Saturday, April 21, 2018

My best friend

Almost five years ago I wrote a similar blog about my grandma.  My grandpa printed and kept that blog laminated. I know he wouldn't want a big deal made, but I have a lot to say and I know that words can't really do him justice.  I'm not actually sure I can put everything I'm thinking into words.

If you haven't heard, my best friend and grandpa is gone.  This is a lot harder this time around.  I don't mean that it wasn't easy to say good-bye to my grandma or get the phone call in the middle of the night, but I thought I still had more time to talk to him.  I even called him and was waiting for him to call back before I found out.

I lived next door to my grandparents until I was 11.  They were always actively involved in my life and very supportive of me.  When we changed houses, I still saw them multiple times a week and when I went away to college and grad school, I talked to them on the phone as often as possible.  While I was at Penn State, we wrote letters back and forth to each other all the time and still talked on the phone.

I still talked to him all the time.  And now I'm having a hard time believing he's not going to just call me right back.  I'm glad he didn't have to suffer and I'm glad that he's with Jesus and back with my grandma.  It was hard for them to be apart.

My grandpa taught me about hard work.  And though he never sugar coated things, he always encouraged me to keep going even when it was extremely hard.  There were no excuses.  Sometimes life just wasn't fair, but sometimes you just had to practice a little harder.

If you know me well, you know that I get extremely frustrated over the fact that sometimes I just get overlooked for being female.  Or people have expectations of what I should and shouldn't do because I'm a girl.  Not my grandpa though.  He always encouraged me to go after what I wanted and he didn't think I should be in a silly relationship for the sake of being with someone.  Life isn't fair he told me, but he knew that I'd find a way to achieve what I wanted if I wanted it bad enough.

He taught me to be generous and genuinely take an interest in people.  When I had friends or dates over at the house, he would try to get to know them instead of talking about himself.  He loved his family.

I've always looked up to him.  I'd like to think that I do take after him in a lot of ways.  I got the family nose from him.  I'm certainly stubborn, but also have a deep sense of responsibility to care for my family and friends.  I think we had an understanding that being the oldest child comes with a certain set of responsibilities and unspoken rules that are sometimes pretty awesome and sometimes...not so much.

My grandpa and grandma were equal partners in their relationship.  He also took amazing care of my grandma even after she got Alzheimer's.  The rest of the family didn't even know it for years because of how well he compensated for her.  He let her live normally and was always by her side.  Looking at them, that's what I would want.

I could ramble on for a lot longer, but he wouldn't like that.  I just miss him more than I can say.  And I'm glad he's home.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

King of the World

Well...almost time for another birthday.  I go back and forth between thinking "I am only in my 20s, I have lots of time left!" to "I'm running out of time to make a difference or figure out what I really want to do with my life...I'm so old!"  So...which is it?

Actually, both of these ways of thinking are wrong... True, I may still only be in my 20s and while I hope I still have lots of life left to live, I don't know.  Only God knows how many days I will be here. I hope that there is still lots of time, but I truly want to make my time on Earth matter.  But this also ties into the other thought that I have on running out of time.  Yes, time keeps marching on and I keep burning through my numbered days.  Because I want my life to matter I get depressed looking at all of my accomplishments and finding that they really aren't all that exciting.  I wish I could do more and be more and the list goes on and on...

Having moved to a big city again, especially one like Nashville, I'm inspired to dream again.  But my biggest dreams seem unattainable.  Here, everywhere I look there seems to be someone who has already been there, done that, and done it bigger and better than I could possibly imagine.  Being a dreamer and creative is great, but there are also times where I don't want to be the crazy eccentric person because if I wasn't so out there I feel I'd be happier with my life.  There would be no need to compare it with anyone else and always wonder if there is a way to do more and be more.

The chorus of a random song often runs through my head:
"I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you"

I don't care for the song, but somehow the chorus sticks with me.  And it really is true - I want to change the world and I can't even begin to imagine how.

