raw + real

I’m learning that vulnerability is the best thing I can be in this season of my life. Vulnerability is hard, it goes against everything we’ve made ourselves out to be, up until this time. It’s the raw, unfiltered, and mostly messiest versions of ourselves. How can we say we’re truly living our best lives when we can’t even talk about the difficult things that got us to this point? We can’t. Vulnerability is as necessary as the air we breathe to maintain quality friendships, as well as our relationship with God. Satan can be so cunning to trick us into thinking what we’ve done and what’s been done to us is too much or too dirty to share. Our minds begin to harbor these events and, in turn, we feel the weight of shame and guilt in its fullest capacity. But friend, you and I were not created to live a life bound to the weight of the past. We are a chosen people destined for freedom. Freedom is our anthem… not shame or guilt. This gift of freedom seems so vast and impossible to attain, trust me. But throughout these past four months, little by little, the Lord is teaching me what it means to be free indeed.

I remember being so frustrated with all the people around me declaring freedom is yours, you just have to accept it and walk in it. Though said in good heart, there was something they happened to miss. Yes, freedom is ours and we must accept and walk in this gift the Father intended on us living in; but it is truth that breeds freedom. We cannot go from bound to free until we undo the shackles and that cannot happen until we recognize and acknowledge we are a bound and broken people. Then we must illuminate what Satan loves to keep in the dark, our past mistakes and unfortunate circumstances—the real us, the broken us. Truth really does breed freedom, friend. It wasn’t until I started talking to people about my broken family, sexual abuse, and porn usage that I finally began to understand what walking in freedom truly looks like. Neither I nor you were meant to carry the weight of these burdens alone. We were created for freedom. My voice shuttered, but I spoke. I felt compelled to keep to myself and not throw the weight of my burdens onto others, but I threw them. My words thrown into an atmosphere with nineteen other girls hearing the rawest and messiest version of me… I couldn’t undo what had been spoken. The atmosphere in the room changed, the heaviness I once felt in the deepest depths of my chest began to lighten and I could finally breathe. This heavy-burdened soul was being undone by the undoer himself, and right there, in that moment, I was the best version of myself.

Fostering vulnerability is daunting and, in thought, makes me nauseous. But this where freedom lies. Freedom is found in speaking hard truths that make people uncomfortable, but most importantly, these hard truths remind people that they are not alone. Freedom is found where you speak it into existence. I am no longer bound to the weight of my past—my friend, neither are you.

Free indeed, truly.

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my lament

So, I have this tattoo. I’ve written about it before but going through this current season of life allowed me to reflect on the words “it is well.” I think last year when I got the tattoo my intentions were pure and I truly wanted my life to reflect wellness and the goodness of God I had experienced and would continue to experience, but I think I was gravely mistaken on why my soul clung to these words. In the beginning, my soul sang it is well as a declaration of faithfulness which is still anchored and true but more so, my soul hasn’t felt well lately. My life looks well on the outside but within my innermost being my soul seems to be shouting: it is not well, you are not well, this is not well, but that’s ok. This doesn’t feel okay, I don’t feel okay all the time but it’s something I have desperately sought and desired at its fullness– I just want my life to be well.

I felt so hypocritical and almost ashamed to have this permanent reminder of how well my life was, has been, but isn’t right now. But, I think these words are more than just a declaration of faith, a prayer for my soul to sing forever. However, these words are that but the phrase “it is well” possesses more depth than I’ve ever allowed myself to experience before. When Horatio Spafford wrote his hymn, his words were a proclamation of how not okay he was. This man was broken, having lost all five of his children, a business, and almost his wife. Spafford knew brokenness, but he also knew the healer. It is well is a lament; a wail, a cry, it is weeping-brokenness scattered across heart-churning lyrics that depict the very depths of Spafford’s grievances but also God’s sovereignty that propels his children to flock towards the good shepherd to find everything they need.

I’m learning what lamenting is, what it looks like, what it’s associated with. Contrary to my belief and maybe yours, lamenting is raw, vulnerable, worship that God desires. Because right now, my lament is my best– it’s truly me in every exposed and  vulnerable aspect of my life. My lament shines light into the darkest parts of my being. Rend Collective says it best because “what’s true is the light is still true in the dark,” and that’s something my soul is trying to cling to. I’m learning how God undos his children to set them free, to bring them to repentance, and right now he’s undoing my expectations of the best version of me is my well-est state and anything less than perfect isn’t my best. But sometimes my lament is my best and that’s enough for God and I hope it can one day be good enough for me.

As I sing along to it is well, my soul is lamenting but the Father is rejoicing as I give him my best praise. For it isn’t always well and life doesn’t seem like it’s all that well right now; but I know one day my soul will sing these words as I stand before the King of Kings and these words will echo as truth in declaring He has made it well. Better has come as I stand undone before the throne, no more shame, no more laments, but pure joy and bliss as I declare “thou hast taught me to sing it is well”– here is my best and nothing less.

pits & praises

I’ve been going through this season of labeling and processing my emotions, and it’s seriously so hard. I never pictured myself as a heartless person who keeps to herself but going through counseling has led me to feel otherwise. Self deception is so real and it’s so easy to succumb to its victimization. It’s so easy to believe we are okay and the pain of this life doesn’t weigh us down, but it’s okay not to be okay (reminding myself of this truth as I’m typing). I recently heard Rebekah Lyons speak on finding freedom and she described how easily we can deceive ourselves of our okay-ness because we become so accustomed to not being okay. We walk around bound and shackled and train ourselves to no longer notice it, it becomes our normal.

