What 2018 Taught Me

As I sit and type this in just a few short days 2018 will come to an end and a new year will begin. As I sit on my couch reflecting on this past year, I am amazed at all the times God showed up. 2018 was another year filled with lots of life lessons.

1.)Quality over Quantity –  Friendships are so important. In fact, God created us to be in community with one another. However, one thing that I have learned this year is that it is impossible to be friends with every single person I meet. It is unrealistic and it’s unhealthy because it can become physically exhausting. We are absolutely created to be in community with one another, but it is also important to take care of ourselves first. God calls us to be kind to everyone we meet and loving people, but sometimes for our own well being we need to set up boundaries within relationships. As I get older It’s no longer about having “the most” friends. It becomes more about having a few meaningful friendships I can connect with on a deeper spiritual level. This saying is so true…”Find your tribe and love them hard.”

2.)Self Care and Self Love are so Important- I am an introvert to the fullest. I am also a very anxious person. Sometimes when I am feeling anxious (and even when I am not feeling anxious) I need to spend time by myself. I love being with friends but sometimes it’s so much work getting ready that by the time I’ve put all that time and energy into getting ready, I am exhausted. I live such a busy life that I understand the importance of self care. Sometimes spending an evening at home taking a nap and watching netflix is all I need to recharge for the week ahead of me.

3.)God didn’t move but I did- I’d like to think that I have a pretty good relationship with God. I go to church every Sunday, I serve in ministry, I help out with our church’s youth ministry, and I participate in a large group young adult group ministry. I’m a creature of habit and I would love to say that I read my Bible every single day and I make quiet time for God every day, but the truth is life is busy. Things get in the way. I get distracted. I get out of routine. It’s often times in those moments when God begins to feel distant. I’ve realized it’s not God who has moved, but it is me. The good news is that I can recognize that there has been a shift with my walk with Christ and I can refocus and draw closer to Him.

4.)People Change-As I look back over the past year I know that I am not the same person I was at the start of 2018. I am so thankful for the ways God has been working in my life. Not just this year, but over the past 3 years. I’m very stubborn and sometimes I have to make the same mistakes over and over again until I finally learn my lesson. Some of those lessons have been very painful but they’ve been lessons that have caused me to grow up and to check my relationship with God. People change. I changed in 2018. If you aren’t changing, then you aren’t really growing.

5.)Life is so Precious-Earlier this month I had such an eye opening experiencing. On December 5 I realized just how precious life truly is. I’ve never been one who takes life for granted {because my brother and friend were killed in car accidents} but that morning was a wake up call for me. I love how God is a God of infinite chances.  {I’ll explain in a later blog what happened}

2019 Here’s to a year full of new adventures!

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2019 Bucket List

1.) Disconnect from social media for an extended amount of time

2.) Learn to let things go

3.) Be kinder to myself

4.) Smile more

5.) Read my Bible more

6.) Journal more

7.) Get organized

8.) Eat healthier

9.) Take up photography

10.) Invite a friend to church

11.) Have a game night at my house once a month

12.) Go on vacation with friends

13.) Go to the gym 4-5 times a week

14.) Go on more adventures

15.) Pay off my credit card debt

16.) Take more risks

17.) Read more

18.) Learn to be content with what I have

19,) Spend more time with family

20.) Serve more

21.) Invite a friend to church camp

22.) Grow as a person

23.) Learn to play the guitar

24.) Pick up a new hobby

25.) Spend more time outside

26.) Go to a baseball game

27.) Watch fireworks

28.) Go to the zoo

29.) Do more things that make me happy

30.) Invest in more Godly relationships

One-Eighty

I returned home from a week at church camp 6 days ago. During my week at camp God spoke to me in ways that I still can’t even really explain or put into words. I’ve been putting off writing this blog…mostly because I don’t like to be vulnerable.