Almost every blog post I write references a song that is speaking to me at the time of writing.  On Thursday night, I went to Dare to Be at Cross Point Church with the ladies in my Bible study.  Natalie Grant sang "King of the World" and it has stuck with me.  The chorus really expresses what I've been pondering lately:

"When did I forget that You've always been the King of the world
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make You so small
When You're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that You've always been the King of the world"

I can't change the world, but everything is possible with God.

Charlotte Gambill spoke at the event and the topic of labels and names was discussed quite a bit.  This is something I've struggled with for so long.  I was reminded of the retreat I was on a few years ago with Victoria Kepler Didato.  There, I encountered this issue with believing all the labels everyone else has put on you and not the ones God has spoken over you.  On that retreat, the lie I believed was that my label was "Voiceless."


Charlotte had each woman take out a card with "Dare to be known as..." written at the top and write down the name that God calls us to be known as - the label that is true and not the lies that get put on us.  Immediately, I knew what I was supposed to write down - "She who speaks with power."

That's not one word, like Charlotte had said, I know, but the label "voiceless" came back to me instantly.  And God spoke to me in that moment, Remember that this is what I have for you.

Had I really forgotten?

I went back to my journals and blog posts from the retreat weekend.  Before I beat myself up about forgetting how hard I worked to overcome the label "voiceless," I read my journal from the retreat and was reminded that healing is progressive.  It isn't a one and done deal.  I struggled that weekend to come up with a name that cancelled out "voiceless."

Victoria, the speaker for the weekend, took me aside and told me that God was telling her she needed to tell me that I am not voiceless or weak.  I have authority and power and I will use it to help those who are still voiceless.  I will also not abuse that power as others have, but will use it to advance God's Kingdom. (see blog post "Name" on 3/23/13).  I found my journal from that weekend today and discovered what I had written during my quiet time after that encounter.

"I am not voiceless or weak.
I am a woman of God and I have authority and power and will use it to help those that are voiceless and I will not abuse it like others have, but use it to advance Your Kingdom.  I am a daughter of God. I am a woman of God and that does not make me weak.  I will speak with power."

During that weekend and at the Dare to Be event, it came up that the enemy knows your calling and will do everything to destroy it.  Though I thought I'd dealt with the labels and name issue, it's clear that there is still work to be done.  In some ways, I've become bitter about the fact that I'm a nobody.  I'm not in a position to "speak with power" and oftentimes I feel like even if I was, no one would listen to me anyways.  Silly girl.  But, Charlotte pointed out that you can't be bitter and assume the platform God has for you.


I've forgotten that God is the King of the world.

I wish I could wrap up this blog post neatly and simply say that God's revealed his plan to me and I have everything figured out.  No problem!

But that would be silly.  God is not my equal.  I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who holds it all.

So here's to another birthday and more adventure in this wonderful city.  Who knows what awaits me for 27?  God does.  Things always look so much different than I thought they were going to be.  Nashville wasn't part of my plan.  It wasn't even on my radar until March last year.

I have no idea what life will look like next year, but God has a beautiful plan for my life.  I may never understand everything until He calls me home, but I know I want to follow Him.  In following Him, I know my life will make a difference, but not because *I* did anything.  It's all about You.

King of the World - 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Even When it Hurts

It's been a really long time since I've written anything and I truly miss it.  I'm always thinking about 257 different things and writing helps me focus and organize my thoughts for longer than 30 seconds at a time...

I've felt overwhelmed with everything going on in the world lately.  There is so much pain and suffering.  There are so many truly awful things going on.  The bad thing about all this technology that we have access to and being so connected is that we constantly see everything - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And I would say that more often than not we focus on the bad and the ugly because somehow we get some sick pleasure out of feeding on the negative things.  I'm not saying that we support or condone the things going on, I only mean that we as a society seem to perseverate on the negative.  In no way am I discounting the tragedies that have occurred recently.  My heart truly does break hearing about all of the innocent people killed in terror attacks by individuals who hate differing viewpoints and freedom.

