July Memories – 2022

July Memories – 2022

Goodness sakes…this was most definitely a month to remember.

You know the writing challenge I told you I was doing this July? Well, I got about 5k words written of the 20k I wanted. But I’m going to let myself be okay with falling flat on my writer’s face, because this month took the cake in terms of real-life plot twists and adventures. So much of it made me laugh. A lot of it made me cry. But I saw God’s hand and knew His presence so clearly this month, and we’ll close it out in His praise. ❤

One life. Just one. Why aren’t we running like we are on fire towards our wildest dreams?

Unknown

Things worth remembering…

  • Sitting by the lake and just drinking in the beauty of all of the sights and sounds and smells.
  • Taking goofy photos with my sisters.
  • Fresh veggies from the garden!!
  • Holding my brand-new cousin in the hospital…my heart! *happy sigh*
  • Being there with my family when my Grandpa left his earthly home to see the Lord face to face. I had never experienced anything like that, and the raw pain and beauty of that evening was beyond belief.
  • Lots and lots of hugs. ❤
  • Completing 20 revolutions around the sun.
  • Gifts and a handmade birthday card from some guys in my youth group…they have no idea how much that made my week. ❤
  • Bingeing Doctor Thorne with my Grandma into the wee hours. 11/10 recommend.
  • Wildflower bouquets.
  • French fries.
  • A weekend with cousins…the sweetest and weirdest memories made with the sweetest and weirdest souls. May Morgan, the Jensens, the fruit kabobs, and the couch (was it really free?) live forever in our hearts.
  • Getting my brothers graduated!!!! Another weekend with cousins and the dearest friends.

Soon shall end this earthly story, swift shall pass the pilgrim days, hope soon change to heavenly glory, faith to sight and prayer to praise.

Henry Francis Lyte

What I’ve been reading

Behind the Act – Abigayle Claire

“I should hope not,” the red-headed teenager replied, bouncing on his toes. “Welcome to The Magnificent.” He gave a dramatic sweep of his arm to the cramped lobby.

I’m not very far in this one yet, but I’m excited to see where this story leads! I love Abi’s descriptions…they make me feel as if I’m right there in the book!

The Story Jar – Robin Lee Hatcher & Deborah Bedford

“I knew all about Jesus from Sunday school and knew all the right things to say and what I was supposed to believe. But I never knew Him.

I wasn’t sure if I would like this book, but it pleasantly surprised me! The stories were heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, and the perfect read for a road trip.:)

The McWilliamses and the Burglar Alarm – Mark Twain

He looked confused and ashamed, and said, with embarrassment, “I beg a thousand pardons. I did not know you had a burglar alarm, else I would have rung it.”

Oh, this short story gave me a good laugh!

say goodbye to where you’ve been // and tell your heart to beat again // let every heartbreak and every scar // be a picture that reminds you // Who has carried you this far

“Tell Your Heart to Beat again” (Performed by Danny Gokey)

From the journal

A new month = new mercies.

My mood is very fragile…I woke up and the fact that everyone had polished off the bagels before I’d had one nearly ruined my day. (I have to laugh at myself sometimes…XD)

I was getting a headache, borderline snapped at people, and morphed into a silent, weary, glowering, ham-gobbling state of torpid existence. (…) Oh, Lord, let me bow only to Your heart, not the selfish dictates of my own.

It’s one thing to grapple with death. It’s another to realize that someone will never again be in your life, making new memories with you.

The Spirit in me is the one that gave Samson his strength; give me the strength, Lord, to love fully and abundantly, and to live this day to the hilt.


How was your July? What were the highlights? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

May Review – 2022

May Review – 2022

May is…over?

Right now my computer is slower than a lame tortoise and my brain feels like a mashed potato in a tornado, so I’m grateful I wrote this post as I lived through May so I don’t have to remember everything on my own! I hope you enjoy my glance back on this month with me.:)

When David faced Goliath he didn’t talk about how dangerous Goliath was – he talked about how great God is. Don’t talk fear. Talk faith.

