// safe zone.

Well I’ve been totally fighting a battle inside of whether or not I was going to actually write and be vulnerable, but here I am, and I’m writing, and I’m going to be vulnerable. 

Flying down to California was something I knew God wanted me to do, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t really spend time praying for the Lord to direct my steps down here before I came. After a Saturday wedding, five day trip to Georgia and a day at home to unpack and repack for this adventure, life sort of distracted me and I just forgot. I was going through the motions of getting here and my whole thought process was, “You can think about it once you’re there. Just get there.” 

And it wasn’t until I was sitting in my teeny window seat on a 30 passenger airplane flying along the California coastline that it hit me like a freight train. You’re going somewhere you’ve never been, to a family you hardly know, a family you’ve never talked to on the phone, to personalities you don’t know, to a toddler and an infant who don’t know me, to a place completely foreign to me. And then I almost started getting sick, partly from the motion of a plane just a smidge bigger than my car, and partly from swallowing the idea of landing in a city and getting picked up by people I didn’t even hardly know but from a quick hello at past photography conferences. 

It took a good few days of me being here and settling in to a new environment for me to realize that I was totally uncomfortable. Not with the family, don’t get me wrong, they’ve blessed me beyond words. But I was totally wrestling with God. All throughout my life, when I’ve encountered something that isn’t comfortable to me or been in a situation that is hard, I do everything I can to lace up my shoes and run away. To get to a place I’m comfortable with, where I’m comfortable being me, be it a home, people, etc. And yesterday morning while I was in the shower (being vulnerable here) I started crying and totally lifted my palms to the Lord. 

I’ve learned so much this week. I came down “thinking” (the little bit I had about it) that I would come away with an expanded mind towards photography. 

AAAAAANND now I’m seeing that I was absolutely completely wrong. Granted, I have learned so much about that, but the whole point is that God wanted to get to my heart this week. In any way possible. And I was pushing Him away by the minute, hour, day, night. I was running away to the point where I actually booked a train ticket two nights ago because I just couldn’t handle being somewhere that wasn’t home, being somewhere that wasn’t my family, being somewhere that God could actually USE me! I just wanted something different from where I was. 

Since I flew into SLO last Tuesday, I was questioning at every cause why God had me here. What His purpose was, etc. I didn’t have clarity and I was so caught up in asking myself all these questions and trying to find the “why” that the CLEAR idea was right in front of me the whole time. That God totally led me here to show me what it means to rest. To give up control, give up plans, give up worries, and lay them at the foot of the cross. To lay down my anxiety, lay down my uncomfortable feelings, and just let the blood of Jesus wash over me and cleanse me. Wash me with a peace and a hope. And God is just uncovering for me (by grace completely!) more and more of what His plan is for me here. For me to BE rather than do, for me to BE used by God RIGHT where I am, not a place where I’m at my most comfortable, but in a place where God deems me most effective for the Kingdom, wherever that might be. 

I’m totally still learning this whole, walk by faith not by sight thing. Because my human nature wants to run from every possible thing that looks frightening or worrisome, from walking a path narrow and unknown. My flesh wants to reside where it’s positively pleasurable, happy, comfortable, and easy. But that’s not the life God calls us to live. God doesn’t call us to settle right where we are and just be comfortable. He calls us out upon the water, where feet may fail.  

I’ve been loving Francis Chan’s books. I mean, I’ve read Crazy Love twice now and every time I totally come away with something so humbling. I caught this particular quote from reading it the second time and it’s been replaying in my mind all week (I just wasn’t wanting to accept it)–

“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” 

Admit it, you think you’re something. But the absolute MINUTE you surrender your thought of you being “something” to becoming absolutely nothing, God moves our hearts. So powerfully you can FEEL it. Being a true servant requires sacrifice, making yourself nothing, being obedient to God no matter what. Because if you’re just walking through life, not doing anything that requires you to WALK and LIVE by faith, you’re living totally lukewarm and totally in the safe zone. 

Another one of Francis Chan’s quotes from his book, “Forgotten God,”–

“Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives were already comfortable?”

 

Think on it <3

I apologize for the babbling and the sentences that might not make sense, but hey, vulnerability is good right?:) 

xoxo,

the girl learning to accept the uncomfortable 

give me an l-o-v-e.

I had a fantastic idea to ride the escalator to the second floor of Barnes and Noble this morning and set up camp in the cafe with my laptop and wrap up some wedding edits so I did just that, all the way up to sitting down with my laptop and getting set up and realizing my computer had less than 20% battery and there wasn’t an outlet to be found in the cafe. All this to avoid the nonstop chaos in the Starbucks across the way and the always increasing hustle and bustle in Peet’s Coffee around the corner.

