2015: The Year Of Three Words

2015. It’s finally here.

Day 5 and I’ve already done this multiple times: 201415

In the past, I have begun each year with a list of resolutions. Doesn’t everyone? A list of tasks, goals, and dreams I believe would make me a better person. A more well-rounded individual.

Read more. Run more. Write more. Laugh more.

This year is different. 2015 crept up on me. No list was created.

The other day, I read this post by a blogger I follow, Jessica Lawlor. In it, she explains three words she wants to focus on for the new year: light, possibility and choice. She goes on to dig deeper into why she chose each word and that got me thinking.

Instead of writing a list of tasks, I, too, would choose three words.

Three themes of 2015.

I am excited to see what 2015 holds and will use these three words to help guide me through the journey:  Slide1

1. First. 2015 will be the year of firsts. The first time I graduate college. The first time I start a real-world job. The first time I don’t go back to school in the fall. But what else? Yes, I will approach several key milestones this year, but I think 2015 has more in store than that. I resolve to look for other firsts this year, to not be afraid of opportunity because it’s new. To experience life through the lens of adventure and transition. To look at 2015 as a year of awesomeness even if I don’t know how yet.

2. Risk. Similar to “first,” the second word I choose is “risk.” With a year of firsts also comes the risk of the unknown. A set of adventures waiting ahead with endless possibilities. A planner and organizer at heart, I am also an adventurer. (I said that here.) Adventurers take risks. Adventurers don’t back down from challenges. A few months ago, I wrote a post discussing a few tips for Type-A Adventures like myself. Risk is inevitable and can sometimes be confused with lack of thought. “Oh, that was risky.” “I took a risk and now I regret it.” In 2015, I want to take risks and step outside of my comfort zone, but don’t mistake that for stupidity. You can take risks and be smart at the same time. Risk is inevitable, but I’m ready for it.

3. Joy. Different than “happiness,” I choose “joy.” Happiness is temporary and circumstantial. Joy is a mindset. Through the little things, I yearn to discover the joy. I’ve discussed the idea of joy before, and I want to continue this through 2015. With a year of risks and firsts, it may sometimes be a challenge to find the good. Choose joy and keeping choosing it — that’s what I want to do. Instead of “I have to …”, replace it with “I get to…” Changes the perspective, doesn’t it? A mindset makes all the difference. Through every situation, good or bad, I aim to focus on the joy of it all.

So those are my three words for 2015.

2015 is another adventure, I can feel it. I’m excited for it. Ready.

A year of firsts, risks and joys.

A year of three words.

Let’s do this thing.

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A fleeting moment’s journey

– Three weeks ago – 

I sat on the couch, listening to the still of nothingness that surrounded me.

For the first time in a long time, time hesitated to continue.

I froze, willing myself not to breathe — for fear this moment would soon be lost in the rest.

Nothing was inherently special about this day, this hour, this moment. Just another Thursday.

But it was a moment, none the less.

I embraced it, this one phone-less moment, to ponder the ones before it.

To think back on a year that had, once again, flown by too quickly.

Of all the obstacles endured and conquered. Of all the good observed and experienced.

She believed that she could, so she did. A quote I had always reminded myself of in the moments where I lost perspective. Of the tiny moments when  I lost all confidence to continue studying, dreaming, doing, working, pursuing, trusting.

But it wasn’t the quote that kept me pushing forward. It was this verse.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still. – Exodus 14:14 

The fear of unknown dissolves when you understand the magnitude of God’s grace and strength. I am nothing, a fleeting breath in the wind, but I was made to worship Him. To be still, to take a moment to breathe — God fights for you. Overwhelming, yet true.

The moment continued in a whisper. Looking at the lights glittering on the seven-foot pine, ignoring the distractions of technology, I continued to analyze and digest all that had occurred in the past 300-some days.

A year of changes, both good and bad. A year of being pushed out of my comfort zone in more ways than I had anticipated.

