I was inspired recently to be more intentional with memorizing Scripture, something I really haven't attempted seriously since childhood. Here are all the best suggestions I received for how to make it happen!
I was the most hardcore night owl for so long, but the snooze button and the frantic feelings that came with it weren't my friends. Thankfully, I figured out what works for me, and I am a BIG fan of the mornings now.
It's a snowy Monday morning in my town -- perfect for a cozy little coffee date chat. Join me?
These are the things that bring me back again, the things that restore a sense of calm, the things that remind me of what is good, of what is true, of what truly matters when things start to feel out of control.
Do one thing every day that scares you. That Eleanor Roosevelt was a wise lady. This quote kept ringing in my head on repeat over the past week. I was asked to speak at Chapters, the young adults gathering at my church. As you know, I'm a writer. I'm not a speaker. The idea scared me. Sharing my story one-on-one over coffee? Pouring out my heart on paper or in words on a screen? No problem. I love that. Speaking in front of a whole room of twentysomethings? Terrifying.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. Paul was a really wise man, too. A friend shared with me this week how meaningful this verse has been to her lately. Like she told me, we expect to read this verse and read "for when I am weak, He is strong." But in our weakness, then we are strong.
Sitting on a stool in front of a room of more young adults than I could count, I couldn't get these two lines out of my head. I had written my story out (seven typed pages of my thoughts and verses and quotes), I had rehearsed, I had called friends to run it by them so they could give me feedback...I was anxious and nervous. This isn't my cup of tea, this isn't my forte.
But when I am weak, I am strong. When I step out of my comfort zone into the places where He is calling me, He will make me brave. Even when my hands are shaking and my face is flushed and my stomach is churning, He can use my words.
Hannah Brencher tweeted yesterday, "If you don't think God can work in spite of how you're feeling then you aren't giving him nearly enough credit."
The talk I gave wasn't about me. It wasn't about my story or my experiences or my accomplishments. That talk was about sharing God's goodness, faithfulness and love. That talk was about sharing what I know to be true-- that God redeemed my brokenness, that Christ is our cornerstone, that life is better when lived together in authentic community.
Even though what I was feeling was nervousness and uncertainty, I knew God was still at work. In the twenty minutes I was speaking, I could feel that. I felt His peace and His presence. I knew that this thing that had seemed so scary to me was something that God was using to work in my heart.
We sing You make me brave. We sing You called me out beyond the shore into the waves and You make me brave. The shore, the solid land where I felt safe, would have been sitting in my chair at my table in the audience listening to a preacher share a talk-- confident with their words, comfortable on that stage. But He called me out beyond that shore into the waves. He called me to the place where I couldn't trust my own strength. He called me to step out in faith into an area of weakness, and in that, He made me brave. He made me strong.
I've said throughout every Story Seeker conversation and coffee date this summer that every single time I tell my testimony and my story, I feel God putting more of the broken pieces of my heart back together. I feel Him healing me more and more every time I put words to my story and speak them out loud.
When we keep things quiet, when we hide things away in dark places, those things become like monsters in our closet. We become afraid. These things start to have power over us. We live in fear that if we ever were to open that door, they surely would overtake us and attack us. But when we call these things by name, when we speak of them out in the open, when we tell others what these things are and how they've affected us, we find we have power over them. Light always overcomes darkness. When we shine a light on the things that have hurt us or changed us or broken us or tried us, it exposes what is true and overcomes what seems dark.
When we are weak, then we are strong. When we do the things that scare us, when we step beyond the shore into the waves, He makes us brave. He has overcome the world and He has made us conquerors.
You can find more Friday Freewrite posts here!
Hi friends! Newsflash: It's June. I know I'm not the only one amazed at how fast time is flying by, but really, it's crazy that summer is here again.
After reading an incredible blog post by my friend Erica (that you'll see in a few weeks on Rethink), I was challenged and motivated to make changes in June. Some are simple, some are meaningful, some are going to be tricky. All of them are going to push me to be better, to engage in the world around me, to really listen and hear and see, to strengthen my mind, my body, and my spirit, to draw closer to my Creator.
I'm not one to usually make New Year's Resolutions in January, but this June, I'm making a list of challenges for myself that really are resolutions. I'm calling it New June. You can follow along on social media, I'll be using #NewJune!
Here's my list. (every good list has a Legally Blonde reference, am I right?!)
If you want to join me and make a list of your own, it's not too late! Join in the fun. Let's team up. It would be awesome to see how you're setting goals to grow too. If nothing else, please shoot me a text or a tweet or call me up and ask how it's going and help me stick to it-- I'm going to need accountability, trust me. Also, please don't spoil The Bachelorette for me!
My prayer for this month of June is this: that I may be increasingly more in tune with the words and the ways of the Lord. that I would put only good things into my body so I have the strength and the energy to live and glorify God in all I do. that I would work to make my body strong and healthy instead of hating the skin I'm in. that I would lean in to the silence and turn off the noise and distractions, lean in to hear the Spirit's voice, lean in to my own thoughts and questions. that I would soak up the Word, and that I would devote time to crafting my own words. that I would seek community and accountability and relationships without waiting for them to find me. that I would grow ever closer in intimacy with my Savior, that I would talk with him ceaselessly. that more and more His ways would become my ways, His heartbeat set the rhythm of mine. that my prayers would be bigger, bolder. that my belief would be unwavering and undeniable. that when July rolls around, I'll be different, more brave, more whole, more content, more like Jesus.
It's a whole new June. I'm ready to cannonball in, ready to feel the sun on my skin and the wind at my back, ready to discover more of my Maker and more of myself.
