what is false.

Oh Mondays. Particularly the Monday after Spring Break.

I had a training today and had to have a sub, so I’m interested to see what awaits for me tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing my students and really feeling back into routine :).

I haven’t fully completed a Daniel Fast since my freshman year of college, 6 years ago (WHAT), and today felt similarly to the other times I have tried to start. I go to bed feeling committed, but I wake up with motivation quickly waning. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at giving myself grace in these situations, knowing my worth or how Jesus loves is not tied to my ability to successfully adhere to dietary restrictions. Which is true, however it is also an excuse to back out of my commitments and give in or justify my reason for an action I said I wouldn’t do.

Today was no different. I kept thinking, “do I really need to do this?” or “can’t I just do this in moderation?” -Thoughts that were trying to do let me start tomorrow or not at all or just giving me an out.

So, I didn’t have an ideal first day. Even though I knew my team would want to go out for lunch and I prepared for that, I chose not to bring in my packed lunch because I felt uncomfortable about it. I also didn’t have to walk into the chocolate store they insisted on going to either..

Anywho. Today I remembered and realized that to make real changes is going to feel uncomfortable. But, it is always my choice. No one would have really cared if I brought in my lunch and ate it, and no one would have cared if I was the only one not getting a small chocolate. I am going to have to be prepared, both emotionally and practically (bringing food, etc..) to feel uncomfortable and to know that I don’t have to participate in everything to still be a part of something.

I’m still taking today as a good start. When I started this post, I was going to share a scripture and how I took it to today and this fast, etc.. but I’ll save that for tomorrow. 🙂

I’m excited to continue and feel good about doing so. I look forward to learning more about grace and stick-to-it-ness, or letting my yess’s be yes and my no’s be no’s.

new beginnings

hello again!

I’ve decided again to put my thoughts back out to the never ending space of the internet to be read by friends and strangers, or never to be looked at, but mostly just a place to keep them all in one place for me.

I get married in 75 days. 75 days until I will vow to choose to love my best friend for the rest of my life and 75 days until I enter in a very new season. I very much value setting a part times or doing something different to prepare for new seasons, and this time is no different.

These past two weeks were my spring break, a wonderful, refreshing break full of friends and family and lots of yummy food and drinks. I’m about to get back into routine (something I crave and very much LOVE), and know that things will level out, but I hate ending a break feeling icky about myself. Its just the typical fullness from vacation, which I know is nothing to freak out about, but it just puts me back in the cycle that I’ve thrown myself in and out of so many times. I think anyone who tries to break their habits knows what I am referring to. Wanting to change, sticking with a change, slip ups, throw all cares to the wind, wonder why we gave in in the first place, feel down, keep with habit to feel better, its temporary, so on and on it goes.

As I’ve been journaling and praying over who I will be in 75 days, I’ve thought many times about the habits I will bring into marriage and ones I want to leave behind. Most of the habits I want to leave behind surround food and the emotional ties I have to it. I’ve realized that so much of the walls I build up or habits I guard are rooted in the feelings that food/drink gives. The biggest culprit of all this is undoubtedly sugar, and things made with it. Of course I want to give up sugar for the health reasons, but more so for the mental clarity and freedom from craving it. SO, because I have only every been able to commit and stick to the Daniel Fast, as well as those times being when I have felt the most freedom, I have decided do one until I walk down the isle. The only change I will be making is coffee (that’s not going anywhere in any season of my life 😉 ) and possibly eating eggs, but other than that I’m up for the challenge! I’ll be blogging here everyday, something I did on the first one I did, regardless if anyone reads or not.

Excited for day 1!

 

family time

Today is the day my family leaves. We spent a week in the mountains, getting dry noses and beautiful images pressed into our minds. We did rope courses, saw bears and bunnies, took bumpy jeep rides, ate ice cream, played cards, and froze at the top of mountains. We also learned that we are all getting older. Our personalities have become more defined and we all have our own (sometimes very specific) desires, needs, and expectations. With eight people, eight family members, pretenses are gone as are those social rules that normally apply to friends and strangers. Often this is a good thing. There’s comfort there and joy in feeling like you’re a part of this collective identity that is there no matter what. But sometimes, we feel like our personal identity is overshadowed or not supported in this mesh of seven other people. Sometimes, we feel like we have to fight for our boundaries and desires and everyone else needs to be on board with it.

