Expectation Surprise

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Expectation Surprise.

It’s kind of an oxymoron, if you think about it.

If I am expecting it to come then why am I surprised when it arrives?

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If a woman is pregnant and expecting a baby she wouldn’t be surprised when she goes through delivery and a baby is produced. She has been through months and months of preparation for that moment. She expects it.

I have intentionally spent my twenties (so far) with great abandon to what I thought would be my story – serving others, and knowing that what He could do through me is far greater than I could ever do through myself.  And right now, today, in the areas where I see His plan taking shape, I feel totally shocked and utterly undeservingly amazed that it’s happening.

I pray for it.

I prepare.

I hustle.

I sow.

I wait.

Knowing that His word says it is mine.

I expect it.

And yet, I’m shocked when it’s there.

I guess that is the essence of developing our faith. Deciding to KNOW that no matter how long it takes, or what the seasons hold, God is faithful to His word.

and there is no surprise in that. Only patience.

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Learning How To Live, Love and Pursue Happiness: Letter To My Younger Self

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I couldn’t be more grateful for all that life has taught, and boy has there been some lessons. At 26, I’m basically a grandmother of twenty somethings, and although 30-something year old Hope will teach me a thing or two today, I think I have some pretty good hindsight advice for the girl who lived a decade before me. If I could go back in time and give myself just a few of the many life lessons that I desperately needed (or to anyone who may catch a glimpse of this), they would be something along the lines of said letter, below.

Oh, dear and sweet crazy younger me:

You are incredible. Truly. I know your world is crazy and intense and consistently spinning off its axis at any moment, however, hold tight – there is so much ahead of you, and so many things that I know will make it easier. The good thing is that you’re a good listener. You take advice and you soak it in and you’re eager for someone to show you what the right way is. However, if there is anything I can share with you from this end of our life it would be the following (in a nutshell, of course):

  1. FIRST AND FOREMOST – You are worthy. Of respect. Of love. Of confidence. Live that way, and be selective. Even if only because you can, not because you think it’ll keep them chasing you. The guy who is showing you a little attention right now… girl, grody. You’ll be over it soon enough but really and truly, just trust me when I say it doesn’t end good and it is sooooo not worth it. Do yourself a favor and walk away now. You won’t even remember his name later in life, and when you do you’ll throw up in your mouth a little bit.
  1. IT IS SO NOT THAT DEEP. Just take it down a notch with all that unnecessary anxiety over your future. I know it is so unknown and so scary and so ‘what if’, but all of that pressure that you put on yourself to achieve perfection is not only impossible, but also really exhausting. I won’t say that it’ll get easier with all the unknowns, Cus well, ask me now if I’m good at it… but I will say that you will get better at trusting that God knows what He’s doing. Promise.

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  1. THIS IS A TWO PARTER… Your whole entire being revolves around the inner workings of your small town, upcoming sporting events, friend circle drama, and weekend plans. Live in that season. Don’t rush it. Even next year, when you’re ready to throw it to the wind and get to college… enjoy being a teenager and not having the responsibility of an adult. Trust me – it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. You don’t need to know all the details of everything you’re doing in your entire life right this second. When you go to Europe – soak it in. When you travel with your family – be present. When you run around TP-ing the neighborhood – be better at not getting caught.

HOWEVER, although your whole entire being revolves around you right now… I know it’s hard to believe but you will barely even remember those tiny little details of high school that are stressing you out to the max right now. Not because HS isn’t great but because everything else is that much better. The world is so much bigger than your little town. Just you wait. And when you get to that season… soak it in, too. It’s gonna be awesome. So do me a favor – stop rushing away your life and relax.

  1. BE AWARE OF OTHERS. Always. I know sometimes you’re scared of rejection so you act all super cool, but here is a secret for you: You’re all insecure, you’re all nervous, you’re all trying to find your way. Eventually you’re all gonna look at each other’s lives and realize you’re the same. So look at those people now and embrace your likeness and differences. It’ll make it all so much better.
  1. FORGIVE QUICKLY. There are so many things that I know suck. They aren’t fair and you have no control over them. And you know what, over the next 10 years there will be some even worse hurt and pain, and you won’t be able to control that either. People are people and they will always make mistakes. But let me help you with something – keeping it inside for the next 10 years is gonna make for a real heavy clean up. Which brings me to the next one…

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  1. LEARN TO CRY. Girrrllll – Learn. To. Cry. Don’t ALWAYS guard. It will help you process life’s hard moments. Process them and then walk away. Again with the cleanup. I know you’re getting good at being the strong one, but dang girl, it gets heavy in there. And then when you finally break down you ugly cry for like a bunch of hours and then your face is all red and puffy, and well that’s just not a good look on anyone. And it’s unnecessary.

