God used a whale to get my attention

Have you ever had a bad day?

Sure, we all have.

How about a bad week?

Yep, that, too.

 

Good, I’m not alone. In fact, none of us are. It happens. A part of life.

This week was one of those weeks where I struggled to stay optimistic.

For lack of a better way to phrase it– I felt spiritually under attack all week.

On Sunday, the sermon focused on how Satan attacks those who are spiritual leaders; those with a vision or those about to go through a spiritual victory. As I sat in the pew, I jotted down a few notes and Scripture verses, all the while thinking that the coming week would be like every other.

That night, a friend sent me a Bible verse. Joshua 1:9. It says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 is one of my favorites so I found the “coincidence” an encouragement to start my week. I copied the verse onto a post-it note and stuck it to my mirror.

Sometimes, a spiritual attack comes all at once. A hard hit you didn’t see coming. Other times, it comes one punch at a time. A pinch, a hit, a punch. Little by little, it makes its presence known.

This week, it came little by little. One discouragement after another. One almost-right thing at a time. One “you’re not good enough” thought at a time. One “you don’t deserve this” thought at a time. One “How can you believe in Jesus when the world is so cruel sometimes?” thought at a time. One incontrollable situation at a time. By Monday night, I thought, Here it comes… it’s only Monday and I’m done with this week. 

By Thursday night, I collapsed at my desk, teary-eyed. The week had been fine– no dramatic situations had occurred– just little punches to the stomach. Little thoughts of negativity swam around my mind like fish in a sea. Little punches, however, add up to bruises, whether they come hard or not. By Thursday night, I felt spiritually, mentally, and emotionally bruised. Tattered.

Joshua 1:9 echoed through my mind as I awoke on Friday morning. I was drained. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t have the energy to face whatever that day would bring. Quite frankly, I just didn’t have it in me to discover what that day had in store.

That’s when it hit me.

Satan wants me to feel like this.

He wants me to feel so utterly discouraged, weak, and lethargic that I won’t want to live for Jesus.

Be strong. The words echoed in my head as I got up.

And courageous. I brushed my teeth.

Do not be afraid. I packed my lunch.

Do not be discouraged. I packed my back pack.

For the LORD your God will be with you. I drove to school.

Wherever you go. I parked.

Feeling an urgent need to stay positive and reflect on the week and what God wanted to teach me, I listened to “Nothing But the Blood” and “In Christ Alone” on repeat. It was then, walking the college green, that I realized what today was.

Youth group.

As a youth group leader, I spend my Friday evenings with hundreds of junior and senior high school students. I help lead a small group for ninth grade girls. I love getting to know the kids who enter the doors. I look forward to it every week except this week, I realized that something big was going to happen.

Something was going to shake me. I felt like God was slowly preparing me for whatever He had in store for that night.

Fast forward to that evening. I hesitated walking through the doors. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t think I was ready for whatever it was.

Be strong… do not be discouraged. I entered.

I pushed the negativity away. I pushed the thoughts back so far that when the talk began an hour later, I felt okay.

“How do we know there’s a God?” the speaker began.

He continued. Verse after verse, example after example, the speaker listed the ways in which God is everywhere. “There is no random chance. Everything is strategic. Everything has a purpose.”

The words repeated in my head. Everything has a purpose. 

It’s when I saw this video that I lost it. THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD.

The HEAVENS– the oceans, the whales, the fish, the stars, the planets, the sound waves.

Watch this (it’s worth EVERY minute):

The pure impact of this video collided into me. Like a punch in the stomach, I couldn’t breathe.

Everything has a purpose. I have a purpose. YOU have a purpose.

Sometimes, we will have bad weeks.

Sometimes, our weeks will be SO BAD that by the end of it, you don’t want to face the next day.

But, “Be strong and courageous. Do NOT be afraid. Do NOT be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you WHEREVER you go.”

What a great reminder, huh?! Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes, I need that reminder. I need to be shaken out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, I need to be punched in the stomach in order to wake up, look up, and turn my eyes back to worshipping my Savior.

This past week is behind me. A new week will begin. I know that no matter WHAT happens, God doesn’t do random. Everything has a purpose. Sometimes, that purpose is unknown to us. Sometimes, discouragement overwhelms us to the brink of exhaustion; but fear not, for God is with you.

Isn’t that the best news for a Saturday?