Never in my life have there been so many coffee shops and so many choices in one place for me to choose from! If I started naming them you’d probably lose track and be like me, choose the logical place that doesn’t even serve coffee–Jamba Juice. I mean, I specifically ordered a medium smoothie this morning and when they called my name I was given a giant smoothie for the same price. Soo. Happy Thursday, right!?

San Luis Obispo is full of so much. So much personality, character, college students, homeless men with shopping carts and ripped up cardboard reading, “Jesus Saves”, women wearing heels all too uncomfortable to even look at and hear “click-clacking” down the sidewalk, (I like my TOMs, thank you), wilty palm trees, too many Starbucks to count on both hands, and enough cliche souvenir shops for a city like this.

None the less, I am soaking up every tiny detail of this little city because it has so much LIFE. Tonight I’m going to the all too famous farmer’s market and I’m hoping it really is as good as people say ;) The people here are so interesting. I’m currently still sitting in the upstairs of Barnes and Noble and three other people have made their way to the tiny tables next to me to sit down with their half full “Barnes and Noble Cafe” (proudly serving Starbucks) cups of joe and crinkled newspapers.

For your imagination, the particular spot where I’m sitting, which I chose strategically, I might add, overlooks a California Pizza Kitchen, a Starbucks, and local pizza joint. There’s a nice gentleman sitting in a chair outside the Starbucks with an oversized, all too big for his head sun hat with a basket of notecards, a fresh, never unfolded newspaper and a bright red shirt on, with worn denim shorts. He’s been trying to untangle the same set of earbuds since I sat down.

30 second pause.

Oh wait, they’re untangled now. Perfect. I’m trying to figure out of he’s more of the Beatles type of guy or perhaps the guy who just wants to check the stocks on his iPhone and have earbuds to hear the occasional advertisement that pops up. I’ll never know.

You know, the greatest thing I’ve been trying to engrain in my mind is to be quick to listen rather than quick to speak. Quick to learn rather than quick to judge. Quick to love rather than quick to hate. Quick to respond (when necessary) rather than quick to react.

Last week I had the complete honor of listening to the ever-gifted Bob Goff (author of the book Love Does) and for real, I’ve never in my life listened to someone so full of personality. After a full 60 minutes listening to his wisdom and letting it filter around my swirling mind, I came out of it with the greatest challenge.

To love like Jesus does. To listen to those around me and sit in wonder and even seek to ask their story. You never know who you might be Jesus to, or share the Gospel with. I mean, I would LOVE to know the story behind the aging gentleman sitting near me with a salmon colored button up on, a vivid orange and navy hat with the familiar Nike swoosh on it, and fantastic man-clogs on. (I don’t know the name of them, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.) He’s been reading an obviously intense book, but he’s holding it so awkwardly I just can’t quite make out the title.

But REALLY! Before walking down the street and thinking to yourself, “Gosh I better stay close to this side because those guys look a little questionable”, know they were created by the same God who created YOU! When you continually remind yourself of that, before humanly thinking to yourself, “They’re nothing like me” (I do it too), know that sure, they might not have the same lifestyle as you, but they SURE can have the same hope you do. YOU have the opportunity to share that, to offer that priceless knowledge and gift.

Don’t let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass you by, when you could miss out on the greatest blessing–bringing just ONE more person to the heavenly home you will share together. What a gift that could be!

I’ll write more later, but for real, this whole 6% battery life is making my heart rate rise. Gotta find an outlet!

xoxo,

the girl encouraging you to be a Jesus-be-er and Gospel-liver.

>> it’s not going to be turbulent free.

I thought about starting an entirely new blog to blog about all of my new life happenings and whatnot, but then I realized quickly that this blog has been my outlet for so long, so it’s going to stay, at least for a little while longer.

I humbly apologize for not writing sooner, it’s been far too long. Occasionally I have an “ah-ha” moment and I’ll start a draft, but then it never gets published because I usually second guess myself. I’ll keep the number of drafts in my post log to myself haha.

 

That said, wow. It’s October and life is just really flying by (no pun intended). I’m sitting in the Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle in their main terminal. If you’ve been here, you know what I’m talking about. The huge glass windows that make you feel like you’re in a Disneyland ride as you watch the planes take off right before your eyes, and the rows of rocking chairs that are all aligned perfectly with slightly worn coffee tables as a partner. As I watch every plane back out of its terminal and another take its place, I’m reminded that God doesn’t expect us to live life stagnant. He doesn’t call us to be in one place, waiting for Him to simply take your hand and take you somewhere. Some of you might read that and be like, “Wow she’s a real kook.” But I mean it! God calls us to knock down doors sometimes. He’ll lead and His will be done, but sometimes you have to be bold and take that huge leap WAAAAAY out of your comfort zone in order to fully saturate yourself with the truth that God can’t use you if you’re not willing.