 Everyone seems to love using oceans as analogies lately so I’m going to role with it. Some people in my family are natural wave makers, and there are good waves and bad waves. They carry us in laughter and joy, good moods and fun. Some people are peacemakers, always wanting to make sure the waves are pushing us in the right direction. If they’re not, we want to abandon the whole peacemaking thing and hold our breath beneath while the waves pass over (This is usually what I want to do). But I think we all have a bit of this in each of us, some traits are just a bit stronger. And that’s great! We need both to be strong. Especially when the waves are pushing us to make us feel better then the person beside us, when we feel like we need to be right at the expense of the other, and when we feel our desires or expectations are more important than the other person’s feelings. These bad waves, if not stop can easily pile up into something destructive. And that’s when we all need to tap into our peacemaker side, step back and look to our right and left. This is our family standing beside us and it is our responsibility to each person to make sure our waves aren’t hitting them too hard (or better yet, at all).

 Today is my Dad and Step-mom’s eight-year anniversary. We’ve been a blended bunch of strong personalities for eight years. We’ve had some amazing experiences together, full of joy and coming together. I am so grateful to be a part of this crazy bunch. Though I never would have imagined being a part of two families (yet still one in it’s own way), I love both parts. My prayer for both sides is that the best is yet to come. I prayer even though we’re getting old and making our own lives, we will continue to grow closer and more supportive. That we would consider our brothers, sisters, and parents more important than ourselves and be willing to serve them without conditions. To my family, both immediate and extended, I’m so grateful for you and love you so much!

 So today I start my journey of being across the country from them. It will certainly have its challenges and I will undoubtedly miss them (in a week or two 😉 ). But I know we will always get together again, and no matter what we will always be family.

Thoughts from a (semi)- recovering planner.

When I have to make a decision, I worry. I question it relentlessly, imagine all the outcomes I can think of, and wonder how it will affect me and the people in my life. (If you have ever been shopping with me, you might have seen this on a smaller scale, which is also why I’m not a big fan of shopping.) There have been times in my life when I have felt overwhelmed by anxiety, for things that didn’t merit that much anxiety at all; things like changing my major or stressing about a part time job. This past year I have experienced a lot of grace with anxiety, but with opportunities and decisions coming up, I’ve been noticing this pesky old friend trying to return.
Ever since I began applying for different things after undergrad, my mind has been wandering to the future. I can assure you I have imagined countless possibilities of what my life would look like after this year, some in fun and some with a heavy dose of anxiety. But when I found out I made it to the final round of the interview process for a program I would love to be a part of, I tried not to think about it. It worked for the most part, but now that I’m on my way I can’t push away the questions any longer. This week I kept thinking of what it would be like coming home if I didn’t get it. I kept thinking that if I didn’t get it, then it would just not be God’s plan for my life and something else would work out.
On the plane ride over, when I was half thinking/praying, I thought about how crazy it is to think that God has a specific plan for each of us. Not in a “wow, God is so awesome that He’s panned each of our lives!” crazy, but in a “who do I think I am to think that the God who created the universe has a written plan just for me” kind of way. Yes, I believe God knows what is going to happen in my life, but I don’t think (or at least I really hope) His plan is contingent on my ability to make the right choices. I think so many Christians have romanticized the way we view “God’s plan for our lives” to the point that needing to follow what we believe it is creates more anxiety than God ever intended for us. I believe God has the same plan for each of us, which Jesus told to us before He left.

“And He said to him, ‘You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'”
-Matthew 22:36-40

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
-Matthew 28:19-20

This is God’s plan for all of us. I think each of us have different passions and gifts that we should use, but those gifts should be used for these reasons. If this is our goal above all else in whatever we are I doing, then we don’t have to worry about finding God’s plan for our lives because we would already be in it. I will never forget the conversation my team and I had about this when I was in Guatemala. If we make a “wrong” decision, God doesn’t say “well I guess you ruined the plan I had for you.” How many of us would be so severely “off course?”
Jesus’ words are my plan. I’m hoping for things where I think I could live out these things, but if it doesn’t happen, the plan doesn’t change. This is also to say I think too many people spend too much time waiting to figure things out, myself included. It’s time to go for things, green light until red. Even if it doesn’t work out, if our utmost desire is to fulfill Jesus’ words, God will work through it.
I don’t know what will happen with this opportunity, I’m certainly hoping, but it doesn’t happen, I know I’ll just continue to (try to) make God’s plan a reality in my life.

