Saturday, December 29, 2012

an announcement.

Ack! I'm so excited to finally announce the big project that I've been working on!


For the last few weeks, I've been hard at work on a new blog series. It's something that I've never done before, and I'm really excited about. Ever since I started this little blog, I've been creating my own blog designs. I'm quite particular about how I like my blog to look. Back in the beginning, things didn't look quite as pretty around here. 
But, in the last four years, I've learned a lot about design. Google is a great thing- but sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. HTML can get really confusing- especially if you delete something important (like your comment box, but whatever!). But, I've learned so much (even from my mistakes). In addition to creating my own blog designs and designing my website, I've also created some designs for friends and family members. And all of this has led to lots of questions on how to do different things. 

So, I decided that it was time to do a blog class. No, I haven't done one before. I'm not even sure that anyone will read it/learn from it/do anything from it. I feel a little under qualified, but I decided that if I stick with the basics, then we can do this! For this class, we won't be learning HTML. There may be some minor tweaks, but we're going to stay away from the scary stuff for the most part. Most of the class will focus on how to create the various blog graphics (header, background, sidebar headers, social media buttons, blog buttons, etc). 

All you will need for this class is a Blogger blog and an image editing program, like Photoshop. Since Photoshop can be a costly investment, I will be doing most of the tutorials in Photoshop and GIMP. GIMP is a free download, so I'd recommend that you go ahead and download it if you don't already own something like Photoshop. That way you can play around with it a little before we get started (though I will be explaining everything, so no worries if it confuses you!). We'll be creating all of our own graphics, so you won't need to purchase a digital scrapbooking kit or anything like that. There will be some fonts that I may suggest you download along the way, but all of them will be free. :)

Oh! I'm just so excited. This is going to be so much fun. We'll focus on one "topic" a week. Some weeks may have more posts than others (for example, a post on how to make backgrounds in Photoshop and a post on how to do it in GIMP), but there will be at least one class posted each week. We'll move at a slow enough pace that you should be able to keep up, but if you fall behind, it's okay! At the end, I'll show you how to install your new blog design (and where to upload different things). I'm thinking that the class will last about six weeks, but I'm still working on it. Along the way, if you have questions, you can always leave a comment and I'll get right back to you (plus, other people can help if they see your comment and know the answer!). 

Come back January 2nd for the first installment of Blog Design Basics (and tell your friends, maybe they'll learn something fun too!). It will be a super easy first class, because we'll be talking about brainstorming- but you won't want to miss it! :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Night That I Saw Santa

On a dark night almost sixteen years ago, I saw Santa Claus.

No, I don't mean the man at the mall. I mean the real deal. The man who enters houses through the chimneys. The man who spreads the Christmas joy by bringing presents to children all around the world. That Santa.The magic of that moment still hasn't left me. I remember it like yesterday. It's a vivid picture in my mind that replays itself every Christmas season. I remember the rush of excitement- and the following fear.

I was six years old, and it was Christmas Eve (well, technically "Christmas Morning", but it was early and wasn't light outside- so I wasn't allowed to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought yet). I was so excited about what Santa would be bringing that night, and I was having a bit of trouble sleeping. As I woke up for the umpteenth time that night, I heard a sound that can only be described as magical and wonderful. If I listened really close, I could hear the ringing of jingle bells. If I listened really close, it almost sounded as if someone was walking on the roof!

Needless to say, I got a little excited, so I quietly got out of bed and tiptoed towards my bedroom door. I remembered my parents saying something along the lines of "If Santa sees you peeking, he'll take all your presents away", so I knew that I needed to be careful. I carefully peeked my head outside my door and took a peek into the living room. And then- I saw him.

I saw him in all of his splendid, magical glory. As I peeked out my door, I saw a man standing in the hallway admiring his arrangement on the fireplace (and I was really excited when I saw the Doodle Bear that I had been wanting). The man in the red coat captured my complete attention for just a moment- and then it looked like he was moving to leave. So, remembering my parents' warning, I hurried quietly back to my bed. I squeezed my eyes shut as I heard the footsteps and the bells once again. I held my breath as I listened for the quiet "Ho ho ho." But, it was hard to fall back asleep. I was too scared. What if Santa had seen me? What if he took away all my presents? My stomach seemed to be all tied up in knots.

The next thing I remember is someone coming into my room to wake me up. My first thought was full of fear. But, with much excitement, she told me that Santa had visited our home the night before, and had left some presents by the fireplace for ME! I rushed down the stairs to see if she was right- and she was! There was my Doodle Bear (the one that I was so excited about), and lots of treats in my stocking. The cookies that had been left out for Santa were all gone. It was real. Santa had been here. It wasn't a dream- it wasn't a figment of my imagination (I mean, he ate my cookies!). That Christmas morning was full of so much joy, mostly because I was thankful that Santa hadn't taken my toys away.

Now that I'm older, I've been told "things". I've heard the rumors. But, I still believe. I still believe in the magic. I still believe in the joy. On Christmas Eve, I still find myself lying awake at night, straining to hear the beautiful sound of the jingle bells and footsteps. When I have children someday, I can't wait to tell them the story. I can't wait to introduce them to the magic and wonder and awe of Santa. No, I haven't seen him since that night sixteen years ago. But, I won't forget that night. The night that I saw Santa.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thrifty, Frugal Sewing Fun! (and a random cat dress)

I'm a huge thrift store freak.
I mean, I love shopping and clothes, but I hate spending lots of money. Plus, I love the rush of adrenaline that comes with finding a particularly good deal. I love being thrifty and frugal (and you'd know that I come by it honestly if you knew my mother). I talk a good bit about how I ought to teach classes on this stuff. :)

I also like sewing. Sometimes if I'm working on a big project it gets stressful, but most of the time I do it for stress relief. It's actually really enjoying, fun, and distracting (which can all be good things!). There's a blog that I've admired for a few years called New Dress A Day that really inspired me. I've wanted to do a dress refashion for a few years now, but I was just waiting to find the perfect dress to start with. I'm still a beginner sewer (or is it seamstress?), so I needed something simple for my first project- preferably something that just needed hemming. 

Then-one day at the thrift store, I struck a goldmine. 
Thank you dear brother for posing. Sorry for not telling you that I was going to post it on my blog. 
No, it wasn't this homemade cat dress (even though I really did want it- I mean, cats, pink polka dotted ribbon, what more could you want?). You see, when I was in fourth and fifth grade, I went through a phase where my favorite two dresses that I wore all the time were these little cotton GapKids numbers (or they might have been Lands End, I don't remember). I tried to find a better picture, but this is the best I could find. You get the idea.


