Breakfast Dates with Bae

Mornings are my favorite. Call me crazy, but I would much rather wake up early and drink my hazelnut coffee on the back porch than sleep in. The a.m. is such a beautiful part of the day. Knowing that I might be waking up to fiery-colored sunrises, retro coffee shops, and messy hair makes me so much more grateful to be alive. I’ve always heard people say “What you do in the morning determines how the rest of your day will be!” And that’s why I love mornings so much. What I do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of my day.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Gabby challenged me. In her words, this is what she proposed- “You should join me in the Matthew 6:33 20-day challenge.”

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Although I thought this might add one extra thing to my plate, I went ahead and said, “Okay! What does that entail exactly?” Basically it’s putting God first for 20 days and going out of your way to seek him first and meditate on His word, Gabby responded. She told me the first thing I needed to do when I wake up is start with a prayer or devotional. There’s no limit on how long, even if it is two minutes, she said. But make an effort to pray and seek God first in: your time, mindset, thoughts, words, finances, relationships, conversations, blessings, food and drink, and attitudes. Everyday write down one verse on the front of the note card and what you learned/how it relates to Matthew 6:33 on the back.

So why am I telling you about this? During college, I had always been the occasional “devo” kind of girl. I may or may not spend 5-10 minutes in prayer or reading a scripture depending on if I had enough time. But coming into this school year, I knew I wanted Christ to be an all-consuming part of my life. Not exactly knowing how to go about doing this, I started with disciplining myself to spend time with the Lord every morning. Not just a quick devotional, but actual quality time. I started having breakfast dates with God.

We are so cute. I would make muffins and hazelnut coffee nearly every morning (or occasionally go to Daylight Donuts for some glazed donut holes). I made my “date space” on my back porch. The date essentials included a blanket to snuggle up in, my bible, and maybe a guided devotional (which is currently Jordan Lee‘s BeLoved series). I practiced showing gratitude to my Savior, confessing what I’ve been going through, and asking Him help me live my life for Him, whatever that means.

There is complete irony in Gabby asking me to do this challenge. I had already felt convicted to do it, but her challenge confirmed it in my heart. Anyone in this day and age knows the term “bae,” which stands for “before anyone (or anything) else.” This may be a stretch, but what if “bae” could be the modern way of saying “seeking Him first.” Christ should be before anyone or anything else and we should seek Him first in all of our activities.

Personally, I had to give up some of my leisure time. As much fun as it is to lay in my cozy bed while watching Friday Night Lights, I started to put Him first in my leisure (a.k.a. lazy) time. It has been so rewarding. My days lately have become far more fulfilling and productive. So I challenge you! What efforts are you making to put Him before anything else? What might you have to put lower on your list so God can come first? 

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Getting High

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4

Well, what about when we are hurting, God? What about when the test and challenges seem like too much? What happens when we feel like giving up?

The first time I can ever remember my heart truly being broken was when my Poppie passed away. I had never experienced someone so close to me die. It all happened so suddenly; I remember the phone call I got from my mom when she informed me of the tragedy and all I could say was “No no no, I love him. This can’t happen.” I can still feel that perpetual gut-twisting moment when I thought about how he would never get to be the preacher at my wedding (as we always dreamed about together) or how he would never see me graduate high school.

The second time I ever had my heart-broken was not too much longer after that. It was my freshman year of high school, after the break-up with my first real boyfriend. I was soOoOoo in love and so head over heels with this boy and truly thought I was going to marry him. He was the first boy to ever shower me with love and affection and gifts and kind words. I was devastated when things did not end up working out. No matter what I did and no matter how much I begged him to take me back, he was gone. I felt completely and utterly out of control. He had moved on to the next better, prettier, and smarter girl and I was just “me.”

At this point in my life, I was unable to see past all of this. I chose to go down a completely destructive path trying to numb the deep pain that came along with rejection and loss. I soon realized that if you numb something long enough, it becomes cold- and that is exactly what my heart did. I made myself numb to feelings and emotions and intimacy. Instead of living life the way it is supposed to be lived, with zest and spontaneity, I lived it through boys, alcohol, and shallow friendships. I was constantly searching for something that would get my mind off of whatever hardship life threw at me or whatever sadness I felt. Eventually, I built a tolerance to these worldly highs and was left in a dark, cold, and scary place. Nothing could get me that good feeling anymore; I was emotionally exhausted. 