In the end, it’s rare that you won’t know what the right thing to do is. The challenge will be – having the courage to do it. So stay honest (at least you’re getting something right), and make the hard choices. They pay off. Oh ya, and all those crazy midnight shenanigans that you and your best friend swear to take to the grave with you… keep ‘em up – they will provide you with great laughter long into your future.

Be Scared and Do It Anyway

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I don’t know how many times I have reminded myself in the midst of a terrifying or chaotic moment that courage isn’t being unafraid, however, it is being scared and choosing to do it anyway.

courage isn’t being unafraid, however, it is being scared and choosing to do it anyway.

Being on the “hump” of my 20’s and seeing all the changes and seasons that are ahead, courage is the consistent prayer that I pray on a daily basis because it’s terrifying and vulnerable to know that it could all just go wrong, and yet reaching for it anyway. It seems second nature to be courageous in a dangerous situation or on behalf of someone else, however, a necessary sacrificial effort to make the intentional decision for my own heart and for my own life and for my own future.

Today is just a small reminder (to you and to myself) that courage doesn’t come from strength – it comes from the boldness of knowing who created you and for what purpose, and not losing sight of that in every season. Whether you realize it or not, within that purpose lies a great deal of strength to face any and every challenge and choice that could ever be in your path. Continue to keep reaching for more… even when you’re scared.

Free Life Chapel: Intentionally Spiritual

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Is it an oxymoron for a church staff to make an effort to pray together on purpose? Well, we are.

It sounds contradictory to your perception, right? Hate to burst your bubble but praying together is not on our weekly office priority list from Tuesday-Friday… we work, and lots of it.

However, this week at Free Life, we are going intentionally spiritual – as a staff and personally – to remember the why: why we are each here, and why we are here serving this city for the purpose of Christ. We’re starting our work day off as a group, praying with each other and over each other, and discussing the why of what we do here each week.

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It has been exceptionally necessary for me, as I have recently forgotten, and remembered again, why I am here instead of somewhere else. Somewhere that may seem more enticing, more fun, easier, more perks, and in turn more distracting. I know this season is strategic, as was the one prior to that, and the one prior to that. Foundational. I know that God is, as always, trying to speak to my heart about something. The problem is when my heart becomes so heavy with other things that I cannot hear him. It’s seriously the worst… like trying to run in thick fog.

Yes, exactly, can’t breathe.

When I was in Haiti I would think sometimes that if I could just get a moment in an American church, with English worship songs, then I could certainly more easily connect with Jesus. Now I find myself, not only in America, but on staff at an incredible church – yes, on staff, which is like as much in an American church as you can get – and I find it so distracting at moments that it all just translates as chaos in my head .

However, I have heard the contrary from others before – feeling like if they could just go out into the mission field, do something seemingly more tangible, then certainly their passion for Christ would truly be ignited. To you, dear person who thinks that, let me help you with something – it won’t. You will just be hot and irritated, on top of all the stuff you arrived with. Not a good combination – trust me, I’ve seen it.

All in all, the ‘God life’ is in the heart, not in the life, at all. It has nothing to do with where I am or what I do each day for work. It is all a matter of my heart, and how my heart seeks the heart of the one who saved me.

There are so many times where I have a though of a different path that would be so much easier, and this week I am reminding myself that I didn’t ask for easy. I don’t want easy. I want worth it. And I know in the deepest part of who I am that the lessons I am learning right now, the distractions that are in front of me, the sacrifices that I am making in these years, are more worth it than I could ever pay for.

And for that, I am grateful.

Kitchen Chronicles: My Everest

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Upon my return to America I decided it was basically detrimental to my sanity to fill my new life – full of structure and routine – with a couple of things to conquer. Nothing better to fill up time then with a little challenge.