My heart breaks because online we can all be anyone we want and we engage in shouting matches over comments to prove that we're right.  I don't mind debate and differing viewpoints.  But when did it become acceptable to name call and be completely rude to other people?  I doubt that many of us would say these things if we were actually sitting down and having a conversation face-to-face with one another.

Because I am conservative, I'm (sadly) used to being called an idiot, bigot, hate-filled Christian, etc.  There is a longer list, I'm sure, but why am I not allowed to have and voice my opinion?  Why is my opinion something to be terrified of?

Perhaps the thing that really put me over the edge this week was that people were mocking prayer after the San Bernardino terror attack.  Why was it okay to #PrayforParis, but completely unacceptable to pray for our fellow Americans?  I saw people mocking that God clearly wasn't listening because if He was, this wouldn't still be happening.  I saw others say that those offering prayers were sick individuals because how could they look at the families of the victims and say that prayer works?  I saw other posts about how Christians were hateful because how could they look at the families of the victims and say "sorry, guess you didn't pray enough!"  There were other posts about how God is supposed to be loving, so why doesn't He love these people?!

It is hard to understand why someone would pray until you have been touched by the love of Christ.  Many non-believers rejoice when Christians mess up or sin, but the reality is, we Christians aren't perfect.  Not even close.  I mess up.  I still sin.  Jesus Christ is still working on me and I will never be perfect.  I'm not striving to be "perfect."  I'm striving to be more like Christ each and every day.

We live in a fallen world.  It is easy for me to worry and fear the world with all of the terrible things happening.  But...I have to look to God.  Because He is my hope, strength, and my salvation.  And I know that this world is not my home.

I wish that horrible things didn't happen.  I wish that people didn't hate each other.

I keep going back to "Even When it Hurts" by Hillsong United.  The following lyrics have stuck with me over the last couple of weeks:

Even when the fight seems lost, I'll praise You.
Even when it hurts like hell, I'll praise You.
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I'll sing Your praise

I think these lyrics are profound.  Life sometimes hurts like hell and I often look at the state of the world and it feels like the fight is lost!

I wish that there would be no more pain and suffering.  I don't want to see anymore people hurt.

We have a sin problem.  I have to keep looking up.  I have to keep praising God.  I know how the story ends.  I know Jesus Christ is coming back to make all things right.

Even When it Hurts -

Thursday, February 26, 2015

In Over My Head (Crash Over Me)

Do you know that God is still in control?  No matter the circumstances.  No matter what gets thrown at us.  Those who know God already know how it all turns out - so why do we spend so much time worrying when we already know how it ends?

"Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)

Though it is cliché and so much easier said than done, we must fully surrender every situation to God.

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge." (Psalm 18:2)

In Over My Head (Crash Over Me) by Bethel speaks to just trusting God in all situations.  One of my favorite lines is:

"Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in..."

So often I put God in boxes and put limits on what I think He can or can't do or control.  Which is really silly because God is...well, God.  He's limitless.  He can do anything.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us..." (Ephesians 3:20).

"Whether I sink, whether I swim - it makes no difference when I'm beautifully in over my head."

I can't mess up God's plan for me.  I'm not that powerful.  I just have to trust that God is in control and it doesn't matter if I "sink or swim" when I'm so deeply immersed in God's love and His promises.

I can't imagine how anyone can go through life, with all its difficulties and challenges, and not have God to turn to.  Knowing that I once lived that way, I look back and wonder how I managed to pull through at all.  It isn't a place that I want to go back to...ever.

"Then You crash over me and I've lost control but I'm free
I'm going under, I'm in over my head
And You crash over me, I'm where You want me to be
I'm going under, I'm in over my head"

Check out my cover:


Sunday, February 1, 2015

What do you have to do?

What do you have to do?