 

So, some of you might be wondering what I’m doing sitting in one of those cracked oak (I’m not an expert with lumber but it looks like it) rocking chairs. And truth be told, I have three folded boarding passes all signifying a one way ticket to a place I’ve never been. Not heaven. (I mean, that’ll come soon though too). With a one way ticket to San Luis Obispo, California, I take a huge deep breath (full of nerves I might add), and KNOW with my whole heart that I’m jumping into a path unknown to me.  Mike Larson and his wife Rachel have completely blessed me with the total honor of living with them.

 

I never really fully knew (and still don’t know) what this year would hold. I’ve really taken it as it has come and totally lifted my hands to God and said, “use  me however you will.” Every single day, in my doubts and anxiety and worry and fear of the unknown, I whisper the words, “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.”  Life’s not about living in the safety of our own personal nets and bubbles. IF we did that, we would be totally MISSING out on the greatest adventure of all time, letting God lead! I say that out of a fear of the unknown, but God calls us out upon the water.

 

Since I’ve sat down with my brown fuzzy blanket that I take EVERYWHERE with me and my jack-o-lantern orange carry on bag (I’m all about visibility),  lines of more and more planes, Delta, Korean Air Cargo, Virgin America have lined up along the runway waiting their turn to take off.

You and I are just like those planes. Sometimes God calls us to wait a little while before He leads us to the runway to take off to where He calls us to next. That time of waiting is so unnerving. Of not knowing what’s next. And then when our little single engine two seater plane hits the empty runway, powered up to lift upward into the lingering early morning fog, we know. We know the unknown. And the unknown can be weary, it can be lonely, it can be scary, and we can waste minute after minute worrying about it. The other day, in between my unpacking and repacking and worry and doubts, I read a simple quote, “Anxiety doesn’t drain tomorrow of its troubles…but rather, drains today of its strengths.”

Sometimes, ok, all the time, I’m an over analyzer and spend more time over thinking than I do praying. And lifting off from my little comfort zone, small town soul, I’m absolutely free. Yesterday, spending my last day in Washington for awhile, I did just that. My most favorite way to “clear my head” and get away is to be on top of the world. I love to be up above the world and watch life whistle by below me. I went to the tippy top of a mountain so I could stand on a rickety picnic table made of giant logs and outstretch my arms to breathe in the crystal clear, crisp air and say, “Let’s fly.” All too soon that moment washed away and now here I am, watching plans fly before my eyes and I sit waiting, waiting for my turn.

 

Life’s an adventure. And every day I pray that I would ingest the present before looking forward to the next course. That I would enjoy the here and now before wondering what tomorrow brings. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” What a gift. Before our very first breath, He knew this moment right here, would come. He prepared me for this place. He prepared you for the conversations you’ll have today, for the encounters and adventures today holds, He has been preparing you.

 

Earlier this year, I received the news that a very dear friend and teacher of mine who first believed in me and my photography and design before I even knew I loved it, had brain cancer. It was the most devastating, head shaking, heart doubting news I’ve had to swallow. To know that a man who invested time, sweet, precious time in ME, was dying, just wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t. I could swallow the idea of God taking someone from this  life who was SO influential and so effective for the Kingdom. I just simple didn’t understand and couldn’t. And the days wore on and I attended class and it was another day he wasn’t there. I sat and waited for Mr. Z to walk back through the doors with his prized jar of Almond Roca and tell us stories of how many times he had watched the Matrix and could quote every scene. But that day never came. And this summer, I got the call that He had RUN into the Kingdom with open arms. The tears flowed for so long and even still I don’t think I’ve really accepted that he’s not walking here on earth every day. I just haven’t seen him in awhile, so I just have it in my mind he’s still driving his navy blue Volvo around town with his earbuds in listening to Florence and the Machine. But he’s not. He’s totally dancing with Jesus. About two weeks before I got the news he was sick, he called me into his small but neatly organized office and sat us down. First he described to me why Almond Roca was his favorite and he never shared it with anyone, and then I remember him looking out his window and saying, “No matter what happens in life, keep your eyes fixed on the great Artist and whatever you do, worship Him.” And then without batting an eye, he pulled out an Olympus film camera in a fitted leather case with a worn manual and said, “I want you to make this camera sing.” And in the moment, I didn’t know he was sick, but that was the very last day I saw him. And that was the sweetest gift I could have ever received. To know he believed in me, he encouraged me, he told me to always look to Jesus. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about him and the incredible gift he was.

