Magnify your Mountain

Celebrate the victories when there are victories +
mourn the losses when there are losses –
life is but a battle between the turns and the tosses.

I keep a journal, as most 20-somethings do. As someone who writes everything down, I love to look back on them and see both my triumphs and trials. Journals are a place to see growth, a written roadmap through every victory and every loss. I hold them close, as if letting them go would nullify the experience. They are the physical representation of every scar and strength I have.

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In Due Time

Psalm 145:9, in multiple translations:

“The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them food as they need it.” – NLT
“All eyes are on you, expectant; you give them their meals on time.” – MSG
“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in proper time.” – NIV
“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” – ESV
“The eyes of all look to You [in hopeful expectation], And You give them their food in due time.” – AMP

Need (verb)- require something because it is essential or very important.

There is waiting required in the fulfillment of a need. The need does not just come and then a second later, the provision. There has to be a waiting period- otherwise our relationship to God the Father, the fulfiller of need, would be reduced down to an ATM / debit card. That’s not a relationship – that’s a transaction.

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Finding your Frederick the Great

Here’s the thing about finding the beauty in the ordinary: you’ve got to fight for it. You have to truly seek it- past the distractions, past the pain, past the rush of this hurried life. Beauty in the midst of the ugliness of the world can be easily overlooked when we hold to our horizontal perspectives. You have to fight for it, because anything beautiful is worth the fight.

Finding Wonder in the Smallest of Places

Here’s the thing about finding the beauty in the ordinary: you’ve got to fight for it. You have to truly seek it- past the distractions, past the pain, past the rush of this hurried life. Beauty in the midst of the ugliness of the world can be easily overlooked when we hold to our horizontal perspectives. You have to fight for it, because anything beautiful is worth the fight.

The Start of New Life

I recently started cultivating a garden in my backyard. I moved into this house 2 months ago, and this past weekend finally got around to sprucing up what’s back there. I honed in on a planter that is made out of an old row-boat. The ground needed to be tilled and tended to, but I knew that it could make for something great. After a long Saturday afternoon of tilling / watering / tending / tilling / watering / tending / repeat, it was ready to go. But alas, as with most projects, I was exhausted. The prep work to get the soil ready to take in new seeds took so much time that I put off the actual planting until I had more energy + time.

[Sidenote- I highly recommend making your own garden if you ever want a sweet picture of cultivating new life. Can’t tell you how many, “Man is this how God sees me when He is pruning me?” moments I had, and am looking forward to have.]

Sunday morning consisted of planting new seeds. Measure out the rows, make holes a few inches deep, depositing the little seed, closing up the earth with dirt. By the end of that, you couldn’t tell where the seeds were. Only I, the gardener, the cultivator of this land, could tell where I had placed new life, new wonder.

I watered them, and walked away.

Distracted by the Ugly

Today wasn’t the best day. I’ve been battling an undetermined illness that caused me to be home instead of where I actually wanted to be. It had ruined my whole day that I couldn’t fulfill an obligation that I looked forward to each week because of how I was feeling. This distraction led to a dull day, and I was fully prepared to dive into bed and go to sleep when I got home from work. But, then I remembered my responsibility to my new plants-to-be- if I didn’t water them, who would? So, I put on my dirty converses, threw on a jacket, and walked outside. Here is where I met Frederick the Great.

The Moment I Met Frederick the Great

I’ve never been more surprised by a 1/2-inch sprouting as I was by Frederick the Great (pictured above: the little green 🌱 in the middle of all that brown dirt). I planted him and his brothers + sisters just two days ago. I fully expected it to take at least a week, if not two, to show any signs of life.

Frederick the Great is like a new born baby, 3 weeks premature. I just wasn’t expecting to see him- I was no where near prepared. And I have to tell you, I teared up a little. I was totally caught off-guard by this little miracle of life. This bursting forth.

Frederick the Great’s Great Implication

Here’s the point: God meets you in the mess, and makes it beautiful. Like He did for me, in this exact situation. I had been so down about how I’ve been feeling physically that I’ve been walking around with my head down. But he lifted it, with just a little bit of wonder, so I could see heaven surrounding me. Heaven, in this case, was in the form of Frederick the Great.