Breny (someone I follow on IG)

Things worth remembering

  • wandering through some war memorials
  • sneaking over to my grandma’s house with my siblings in the early morning to fill her yard with pinwheels as a birthday surprise
  • pizza, ice cream, and good talks with a study group
  • a long sibling walk that ended in a rainstorm and sprinting…too bad we weren’t headed to Netherfield, huh?
  • exploring old farm buildings and finding bones
  • scaling fish for the first time and immensely enjoying it
  • seeing This Will Not Last on my library’s online catalog!!
  • finally wearing tank tops to work again
  • leading worship with friends on a women’s retreat
  • fighting the urge to start a fund for purchasing WWII uniforms
  • spending time with family for my grandma’s birthday
  • watching the talent show put on by my younger cousins
  • senior testimony night at my church’s youth group…I love hearing what God has done in each of their lives. ❤

what if…everything you are going through is preparing you for what you asked for?

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What I’ve been reading

Blog posts

Seasons – Winter And Spring, Both Of Them Beautiful! – Makayla Jesalyn

The way I feel isn’t a good excuse to be unproductive, and neither is a lingering winter. I am completely responsible for myself, and my actions do not hinge on the whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful. What’s inside me is what ought to drive me.

The spiritual parallels of the physical seasons are my favorite, and Makayla has some wonderful thoughts in this post!

Consorting with Wild Youth//How Sarah Became Friends with the Local Delinquents – Sarah Baran

I’ve opted for a new and much more effective approach; manipulating them using the unconquerable force of peer-pressure. I can do this because I’m college-age and therefore a god. At least, in their opinion.

Sarah’s posts always leave me laughing and in awe of her ability to use my beloved snark so beautifully, and this one was no exception…except this one wrung my heart a bit at the end. Do yourself a favor and give this one a read.

Books

BoundVictoria Lynn

Death had a habit of being permanent.

Oh, my goodness…this book was heart-wrenching and the sweetest all at the same time. I loved everything about this story. It was also super fun to read it after spending time with the author!:)

Cathedral Maya Joelle

remember that no matter how tiny the fragments this time, how far apart they are scattered, how long you must search, he will help you find the pieces of the person you once were and the image you once bore.

I’ve been digging into this one again. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

Rescue – Jennifer A. Nielsen

“Enough of your questions about who I am. Maybe I should ask who you really are. Am I safer taking my chances out there with the Germans?”

I stole this one from a sister on a road trip and was instantly hooked. Talk about suspense!

Devotedly – Valerie Elliot Shepard

Guys.

I FINISHED IT!!!!

(If you’ve been here for a good amount of time, you’ll know how wonderful this is.XD) I loved it so much!! You can read my brief review on my Goodreads account.:)

“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us.”

Isaiah 25:9

From the Journal

Oh, Lord, may I ever remain set apart for Your purpose so that You may do wonders in my tomorrows.

All will be made whole…

Achan took the spoil because it was tempting…but God was going to allow the spoils to be taken lawfully in the next battle. Oh, Lord, help me to trust that You will satisfy my longings in due time.

Oh, Lord, clear my mind and give me the wisdom to discern between roadblocks You have set before me to turn my heart to greater things, and the rugged territory of fallen trees I must naturally clamber over on my way in Your will for me.

Lord, grant repentance. We cannot even come to the realization and regret of our sins if You don’t give us the grace to do so.

I can laugh without fear of the future, not because I am well-prepared and invincible, but because my Father laughs in the face of my greatest fears, and I trust Him completely.

How was your May? What stood out to you in this past month? Have you been reading/watching/listening to anything good lately?

Blessings,

Laurel

April Review – 2022

April Review – 2022

Goodness gracious, this may have been one of the most exciting months of my life! I know it’s been pretty quiet on the blog front, but it’s been jam-packed with raw living…and it’s been incredible.

Let’s take a peek.:)

Things worth remembering

  • Releasing my first poetry book!
  • going on a quest to pick up furniture with my brother
  • packaging and mailing out preorders of aforementioned poetry book – I so enjoyed getting to think about all of the people who would be receiving a copy of This Will Not Last!
  • making toast at the first sibling bonfire of the year
  • Sharing a Christian Seder meal with family and dear friends
  • Not blowing away in some pretty high winds
  • Navigating airports and lengthy layovers on my own and realizing it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be
  • Spending a week talking and adventuring and building relationships with like-minded writers on the Glory Writers retreat! I want to do a full post dedicated to covering this event, so stay tuned!

