Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What I Learned in 2012...

Reflecting back on 2012, I would be lying if I said that it was a great year. This past year was hard and ended even harder but I have learned A LOT. Here are many things I learned in 2012 as I try to remember the past 12 months of crazy life.

1. I need to continue working on patience. If I want something, I tend to go after it because I'm impatient. Usually going after something you want is not a bad thing but there are many times that waiting to see what happens and trusting in God's plan is the much better way to go....but I get tired of waiting and just try to make things happen myself. When I try to make things happen my way, the opposite usually happens of things not going the way I want. Being okay with waiting on God's timing is definitely something that I am learning.

2. Junior high students are some of the funniest people to hang out with. Here are some of my favorite quotes from this past year:
 -Dance team member #1: "Did you know if you eat bacon everyday you'll get cancer?" Dance team member #2's response: "No, you'll just get fat!"

-Student in one of my 7th grade classes during student teaching: "So, what about the brown eggs at the grocery store? Are those whole grain??"

-Dance team member #3 in the middle of doing kicks at practice: "IS YOUR BUTT SUPPOSED TO SWEAT!?"

-Dance team member #4: "Rated PG like there's no hugging in it, right?"
-Dance team member #4 again. After drinking water out of a hotel cup that is still wrapped in the sanitary plastic: "No Cara, you only take this plastic off if you are going to drink coffee."

-Student of mine during student teaching: "George Washington could write?? But he had wooden teeth!"

3. I have opened a banana the wrong way every year before this past one. Apparently you are supposed to open it from the bottom like monkeys do.

4. As much as I thrive off being around people, I am slowly becoming a little more introverted and needing personal quiet time.

5. I have huge fear of the future now that I actually have to sit down and think about what I'm doing after college.

6. Traveling and new adventures has become one of my favorite things to do. Put me in a car and take me anywhere!

7. I am really good at convincing myself to be busy and run from some problems and struggles than actually working through them.

8. My personal testimony of how God has pulled me out of darkness into light and where He continually takes me has really put me in awe this past year. If you want to read my story, you can on my very first post in this blog. When so many odds were and are continually against me finding and walking with the Lord, He covers me with His grace endlessly.

9. The best experiences from this past year were ones that were completely unexpected and unplanned. Thank you Jesus for blessing me far more than I deserve and allowing me to see blessing in things that I did not expect to be a blessing.

10. My heart is a lot more fragile than I ever thought previously. I need God's strength way more than I ever think I do.

11. Life seems to be becoming shorter and shorter with the more death I hear about and funerals I experience. You truly never know when you will lose what you love.

12. Everything that needs change and healing needs time most of all. Again, patience is not my strength but I am learning that giving things time is beneficial.

13. Making a meal for 70 people is not as bad as one may think!

14. Life is truly all about perspective. If you think positively and make the most of any situation, you will have more joy. Don't forget to allow yourself to grieve the pain of life but try to see the good in what God's doing.

15. I still have the best high school friends I could have ever asked for. Even after many years and life changes, they still bring out my best (and weirdest) traits and moments in life!

16. It is never too late to start over and make changes for what you want.

Most of what I learned may seem kind of broad but they are all lessons that have come up again and again this past year through many struggles and trials of many kind. I am happy to see 2012 go and have the pain and hardships washed away and as I prepare for a brand new year here are some of my goals for 2013 and the events that I am already super excited for!

-Resolution #1: Read through the New Testament and learn more about who Jesus truly is and how I can treat others more like Christ.

-Resolution #2: Just like many, many other people, take control of my health and fitness. Becoming more active and having a healthy body a priority.

-Resolution #3: Learning how to love others fearlessly and becoming more patient in circumstances.

