Thursday, March 26, 2015

Life is Hard.

No matter what life stage you are in or age you are, it is a safe bet that you have had many ups and downs.  Most of us have asked the question, "Why me?"  at least once.  Flunking out of college, losing a spouse, dealing with depression, losing a parent or child, breaking your neck, losing your job...I could go on but you get the idea, hopefully.

I mentioned before that no one ever said this life would be easy.  In fact, if you are a believer, it is guaranteed to be difficult.  Candace Cameron Bure said in Reshaping It All that, "Losing weight is hard; maintaining weight is hard; staying overweight is hard.  Choose your hard."  That can be applied to any part of life.  Knowing that and applying it are two very different things though.

For some reason, we allow ourselves to strive and align to this imaginary timeline that says we have to reach certain points by certain ages.  If we don't, we fail or are falling short in certain areas because of it.  Heaven forbid it be because God has a different and much better plan for us.  "Surely I'm doing something wrong because all of these other people are getting to experience these things."  Ladies and gents, this is another lie.  Where are we getting this timeline?  Who said we have to be a college graduate?  Who said we have to be married with kids by age 25?  Ummm I'm 0 for 3 there and it's taken me a while to be okay with that.  In all honesty, some days I still battle it.  That is because I start comparing myself to others...again. We all need to stop and realize that the standard we look to is Christ and our commission is clear about making disciples and loving people where they are. We're all a work in progress.  :)

I have friends that have lost jobs, spouses, parents, children and their reputation.  Yet they still love Jesus.  They know that life is hard and that what we are all owed is hell.  It is only by the grace of God that we are able to get through this life day in and day out.  We all have our own "hard" to face.  It's how we respond and who or what we look to that really matters.  If I put my worth and definition in my job, appearance, social status, significant other or future children, I am putting unnecessary pressure on those things and people while setting myself up for catastrophic disappointment. 

I started writing this over a year ago. I had no clue as to what was in store and just what incredible experiences were ahead. There have been ups, downs, losses, wins and laughter galore. I shouldn't be surprised when things take a turn but in December, they did. I got a call from my missions coach and of was told that I'm not going to Italy (yet). Those reviewing my file said I have some medical things to work on and I later found out I need more experience under my belt. I get it, I do. My heart just hurt because of the rejection I felt. I had been told that they didn't see any way I wouldn't get appointed. My coach was shocked as well. I'm thrilled to tell you that I've seen glimpses of why I'm still here.  God didn't owe me those but he chose to share them. The day my file was supposed to go before the missions board, God gave me the chance to pray with a former employee who is dying of cancer.  There have been other opportunities as well that have no doubt been from The Lord. I'm grateful and excited that it's not the end of those. I'm able to talk about it now without crying (the week I was told wasn't pretty) and I know God has something He is preparing me for. It's not because I'm a failure and I don't have to have this all figured out (oh what a freedom)! So for now, I'll just keep moving forward where He has me and work on the things He has put before me. Easy? Nope. Worth it? Absofreakinlutely!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More Important Things

Before you proceed, please note that I am not judging anyone in this or condemning as it is not my place, nor my desire.  Just an observation that broke my heart today.

We all gripe and complain about things that are "first world problems" or that others would be grateful for.  We have moments of selfishness and longing for superficial affirmations.  When is enough considered to enough already?  Guys, we are so consumed in our own crap to even care that brothers and sisters in Christ are losing their lives at the hands of Isis and other groups that hate Christianity, joy, family unions, etc. 

I was scrolling through my Facebook mini feed and saw some posts from Buzzfeed about how One Direction is trending and people are freaking out about one of the guys leaving the group.  By freaking out I mean LOSING THEIR MINDS!  You know what?  That's his choice...let the young man live his life and deal with his stuff.  He wasn't created to complete you.  Yes, the guys are talented but IT'S A GROUP.  It's not a life or death situation for their fans.  As my friend Hannah would say, "RELAX."  I've been trying to watch my language, even in humor, as of late or else I would add in my own extra words with hers.  :) I'm not saying you shouldn't be bummed but let's have/use some perspective here.  We aren't devastated over our own sin (I'm saying we because I'm soooooo guilty) but we are devastated about trivial things that don't determine salvation.  It's been a day full of gut checks for me.