Every day we were with him he reminded me that I was chosen. And on the day of his service, his favorite verse appeared on the screen, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may DECLARE the praises of him who CALLED you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” // 1 peter 2:9-10

 

That verse holds the greatest truth, that we have not only been CHOSEN by God, but we are ROYAL with Him. And not only that, Christ declares us SPECIAL, and then he CALLS us to step out of darkness and embrace His marvelous light.

 

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be one of the toughest steps you make. Once you do it, and fully surrender to knowing there isn’t a step you will make in your worn tennis shoes where He won’t be holding your hand. There won’t be a blink of an eye where He’s not watching over you. There won’t be a swallow of food where He won’t continue to nourish you with the greatest enrichment. There won’t be a breath you take where He’s not refilling your lungs with truth.

As you step into today, this crisp Tuesday morning, a balmy, foggy 37 degrees, I encourage you to jump. And not just jump, but outstretch you arms and fly. You never know until you try. (That rhymed, unintentional.)

Let him lead you completely into the unknown, so you can get above the fog and see that crystal clear picture of who God is, the every-morning-new-mercy sunrise. He doesn’t promise a turbulent free flight, but He does promise a perfect landing in His holy presence.

 

xoxo,

the writer who used to live in a box. ;)

all other ground is sinking sand.

7:22pm.

I’m just sitting on a slightly uncomfortable worn-from-too-many-people black stool surrounded by a pile of books. Books of all different colors, shapes, and sizes, filled with different amounts of knowledge and information. I have a problem of having too many glasses filled with various beverages at random times, but tonight I just have a half-full plastic cup of water and a nearly-empty glass of pineapple, apple, lime, spinach juice that I whipped up earlier. Now it’s just a glass of green foam that’s in desperate need of washing. Oh, and I also have a half-eaten bowl of warm quinoa with cilantro, pepper and feta.

I sound like I have a garden around me. Nah. Just delicious food that I proceed to make for myself when I’m home alone…like I am now. And when I’m home alone, my greatest enjoyment is being in the kitchen with an open laptop with music playing, cookbooks everywhere and pots and pants perched next to the sink, air-drying. And tonight I ventured into the world of starting to make overnight slow cooker oatmeal. I just hit the start button and I can’t wait for tomorrow morning. Usually I can’t stand breakfast food, but when I know I can wake up and exercise, read my bible, juice some good-for-me greens and indulge in a bowl of steel cut oats that have marinated in cinnamon and apples for hours, my heart leaps to cloud twelve. (probably doesn’t exist, but let’s pretend it’s somewhere between this dimension and the dimension of heaven).

 

It’s been um…let’s just say too many months since I’ve taken time to actually write. So let me fill you in a bit.

For those of you who keep up regularly, you know that I have Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy. For those who don’t, well, now you know. It’s a nerve disorder that has resulted in forever-paralysis of six of my toes and has led to temporary paralysis of my legs. Imagine fire-burning needles being stabbed into your legs constantly…and not just into your legs, but into your feet and toes and nerve endings. It’s the most nasty pain I can describe. THAT said, I’ve been doing SO well in the last year. Well..until two weeks ago.

Funny thing is, during some alone time a little over two weeks ago I started thinking about the last two years and where God has brought me and what He has led me through. I was so amazed by His grace in my life and His protection in bringing me through some of the toughest, loneliest battles. And two weeks ago today, I happened to pull a dishwasher drawer straight over my toe. To some this might not seem like that big of a deal, but my toenail ripped off…root and all, and my RND came back immediately. Past memories and pain just flooded my mind and my body. It was amazing…watching my body react to such a silly injury. And it reminded me SO clearly of God’s power. His power can flood the smallest of situations and make them GREAT.

My legs turned purple, I sat in the same chairs at the doctor’s office that were so familiar to me several years ago. Needless to say, the last two weeks have been so incredibly painful but so incredibly reminding of His presence in my life. Some people might just react in anger, but for me, it was one of those, “fall-to-the-floor-my-God-is-greater” experiences. It was just like a smack in the face. I started taking for granted the things that I used to LONG for.

