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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Camping in Brokenness

Brokeness. That word often stirs up mixed emotions for me - not unlike the word “boundaries” if you read my last blog post

Oftentimes when we hear the word “brokenness” it implies something is weak, subpar, and needs to be fixed. This can be true, but it also means a lot of other things. Instead of viewing it as a state to overcome, I’ve started to view it as a landing place, a spot to camp if you will. 

Side note: I’ve never been into camping, but the concept has always sounded romantic to me. To make a home in some place unknown and new. To journey with just the essentials, carrying with me only that which I need to survive. If I were to create a list of essentials for this journey of life, brokenness would be at the top of that list. 

This may sound strange, but I’m starting to believe that I’m not simply called to live through a season of brokenness, but to consider brokenness a lifestyle choice. Choosing brokenness keeps me pliable and teachable. It reminds me of my weaknesses, so that I don’t get too far ahead of myself and start thinking I’m something I’m not. And God knows I need reminded of that often. 

All this being said, there a couple things I think brokenness is not.
  1. It’s not an excuse for a pity party. Choosing brokenness does not mean feeling sorry for myself. It means I’m self-aware of both my weaknesses and strengths. 
  2. It’s not an opportunity for insecurity. Yes, it means a healthy dose of believing I need help in certain areas of my life, but it doesn’t mean I am no-good or not normal. Don’t give the enemy a foothold here; he will distort it. 
Choosing brokenness doesn’t mean I can’t be myself. I’ve struggled with this thought many times this past year. I used to think that being broken meant I couldn’t function in my strengths. And that is so far from the truth! In fact, I think I was made to be both broken and bold. To be aware of myself and my weaknesses, but also to know what I’m good at, and to go for it! 

If I were to sum up the lessons I’ve learned in 2014, it would be this: To let brokenness be an opportunity for growth. And if I could tell myself one thing this time last year it would be to “Get comfortable in weakness, because that is where the growth begins.” 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Making Room for Boundaries

Whenever I hear the word boundaries I typically cringe. This word has always had a negative connotation to me. It seems to imply that something has gone too far, or is too much. And that's a tender spot for me. It was easy for me growing up and even now to believe the lie that I was "too much". That I needed to be restrained, held back, and that I desperately needed boundaries.

It took me a while, but I eventually realized that it was all a big lie and I didn't have to believe it anymore. God didn't make me "too much", He made me just right, exactly as He planned. The passage of scripture that has marked me the most is Psalm 139, of which verse 13-14 says: 
"For you did form my inward parts; you did knit me together in my mother's womb. I will confess and praise you for you are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are your words, and that my inner self knows right well." (AMP) 
Once I started believing that, it was time to tackle my irrational fear of boundaries. This word has taken on an interesting meaning to me over the past few months. Rather than viewing them a negative thing, I started to view them as beneficial, and even necessary. 

Remember my post titled "Slow is Good"? Well, shortly after I published that post, work started to pick up dramatically. Hence why I haven't posted in ages. I have this tendency to run so hard and fast that I neglect to tend to other areas of my life. It's hard for me to stop or slow down until something is complete and excellent. And sometimes that's not healthy.

The Holy Spirit started to nudge me about two months ago about boundaries, and although I wanted to ignore it, I knew that I'd end up running myself over if I didn't heed His warning. I was reminded of Psalm 16 which says that the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. He sets up boundaries for me so that I can remain healthy and ultimately enjoy life! And if I respond to His invitation to step back and allow room for margin in my life, then I just might end up enjoying it more than I thought I would. Boundaries aren't a bad thing, in fact, they make room for the good things. Like rest and friendship and creating and writing (just to name a few).

But what about getting my work done? Or what if my boss gets mad at me? What if I fail at fulfilling my responsibilities? What if my co-workers think I am slacking? Questions such as this started running through my head, and then the Holy Spirit whispered that those questions were rooted in fear. Ahhh that's a familiar word. But it's also a suffocating word. It's a word, that if given too much power, will cause me to be more anxious and insecure than I care to admit.

