Tuesday, February 14, 2017

the capacity for love (and donuts)...

It has taken me a long time to stand where I am standing, in this place where I am "okay" with Valentines Day. More so, I even kind of like it love it. I am not rolling my eyes at the many social media postings of dating/engaged/married friends, lamenting over the date-less night I have ahead of me, or even joining in on the "Singleness Awareness Day" bandwagon. No no, this year is a little bit different.

Valentines Day has always been a little somber for me, a reminder of the lack of love in my life. This year, by God's grace, I see it as a celebration of all the love I have received and been honored to give to friends and family. Call it wisdom, call it age, call it whatever you want, but God has slowly and tenderly been reminding me how much I am loved and how much I am able to love people. And the craziest thing? It has not been through a romantic relationship! I have never felt more loved than by my community, by the men and women in my life who love me in the smallest, most non-romantic ways. When I stop focusing on how I think I should be loved, I am given the eyes to see the ways that I am already being loved.

"...when I stop focusing on how I think I should be loved, I am 
given the eyes to see the ways that I am already being loved..."

To celebrate love ONLY in the context of a romantic relationship is missing the whole point of what love truly is; love is an extension of Christ, the One who gave His life in replacement of ours, and to only reserve it for a romantic relationship? Well, that's cheating and cheapening the love of our Savior. To only reserve love for a romantic relationship, to essentially one person, is to cheat and cheapen the work of the Cross. We must allow God to expand and redefine our definition of love so that it includes our friends, our families, and our special someones. Love is complimented in human love, but completed in Christ's love.

"...love is complimented in human love, but completed in Christ's love...."

We have the capacity to love only because we have been loved by Christ; He shows us how and who to love (which, by the way, is unconditional and all inclusive). Whether I am single or married, divorced or widowed, I want to love people. I want to bring them donuts and pray with them and hold them while they cry; I want to love them the way that Christ loves them, which was extravagant and exhausting and self-sacrificing. Being single should not hinder me from loving, but rather give me the freedom to love and be loved by others.

Lord, enlarge our hearts past holidays and circumstances and statuses.
Lord, grant us the capacity to love unconditionally and inclusively.
Lord, enable us to love others without expecting anything in return.
Lord, help us to receive love when others give it to us.
Lord, remind us that love is not a feeling, but a choice.
Lord, expand our capacity to love and be loved by Your people.

So today, love your people, buy the donuts, and be encouraged, 
because Christ has given you the capacity. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, we would probably take a spontaneous trip to the snow, have a huge breakfast with pancakes and bacon and eggs and take coffee to go to keep our hands warm.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about my new dress I bought from Forever 21 (thank you, Christmas gift cards!) and how I am basically living in it. It's comfy and cute and I am obsessed. I may just go back and buy every single color.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you about how I am going to Texas in February and Portugal in May and I am beside myself that God lets me do the things I do.

If we were on a coffee date, there would be a very very high likelihood of me playing "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran and car-dancing the heck out of it.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I have discovered that a clean kitchen is part of my love language. Also, why are cleaning products SO expensive!?

If we were on a coffee date, I would challenge us to buy ourselves flowers this week because I think we need more flowers in our lives.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about what God has been teaching us lately. For me, that means trading in my fleshly fears for the fear of the Lord, asking God for wisdom, and maintaining a humble heart. 

If we were on a coffee date, what song would you want to car-dance to?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

on being simple...

For some, 2016 was an absolutely terrible year while for others, it was the greatest year of their lives. For me, 2016 wasn't the best and it wasn't the worst, it was kind of a filler year. But even filler years are used by God, in His goodness and sovereignty. I was involved in two car accidents, encountered the most sickness I have ever had in one year, went on my first date, travelled to Ecuador to visit one of my best friends, was the Maid of Honor for another one of my best friends, went through a small heartache and the loss of wants, and turned 27. It was definitely a weird year, but weird years are not wasted years, something I need to remember always. I praise God or the weird years, because He is faithful still to show up and lead us and love us through them. 
This past year I focused on the idea of cultivating, growing in my knowledge and experience of Christ. Looking back, this year was truly tilled and sifted by the Lord. In the beginning of the year, He wooed me with grape juice and crackers and gave me people to champion. The Lord taught me about His timing and and the contentment found in waiting; He taught me hope and grace. My heart learned the importance of prayer (REAL prayer) and about security and fear and redemption. In the Spring, I learned about patience and perseverance, about guards and walls. In the Fall, He taught me the true meaning of the Sabbath and that He is the standard of sweetness in life. I learned about the importance of community and made a Christmas card.