A year of difficult decisions, but a year of unexpected joys and blessings. A year of deciding which thoughts to dwell on and which ones to discard. A year of forgiveness and acceptance. A year of wondering God’s plan for my life (like always). A year of confidently putting faith in the One who sees all.

A year of seeing God work through little details.

God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them. – John Piper

The story isn’t finished yet. Is it ever? In the midst of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if thats,’ we transition between ‘I understand what God’s doing’ and ‘I have no idea what’s going on.’

Piper’s words encourage me. It is easy to dwell on the three things we know for sure, the three things God allows us to see. However, it is harder to accept the other 9,997 things God orchestrates behind the scenes. I sometimes feel like a passenger in a car I can’t control. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’m going somewhere. The driver won’t tell me — I have to wait and see.

Life is like that, and it’s sometimes a difficult concept to surrender to. A thriving struggle with our own mindsets — our own agendas — and the one God has for us. Faith. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the hardships instead of the joys. Sometimes, the hardships are all we see.

But when we worship, when we remember God’s plan — that He makes no mistake — we are renewed.

I am renewed. Renewed in the fact that letting go has never been my forte. That surrendering is foreign to me. That it’s okay to let go of a grasp I’ve held so tightly for so long. A part of the healing process. A tug towards faith, instead of control. A daily battle of fight and surrender. A part of what needs to be done to transform into the person God wants me to be.

Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6 

– Today –

I wrote the above blog post three weeks ago, but didn’t post it. I didn’t think it was done yet, but I didn’t know how to end it. Didn’t know what it needed to be considered complete. Until today.

In that moment of silent gratitude, just twenty-one days ago, I realized 2014 is just another fleeting moment. But in that moment, in this year almost gone, all that God has done intertwined with the past and with the future. It was in that moment of silence, right before the clock resumed its circular journey and the phone buzzed again — it was in that moment, I was renewed and reminded.

I am but a fleeting life, but in it, I will worship.

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.

finding consistency in the inconsistent

The thing about life is that you never know what a year can do to you.

This time next year, things could be completely different.

In fact, they will be.

Some people stay in your life for a moment, while others stay and never leave.

It’s a hard, sad truth that leaves me winded every once in a while.

Change.

I was never a fan of it growing up. It meant readjusting my plan to fit around something else.

I was a strong-willed child, or rather, possessed “strong leadership qualities.” Change was not my forte. Although over the years I have grown more used to the adapting process, chance is never easy.

In fact, I don’t think it ever will be.

Thinking back to this day five years ago, I would not have predicted this is where I would be. Who I would become; who I am now.

Five years ago, my life was planned out in the way that wanted. had a plan and it was perfect…according to my standards, that is.

In my mind, Plan A would work, so why even think about a Plan B or Plan C or Plan Q? Plan A was the only thing I thought about because that was the only thing that would work. It had to.

False.

Over the years, God has been teaching me that HIS plans are perfect, not mine.

Every obstacle I faced, I struggled with letting go. It was not in my Plan A, therefore, this was not supposed to happen.

Let me tell you something.

You can plan and plan and plan, but that won’t change God’s plan for your life. Begging doesn’t help and neither does complaining.

Faith doesn’t make things easy; it makes things possible.

That is a very hard thing to come to grips with. Through the past couple of years, I’ve struggled and struggled with this. I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes, I struggle with being completely okay with where God’s put me in life.

Change; it’s a hard thing to conform to.

As time goes on, so do friendships. Some people walk right out of your life without ever looking back. The hardest change of all is the change of where you stand.

A chapter closes and you don’t even realize it’s closing until it does. It’s over, done, finished. It’s like the end of a great book– you don’t realize you’re at the last chapter, at the last page, until you read that last sentence, flip to the next page, and realize it’s blank.

You’re not mentally or emotionally prepared for the ending, but it still happens.

Today, “What a friend we have in Jesus” began playing on my Spotify playlist. I couldn’t listen to it at first. In a way, it seemed to mock what’s been on my mind lately. Then, I listened closely to the lyrics.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus.

I listened to the words more intently then I ever have before.

People will leave your life.

They’ll leave and sometimes, you may never know why. They just do.