I used to DREAM about walking into a store and buying the cute shoes, or sleeping with the coziest sheets over my legs, or eating foods that didn’t make my pain worse. And because of God’s miraculous healing and my faithfulness in taking steps to re-train my body to walk and strengthen my legs, my pain went from a constant 9.5 to a 2. I was doing so well. My pain was nearly gone, I was only having the occasional twinges of pain down my legs, like daily reminders of what God has brought me through. I could sleep with sheets and wear cute boots and go for hikes without wanting to cry from the pain. What a privilege to do such minimal things!

And then two weeks ago, the pain of two years ago hit me like it had never gone away. My body started reacting. So, without hesitation, I did what I did two years ago. I thanked Jesus. I thanked Him for the powerful reminders of His grace. I thanked Him for equipping me and for blessing me with an invisible illness. I wouldn’t pray for it upon anyone else, because it’s lonely, it’s so incredibly painful, and it’s so tough for people to “get-it”. But I could stand in front of three thousand people and say that it is the greatest thing that has EVER happened to me. It’s humbled me in ways I never knew possible. It’s led me to comfort and empathize with those who have pain. And it’s made me SO incredibly thankful.

But like I said, my human nature started taking for granted the simple things…because, well, most people do. But the last two weeks have been the GREATEST and the most painful. I’ve learned that there is NOTHING in life that should be taken for granted, because it can be stripped away as quickly as a toenail by a dishwasher drawer. (ok, probably not the best comparison.)

I encourage you to take ANY and every battle and trial you face as a blessing. Sure, it might be a blessing in disguise. But there is NOTHING that God does NOT work together for good for those who love Him! I’ve been so humbled and so aware of that like never before.

He is above ALL things. Problems, pain, and trials of this world. And when we choose to be on His side, we can rise above those situations that want so badly to drag us down. Living in the light of His presence with a heavenly calling is what He wants of us! When we feel like we’re trapped in sinking sand, we can be reminded that our HOPE is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and RIGHTEOUSNESS.

For He knows our weaknesses, He knows what we are tempted by, He knows where are failures are, but He NEVER fails to forgive, redeem, protect, and encourage. What an honor it is to serve a mighty King who first saved us, and equips us with EVERY necessary tool for fighting the battles of this world.

“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: Whoever believes will not be in haste.”

Be encouraged!

(for the record, it’s now 8:03pm and my quinoa is still half-eaten) ;)

ebony to ivory.

Roofs line the streets like dashes and dots make a morse code. Each roof a different shade of gray or brown, little chimneys on some, large chimneys on others. At the end of each street sits a curb, usually a stop sign, and often times a homeowner out for a regular stroll.

How many times do you pass by this and consider it a regular sight? What if that suddenly changed? What if the morning paper didn’t show up on your doorstep, what if the grass in your yard changed from green to yellow? What if you were buried under the the weight of the world? What if the trees that  create privacy in your yard suddenly crashed down, revealing everything? What if all the walls that you built up around your heart suddenly crashed down, revealing every emotion, every scratch, every scrape, every burn, every tear, every cry, and every fear?

What if?

I sit here looking out the window, looking at the smoke marinated valley, smelling the ash-heavy air combined with the leftover scent of oatmeal cooked earlier, sipping a semi-warm mug of steeped-too-long peach tea. And I see roofs. Many roofs. All different colors, different shades of gray and brown, but past those roofs is nothing but a white wall of smoke.

Fires are filling the valley with smoke, burning up everything in their sight. Bushes, those pokey sagebrush “trees”, giant evergreens, pinecones, everything that had landscaped the mountains. Now, nothing but a sheet of dark, ash covered blackness blankets the ground. All that was green is now a bitter shade of ebony. And it smells, oh how terrible it smells. Sometimes the smell of a campfire smells comforting, inviting and warm. But when that campfire grows into a bonfire, and a bonfire into a chaotic mess of vibrant flames and spiraling embers, the smell of smoke is nothing but a hinderance.

I think a lot of people are mad at these fires, curious as to why they’re still out of control, scared about the safety of their homes, their communities, their lungs. But me? I’m aware. I’m thankful. I see nothing but white in front of me and I’m reminded of how God takes all that is sinful, all that is impure, all that is rotting our hearts and  He burns it up, He sets fire to the sin, and burns it clean, leaving nothing but a white trail of cleanliness behind. These fires are nothing but a symbol of His power, of His saving grace, His power to take our sin, and take its blackness and make it white. White as snow. White as smoke.

We all struggle to be freed, freed from the strain of sin, the strain of impurity, and He’s right there to FREE us from that struggle. Taking all that weighs our hearts and carrying our burdens so we don’t have to. What a privilege it is to serve such a mighty, selfless God who TAKES from US all that we deserve, and gives us ALL that we DON’T deserve. Grace. A second chance. Life. Breathing lungs. Freedom. Forgiveness.