Lakeside is the camp that I’ve grown up going to. I’ve been to Lakeside the past 17 Summers. That’s over half of my life. About 6 weeks before camp I started questioning God and whether or not I was supposed to go. I prayed about it for 2 weeks and then told my youth leaders that after praying I was going to commit to going. A week before camp I got really nervous. I questioned whether I was being obedient to God and if I was REALLY supposed to be there. I didn’t just want to go out of routine. I was nervous because I knew that God was about to do something HUGE in my life. Lakeside is always life changing, but what if I wasn’t really ready to embrace the changes coming in my life?

Since graduating high school I’ve always gone to camp with a servants heart, but this year just felt different from the start. Usually the first night during devotions we would go around and say why we came to camp that year and what we were hoping to get out of the week. I was dreading that question because honestly I had absolutely no idea why I was there this year! This year we weren’t asked that question, but it was something I began to ponder.

Our speaker for the week, Bobby Allen, spoke briefly on Sunday night during kick-off and I was glued to my seat. I was hanging on to his every word. He began by sharing part of his testimony and as the week went on he shared more of his testimony. He was real and he was raw with us. By Monday morning I realized that my purpose for the week was not to serve the teens in my youth group, but that I needed to hear every message Bobby preached. God was going to do a number on my heart that week.

I did not realize how messy my life had been until I got to Lakeside. It was during that week that God revealed so many things to me about my life and about my character. Over the past year I made lots and lots of mistakes. Mistakes that brought a lot of shame. So much shame that I tried to bury it and I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. I hid my problems pretty well.

I’m on staff at my church so I have to have it all together, right? Wrong! For almost a year I would walk into church with a smile on my face and act like everything was fine on the outside, but really on the inside I was a broken mess. Things were happening in the life of my church and within my personal life that were beyond my control. But God was always in control.

The church I attended on Saturday nights for months talked about our identity in Christ and who we are in Christ. When we got to camp this year our speaker spoke a lot about who we are in Christ. It was during camp that I realized that no matter how many sermons over the past few months I had heard on my identity in Christ, I realized I had forgotten who I was in Christ.

Not only did I not know who I was in Christ, but instead of leaning on God, I began to lean on other people. At camp I also realized that I had been sabotaging friendships and relationships because I didn’t know who I was in Christ. I was placing unfair expectations on people in my life. These were expectations that only Christ can meet. For a while I began believing lies about myself. I started thinking that I wasn’t good enough. No one would love me because of the mistakes I had made. (These things are just lies and not TRUTH). I also realized at camp that there are things in my life from my childhood that I need to learn how to deal with. I can’t erase the past, but I can learn how to deal with things in a healthy manner and I can lean on Christ.

I’ve known who God is since I was a child and I’ve had a real relationship with Jesus since middle school, but this year at Lakeside I had an encounter with the Living God like no other! God has challenged my thinking and has changed my life for the better!

I don’t know where you are at on your journey with Christ, but here’s a few things I learned at camp I’d like to share with you:

If you don’t know your identity in Christ, you’ll believe things that aren’t true”–Bobby Allen

4 R’s =Recognize the lie, Repent, Renounce the lie, Replace lies with TRUTH

Truth sets you free, lies bind you–Bobby Allen

What is my identity in Christ?

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefor, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”

How does God see you?

Complete- Col 2:10 “and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority”

Unconditionally Loved-Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Totally Worthy-Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well”

No Condemnation-Romans 8:1 “There is therefor now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

His Children-1 John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

 

What 2017 Taught Me

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is in the past. As I type this, today is the second day of 2018. Halfway through December I started reflecting back on the year. I can honestly say that 2017 wasn’t too bad of a year. Like any year, it had its ups and downs but was full of life lessons.

Here are just a few things 2017 taught me…

Community is so important. Towards the end of 2016 I started attending a young adult group at a church nearby where I lived. In January of 2017 I started attending on a regular basis. Through this group I have realized how important it is to be in community with other believers. It’s essential for us to grow as Christians. This group has not only helped me grow in my walk with Christ, but these people have become so much more than that. They’ve become some of my best friends….or should I say they have become more like family. As Christians it is so important that we have others around us to help hold us accountable.