Get ready.

Sunday is coming.

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The Moment Is Now

August 8.

It is quite possible that a fast-forward button was added to my life, because honestly, I don’t really remember July.

It is such a blur– but a good blur.

I learned a lot in July. I grew a lot in July (figuratively and mentally speaking, not actually). Desk

Today marked the close of a chapter: the last day of my internship. I wrote about the lessons I’d learned  back in the beginning of July and they still hold true. The rest of the month raced by, one social media campaign at a time. I underestimated how much I’d love visualizing an idea and watching it slowly form into a reality. It really was a rewarding summer.

With a great experience behind me, it is hard to grasp the fact that the next chapter opening is senior year. I began this blog five years ago as an expressive escape to journey through my high school adventures and lessons the only way I knew how: through word.

Now, I’m here. Maybe not as faithful in blogging as I should be… but I’m here. I’ve learned a lot, experienced a lot, poured my heart out and looking back at the blog posts of my past, realize that you have travelled with me through each and every minuscule and monumental moment of my life (well, all the ones that I blogged about, that is).

VerseAs I reflect on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m heading, I realize that Psalm 33:18 speaks volumes of God’s grace and my lack of perfect understanding. It only seems appropriate that it was my “verse of the day” a few days ago.

Entering college, I worried about where I was headed. I knew God provided, but jumping in complete faith was never my forte. Continually, God has shown me grace and has answered my prayers in ways I couldn’t fathom. He sometimes shut doors that I had begged to open, but there was always something better awaiting. Or not…yet, anyways. And I learned to be okay with that, too.

The Lord really does watch over those who trust in Him. I’m not saying, by any means, that it’s easy. But man, God really is awesome if you stop and think about it.Agenda

Now granted, the control-freak tendencies sometime shine through. I do, and always will, love purchasing school supplies to help cope with the fact that another semester is beginning and another summer is ending. My agenda will always be my saving grace to save me from insanity. Isn’t it cute!? ———–>

CofeeBut, no one’s perfect!

I do have to admit that I really am thankful God created coffee. How else do you think I survive Mondays? Or Tuesdays? Or Wednesdays?

Yes, this summer has proved to be a great one. This summer, I learned more about myself. I developed and learned professional skills. I boosted my resume.

But, I also met genuine, down-to-earth encouraging people. I observed diverse personalities and made new friends. And all too soon, the weeks faded away. Today, as I left the building for the last time, it was bitter sweet. It was bitter because every closing chapter is, but it was sweet. Sweet because of the memories made, the skills learned, the people met. The next chapter opening, new adventures to be had, new experiences yet to be had.

As I inch closer and closer to that first day of senior year, I focus on the future. I do not know what is to come. A lot of unknowns, that is for sure. But, I’m ready for this next chapter. In whatever I am faced with, I am reminded of Esther 4:14.

Perhaps this is the moment I was created for.

Esther

The Dash: Part One, an intro to what is coming.

After a lot of thinking and a lot of encouragement from a few friends and family, I’ve decided to write a mini blog series, entitled “The Dash.” 

This blog post is PART ONE of “The Dash” blog series. This is the INTRODUCTION to what is coming. I am excited for this! I really want to share what is on my heart with you. I hope that you will join me and follow along during this series. 

Each Sunday, a new “chapter” will be published on the blog. Please feel free to share and comment your thoughts and opinions in the coming weeks as I dive into “The Dash.” 

 I yearn to interact with you. To get to know you. To get to talk with you. Let this be the beginning of a conversation between you and me. 

Join the conversation on Twitter, as well, using the hashtag: #thedashblogseries 

———————- 

I look out into the field. My body shakes with emotion. I close my eyes, hard, and hope that this is all a terrible nightmare. I open them, but I’m still standing here, facing this field. 

Tombstones peak between the grass blades. The cold granite conflicts with the perky green of the landscape. Something so happy like green grass does not deserve to be associated with heavy rock.

I don’t like being here. I want to leave. This is not a place where you want to be, yet here I am. I scan the field and quickly read a few of the stones’ headings.

Etched in the rock are dates of people past. The markings of when they entered earth and when they left it.

A whole life summed up in just a few numbers and letters. I find myself staring at it. These dates and letters through my eyes, eyes that threaten to spill over tears, captivate me.

