the lonely. I’m back to the boring. I’m back to the exhausting drama that is living at home.

Coming home to a place that isn’t all that full of Jesus and full with mostly silence and drama was a brutal crash to reality. It’s a crash that I should have prepared for but wasn’t expecting to be so hard… and yet, I know myself: everything is hard for me to return home from. Everything.

I was surrounded by Him and His people and now I’m home surrounded by nothing. And I want nothing more than to be surrounded by Him and his people again.

Today as I was struggling, I felt a nudge. A thought popped in my head from nowhere.

I’m here, too. I can surround you here.

Yeah, it’s not like being at Impact, surrounded by people like me that love nothing more than to praise his name and learn more about him. It’s not like building relationships and making memories in the dorms like it was there. Being home isn’t like being at Lipscomb or being at church or with mission trip friends. It’s just not.

But it doesn’t mean God can’t find me here. It doesn’t mean God isn’t already here with me. I just have to step out of the muck and and take a deep breath. When I stop and breathe, I pay attention. And I feel myself slowly sinking back into the rhythms of grace instead of the rhythms of my chaotic life, and I feel a little bit more like who He’s made me to be instead of an anxious hot mess.

Last night, my friend Patrick said something that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around:

everywhere we are, God is there.

He’s not just at Impact, though it was easier for me to feel his presence when I’m surrounded by community that loves him and his people like I do. He’s not just at church, or in the sunrise or the stars I love so much. He’s everywhere. And He’s in me. He’s with me. I cannot go anywhere without Him being with me.

No matter where I go or where I’ve been: God is there. He’s in my anxious night and the panic attack that has been on the cusp of overflowing today. He’s in my fears and worries and struggles. He’s in my mountaintops and victories and joys, and he’s in my sorrows and sadness, too.

He’s not just here or there. He’s everywhere I am. I can’t get that out of my mind.

No matter where my anxious thoughts or sadness take me, he is there. And He can surround me in the midst of them, even if i don’t feel it quite like I did last week.

In the midst of writing this long ramble of a post, this song we sang in worship last night (and a few times during Impact as well) kept bubbling up in me, so I stopped and did something I never do at home: I worshiped out loud. I sang loudly, hands in the air and all.

If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear Your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that You’ve done
And the life I have
Because of Your son
Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours
Lord I’m forever Yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am Yours
I am forever Yours
In that moment I felt more peace than I’ve felt since leaving campus Saturday morning. I am His, mountain high or valley low. And He is with me everywhere I go.
And anxiety can’t take that away from me. 
for whatever reason wordpress isn’t showing the video, but it’s a link to the song from above! (Love Came Down). A favorite.
psalm 34 17 18
image credit: swtblessings.com/2014/04/god-is-listening.html

 

on one of my worse anxiety/depression nights during Impact (i was super overwhelmed/exhausted the 1st two nights of Senior), the worship leader led us in a call/response with this Psalm… it’s now become one of my favorites. It was perfect timing. (Then we sang Mighty to Save which is my song and it was like God has a sense of humor or something y’all).❤

want {five minute friday}

happy almost weekend!

This is my last lazy week for awhile. Next week I’ll be a camp counselor for the first time (woo!) for 2 weeks, so it’ll be a bit crazy busy ’round here.

This week’s word for five minute friday is:

january-1989we-fell-in-love-600x600

annnd GO!

I wrote just a few days ago about how I wanted more out of friendship and community. Kate’s got good timing on words. haha. (you should go read that post, it’s a good one, me thinks).

But right now, I’m wanting something else.

I’m reading through Ephesians right now with my friend Kelsey; I struggle a lot with reading scripture alone so we decided to go through it together (i’m supposed to be reading it in prep for camp). Today we tackled chapter 2, which is now one of my favorite books ever.

There were two verses that kind of gripped me:

 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought nearby the blood of Christ. (v. 14 NIV)

 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundationof the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy templein the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (V 19-22, emphasis on 22 mine)

I want to be near to Him. I want to know him better and not be plagued by distance. It reminds me of the prodigal son: no matter how far I am away, He is waiting to run towards me with arms wide open.

I want to be where He dwells. I want Him to be near, working and dwelling within me. That verse reminds me of the song Sanctuary, one I sang throughout my youth group days.

Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary

pure and holy

tried and true

With thanksgiving

I’ll be a living Sanctuary for You.

A few days ago one of my former youth group leaders posted a video of his son singing the song, and it brought so much joy to my heart– and the song hasn’t left my mind since.

I want to see what that looks like in my life. What does it mean to be a living sanctuary for Him to dwell in?

 

I want to be near to God. I want to be a sanctuary for him to dwell in.

I want more out of my faith than I’ve given God the past few years; slowly,but surely, i’m figuring out how to get there.

 

 

 

This word reminded me of this song, a new single off Switchfoot’s soon-to-be-released album (comes out the day after my birthday, holler). “Take me broken, make me one; break the silence and make it a song. Life is short, I want to live it well. And you’re the one I’m living for.”