Comparison is the thief of joy. How many of you can honestly say that you’ve never compared yourself to someone else? If you said you haven’t, then you are probably lying. Comparison is something that I struggle with. There will always be someone who has a nicer house than me, someone who is prettier than me, someone who is skinnier than me etc etc. Comparison really is the thief of joy. Instead of focusing so much on what we are not, why don’t we start focusing on what we are. We are loved by an Almighty Creator. We are worthy and redeemed! Maybe we aren’t enough in the eyes of the world, but in God’s eyes we are ENOUGH and we are never TOO MUCH!

People will let you down. No one is perfect. People that we never thought would let us down will at some point probably let us down. Why is it that we tend to put certain people on a pedastool? I know that I am guilty of this from time to time. The truth is that we are all humans and we all make mistakes.

Making time for God is so important. Life is busy. In fact it’s really busy. I’m constantly heading from one place to the next. Spending time with God is so important. I love my 20 minute drive to work each morning because that allows me time to start my day off by talking to Jesus. I also love coming home and just listening to worship music. Something that I have noticed with my own personal walk with Jesus is that the moment things seem out of control in my life or like things are falling apart, it’s usually because I’ve taken my eye off of Jesus. God didn’t move, but I did.

The past is the past for a reason. This past year more than ever I have learned that the past needs to stay in the past. In order to move on you have to acknowledge what happened, but then let it go. Letting it go doesn’t mean you 100% just forget about what happened or what hurt you, but you don’t let it keep controlling you.

Some people and friendships are not worth your time. People change and people grow apart. That’s ok. That’s a part of life. There’s no need to hang onto those people and friendships.

Self care is important. I’m an introvert. There are times when I need to be by myself and that’s okay. That doesn’t make me weird. I work in ministry as well, and over the last year I have learned how important it is to take time for myself and to work on my own relationship with God.

God makes all things new. You know that verse in 2 Corinthians? 2 Corinthians 5:17 to be exact. The verse that talks about being a new creation in Christ. That’s me. Throughout 2017 God began to do such a work on my life (and He’s not done yet). Lots of pruning had to take place. Pruning is often times painful, but yet so necessary. Throughout this last year I’ve watched God pluck away at all the rough edges of my life. In June I got baptized. All the “bad” stuff in my life was washed away. I am so thankful for the ways God worked on my life in 2017.

2018 I’m ready for ya!

2018 Bucket List

Last year I came up with the idea of creating a bucket list for the upcoming year. Looking back on 2017 I’m happy that I was able mark off more than half the things I had on my 2017 Bucket List. Without further ado, here is my 2018 Bucket List

1.) Read my Bible more

2.) Spend time journaling

3.) Spend quiet time with God daily

4.) Pray more

5.) Disconnect from social media for an extended amount of time

6.) Go on a mission trip

7.) Take up photography again

8.) Learn to cook

9.) Learn to play guitar

10.) Start an inspirational facebook page

11.) Donate clothes I don’t wear to someone in need

12.) Make 5 new friends

13.) Travel

14.) Go to an amusement park

15.) Watch fireworks

16.) Take a vacation with friends

17.) Leave behind in 2017 toxic friendships and relationships

18.) Learn to love myself the way Christ loves me

19.) Get healthy and eat healthier

20.) Invite a friend to church camp

21.) Go to the gym 3-4 times a week

22.) Learn something new

23.) Take risks

24.) Be kind to others and myself

25.) Love harder

Your Brokeness is Welcome Here

It was last Summer. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor literally crying out to God. Sobbing. I had found myself in a difficult situation and I had no idea how I had even allowed myself to get to that place. It was such a terrible place to be. I was at a place of such brokeness and I needed God to heal me.