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle

What I’ve been reading

Love Comes Softly – Janette Oke

I know, I am a fierce critic of the romance genre, but I devoured this book in two days! There was so much solid character development, and of course a bit of heartache. I’m not the biggest fan of Janette Oke’s writing style, but after I got over that I couldn’t put the book down. I definitely recommend it!

White Stallion of Lipizza – Marguerite Henry

I love Marguerite Henry’s books! I hadn’t read one in the longest time, so it’s been fun to pick this one up again.

“There are far, far greater things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

From the journal

Today is not your day. It’s God’s. Use it accordingly.

And yet I praise You, Father, because You know best, and even in the broken valley You are the restorer of my soul.

What made your April memorable? I’d love to hear in the comments!

March 2022 Review

This March was so full of adventure and soul-searching. Here’s my review!

Things worth remembering…

  • a tramp through the woods with my brother and a couple of sisters
  • listening to Flight of Valor live. It was written to honor the heroes on United Flight 93…I still can’t listen to it without getting goosebumps.
  • a weekend trip to Nebraska with my brother and grandparents
  • a crisp morning walk through a cemetery I was delighted to find lay across the road from the motel on said trip
  • star-gazing on the side of the road with my grandma while everyone else was in the vehicle skunk-gazing the smelly little family crossing the road in front of us
  • making Shamrock shakes without a blender
  • setting up my Etsy shop! Currently I don’t have any listings (Preorders for This Will Not Last have closed), but I am hoping to have some poetry-themed products out soon.:) What would you like to see? Greeting cards? Post cards? Notebooks? Anything else? Let me know in the comments!
  • trying a new method of curling my hair and accidently making it look like I just stepped out of the eighties
  • giving dried seaweed a hearty 0/10 rating
  • reading and discussing Crazy Love (by Francis Chan) with friends
  • a family shopping trip and supper out

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve been reading…

Reflection – Laurel Burgess

Technically I read this short story in February…but, man. It’s too good not to share. I definitely recommend it!

Also…definitely check out Laurel’s website. Her short story, Attack of the Gummy Worms, had me laughing so hard!

The Best Yes – Lysa Terkeurst

How you live your life determines how you spend your soul.

Man, has this book been a wake-up call. Or rather, a megaphone for the wake-up call that has been trying to grab my attention for a while now. Time is a precious gift. It is limited, and once we spend it, it’s gone. Forever. Making wise decisions is key to stewarding our time in the best way possible…and I’m preaching to myself here.

This Will Not Last – Laurel Jean

when my shell of defense crashes down all around and the world as I know it is gone // You’re still here… You are mine… I am Yours.

Hehehe, watch me shamelessly plug my writing. XD

Seriously, though…I have so been enjoying reading through this again…and again. I think you might like it, too.:) You can order your very own copy here!

Crazy Love – Francis Chan

Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation? …to put it bluntly, when you get your own universe, you can make your own standards.

I’ve been reading and talking through this book with some sweet friends…another megaphone for God’s wake-up call. Wow. It’s been amazing.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Proverbs 23:17-18

I’ve been listening to…

Lots of Alan Gogoll’s music! I love to listen to it when I’m working in the kitchen, drawing, or painting. So relaxing!

for KING & COUNTRY’s newest album, What Are We Waiting For? Over. And over. And over again. I think my sisters might like it. XD

Instrumental with Dave and JJ Heller. This podcast is absolutely incredible! I love hearing about how God uses the tiniest twists and turns in a person’s life to direct it in a beautiful and redeeming way.

Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies too. Or, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel. Whenever we cannot love in the old human way, God can give us the perfect way.”

Casper ten Boom

From the journal…

Always, choosing God’s way in a broken world has made His people different from the world. I will stick out. I will walk a road less traveled…and that is beautiful. Oh, steel my heart with courage, Lord!