This question came up in the message this morning.  It's not a bad thing, like I have to do this or that and ugh...that sucks.  But more, I know deep down that there is something that I'm supposed to do.  There are things that drive me and things I deeply care about and when I'm not able to pursue these "have to" things, I get really depressed.

I know that most people wouldn't consider me "old" by any stretch of the imagination...except maybe for the kiddos I work with!  To them, I'm ancient!  But another birthday is coming up this month and I'm frustrated again.  What have I really accomplished in my time here on earth?  Or how about just in the last year?  Nothing really noteworthy or anything.  And perhaps, I will never be famous or widely remembered, but I want my life to matter!

So what do I have to do?  Sitting down and making a list, nothing was really earth-shattering, but they are still things that drive me.

This comes at a time where I was going back through my Leadership Advance stuff and going through my strengths from the Strength Finders assessment and my DISC assessment results.  I had forgotten several things I had learned from the weekend.

So here is my list:

  • music/worship
  • following Christ
  • learning
  • listening
  • speaking/writing
  • teaching
  • loving
  • overcoming
  • leading
How could I accomplish those things?

  • Spending time practicing and song-writing daily
  • Spending time in worship, even if it's just alone in my room by myself
  • Taking time to receive feedback from talented individuals so I can grow in my skills
Following Christ:
  • It isn't easy, but spending time in His word...daily
  • Praying without ceasing 
  • Asking God for more of Him instead of asking for more of His stuff...
  • Continuing to pursue topics that interest me and learning everything I can about them through reading, online tutorials, classes, and hands-on experience
  • Being quiet and listening for God's voice.  We are surrounded by so much noise each day.  I like constant noise.  Silence is uncomfortable, but what have I missed by not actively listening for God's voice?
  • Taking time to talk openly about my faith and what God is doing in my life
  • Writing and reflecting on what's going on in my life and what I see God doing
  • Teaching others and sharing my knowledge with those who desire to learn about topics that I know a lot about
  • Actively checking in with those that I care about.  Seeing what I could be praying for and finding ways to show them love.
  • Praying for the ability to love those who hate me and go out of their way to bring me down.  Praying that they would know Christ's love.
  • Running to God when I'm overwhelmed with all the thoughts that swirl around in my mind
  • Breaking through the barriers in front of me so that I can influence the world.  Trusting that God will open the right doors for me, even when everything seems impossible.
  • Developing the talents I've been blessed with and using them to lead others
  • So much focus has gone into trying to strengthen my weaknesses so that I can be a "better" person.  But God has given me what I need.  Everyone has been blessed with different talents, gifts, and why try to be something I'm not?

Monday, January 26, 2015

You Make Me Brave

Well... I didn't expect to have one of those tough love sessions with God this evening...

I've been sick and have slept most of the weekend.  When I was awake I had the worst migraine ever... So really, all I wanted to do was go back to sleep.  That being said, I really wasn't in the Word this past weekend.  Only by the grace of God did I make it through both worship sets Sunday morning.  I was so very thankful for the snow day today too.  Anyways...this post was not to complain about how crummy I've been feeling, but since I've been missing my time with God, it did set me up for this evening.

I felt a bit better tonight.  Hung out some with my roommates, who are some of the greatest friends I have.  :-)  Given that there was nothing else on...we watched the train wreck of a show, The Bachelor.  Please don't judge!

Honestly, it just makes me sad... For all parties involved.  Are their motives for being there actually good?  I guess I really can't say or judge... But come on!  Who thought it would be a good idea to date, make out with, (and who knows what else?) with 25 people?  "I believe in the process."  What process?  My heart breaks for the women on the show who are throwing themselves at one guy.  I just want to scream "what are you doing?!"  These women are gorgeous, yes, but they also have successful careers!  They have opinions and beliefs.  And yet... I feel like they dumb themselves down just to try to get this one guy to give them 5 minutes.  I'm sorry...but even if he picked you, why would that be a reward?  I just wish they knew that they deserve so much more than what the shallow "process" offers them.