We live in a society that says we have to “have it all together”…all the time. We can’t let anyone see our flaws and our imperfections. We can’t be vulnerable and we can’t let people know what we are struggling with because we do not want to let people in, and we do not want people to see the real us because we fear that we will get hurt.

What does it mean to be broken? What does “Your brokeness is welcome here” even mean? Being broken before The Lord means that God is exposing our flaws and the walls that we’ve built and He is allowing them to fall so that we can learn to rest in who we are in Him, and who He is. “Your brokeness is welcome here” means that we can lay everything down at the Foot of the Cross and give it to Jesus. Christ welcomes our brokeness and He wants to take it from us. He wants our burdens. He doesn’t want us to carry around the things that are hurting us and weighing us down.

Being broken is usually painful and often times as humans we have a hard time with surrender. We want to be in control of our lives and we want to “take the pen” and write our own stories when in fact we should just let God.

I can honestly say that I am not the same person  I was a year ago. I am not the same girl that over a year ago was crying out to God feeling so broken, having a hard time surrendering her life over to Christ. A year ago I still wanted control of certain areas of my life. I kept running back to people and friendships that I knew were not fruitful and that were not leading me to a better relationship with Christ.

Surrender is hard. Surrender is not a one and done thing. It’s a daily process. Every morning when I wake up I have to make the choice to daily serve Christ and allow Him to have E V E R Y aspect of my life. It’s hard. There are many days when I want to do things my way. I want to run the show. I want to be in control.

I am often reminded of these scriptures:

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Luke 9:23

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
John 3:30

He must increase, but I must decrease.

 

During this last year God has completely changed my life. Surrender is a process. Once we surrender, it doesn’t mean that all of our problems and struggles are going to go away over night. It’s a process and it takes time. We have to let God work on our hearts and work in us and through us.

Life is not always easy but i think that when we go through difficult seasons of life we are able to appreciate the “easier” seasons in life more. The seasons where things seem to be going really well.

I am so thankful for how God has changed my life over the last year. He’s made me a happier person and He’s blessed me with an awesome group of friends who have pushed me and challenged me with my walk with Christ.

Are you letting God have complete control of your life? Are there areas of your life that you are holding onto? Is there something you need to surrender to God?

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found- Lakeside 2017

I returned home on Saturday after a week at Lakeside For Youth Senior High camp. Although I have had some time to process everything that I learned and experienced last week, I am still having a hard time putting it all into words. I came to know Jesus at a young age and have been a Christian for the majority of my life, but there’s just something about L A K E S I D E that really ignites my heart for Jesus and renews my fire for The Lord.

If you’ve never experienced Lakeside, I encourage you to do so!

Here are my top 5 favorite moments from camp this year (In no particular order)

1.) The Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda- On Tuesday night our evening program was a children’s choir from Africa. The Holy Spirit showed up in South Aud that night for sure. I work with children 6 days out of the week so it’s safe to say that I loved this children’s choir. This was a group of children who were mostly orphans. The things they’ve been through and witnessed in their short lifetime is incredible, but the way that they worship God through these circumstances is even more amazing. During the beginning of their performance I was brought to tears. I started thinking about my relationship with God and the way that these children were praising God. Although they had a difficult childhood they were still praising God with everything within them. To be honest there is so much I have to be thankful for but many times I take things for granted or I get distracted and just don’t feel like praising God and worshiping Him. It was in that moment that I started looking at my relationship with my Heavenly Father differently.

2.) Concert of Prayer- Our evening of prayer on Wednesday night was a concert of prayer. During this time the house band played and we were instructed to pray for different things. We prayed over our youth groups and our families among many other things. We were immersed in the Holy Spirit. During this time ( a little over an hour) I was able to set aside any distractions that I may have had and really just focus on prayer and talking to God. After the concert of prayer I had the opportunity to talk to my youth kids and hear about their experiences during the concert of prayer. The reoccurring theme was that my youth kids were able to connect with God in ways that they had never experienced Him before. A few of them were even able to see Jesus’s face.