It was a really awkward time in my life. I loves these two dresses (a purple short sleeved one and a long sleeved blue one) mostly because it felt like I was wearing pajamas (or rather a nightgown) all day. They were really super comfy, and I was really upset when my mom told me that I had outgrown them.

So, imagine my joy when I found this little number at the store! It was nice and soft (probably because it's so worn) and reminded me of the dresses that I used to love to wear.It just had a small problem- it was kind of long. While I love the maxi-dress look, the style of the dress was a little too Duggar for me. I kind of felt like I was stuck in the 90s- and that I really would need that cat lady shirt if I wore the dress as is. Since my favorite dresses were knee length, I thought that would be a good length to start with. (I'm also going to apologize for the messy bathroom with a fire hydrant...I share a bathroom with two boys, but it's the best place lighting wise for full-body pictures at nighttime- my best crafting time). 
Please note, I have nothing against moms who home school. I totally want to home school my future children someday...I just don't want to dress in frumpy clothes. Just going with the stereotype here. :)

This project was really simple. All I did to the dress was hem it- but it made the dress so much better (and more practical and wearable!).
I used a dress that I already owned to get a basic idea for length. Then, I pinned a hem onto the bottom. And then- I realized that it was still too long. So, I got frustrated and put the project away for a few weeks.

Tonight, I picked up the project again and I decided to cut a few more inches off. I didn't use a guide this time, I just put it on and then eyeballed it. Since the dress has a rounded/circle hem, it was really difficult to pin. So, since it is made of a t-shirt kind of material that shouldn't fray easily, I just rolled it up as I sewed on my machine. I may end up having to fold it over again and re-hem, but it was worth it to not have to fight with the hem and sharp pins. :)

Now I have a nice "new" cute dress! I really like the fact that I can wear it year round. Since it's short sleeved, I can obviously wear it in the warmer months (80% of the year in good ol' Alabama). But, I can also wear it with a cardigan and tights in the winter months. It also looks pretty cute over jeans as a tunic. :)

For three bucks, I think this one's a winner! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

three random things

This blog post is going to be totally random. Sorry for that.

1. While I finished up classes about 2 weeks ago, my brothers still have had school. Max is a freshman this year, so he is getting to be exempt from his midterms (which makes him really happy). The other night, Mom and I were talking about a text that I sent her back in my Freshman year of college. It was a silly little text sent after my theater class, and I told her in the message that I was dropping out of college and joining the circus (I was kidding of course, but she wasn't sure if I was serious or not. Silly Mom. Circus animals are stinky and I don't like heights!). In the midst of our conversation, Max decides to chime in that he's dropping out of school to become a traveling country-western performer. And from that...this song came forth.
I should add that my brother is pretty talented. That's all improv...he came up with the lyrics as he went. :)

2. I'm totally addicted to Netflix these days. I love the fact that I can watch Disney movies (hello, Pocahontas and the Brave Little Toaster), documentaries (Pompeii...I love history), and interesting TV shows (Deadliest Warrior and Sherlock) all in one place (Yes, I know that I have a wide variety of interests...only I would watch Brave Little Toaster and Deadliest Warrior back to back). For some reason, I got this idea that watching LOST would be a good idea...it wasn't. Watched about 15 minutes of the first episode and freaked out. I somehow didn't know about the whole "plane crash onto the island" thing or the "big scary jungle monster" thing...which just isn't good for someone with flight anxiety who is scared of scary monsters under the bed. Sorry that have the entertainment tastes of a five year old.

3. I'm ALMOST done with my grad school application! I haven't written about it on my blog yet, but I'm applying for a Masters of Social Work program at the University of Alabama (yes, I'm an Auburn fan. But this is the only place in the state to get a MSW). Now if my professors will just send in their recommendation letters, I'll be done with the grad school application (and just have two pages left for a school of social work application). Writing essays isn't my favorite thing to do over Christmas Break, but luckily they weren't too difficult. It's possible that I brought up some humor in my essays (like the time that I was out delivering Thanksgiving food boxes with some people and a man answered the door in his underwear), but whatever. Maybe it will make the reviewers giggle. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

the end...or is it?

Since the world is ending on Friday and everything, I thought that I'd do a short post on Revelation. :)

Some of you might remember that I took a class on the book of Revelation this past semester. While I was dreading it at the beginning (because I REALLY didn't like the book of Revelation), I actually ended up learning a lot and enjoying the class. While there is SO much that I'd love to share with you guys, I really don't want to bore you to tears. I know, I know...not everyone loves learning new Greek words. I get it. :) But, I thought that if I could come up with a way to summarize the class in just a few words, a few paragraphs...maybe some of you might enjoy it?

I don't know about you, but typically when I hear a reference to the book of Revelation, my mind instantly shifts to thoughts of the end times, the apocalypse (in a “2012”or “Day After Tomorrow” kind of sense), the rapture, or other similar things. Over the course of the past semester, I’ve come to realize that my view on this book could not be more wrong. Apokalypsis, the Greek word from which we derive the word “apocalypse” from does not mean “end of the world” or “destruction” or anything like that. It simply means “revelation”. Oh wow. The word “revelation” doesn’t mean anything scary either. To reveal something, according to Merriam-Webster, is “allowing a look at or an understanding of something inner or hidden”, which is exactly what John does in the last book of the New Testament. Mind blowing, right?


When all of these thoughts began to come together inside of my brain and I really began thinking about what Revelation really meant, my whole view on this book shifted. Rather than being a book about “really bad things” that would happen to “really bad people” and about the antichrist and the rapture, I realized that it was a book about Christ. Michael Gorman says in his book Reading Revelation Responsibly that
Revelation is not about the antichrist, but about the living Christ. It is not about a rapture out of this world but faithful discipleship in this world.
 Revelation isn’t just a book for the people “long ago” or the people of the future. It’s a book that still matters today and that can guide us on what it means to be a follower of Christ. If you look at the little word cloud that I posted above, you can see this. This word cloud was created by pasting the ENTIRE text of Revelation into a website called Wordle (I even used the KJV version, because I always think of that version as being more wrathful). As you can see, the biggest word on the cloud is "God". If you keep looking, you will eventually find some not so nice things (like beast,), but how hard fdo you have to look to find "war" or "judgement"? Look real hard, and you still won't find "fiery pit of Hell" or "antichrist" or "Obama". What if we've been looking at this book the wrong way? As followers of the Way, we shouldn't have anything to fear in the book of Revelation. It really shouldn't seem scary to us, if we are confident in God. For us, this book isn't a message of "gloom and doom"- it's a message of HOPE!

