What This Christmas Means to Me: Hope, Grace, Loss

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Christmas looks a whole lot different for me this year.

It’s not that I never pondered it or participated in advent or saw my perspective change on gifts as I grew up, but this year, a different area of my heart has been opened that I never could have comprehended before. This idea of hope has depth and weight and heaviness.

Everything happened so quickly.  Continue reading

a voice of reason

I finally admitted it yesterday to God and to my husband that I’ve felt distant from God.  I’ve felt uncomfortable coming into his presence– trying to fill the silence with noise. Avoiding quiet time, meditation, prayer. It felt like an awkward dinner party, when I have a million things to say but never appropriate to say them. Which is silly– I know– because God has told us in Hebrews 4 that we can come boldly before the throne of grace that we may receive mercy in our time of need.  Yes, this is a time of need, but I am uncomfortable so I digress.

Continue reading

The Beginning

I for many years now I’ve seen myself as having a blog.. Maybe when I’m thirty with four or five kids writing about how to serve your husband or sharing the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it was hard to find the time and consistency to maintain one now.  Business school is hectic, time is scarce, and most of the time my great ideas don’t make it out the shower. But as of recently, I can’t shake the idea of why not start now? I mean I finally thought of a name, you have to start somewhere, and there is no better time than the present. 

Everything has a beginning. So this is mine.

The vision of this blog is to grow alongside young women. To become. Continue reading

Slowing Down, Making Space

Today I walked through my bedroom, only to glance up at the wall once again and see my dry-erase calendar titled “August”.  Week after week I walk past it, with best intentions of erasing it and filling in this month’s schedule.  The reason I don’t: no time.

I cannot believe that it is not August anymore, it’s already November– a few months from a whole new year.
I think of all the things I wanted to accomplish/still need to do and it’s enough to resurface my anxiety.  Even now, almost halfway through my last year of college, I recall things I thought would have done, places I would have gone, and people I would have done them with. Why didn’t I? Four years went by that fast?

This semester has been way busier than I expected it to be. I imagined breezing through my classes, lining up a job by mid-semester, and coasting through the rest of the year, really enjoying myself. But here it is now, November, my calendar reads August, I have items on my to-do list from two months ago, no job lined up, and it’s all I can do to eat three meals a day and get seven hours of sleep at night. I digress, most of these tasks that fill my day are necessary: school, work, small group, countless group projects. But where have I stepped back and made time for, let alone thought about, the lasting things.. things that will still matter six months from now? When do I realize the moments I’m missing that cannot be relived, that I cannot get back?

Last night, George and I went on a date for the first time since probably this summer. Like I said, between our school, my work, his football– it’s been crazy.  A few weeks ago we were looking ahead on our calendars, realized this week was less busy in school and other activities, and set a date. As this week approached we had things come up, antagonizing that time, but it meant a lot to us so we fought for it. And let me tell you.. well worth it.

We wore nice clothes, as in, nicer-than-we-wear-to-church clothes. We went to an actual restaurant with an actual wait staff, rather than picking something up in a paper bag on our way to the library.  We laughed and talked over many delicious courses. We strolled through the park, even though it was after dark, to relieve our full bellies and enjoy the warm November weather.  We recalled how we had both been giddy, even feeling butterflies, when getting ready for the night.

Such sweetness, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

But how often is that not exactly what I do? I trade it for the world rather than fighting for it.
As each day starts new, I have a new to-do list but where on that list do I ever make time or space?
So caught up in the frivolous, I forget what truly makes me happy:
Alone time with the Lord.
My nieces.
Running, biking, getting outside.
Sweet George.
Good conversation with a friend.

If only I could live in the revelry of those moments like last night, not wanting them to end. I feel like I suffer from short-term memory loss in that I have these incredible experiences when I just rest or get outside or journal but then 24-hours later my actions confirm that filling my time with something else will be more fulfilling.

I write this at a loss. Yes Lord, I want that. I want those moments, that time, but where is it? Where in my schedule do I pencil in “rest”?

It’s so crippling to unplug, it’s so deafening to sit in the silence, it’s so shameful to say “no” to something. 

But if I truly believe that Jesus is greater, that there is strength in the rest, that there is urgency in the need for space– I can make it happen. It can be done.

This blog is my challenge to myself and others to become. To continue making strides and taking shape of what we are working to become.
And I want to become one that makes time, one that is comfortable residing in silence, being alone with my thoughts and with the Lord.

So little by little, let us become.