Do I sound judgmental?  Probably.  But in reality, I can't judge.  Not one bit.

While pondering these things, I headed to bed... I've been consistently spending time with God before bed, but being sick had thrown all of that off.  I groaned and thought about how much I'd just like to be sleeping...  I could always make up the time tomorrow, right?  But I felt God nudging me to spend time with Him.

"Oh please, God, I just want to sleep!  We can spend time together tomorrow!  Promise!"

I've missed you.

Still thinking about the women on the show, I got a reality check.

Don't you do that?

Do what?  Throw myself at a guy in the hopes of being accepted by him?  No!  I'm strong and independent and I...



Thinking about it, I guess I do dumb myself down and hide parts of myself that I think guys probably wouldn't like anyways.  Too outspoken.  Too opinionated.  Oh and hey, maybe if I just bend on my values a little bit, it wouldn't hurt...right?  Right?  I can be the perfect girlfriend or whatever...

Though it is far beyond the scope of this blog at this point to go over everything that I think is wrong with the general attitude of the church towards women, I will say that I find it incredibly frustrating!!! I recently had a conversation with some friends about what you will see for the "Christian woman" if you walk into any bookstore and just browse the shelves in the Christian section.  You know what you'll find?  For the single woman, the majority of the books you'll find are all about how to use your single years to become the perfect wife.  Here's how you can wait for Prince Charming and not waste your time.  And for the married woman, many of the books help you become that perfect wife that you should've spent your single years trying to become.  Here's how you can help your husband in his God given calling.

If you look at the books for a man, you will find many that teach him about his calling and how to become everything that God wants him to be.  Where are his books for becoming the perfect husband to his wife?  Where are his books for when he's single on how to prepare for becoming the best husband he can be for his future wife?

How come it feels like my contributions to the church are not valuable or as valuable because I am a single woman?  And if I was married...would I just forever be in my husband's shadow?  Because his calling is the most important, right?  Where is my instruction and teaching for my calling and becoming everything God wants me to be?  What if I never get married?  Is my life a waste then?  Is my life any less valuable?  My calling less important?

Becoming frustrated with the realization that I'm just as desperate as those women to be accepted by a man, I put in my earbuds and pulled up the song that I selected to lead in a couple of weeks - "You Make Me Brave."  I started writing out the lyrics...and promptly started sobbing.

I don't know what my future holds.  But I know that God makes me brave.  And I can face whatever comes with Him leading the way.

If I remain single the rest of my life, then that's okay.  Over the last 5 and a half years of being single, I've slowly come to realize that I would much rather be 'alone' than with the wrong person.  I would rather be single and happy with who I am than be taken and not recognize myself because I've compromised who I am.  I do need reminders.  And I do have friends to keep me accountable.

For a while now, I've felt that I'm supposed to do something more with my life.  I've become very comfortable with where I am... Quite frankly, I just want to be left alone in my comfortable life.  The work that God has been doing in me over the last few years is amazing, but it terrifies me.  A former mentor told me a couple years ago that people actually listen when I speak.  That frightens me more than you know... I'm a screwed up nobody.  Who on earth would listen to anything I have to say?  It scares me even more that the name I was given at the healing retreat I was on had to do with this too. While pondering how I saw myself, my name was "voiceless."  The name God gave me was "she who speaks with power."  My own father got on his soapbox a couple of weeks ago, frustrated with me because I'm happy being comfortable, and let me know that this is not me and this is not who he raised me to be!  He raised me to dream big and fight for what I think is right.  And never settle...never, ever settle just because it's easier that way.

One of my favorite quotes on bravery and fear comes from The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

"Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all."