I will stick to three for now but 2013 to me will be a year to focus on my life and where I can better strive after God above all. After finishing student teaching and my coaching season while still working the first couple months of 2013, I will then be off on adventures to California and Guatemala to travel. Once I get a little bit of traveling out of my system, I will finally dive into the new exciting adventure of moving to MN like I have been dying to do the past year! I am currently looking at moving to the Hopkins/Minnetonka area and having the chance to start fresh and build new community and new adventures without being surrounded by the past. 2013 already looks like a great start and I am excited to change for the better, grow, and simply live life.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


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 23:4

As I sat in church this morning, I thought about where God has taken me the past few months. There have been great times of celebration and hope, but also times of hardship and confusion. I couldn't help to be thankful for the continued protection that God has given me for my heart and the comfort He has poured into the hard situations. However, I realized a pattern that I have chosen to be stuck in. I haven't allowed God to comfort me even when He was constantly trying to shower me with grace, mercy, and showing me that His plan is better. I fall into self-sufficiency a lot and it is not hard for me to rely on myself. I rely on myself for success, good relationships, financial stability, sanity, and happiness. I tend to take things into my own hands to mend anything that is not going the way I want it to and choose to walk through sad and disappointing times on my own strength thinking that I can comfort myself and in the end, become stronger because of me.  Thinking of comfort in terms of contentment, I have mostly chose to stay where I am comfortable the past few months. I haven't necessarily taken any big leaps of faith, trusted God for big things, or truly put deeper faith into God controlling my life. What good has this done me? Nothing. It hasn't strengthened my relationship with the Lord but instead, created distance. It has not strengthened any relationships with my friends who continually try to point me to the Lord but instead, more distance. It also has not helped with stress as I try to juggle being at school all day trying to finish my college degree, coaching a junior high dance team, judging competitions on the weekends, working a restaurant job, serving in youth ministries, keeping friendships, building new relationships, growing in my personal relationship with the Lord, working on fitness and a healthier lifestyle, and having enough time to myself to stay sane. I still continue to rely on my own comfort and sometimes I don't even know how to let go.

I was quickly reminded this morning during my pastor's message about how our lives really look in the big picture of life. He gave the analogy that if our lives were a book that had 25 chapters, what chapter would we currently be in? Every single one of us would be in the first paragraph of the first chapter, whether we know Jesus or not. Every single one of us will either have eternal life or death. The first paragraph of our life book could read one of two ways. First, our opening paragraph could read, "This story is about __________ who lived in the ____century, when time was recorded. They spent many of their days walking through joys and hardships as God continually called to them to follow a life He had already set before them. A life of grace, mercy, hope, redemption, love, peace, and joy. As God continued to fight for their heart, they eventually surrendered the to call of following God for an eternal experience of life. For eternity after making the choice to trust in Jesus for freedom from sin, he or she will forever live in light." Our other option for the opening paragraph of our personal book on life could read, ""This story is about __________ who lived in the ____century, when time was recorded. They spent many of their days walking through joys and hardships as God continually called to them to follow a life He had already set before them. A life of grace, mercy, hope, redemption, love, peace, and joy. As God continued to fight for their heart, they chose to continually say no to God's plan and yes to their own. They continued to choose to live in death, never accepting the freedom and redemption of sin from their life and took the punishment of death for themselves. For eternity, they will forever live in darkness."

Each time I choose to live in my own comfort and rely on myself for comfort, I am choosing to say no to God. I am choosing to go down a path of living in darkness. I am choosing to not truly, deeply surrender to the light in the end. In the big picture of what God has for me, I am choosing to focus on one paragraph of the story that could affect the life I experience the whole rest of the book. I don't want to choose darkness and I don't want to be stuck in the contentment of being comfortable. I want to fight for love, God's love in my own life and in others.

It is so easy to find comfort in what is immediately around me instead of the comfort that God wants for me. Is it really worth it for me to make a choice of what I want for right now, a single letter of a single word in one sentence in the very first paragraph, and have it affect the other 24 chapters of my life? It would be ridiculous to say yes, but it is so easy to do so.