What separates the two dates is a dash. A hieroglyphic of the English language. A straight, horizontal line. A mere punctuation. Zero degrees curvature without a hint of an incline or decline.

Straight.

I stare.

The line that separates the two dates is easy to miss. Easy to ignore. Easy to skip right past. The focus is on the bookends. The dates, balanced, sit on either side of the dash.

But that dash, that dash represents so much. Every minute of every day you are has to be summarized by two inches of horizontal geometry. The day you entered is the beginning of that dash and the date you left, it is the tangible end to it. That Dash is what made me stop and stare. It doesn’t seem right for it to be there, so tiny and easy to miss. It should be bigger. More evident.

A whole life is summed up in two dates. Decades of life, of breath, of oxygen inhaled, of carbon dioxide exhaled. Seconds… millions of them, the heart beating, eyes blinking, memories forming. It’s not captured. The dash represents everything. It’s heavy with meaning, yet it stays straight. No ups, no downs, no adjectives to help describe what that dash represents.

It just sits there between the numbers and letters. It makes me wonder. It makes me think. It gives me an idea.

This dash.

You skip right past it and read what’s on the outsides.

Just the date you entered, fists clenched.

And the date you left, palms surrendered.

So you’ve had a bad day…

Have you ever heard a message so many times, but then you hear it one day, and it’s like you’ve heard it for the first time?
You have a total “OH MY GOODNESS!!!” moment.
Your whole life makes sense. Or, at least, some parts of it.

You have an epiphany of sorts.

That happened to me yesterday. Yesterday was not one of my better days. Everything seemed to be going wrong. To be honest, I felt hopeless, insignificant, lost, and utterly speechless and incapable of doing anything. I wanted to give up. I started doubting myself. I started wondering why a lot of things were happening to me.
A little dramatic, are we now? You may be thinking.
Oh shush. Haven’t you had one of those days, too? Of course you have. It’s called a bad day.

I’ve blogged before about my Type-A personality. Sometimes, it can be a good thing. But other times, it makes me my own worst enemy. I put pressure on myself to do well in whatever I do, no matter what the cost, no matter how hard it may test me physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. I put pressure on myself to succeed because Type-A personalities do that. It’s weird; I don’t know why, but it happens that way. Like I said, sometimes, it works to my advantage. I work hard to play hard. But then, sometimes, I work too hard and don’t play at all.
You can call me a perfectionist, or a psycho, or a perfectionist psycho, but whatever the case, that’s how it is. That’s how it’s always been for me and once in a while, it overwhelms me to the point of a breakdown. Yesterday was the point of breakdown-ness.

The day happened. I somehow survived. I was talking to my really good friend/sister in Christ last night, completely having this aforementioned mental break down, and she said something I’ve heard over and over again, but this time was different. Something clicked. The phrase I’ve heard thousands of times became a phrase that I’d only really heard once.

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. Can I say that again? YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT,” she said.

As I heard this, and thought about it, I started crying [I’m such a girl]. OF COURSE I don’t have to be perfect. Of course this pressure is unnecessary because aiming for perfection is the unreachable goal. “Practice makes perfect,” but you can never be perfect. Debatable, you may say. But no, it really isn’t. You know why that is, right? You know why we’re imperfect all the time, right? Because, if we were perfect, we wouldn’t need a Savior. We wouldn’t need grace. We wouldn’t need redemption. We wouldn’t need forgiveness. We’d be perfect from it all. We’d be perfect from imperfection.
Of COURSE that’s why it frustrates me when I make failed after failed attempt at being this, because I CAN. NEVER. BE. PERFECT.
That’s why JESUS came down to earth and died for me, for you, for us. Because HE. IS. PERFECT. His perfection gives us grace. His perfection gives us forgiveness. His perfection gives us love. His perfection gives love and life to our failed selves. He’s perfect because we aren’t. He’s sinless because we’re sinful. We need a Savior. We need Jesus.

As you can probably imagine, this is only a spec of this epiphany I had last night. Bad days can turn into good days sometimes, as it did yesterday. It doesn’t change the circumstances or the obstacles, but it changes the perspective and the outlook we have. It can change the way you end the day and fall asleep. It can change the reason why you cry. It can change the reason for the bad day. It can put us in check; show us that not everything will be happy and fantastic all the time.

Sometimes, bad days happen so that we can realize just how much we need Jesus…

You know how much we need Him?

All day. Every day.