It's happened through the crying because they're seeing their favorite artist or group.  Mom saw Elvis when she was in college (I know, right?!) and she said girls were sobbing and fighting over his scarves.  Heck, I'll admit, I get giddy when I get to see Straight No Chaser and Ed Sheeran but even I have limits.  People panicked when they saw other boy bands over the years but I just don't get it.  There's more to life...many more important things.  I get being disappointed in changes and whatnot but we should be sobbing uncontrollably over the people being murdered, children being sold into sex slavery and those dying to addictions.  We need a revival and we need it now.  We need Jesus. 

I know, the news is depressing but it's good and healthy to be aware as to what is going on around you in your town and in your world.  There are missionaries leaving daily to go to distant parts of the world that need our prayers and our support.  There are people in our towns suffering from loss, depression and much worse that need to see the love of Jesus.  There's something that everyone can do.  Pray for where you should serve and how you can support those around you and around the world.  I'm about to purchase the book, "Defying Isis" that was written by a former college pastor, Johnnie Moore.  He's a gifted communicator with a heart that yearns for his brothers and sisters overseas.  Check it out. 

Again, I said this in love and out of heartbreak.  Let's stop pitching tantrums about One Direction, who will go on, and start praying for those that are literally suffering and dying.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why Did I Wait So Long?

I would be lying if I said I hadn't freaked out at times when I thought about turning 30.  Is it old?  Nope, but it's a milestone birthday.  It's the start of a new decade and I've said before that I'm not at all where I had planned to be but lately I've really enjoyed it. 

It's taken years to get to this point but I'm grateful.  Is every day easy?  No, life isn't perfect for anyone.  And on those hard days, I will be honest and say that it takes every ounce of willpower not to hit a 20 year old that tells me, "oh girl, I know waiting is hard."  We all know that I'm not the best at using my filter on a good day so you know it's grace that keeps my mouth shut then.  And yes, I know we all have experience with waiting whether it be for a job, a miracle, healing, reconciliation, marriage, babies, etc.  Each season is hard though and I'm learning that more and more each passing day.  My married friends have to constantly work on communication, respect and boundaries.  Adding children to that mix is even more chaotic and then there's work stresses, church responsibilities and etc.  I actually have it really easy right now from the way I see it.

For some reason, I took on these expectations of how I thought life should look and where I should be by specific ages and life stages.  I was so na├»ve about it.  I felt like I couldn't fully live until I was married or had reached some great timeline marking.  Yep, again with that dang timeline.  Where did it come from?  Disney?  Maybe.  My own expectations of a picture perfect life? Probably a mixture of that mixed with society and the dreams of a little girl that somehow took over.  I lost sight of myself in the longing of getting to new and better phases in life.  Most importantly, I lost sight of God and what he would want for me.  I'm not owed anything but hell and it's only by His grace that I can even begin to walk in grace, knowing that I get to spend eternity with Him. 

As silly as this may sound, I thought I wouldn't be able to do big things without a husband.  Foolish, right?  I know I'm not the only one that has faced this though.  We all feel like we aren't supposed to do certain things until we reach specific marks.  Stop it.  We have people that love and support us not just for who we are but in spite of that.  I'm over being stuck in ruts because of the lacking I thought I had.  Some very dear friends (Kimber, Hannah, Em & Ashton) along with my precious family threw me one heck of a 30th birthday celebration and I was so happy to not have to worry about having a significant other there.  I can enjoy where I am because of God's goodness.  Not because of a circumstance that I do or do not have.  Life is a gift and it's time to fully live it.  Not because of this milestone but because it's why I'm here.  To love people where they are and to pour into their lives and He has poured into mine through the incredible people that He's allowed me to know.

I got to thank some of those sweet friends this weekend for being part of that healing process.  They've shown me that we are loved no matter where we are in life.  Their sacrificed time, finances, creativity and etc. spoke volumes to me about the fact that I am worth something and that I'm not defined by those things I looked to for so long.  I'm happy, grateful and overwhelmed by the overflowing of love that I've seen and experienced over my 30 years and have had to repent for being so blinded by my own plans and expectations.

What is it that you have always wanted to do but felt like you couldn't or weren't' supposed to because of a status or lack there of?  Go do it.  You'll regret it if you don't.