God has promised me over and over again, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 
-2 Corinthians 5:17 

God continues to choose me. He continues to fight for me. He PROMISES us a better life of light for the rest of our lives, even when we don't experience the light right now. 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, the old order of things has passed away." 
-Revelation 21:4

Who will you choose for comfort and strength?

Now may your Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. -2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

As I think about how good God has been to me, I want to thank every person who has taken a chance on me to point me back to God no matter where I was in life. Everytime I chose to follow my wants, my plans, and not listen to what was best for me, I am so thankful that I had people who still showed grace, mercy, and love towards me despite my flaws and mistakes. Thank you for loving me and continually giving me second chances.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Second Chances

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we have asked of him. 
-1 John 5:13-15

I spent a few hours last night purging my room at home and more so my life. I threw away multiple garbage bags of paper and plastic that are tied with memories from the past. As I was chucking items into black bags to never be seen again, there were plenty of moments that I hesitated and thought of too many reasons why I should hang on to them. I quickly convinced myself that hanging onto an item just to be able to remember the memory attached to it was foolish if I still remember the memories that truly matter. So after hours of trekking down memory lane, I parted with many personal items in order to prepare for a new stage of life coming up in a few months. Why am I blogging about this? I realized through the build up of the past, there has been an incredible theme to the past few years. A second chance. Well, more like a thousandth chance. 

Whenever I sit down and reflect on the story God has blessed me with, I still have a hard time comprehending that God chose and continues to choose me to give second chances to and be able to experience a truly fulfilling life. The odds that society would have given me to find the love of Christ were never in my favor growing up. I never went to church, ever. God was never talked about in my family. Sure, I heard a couple of my friends mention that they went to CCD in junior high but I never knew what that actually meant. My friends and I were always too focused on popularity, good grades, and our latest wardrobe purchase to even wonder if I was really missing out on anything. How did someone like me be blessed enough to have a chance to hear how much God loved me in the first place? Obviously, God had a bigger plan for me than I ever had for myself. A second chance. It never mattered the background and culture that I was born into and it still will never matter what past I have or what trouble I may end up in. God continually fights for my heart and freely gives second chances.

With focusing on Thanksgiving the past few days and what I truly am thankful for, I am thankful for second chances. I have a God who wants to give me confidence in being a beautiful daughter of the King who is precious and worth infinitely more than I could ever imagine. I have amazing friends who continually love me and forgive my flaws, friends who shower me with second chances when I allow my selfishness and pride to take over. I have been blessed with acquaintances and strangers in my life who have shown me respect and grace when I never deserved it just because of second chances. I have a family who continues to give me support with whatever crazy decision I am wrestling with at the time whether it is changing colleges for a third time, going to a third world country, or living a life for Jesus that they do not understand and consider a little freakish. I am continually given second chances by so many people each day and I would be lying if I said I didn't take them for granted. 

So, as God promises to hear our requests, I am asking for yet another second chance. I want to continue living in love. Loving others despite their flaws, I also have many. Loving strangers through the battle of life, it's not always easy. Loving family despite the distance even in one home, time is too short not to. Loving those who have disappointed or hurt me, I disappoint and hurt others as well. Most importantly, loving God and fighting for faith in living to please God instead of men will be more rewarding than anything ever in this life. I pray for second chances and that they will be focused on serving the Lord instead of myself so that there will continually be more light than darkness in this world.

God is light--in Him there is no darkness at all....But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. -1 John 1:5,7

One of my favorite songs right now is 'Redeemed' by Big Daddy Weave because it continually reminds me who we truly are in Christ. I encourage you to take the time to reflect on the lyrics and the redemption and second chance that God is wanting to bless you with. All you have to do is be willing to allow God to redeem you. Click on the link below =)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Courage, Humility, Vulnerability

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-Romans 5:8

Say what?

"You're so intimidating. I was kind of afraid to talk to you."
"I guess I always thought you had it all together and I actually envied you for it."
"I didn't know that you actually struggled with that."
"You seem so perfect."

