Do you believe that God loves you?

For a long time, I claimed the truth that God loves me with my words while deep in my heart I rejected it. I tried so hard to tell God that He shouldn’t love me, that I was too broken, too sinful and too imperfect for Christ’s love. Why would a perfect God choose to love someone that had done, said, thought, and felt, so many things that were disobedient to him?

First of all, God does not need to explain himself to us. HE IS GOD. It’s like when a parent or authority figure uses the argument “because I said so.” It can be so frustrating but that frustration doesn’t invalidate their statement. When a parent says, “because I said so” it means that is it, its true, no more questions are to be asked. God’s word is even more of final authority than what our parents say. God told us He loves us, and because He told us, we can know with certainty that God does love each of us.

Secondly, and more importantly is the fact that God IS love. The Bible explicitly states this in 1 John 4:8. Simply because of who God is, He loves- He loves you, He loves me, He loves his creation. It is not conditional on what we do or don’t do; He loves us for us because of who He is.

Its incredibly draining to try to earn a love that you do not have the ability to earn. It’s like trying to run through a brick wall. I would not recommend trying it, but if you did, you’d be staring at a brick (not a pretty sight), likely scraping yourself up and wearing yourself out. You would not be making any progress towards your goal, missing out on the beauty that is all around you, and missing the opportunities you could have had if you didn’t waste your time trying to run through to the other side. God already loves you, there is nothing left to earn! If you are anything like me, please stop trying to run through a brick wall, there really is no point. Trust me, I’ve tried.

What is God saying when he says He loves me?

God desires an eternity with YOU. That’s why He sent His son to die on the cross. He wouldn’t have had any reason to do that if He didn’t love you so much that He would give up an eternity with you.

Read Psalm 139.

God knows each idiosyncrasy, every talent, every thought and action even before we do or say them, without exception, God knows everything about us and He NEVER leaves our side. He created us, like a beautiful piece of art – His masterpiece. Psalm 139:13 “For you created me in my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God didn’t just throw us together like a baby playing with blocks, aimlessly throwing them together to make some kind of shape. No, He KNIT us – He knows every fiber of our being because He was the one that made each stitch with great care.

Christ pursues us like Hosea pursed Gomer in the book of Hosea. No matter how many times we run away from him, he chases us, always ready for us to come back to his loving embrace.

Christ loves us so much He has created plans for our lives. He doesn’t want us to be aimless wanderers with no purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 promises this to us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future.” He doesn’t promise it will be an easy road, in fact, He promises us just the opposite, but we can be assured that He will take each and every step with us, guiding us along the way.

So, live like God loves you and believe it with all of your heart.

A Visual Imperfection of the Heart

Every morning I finish getting ready by placing a pair of plastic framed lenses on my face. Neglecting to wear them means I can’t see very well, I get dizzy and I usually get a migraine. I can’t wear contacts because I need a prism in my lens and for a long time this was really hard for me. I felt like my glasses symbolized my physical weakness. They said to the world that I am imperfect, and need help. Was I over thinking all of it? YES! Regardless, that’s how I felt. I was frustrated hearing people talk about their glasses as something they only wore on really lazy days when they were just “scrubbin’ it.” Caring too much what people thought of my appearance, I worried that people thought that I was lazy and saw my imperfections as clearly as I could see through my dark red glasses.

I realize now, that I was thinking about my glasses in the wrong light. First of all, I am incredibly blessed to have any vision at all and blessed to have an aide to correct the imperfections in it. Second, who am I kidding, trying to hide my weaknesses. I AM IMPERFECT! Just like everyone else. That is why I need Jesus so desperately.

My eyes don’t go the same direction, which makes it hard to focus on anything, so my glasses help to align my eyes to work together. The same thing applies in my faith. When I align my life to the gospel, and look to Jesus for guidance, life makes more sense and life has purpose. Just like I can’t focus my vision without the help of my glasses, I can’t do life without the help of the Holy Spirit.

I’m human, I make mistakes, I have imperfections, and I most certainly cannot do life well without the help of my Savior. I see the world more clearly when I’m willing to humble myself and admit I can’t do it on my own.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:19

So, I will boast in my weakness because it reveals the power and greatness of my God. I am glad for my crooked eyes and the glasses that help me see clearly.

What is a weakness that you have where you have seen the power of Christ revealed?