I want to be heaven-minded.

            I would like to do a research experiment on the word “beauty.” I want to ask people from all different ages/cultures/socioeconomic levels, etc.. how they would define it. I want to know the image that comes to mind when someone says something is beautiful and I want to know why that is.

            So maybe I won’t actually end up doing this (but if you know anyone who would like to fund my studies/travels to do so, let me know), but I want to know why this word is so powerful. Why does this word take up so much space in girl’s thoughts? Why do girls strive and fight with calories and style trends to defend one definition? Why do we think one word makes up so much of who we are?

            I have believed the lie that my worth is tied to my relationship status, and that my relationship status is because of how I look. I have believed the lie that there is something wrong with me because of these things, that the “beauty” thing or desirable thing just passed over me. My, my, my, how silly that sounds, how much I let lies grow in my head. One of the wisest, sweetest girls I met on my trip this past summer, Heather, said something that I will never forget about the lies we believe. She said she knows it’s a lie if it distracts us from Jesus, if the lie makes us think more about ourselves and less about Jesus than it is simply not true. Truth from God always pulls us closer to Him. Worrying about how I look and believing I am not worth relationships, makes me look at myself and pulls me away from what Jesus would have for that moment.

            The funny thing about all this is that beauty is actually a gift from God, the enemy has just done a terrific job of twisting it into something it wasn’t intended to be. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” God has promised that He will make everything beautiful, every single thing, in its own time. This is who God is, He takes something and makes it beautiful in His timing. He is the creator of the definition of beauty and His is the one I want. I the worldly definition of beauty, it will fade. I will spend so much time chasing it to realize it is unattainable and unsatisfying. Whereas I can choose to live out of the eternal perspective He has placed in my heart, and live by His truth, His definition of beauty. Since I cannot see the scope of His timeline, I have to choose the present and give up worrying about the rest. I have no idea what my life will look like after this year, but I know He will make it beautiful in His time. I choose to walk out of these lies and into the freedom He has given by choosing His truth. I am free to turn my eyes from comparing my life to others, from focusing on myself, and believing crippling lies. I am free to walk in the beauty of this life, the beauty of pursuing Him and leaving all of me behind. I want to be heaven-minded. 

a bigger love

Trying to recap the trip in one post feels like the question, “How was your trip?”

How do I begin to try and answer that?

It was great. I learned so much. I feel different. I miss it.

It’s when I have to explain that I get a little tied up. It’s when I’m back in the States for a week and still feel a little off. Did that trip really happen? Am I really starting my senior year, thinking about grad school or teaching abroad?

Despite a bit of displacement, the time in Guatemala is still changing me. That time is still changing me, because of how God changed me, showed me more of Him, taught me how to draw closer to Him, taught me how to try and listen to Him, and how He changes everything.

This was not what I was expecting to learn in Guatemala. I expected to spend the whole summer in love with the beauty of the country and its people, to form relationships with kids and families that would break my heart to leave. Which, I did. Guatemala is vastly beautiful, mountains, volcanoes, black sand beaches, and cool breezes all day long. Most of the people are kind and naturally generous, willing to talk and share their lives with complete strangers (and gringos). And I loved it there. But I fell in love with the Lord more.

I wanted to fall in love with Guatemala more, and I was angry with God that that wasn’t happening. I wasn’t making the relationships I wanted or living in a low income-crowded area, but rather living in a pretty nice neighborhood in a house with walls, working with cerebral palsy patients, on a coffee farm, hoeing fields and moving dirt. And I wouldn’t have traded any part of it. Through all the broken expectations, God continued to show me that He is more, that He is where my love will grow.

If I would have had it my way, my heart would be a whole lot more broken right now. I miss my team and Guatemala so much, but my heart is still full because His love never leaves me. The One I fell in love with, is the same where ever I am. He is the same at all times, in all circumstances. I feared I would’t feel Him the same way I did there, but that was simply a lie. God is still in Guatemala loving all the people we met there, and He is still with all my teammates pursuing and loving them. He is still with me and always will be.