I am writing this blog because these quotes have been exact words that people have said to me just in the past month. They have been ringing so loudly in my head because it is apparent my TRUE heart is not shown. When I hear people tell me about how much I intimidate them or that they think I have life figured out and everything is perfect, my heart just hurts. I don't want people to be intimidated by me but rather, be overwhelmed by compassion of a powerful God. I don't want people to look at me as perfect but rather, completely imperfect and just as desperate for a Savior as the next person. I don't want people to think I have it all together, figured out, and walking through life with full confidence in a perfect plan but rather, have people see my true heart that hurts because I don't have it all together and be willing to try to understand the compassionate, tender heart that I have been blessed with.

For those of you who know my testimony, growing up in elementary school and junior high came with a lot of verbal abuse that constantly told me that I was worthless and I would never be good enough for anyone. I learned to seek out perfection in outward appearance to fool those around me into thinking that I did have everything together and figured out. I literally trained myself to try to conquer being perfect, especially in high school. I obviously failed in many aspects but it's always been a struggle to desire perfection for myself. But I will never be perfect but only have the perfection that Christ gives to my life. I want people to see my imperfections so they can see the radiating love that only Christ can give. The love that allowed Christ to die for us even when we are still caught in our sins. The fear of rejection is a major struggle that goes hand-in-hand with the strive for perfection because there is minimal rejection for those who have minimal flaws.....in society, anyways.

As I have been processing so many things lately, I have realized that the more I seek perfection and let power be held in my fear of rejection the less others truly know about me. It takes crazy courage, humility, and vulnerability to just spill your heart to those around you and let others see where you stumble and what questions you don't really have the answers to. This blog is my crazy courage, humility, and vulnerability because I want people to see past my image, see past my actions, and look into my heart. It is more fragile than I ever care to admit and it hurts more often than I let show. Allowing myself to actually feel and process so many emotions is something that I am learning to relearn after years of being made fun of for crying and being hurt easily. My heart breaks for those who can relate to this strive for perfection that also comes with emotional breakdown behind closed doors because I have walked through it often, even recently. My heart breaks for those who struggle with body image and disordered eating. I still struggle with finding worth in image every single day. I would be lying if I said that I have been able to fully walk away from that struggle. Even in the past couple weeks the mindset of disordered eating has come in and out. My heart breaks for those who find identity in the next relationship they can put themselves into. I have always put such worth in relationships thinking that they would offer the worth I was seeking even when knowing that there is no complete worth and value in any human relationship. My heart breaks for those losing faith and struggling with doubt that God really does love them and want the best for them. There has been many times just in the past month that I have continually asked God 'why?' Doubting that God has my life under control when all I see is it spinning out of control, my heart just aches.

THESE are the things that I want people to see and relate to. My HEART is what I want others to care about and dive into. When this broken, sinful heart is searched, the walls that have been built up for so long will eventually crumble. I don't want to waste my time impressing people. I don't want to doubt in God's goodness. I don't want to hide behind image and walls because the fear of someone rejecting the pain and tenderness in my heart. I want my journey through life to be transparent and only God's doings be evident. I am learning that life is constantly changing. It's okay to not know, it's okay to live in the moment, it's okay not to have a plan, it's okay to show pain, it's okay to feel sadness, it's okay to not have it all together. God never promises us an easy journey but He does promise us grace and love. My heart is continually learning this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Choice to Rejoice

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
-Jeremiah 17:7

Trust in him at all times, o people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
-Psalm 62:8

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "Let God be exalted!"
-Psalm 70:4

But now, this is what the LORD says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
-Isaiah 43:1-3