The way is raw and broken and painful even now…I don’t want it to be this way. But You will make this beautiful. You will heal us. I pray that happens on earth, but even if it doesn’t…Your way is best. I will rest in this even while I ache.

Lord, I want to desire You. Not just the hope of brighter days, but You…for Yourself. For Your justice. For Your mercy. For Your goodness. For Your love. For Your wisdom.

We urge people to “accept Jesus as Savior” (a phrase never found in the Bible), but do we urge them to confess Him as Lord? He is just as much a Lord as He is a Savior, but we’re so attached to our liberty that we don’t want to see Him as anything more than gentle. Oh, Lord, may I treat You as Lord!

Never revert to the safety of the known when God has snatched you from it for the unknown. (Numbers 14)

Yes, I may pray that You show me the way in which I should walk, but I must actively seek…put in the grunt work. Oh, give me courage and determination!

What memories/lessons are you carrying away from this month?

What is success?

What is success?

We work and we strive and we ache and we strain and we long…

For what?

What do we think we need to call ourselves successful?

What do our lives say?

How does the way we spend our energy, our time, our money, our words, our thoughts, scream to the world what we truly call success? Not what we think we call success, not what we want to call success, but what we truly call success.

Earthly glory? The approval of others? Popularity? An easy life?

Is that what we really want to see as success?

Strong relationships. Loving people well. Approval in the eyes of God. Serving and nourishing the body of Christ. Collapsing on the finish line at the feet of my Savior, gasping, “I gave it all I had.”

That’s what I want to see as success.

That’s what I want to scream to the world through my life that I see as success.

It’s not a lifestyle into which I can fall with no effort. It’s an intentional, daily battle for the highest and holiest…

For the way I was created to live.

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” – C.T. Studd

Photo by Tim Bogdanov on Unsplash

December Memories – 2021

December Memories – 2021

Happy 2022, friends!

Let’s be extremely cliche and mention how it’s so hard to believe it’s a new year already… and then resist the urge to recap the whole year and just give you a recap of December.:)

Things worth remembering…

  • cousin time complete with late night chatting, so much laughter, wigs, and a bonfire.
  • being listed on Goodreads as an author!!! You can follow me here.:)
  • the beauty of the sun rising and setting in the winter. It almost makes the negative temps worth it.
  • surviving the Carolina Reaper cheese that our co-op makes. It’s brutal, guys. I hadn’t downed milk that desperately in a while. 😅
  • The Christmas Cookie Baking Day with siblings and friends! I will never read about John the Baptist the same way again…
  • running around in the wind and dark with siblings and flashlights, trying to round up the calves that decided to tour the farmyard when a storm blew away their little homes.
  • bowling for the first time and only falling down once.
  • making runzas (basically rolls stuffed with ground beef and cabbage and onion) with my sisters.
  • announcing that I’m releasing a poetry book in 2022!!

What I’ve been reading…

London in the Dark – Victoria Lynn

“Don’t be an island, Cy. When you push us away, the only person you hurt is yourself.”

The Sherlock Holmes vibes in this novel were stellar. The plot made me want to keep turning pages after getting home from a trip at two in the morning, so there’s that… 😂 The book definitely could have used some more editing, but overall, it was sweet and engaging with the perfect amount of mystery!

Dearest Friend: a life of Abigail Adams – Lynne Withey

To Isaac she [Abigail] expressed her conviction of the importance of education. “In youth the mind is like a tender twig,” she observed, “which you may bend as you please, but in age like a sturdy oak and hard to move.”

I’m previewing this one for a sister. It’s been fun reading a bit more about this spunky little lady!

Bartholomew’s Passage – Arnold Ytreeide

My family’s read this book during Advent for a while now! It’s such a fun story, and I love how all the little threads woven throughout the story are tied up at the end.