I can honestly say these past two months have changed my life because I found a Love that changes everything. Regardless of circumstances, time, or emotions, God is the same love I got to know more of in Guatemala and will continue to know the rest of my life.

in good time.

            I knew these eight weeks would fly by. I knew I would be at the end of the trip wondering how it could have gone so fast. So here I am, trying to grasp the fact that this time next week I will have already been home for a day, that I will be getting ready to start my senior year of college while planning and praying about what to do next. I went into this trip believing God would give me an answer about what to do after college, even if it was just knowing whether or not I would stay in the States or go abroad. It wasn’t too long after getting here that God took away that expectation.

            We usually didn’t know our ministry for the week until Sunday night and even then there was a possibility of it changing throughout the week. We didn’t know if we would be coming back to the ministry we were at so we had to take in the time we had there for what it was, irreplaceable. Thinking about what we would do the next week or even that afternoon took away from the people that were with us in that moment.

            I wanted to come home with the assurance of what I should do after school, but instead I’m coming home with the assurance that all I am promised is today. I’m leaving these two months knowing that God is above my perception of time because His is perfect. I’m leaving knowing that in whatever time I have, I am called to seek The Lord. By seeking Him day by day, I will automatically be in His plan for me. I don’t have to worry about the future or the past because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will lead me to the future by me simply being with Him now.

            I think of how quickly my team bonded, how much we’ve grown together in this short amount of time, and how we have learned to “LIVE FOR TODAY!” as my teammate Mandy will yell if you mention coming days. We’ve lived knowing this time will end but that this is only the beginning. God has used this time in so many ways for each of us and He is going to continue to do so as we go home, as we enter into a new time. I am sad to begin preparing to leave this beautiful country and incredible people, but I know that God has immeasurably more for each of us as we continue to seek Him. He has an abundant, full life as we choose His Kingdom above all else. To my team, I know this is your heart and I’m so excited to see you all walk in it. I love you all so much.

            I’m not leaving with the perfect plan all spelled out for me, but I am going home knowing God’s plan is perfect and I find that by simply being with Him wherever I am.

Quieres Bailar?

The last two days we went back to hoeing dirt, and it was hard work, but I wouldn’t say I was as uncomfortable as when I danced with grandpas at the “grandpa house.” I have never really danced with a guy my own age, so when 75-year-old Oscar held out his hand and started moving his hips faster than I could follow, I was a little uncomfortable to say the least. The live band playing a gigantic xylophone played for a couple hours and by the end I wouldn’t say I would want to dance with a bunch of grandpas again, but I did have a new friend (One who would give me a picture of a horse and draw a picture of me, but that’s another story). Image

 

Later on in the week, after good conversation and coffee during one of our breaks, we went to the hospital to help feed the cerebral palsy patients. While we were waiting for the meals to be ready, my leader Roni asked if I had a hard time feeling comfortable around everyone. I do, but I thought I was doing a pretty good job of hiding it. Its not that I’m not forming beautiful relationships and loving this community, its just hard to open what I’ve worked so hard to keep shut.Image

There are a lot of girls on this trip, so boy talk is inevitable. We talk about marriage and being pursued, so it’s easy to let my mind wander. It’s easy to be reminded that I have never had that, and slip into wondering if I will. Rather than sitting in the question of “if”, I would rather shut that part of my heart down. I would rather hide the part of my heart that longs to be pursued, trying to believe I don’t need that from any guy, including Jesus.

When I came to Jesus, asking why I had such a hard time feeling comfortable around people, I was confused when He asked me to let Him romance me. How does that have anything to do with my relationships in community? He showed me how hiding that part of my heart from Him, keeps me from fully opening up to anyone. If I’m working so hard to hide from Jesus, who already sees all my heart, how much harder am I trying to hide from others?

Jesus is holding out His hand, asking me to dance. I can come to Him timidly and uncomfortable, but He doesn’t care because He just wants to dance with me. He wants me to open up in His arms, push through the discomfort, and open up my heart to His beautiful romance. Then I can know that I am His beloved, and in that security, know I can open up all my heart to Him and everyone else. 

still, expecting

At training camp, they told us to toss out all expectations. Left unmet leaves us still seeking, unsatisfied in where we are. I thought I didn’t have many. Easy surrender because I thought I was open to anything. 