Fear too often causes me to freeze, or in this case, keep running. But today I'm choosing differently. It's time to step back confidently, knowing my value is secure in who God says I am, not in how fast I can run or how great my work is. Others may perceive my putting up boundaries differently than I intend, sure. I may drop the ball, yes. But living without fear in step with the boundaries God has set up for me is much more freeing. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's Get Simple

My friend Megan is the queen of discovering new trends and pulls them off quite well. Megs is one of my favorite people to spend time with - refreshing, easy and just simple. She recently discovered and showed me a blog with a concept called "The Capsule Wardrobe".
The basic definition of this idea is "a set of clothing, normally within 20-40 items, which can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of outfits that can be considered essential." 
This idea seemed to fit into the theme of my season - simple, slow, basic. I started looking through my closet and realized I could benefit from some simplifying. After transitioning to a new full time job in a new city, the rhythm of my life is different, which means my wardrobe needs have shifted. And honestly, so have my preferences.

So here's to simplifying. Here's to re-defining needs and styles and preferences. Here's to consolidating and learn to mix and match, letting my creative side invent new varieties and combinations. And here's to celebrating the simple, which happens to be alongside one of my favorite friends.

The goal: slim down our closets to 37 ish staple items (including shoes, but discluding accessories).

The inspiration: Caroline from Un-Fancy & this Capsule Wardrobe guide.

The process:

  1. Identify my lifestyle - What percentage of my time is spent doing what? How do I spend my time? What do I need in order to spend my time accordingly? 
  2. Select my colors - What are my major, minor and accent colors? 
  3. Choose my go-to pieces and then my go-to outfits - What pieces in my closet can I use? What items go together? 
  4. Create a shopping list AND a budget
  5. Finalize my Capsule Wardrobe

I hope this inspires you to simplify life and to take time to define your style, your personal mission and why you do what you do. I'm excited to give it a go and hope to post about the final result!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Slow is Good

I've had to repeat this phrase out loud to myself several times over the past few months. Slow is good. It's actually really good. But to a fast-paced, run till you drop or faint, go getter like me (or so I liked to think), sometimes you have to learn that the hard way. And now I'm not sure I could run any faster even if I wanted to.

Prior to my move to Waco, I knew I was beginning to feel burnt out, yet wasn't sure how to slow down, or if I wanted to. And now my life feels painfully slower than it ever has before. It's almost as if God put on the breaks and now I've settled into a slow and steady rhythm. A rhythm that from the outside looking in looks insignificant. But a rhythm that is doing so much more than what I can see with my eyes.

And it's in this slow rhythm that I'm learning to run long rather than to run fast. 

And now that life is slow, it's opened so much space I didn't know I was missing. It's allowed me to find out what actually refreshes me, to discover rest, to pace myself, and to just be still. For a do-er like myself, it's a discipline to learn to be. To learn to stop thinking. Stop planning what's next and how I'll get there. Stop trying to move forward. Stop moving. And just be.

With summer peaking it's head from around the corner, it's easy to try to fill our calendars with things to do, places to see and people to meet. I do enjoy those things, but this summer I'm going to enjoy being, anticipating the breakthrough that's coming, learning to savor each moment, and celebrate life, even when it's slow. Because slow is good.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

One Word that Changed My Year & Why I Spend Time with God with a Dictionary

One of my favorite things to have close by in my time with God is a dictionary. During my senior year of high school I was given a dictionary for some sort of academic award. At the time I thought it was lame, but now I actually use it quite frequently. What that says about me, I'm not sure. But whenever God speaks something to me, I like to let the meaning of the words really sink in. If you think about it, it's really fascinating to me that God chooses language to communicate with us. 

There's one word in particular whose meaning has really gone deep in me this year: jealousy

Merriam Webster defines "jealousy" as the "state of being jealous; intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness; vigilant in maintaing or guarding something"

Seems easy to understand, right? But this one word has absolutely wrecked me, broken me, and brought me deeper into the presence of God all year long. It seems especially relevant to me in light of tomorrow being Easter.

