Several Months Later

* Several Months Later *Several_Monthes_Later..._

I feel like I am living a Sponge Bob episode where time races forward and the next scene occurs months after the previous scene. AKA I have not written a blog post in several months and a lot has happened since my previous one.

A few months can change a lot of things. For example, my role as a student took its final bow and I received a college degree as proof. My role as job searcher ended, as well, and I accepted a post-grad job with great excitement. My role as Smurf-owner changed, because I bought a new {silver, not blue} car.

If you do not stop to take it all in, life goes by pretty fast. It feels like just yesterday I wrote a blog post about the anxiety I felt before entering college and here I am, * four years later * reflecting on the truth that I left it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 2.18.16 PM

Life goes on after college. That is one fact I had a hard time grasping throughout the last semester or two. It was difficult to imagine a world without homework, exams, group projects, and presentations. To be honest, it has been challenging to get out of the mindset that I start school in the fall. I’m relieved, of course, and very excited — still, it is bizarre to embrace the idea that I’m actually done. Eighteen years of school and *snap* – it’s over.

Life goes on — a truth, a revelation, a promise.

An adult. A real one. I am a full-fledged adult now, but I still feel {sometimes}
like I am 12. Maybe it is because I have not grown since my pre-teen years, or maybe it is because I do not feel “old” like I once thought adults should feel. Nevertheless, it’s official. I’m a college graduate and a new member of this much-talked-about place called, “the real world.” Ready or not, here I come.

In the beginning of the year, I chose three words to help guide me through the next 365 days: First, Risk, and Joy.

My oh my, how perfect those words have been to summarize the many joys, struggles, difficulties, and blessings I have experienced thus far this year. In just these seven months of 2015, I feel like I have been stretched in ways I did not anticipate. Stretched in patience, faith, love, and joy. Stretched in trust, work ethic, focus, and determination. Stretched, stretched, stretched — but stretched in ways that always pointed me towards focusing on the God who gives me strength.

Without firsts, without risks, and without joys, life is pretty dull. As a girl who usually loves routine and order, the idea of risking a comfort zone to try new things can be a true test of what I am made of.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.42.51 PMI have a lot of adjusting and stretching to do. Obviously, I am not nearly as stretched as God wants me to be. Every day of life stretches you a little more towards Him. I’ve been stretching my identity to be more then just a piece of resume paper. My identity is more then the tasks I perform, the activities I participate in, and the motions of everyday life. My identity is through Christ, in Christ, alone.

A professor said to my class two weeks before the semester ended this past spring. He said to me, to us, “Stop thinking about what you want to do after college. Who do you want to be?” It struck me. Not because of the question, but because I realized how often I think about the things that need to be accomplished that I often forget to stop and really enjoy the moment.

The ironic part of this sort-of epiphany is how often I have blogged over the years about learning to find the little joys in every day life. It is a constant, life-long battle, and one that requires me to be constantly stretched and tested.

All I know is that I’m excited… and ready.

Another chapter has opened, full of new firsts, risks, and joys.

Let’s do this. IMG_1385

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January: The month of eventuallys

Winter session is winding down. Having almost two months off school is both a blessing and a curse. If you keep busy, the weeks fly by and before you know it, you’re back on campus with a running start. However, if you don’t have plans lined up for the long winter months, seven weeks can feel like an eternity.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson freshman year and every winter session since then, I’ve chosen wisely and filled my time productively. {Freshman year winter session was crazy long!}

At the start of this much-needed break, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish before the spring semester began. I can’t have too much free time or else I’ll go completely insane and start creating lists {and Pinterest boards} for everything. I decided that when I wasn’t interning or working this winter, I would use my free time to tackle the list of “eventuallys.”

While creating the list back in December, I stuck to indoor tasks thinking snow would keep me stuck indoors. Obviously that hasn’t really been the case, but at least I was prepared! One might wonder what a “list of eventuallys” is; it is exactly that: a list of things I said I’d do, but never got around to. Some of the items were easy to accomplish, while others took some time to complete.

I proclaimed January the month of eventuallys and got to work. IMG_8855

I’m a huge reader… when I have time. During the semester, I don’t prioritize “fun reading,” because of homework assignments and school-related things. Lately, there have been several books I’ve wanted to read, including Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Bossypants by Tina Fey. Light reading, yes, but books I wanted to read nonetheless. I found Bossypants and Gone Girl at Goodwill for $1 each (no lie!), so those were no-brainers to buy. I received Yes Please for Christmas, so I was excited about that. Those are just three of the books I read this winter, but they’re all amazing and I highly recommend them.

IMG_8721Another “eventually” was to deep clean my entire computer, which consisted of erasing all unnecessary files, deleting duplicate pictures, organizing documents into folders and creating an extensive online writing portfolio (you can sneak a peak at a very similar one here). It amazed me how much space I was wasting just by saving random word documents from high school. I must’ve been a hoarder in my past life, because as much as I love to stay organized, I keep way too much unnecessary stuff– emails and word documents being two of them, apparently.

A few other items checked off are: create several versions of my resume, complete my LinkedIn profile, order business cards, revamp sections of my blog, apply to several big-girl jobs, finally watch the movie Grease, catch up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” meet with several professional mentors, guest blog for another blog, host a guest blogger, complete taxes (wooooo) and prepare social media plans for the spring semester.

I still have a week and a half left of winter session before life picks back up. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. It’s been great to intern, work and organize my life, don’t get me wrong. However, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for classes and exams again {am I insane?!}. Plus, this is my last semester of school ever {uh, what?!} so I’me excited to see what it will bring.

What about you? What types of items are on your list of eventuallys?

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.

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.

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

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.