SO ready to go home! Well, at least I thought I was ready to be back home in Wisconsin to get back to "normal life" is there is such a thing. Something felt weird and I definitely have not felt like life is "normal" and what I was used to when I left for an adventurous summer with YouthWorks out in West Virginia. As our last few days on the East coast were spent starting to debrief a crazy summer, I felt so confident that I just wanted to go home, I was so done with the crazy schedule and I certainly felt like I wasn't really going to miss anyone THAT much. I definitely had the mindset that I just want to go back to my own bed, my own friends, my own life that I was used to, my usual schedule, and be with people that have had many years getting to know who I am, what makes my heart beat, and what God has continually done in my life. Those last few days, I felt like an emotional basket case. My body was literally shutting down from such an exhausting summer and a traumatic last night in West Virginia left me even more exhausted with the desire to just crawl up in a ball, cry, and be home even more. This is definitely not my normal. I don't usually get super emotional, I'm usually a huge people person, and I certainly have never experienced the level of exhaustion that my body was at. Finally after a couple days, I was boarding the plane and heading home. I said goodbye to a couple amazing people at the airport and continued to convince myself how much I just wanted to leave the summer behind and be home to get back to my "real life." 

After spending a night with a friend before she moved to East Asia for an entire year, I realized that God changed way more of me than I thought. I have been an emotional wreck, and half of it is because I'm definitely not used to being this emotional about things. In the past week, I've cried way more than I have in the past year before the past week or so and I definitely catch myself thinking, "what is wrong with me? God what are You doing???" I thought I wanted to just be home, be back to what I'm used to but also wishing time away to fast forward to February so that I can move to the Twin Cities in MN and start a new stage of life, and I just want to feel normal! Life is not the normal that I thought it was going to be coming back home. A lot of friends have moved or are not back to school yet. I won't even be on campus anymore due to student teaching so the "normal" I had of school and classes on campus is no longer going to be there and I certainly won't be seeing the people that I'm so used to seeing with living at home and leaving the apartment I lived in. It's weird not coming back home to a job like I have the past 4 years, it's weird living with my parents who do not know the Lord again, it's weird that all my friends have moved onto the next stage of life in other cities, it's weird not being with my YouthWorks staff team that became family this summer in the community that we got so used to the past couple months, and it's weird that I've turned into a crazy introvert. Life.
God is definitely using all of these emotions to remind me that life here is not permanent, there will constantly be change no matter what, there will be heartbreak and disappointment, life will definitely not go the way that you expect it to but none of this means that God changes. God is still faithful. My pride and weak flesh get in the way of remembering that God is bigger than I ever imagine and His plan is perfect. So will I choose to rejoice?

Will I choose to rejoice in what God is doing when I have no clue what it is? Will I choose to trust that God has a lesson waiting for me in times of disappointment? Will I choose to be thankful for the blessings that God freely gives me even in the midst of confusion and change of plans? Will I make the choice to rejoice?

To be honest, I don't always choose to rejoice in what God is doing because I sometimes fail to believe that God has it all under control and that I just need to wait. Being patient has never been a strength of mine. God continually shows me how far He has yet to take me in trusting Him even when I can look back to see how far He has already brought me. God loves me so much. God has blessed me so much. I am working on choosing to rejoice in the future of what God has for me even when it's hard and emotional and confusing and painful. I will wait on the Lord. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

If His Grace is an Ocean, We're All Sinking

From the fullness of his grace we have received one blessing after another. -John 1:16

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest of me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. -Ephesians 1:7

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4:16

Warning: this post will be jumbled thoughts that may or may not make sense.

The past couple weeks God has continually been showing me just how great His blessings have been in my life even when they do not always seem like blessings. I am so thankful to be here in West Virginia, even though I am ready to go home, finish student teaching, and already be moved to the Twin Cities. I have no doubt that God led me to YouthWorks to learn so much more about who He is in a different light of ministry atmosphere and sometimes feeling like I am re-learning things about faith all over again. One of the biggest things that I feel like God has been re-teaching me is about His grace. I have always been a goody-two-shoes rule follower who was very oriented with respect and what was right and wrong. This definitely pours into my relationship with God as I seek out deep truth and then get caught up in forgetting about God's grace when I make mistakes, don't choose the path that brings Him glory, and put myself first. 