Looking forward, I am excited and expectant for what the Lord has laid on my heart. This year, Psalm 23 will be my anthem. For years I've been numb to this passage, but this year it will fall fresh and be manna to my weary heart; 2017 will be the year of simplicity, of bare bones (but not dry bones). It will be a year marked by softness and intentionality and quiet. And friends, simple does not mean easy. The more I dwell on this word, the more I realize how hard it will be. Simple means action. It means actively cutting out the extravagant and the unnecessary. Simple means being intentional. And, simple is not synonymous with boring (the hardest thing for my heart to understand). Life can be simple and quiet and FUN still. 

Simple: not ornate or luxurious; modest; not complicated 
or complex; mere; bare; quiet.

I want this year to be the year that I live with less. I want to live under my means. I want to eliminate debt from my life. I don't have much, but I still have it, and I am tired of budgeting around it. In order to kick this debt to the curb, it means I have to be very intentional with my "yes" and my "no". It means that I will be saying no to unnecessary Starbucks lattes, to the Target dollar section, to the cute dress that I "need", and to taking the long way home from church. And it's not just about money, it's about saying no to good things to make way for the great things. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want... If 2017 is about living simply, then maybe 2018 can be about living generously. Not just in finances, but in time, in resources, in prayer, in love. 

My prayer is that God would give me a love and a contentment that I have never known before; I want to live simply, with Jesus and with people. I want to see the beauty in the small and the quiet, to live in the moments that God graces me with. Simple, quiet, stable.

Cheers to 2017, friends!
What are you focusing on this year?

Friday, December 23, 2016

my Christmas card, my Ebenezer...

As I grow older, nothing brings me more joy in the Christmas season than to receive Christmas cards from friends and people whom I consider family. I love reading through the updates, seeing all of the matching outfits, and oo-ing and ah-ing over pretty designs and words. Also, I feel the need to tell you that one of the couples from my church (and very dear friends) has a photo of President Obama holding their sweet baby girl on their Christmas card which means they definitely won Christmas.

Over the past few years, I have wanted to make a Christmas card. But here is the deal... I am single. Is a single woman allowed to make a Christmas card? Is that awkward? What would I even put on it? A photo of just myself? Of me and a dog? (I don't even have a dog!) Christmas cards are for married people, for big families who have lived big years, at least, that's what I have always thought. To me, I felt like if I made a Christmas card, it would highlight the lack I feel in my life... no husband, no children, no family. Just me in a field of Christmas trees. Festive, but lonely. 

This year, I made a Christmas card. It's festive and full of life; they are full of my favorite memories and my favorite people. As I hand them out to my community, their excitement and joy overwhelms me. This card may just be a card to my friends, one that will be set on a mantle or hung on a garland, but to me it serves as an ebenezer, a mark of God's goodness in my life. I look to this card and see fullness rather than lack; my life is FULL of people and friends and adventures and ministry and it's beautiful.

In 1 Samuel 7, we see that Samuel commemorates his victory over the Philistines by raising a stone, an ebenezer. This Hebrew "stone of help" would remind him of God's faithfulness, that He has been his strength, his portion, his literal rock. 

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us..."" - 1 Samuel 7:12

This Christmas card allows me to see Him and say the same as Samuel, thus far the Lord has helped me. Where I perceive a lack in my life, Jesus has filled it. After all, that is what Christmas is all about, right? Our fulfillment, our Savior, has arrived. 

Thus far the Lord has helped me, what a beautiful truth to remember. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, it would be late morning and we would order something festive and delicious because it's a sin not to this time of year.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd give you a Christmas card. This is the very first year that I created a Christmas card (more on that later!) and I am pretty excited about them. It's so fun and I am questioning why I didn't start this sooner.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about Christmas. It's a season of mixed emotion, a two-sided coin for so many; one side is incredible hope, the other side is unimaginable pain. We would talk about our sides. 

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about how 2016 flew by! I would ask you about your plans for the new year. Did you make resolutions? Did you pray over a word?  I would  also ask you what you have planned for the holidays. I have two weeks off and I plan to spend as much time with as many people and reading as many books and eating at as many fun places as I can! Tell me what you have in the works.

If we were on a coffee date, we would create space for transparency and vulnerability. We need more of that in our lives, don't you think?

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about the new book that I just ordered. 

If we were on a coffee date, we would chat about "Gilmore Girls" and "Fuller House" and "This Is Us" because really, how could we not. 

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about Advent. What are your thoughts on this season? Are you reading any books or devotionals as a guide?

If we were on a coffee date, what would you want to chat about?