Revelation seems to emphasize a specific theme that repeats frequently throughout the book- hope for a hopeless world. In the midst of "dark" times- times of Christian persecution and martyrdom- John asks people to look towards a more hopeful future. Being a Christ follower, according to John, is not supposed to be an easy thing. Fallen Babylon will not want to submit or conform to the ways of New Jerusalem. Christians are called to stand in opposition to the order of the world, which sometimes may lead to the giving of one's life for the sake of the gospel. But, there's hope found in the image of a coming conqueror! There is hope found in imagery relating to God handing power and authority to the followers of the Way.

So, I don't want to go on and on about the topic, but if you're interested, here's some places to further your knowledge:
  • Last week, I posted my term paper from this class on a blog that I use mostly to post various writing samples. It's called Paradise Restored and is a look at the New Creation found in Revelation 21-22. It's a message of hope for the future. A small warning, it is a term paper, so it's a little lengthy (about 10 pages).
  • One of my favorite books that we used as a textbook for the class is a book called "Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb Into the New Creation." It is written By Michael J. Gorman and is a pretty easy read (for a theology book). While I don't agree with everything written in the book, it opened my eyes to some things that I hadn't previously thought about. It explains some of the symbolism and historical facts in a way that is easy for readers to understand (even non-Seminary, non-theologian people).
  • If you are looking for something that goes more in depth on the symbolism and history behind Revelation, I would recommend "Tales of the End: A Narrative Commentary on the Book of Revelation" by David Barr. It's definitely not an easy read, but it has some great information. It is separated by the various sections in Revelation, so  I tended to use this as I went for things that confused me. For example, when I was trying to figure out the section in Revelation 17 with the harlot and the beast, I turned to this book to try and understand the symbolism. It's almost more of an encyclopedia/reference book...just not that long. 
  • A really great website for articles, books, websites, and simple explanations of Biblical topics is NT Gateway. Once again, I don't agree with everything on the site (and I haven't read everything), but it is a great resource for the entire New Testament (with some pretty awesome articles on Revelation!).
Hope that wasn't too overwhelming, but I figured that with the end of the world coming on Friday, we should probably start preparing! :) 

I think the biggest thing we can do (since we know that God is in control and he's got it covered) is remain hopeful. Remember the cross. Remember the love. Remember the conqueror- he's already conquered! We don't need to fear silly dates because of Mayan Calenders, because we have our trust and faith in a mighty God. While doomsday scenarios may get our adrenaline pumping, they aren't what we need to spend our time worrying about.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

twelve-twelve-twelve

If you've fallen of the face of the planet and weren't aware of it, today is 12/12/12. Since #33 on my 101 in 1001 list is to document everything that I did on 10/10/10, 11/11/11, and 12/12/12...I guess you're going to get a blog post about my day. :) I feel like each year that I do this, my days get more boring.

12pm: Wake up. Sleeping in has been wonderful these last few days. Back to business tomorrow. No more sleeping until noon!

1pm: Eat lunch. Little piggies in blankets by my daddy with conecuh sausage and pizza dough. Post about it on Instagram.

2pm-6:30pm: Work on blog designs for the upcoming launch and start working on revamping my website.
This is one of the blog designs I have been working on. I like to call it "Classy and Fabulous." 
6:30pm: Decide that it's time for dinner. Fix a peanut butter sandwich to eat with some goldfish. :) Forget to take a picture.

6:30pm-9pm: Work on website design some more, and then declare it finished! While I liked the pink stripes and the cute illustration, I wanted something that was a little more "grown up"...in case future employers see it. 

And that was my twelve-twelve-twelve, for anyone who was wondering. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

what next?

I've been trying to take a little break from the blogging world lately. Part of it was due to the fact that this past semester was busier than I first thought, and the other part was due to the fact that I needed a break. I needed some time and space to evaluate why I'm really blogging. I feel like in some ways, I'm running fifty-million blogs in one. I want to be a "college blogger", so I blog about college and school. I want to be a "photography blogger", so I post lots of meaningless pictures. I want to be a "deep, spiritual blogger", so I blog about deep, religious topics. I want to be a "professional blogger", so I do blog series like "31 Days". I want to be a "crafty blogger", so I blog about craft projects that I'm working on. While all of this stuff is good and great, it gets exhausting. I feel like I spend so much time trying to please people that I've lost the reasons why I blog.

  1. I blog to keep a journal of the things that are going on in my life. I want to be able have something to look back at 10 years down the roads and laugh at.
  2. I blog to create relationships and friendships with people that don't necessarily live near me, but that I share common interests with.
  3. I blog as a means of evangelism and teaching. I feel a call on my life to share the gospel with other people. I feel a call on my life to teach other people about the Bible, God, and other things like that. It also keeps me accountable and keeps me learning. :)
I make lofty goals like "Project 52" or "Project 365" and I end up failing horribly. I review things and do sponsored posts and try to do blog ads and get more followers, and I fail horribly. Maybe God is trying to use all of these situations to teach me something. Ultimately, the reason I blog is for God. He is supposed to receive the glory of this little spot on the internet. The next person I blog for is myself. This blog is a safe haven for me to share my thoughts and record my memories. After that, I blog for you. I blog for relationships. I blog as a method of teaching. But, my worth as a blogger is not defined by statistics. My worth is not defined by how many followers I have (Hey- my follower widget has been broken for months. I have no idea who follows me!...but if you know how to fix this tiny problem, let me know!). My worth is not defined by how many people link to me. My worth as a blogger is not defined by how many sponsors I have breathing down my back or how many free products I receive in a given month. 

So, now that life has slowed down a bit (and I'm a COLLEGE GRADUATE!), I'm planning on blogging a little more frequently. But, I want it to be with a purpose (Quality over quantity, people!). I've got some blog posts written up that I'm waiting for the right time to post- and waiting to make sure that they are the message that I'm intending to share. I'm hoping to go from the fluffy, filler posts that I've been blogging into a little deeper territory (not too deep, mind you. I still do stupid things like get into the wrong car). The reality is that I'm not quite sure what I'm doing next. I'm not sure where I'm going next. These next few months are SO full of uncertainty. I've applied for jobs, I'm applying to grad school, and I'm praying that God will show me where I need to be and place a peace in my heart. Between December not being a good month for seeking permanent employment and a bad economy, I don't know where I'm going next. I am planning to finally start expanding on some of my graphic design/blog design that I've been working on for the past year- look for an update on that situation in the next week or so. I'm still working out the logistical side of things, but it's something that I want to pursue (for fun AND as a resume builder)!  

So, what next? Who knows.
What I do know is that whatever may come, I want to stay true to myself and to God. 
I don't want to "sell out". I don't want to "give in". I don't want to take the easy way out- in my blogging OR in my everyday life. I'm called for a higher purpose...and my worth is not defined by the things of this world.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Silly boys...

