He is calling, will you answer?

“Make every effort to accept as your calling the life I have assigned to you… If I have called you to a situation, I will give you everything you need to endure it–and even to find joy in the midst of it.” Sarah Young

Life; here and now, is what He has called you too! I always thought of my “calling” as something specific that would happen in the future. But He calls us every day! To rise up, face challenges, and bring Him glory. We are called to represent the light of Christ in this dark world.

I’ll admit I get caught up in my hopes for the future… and sometimes miss out on the blessings of today! God has called us to live in today, not worry about tomorrow. There are many people you will come into contact with today. How will you show them the love of Christ?

It’s true, loving others and reaching out will take you out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to fall into a routine, day in, day out. But His calling on your life remains. When you know the love of Christ, His spirit in you should make you eager to share it. His love is so deep, there is enough to spread throughout the whole world… so how about we start with our own little corners of it?

The situations at home, work, and within ourselves may be challenging. But when we are focused on God, He gives us everything we need to endure it, and even find some joy in the midst of it!

My current situation has me in a period of waiting… which is so against my nature. I like to go places, meet people, and experience new things. God has shown me that I needed this slow time to reconnect with old friends, build new friendships, appreciate my family, and grow closer to Him. He has been, and will be, my Joy!

Inspiration for this post is from the devotional “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young. I highly recommend it!

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The Art of Authenticity

au·then·tic

adjective

: real or genuine : not copied or false

: true and accurate

: made to be or look just like an original

The world is full of people trying to be someone they are not. Trying to force themselves into a mold that people around them have designed for them. Caving to what the media says is true.

But who are you, really? What makes you, you? Are you the outgoing, social, upbeat one in the group? Or are you quiet and reflective? I’m a mixture of both; I love being outgoing, but I’m still an introvert because I need alone time regularly.

A friend told me the other day that I’m very genuine. I’m not worried about what others think of me, for the most part. I like being myself, and I have nothing to hide. I love Jesus, and am not afraid to live it out. I don’t apologize for being me, though I am quick to apologize when I’ve hurt someone.

Authenticity is an art form; completely unique to you. There is only one of you, you are God’s original masterpiece. When you have a child, he or she may look just like you, but you quickly realize they have a mind all their own. Their own personality and qualities shape their outlook.

We change over time. We become more knowledgeable, more experienced, and more unique. Our experiences and upbringing shape how we see the world around us.

Don’t try to shove yourself into a mold made for someone else. Ask God what qualities He wants to grow in you, and try not to be surprised when He sends challenges your way. When you seek God in and through the challenges, He will develop your character… and your authentic self will become one that pleases God, loves others, and is filled with the Holy Spirit.

Be real. Be genuine. Be you.

Definition from:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authentic

Where’s Your Anchor?

anchor 2

Choppy Waters

You’ve come a long way, and parts of the journey were so much harder than you expected. Sometimes you thought you couldn’t bear the pain and disappointment a moment longer.

What got you through those hard times? I pray that all of you have friends or family in your lives that have helped you shoulder your burdens, lend a listening ear, and just be there for you. I personally recommend having a mentor who is not a relative. They can give you a perspective that is totally new, and get you back on track.

My anchor in the storm is Jesus Christ.

I’ve panicked a time or two as I saw water gushing into my boat. I’m not even a good swimmer, so being surrounded by water (aka trials) could naturally cause anxiety. I wasn’t prepared for this… but God knew that before the storm even came, that I would not feel ready. He knew that I would have to trust Him, and not my own strength.

In Matthew 8, we read of a stormy gale the disciples found themselves in. The disciples struggled with fear and panic during this storm even though many of them were seasoned fishermen!

Matthew 8:23-27 Jesus Calms the Storm

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Jesus was not concerned by the waves. In fact, I think He knew they would come. This was an opportunity for the disciples to anchor their trust in Jesus. But their fear caused them to panic.

Even the Wind and the Waves

I’ve felt the rebuke, similar to the one the disciples heard that day. They saw Jesus do a miracle… just think, the wind and waves obeyed Him! The disciples were humbled and amazed. Their faith was strengthened because of it. When God acts, it doesn’t seem to be in our timing, or in the way we expect. Looking back, I’m sure the disciples could see times they could have acted differently, trusted more, or been more prepared.

We can’t undo our past, but we don’t need to. God’s grace covered them, and His grace covers us. We learn from the past so we can have a better tomorrow. We need to live today for God’s glory, and trust Him for tomorrow.

So… where is your anchor?

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%208&version=NIV

Do you want joy that lasts?

Joyful journey

Joy.

What is it? Do you think it is the same as happiness? If it was, why do we have a different word to describe it?

God has taught me a lot about joy the past couple years. These have been the most challenging years of my life. I had a difficult job that had me crunching numbers all day (and, as you can see, I prefer writing), moving away to college (and graduating!), and relationships that broke into a million pieces… and left me broken as well.