What I’ve been listening to…

Christmas in Velvet (Album)

RELATE – for KING & COUNTRY

’cause I’ve been real, I’ve been fake // been a sinner, been a saint // I’ve been right, I’ve been so, so wrong // yeah, I’ve made my mistakes

Speak Life – TobyMac

though it’s crazy, amazing // we can turn a heart through the words we say // mountains crumble with every syllable // hope can live or die

Me Without You – TobyMac

I’d be packin’ my bags when I need to stay // I’d be chasin’ every breeze that blows my way // I’d be building my kingdom just to watch it fade away // It’s true // that’s me without You

Lights Shine Bright – TobyMac

lights shine bright everywhere we go // music for the people to illuminate the soul

(Yes, I’ve been on a TobyMac kick.:))

From the journal…

You give me Your love – fill me up to overflowing – so that I can pour it out to others. Oh, strengthen me to do that when all I want is to see my own desires fulfilled.

I can take my strength and nourishment from the faithfulness of my Beloved. (Psalm 37:3)

If You need to keep on breaking me to get me to the place You need me to be, so be it… but Lord, I pray that I would cultivate a heart that is always tuned to Yours. That when You say “turn here” or “let your eyes look straight ahead”, I would obey instantly. Let my mind be transformed so I may know Your will. I love You, Jesus.

Lord, thank You for letting me know You. Don’t let this journal be empty words… let me live out all of my declarations of love to You daily, so that people don’t have to read my journal to see Who holds my heart.

Oh, but this aches sometimes… So I cry and wait and pray in the dripping darkness for the day when I can see why. Why all of this must be so painful and twisted and broken. But I trust You. I do.

Righteousness is right standing with God. So if I look pious and holy to the world, but have unseen sin swarming beneath the mask, I have no righteousness.

Actual holiness > everyone thinking you’re holy when you’re not

Words of wisdom…

“None but the man “void of wisdom” will show contempt for those about him. The wise man, if he cannot admire or praise, will at least know how to be silent.” – Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

“…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” – Titus 2:14

What made your December special or memorable?

❤ Laurel

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.:)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November Memories – 2021

November Memories – 2021

Hello, friends!

I love putting together these monthly reviews because it forces me to take a step back and see just how much beautiful, painful, crazy life gets crammed into a short 30 days. All of the ups and downs, the smiles, the tears, the quiet days, the chaotic ones… they all come together to showcase God’s glory and goodness. Amazing, isn’t it?

That being said, here’s a glimpse of my November. ❤

Things worth remembering…

  • Actually being the last one standing in dodgeball XD
  • A sibling date in an empty Pizza Hut dining room
  • Starting NaNoWriMo off strong… then crashing and burning after writing 13,000 words (I really, really love a lot of what I did write, though!:)
  • Soaking up sunshine and the Word in the pasture
  • Lots of watercolor painting
  • Lovely November sunrises
  • Singing with my family
  • Dutch Blitz, Uno, and Spoons
  • The Christmas tree decorating party
  • Belting Christmas songs in my car
  • Sliding around in the mud at the farm. *laughs weakly*

What I’ve been reading…

The White Cliffs – Alice Duer Miller

Ah, they forget they cannot write their parts; the bell has rung, the curtain rises, and the stage is set for tragedy – they were in love and young.

I think this is the first novel I read that is completely poetry… and it was beautiful. I read it aloud to myself in two sittings… which is saying something because I don’t binge read anymore! I’ll definitely be reading it again. Thank you for sharing it with me, Grandma! ❤

Rilla of Ingleside – L.M. Montgomery

“…I did not believe for a minute she would or could do it. But you see what has happened and it is making a woman of her. When we have to do a thing, Mrs. Dr. dear, we can do it.”

I picked this classic up again for the first time in years… and it’s been so enjoyable! I love rereading old favorites and seeing so many jewels in the storyline, writing, and dialogue that I’d never picked up on previously.

Devotedly – Valerie Elliot Shephard

“Lord, do Thou fulfil this Thy word unto Thy suffering servant – preserve me from evil, sustain my trust in Thee, and lift up my soul that I may praise Thee for these my sore testings, for I do love Thee, and long to fulfil Thy will.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Yes… still working at this one. Still loving it.:)

When Beauty Blooms – Victoria Lynn

Perhaps being beautiful wasn’t about being lovely to look at and a good conversationalist. Perhaps it was something a bit more than that. Something broader.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t totally impressed by this novella. The writing seemed a bit awkward to me for a good portion of the story (though that definitely could be stylistic preferences). By the time I got to the climax, however, I was so caught up in the story that I wasn’t mentally editing anymore. It’s a sweet story with a great lesson!