3.) Remembering my Baptism- I was baptized in 7th grade for the first time but during my time at Lakeside I was able to “remember my baptism’. I think that was probably my favorite memory of the week! Lakeside has played such an incredible part in my faith journey and my walk with Christ, but what made this moment even more special was having my youth kids there with me to witness such a memorable moment. If I am being honest, since last year at camp I’ve had a rough year. I went through several job changes, relationships and friendships dissolved and I’ve made lots of mistakes. For me “remembering my baptism” meant that everything that had happened over the last year was washed away. I am made new in Christ! I am a new person!! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

4.) Praying over our youth kids- During our devos on the last night (Friday) the group leading them wanted to lay hands over each other and lift one another up in prayer. Prayer is such a powerful thing and it was awesome witnessing our teens praying over each other and claiming things through the power of Jesus Christ. We took a group of over 20 teens to camp and we prayed over each other for over 2 hours.

5.) As we were getting ready to leave on Saturday morning one of our own youth kids received some bad news. We had the opportunity to pray over him. It was in that moment that we realized that none of knew what we were going to be walking into when we got home, but we knew that God had been preparing us all week long for whatever it is that we are going to be facing this year.

During our Chaplain’s talk on Friday he marinated a steak. He used an analogy in regards to the steak. He stated that while we are at camp we are like the steak that’s marinating, but what are we going to do when we get home? What aroma are we going to have when we aren’t at camp any longer and we are back home?

If you would like more info on Lakeside for Youth please check out our website http://www.lakesideforyouth.com

2018 Dates

Senior High Week 1- June 24-June 30

Senior High Week 2- July 1-July 7

Family Camp- July 6-8

Junior High- July 9-July 13

Ever been mad at God? Yeah, me too.

It was a hot summer day in July. July 23 to be exact. I was 20 years old and out of the country on a mission trip. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday. Our team was painting a school when the phone rang. After several minutes of passing the phone back and forth I received the news. News that would change my life forever. At 20 years old my world was rocked with just one short phone call. “Your brother was killed early this morning” are the words that will forever haunt me.

Have you ever been mad at God? Yeah, me too. At 20 years old I became angry with God. I remember a few days after I flew home to be with my family, my mom left me at home by myself as she went to make funeral arrangements. I was still in shock and in no shape to leave the house. For the first time since receiving the news, I was left by myself to actually deal with and process what had happened. In those first few minutes alone I began to “do business” with God. I remember screaming. I remember yelling these words “God, I am so pissed at you!!!!”

The crazy thing is that God can handle it. He can handle my anger and my frustration and he loves me through it.

I don’t know where you are in your walk with Christ. I don’t know what kind of day you’ve had. I don’t know what kind of week you’ve had. Please hear me when I say that no matter what you are going through in life right now at this very moment, God has a plan for your life. If you’re mad or angry at God know that He still loves you.

We all go through difficult seasons in our lives. Sometimes life hurts and it gets messy. I’ll never fully understand why my brother was killed at 23 years old but I know that God was in control that early morning and He remains in control. It’s okay to be mad at God. He hears us when we cry out to Him. He hears our prayers, our doubts, and our frustration. I think it’s in those moments when we are mad at God and crying out to Him that we can draw closer to Him. He reveals Himself to us if we just listen and let Him.

In 2009 I spent several months mad at God. I’m here to tell you that I’m human and that we all face moments of brokeness, but God is so good! Although there is no perfect ending to this story, I’m here to tell you that God has revived my heart. I have such a passion for sharing the Gospel with everyone I meet. Because of my brother’s death I am so compelled to share the Gospel with everyone I meet.