And here’s the Great Implication: Whether it’s as little as a seed or as grand as a Sequoia, God wants to renew your awe and restore your wonder. But He’ll do it in the little things, in the hyper ordinary, to catch you off guard, to heighten your attention, and to make you look for the unexpected.

He’s laid a Frederick the Great moment out in front of you today- have you found it? Did you see it? Or were you so preoccupied by the ugly of the world around you that you missed it?

And if you really can’t find your Frederick, are you even really looking? How about throwing on YOUR dirty converses + YOUR jacket, and taking a step outside of your norm to look at this world in a different perspective?

I’m very thankful for Frederick the Great on this gloomy Tuesday. And I’m even more thankful for a good God who meets me on my gloomy Tuesday with a promise of new life and better days. Here’s to always seeking new wonder.

“May we never lose our wonder,
Wide-eyed and mystified, may we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King.”
– Wonder, Bethel Music

partner with Jesus >> be the vessel

Why I Got a Tattoo

There are many reasons to get a tattoo. One is because you want to remember something, one is you want to be cool, one is everyone else is doing it, and one is because no one else is doing it. I’m sure there are many others, but those are the ones I can think of. But they aren’t mine. 

Tattoo

There are many reasons to get a tattoo. One is because you want to remember something, one is you want to be cool, one is everyone else is doing it, and one is because no one else is doing it. I’m sure there are many others, but those are the ones I can think of. But they aren’t mine. 

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Rooted over Watered, Any Day

I have a roommate that works the floral counter in a grocery store. Naturally, there is an obvious bonus that comes from living with her (aside from the fact that she is a lovely human): It seems like almost every other day she comes home with a bouquet of flowers to brighten up our home.

Window

I have a roommate that works the floral counter in a grocery store. Naturally, there is an obvious bonus that comes from living with her (aside from the fact that she is a lovely human): It seems like almost every other day she comes home with a bouquet of flowers to brighten up our home. We’ve got flowers on the kitchen counter, in the laundry room, in the living room, the loft, heck we even had a little vase in the bathroom for a while. With their sweet smells and bright colors, they extend and create joy in our home, and I’m super thankful for them (and her).

But, alas, something happens to all of these beautiful flowers that come into our home- eventually, they wither and droop. From the root they were picked from to their final resting place in our trash can, we see the end cycle of a beautiful life. Once harvested from their root, it’s only a matter of time before, without the necessary nutrients, they die. 

And that got me thinking- the idea of being rooted in something to keep you grounded isn’t only important because we as humans find it to be, but is important because being rooted is intricately, uniquely, and precisely woven into the very fabric of our universe, the very fiber of our being.

If a plant gets unrooted from the ground that it needs, at some point soon, it will die. No matter how much water you give it, it’s time will come much faster than if it had still been rooted in the soil to where it belonged. 

“Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
From Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia”
– Seasons by Hillsong Worship

How often do we allow ourselves to be fed by influence of this world- “watered,” so to speak, to grow and expand in the way that fits best in the society to which we inhabit?

How often is our beauty (talents, passions, pursuits, potentials) thought of as a commodity, as a property, only important when it can be used and plucked for the root for society’s enjoyment? 

How often have we seen people burned out/overexposed/tossed around, only to wither to nothing, because they have nothing left? 

We are not the property of this world, but the propellers of this world. We were meant to be cultivated, to be tended, to be fully fed and without a need for anything other than the sustenance of Jesus. Yet we settle for being watered by societies’ compliments, only to be thrown out in the trash by societies’ judgements. 

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be rooted and fed by God than portioned and picked over by society. I choose to put my trust in God.

“Blessed is the man who trusts the LORD, whose trust is in the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8 [ESV]

My friend- if you feel like you are in a season of drought, don’t turn to the alluring watering can that society offers- dig deeper, root deeper. Extend your roots as far as you can into the provision of God, and watch your fruit flood over in abundance.

partner with Jesus >> be the vessel 

Week One of Silence + Solitude: Realizing I’m a Jar of River Water

The act of Silence + Solitude is a tricky beast, and one that I’ve been struggling with the past ~ 7 days. While it wasn’t easy, the uncomfortable has rooted me in the fact that it is oh-so-necessary to be able to thrive in this world. I realized quickly that the more uncomfortable you are in S+S, the more you need it. And boy, do I have the highest need of all.