12 Days at Bleakly Manor – Michelle Griep

“Since the moment you arrived, Miss Chapman, you have been the dearest of creatures to me. Why, I’d forgotten how delightful it is to be seen and heard.”

This sweet Christmas-y combination of mystery and romance was such a fun read! I did not see all of the plot twists coming! Plus, the nod to Dickens’ Bleak House characters was so enjoyable.:)

Songs I’ve been loving…

Your Ways are Higher than Mine – The Collingsworth Family

Your ways are higher than mine // I want mountains to move // You want me to climb //

Dare You to Move – Switchfoot

I dare you to move // I dare you to move // like today never happened // today never happened before

Raise a Hallelujah – Bethel Music

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm // louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar

Yes and No – David Dunn

What I want and what I really need, only You know the difference // learning you do what’s best for me // with every answer given

Gloria – The ZOE Group (although my favorite version is performed by my family:))

Mighty King glorified // seated at the right hand of God // You laid down Your heavenly crown // and chose to take on the sin of the world

From the journal…

God, just help me to dig for truth and righteousness. To have the courage and strength to work out in the valley what I saw on the mountain.

God, I can’t see. I can’t see what You can. Give me Your eyes.

So much will change so soon… Lord, thank You for today.

You don’t change. Even in the overwhelming pain of this hidden valley. You remain the same. You’re the same good, faithful God You were on the mountain. You still fill my life with good things.

Oh, my soul, love deeply.

Remember. Remember from whence you have come. Remember who you were without Him.

When it looks like the best is withheld from me and given to someone else, You comfort me with Your presence and whisper, “Arise, walk in the land… for I give it to you.” (prompted by Genesis 13)

Words of wisdom…

“For my beloved I will not fear – love knows to do for him, for her, as hitherto. Whom my heart cherishes are dear to Thy heart, too.” – Amy Carmichael

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” – Psalm 37:3-5

“Forever is composed of nows.” – Emily Dickinson

“Be as you wish to seem.” – Socrates

What were some of the most memorable pieces of your November? How did you see God working this past month?

❤ Laurel

Eighteen – My Mid-Term Reflections

Eighteen – My Mid-Term Reflections

I’ve hit the half-way mark in my eighteenth year.

Did it meet my expectations?

Uh, no. Big no. My little-kid self assumed that when one turns eighteen, one magically becomes an adult, assumes adult responsibilities with ease, has everything figured out in life, and does big things.

Maybe that happens to everyone else… but it sure didn’t happen to me.

Looking back, I see that much of this slice of life was spent just trying to get the hang of life as a graduated adult with work instead of school, and a whole lot of things to figure out. I did a lot of journaling. And crying. And laughing. And praying. And thinking. And writing. And smiling. And farming. Lots of little things filled my life – and joy – to overflowing.

I had big plans to write my novel, take writing classes, and probably stop mixing feed for the cows on the family farm. (No offense, cows…) I wanted an orderly lifestyle with few or no complications. Ha.

Instead, I grew to love the crazy diversity that defines this season of my life. I fell mostly in love with my job on the farm and decided to keep it. I got to take on some babysitting. I didn’t take many writing classes. I didn’t make as much progress on my novel as I had naively planned. I got shoved into situations that stretched me…

But am I happy with how the last six months have panned out?

Absolutely.

They most certainly did not go according to my tidy, boring little plans. Oh, no. Instead, they gave me the opportunity to experience a huge, crazy mash-up of joy, pain, humor, irony, sacrifice, stumbling, disappointment, failure…

And fulfilment beyond my wildest dreams.

When God starts to change my plans, my first response is to wail, No, God. You don’t understand. This is how it’s supposed to go. Really.

To which He gently, but firmly, responds, Ah, but this is how it must go. Just wait and see… and soon you’ll know why.