So many people can relate to the inner distress that comes with having their heart-broken. Whether it is a traumatic experience, the end of a long-term relationship, or the death of a loved one, not one person is exempt from the pains of this world. When your heart is broken, you have two options- you can choose to take the worldly, destructive path that brings temporary satisfaction or you can choose to take a different path. I want to tell you about the different path a recently took that really did help me be “okay”.

Heartbreak is inevitable. Recently, I rediscovered that painful feeling once again. Yes- the nausea because you physically can not eat, the anxiety that consumes your daily life and the exhausting thoughts constantly running through your head. I understand it from the core of my being because if you are anything like me, you feel things DEEPLY. When I love, I love hard and when I hurt, I hurt even harder. But something in me told me that I can not take that path that I did in high school. I can’t go to that dark, cold, and scary place again. I needed to do something different. I needed to FEEL better- physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

SOOOOOOO….

I ran to Jesus. Not only did I run, but I full on sprinted. During college, I truly found my relationship with Christ, but still felt some uncertainty when it came to trusting Him with all of my being. All I knew is at this point, I had to hand everything over to Him. I spent my days and nights in prayer, the Word, and in Christian fellowship. I asked Him to HELP me trust Him because it was hard. I prayed for Him to give me strength and peace and let me tell you… He was SO faithful.

There is no place so desolate that we cannot find Him there.

So after being vulnerable with you guys and gals, I want to tell you the ways I sprinted to Him in case you literally have no idea how to (because at one point I didn’t either). God works! He is the only one who can fully heal a heart and transform your mind.

  1. I started my very own War Room. I wrote down the desires of my heart. I wrote down comforting scripture. I wrote down long, deep prayers. I hung up pictures of people I needed to pray for during this time. I did this all in my closet (just like the movie war room:) and that became my place of comfort. I would sit in there all hours of the night just talking to God.
  2. I asked God to HELP me trust him fully. I never understood how someone just “trusts” God 100%. That was always a hard concept for me because I can’t physically see Him. So I asked! And once again…He was faithful.
  3. Open up. I love to bottle up my feelings and pretend like they don’t exist half the time. I have a bad problem of living in denial. Find someone to open up to and be completely honest with them. For me, that was my mom. Her and Christ became my ultimate safe space.
  4. Acknowledge God multiple times a day. Whisper to Him thankfulness. Sing to Him his goodness. Meditate on His sovereignty.
  5. Stay in the Word. It gave me instructions on how to make it through the days where I thought I couldn’t. Start in Romans! I found so much comfort reading this.
  6. Surround yourself with people who bring you joy! Even if you don’t feel like it… do something with someone. Don’t be alone with your thoughts too much. It is so easy for the Devil to speak lies into your head and heart if you are not constantly guarding them. Which brings me to the next point…
  7. Don’t let the Devil steal your joy. The Devil is real people. He is out for YOU and he is out for ME. I verbally tell the Devil that he can not have my peace, my joy, or my life.
  8. annnnnnd last but not least- God doesn’t offer a “quick fix” for the healing and restoration of our hearts. He offers us peace and comfort- but that does not make the heartbreak go away. He transforms us during this time. He builds our character, prepares our hearts, and builds our trust. When we feel weak and want to take the “easy” way out, remember that we are only hurting ourselves in doing so. He wants to make us stronger and we need to let Him.

REAL QUICK let me tell you about this miracle I had during this experience! At one point, when my anxiety was so bad it felt like I could hardly breath and move, I got on my knees. I prayed and begged for Him to take it away because it was so debilitating. And in that moment, I physically felt the anxiety leave me. LITERALLY, from my tips of my toes to the top of my head…gone. Now tell me that isn’t a full on miracle. I FELT it. That verified all over again what a personal and loving God He is.

Thanks for letting me share and be REAL with ya’ll! Hope you learned a little something and I encourage everyone to be more vulnerable to themselves, others, and Christ!