He’s our beloved. Our Lover, we’re His. Us, He died for. For better or worse, forever we’ll be, His love binds us to Him.

I’m filled with a burning desire, a passion to show this world that there is a life that will never die. I desire to show people HOW to reach Him, how to REACH the life that never dies. My tempted heart just wants to come alive and let Him burn inside. This dirty world, the dark roads, the black mountains, the lost people, oh how transformed they could be if they could just see the light.

If they could see that darkness can be replaced, and the darkness can be PUT OUT by the light. The ultimate light of the world.

So this is my prayer:

May I be a lantern to this dark world,

be a living example of Your love. Burn inside my heart, take away my weary soul and give me a fire to light this world with your love. Because there’s nothing here in this world that will satisfy but Your love. Let me reach the lost through you, speak through me, and take this city to a place where it will never die.

I’m in awe. In awe that He has chosen ME. He died for ME. Not because I asked Him to, not because I deserve it, but because He chose to replace the death I deserved with the chance to live a life, purposeful for Him, only to bring Him praise.

Only grace has brought me to this place I’m at. Filled with joy, excited and renewed. In awe that He’s taken that which was ebony, and made it ivory.

Change.

Change.

I mean, I hand out plenty of it every day. The typical $2.35 change that one gets after spending $2.65 on a venti Iced Green Tea, shaken, with no water and no syrup. That is, if they pay with a five dollar bill.

Or the common customer who, thinks that it benefits the employee when they pay entirely IN change. “Why yes, didn’t you know I absolutely LOVE counting out $6.92 in quarters and dimes and Canadian change!?”

I mean really?

But then again, there are different kinds of change. Not just the rusted dimes and pennies that hold the faces of past presidents. There is change in the weather, from the drastic thunderstorms that leave their mark through lightning strikes that lead to fire, to the drought-creating triple digit temperatures that send everyone dashing to the lake for a release from the prison of heat. And then there is change in attitude, from a smiling face to a face of tears in a matter of minutes. There is change everywhere. As we grow, our hair changes colors, our faces age with sun spots or blemishes, creases from years of hard work.

But really, when you think about change, do you really wrap your mind around the fact that YOU, you, encounter some sort of change every DAY of your life?

Whether it’s changing from a hot cappuccino to an iced cappuccino with topped with a shower of cinnamon, or whether it’s changing from white socks to black socks. Maybe it’s changing the route you drive to work, changing the sheets on the bed, changing from Special K cereal for breakfast to shredded wheat with sliced bananas on top. Maybe it’s changing jobs, maybe it’s changing your clothes, maybe it’s changing lifestyles, maybe it’s the change you undergo if you learn you’ve lost someone you love. Or possibly, it’s the change from glasses to contacts, a Blackberry to an iPhone, Tillamook Ice Cream to Ben & Jerrys.

Whatever it might be, we’re all undergoing change. Every day, every hour, and every minute. Every minute we live is a minute we lose. Sixty seconds that we will never again be able to relive. I’m sitting here writing that these words I can never take back once they’re written. Because they’ve been typed by my very hands that are stained from coffee and raspberry syrup.

Really, change is bound to happen. No matter what. The only question is “how?” How are you going to face change? Will you be the one armored in clothes made of steel? Will you let your house built upon sand crumble from the crashing waves of change, or will you stand above and rise against change, be it easy or hard, with a house built upon the rocks?

I caught myself tonight being super, and I mean super crazy in thought about all that I’ve learned and grown from in the last six weeks of my life. I mean, it might not seem like a big deal to y’all, but I’ve changed a lot in the last six weeks. I’ve learned more about myself than I knew existed. So just because I’m feeling extra real tonight, I’m just going to really tell you all that I’ve learned, and changed from lately.

Most of you probably know that I was nannying for several weeks full time in Seattle with my pastor’s family while the wife was back and forth from the hospital before giving birth to Gideon, baby Gideon. The warrior baby. The baby who God has His hand upon. For those of you who don’t know, you can catch the whole story on I think..my previous post. I hope :)

When I returned from nannying, and while I was nannying, God was doing an extravagant work in my head, teaching me so much about how my life is not mine. It’s entirely HIS to live through me. You know what I’m saying..?

Well, that was April. May came and went, and so the rain, just like the little poems say..except wait, isn’t it April that has the showers?