 Photo on 11-9-12 at 4.54 PM #2

Excitement of a New Year

At the start of this new year I am in awe, thinking about all the changes that have come in each of the past 19 years of my life. It would be so easy to let myself worry over all of the things that could come or change or hurt – but I refuse to let myself go there. Despite all of the variables 2014 brings, there are so many constants and I am choosing to rejoice in both the constants and the variables! I know that this year will bring fun and exciting memories, a plethora of opportunities for me to learn, plenty of hardships, beautiful people to meet, chances to serve (and learn to serve), interesting books to read, the list really doesn’t end! I am overjoyed by each of these things to come! I can guarantee 2014 will not always be a cake walk but one thing I learned in 2013, is that in those times when life is hard, when you are unsure of the future and things seem to be falling apart, God is still present, still sovereign, is holding you in a loving embrace and in control of everything.

So, how am I going to conduct myself such that I get the most out of this coming year and grow to become the woman that I was designed to be?

This list I’ve come up with is by no means exhaustive, and I won’t be able to magically fix all my faults today. But, at the end of 2014, I hope to look back and be able to say that I worked to become more like Jesus Christ, to have a heart more like His because in the end – that is what matters.

  1. I am going to spend more consistent time reading the Word, and in prayer. It really is the best way to get to know our savior and I am going to work to better utilize the gift of the Bible.
  2. Learn to be more selfless with all aspects of my life.
  3. Cook more. Prepackaged, microwavable meals should not be a staple of everyday nutrition, even if it means fewer trips to the grocery store.
  4. Develop a sleeping schedule that is consistent. Everyone serves better rested.
  5. Learn to actively listen more and speak less.

My prayer for my 20th year of life is that I would continue to have my heart softened by my savior, to love God more and love people more, no matter the circumstances. It takes just one step at a time and will be that way until the day I go to heaven to spend an eternity with my savior.

What do you hope to see different at the start of the next new year? 

Beautiful Dreams

I have dreams. LOTS of them. Some are slightly more realistic than others but they are all a part of what makes me, me. As I have gotten older, my dreams, instead of withering away, have grown and developed and many of them seem to become more and more realistic each day. My many dreams have begun to blend together and as a result, have become even more beautiful and exciting to me.

I will try to explain what I mean:)

One huge dream I have is that anyone who is willing to look into Christianity or read the Bible – whether that be in part or in its entirety, has a Bible of their own, that they can write in and have for themselves. This is why I carry an extra Bible with me and I have a case of them at home just waiting for open hands and hearts. I have no intention of walking around shoving Bibles in peoples faces, but if someone thinks they might want one, I want very badly for them to have one. I hope that as their life is changed by the truth found in scripture that they would then desire to give someone else in need, a Bible and the number of people that have a Bible of their own would grow exponentially! The Bible a book filled with all of the answers, therefore, it’s more meaningful than anything I can say. It can speak for itself.

Another dream that I have is to work in a High School Ministry at a church encouraging and equipping high school students to share their faith boldly and courageously. Today, sharing my faith isn’t always easy. Back in High School though when I first began to learn about sharing my faith and how to do so, I was terrified and lost. I wanted others to know Christ and believe that he died to save them but I didn’t know how to go about it. Through a couple of mission trips and coming to college, and being involved in Christian community, I have learned how to learn to share my faith with both friends and strangers confidently. Why High School Student’s specifically? The Lord has really given me a heart for that specific age group. It is a very influential time in a person’s life and I want to be a part of it. It is when I first began to learn to live and share my faith and I hope to help other’s do the same.

For a long time, I viewed these two dreams as separate entities but they are not! Today I may not be leading a group of high school students, but I can still encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to share their faith, and use the Bibles I want to give away to do so. The Bibles I have are not mine, they are God’s. Only in a worldly sense are they “mine” and I don’t want to use them for worldly purposes. I realized that if I give Bibles to friends – whose lives have already been impacted by the Gospel – to give away, even more people can be reached. It is not something I have to do all on my own. (I know… that’s a shocking realization to come to…) Someday, hopefully someday soon, I will be able to encourage a group of high school students to boldly share their faith and maybe even share in my dream of giving Bibles away carefully and generously.

I find it so amazing how God takes our passions, our dreams, our goals and our strengths and blends them together to create a beautiful story in each of our lives. I am so excited to see what comes of these dreams because I believe with all of my heart that God has even bigger plans than I can imagine right now. I just pray that I can be a servant faithful to the call that God has given over my life.

If you want a Bible, or know someone who does, let me know! I would love to find a way to get one to you!

What are the dreams you have? How are they playing out in your life?
Please share with me! I would love, love, love to hear about your dreams, goals and passions!!

Everyone Has a Story, Here’s Mine.

As I pass people walking to class or driving down the street I often wonder, “What is that person’s story?” Everyone has a story – a unique life experience that has shaped their life and their character. If you could sit down and have lunch with that person, what would they want to talk about? What knowledge would they have to share? What are their strengths and gifts and how do they use them? What do they want to use those talents for in the future and how are they using them now? What kind of struggles are they facing today? What are they passionate about? What brings joy to their life and what provokes sadness?