The act of Silence + Solitude is a tricky beast, and one that I’ve been struggling with the past ~ 7 days. While it wasn’t easy, the uncomfortable has rooted me in the fact that it is oh-so-necessary to be able to thrive in this world. I realized quickly that the more uncomfortable you are in S+S, the more you need it. And boy, do I have the highest need of all.

What I’ve noticed more than everything is that you have to really trust God in the Silence, because without Him guiding it, your mind can wonder back into this life- a to-do list, a conversation you need to have, a work issue, a family miscommunication, etc. That’s how I was, at least. Societal implications + distractions run rampant in our subconscious, and when you choose to just sit and experience silence, they come to the forefront. I have yet to master how to completely clear my mind, but Ruth Haley Barton in the book “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” gave me a little encouragement. When she was going through this same spiritual discipline and cultivating it, someone told her:

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Freely + Lightly

I don’t know about you, but before my feet have even touched the floor on a new day, I’ve already disqualified myself from deserving it. I wake up to immediate disappointment- a thought comes rushing in of a mistake made yesterday, or something at work not going right, or an issue with a friend that I haven’t taken steps to resolve yet.

I don’t know about you, but before my feet have even touched the floor on a new day, I’ve already disqualified myself from deserving it.

I wake up to immediate disappointment- a thought comes rushing in of a mistake made yesterday, or something at work not going right, or an issue with a friend that I haven’t taken steps to resolve yet. I’m immediately bombarded with issues and situations immediately meant to disqualify me from living into my identity for that day.

If you haven’t been told this before, take this truth: The enemy never sleeps. He’s hyper-vigilant, and will pounce when you are at your most vulnerable (which for me, I’ve come to realize, is right when I’ve awoken, before I’ve reached for the Father).

Normally I can counteract these lies pretty effectively by reaching for my bible, or reaching for my devotional to center myself on truth rather than fiction. However, lately it’s been a struggle. If no one has never warned you about your early-twenties, let me be the first- they are hard. Like, you feel like you are making a life decision every day type of hard. They test you beyond anything high school or college could ever throw at you- every day seems like the one to start (or hinder) your destiny. It’s a lot of pressure to take.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – MSG Matthew 11:28-30 –

Isn’t it silly how we look for comfort/acceptance/rest in everywhere else but Him?

“Oh I just have to get through this work day, I can rest on the weekend.”

“I just need to make an appearance at this one party to show I was there.”

“I just need to work 8 hours of overtime to make my rent this month.”

Stop stop stop (talking to myself first and foremost, because I’m guilty of all of these).

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Freely and lightly.

That is His promise for you and for me. You don’t need to wait until the weekend to get rest- lay your burdens on Him and find your rest. Find His unforced rhythms of grace, and make them yours. Rest and peace will be the result.

partner with Jesus >> be the vessel

Distortion // Precondition // Reciprocation

We’re chasing the acceptance of a society whose standards are constantly ebbing and flowing. Even once you acquire it, it’s not guaranteed, and you can be back at square one just as quickly as the next fad hits popularity.

I was on a plane recently. As one does, I was trying to distract myself from the turbulence and was looking around at my fellow passengers. In the seats in front of me were people looking through videos and pictures from their trip. Without getting too far into the content of the images, it was clear they had quite the weekend [Disclaimer: I did not watch as they flipped through their entire album of images, this was more of a passing glance]. I also didn’t hear most of their conversation, but the woman was very excited about being able to share and post these images for the world (aka their friends) to see and be jealous about. The approval and praise of their friends on social media seemed like the overarching motivation. I wrote this in my trusty iPhone:

We’re chasing the acceptance of a society whose standards are constantly ebbing and flowing. Even once you acquire it, it’s not guaranteed, and you can be back at square one just as quickly as the next fad hits popularity.

I believe this is because we have an ancient-yet-relevant gospel that gets distorted by today’s preconditions and standards. To me, the gospel is the understanding that God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die for our sins, with no precondition, and with the knowledge that we will continually sin and fall short of perfection. And that he did this by grace, and grace alone.