And then “hey!” there was June. Just like that. 2012 was already six months in. And I had to catch my breath on that first day of the sixth month. And I shook my head and said, “Wow. Look where God has led me.” June led me to get an incredible job at Starbucks, photograph multiple weddings with my momma through our photography business, Lifesong Photography, work..a lot, finish school, get a license (you see, there’s REASON behind that one ;)), and a whole bunch of other stuff that you’d probably be bored with.

 

And then there it was. July 1st. The seventh month. Like. what. the heck. Where has this year gone?

But let me just pause. And let’s talk about work. Starbucks.

Like, I had the mindset going into this job that I would be “super pro” if I had a job working at Starbucks. Like right? Working at ONE store out of the catrillion Starbucks branches that exist throughout the world. Yeah. Like I’d REALLY be a big deal. Whatever. I thought so. ..stupid that was. I was hired at the Chelan Starbucks in, you guessed it, Chelan, Washington. One of the busiest stories in the state of Washington. Was I crazy? No. Was God totally smiling? Yes. Because He knew, and knows how much my heart needed and continues to need humbling.

Honestly, those first two weeks of work were awful. I’d get complements, then I’d wonder if I was even cut out to remember the recipes for like twelve dozen drinks. I messed up orders, made iced drinks hot, brewed the wrong pots of coffee, dropped pastries, had whip cream explode all over me, you name it. And those first two weeks, I drug myself down about EVERY little thing I did wrong. And finally, God just said, “When are you going to learn? When are you going to realize that I’m trying to TRAIN you and TEACH you!” And that was when I realized, wow. I’m not the teachable person I thought I was. AT ALL. I needed so much humbling. I still do.

Now, I’m the type of person who has the personality and mindset that if things aren’t getting done, I’ll step in and get them done. Because I want my customers happy you know? I don’t want my customers waiting fourteen minutes for a mocha. Like..that’s enough time to run two miles. And about two weeks into work, I realized that I can’t do everything. I wish I could. Sure, sometimse I think I probably could, but then again, don’t we all at some point? And I realized that all God requires of me is to accomplish what He has put before me, and complete it well. And then He will provide more in His given timing. So I stepped back. And I realized that I was the newbie who needed more than a bib. I needed a whole dang apron to keep me from becoming a hot mess. And I realized that I’m just one tiny seashell in a world full of thousands of beaches FULL of seashells. But still, God cares about ME. And He cares SO much that He is teaching ME. Teaching me so much about who I am, why I am where I am, why I’m brunette and not blonde, why I like green tea instead of coffee, why I prefer stripes to polka dots, why I prefer smiling to frowning, why I only listen to country music when it’s blazing hot outside, etc. He’s teaching me. Teaching me that this job, isn’t a job to put money in the bank. It’s a job, full of tasks that are entirely full of learning. And that..is change.

And let me just say, because I realized He’s been teaching me so much, and I’ve been learning soo much, I’ve been blessed a thousand fold in return. With the smiling faces of happy customers, co-workers who have become friends, the laughing that takes place when all we want to do is roll our eyes and say, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

 

So, that’s it. Simple as that. He’s teaching me. And on top of that, He’s teaching me that no matter where I am, no matter how deep, how strong, or how wide the current might be, healing is ALWAYS in His hands. I’m blessed. Blessed beyond measure with infinite grace. He’s made us more than conquerors through His love. How incredibly undeserving are we then?

 

“Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed.”

your gentleness has made me great, your right hand supported me.

Differences.

Similarities.

Mistakes.

Accomplishments.

..opposites.

Lately all I’ve been seeing are opposites. Serious. I’ll see a grand accomplishment, then I’ll turn around and see a mistake. I’ll have people come up to me and tell me things I don’t want to hear, but things that I need to be told. Raise your hand if that’s happened to you ;)

I don’t even really have a basis for what I’m writing about, but all I know is I have WAY too many thoughts in my head. Too many thoughts in my head, that can’t exactly STAY in my head. And when that happens, I spill them on paper. I write them out so they make more sense.

Have you ever wondered if YOU, yourself, and YOU alone are making, or can make a difference in someone’s life? Have you ever really thought that YOU can have an influence in someone’s life?

When you really think about it, you absolutely can. The words you say, the attitude you have, the way you carry yourself, whether positively or negatively, can influence soo many people.

I’m sorry, but I’m just going to be honest for a minute. Bear with me, okay? I think it was Gandhi who said something like, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Right?

Well, I’m sorry to say that I really, really don’t like that quote. I just don’t. Not really for any HUGE reason, but okay, maybe.