Ya know what, I’m not okay with that. I am not okay with being okay to walk around bound to everything my past has made me prisoner to. While journaling tonight, this was the prayer of my heart and its truth has captured my mind:

Undo what my past has done, let me see myself in the reflection of the Son

Undo my wrongs, bind me with love because I just want to be near you–

Jesus, I pray I will always want to be near you and know your life-giving character to be true for my sinful self, help me to accept your love and your grace. Undo every lie, every fear, every incident of rejection and abandonment from my past. Let your word dwell within my innermost being and radiate life-changing truth to every ounce of doubt in my mind. Let your peace guard my heart. Jesus, remind me where I’ve been is not where I am going. Jesus you are bigger; when you said it is finished, you meant it– remind my heart of your intentionality. I am no longer bound, I am no longer a slave, your reckless love has freed this heart of stone. Jesus, help me to believe you are true and you are for me.

My friend, it is okay not to be okay, it is okay to be broken. Broken is the new grace, however, this grace is unbroken.

everyday love

I’ve had Glory to Glory by William Matthews from Bethel on repeat for the past week and seriously, it’s too good. There’s this line in one of the verses that says, “and until we reach that day love conquers everything.” And man, it gets me every time!! One week later I’m still trying to decipher what “love conquers everything” looks like in my personal life. I’ve recently been questioning if God is truly enough for me and if love really conquers every fear and lie that has made its stronghold in my heart. Which has thus led me to question my motives in pursuing the cross and whether or not if I truly trust God is good—this is heavy stuff, my friends.

This season has been so hard yet so affirming. In every aspect of my doubt, He has proved himself faithful time and time again. However, in my own strength it doesn’t make sense. How can God love me when I pursue other idols? Why in the depths of my own whoredom does He find me redeemable? How did He knowingly choose to submit to the cross when there is a possibility that I would never serve Him? How does that make sense? It doesn’t… and I think that was my problem for far too long. I tend to put God on the same level as people in my life and base our relationship off of my parents and I’s relationship. Yikes.

How comforting is it to know God is nothing like my parents. His love is steadfast, and never failing. He keeps His word and chose me—even if I chose to never acknowledge His existence. But seriously, this seems so elementary to repeat Jesus loves me but seriously, Jesus loves me… like really, really loves me. I just, wow, that’s all I can say… wow. This love is so hard for me to grasp because I’ve never had the best picture of love in my life. And for a man who never personally knew me on this side of Heaven to come down from His throne to show me the ultimate sacrifice of love is heavy and carries so much significance to me because that is love, that is what love should look like and emulate in every literal aspect. That’s the only way I know how to love because it’s the only thing that makes sense to me because I’ve seen love on the other side of Heaven and it’s a patriarch of self-fulfilling desires and misused Bible verses. If love is really patient and kind then why are we acting the opposite and expecting scripture to be fulfilled and aligned with our lives?! Loaded question, I know, I know. The answer is sin and sin sucks.

I am so sinful and broken and in dire need of a Savior. I must remind myself daily that the spirit that lives in me rose Jesus from the grave. And that same love that held Jesus to the cross is the same love that conquers every fear, every rejection, every hurt, every feeling of abandonment, resentment, and apathy I feel on the daily. This love is supernatural and cannot be compared to the best of love found on this earth for it is far, far better than any love we will ever receive. As I’m typing this I’m reminding myself of this very truth—no one can love me like Jesus. But we will strive with reckless abandonment from ourselves to love like our Jesus.

What a savior—

good-byes & see ya laters

I recently graduated from high school and the summer after my senior year is finally winding down as Target’s back-to-school commercials remind me it’s time for a new school year. I’m moving five and half hours away out of my hometown comfort zone and as the countdown begins until move-in day I’m terrified and doubting every ounce of confidence I’ve ever had about this decision. Change is hard. This season has been beautiful- Jesus has been so good to me. I have seen the kindness of the Father abound in every new friendship and memory made in this transitional period. He is good.

It’s so bittersweet. To leave everything I’ve ever known as home and venture out of my comfort zone into the unknown. The unknown requires faith, being confident that even if I don’t see security and comfort yet, the comfort giver is ready to embrace me when I choose to let go of what once was for what will be. Because friends, C.S. Lewis was right when he said, “what lies ahead is far, far better than anything that we ever leave behind.” So here I am clinging to truth that He who started a good work in me will carry it out to completion because His plans are to give me a hope and future. His word is peace and life-giving.  It changes me. It changes my demeanor; my entire mindset. It changes everything.

As I release my grip of the security and joy found in this season I will cling onto the goodness of God, knowing that security and joy lie on the other side of surrender.