Wait. I thought this was supposed to be about joy!

It still is. The back story is necessary to show that joy is not the same as happiness. I was not happy trying to develop the math side of my brain, or happy that a close friend told me they’d be there, then broke off our friendship completely.

At those low moments, God wrapped me up in His arms. He gave me peace, and peace’s friend joy showed up too. I decided I wanted them to stay. I love this quote that defines joy:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” Rick Warren

Trusting

Settled assurance reminds me of peacefully trusting God. As a child of God, in the end everything will be alright. It will be way better than alright, it will be awesome! It is a determined choice to praise God. Another way of doing that is thanking Him. Have you tried thanking Him for the trials, such as health issues or broken relationships? Yeah right, you say. Honestly, a few years ago, thanking Him for those things would’ve sounded ridiculous to me too. But not anymore.

Why? Because when I thank God for what He will do through the difficulties, I am showing Him I trust Him. His ways are much higher than mine, and I believe He has a plan for me.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

What Now?

The situation may not change. The friend may never ask for forgiveness, and your health concerns may stick around. What truly changes is our attitude. Thanking God, and therefore praising Him, opens your heart to receive the amazing, incomparable joy that He gives lavishly. Go on and soak it up!

John 15:10-12 

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (Jesus’ words)

Thanks for reading! I’m praying that you will be abundantly blessed with the joy of the Lord.

 

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+15:9-11&version=NIV

http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/the-definition-of-joy

Stopped in My Tracks

Unstoppable.

Invincible.

Determination.

We have a goal so we keep our nose to the grindstone. We persevere, knowing that our efforts will eventually pay off.

All of a sudden, things come crashing down. The deal that we planned on, the friend that wasn’t there when you needed them most, plans that held hope come up dry, and your own health seems to be against you.

You tried so hard. If the goal could have been attained by sheer determination, you wouldn’t be facing this failure.

But I think that’s the point.

I was pressing on toward the goal of being in the best shape of my life. I love the outdoors, and poured that passion into cycling to work. On my way back one day, I took a drink of water, and before I knew it I was flying…over my handlebars. Face meets concrete. Shock sets in. Pain and confusion are foremost on my mind. I unpin myself from my bike, and retrieve my beat up water bottle. I hobble off the path, and sit on a rock. I called in my awesome hero of a dad.

People stopped to help me, and I waved them on, explaining my help was coming. I was so grateful they cared.

I did a self assessment, and was amazed and grateful that nothing was broken. My knee swelled, as did my face. I knew this would set me back on my workout routine, and I was frustrated. I tried so hard! Why do crazy things always happen to me?

That’s Life

It is crazy, unpredictable, and unique to each person. Through my crash, God taught me that I am stoppable, quite human, and that being fast probably shouldn’t be my goal… 😉 He told me to slow down, and look around. Sometimes I’m so stubborn that He literally stops me in my tracks. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. It is always an eye-opening experience, though I don’t really like the pain it causes.

You will never get to live this day again! It is a uniquely beautiful gift from God to you. Being stopped in my tracks made me return my focus to Christ, and not worry so much about my future plans… for I know they are tentative, for God is the ultimate planner and giver of dreams.

So… I’m holding on tight to His hand as He trains me to follow Him: wholeheartedly, everyday.

“I’ve always found that anything worth achieving will always have obstacles in the way and you’ve got to have that drive and determination to overcome those obstacles on route to whatever it is that you want to accomplish.”

Chuck Norris

Camp Craziness

Photograph by Tessa Powell

Photograph by Tessa Powell (Counselors at Upon the Rock Christian Camp, overseeing archery with 8 year olds)

Oh. My. Goodness. Camp was crazy. There were barely 2 minutes to close my eyes and rest, before I needed to jump out of bed and motivate some campers.

My prayer was that God would be glorified through the amazing people that served as staff for Upon the Rock Christian Camp.

God answered a hearty “yes” to that prayer! I had the privilege of being on a 3 woman counseling team that worked well together. We watched over and guided 6 little girls for 5 days.

We did archery, funyaks, Bible time, and campfire (to name a few). We were never on time to anything, but managed to get to Bible time every night (Must have been God’s will!). I was always protecting, loving, praying for and playing with these dear girls.

I was bone-tired, 3 days in.

It was a humbling experience for a girl that loves God, children, the outdoors, and the life-changing nature of Christian camp.

But this was part of God’s plan. I had tried to do it all, but He wanted me to be emptied of myself; my expectations, my plans, my energy.

That is when He filled me. Once I was empty, He filled me with His love, grace, and joy so that I could pour into the lives of the campers. Not on my own strength, but His.

It was the most challenging week of my life, but also very rewarding. One of my campers was asked “What was your favorite part about camp?”. She replied “I learned what it means to quench the Spirit’s fire.” My jaw dropped. Her answer wasn’t art, campfire, or getting her hair braided. Jesus had touched her heart; and that, my friends, is what makes all the effort and tears worth it.