One morning as I was spending time with God (with dictionary close by of course), I started reading the 10 Commandments in Exodus 34. At the time, I was angry and probably bitter, because it seemed as though most things I loved or wanted were being removed one by one slowly and painfully. As I started reading, I noticed verse 14 which says "you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." He then proceeds with the first commandment, which says "you shall have no other gods before me."

This God, His name is Jealous... what does that mean, I wondered? Then I started thinking about the meaning of jealousy. If God's name is Jealous, then He must be intolerant of any rivalry or unfaithfulness in me and He must be vigilant in maintaining or guarding relationship with me. I paused. And then something powerful rose up in me, as though someone flipped the breaker on in a dark, empty basement. 

If God is Jealous, then He must be unrelenting in pursuing relationship with me, in gaining my affection, and making sure no one or thing can rival Him in my life. It grieves His heart when I start to pursue other things or other people in place of Him. Yet He's kind enough to re-direct me. 

So, on this Easter eve, instead of choosing anger, bitterness or sadness when plans change, loss happens, or things just get taken away, I choose thankfulness. Thankfulness because there's a God who decided to step into my world. Not just once, but over and over and over again. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Celebrate: Lawrence

Two years ago this last week I first moved to Lawrence. I remember pulling up to my new house for the first time. The moment felt pregnant - not knowing what was coming, but knowing whatever was coming was significant. As the months started turning, I realized that God was doing a deep work in me and in the people around me. He had wildly exciting, and at times painfully hard, dreams and purposes for me here. Dreams to experience intimacy with Him like I never had before. To depend on Him more than I ever thought I needed to. To fight to see God like my life depended on it. He knew the best place for me to know Him more. And it was here. 

Over the past few weeks I've been overwhelmed with thankfulness for the time I've spent in Lawrence. I love this city! As I get ready to transition yet again, I wanted to post about my first sweet season in this cutie house. Some of my favorite and deepest encounters with God happened in this house. It truly was a rich season in which I learned how to press into God like I never had before, especially without the presence of community or a local church. I met with God in my cutie little bedroom upstairs as I experienced a little taste of Heaven coming to earth. And that was just the beginning.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Come and Take Your Place

I'm not one to make or really promote New Year's Resolutions, but alas, I find myself inspired. I actually find them ultra cheesy and rarely effective, but this year I feel prompted to make a resolve. To remind myself of why I'm doing what I'm doing, to re-center if you will.

Let me back up. The past few months, or year really, has been the hardest season I've ever had without a doubt. But now that I'm transitioning into a new season, I have been filled with fresh perspective and thankfulness. I'm reminded that because Jesus is so jealous for my heart, for all of me, He is unrelenting in pursuing me. And sometimes that means He's unrelenting in removing things in my life that could potentially take His place. I feel as though almost everything I could have turned to, filled myself with or found identity in has been stripped and removed and shaken. And I'm thankful. He's kindly redirected me to Himself and reminded me that He's all I need and all I want.

It hadn't occurred to me until a few months ago that the "stripping" season had a common theme, one in which I was at the center of my world, getting what I wanted and what I thought I needed. I was unconsciously believing that lie that life is about me. And that lie was costing me a lot more than I knew. Although it took me a while to embrace the "stripping", responding in repentance and brokenness has led me to the feet of Jesus and caused me to experience His mercy like I never have before. I'm learning to believe that true, deep fulfilling life happens when Jesus is at the center.

It seems fitting that this new revelation comes at the beginning of a new year, signifying the start of something new, something fresh, something good.

So this, then, is my New Year's Resolution: To dethrone self, and daily return to and remain at The Center. 

I'm believing that this year would be a year of returning to and remaining at the Center. Although that sounds simple, I believe it's vitally important. This has to be a conscious choice. It requires a willingness to let go of things and hold life with open hands. It requires boldness and deep trust in God. It requires a constant coming before God, asking questions, and letting God move and shape me and the things around me. And it requires believing the truth that Jesus is all I need and knows what is best for my life. It's a risk I believe is worth taking.