That was before two weeks into the trip and I’m standing in the middle of a dirt field with a hoe and they keep saying we have to do the whole thing. The second morning of all day hoeing, I realized I didn’t do as good of a job surrendering as I thought. 

With each sling of the hoe, I let the frustration grow. How is hoeing a field ministry? How is this furthering God’s kingdom? I came to love people, not dirt. 

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A good part of my team were feeling the same. By the second week, we expected to be making progress, seeing fruit in relationships, seeing something. Instead, we were clearing a field, still unsure of what our ministries would look like for the rest of the trip. Instead, we were too lost in our frustration, blinded by unmet expectations to see the cleared field in front of us, ready to provide jobs for workers, ready for fruit. 

When I stood in the field, I knew I needed The Lord to change and my heart, and I knew He could, I just had to be open. After lunch, I walked over to one of my teammates, Stephanie, who I know the Lord used to encourage me just when I needed it. It was simple conversation, but in that specific time we grew closer, and we were both uplifted. Without that field, I wouldn’t have had to think about hard questions, frustrations. I wouldn’t have left feeling so loved by God that He would care enough to encourage and lift me up.

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From that day in the field and all throughout the weekend, I’ve had to continue to lay down expectations. I’ve had to accept that I won’t know what the rest of this trip will look like, and sometimes even what the day will look like. I’m learning that I have to be still in uncertainty, knowing that then I have to rely on the Lord, that His plan will always be better than mine. 

I’m learning that the only thing I should expect is what God has for that time. In everything else, I have to be still with God, putting all my emotions in Him so I can be fully present in this time. Whether I’m hoeing a field, holding hands with cerebral palsy patients (which is what I did today), or sharing Jesus with someone, if I listen I know it will be what God has for that moment. In this, I can be still and expecting only Him. 

que una semana!

I would say this has been one of the longest weeks of my life, simply because I look at my team and where I am and can’t believe we just met a week ago. These people that feel like family, this place that feels like home has only been in my heart for one week. Image

I want to bring you into a picture of the beautiful community I’m in. This team, who I was so nervous to meet, believing my insecurities would take over and I would cower back in fear, welcomes everyone. Its accepting, intentional, loves above all, and challenges. When I would love to stay in my comfort zone and hide from hard relationships, I’m being challenged to be here, to know that this time will fly by and we only have right now to push into this community. Image

Next week will be our first full week. This week was sort of pieced together with orientations and settling in. The first day we we’re here our contact, Luis, wanted to take us to tour an old convent. It was hauntingly beautiful. He told stories of some of the practices between nuns and bishops and “naughty” nuns. Those rooms behind us are where the nuns would be locked in when they we’re “naughty.” After the tour we went to tour the hospital. It was much better than what I was expecting, remembering the one in Honduras that still gives me chills. This one is a non profit, non-government, so everything is donated. A good majority there are cerebral palsy patients, and that is who we will be working with. It was hard to see, but every patient is dignified and loved, it’s just hard to be faced with the space to question why. I know my team members who spent the rest of the week there had a hard time, good, but hard. Image

(One of my incredible leaders, Roni. We are so similar it’s scary, and she has changed me so much!)

The rest of the week I went to a coffee farm. Luis has a friend named Julio who is growing his coffee business and needed help. The first day we went with him, he wanted us to go to two of his friends houses to pray for them because they are sick. One has cancer in his foot, the other has an infection in his leg that makes it hard to walk. I have also been acting as translator for him because he doesn’t speak any English. When I heard I would be doing that, I was terrified. I didn’t think I could possibly do that with the Spanish I know, so I immediately began praying for strength. That God would give me the words and help me understand enough to do a good job. The Lord is so faithful and not only helped me, but gave me so much joy in doing it. I actually got to pray in Spanish for the two men. I’m so excited to continue to grow in my Spanish. There’s something so beautiful about connecting with someone in their own language, and being able to offer that connection to someone else.  

Yesterday we got to walk around town and just spend more time growing with each other. Today, we’re going to Luis’s church! I can’t believe how different I feel in just a short week. In my relationship with God, in community, and just as me. I’m falling in love all over again with the Lord and learning more of what it looks like to truly walk with Him. 

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(The volcano outside our house!) 

What a week!