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”–Psalm 30:5

Take off the Mask

At the start of the school year during one of our youth groups we talked about the many “masks” that people wear. We were asked if we wore a “mask”. This could mean that we were a “Sunday morning christian” but during the week people couldn’t tell that we were a Christian.It could also mean a number of other things as well.  At the time I didn’t think that I wore a “mask”. What you see is what you get with me. I don’t try to hide who I am. People know that I love Jesus.

Over the last couple of months though I’ve really been thinking about that statement.

Here’s the thing. At times I do wear a “mask”. On the outside it might seem like I have my life together and I’m always happy, but that’s far from the truth. I have bad days just like anyone else. Jesus didn’t say that this life would be a piece of cake. He said that we would have troubles, but to take heart because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)  Although I am not always happy my joy is unending.

The last thing I want to do is paint this picture of myself and have you believe that I’m “perfect” or that I think that I’m perfect. I’m just as flawed as the next person. I’m in desperate need of my Savior Jesus every single day.

The truth is I only post the “good” stuff on social media. You are only seeing a glimpse into my life. You don’t see the moments when I’m struggling with my anxiety. You don’t see the moments when I can’t seem to pull myself out of bed on a Saturday morning because the truth is I would rather sleep then face the world sometimes. You don’t see the days when my fear is crippling and I just don’t want to face the world. You don’t see the days when I feel super self conscious and quite honestly don’t like my appearance. You don’t see the times when I decline an invitation to hang out with friends because I’m an extreme introvert and would rather stay home because of my anxiety.

Please don’t be fooled by social media. No one’s life is perfect. If it appears that way through social media it is simply because you aren’t seeing all of  the “bad” stuff. You are only seeing a glimpse of that person’s life.

Instead of holding on to these “masks” I’m running to Jesus. Jesus you can have my fear, my doubts, my flaws, my imperfections, my anxiety. You can have it all!

Are you wearing a “mask”? What is it that you need to hand over to Jesus and lay down at the foot of the Cross?

My 2017 Bucket List

We’ve all been there. We’ve all made New Year resolutions. I stopped doing that years ago because truthfully I never held up to my end of the bargain. Less than 10 days into a new year I had already forfeited my resolution. This year I’ve started a bucket list for 2017 of all the ways I want enrich my life and in some ways just have fun.

1.) Read my Bible more

2.) Pray more

3.) Be more in tune with God

4.) Go on a mission trip

5.) Blog more

6.) Laugh more

7.) Travel

8.) Get back into photography

9.) Make 5 new friends

10.) Pay for someone’s food while going through the drive through at a “fast food” place

11.) Go to the Zoo Lights at Christmas time

12.) Enjoy a baseball game

13.) Throw a “party” at my house (and by party I mean throw a small get together with a few friends)

14.) Finish an entire series on Netflix

15.) Read more books

16.) Say “I love you” more (but not necessarily in a romantic kind of way. More along the lines of saying that to people I care about)

17.) Learn all the words to my favorite song

18.) Share the Gospel with others

19.) Love harder

20.) Get a gym membership

21.) Take a road trip

22.) Give more compliments without expecting one in return

23.) Eat healthier

24.) Spend more time with those who really matter

25.) Completely disconnect from social media for an entire weekend

26.) Become more organized

27.) Trust God more

28.) Do something completely out of my comfort zone

29.) Talk to a complete stranger

30.) Volunteer somewhere

31.) Go camping

32.) Start a prayer journal

33.) Take a dance class

34.) Invite a friend to church

35.) Drink more water

36.) Become crafty

37.) Learn to cook ( good grief we all know I can’t cook)

38.) Be more intentional with my friendships

39.) Be spontaneous

40.) Plan a girl’s weekend

41.) Plan a game night at my house

42.) Pray for someone

43.) Learn to play the guitar

44.) Go to more concerts

45.) Catch up with an old friend

46.) Stay up all night talking with friends

47.) Take up a new hobby

48.) Start a budget

49.) Learn to be content

50.) move

51.) clean out my car

52.) Wear less make up