How Modern Society Distorts an Ancient Gospel

Again: there is no precondition to the gift of salvation. It’s freely given. But society [and church society is not innocent in this by a long-shot] have their way of putting their own spin on things to making the gift of salvation fit into the mold of reciprocation this world is built on.

God did this for you, so you need to do this for him. Act like this, live like this, love like this, and when you are the perfect Christian, you will achieve your salvation.

>>> NO NO NO <<<

We’re freely offered acceptance by a God who expects nothing and wants to grant us everything.

While God would love to see goodness and kindness be the products of our lives, they aren’t preconditions. God asks us to come as we are. That’s who he created us to be. And I believe that trying to be anything other than who He created us to be causes a rift within the depths of our souls [I believe this, because I’ve fought through this]. It puts us at war with our true selves and who we think he wants us to be. The façade of “expected perfection” plagues most modern-day Christians- that we must pray right, that we must serve right, that we must love right. But that distortion is fueled by a society not built on Kingdom-ideals.

The fight between who society has made us think we are and who God has inherently crafted us to be is the fight of our lives, and leaves us with two options. The first, to allow this world to determine our role in it, and by default miss our true calling. The second, to allow God to show us our role, and accomplish what will lead us into our eternity.

Precondition is not in the True Gospel

Losing hold of what is the true gospel is one of my biggest fears as a Christian of the 21st century. We are told to be all of these things to be worthy // loved // accepted, yet each and every one of those ideals // expectations // distractions are not the entrance criteria into a life with Jesus. The gospel specifically outlines the real entrance criteria – salvation comes by faith and faith alone. It doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do, it matters where your heart is.

Jesus was crucified with two other criminals. We don’t know what these criminals did to get sentenced to death by crucifixion, but we do know at least 2 things- 1, that crucifixion in Roman times was the worst way to die, and 2, that they were guilty. Here’s what the bible says happened:

“One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself- and saving us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43 –

This is one of my favorite instances of Jesus in the entire bible. In this one section, He says and acts out the entire gospel, in a nutshell. This criminal, undoubtedly, had a rough past. Maybe he murdered someone, maybe he stole things. Whatever it was, he (by his own omission) was guilty of what he was tried for and deserved to be up on the cross. But when he turned to Jesus and made his faith known to Jesus, Jesus didn’t turn away. Jesus accepted him. No precondition. No requirements. Just the criminal’s faith in Jesus that he was the Messiah, and that he was the way to paradise. And so it was granted.

So, Reciprocation: Not Required

As a woman // Christian // human that is living in today’s society, I’ve struggled with this feeling of reciprocating back to the society in which I am a part of. When I quickly googled the definition of reciprocation, this popped up: “You reciprocate when you return a favor, return a compliment, or respond “the same to you” to the angry guy in the car you just passed. In short, you react to an action, statement, or emotion by mirroring it” (Thanks, vocabulary.com).

But as Christ followers, we aren’t made for that. Do you think Jesus would reciprocate to the upset man in the car the same reaction the upset man is bestowing on him? NO. Jesus would lead with love and light and rise above the accepted expectation of society. Modern society gospel says that we are within our rights to get just as angry as the next person; the true gospel gives us the strength to rise above it all.

We are called to mirror Jesus, not society. If you feel like all you can see in your mirror are earthly influences, find a different mirror.

We’re made to grow and flourish and expand within the freedoms of the true gospel, outlined by Jesus. When we reciprocate to a society that doesn’t have our best interests at heart, we sell our lives short, and our opportunities to be the vessel for love and kindness to enter the world diminishes at a rapid pace. Quite simply, we as Christians were not made to adjust our faith to fit within society’s “Modern Gospel”. So stay steadfast, friends. Know you aren’t alone in your fight, and that God created you to succeed in it.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2 –

partner with Jesus >> be the vessel

Be the Vessel: A Quickstart Guide

There is kindness that has not entered this word yet because you have not said it. You can choose to be the vessel for love and kindness to enter this world, because they do not just appear out of thin air. They are a choice we have to make each day.

There is kindness that has not entered this word yet because you have not said it. You can choose to be the vessel for love and kindness to enter this world, because they do not just appear out of thin air. They are a choice we have to make each day. To build God’s Kingdom, and make our own version of Heaven on this earth until we get to the real deal. The eternity we have been called into.

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