When brothers are involved...
taking Christmas card pictures is a bit more...
"complicated."
We did end up with a few good ones, but you'll have to wait for the official Christmas card reveal to see those. :)

In other news,
I've written on here many times about how I love writing and receiving letters and cards. For the next two days only, I have a code that you can use to create and send a totally personalized greeting card from Treat for FREE. Whether saying thanks to someone for inviting you into their home for Thanksgiving, wishing a best friend a holiday birthday, or simply sharing the Christmas joy with a just because card, Treat lets you create a one-of-a-kind card that is sure to impress. Today (11/19) and tomorrow (11/20) only, you can use the code TREATBLOGR to order a free card to send to a friend and brighten their day!

This post was sponsored by Treat. All opinions are mine and I only share offers that I really love, enjoy, and would use myself!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

happy little gnome.

For this year's fall festival, I was a happy little gnome. 
I'm actually really happy with how it all turned out. I made every part of my costume (excluding the shirt and leggings). I made my skirt with this tutorial (minus the pockets since I ran out of time) and adjusted this child's tutorial for my gnome hat (and added some ric-rack). I covered my Toms with fabric a few months back (using fabric scraps from old sewing projects) based on pictures on Pinterest. 

And the apron? That's all my creation. :) I used leftover felt from my hat, fabric glued some ribbon and ric-rack on it and called it a night. All in all, the costume held up will for mostly being glued together. :)
What I love the most is that I can re-wear the skirt (and I love it!), and the felt decorations were super cheap (so it's okay that they're not exactly everyday wear). 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

it's the most wonderful time of the year...almost.

I love Christmas. It's totally my favorite holiday, and YES the season does make me feel jolly (tra la la la la la la la la). While I'm a believer in listening to Christmas music after Thanksgiving (except for Taylor Swift, I might possibly listen to hers year round...) and waiting to hang the stockings with care until after the Iron Bowl, I do start planning Christmas cards early. I started looking at Christmas cards months ago (mostly because I'm horribly indecisive). When Tiny Prints contacted me about their Christmas Cards, I knew that I wanted to share my favorites with YOU! :)

Since I'm a religion major and I love Jesus and all that jazz, I started my search with their religious Christmas cards. Tiny Prints actually has really cute "religious" cards that say Merry Christmas like this one:


I love the monogram on this one:

The chevron on this one makes me smile!

I love the colors and stripes of this one!

Oh, decisions, decisions. How will I ever decide? (Not to mention that even if I can decide on which card...we still need a picture! :)

Right now, Tiny Prints is offering 25% off site wide, and they have lots of other special offers!
Go check them out today! 

Sponsored Post: Tiny Prints


Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day Eve

I'm not worried about tomorrow.

Will I vote? Yes. Do I have a certain candidate that I feel like would be better for America? Definitely. But, even though I don't know who will win the election tomorrow or what the next four years will hold for our country, I do know who holds the future. I know who knows, and has knows, what the coming days will hold. No presidential candidate will change that. No president can change it. No policy will change what is to come in the eternal, everlasting kingdom. What happens here in America tomorrow will not be of everlasting, eternal significance. It won't be a "sign of the end times". It won't be the end of my world, because I'm not from here, this world is not my home, I'm invested in the Kingdom of God- not the kingdom of man.

There are a lot of hurting people in the world today. Realistically speaking, no presidential candidate will change that. They don't have that kind of power. They may make promises, lots of lofty goals. But in the end, the only one who can heal all of the hurts is Jesus. In the end, I hardly think that this election will matter. In the end, I hold on to the promises of God- that his love never fails. I know that God is in control. One candidate winning over the other will not stop the "end of the world" from coming. Only God knows when the day of judgement, the time of trial, the Day of The Lord will occur. But, he already knows it. He's known it for awhile now. Presidential candidates don't have control over God.

If the end of the world is on its way, I'm ready. I already know who the victor will be. I know who's side I want to be on. While hard times may be ahead, I'm ready. I know who will win the final battle. Good will prevail. We already live in a fallen world. We already have hard times. I have hope, because no matter what tomorrow holds...I know who holds tomorrow. Its like the old hymn, "Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives all fear is gone."

So go. Vote. Do your civic duty. But, remember where your true citizenship is from. Remember who is really in control (and its not those pesky pollsters). Don't fear the outcome of the election (and I've heard fear from both sides). Don't you know how powerful the God who created the universe is? Can you trust that he already knows the outcome?

Seek hope. Drive out fear. Trust God.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Do Something

 I think it's important to know the "facts" about fear and what it means to live fear{less}. It's totally an important concept to understand, that would be why I've spent almost a month talking about it! But, as we talked about two days ago, it's not enough to know the "facts" of fear. We've got to do something with our knowledge. We have to apply it to our lives. We've got to live it out. We've got to find the "so what?" factor. We have to see why this living fear{less} thing matters to our lives, and learn how to move forward.


A first step we can take is to make a pro/con list about fear in our lives. Once we've listed out the pros and cons, we can ask the following questions:
  • What are the benefits that it brings to our lives? What good is it doing? 
  • What are the negatives? What "bad" does it bring to our lives? 
  • Do the "goods" really outweigh the "bads"? Is the fear worth it?
After we've evaluated these fears, we can take a step towards changing them. Sometimes, the best thing for me to do is find a distraction. Rather than thinking about all of the "worst case scenarios" and dwelling on my fears, I've found it better for me to distract myself. At a later time, the situation may not seem as dire as I thought.
  • What are some alternatives to worrying? 
  • What could we be doing with that "wasted" time?
  • How can we distract ourselves from this fear?
    • Learn to sew! (Or quilt)
    • Journal.
    • Do a crossword/wordsearch.
    • Write a letter to someone.
    • Watch a fun Disney movie. 
    • Learn a new hobby.
    • Plan your future wedding on Pinterest.
Those are just some ideas that I came up with. There are so many things out there that can be distractions from the moment. The idea is to get your mind to "step out of" the fear. It doesn't have to be a "productive" thing, and I've found it's best to do something that doesn't require a whole lot of "brain effort" or thinking. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Prison of Choice

When I look back over the last twenty-two years of my life, I realize very quickly that fear has always been an issue in my life. I've always been a cautious child. While there are some "good", "healthy" things to be afraid of (like strangers driving white vans with "free candy" written on the side), most of the things that I've feared were unnecessary, unhealthy fears. In essence, fear has been my prison of choice for the last twenty-two years. It wasn't a punishment I received for something I did. It was a conscious choice that I made every single day

I may not have gotten up each morning and said "Today, I'm going to let fear keep me in bondage." But, I might as well have walked up to the county jail each morning and asked them to put handcuffs on me and stick me in a cell. I might as well have asked them at the end of the day to let me pretty please stay just a little longer. Because, while I may not have really been physically restrained, I was still in bondage. I was still in a "prison", one that I had created for myself. One that I chose to "check in" to on a daily basis and never leave. This prison of fear was "safe" and "comfortable". It was an easy way to deal with the unknown. It was an easy coping mechanism. 