I love my apartment. It's my first place that's all my own, it feels like home and I'm content there. There's one thing about it that I hate though: it's dark.
There are glass sliding doors that take up a huge part of the living room wall, a window in my bedroom, and a window in the kitchen, so you think that would let plenty of light into a pretty small little place, right? But it's dreary and dark all the time, even with the blinds all the way open. Sunlight doesn't shine in.
Here's the thing about it being dark-- it affects me. It affects my mood. It affects my productivity. It affects my energy.
The longer I'm in my apartment, even with all the lights on, the lazier I feel, the lonelier I feel, the more listless I become.
Then, when I'm feeling lazy, lonely and listless, I lose more and more of my motivation to leave my apartment, go outside again, find the light. I continue sinking into those feelings.
Isn't that what darkness does to us? It strips us of goodness and pulls us down into a pit it feels like we can't escape from. It whispers lies to us, telling us repeatedly that this is all there is for us, that the light was just an illusion, that this place, this shadowy, depressing place, this is where we belong. It plays tricks on our minds and burrows in those hard to reach places of our souls and settles there, taking up the space where our hope and optimism and joy used to abide.
What I know to be true, though, is where there is darkness in one place, there is still light in others, and still light within. When night falls and our towns go dark and our cities go quiet, there is bustling, bright daylight on the other side of the world. While my little apartment may be dark, when I take a few steps outside my door, I'm standing in the light of the beaming sun again. When it feels like pitch black sky surrounds me, shimmering stars still shine and the graceful moon still rises.
An Ellie Holcomb song I absolutely love says it like this:
So I walked out of the darkness and into the light, from fear of shame into the hope of life. Mercy called my name and made a way to fly out of the darkness and into the light.
There will be times of darkness, despair, defeat. There will be times of radiant light, abounding joy, glorious victory. There will be even more times where bits of that light flood into that darkness. There will be times where a single spark, a single flame glow in the middle of it, times where that one spark starts a roaring fire and whisks the darkness away for good.
God tells us in Isaiah "I form light and create darkness, I make harmonies and create discords. I, GOD, do all these things."
God doesn't abandon us in the darkness-- He made it. We don't need to feel lonely there, He's there. God doesn't just celebrate and pour out His love and blessings in the light, He's in all of it. Good and bad, light and dark, hopelessness and hopefulness, harmony and discord, He made it, He resides there, He's Lord there.
Knowing He is the Lord of Light even in the dark places and times of my life is a deep comfort for my soul. In those times, in those seasons, I want to turn my face toward His light. I want to soak up His goodness, His radiance, His glory. I want to shine into the world around me out of an overflow of His love within me.
Isn't that what light does to us? It fill us with goodness and lifts us up into a freedom we want to unashamedly rejoice in. It sings sweet truth to us, reminding us repeatedly that this is what there really is for us, that the light is real, that this place, this brilliant, blissful place, this is where we belong. It gives our minds confidence and seeps into those hard to reach places of our souls and settles there, filling us up with hope and optimism and joy to abide in.
I worked hard. I wrote stories I thought were good, grammatically correct and compelling. I designed graphics. I took pictures. I teamed up with and experienced graphic designer and created a beautiful publication.
I sent it to my supervisor and my bosses, excited about what I had created.
And then it came back, covered in red pen. When I say covered, I really mean it. Every page was torn to pieces with edits and changes and critiques. Not a single block of text was left untouched.
I felt like a failure. I felt like my hard work had been all for nothing, like the hours I had spent crafting every piece of that publication were wasted since they led to such an overwhelming amount of revisions.
This is criticism at its finest, because it was criticism of my art, my work, my craft. It cut deeply, it stung, it made me feel worthless and dumb.
A friend tweeted at me in response to my frustrated "Proofs covered in red pen edits are no fun to receive. It's going to be a long day." tweet. She said "I always try to think of it as a good thing - someone is invested enough in your writing to help?" And she is so right. I let those words sink in to my bitter and frustrated spirit, and I knew in my gut how true her words were.
Those criticisms weren't to make me feel like I was the world's worst writer. My stories weren't edited to make me feel like I had bad ideas. Those critiques and changes came to me because people wanted to help. They wanted my work to be better, to be the best it could be. They saw mistakes and areas of weakness and they gave me suggestions to improve them. They were helping. They weren't hurting.
In some Bibles, when Jesus speaks, the text is red. For an editor/writer type like me, red type means edits, changes, revisions. Black type means it's good, acceptable, can stay as is. Red letters in the Bible do mean change. They are the biggest change, they are truth that changes every part of you. They are words from the mouth of a man who was also God, a man who came to the earth not to hurt, but to help. He came and spoke those red letter words to bring people in to the best life, to a better future. Those words spoke into areas of our weakness, covered our mistakes, and gave us words of life to cling to and believe in when we so badly needed a way to improve.
Someone was invested enough in our lives to help. Someone was willing to come into our mess and cover it with red. Red words of life, and red blood of love. The ultimate sacrifice.
We get excited about things we create. We make things happen in our little worlds, we use our talents to bring beauty and art to those around us, we think we've done something worthy of praise. We worked hard, tried to make beautiful things happen. And then we look to the cross, and we see that all we are is so little, so meaningless in the face of that love. We aren't worthless at the foot of that cross. We are worthy: of His love and His grace and His truth. All that we are and all that we've made is covered in red. Not the red of anger, or of condemnation, or criticism. The red of love, of pouring out just to save us. We don't have to work hard or make things happen in our lives to receive that love. It comes abundantly, free of judgment for past mistakes and shortcomings.
We, in all our imperfections, aren't worthy of the highest praise. He, in all His might and glory and redeeming red love, is.