I’m a person who believes strongly that we were ALL created uniquely. I believe we were all created individually, fearfully, wonderfully, and for a specific purpose. I believe He has called EACH of us to be not only ambassadors, but disciples. I believe He has called us to be on mission for the Kingdom. And I believe that through His work in our lives, we can disciple and BRING more to praise and know His great name. Um. How cool is that?

To know that through Him, WE have that opportunity.

YOU.

You. You’re one person. If your name is Hannah, God didn’t call you to be a Sarah. He didn’t call you to be a Heather. He called YOU to be Hannah. And if your name is Ashley, He didn’t create you to be Rebecca. He called YOU to be Ashley. And if your name is Lauren, He didn’t call you to be Katie. He called you to be Lauren.

To hear that is one thing, but to believe that He  created YOU, fearfully and wonderfully, uniquely and individually, is another. He calls each of us to a different role. To have a different name. And He created each of us to have blue eyes or brown eyes, blonde hair or brown hair. He created some of us short, and some of us tall.

I know I probably sound like a children’s book author, but sometimes the simpler, the better. Sometimes words just need to be simplified to be absorbed and understood clearly.

But really, you are YOU. And He wants to use YOU.

How often have you doubted yourself. Thought you weren’t smart enough, good enough, pretty enough, capable enough, etc.?

How often have you looked yourself in the mirror and thought to yourself, “If only I was ____, THEN I would be ____.”

Because that’s what the world wants you to do. The world wants you to think you’re not good enough. And do you know who is fighting for control of this world, society, and YOU? The devil. All he ever craves is negativity, sin, temptation, and darkness.

All he wants to see is you fail. He wants to see you fall down, think you’re not good enough, and look yourself in the mirror and think, “If I was ____, then I would be _____.”

He wants to see lights burn out, rather than stay lit forever. And he’s fighting every day for you to give in to that temptation, that sin, and that evil.

But hello. Can I please introduce you to the most fabulous, amazing, wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace? Can I introduce you to a King who became a man, came to Earth, and saved us all from a death we deserved. He has stayed the same through all the Ages. His love has never changed, never failed, and never fallen short. He wants the exact OPPOSITE of what Satan wants of you. This mighty King wants to see you rise above the valleys you’ll fall into. He wants to see you look yourself in the mirror and say, “I am His, and I am ME. I’m beautiful to Him. I’m wonderful to Him. And I am capable through Him.”

This King, this Savior, and this Counselor is not just my Jesus. He is YOURS too. He wants YOU to know that even when there is pain in the night, joy comes in the morning.

Nothing. No height nor depth can separate us from His love. His love never fails. He knows we make mistakes, but He displays NEW mercy every day.

And this mighty King? He no doubt has a PLAN for you. A plan for you. If your name is Sarah, He doesn’t have Rachel’s plan for you. He has a plan for you. A purpose for you. And He has written your name on the palms of His hands. Because He wants to USE you. He wants to USE you in mighty ways for His Kingdom. And He is fighting every day for you. Every battle you face is a battle that He has faced too. Every bit of pain you endure, He has endured even greater. Every fight you undergo, He has fought too. Every sleepless night you’ve had, He has too. Because He never sleeps, never gives up, never stops fighting, never stops carrying, never stops loving, forgiving, and saving. And, He works EVERYTHING together for OUR good. Even the sucky things you have to go through, He works them for YOUR good.

Therefore.

He can use YOU. Because He not only has created you fearfully and wonderfully, He has created you to be strong, equipped to fight the battles you will face. He has equipped you to be a lantern in the midst of darkness. He has created YOU to light up the dark with His love. And He has created you to be unique. Unlike any other, talented and special, beautiful and wonderful, smart and funny. And He has created you to influence SO many people through His grace and power.

He created you to be different so people would see a difference in you, and see that that difference is because of Him. Like whoa.

Sometimes, the truth needs to be said in simplicity. And that’s all He wants. His Word sometimes never makes sense to us because we just can’t grasp how simple some of it is. It’s just story after story of His grace and forgiveness. Story after story that includes details that we all fight today. In the 21st century. There is absolutely NOTHING that happened yesterday, today, and will happen tomorrow that He hasn’t experienced Himself. How comforting is it to know that every battle we face, He knows exactly what it is like. He knows what it feels like to hurt. He knows what it’s like to bear another’s burden. For crying out loud, He bore the burden of ALL OUR sins. Um. How undeserving of His grace does that make us? Absolutely.

So every thought you have, every burden on your heart, every fear you hold, every insecurity you have, YOU can lay them down at His feet and trust that He will carry you. Because He is fighting for YOU not because He has to, but because He loves you.

“He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.”

So why can’t we offer up our lives as living sacrifices to Him, for Him to reign in us?