If someone continually walked up to prisons and asked to be allowed to "check in" and stay awhile, we'd probably think they were crazy. Who would want to confine themselves like that voluntarily? Why would you want to give up all of your freedoms? Why would someone want to do that? It seems silly. It seems ridiculous. It seems crazy insane. But, isn't fear the same way? We treat it like it's something "good" or at least "okay". We know that it's something that holds us back from our full potential, but we don't want to give it up. We want to keep it around for "rainy days" just in case we need it to fall back on.

What we really need to do if we truly want to live fear{less} though, is to hand it over. We need to permanently check out of our jail-hotel. We need to say "goodbye" to those chains that bind us. We need to walk away from this thing that has become some comfortable for us. We need to realize that living fear{less} means living free from the bondage of fear...something that we can't do if we're still in the prison. We need to stop choosing fear each morning when we wake up, and instead choose hope. When our feet hit the floor each morning, we need to make the conscious choice to choose hope and joy for the day. We need to surround ourselves with the positive. We need to immerse ourselves in the Word. When we feel helpless, we need to turn to God- not fear. Is it hard? OH YES. It's ridiculously difficult. Sometimes we might fail and fun back to our place of refuge, the place we have the false sense of "safety"....our prison of fear. But, we can get back up. There is still hope. We can fight another day...and another...and another...and another.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Change

Okay, so by this point in time, you may be wondering why all of this fear{less} talk actually matters. I mean, we can talk about living fear{less} for days and days and days. We can learn about fear{less}. We can know what fear{less} is. We can know what we need to do to live fear{less}. But, the fact of the matter is, if we don't let ourselves be changed by it, if we don't begin to live it out, if we just say and we don't do...we're in the same boat we started out in. We've got to take the scary first step into the unknown.


I don't really know exactly what living fear{less} looks like. 

I know, I've been writing on this topic for almost a month. I really should know, right?

Wrong.

I don't think it's possible to fully comprehend life. I don't think it's possible for us to know exactly what lies ahead. There will always be a certain amount of uncertainty and unknown. If we knew exactly what was coming, we wouldn't really have a need to fear, right? Life would be so much easier. The truth is, I'm right in the middle of this life with you. I'm right in the middle of these scary times, just like you. I'm right in the middle of trying to live fear{less}, struggling to keep my head above water...just like you. Please don't think that I've got it all together. Please don't think that I have all the answers. But, I'm seeking them. I'm trying to figure out what God has to say about the topic in his Word. I'm finding the "facts", but when it comes to applying it to my life, allowing it to change me- I'm realizing that this whole fear{less} thing is harder than I first thought.

As you may have noticed, I've gotten a little behind on this 31 Days thing. We're really on about Day 25 here, so I'm going to keep this series going just a little past the 31st of October so we can finish this out. For the last few days of 31 Days of Fear{less}, we're going to be talking about the "So What?" factor. We're going to be talking about what it means to live fear{less} and practical steps we can take to live like that. In the upcoming days, we're going to talk about the idea of "story" and how each of us has a story to tell. We're going to talk about what it means to share our story...fear{less}ly. So, get your minds thinking about story...just a heads up. :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Busy

Sometimes, it feels like my days are full of busy.

Busy can be a good thing- having lunch with friends, the opportunity to get an education, and excitement over a brand new baby being born. But, sometimes busy is a bad thing. It's stressful- like when papers are due, tests are to be taken, and books are to be read. I've found that it's in these times of busyness that I'm most prone to fear. I'm most likely to stress. I'm more likely to worry. It's in these times that I find it especially difficult not to worry.

One of my absolute favorite authors is Ann Voskamp. I feel like I talk about her all the time and we're bffs or something like that (when in reality, she has no idea who I am!). One Thousand Gifts is one of my favorite books, mostly because of a little section she has in it on perception. In OTG, she says that 
That which seems evil only seems so because of perspective, the way the eyes see the shadows. Above the clouds, light never stops shining.

So, naturally when Dayspring's review for the month of October included this little daily "calendar" devotional and reflection book, I jumped right on it. I know that it's in this "vulnerable" time- this precious time at the end of my education, before a "big girl" job- is when I need to be immersing myself in the Word the most. It's in these times of fear that I need to surround myself in the scriptures. I need to see "words of wisdom" on a frequent basis if I have any hope of keeping my head afloat.


In these times of "busy", I might not always have the time or energy to do a bible study (as much as I know that I need to). In these times of busy, Bible reading and study may be too often equated to class. I might not have too much available free time (or finances!) to read the newest and latest Christian Living selections at the bookstore. But, I can take five minutes out of my morning and reflect on a "portion". I can take a minute or two to reflect on the gifts that God has given me and thank him for them. I'm not that busy. 

I've learned that in order to live fear{less}, you have to have margin- you have to have space- in your life. You have to immerse yourself in the Word, and you have to study it and learn what other people have to say about it. Maybe in these busy times, the reason that I stress more, worry more, and fear more is because I'm not getting "fed". I'm too busy and I forget what's really important. So, today, take the time to slow down for a minute. Maybe it means putting off homework. Maybe it means logging off of Facebook and Twitter (or turning off your phone!) to get some time of quiet. Take the time to think about the gifts that you've been given- even in the midst of stress and bad times. Find joy in your current situation, and thank God for it!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: In My Weakness, He is Strong

Let's spend some time today talking about a man named Peter. Peter was a disciple of Jesus, so that means that he was a great fear{less} Christian, right? Let's take a look at a story where Peter walks on the water to meet Jesus. Matthew 14:22-33 reads,
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Peter had a choice: he could choose to doubt or he could believe. He decided to doubt- which I think we can learn a lesson from. I think sometimes we like to look at this story at first glance and think, “If that was ME, if Jesus told ME to walk on water, I totally wouldn’t doubt. I'd never do that. I’d walk right up to him.” But, I think if we think for another minute, we’d realize that we’d probably do the same thing. 

I would guess that each of us has had a moment in our lives where we didn’t fully trust God. That we doubted that he was truly at work for “the good of all who love God and are called according to His purpose”. But, these moments aren’t all that bad- as long as long as we don’t use them as an excuse to flee from God and his call to our lives. We can’t forget the end of Peter’s story! After Jesus rebuked Peter for his doubt, ALL of the people in the boat WORSHIPPED Jesus and saw that he was the Son of God! This was before Jesus said anything about being the Son of God. This is before His divinity was common fact. This was before the crucifixion. In Peter’s weakness, God was made strong. In Peter's weakness, God received the glory. In Peter's weakness, the power of God was shown even more.