I’m not at the end of my story, but I can already see some of the blessings that have come because God turned my plans upside down. I’m not holding so tightly to the security offered by things, plans, circumstances, or even people anymore. I’m not as scared of trying new things. I want Him more.

And I’m actually excited to hand Him the pen for these next six months – for the rest of my life – and to watch in breathless anticipation as He continues to write my story for me.

What are some things that you learned in your eighteenth year of life? Or are learning? Or wish to learn?

Photo credit: Jonna @thru.t.h.e.lens

Year-End Reflections

Year-End Reflections

I can hardly believe it’s nearly Christmas… and nearly the end of this epic year. The end of any year always has me a bit contemplative – I remember December 31, 2009, when I was sadly pondering the fact that a decade was about to end… and we would never have it back. A pretty heavy thought for a seven-year-old.:)

Reveling in the memories of the past year and looking forward to the future is something I deeply enjoy at the end of each year. Join me, if you wish!

Looking back…

I see one of the most amazing years of my life, honestly. I almost feel badly saying that, because I know this has been a terrible year for so many. But seriously, God has blessed me so much in spite of the trials. New friends, new experiences, new responsibilities, new opportunities… it’s all one big crazy mess of blessings.

It certainly wasn’t without it’s trials, though. At all. This has also been one of the hardest years I’ve had so far. But I know that the most amazing times of growth in my life come through and after the trials, and this year was one huge growing party! I’m still so far from where I want to be… but here are some of the things God’s taught me/reminded me of this year:

  • I am not in control of my life. God is.
  • God’s plan for me is perfect, and He has me in just the right place at just the right time… always.
  • With great privileges come great responsibilities.
  • Time is short, and I can’t afford to waste it.
  • People are more important than the things I often prioritize before them.
  • God’s word is vital in my life.
  • God needs to come first in my life, no matter what.

Looking forward…

As always, I’m so excited to see what this coming year will hold. I know it will hold challenges… but it will hold so many joys, as well – I’m sure of that! And growth. Lots of growth.:)

Setting goals for the coming year is also something I love to do at this time. Not just the practical goals, like cleaning my room/keeping it that way (which has seriously been on my list of goals for the new year for as long as I can remember), but also goals that will help me develop as a person and disciple of Christ. Goals that will draw me nearer to Him and make me a stronger and better representative of Him.

What are your thoughts on this past year? The coming year? Do you enjoy setting goals? As always, I would love to hear from you!

Take My Life, God… Really?

Take My Life, God… Really?

It’s a song I love. It’s a song I love to sing. But it’s a song that’s really hard for me to live.

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

There are days when I don’t really want to live this. Instead, I end up living an oxymoron. In the morning, I come to God and re-surrender my life to Him. Here, God, it’s Yours. I live for You.

Fast-forward a few minutes to where He’s taking me up on my offer. I’m suddenly snatching my life back and clenching it in my fists.

God, You know that conversation is going to get really stretched out, and I don’t want to give that much of my time…

You want me to love them??? Didn’t You see how they hurt me???

God, it was a long day and I’m exhausted… I don’t want to go on a walk with her.

But anyway… take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

I’ll sing it, God… but I won’t live it.

You are near in their mouth but far from their mind. – Jeremiah 12:2b

It breaks my heart when I find myself living this awful oxymoron. How can I claim to love God, yet trample over His desires for me in pursuit of my own? Christianity can’t work this way. It doesn’t work this way.

Surrender is surrender. No bones about it. When we surrender ourselves to God, we give Him everything. Literally everything.

We give Him our time and the way we spend it. We give Him our family and friends and our interactions with them. We give Him all of our possessions and what we do with them. We give Him our talents and the way we use them. We give Him our longings, our passions, our hopes, our dreams…

We give Him everything.

And we don’t take it back.

That’s what it means to be an all-out disciple of Christ.

I don’t wanna spend my life stuck in a pattern
And I don’t wanna gain this world but lose what matters
And so I’m giving up everything because

I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
‘Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different in me

-from Different by Kyle Lee and Micah Tyler Begnaud

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash