To The Girl Who Doesn't Feel Good Enough And The Boy Who Doesn't Feel Brave Enough

February 23, 2017

To the girl who doesn't feel good enough and the boy who doesn't feel brave enough:

I wish I could tattoo these words on your heart -- words of adequacy, affirmation, and vulnerability. I too have felt the crushing blow of powerlessness. I too have witnessed the weakness in the mirror. I too have lowered my feeble limbs to the floor with a white flag lifted. Despite my surrender, the war still wages on. The world combating my heart, my heart combating God's will. My doubts wrapped within the arsenal. My anxieties scarring my barricade. There is an upset in the war. There is a deep love that defeats the scarlet red wounds. There are banners that read of His certain love. Their is no uncertainty there. The sweet name of Jesus echoes in the haze and smoke. He is the strong tower looking over our weak souls. He is the shelter we hide in during war. Not just in war but in the life we walk in daily. He is the hand that holds us when we weep. He is the embrace that surrounds us in our defeat.

Psalm 61:2-4 // 
"From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
 lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
 a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
 and take refuge in the shelter of your wings."

Rest in this. Find solace here. When our gaze is set on Jesus, the chaos seems a little quieter, because we aren't listening to the world. When we seek Him with our whole heart, our heart's desires begin to line up with our Father's. Our perspective falls in line with the fullness of His compassion.
I love learning more of who our God is. It assures me. It captures my heart of how invested our God is in us. He is invested in you. He is faithful to the end. Oh, that is good. That is so good. The Word is filled with assurance and truth. He longs to be with us forever. He longs for us to seek refuge in Him -- eternally. I love how God never gets tired of us. He is never weary. He never fails. 

Psalms 16:5 // "O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup, You maintain my lot."

David writes of how God is his whole -- not half, not quarter, not an eighth. Wholeheartedly, He desired Christ. He seeked the Kingdom. He did life in mind of the Kingdom. Oh, that is what our Father desires of us. This is where we come into the picture. We are to be intentional about guarding our heart -- letting Christ protect it. We are to be intentional about making Him first. He is above all. He wants us to trust Him in whole. He wants us to find our identity in Him. He wants us to gain our strength and bravery in Him. He wants us to listen.

A mom and son stood in front of the milk section in the grocery store. I stood behind them waiting for my turn. The mom pointed out the better priced milk. She told the son that while we are here "let me teach you something". Wisely, the son listened to his mom and chose that milk. 
Simple, yes. Through the gentle instruction of his mom, he learned. Like the mother, we have a Father who says "hey, let me teach you something". He gives us instructions. Now, because of free will, we have the choice to either listen to His soft voice or follow the loud shout of the world. We have the choice to choose what our Father says is best or what we think is best (secret: His way is always better). Trust Him without restraints. 
He is our Teacher -- patient, humble, wise. Even when we are bullheaded and attempt to be the own king of our thrown, He gently leads us to Him -- hand in hand. Wherever your milk section is, God wants to teach you. There is purpose in His lessons, in His timing, and in His grace. Fill your ears with truth, solace, and of sweet mercies.

"You are not enough". Then God repeats, sweet child you are. 

Christ is not our band-aid, our temporary covering. He is eternal. He is not a fix. He is our living water -- the rest inside our bones. He gives us the assurance through His Word that we are chosen people. We are His daughters, His sons -- the people who He have His son to. The people who He continues to show faithful. The people who His Son wore stripes and punctured hands for. You are so enough, because we are declared enough by our Holy Father. You don't have to be brave as you have an All-Powerful God. Fear less of the world. Fear our Wonderful Creator.  

He so gives you rest. He so wants to take your overwhelmed heart and overwhelm it with grace -- sweet mercies. He knows you like He knows the number of the stars. Trust me, He wants you. He pursues you. Dance with Jesus daily. Dress in grace, mercy, love, and security. Do not warrant yourself to this self-seeking world. Sin has entered so deeply here that it effects where we find our own identity. A smile is on my face as I am reminded of how Christ defeats sins. Love triumphs over our iniquities -- His love. I wish I could hug you and tell you how deeply you are loved. I wish you could hear that God is doing that now. There is so much pain in this place -- tears that stain our perception of who we are and to Whom we belong. Unplug your ears. Let the loud volume of lies be silenced by the megaphone shout of Jesus' calling to us -- to be loved and to love. Humbly, lay down your burdens on the battle line. Put away your own weapons. 

Sweetly, you are Beloved. You are Chosen. He has a grasp on you -- never will He let go of you, never will He lose you in the chaos. Commit to less of the world. Commit to the All-Knowing God who will always walk hand in hand with you when you lift it up. Have grace with yourself. You will not be the perfect human being that society says you are suppose to be. Enough is being a child a God. Brave is surrendering. 

Hurt and brokenness may wage the war, but in the end, Christ wins every time.

Sweet friend, seek the Kingdom. Raise the banner that says "worthy". Wave the flag that says "brave". Loosen the reigns that chain you to the world. Let Christ free you from the sieging war in you. 

Let Your Heart Beat

February 21, 2017

Anxiety captured me today. Stress overwhelmed me to the point where I almost cried on multiple occasions. 
My heart is so loosely tied to the seams right now. It's being pulled to so many different directions. 
Today reminded me of the one night,I had slept in one of the waiting chairs when I heard a family starting to come in. Hugs of welcome were exchanged and each of them talked about how great of a fighter their grandfather was. I slept for a little longer and heard a cheer come from their side of the room. I remember feeling as if they were so selfish. They were so selfish to cheer and celebrate how their loved one would be okay while I had been in that chair waiting for my dad to pass -- while I had been there for over a day, a night, not receiving a single piece of good news. They were there for a few hours and received it. I just couldn't shake how reckless their celebration had been. 
Everyday, I walk past people who are struggling. Who find bitterness in joy. 
Now, looking back, I wonder how people see me through their eyes. How do hurting people see me when I celebrate and laugh and find joy in goodness? How do struggling people see me when I walk seamlessly and smile? No, not how selfish of them. How selfish of me. How selfish of me to not celebrate a life.

My heart was so hardened that it couldn't beat for what other's beated for. My perspective was so turned that I couldn't seek goodness. I didn't see the meaningfulness behind this before. I didn't see, because my eyes were so blinded from bitterness. 
Now, I see. I see that prayers were answered that night. I see that Jesus had His arms wrapped around me tight. He brought me in and gave me so much comfort. He remained faithful even when my faith was lacking. As my heart is anxious right now, I can still see His gentle hands working. As I am overwhelmed, I still have a Jesus who will give me rest. Change your perspective. You are going to go through stuff, but instead of just trudging through, grow through it. Let the loose ends of your heart be pulled together with the sweet truth that there is a love so powerful that it does not compromise.

Let your heart beat. Don't strangle yourself in the anxiety. Find peace in eternity.

Isaiah 59:19 // "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard".

I love how faithful our Lord is. I love how He fights our battles -- how He raises His fists for us and fights. To be loved endlessly is so comforting. Never again do I want to be so bitter that instead of cheering on broken people, I look down on them. 

When your soul is weary and smiles surround you, oh, walk with grace. When strength is emptied of you, seek Christ instead of bitterness. Your feeble heart is so tenderly loved by a good Father. Crowd your ears with sweet truth. 

You Belong

February 14, 2017

Tainted windows, cracked mirrors, dirty piles fill the room placed in the nook of your heart. Worthless, Inadequate, Lost, write their names on your walls. Love is beating at your door -- shaking it, relentlessly pursuing for you to welcome Him in with open arms. your fragile hand slowly reaches the knob but in you echoes the sounds that scream "you, you are so not worth the time". You feel like a mess in your skin. 
People have hurt you. spoken unkind words to you. downgraded you. frightened you. the walls have become so thick of doubt. as that tender knocking continues, remember to Whom you belong. remember to Whom can sustain you better than self-doubt. Remember where your foundation lies upon. The blinds have been covering up the light that shines through the empty darkness. When you get to a point where you can turn the knob and take Love's hand, Grace will remind you that it was always there. Always renewing itself. It will remind you that you can stand up and dance again without restraints. you are free not bounded. You do belong. While the dark shadows will still try to hinder your joy and unworthiness will sit at your doorstep, you will still be embraced by He who deeply loves and cares for you. 

// We all have broken doors that we hide behind. What if we spoke about what we love about each other all of the time? What if we spoke up and gave her a compliment instead of an envious glare? What if we spoke kindly about people every time we hung out with other people? What if we saw more beauty in radical love? What if we reminded people that they do belong?
I think that would change a lot. Commit to your purpose of pursuing love and dancing without restraints. Look deeper than the exterior. 

To those feeling unlovable, you are so so worth loving. You are so loved and worth it. Stripes were made for you, and iniquities were taken from you. You are chosen -- sweetly beloved. 
What I love about our sweet Jesus is that He does not love me for my success. He doesn't love me for my talents. He does not love me for how man loves. He loves the heart. He makes me worthy and renews me everyday. 
I am so sinful and flawed yet I am accepted and spared. 

1 Samuel 16:7 // " But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

As Christ reminds Samuel that he should not appoint a ruler by His appearance, He reminds us that we should not love more or love less because of someone's appearance. There is no partiality in Christ. His love is a fountain for all to retreat to. The stripes He bears gives us the freedom we sing for. Christ is out greatest example of loving radically. He is the love that knocks on our doors. He is the grace that renews itself. Above all, put on love. You are so not unlovable but loved endlessly. Because we are loved, we are chosen to love. Sweet one, see God as your example of how you are loved and how you should love. 

Exist For Discipleship Not To Facades

February 12, 2017

Oh my sweet goodness!! My heart is so full. Conversation. I love some good conversation. My heart is not captured by small talk but captivated with heart to hearts. I had some beautiful deep chats yesterday (shout out to you, girl). We dug deep. We got a little messy. We reached each other in a way that awkward "hellos" and eyes drawn to our phones couldn't. 
We are called to invest in each other, Share our hearts and be raw. 
Oh, I live life like a highway way too much. I zoom past those who go a slower pace than me. I get road rage when someone cuts me offs. I forget to show grace. I get impatient when I have to wait. I go too fast and skip creating real relationships. I pass too many faces that read broken, anxious, depressed, fearful, lost. My fear drives me away. It's really scary for me to be raw -- vulnerable. It's scary for me to slow down. stop racing. I am slowly learning -- slowly learning to love it: love good for the soul chats, love sitting with a friend and opening up, love talking about Jesus and His goodness, love sharing my struggles. 

We exist to love people and encourage them to grow in Christ. 

Thanks to my lovely church for teaching me that. The mission to disciple is so near and dear to my heart. The mission to love radically is my great commission. To do that, we need a love for Jesus. Make it a goal, a priority, to love Jesus so much that His love just overflows -- pours out!! Creates a river!! We are called to so much more than living life by the highway. We are called to relationships and doing life with our sweet brothers and sisters! 

Yes, it is okay to reveal the mess -- the chaos.It is okay to get rid of the masks and facades.

It broke my heart yesterday when a girl raised her hand after I asked if anyone has ever felt self-conscious or icky about their body. My hand was also raised though. Through that simple hand raise, there was a "me too" moment. Yeah, me too. I also struggle with body confidence. Yeah, me too. I also struggle with self-esteem. As I carried out that devotion, I watched as her eyes became more attentive. She listened, and I only pray that she will grow through this and be as raw and vulnerable as she was when she raised her hand. I am tempted to reply with a "life is good" when someone asks how I am doing even though my heart is shattering. I am filled with the lie that I am burden when I share my true feelings. Oh, that is so not true. It is okay to share when you are not okay. It is okay to seek help to help you seek Christ. 
My friends, discipleship is our calling. There is a girl in your church begging to be affirmed that she is not the only one struggling. There is a boy in your school is searching for place that it is safe to be himself. There is someone who needs to hear the words "even in the midst of darkness, there is hope". There is hope. It is a common misconception that you can only disciple if you are a global missionary, pastor, small group leader, or adult. 

Matthew 16:15 // "And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature".
Go. He did not say to go tomorrow, go when you think you are ready, go when you have a degree in philosophy.  In this context, He is saying "go now". No time to wait! There are people to be discipled. There are burdens to be helped carry. You do not need to travel across the country to disciple. Yes, that is amazing! That is life changing. I, myself, get the opportunity to travel to Guatemala this summer to disciple. But don't forget your ministry at where you are at now. There is community around you now.
My friend and I sat down for coffee yesterday. We grew closer through attending a small group and serving. For both of us, our futures are unknown. We have no clue where are roads are headed to. Adulting is becoming a reality. We are getting jobs. Taking placement testings. Visiting colleges. Man, we are growing up. We flowed to a conversation about our future careers. With me, I am all over the place for my career. I would love to be on the mission field, but I also would love to study business. I would love know more about psychology, but I would also love to pursue my passion in writing and photography. She said something yesterday that absolutely lifted my heart:
"I don't know what my future is, but all I know is that I want to do something that pleases the Lord."
 Our unforeseen future is in the hands of our All-Knowing God. I find that so comforting.We are each designed with the purpose of serving and loving. For right now, All I know about my future is that it is for the Lord. Trust me, I don't know all the answers. Sometimes when I speak, my words are silent, and I am clueless of what to say. That is okay though. You can love radically by simply listening, by being present, by taking your focus off of the screen and meeting their tear-stained eyes with yours. Let's exit this highway. Let's slow down. Pick up the pieces of the torn and shambled. Wave and smile at the slummed and hopeless. Caring about an individual on a personal level. Love people more! Love people more! Love people more

Challenging you to slow down and grab someone's hand and walk this broken road with someone. When I write, I am mainly writing to myself. I am writing my own convictions and challenging myself to grow more in my relationship with Christ. We exist for discipleship and not to facades.

Dear Neighbor, I Owe You Nothing

January 31, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

You are the person who's lawn looks a whole lot better compared to mine. You are the person who I brush shoulders with on the street. You are the student typing away in this busy coffee shop. You are the single mom who's kids insists on running instead of walking. You are church goer who I fear when the pastor says "hey, get up and shake someone's hand". You are the friend who I have not talked to in ages. You are my actual best friend. You are walking the same path as me. You are my neighbor.

I owe you nothing but love -- love and kindness. 

I apologize for not making eye contact with you. I apologize for the lack of a sincere smile. I am sorry for neglecting to tell you about Christ by putting my own security first. I am sorry for not being a neighbor to you.

I apologize for not using my voice to speak truth. The truth that you are the neighbor that I am suppose to be loving on not fearing. I keep turning away and running from the beaten path that we both travel. I make excuses. As a Christian, I am called to love not to turn away. I am called to embrace not to reject. I am called to welcome you with open arms. Instead, I fear actual connection. I fear rejection. I fear making the first move. 

Neighbor, have mercy on me for I am still learning. I am still learning to choose love instead of fear. I am starting with a smile. I don't know what you are going through, but I sure would love to take your hand and go through it with you. Your slumped shoulders say it all. I want you to know that I see you. I see your brokenness. Most importantly, Christ sees the broken shambles that surround you. You are so worthy and trust me, wanted. I see your bloodshot eyes. I see the dark circles that have to what seemed drawn it's permanent marker on you. You are not alone. I want to be your neighbor who loves, who cares, who is kind, who shakes your hand, who gives you a huge tackle hug, who shows you the love that Christ has shown me. 

Anxiety. Depression. Grief. Divorce. Mental Illness. Physical Illness. Loneliness. Struggling with porn. Struggling with Addiction,

I know you are going through something, but I continue to make excuses. I step backwards instead of forwards in our relationship. I choose to sip my coffee and burn my tongue a million times instead of actually making conversation. You would think I would want to save my taste buds BUT APPARENTLY NOT (note: if there is still steam coming from your coffee cup, most likely, it is not safe enough to risk drinking).

I want to be all in. I want to be the modern day Ruth. Mmm!! Ruth has to be in my top favorites for Bible books. 

Ruth 1: 16-17 // "But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,if even death separates you and me.” 
Ruth was insistent!! Though she was going through deep waters, she knew she was called to love on Naomi. She knew she was being called to be a friend, a neighbor, and take up the burdens of Naomi. Her selfless love created a relationship that had Jesus' kindness written all over it. She knew she was called to more than just to herself. She did not sulk in her own darkness but chose to seek light through loving on others -- loving on Naomi.

Neighbor, you are not imprisoned to loneliness, and I am sorry I have made you feel as if you were. My calling is to walk with you through the dark and bitter days and run with you through the bright and sparkly ones. Breathe, sweet friend. Inhale. Do not become trapped inside your own breathe. Fill your lungs with the sweet song that we are given daily -- grace, hope. I may be a stranger to you or a close friend. Either way, I hope to nudge you a little closer to seek those bright and sparkly days. Heck, I may even push you. Aha. Just maybe.

As you get home from a long, crappy day, please remember that our God is good. Yeah, yeah. You have probably been told that phrase a great lot of times. How can He be good when my life is falling to pieces? How can He be good when I have work piled up to the ceiling? How can He be good when I am living in a single parent home? How can He be good when my dad just passed away? How can He be good when I got the bad results from the doctor? How can He be good when my best friend and I just had a huge fight? How can He be good when my husband left me and my three kids? How can He be good when my church won't even accept me? 

How is God still good through this?

Psalm 34:4-7 // "I sought the Lord, and Heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them."

He is still good, because He is greater than your circumstance. He is so much bigger than your circumstance. He is so much Higher. He hears you. He hears us. No matter what. He hears you. He is FOR YOU. When God is for us, HECK NOTHING CAN BE AGAINST US. No crappy day can stomp over Christ (cue the "hallelujahs" in the pews). Our God saves. God does not discriminate in His goodness. He takes you and wraps you up in the huge embrace. He takes your shame, your sorrow, your grief, your loneliness. He takes you for who you are. I pray that I emulate Christ in that way. I pray that I can show you that same acceptance, that same grace. I want to hear you. I want to meet your tear-stained eyes. 

I hope the next time I see you that I am not pretending to do something on my phone while I am really playing a really dorky pet grooming game. I hope the next time I see you that I do not put my nose up in the air and pretend not to see you. I hope the next time I see you I have grace and mercy -- the grace and mercy that my sweet Heavenly Father shows me every single day. I hope that I am a like one of those random kiddos who does not fear anything -- who will come up to you with a huge, cheesy grin hanging from my face.
Romans 13:8 // "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law".
All I owe you is love. I owe you a hand shake. I owe you eye contact. I owe you a compliment. I owe you a smile. I probably owe you some fries or some kind of milk shake. I owe you my sincere heart and real actions of love. My prayer is that I will be brave. I will step up and be your neighbor. I pray that I will seek your needs before mine. My comfort zone is supposed to stepped over, and I hope that I kind of erase the worldly thought that this zone I am in should be stayed in. I pray that the life I live radiates the love of Christ. You are my neighbor as well as my sister or my brother in Christ. You have purpose. You belong. I hope I tell you that in person.

 Hugging you tightly,

Your Neighbor

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