When I look back at my faith journey, I can’t help but notice that it’s the moments when I’m at my weakest- when I can’t see how things are going to possibly work out good- that I can see God’s strength the most. It’s in these times that God gets the glory, because I can’t try and claim any for myself. When I look back, I can’t help but see how God was at work- even in the darkest of times. In my weakness, his glory is made oh-so-strong. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Sparkle

Sparkle. 
It's my word of the year (even though you haven't seen it in awhile). 

Even though I stopped my "Sunday Sparkle" when I got busy and I haven't talked about it in recent months, that doesn't mean that I haven't been dwelling on it. At the beginning of the year, I made some New Year's goals. Am I doing great on all of them? Not really. But, I have finished 1 of the 5 and I'm working towards a 2nd- AND we still have two more months left in the year. I got this. :) But, back to Sparkle. In that post way back in January, I described "sparkle" as follows:
Sparkle reminds me of so many things, and that's why I'm picking it. It comes from Philippians 2:14-15 where Paul tells the Phillipians to "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Sparkle just sounds prettier than shine. 
I want to sparkle this year. I want to be that princess (the child of God) that I talk about becoming and I want to dwell in the presence of the King. I want to sparkle this year and let my personality shine through. I want to sparkle and show people the love of Jesus.
So, I think that the idea of "sparkle" goes quite nicely with the idea of living fear{less}. When we live sparkly lives, we are living fear{less} lives. After all, one of the goals of living fear{less} is living as a light to the world. When we stand in opposition to a world full of fear and worry, we show an example of what life "could be like" when we have the hope of the Kingdom of God within us. When we live Kingdom lives, when we live like this world doesn't matter and the world that is yet to come is the ultimate priority- this changes things. This makes us "sparkly". This makes us "light". This requires us to live fear{less}. 


Another thing from January was that I adopted a "verse of the year". It's a verse that is so-very close to my heart this year. It comforts me in times of worry- which I have a lot of. It gives me a hope for the future and helps me to live fear{less}. Jeremiah 29:11-14 reads,
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
In him, we have a HOPE and a FUTURE.

Wow. Let that sink in for a moment. When we seek Him, when we call out to Him, when we pray to Him, he will listen to us. When we seek Him, we will find Him. Even in the midst of really bad times, he will bring us back. He will come and gather his people and bring us into the "land" that he has promised! I love the amount of hope in these verses. Even though I don't know the plans that God has for me, I know that he knows them. I know that these plans are good plans. These plans are plans that will bring glory to his name. I can live fear{less}, because I know that he's got it. I don't have to spend my time in fear and worry about what might happen, I can leave the details to God- because he is GOOD and he is in control.


When we live live in this radical, crazy, giving-it-all-up-to-Him sort of way- we can sparkle. We are uniquely positioned to show the world around us just how great God is. We can make people's days brighter by bringing a happy spirit- a little sparkle- with us wherever we go. Think about how much happier you tend to be when you aren't spending your days worrying. Think about the kind of light, the kind of example, you can be to the world around you. So, don't let life get you down. Don't let anyone ever dull your sparkle. You were made to dwell in the presence of the King of Kings. You were made for so much more than you could ever dream of...than you could ever ask or imagine. Don't spend precious time worrying...let God handle it. And you? Just keep sparkling and being a light to the world. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Jump Anyways


Sometimes living fear{less} is kind of scary. So, we stand at the edge of the pool, not wanting to fully immerse our entire body in the water. We're okay with sticking our toes in the water. We're okay sitting on the edge even. But, we don't want to jump in. Jumping in to the water would mean giving up all control. So, we sit on the side of the pool, away from the action and activity, wondering why we aren't finding fulfillment, why we aren't happy. 

It's because we aren't really living fear{less}.


Fear{less} doesn't mean that we're completely unafraid. It doesn't mean that we have to be completely comfortable with everything. But, living fear{less} requires that we push through the uncomfortable feeling of being unsure. It means that we don't stay sitting on the side of the pool, but rather- we jump in!

This reminds me of something that happened at camp this summer. You should know that I'm not a camp person. I don't swim. Lakes are quite terrifying. But, since I was chaperoning a wonderful group of middle school girls that wanted to spend free time in the lake and I don't know how to say "no" really well...that's where we spent most of our time. I was okay with the whole "floating around" thing since I had this great invention called a life jacket on. But, there was this slide thing that was the bane of my existence.


 I know that it doesn't look that big and tall- but trust me, it was terrifying. My girls were convinced that they would get me up this monster at some point in time that week. Scratch that- everyone was convinced that they would get me to go on it, even if it was kicking, screaming, and unconscious. So, come the last day at the lake- I had no "real" choice. Somehow I was convinced up the thing- and at that point, I had a choice. I could either have a freak out moment, completely disappoint the children, and look like a quite horrible person. Or- I could "jump". In that moment- that split second- a decision was made. I grabbed one of the girl's hand and we went down the slide. It was absolutely terrifying. But, I didn't die. The world didn't end. Is it something that I wish to do again? Not really. But, I did it. I conquered that fear. I jumped anyways.

Sometimes living fear{less} is terrifying. I don't want you to get the idea that it's an easy thing. I don't want you to think that you're a failure for being scared. The thing is, being a Christian can be scary. I mean, look at the Bible. There's some crazy and radical things in that book. It talks about taking up your cross- a form of torture and execution- and following Christ. It talks about putting your relationship with Christ over all else. It talks about big, crazy, scary things. I'd be lying if I said that being a Christ follower isn't scary. I'd be lying if I said that it's not scary for God to give you a heart for missions. When I look at the way that God is leading me in my life, it's not the most comfortable life. It's not like going to law school and having great financial security. It means giving up a lot of time, for little pay- in order to benefit the Kingdom. So, to me, it's worth it. But, that doesn't mean that I don't have freak out moments where I think "What DID I get myself into???!" I think the thing to focus on isn't the fear. The thing to focus on is God- he's going to make it worth it. It is always "worth it" to be in God's will- it's not always easy (but God doesn't promise that!). So, even in the hard times- JUMP! Don't stay sitting on the side of the pool. Don't stay in the "comfortable". Living fear{less} means knowing when to JUMP!

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Known God


Even in the midst of chaos, fear, and the unknown;  there is one thing we can know for sure...we serve a known God.