Check out my sweet, sweet friend Jenny’s blog for more love on this topic.

Galatians 5:1

xoxo

Forgive

Naturally being able to forgive others has never been a strong point for me. When someone hurts me, I find it so hard to just forget about it and move on. I sometimes take things personally when I shouldn’t.

I often wondered whether or not other people felt the same way as me. I know so many people that are able to forgive so effortlessly. They love people no matter what- I envied these people tremendously.

After some soul searching, I came to a conclusion.

I know I am not the only one who finds it hard to forgive people because God specifically had to touch on this subject multiple times throughout the Bible.

One example comes from the verse Leviticus 19:18 and says this:

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”

Yes, some people in your life are toxic. They will make you question your sanity and will literally raise your blood pressure. It is HARD to keep them in your life. It is hard pretending like everything is okay when it’s not. And sometimes it’s okay to love these people from a distance (sometimes the farther the better).

However, I also came to another conclusion, one that isn’t so easy to do. One that is easier said than done.

To forgive and forget.

It might sound cliché, trust me, I would know. I hear it all of the time.

But here is the real and heart-wrenching truth.

People constantly spat in Jesus’s face, called him names, and mocked him to his face. Yet, Jesus LOVED these people, prayed for them, and continuously forgave them. Continuously.

He keeps NO record of wrong!

What a hard concept to wrap my head around.

It is so easy to stay mad at people. It is so easy to forget about all of the things I have done wrong and point out everything others have done wrong.

But what I have learned is that holding grudges hurts me more than it hurts them. It gives me more stress wrinkles than it does them. They aren’t the ones losing sleep… I am.

What is hard for me to remember is that no one on this earth is perfect. No one even comes close. Sometimes I expect people to be  this super human and that is an extremely unrealistic and unfair expectation.

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Forgiveness comes naturally for some… for others, not so much. If you are like me, then God might have made this difficult for you for a reason. He wants you to come to HIM. He wants you to ask Him for help. Maybe, just maybe, if you ask Him to help you with this, you will have a better appreciation for the forgiveness He gives us daily.

I know that when I struggle with this, my initial thought is to stay mad at whoever hurt me. The last thing I want to do is ask God to give me a forgiving heart- one that keeps no record of wrong and loves unconditionally. But, I want a heart like Jesus. I want to be able to love and forgive like He can. And I know the only way I can come close to that is solely through Him.

Jesus, please give me a heart like yours!

Rest

“He lets me rest in green meadows.” Psalm 23:2

My weekend started today, on a Thursday. My classes were cancelled for today and fortunately, I have no Friday classes. Yay! I spent the entire week thinking how much stuff I could get done today; clean our apartment, pack for the weekend, study for my finals, finish all extra credit homework… the list goes on. On my “day off” that I was so excited for, I felt more stressed than ever. College life was consuming me and I was drowning in the countless responsibilities I had.

I need rest.

No, not the kind of rest where I try to squeeze in a nap in the middle of the day to re-energize. Not the kind of rest where I try to get more than five hours of sleep at night.

I needed the kind of rest where I spend time in absolute solitude with my one and only Father.

A noticeable trend has been taking place in my first semester of college. The closer I am to God, the better I feel. My grades are better, my mind is healthier, and I have little worries. I know God’s got me! It’s the days where I do not make time for God, my prayer life is lacking, or I just do not see the bigger picture he has for me- that is when I start to feel stressed, worried, and doubtful. In turn, feeling {stressed, worried, doubtful} makes me feel like I do not have the time to spend with Him, that I should be attending to other things.

However, I still manage to make time for my friends, boyfriend, socials, Netflix, etc.- these are not evil things taking over my time by any means. The fact of the matter is this: God comes first and everything follows. Christ should be at the center of everything I do in my life. When I am weary, I should come to God first. Peace will follow. God’s got me.

 “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:2-4

God never fails to remind me that HE is the one who renews my strength. That HE is the one who lets me rest in green meadows.

On that note, I think I have the perfect excuse to curl up in my bed, drink some coffee, and spend some time with the One and Only.

 

(oh, and by the way… Daylight Donuts, as pictured, was my inspiration for this post. so great, so good, so blessed)