The Beginning

I for many years now I’ve seen myself as having a blog.. Maybe when I’m thirty with four or five kids writing about how to serve your husband or sharing the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it was hard to find the time and consistency to maintain one now.  Business school is hectic, time is scarce, and most of the time my great ideas don’t make it out the shower. But as of recently, I can’t shake the idea of why not start now? I mean I finally thought of a name, you have to start somewhere, and there is no better time than the present.

Everything has a beginning. So this is mine.

The vision of this blog is to grow alongside young women. To become.
What I like about the verb becoming is it does not define an end.  It insinuates and hopes for a finished state, but gives no timeline to that process. And how else can life be described than a process? Constantly changing, ever-growing, moving, aching, eager. Becoming.

I extend you this invitation to join me in becoming–whatever that looks like for you.
Becoming a better friend, becoming a woman of God, becoming a homemaker, becoming a better version of who you currently are.

Do I have any idea what lies ahead? Nope. Do I have hope for an end state? I do.

So let us become.

Tri for joy. Tri for glory.

Yesterday I participated in my second sprint triathlon, and I performed better than I had hoped– which was great! But even more than that, I genuinely enjoyed myself.  I found myself smiling, waving, encouraging others on as they slowed the pace– it made me forget how much I wanted to slow down or stop.  It was so fun doing the activities I had worked so hard at, and having the two men I love the most there to cheer me on.  (Thanks dad and George!)

 

However, today, looking back at one particular picture (seen above– thanks Katie for taking it!), I kept thinking of that feeling I had when participating and the smiles on my friend’s faces after they finished.  I have no other word to describe it– joy.  But why this joy? We’re just racing, right?

What I’ve been thinking all day and trying wrap my mind around is that all joy comes from the Lord. Not just happiness– joy goes deeper than that.
Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart.
Joy is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope.
Joy is not easily taken away like the ever-so-temporary happiness.

All things were created through Him and for His glory.
[“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31]
Even a simple act like running a race is the glory of God on display.
It is He who gave us that ability,
He who provides us with strength,
He who breathes breath in our lungs,
and He who sustains our heavily beating heart.
I believe that this is why I can feel such joy in this performance: I am feeling a glimpse of the joy of the Father in His creation.  What pride our Father takes in His children and the incredible physiology of our bodies, functioning as He designed them to function!

I am not alone in this joy:
My boyfriend and I have discussed his kicking as a form of worship and that he feels God’s joy when he’s on the field.
I also have another friend that just completed her first half marathon in great time, and afterwards she posted an Instagram with a quote that really resonated with me: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” -Olympic runner, Eric Liddell
Alyssa felt that same pleasure in her training and in her race.
Finally, Olympian Gabby Douglas said after winning the gold medal, “I give all the glory to God.  It’s kind of a win-win situation.  The glory goes up to Him, and the blessings fall down on me.”
I can only agree with such a blessing of joy we receive when glory is given where glory is due.
 
 
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What are your experiences with sports and competition? I’d love to hear if you’ve had similar feelings of whimsy or had your affections stirred by such an event! Comment below to share!

Thankful Thursday

In the Bible it speaks so much of thankfulness. David thanked God for his goodness and love in Psalms, Jesus gave thanks for the 5 loaves and 2 fish before he multiplied it to the five thousand, and Paul repeatedly gave thanks in his letters for the churches in the New Testament. Having a thankful spirit is not only pleasing to the Lord, but it also takes the perspective off of our selfishness for a bit and allows us to be content in our circumstance. I have 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 posted on my computer at work as a daily reminder.
It reads: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I lay in bed last night thinking how blessed I really am, and decided to write this blog post and hopefully keep it up as a regular habit to focus on all I have been blessed with.

1. Thankful to have a job. 
I know a lot of people my age who have very poor paying jobs or can’t get hours, but I am so blessed to have a full-time job this summer. Yes, working indoors at a desk 40 hours a week isn’t an ideal summer, but by this I am able to save a lot, and it keeps me busy too!


2. Thankful to live in East Tennessee. 
Last night my dad and I drove up to the mountains where I took this picture of the sunset.  Knoxville is an incredible city to have grown up in, and I am so blessed to be surrounded by the beauty God has created.

3.  Thankful for friendship.
Alisa and I have grown really close this past year at college, and it has been such a blessing to do life with her.  She is a great accountability partner, is always there to talk to, and gives sound advice– not just what I want to hear.

4. Thankful for my niece.
Getting to watch Emerson grow up has been crazy awesome.  I was in the room when she was born, I see her at least once a week, and we will celebrate her first birthday next week! She has the funniest personality, and I am thankful she lives in Knoxville so I get to hang out with her so much!

I have so much more to be thankful for, but that’s all I will mention for now!