Sometimes, this whole life thing seems a little unsure and fleeting. We don't even know what tomorrow holds, much less ten years from now. Sometimes, I don't even know what I'm going to eat for dinner...much less what I'm going to do after graduation. This is a prime time for fear and worry and anxiety to set in. The "what ifs" use this moment to attack. But, we can rest in the fact that God is known. We have all of these examples from the past when he's come through...why do we think that he'll be unfaithful now?

I mean, we have a great big book full of stories of God's faithfulness. We can read stories from the Old Testament about how he provided for the Israelites' every need, even when they were disobedient. We can read stories about how he provided food for them (manna) as they walked through the desert. We can read about how he conquered the promised land for them. We can read the stories of miraculous things that Jesus did in the New Testament. We can read about the struggles of the early church. We can see how throughout the centuries, God hasn't changed. He's remained the same- faithful.

So, in the midst of moments of fear, remember God's faithfulness. Remember the stories of the book, but also remember the stories of your own life. Where has God shown his faithfulness to you? How has he "come through"? What makes you doubt that he can still handle your situation? Living fear{less} means remembering the past to help us persevere in the future. Yes, our futures may be unknown. They may be scary- frightening even. But, we can know that all things will work for the glory of God. God will come through. God has a plan. God will provide...we can know that much, even in the midst of all the unknown.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Silence.


Sometimes the best words to say aren't our own.
Sometimes there's a message that people need to hear, but we aren't the ones that need to give it.
Today's one of those days.
Some things I've been reading in my Google Reader lately that remind me of living fear{less}.

Katie- she clings tightly to the edge of the pool...
Annie- the mending and breaking.
Erin- be still.



Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Learning to Laugh


You should know- I'm a huge Proverbs 31 fan.
Some people get in a tizzy about this whole "ideal woman" thing- but I don't. I know that I'm not going to be perfect. I realize that. But, this lady (whatever her name is) lived a life that is worthy of the gospel. It's not just about how she sewed clothes or made dinner for her husband or whatever- it's about how she lived life. It's about how the way that she lived her life impacted the writer of Proverbs enough that he "put her in the book". It's about how the way she lived her life is still impacting generations today. You just can't deny the influence of this woman.

One of the verses that I've focused in on recently is Proverbs 31:25.

I don't know about you, but I don't often laugh at the days to come. Sometimes I laugh at what's going on in the here and now, but most of my thoughts about the future involved worry and fear. What am I going to do when I graduate? Where will I live? Will I have to move? How will I ever survive on a ministry salary? There are so many unknowns about my future- and it's kind of freaking me out, because I'm graduating in less than two months. Crazy, right?

Back to our Proverbs 31 woman. She lived a fear{less} life- and we can know this from this verse. She lived a life that was free from fear- and she laughed at the days to come. She laughed. She didn't just sit there with a stoic look on her face like, "Whatever life. Come at me." NO! She laughed. She "clothed" herself (figuratively, of course) with strength and dignity. Some translations say strength and honor. Whatever the case, she was strong in her faith. She trusted that God could and would take care of her troubles. She trusted that he could handle the storms that life would throw at her. So, instead of spending her days worrying about "what if" or "what may"- she laughed.

When I think about my life- that's how I want people to see me. I don't want to be known as the worry-wart. I don't want to be known as the girl that's always freaking out about what she's going to do in her life. I don't want to be known as the girl who's fear always held her back from living. I want to be known as the girl who lived fear{less}, the girl who laughed. 

So, baby steps. Maybe all my fears won't disappear overnight. Maybe it won't always be easy. But, maybe I can learn to laugh. Maybe I can learn to see the good in things- before I think about all of the bad. Maybe I can focus on the positive, the gifts, the things to be thankful for. Maybe life should be more about laughing, more about enjoying, more about standing strong and living a life of honor.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Absolutely Terrified? It's Okay.

So, living fear{less} isn't always easy.
Sometimes, we DO get absolutely terrified. It's okay. It's all a part of the process.


Sometimes we're up against situations we simply can't control.
Sometimes we don't have the strength to fight the fear. Sometimes, that's just how it is.
But, when we live in spite of the situation, when we do the best with whatever we've got, we're setting an example to the world around us. We're saying to them, "Yes. This stinks. But, even in the midst of all of this, I'm going to stand strong. I'm going to keep the faith. I'm going to see this through."

Real courage- really living fear{less}- isn't about standing strong in situations that you're in control of. Real courage is living in spite of crappy situations. Real courage is knowing that you're in the midst of a battle and all you want to do is give up to the fear- but fighting anyways. It's okay to be absolutely terrified. It's okay to not know what the next step you're going to take is. But, don't give up. Keep living in spite of these situations. Living fear{less} means that we stand in the midst of these situations and we don't give up. We fight anyways. We live anyways. We try to calm our anxious hearts and we pray for God to help us get through this. We see it through...and we don't give up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Living in Spite of

Okay, so today is a big day.
Are you ready for this?

We're headed back to Taylor Swift, yall. :)
To me, Fearless is not the absence of fear. It's not being completely unafraid. To me, Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death. -Taylor Swift
For the next bit, we're going to talk about how living fear{less} means living in spite of things that are scary. Something that I've realized is that there is never going to be a shortage of scary things in the world. Some scary things are "legit" fears, but most of them really just stand in the way of us living our lives to the absolute fullest. I mean, is my fear of flying on an airplane because it might fall out of the sky justified? How many planes really just "fall out of the sky" on a daily basis? Please. This is a totally irrational fear. I mean, the total odds of dying in a plane crash (considering every single crash...not just ones that just "fall out of the sky") is 1 in 5,862. According to this site, you're more likely to die falling out of bed. Silly right? I think I'm not going to be able to sleep in a bed again. :)

I mean, think about it. We live in a broken, fallen world. We live in a world where bad things happen to good people. But, are we supposed to just stop living? Are we supposed to just lock ourselves in our homes and sleep on air mattresses? I don't think so. If we choose to live fear{less}, we make the choice to live in spite of these things. We make the choice to not let our fears hold us back. I mean, I think of all of the things that I've avoided over the years because of fear. There have been several things that looking back, weren't as bad as I thought they were. They weren't as scary as I thought. I'm not sure why I was so freaked out about them. Then, there's other instances. The times when I chose to live fear{less}. When I didn't let my fear of "what may" hold me back. Take New York City for instance. I was terrified to go there. I mean- think of all that could go wrong.

  • Plane flight. 
  • Tsunami destroying the city. 
  • Giant meteor falling and hitting the Earth. 
  • Lots and lots of people mean more crime. 
  • Getting stuck up there and not being able to come home. 