Jesus, thank you for this small town that has given me the best years of my life, the best friendships, adventures, and memories. I have tasted and seen your goodness and as I release my grip on my control-freak nature, help me to see that you provide in every aspect I could ever need, you are my provider and you’ve provided all along so I will see you do it again but this time in a new way. I am hopeful for the future that what lies ahead is better than what I’m leaving behind. Remind me that you are for me, and your plans are to prosper for my good. Even when I don’t see it, you are good and always working on my behalf.

Here’s to new memories, new seasons, more coffee, & the future-

why it is well

I stumbled upon this article from wiltoday.com that discussed when the things of life are not well with our souls, I began to read and saw my own story within the article. Life is hard. Bad things happen, people leave, these are hard, hard, hard things to grasp as a young Christian. If this great big God who is almighty and powerful is good then why is my life falling apart? Why are people leaving? Isn’t His purpose to give me hope & a future? This man calls me beloved yet has allowed all of these things to happen to me? How is that at all good? That’s what my heavy-burdened mind was screaming into my soul. That is what I believed truth to be. God was like everyone else, fickle and only for me when I’m present but against me in my absence.

How wrong was I? Looking back, I see broken pieces of a little girl that were scattered and stepped on, forgotten and abused; all alone. I had fallen victim to Satan’s antics and truly believed I was defeated and alone, a bother to all, unwanted, and unloved. It wasn’t well with my soul. My soul was tormented and dark, I separated myself from people who loved me and drew myself into an isolated hole, destined to never escape. But God. He was for me, He saw my tears and His heart broke for his prodigal daughter who couldn’t see her worth. Little did I know, God fought for me. He was picking up the pieces that were broken, making something beautiful from the ashes of my past hurt. I didn’t know this but He was going to use everything I went through, every negative word spoken to me, every tear I shed only to propel me into the mission he had for me on his earth. I didn’t see this hope nor would I see this hope until my freshman year and truly believe it for myself until my junior year.

I finally understood that life isn’t always happy and wonderful, but it is still beautiful and purposeful and God is still good through it all. I read this article with tears streaming down my face only to be comforted by security found in Jesus alone. I’ll link the article down below but in summary, the author discussed it’s easy to talk about the goodness of God when life seems to be for us, but when tragedy strikes we’re merely just singing “it is well” out of habit and routine instead of understanding and declaring “it is well” even when it’s not. It’s hard sometimes, my feelings are so fleeting and life can be well at the time but it doesn’t feel well with my soul. But as I learn more and more about God it is well with my soul even if life isn’t going as planned- these feelings are anchored truth; unshakable, life-giving.

Knowing that, I wanted a permanent reminder of this truth that life happens and it’s hard sometimes but Jesus will always be good and His promises are yes & amen because He is constant and true, so I got it is well tattoed on my right wrist written in my handwriting. This is my story, who I am, where my identity is found.  It will get better. And if not on this side of Heaven then it will be the next. Jesus hears you, you my friend are heard. He loves you & He is for you. This comfort has been the prayer of my heart: to forever sing it is well because through Jesus, I have the victory for He has already overcome.

Here’s the link to the article!

 

wake up call

Ah- what a beautiful day to wake up & love Jesus & his people! I’m sure you’re thinking, “Isn’t every day a beautiful day to wake up and purposefully serve the Father?” You’re right my friend, but my identity has recently been more securely anchored in the Father’s love. How beautiful is that? To be reminded of to whom you belong and reminded that I can still approach the throne boldly even when my life seems like it’s falling apart.

For so long I believed the lie that a.) my life had to be all-together to pursue Jesus. b.) Jesus wants the polished version of me & c.) I chose repentance.  All of the above are lies that Satan for so long, whispered in my ear. But through grace and learning more about my Father I’ve learned these are so far from truth. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn, meaning we no longer had to have the priest enter the holy of holies on our behalf and our offerings no longer had to be a spotless animal. For the lamb of God himself was spotless and paid the debt of sin we owe in full. I pray I never become apathetic over this extravagant love because it has set me free!

When I first learned about Jesus I was under the impression that moralism and legalism were required for a relationship with the Father- how wrong was I!? As Jesus breathed his breath and spoke “tetelestai” he meant it… it is finished. In order to seek the throne I simply just have to say yes & come as I am- not the prim and proper version of myself that the world desires but the messy and broken version of myself that brings vulnerability and an open mind. For so long I thought I had to pick myself up, figure my problems out, “get right with God” to be in a fully intimate relationship with Him. I read my Bible, didn’t cuss, and loved the people around me bUT THAT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH TO SAVE ME. Salvation comes from Jesus, not a decision we make but the kindness and the grace the Father lavishes on us leads us to repentance. So it has never been about me, the decision I’ve made or the rules I’ve followed-it’s always been about Jesus it will never be about anything other than Jesus. He just wanted me and He wants you too regardless of where you are in your life or what you’ve done because who you are isn’t what you’ve done. I’ll say it again for the people in the back, WHO YOU ARE ISN’T WHAT YOU’VE DONE. You are loved and called and pursued and cherished. Remember that. Walk in that. Say it until you believe it because that is true.