Being brave doesn't mean that I'm not afraid.  I also know that God makes me brave.  Psalm 138:1-4 (EXB) says:
Lord, I will ·thank [praise] you with all my heart;
    I will ·sing [make a psalm] to you before the gods.
I will bow down facing your holy Temple,
    and I will ·thank [praise] ·you [L your name] for your ·love [loyalty] and ·loyalty [faithfulness].
You have ·made your name and your word
    greater than anything [L exalted your word above all your name].
On the day I ·called [prayed] to you, you answered me.
    You ·made me strong and brave [L have emboldened/encouraged my soul with strength].
Lord, let all the kings of the earth ·praise [thank] you
    when they hear the words ·you speak [L of your mouth].

God, You make me brave.

If you've made it to the end, thank you.  I know this was a long one.  And truly, I'm honestly surprised when anyone reads the crazy thoughts and rants that fall onto my blog.

I'll leave you with some of the lyrics to "You Make Me Brave."

"I have heard You call my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So, I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace, Your grace

As Your love
In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You've made a way
For all to enter in

You make me brave
You make me brave
You called me out beyond the shore
Into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now
The love that made a way"

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It Is Well/Look Up

I love this time of year.  It is the start of a brand new year!  The past year has brought me many a lesson to learn.  I've spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on everything that occurred during 2014.  A lot of it has been extremely painful and I'm not under the impression that 2015 is magically going to make many of those situations any easier, but I know that God uses all things for good.  While I truly don't understand everything going on in my life right now, I can look back and see that I've grown when I've trusted Him to handle things and pressed on instead of pouting and giving up on life.

There have been some dark times this year.  The same insecurities that I thought I had dealt with seem to creep up time and time again when I least expect it.  Though I've learned and continue to learn how to fight through many of those situations, I do recall recently explaining to one of my dear friends that dark thoughts about life and if it is even worth it are never far.  And how I think and feel that there is still shame attached to admitting that in Christian circles.  Because, after all, if you were truly trusting in Jesus, you wouldn't have to deal with that deep depression.  Why are we so quick to judge someone when she has the courage to say "I'm not okay?"  The truth is, while I do believe in healing and that I could one day never have to deal with this again, I also know that this could be something that I have to face in this life because it isn't perfect.  While this may seem extremely unfair, I've come to realize that everyone has difficult situations and circumstances to face in life.

I know I've written before that I think God never gives you more than you can handle.  Lately, I think there is still truth in that, but with a little amendment.  God may give you more than you can handle.  Why?  Because He wants you to just look up!  He wants you to realize that He's still there and He loves you so much more than you could ever even imagine!  Nothing that comes our way is too big for God to handle.  And sometimes it takes a lot to get our attention.

The song that got me through much of last year was Nichole Nordeman's version of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Look Up).  Spotify calculated that it was my most played song last year.  Her version's lyrics speak of turning over all the broken pieces of our lives and watching what Jesus does with them.  We just need to look up at Him!

It reminds me of when Jesus walked on water and he called Peter out to him.  Peter got out of the boat and took some steps, but the second he looked away from Jesus, he started to sink.  He doubted and took his eyes off Jesus.  He just needed to look up.

I trust that God is going to get me through whatever 2015 throws my way.  I know that there will be a lot of carry over from 2014 and I can't change that, but I can change my outlook on it.  I'm tired of being bitter.  I'm tired of complaining constantly.  I'm tired of fighting.  But I will press on and trust that God will be with me and that He has everything under control.  And things may not turn out the way I want, but God's plan is always better.

I got a special surprise this evening from one of my fellow worship leaders.  He sent me a new song (It is Well) to learn to lead the next time my team is on for worship.  I'm so excited!  It's an amazing song and right now it really speaks to where I'm at with everything.  I wouldn't be surprised if it is one of my most played songs for this year.  The pre chorus lyrics are beautiful:

"And through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You.
And through it all, through it all, it is well.
And through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You.
And it is well with me."

I pray that I will remember to keep my eyes on Him this year, no matter what happens.  Through it all, it is well.


If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts and are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Look Up):

It Is Well:

Scripture: Matthew 14:22-33