But, I went anyways (and yes, those were really the fears that I had going into this trip). And you know what? None of that stuff happened. I survived. Mom survived. No natural disasters occurred. The world didn't come to an end, even though it's 2012. Scared to death of these kinds of things. But, I did it. Living Fear{less}, guys. :)

It's time to buckle up and enjoy the ride. Time to live fear{less} in spite of the things that scare you the most.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Running to Tarshish


The title for the first section of Jonah 1 in my Bible is “Jonah Flees from the Lord”. Those words kind of make me giggle on the inside, because we never can truly flee from the Lord. He’s always right here with us. Jonah thought he was running far, far away. Tarshish would have been a place “really really far away” from Nineveh, located somewhere on the coast of modern day Spain. So, Jonah may have thought that he was running away from the reach of God and that he would no longer be responsible for the message that the Lord gave him (I mean, Tarshish was really, really far away!), but we know that this is so not true. There is a promise that is contained in the words of scripture. It is found over and over and over again. It is the promise that God holds us securely in His hands, that He lavishes us freely with His unconditional love, and that He fills us with an unspeakable joy and incomprehensible peace. This doesn’t mean that things will always be easy. Many times we will experience frustration. Our weaknesses will seem so big and we may feel like they will overcome us. But God in our weakness is made oh, so strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reads, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

It’s in these times of frustration- these times when following God isn’t easy- when we aren’t on that “mountain top” experience after camp or a retreat or a really good worship service that we have to make a choice. It's in these times that we have to choose to live fear{less}. It’s when our friends are trying to convince us that disobeying our parents this one time won’t hurt, it’s when your best friend is talking about you behind your back, it’s when someone you love gets sick, it’s when you don’t make the team, it’s when your heart gets broken, it’s when things aren't going the way that that you've planned that we have to make this choice. It is in these times that we reach a crossroads and we have to make a choice: we can choose to trust like a child completely or we can choose to run to Tarshish, for whatever reason we might conjure. Sometimes we’d rather run away from our problems and decisions. We’d rather take the “easier” road…even if it’s not the choice that glorifies God.

But, if we lean on Him, if we choose to trust, even though it might be hard sometimes…I believe we will find moments of joy along the way. I believe we will laugh and cry and laugh so hard we cry some more. This doesn’t mean it will always be easy. Life isn’t always sunshine, daisies, sparkly things, and rainbows. But, I believe that at the end of the journey, when God has made us perfect, we will be able to look back with great thankfulness and joy that He gave us the faith to let Him bring us through. Isaiah 43:2-4 reads,
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; you are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you.
You are God’s precious child. He loves you and he is ALWAYS with you. I think sometimes we forget God’s faithfulness. It’s not that he stops being faithful, it’s just that we aren't looking hard enough. Just because we get a little scared doesn't mean we need to run away. It’s in these times when we learn what it means to trust God. It’s when we learn about taking the leap of faith. We learn what it means to “die” to ourselves and follow God wholeheartedly. It’s in these hard times when we have to give God ALL of the glory and we learn that alone we can do nothing. It's in these times that we need to chose to live fear{less}, free from the bondage of "what may". It's in these times that we need to make the choice to follow God completely- come what may- and trust that he's got this.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days of Fear{less}: Not Where I Belong

I'm not from here.
This world, this Earthly home where I currently reside, isn't where I belong. 

Let me explain.
As I've grown older, I've met people that didn't agree with me. Some people eat food that smells funny, like collard greens. I love my Mom even though she eats stinky food. Some people I can get along with anyways. I have a best friend who is a Democrat, and I love her even though she loves Obama.Then, we get a little deeper into moral/ethical issues. What about abortion? What about gay marriage? Can you simply "agree to disagree" on these issues, or is that selling yourself short? For years, I avoided talking about these things. I didn't want to offend people. I mean, going around speaking counter-culturally is weird. Who wants to be the girl on campus that's against premarital sex? I mean, it's not a popular view, even on a "Christian" campus. Is it really necessary to speak out against these things, or can we just sit back and live life in our own little bubbles?

I had the realization today that we are called to stand up for what we believe in. I want my faith to be something worth dying for. I want to be that committed, and I don't want to be afraid to stand up for what I believe. Please don't misinterpret me here, we ARE supposed to love people. We're supposed to show God's love to them, even if they aren't making wise choices. We ARE supposed to treat them like children of God- we aren't supposed to hate them. But, I do believe that we can, and we SHOULD speak the truth in love. Living fear{less} means realizing that this world is not our home, and we are called to a higher purpose, a higher standard. If we claim the name "Christian" and are professing to be "little Christs", we should live differently from the world. This won't always be easy. Some people won't like it. But, we aren't called to be "well liked". We aren't called to "blend in". We are called to be a light in the darkness. We are called to live lives that would represent Jesus to the world. We are called to be different. 

What stirred all this up? I guess you could say this event last fall. Or maybe it would be the fact that administration at my "Christian" college that receives funding from the United Methodist church tells teachers that they aren't allowed to pray in class, because it "might offend someone". Maybe it's the fact that we do a "GYT" (Get Yourself Tested) each month- yes, free STD testing each month during lunch in the Dining Hall. Maybe it's the fact that they hire professors that don't represent Christ to the student body- and even try to dissuade people from the faith. Maybe it's the fact that Planned Parenthood is coming to campus tomorrow to give a presentation in the Dining Hall (Can you say disturbing? Abortion and dinner) about how girls should "take responsibility for their sex lives". Why does an institution that claims the name "Christian" not look any different than the world around it? I'd have to say that it looks more like we're blending into the world and culture, than striving to live against it. My college says that it's mission is "faith, wisdom, and service"....but that isn't what we look like. Maybe it's what things used to be like. But, somewhere, we've gone wrong. We've forgotten our roots. We've lost our way, much like the seven churches in Revelation. I don't know about you, but that's not how I want to be remembered. I don't want to live a lukewarm life. I don't want to live a life that doesn't stand in opposition to the ways of this world. I already know the end of the story, and I know who's side I want to be on.

So what? What do we do? How do we live in a world that is SO against everything we believe?
We stand up.
We stand up for what is right. We stand up for what is good. We stand up for what is true.
We speak out.
We speak with love, not hate. We speak words of truth, backed up with Scripture.
And when they refuse to listen?
We accept what comes.
We accept that we live in a fallen world. We accept that it isn't going to be easy. We accept that there may be persecution. We accept that we may lose some things. We might not get that job recommendation. We might not get that grade we "deserve". We might lose a friendship. 

But, we know that we stood for what is right. We stood for truth. We spoke with love. We realize that our reward doesn't come in this life. It doesn't come with fancy jobs. It doesn't come with shining rec letters. We realize that our hope for a bright future is in the world to come.

And with that, we run fear{less} each step of the way.