It’s a change in life, a chapter ending.

But guess what?

Friends will leave, but there’s one friend who never will.

Jesus.

He’s there, all the time. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:18 states. That means that He’s the SAME friend he was yesterday, last week, last month…5 years from now, 5 years ago.

This doesn’t really have a cool happy ending where I suddenly burst into a huge smile and shout from the roof tops that all of a sudden, I can deal with the change of chapters. That I am 1200000% cool when things are all of a sudden not what they used to be, what I think they should be.

It’s still a challenge. It’s still a process of daily walking and growing in who God wants me to be. I am not the same person I was yesterday and I’m not the same person I will be tomorrow, but I’m learning to be okay with that.

People will leave my life, but others will enter. Chapters will close, but others will begin. Just because it’s a change doesn’t mean it’s bad.

My Plan A might be long gone (at this point, I’m on Plan Q probably), but that’s okay! It really is.

Life is inconsistent, but daily, I’m learning that even “inconsistency” is planned from the One who is consistent.

Read it again.

Sometimes, there are lyrics that can not just be read. There are words that cannot just be sung. They must be read over and over again. The power of them must slowly fill you.

For me, this song is sung many times. Some days, I sing the words, skim right past them, and don’t dwell on their meaning. Not today. Today I urge you to read them with me. Reflect on them. Read them over a few times. Don’t just skip past them again, like I do. Focus on the truth they hold. Read it again.

The mountains shake before You.

The demons run and flee

At the mention of the name King of Majesty.

There is no power in hell,

Or any who can stand,

Before the power and the presence of the great I AM…

The great I AM, the great I AM.

Hallelujah, holy, holy.

God Almighty, the great I AM.

Who is worthy, none beside Thee.

God Almighty, the great I AM.

The Dash: Part Two, surviving to live

This is Part Two of The Dash blog series. 

If you missed Part One, click here .

Conversation is encouraged for this blog series. Please feel free to share and comment your thoughts and opinions in the coming weeks as I dive more deeply into “The Dash.”  Share the blog link and use the Twitter hashtag: #thedashblogseries to invite others to join the conversation. 

If you have a question that hasn’t been listed, feel free to add it in a comment. 

If you’d rather send me an email, click here. 

—————

Everyone is passionate about something. 

Whether it’s sports, sleeping, pursuing a career, love, music, coffee, a person…

Everyone is passionate about something.

Throughout my life, I’ve wondered what I’m passionate about.

I’ve thought about it and written about it. I’ve prayed about it, talked about it, dreamed about it.

If everyone has a passion, what was mine?

It seems like a stupid question. If you’re passionate about something, it should be obvious to you what it is. To me, though, when it came right down to it, things that I would consider my passions all had one thing in common.

I realized that my passion is simply living.

Jesus. Living, breathing, memory-making, conversation. Joy, sadness, music, people. Coffee, school, laughter, writing, photography. The things that make up my every day.

Life. 

The thing about life is that no matter how long you have it and no matter how “fully” you’ve lived it, it never is long enough.

It’s become a social trend: How To Live Life To the Fullest. I’ve even had my share of attempts at answering the age-old question. Examples can be found here and here. With the bombardment of trying to make the best of your life and creating bucket lists of places we want to see before we die and things to do, things to experience…. we begin to feel overwhelmed with all the ways we could live life better. We begin to compare our lives to those around us. We begin to try and set goals to make ourselves better, happier, prettier so maybe, if those goals are successfully achieved, then life would be better, too.

Slowly but surely, we begin to drown in the “shoulda woulda coulda” instead of simply living.

We jokingly say “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) and we throw it around in conversation. Usually, people say it when they’re about to do something idiotic or stupid. “YOLO” has become a way of life. It’s become almost an excuse to do things that will help us “live life to the fullest.” But does it?