So eventually, I finally buckled down and had a hard hitting conversation with myself. I said, “Self, you really should get your life together and figure something out in the kitchen because right now you’re standing on the whole chicken with a big butt fiasco and well, it’s a little embarrassing.”

And myself agreed. So here I am, three years later, ready to document my failures and successes. Let’s do this.

My first conquest upon returning to America was the gym: because well, 2 years of rice and beans had not done me good. So, there’s that.

P.S. I had this great idea to record the journey of conquering the gym with photos and inspirational messages throughout my ups and downs of muscle gaining and fat burning. Ya, that didn’t happen. I quickly realized that I’m totally not secure enough and pretty much thought I may make it through like three weeks before I just called it a day. However, 16-ish weeks later I’m on a roll and thoroughly enjoy finding some “woo-sa” time throughout the week. More on this later. It’s good stuff.photo4

So anywho, currently I feel like what better way to compliment my new healthy lifestyle then by conquering the hardest, and most intimidating/overwhelming challenge of my life.

The kitchen.

Sigh… my Everest.

I can’t quite pinpoint why, but it’s so terrifying to me. I can stand toe to toe with a 6’ 5” Haitian guard on market day, dodging loads of rice and chickens on wheel barrows, and argue in another language about why he won’t let my friends with work visas cross the river; but give me more spices than salt and pepper and I will buckle I tell you. Fear of failure doesn’t even begin to describe.

Ever since I was a little girl I was always the one to volunteer to peel the potatoes when my sisters were learning to gourmet the simplest of dinners. It gives me anxiety when people say things like “just put whatever marinade you might think would pair nicely with that raw, disgusting, chicken breast.” (or something like that.) And I’m all like, “first of all, gross, and second of all, what is a marinade, and third of all how the heck am I supposed to just ‘might think’ what might pair nicely?”

However, what I lack in passion or desire I make up for in determination. Or just desperation. Interchangeable. BUT I NEED HELP, PEOPLE!!!

I just don’t get it. And I’m a visual learner so most recipes don’t help much because all the terms are a little general, and across the board simply unfair if I do say so myself. How do you marinate? What is a “poach”? If it says “a pinch…” how do you know if your pinch is the same pinch as the chef? I already had to learn the hard way the difference in a “bulb” and “clove”… ya, it wasn’t pretty. Read here.

My current situation basically consists along the lines of Tyson Ready chicken in a bag, eggs (basic American staple), and cottage cheese. I know, I know. Just give me grace in this moment.

I need suggestions – tips, beginner meals, etc… okay, “meals” may be used loosely here because that’s another scary thing is multi-task cooking between different dishes all at once. I just think I’m gonna ruin it all. That is why I initially went for a crock pot. But, it’s been a few years. I’m ready to conquer. Plus, starting small may boost my ego and give me a little confidence in the whole process. Advice/tips/tricks below, please!!

Signs & Seasons: Blood Moon

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Last night’s view.

Acts 2:20: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come.”

Since the beginning of time God declared the sky to tell us of times and seasons (Genesis 1:14) and today it is still doing just that. When I was a little girl my family would spend hours outside our country home – where no city lights took center – looking up and learning about the stars that host our night sky.

Since I became a believer I understand more my fascination with astronomy: one of the most humbling places to stand is under the night sky – the greatest significant insignificance I have ever experienced. A massive production is consistently taking place right above us, and we barely notice. If you don’t think so – yet – check out Louie Giglio’s Indescribable and I feel like you may change your mind. It’s God’s canvas. It’s insurmountably more grand than we could ever know.

Yet He sees you and He sees me.

Any who, last night was one of those moments. It humbled me (for so many reasons) because I was watching something so much – so much – bigger than myself. Because only that artwork, at the hand of God, can cause people all over our globe to simultaneously set their eyes toward heaven, at the same time, in total awe. Because I was watching prophetic scripture being fulfilled.

I don’t know the times and schedules of God, but I know that I watched a tiny piece of history unfold last night. There will be 3 more within the next 12 months – that’s so rare it hasn’t happened in over 500 years – all falling in Hebraic holidays. Just saying. God is up to something.

You can see the next blood moon on October 8.

Its worth the late night – if you miss the next few, do’t worry, it’ll come back around in 2032.