These questions flood my mind because I LOVE to meet and get to know people. There is so much knowledge to gain by talking to people and listening to them share the lessons they have learned. The amount of knowledge each of us can learn through our own life experiences is great, but just think how much more you could learn from the life experiences of the people you already know and the people you meet each day! It is such a gift that we can share life with one another.

The best part is that a person’s story doesn’t end. Each day it grows as they do because we are always learning and changing. There are always more questions to ask and there is ALWAYS more to learn.

I have written out a snippet of my story of becoming a believer of the Bible, a follower of Jesus Christ, and the work God has done in my life since coming to college.

When I was 3 or 4 years old, I remember sitting in the living room with my mom and asking her every question about Jesus and Salvation that I could think of. Questions about heaven and hell and how I would know if I could go to heaven. My mom told me because Jesus died on the cross and rose again he paid the price for our sins and that heaven was where Jesus lived, and if we loved him and asked him into our hearts and asked for forgiveness from all of our sins we could go to heaven after we die, and live with him.

I asked my mom to pray with me and we prayed a short, sweet prayer that changed my life for the better. I honestly believed in Jesus and his love as best as little me could. As I have gotten older, and Christ has revealed himself to me more deeply, that relationship has grown and become my own faith, a faith beyond what I could attain from simply trying to be like my parents. One of the things God reminded me of this past summer is that he is infinitely everything. He is infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, loving, just, righteous, and humble, etc. Each of these attributes he reveals more fully during different seasons of life.

With this in mind, I wanted to share the attribute that the Lord has most recently worked on in my heart – humility.

At some point during my senior year of high school I prayed that God would humble me. I started to notice more things about my character, thoughts and actions that were incredibly prideful. As I began my 1st year of college, it took me a while to realize that God was actually working on my prideful heart and my single prayer was not forgotten. I realized that that this life that I have been given was not gifted to me for me to live on my own, for myself. I was approaching my schoolwork, friendships and schedule as if I could do them on my own. I put my own desires above living my life for Christ. So, I intended to jump right in and try to help the process along. Instead of running to the bible for answers, I went to my own, limited knowledge of humility. I decided that humility was thinking of my self as less both on the outside and the inside believing that confidence in who I was and who God made me was arrogance. I focused only on my faults and thought of myself as less and less.
I am in a campus group called the Navigators, which is a faith based group whose mission statement is “to know Christ and make Him known.” Through the Navigators I was in a discipleship group (bible study) and second semester, we did a study of the book of 1 John. Through the discussions my discipleship group had, the truth spoken into my life by fellow believers and studying the Word on my own, I began to realize the worth I have in Christ. One week the study focused on being children of God and I was reminded that I am one of God’s children that he loves and is working in to make me more like his son. Another week my group ended up talking about something that helped me to realize that I was giving too much of my thought time to appearance and I was trying to cover up my brokenness with makeup and nice clothes. Neither of those things are bad things but I made them ultimate things in my life and gave them power that they were never intended to have. After realizing this, I went a few days without make up and it was the most freeing thing I think I have ever done. It enforced in my mind that beauty isn’t all about outward appearances and seeming “perfect” and it isn’t what matters to Christ. What matters to him is the heart like it says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

It took me a while to realize that feeling worthless and ugly was incredibly prideful.  I am a daughter of the one true King, I was created by the God of the Universe and he says I am beautiful, he says I am worth it. He gave me worth by sending his son to DIE on the cross… for me. To say that as one of God’s creations I am worthless is equivalent to saying that God is wrong and he made a bad decision. 2 Corinthians says, “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” Christ has washed away my sins, and made me new, he doesn’t want us to think poorly of ourselves or focus on the sin that he already paid for. I learned that being humble has a lot less to do with thinking less of you and a lot more to do with thinking of others more often than yourself. In humility Christ died on a cross to pay my penalty. He thought of each of us before he thought of himself and that is a perfect example of what humility should be. As C.S. Lewis said “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”

Knowing this, I am striving to have a servant’s heart, to spend less of my time thinking about myself and more time caring for the people that God has put in my life. No, I still don’t have it all figured out but God is still teaching me and refining me to make me more like his perfect, spotless son.

If there are three things you can take away from my story I hope that it is that

1. God loves you and created you beautifully in his image.

2. God has wonderful plans for your life. He even promises it in Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

3. It is incredibly, incredibly important to go to scripture first, instead of worldly ideas. Had I done that I would have been spared so much heartache.
So, never give up and know that you are ever so deeply loved.

What is your story?