I think, when it all comes down to it, we’ve lost our passion for life, myself included. We take our days too seriously and we approach each situation with a critical eye, completely unaware that most of the time, we’re looking for the bad and assuming the worst. It almost has become a habit. We forget to look around us, “stopping to smell the roses” so to speak, and we rush through each day with a schedule and our minds running 1,000 miles per hour. We rush through every day, creating lists of things to do, people to see, things to experience. We rush, we rush, we rush…

We are too busy surviving to stop and simply live.

The day that I walked out of the cemetery*, I was overcome with emotion and started thinking more about this small horizontal line.

The Dash between the year of arrival and the year of passing is small. It doesn’t catch every moment you create in this life. It doesn’t even come close to summarizing the life of each individual. It simply is the length of time from when you were born to when you die. You only live once, so what volumes will your Dash speak?

The Dash may not capture every moment we have on Earth, but that doesn’t mean we should stop living.

As cliche as it sounds, each day is a gift. I don’t know when my Dash will end. I don’t know what date is going to bookend that Dash.

We can’t just live our lives to survive. We must live every day, taking in the wonders and the miracles and the trials.

Just because The Dash doesn’t capture every moment doesn’t mean that every moment shouldn’t be captured. 

* Reference to Part One of “The Dash” Series.

—————–

Let’s talk: 

How would you describe the word “passion?” How can a passion effect you mentally/spiritually/emotionally/physically? Would you consider yourself passionate about life– how so? 

Hump Day Snow Day.

Remember when I said that Delaware weather is extremely unpredictable?

Yesterday, we received 12+ inches of snow.

Yep, not lyin’. That actually happened.

Because of this, my job was cancelled yesterday and today, which means I’m stuck at home finding ways to occupy myself without going completely insane.

If you’re anything like me, you like to stay productive. Having ‘free time’ is weird and I don’t really know what to do with it. I’m used to having a schedule that’s jammed packed with places to go, people to see, things to do. With the weather completely erasing my plans and me now staring at a day that has no pencil markings, I’ve come to the realization that I need something to do.

So, with coffee as my sidekick, this is what I’ve done so far…

I’ve created my own 101 in 1001 list.  You can find more about it if you click the link, but basically it’s 101 things I want to accomplish in 1001 days. I’m slowly, but surely, trying to check items off the list and frankly, thanks to two snow days, I’ve been able to check off a few! I definitely recommend doing this and if you end up joining me on this adventure, let me know and I will add your name and list link below mine.

I began my adventure jar. A mason jar, a little decor, and loose change. It’s as easy as that. Save your loose change and then, when you want to make a purchase or reward yourself in some one, you use your adventure money. Maybe by the end of the year, I’ll have enough money to buy these shoes. (killer, right?!)

One of the things that I *should* be ashamed of, but am soooo not is the fact that I created a Pinterest board called My Happy Place. Truth be told, I love desks, stationary, and brightly colored everything. (I mean, it IS #8). It may be the Type-A nerd in me or the girl who couldn’t wait for the first day of school just so I could buy a new notebook, but this inspirational board inspired me to reorganize my desk and spruce it up. I added a few pictures, a small whiteboard for writing down inspirational quotes, and cleaned out my desk drawers. Nothing says Happy Keri more than a clean, organized desk. I know… I’m weird.

heavenisforreal

I read “Heaven Is For Real.” It’s a true story about a little boy who had a near-death experience and went to Heaven for 3 minutes. The real reason why I began reading it is because the movie is coming out in a few months. When possible, I try to read the book before the movie so with a few days to spare, I decided this was a good time to do it. I read it in 3 hours– it’s that good. I definitely recommend it!

I began knitting a scarf. When cleaning out my room, I found a ball of yarn and my knitting needles. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I used them. It’s been that long. So, why not start a new hobby? Maybe I’ll actually be able to check off #81. 

Well, that’s about it. So far, I haven’t done too too much with the free time. Besides planning for a few events in spring and keeping myself busy with odds and ends, the two days have been relaxing and I haven’t lost all sanity yet. There’s still hope.

However.

I really can’t wait to get back into being busy.

What are some things you’re doing during this break? Any ideas, suggestions, foods to try, or DIYs you’d like to share? Comment below or send me a tweet!