Grace in all aspects is something that I need to continually learn about. I had a really great conversation with one of my best friends a couple weeks ago now and it fits so well with what I most need to learn. It is so easy for me to get frustrated and down about the sin in my life, even knowing that I am human, I fall short of following God's plan, I put myself first, and I sin everyday in various ways. I know in my head that sin is sin and it doesn't really matter what I am struggling with as far as degree in how bad it is compared to other sin because it is all the same in God's eyes. So often, I completely miss God's grace and fail to recognize how much grace God has poured into my life. I even need to learn how to shift my thinking when it comes to the times that I fail because they happen often just like anyone else. I need as much grace as anyone else. I need to give grace to others as much as I need grace myself. Sometimes I feel like we get so caught up in our flaws that God has known about for centuries that we forget to simply be still and thank Him for pouring so much grace in our lives that those failures and short-comings are completely covered and have been covered for thousands of years despite anything we do or do not do. I want to work on freely giving grace to others, not because they always deserve it, but because they are loved by the same God who pulled me out of complete darkness and who continues to bring me into His light each and everyday. I want to love selflessly and patiently because God knows how broken I am and how every person I meet is just as broken without God. I struggle with many sins each and every day but I want to recognize God's grace that has already covered that instead of staying in the mindset of how to fix my failures as if I have any part in bringing redemption to my life. Grace is so hard to comprehend but I am so incredibly blessed. I am blessed with friends who are just as broken as I am and just need love and care. I am blessed with a family who has not experienced the grace of God that I have and they need my patience to understand that they don't understand what God has done in my life. I am blessed by being surrounded by sinful people because I think we all can get so wrapped up in pointing out others flaws and our own that we completely miss how great God's grace and mercy on us really is. I know I do so much. 

We struggle, get frustrated, the enemy uses it to make us feel worthless of being loved, and then are blinded to see the beauty of the cross. It's a vicious cycle that I have drowned in before. We are not perfect and that is why we need a perfect God. I am definitely not perfect, I need grace everyday, especially from others. Know that you are loved, blessed, forgiven, and showered with God's grace and blessings.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Won't Relent Until You Have It All!

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:3

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. - Psalm 37:7

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. - Psalm 27:14

I wait for you, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God. - Psalm 38:15

Waiting. I would consider the life stage that I am in as waiting. At least waiting for God's plan to unravel of where He wants me going and what He is leading me to after student teaching this fall. Yesterday I spent two hours breaking down just a couple simple verses and I just want to share my thoughts and give an update on the end of what God is teaching me as I am here in West Virginia this summer!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:4-6

I have read these verses many times but many things really hit me yesterday as I looked up many dictionary definitions to almost every word:

Rejoice - to feel joyful; be delighted; be in great pleasure.
Always - for all time; forever; at anytime; invariably.
Gentleness - considerate, tender, kind, noble, friendly.
Evident - obvious; easily seen and understood.
Near - with/in close relationship.
Anxious - uneasy, eager, worried, "earnestly desirous"
Petition - something requested; an entreaty(plea)
               Supplication - to ask for humbly.
Prayer - "a reverent petition" 
       Reverence - showing respect, profound awe, love
Thanksgiving - expression of gratitude
        Gratitude - state of being appreciative of benefits received
Present - to offer for observations, examination, or consideration; show or display
          Offer - to present as an act of worship; to put forward for consideration; propose
                       Propose - to make known as one's intention
Requests - something asked for

After looking up all these definitions, I decided to rewrite the verse:

Be joyful and delighted with great pleasure in the Lord for all time, at anytime, invariably. I will say it again, repeatedly, be joyful and delighted with great pleasure! Let your considerate tenderness, noble and friendly kindness be obvious and easily seen and understood to all - every creature! The Lord is in close relationship with you! Do not be uneasy, worried, eager, or earnestly desirous about anything, but in everything by showing respect, profound awe, and love to God through prayer and humbly requesting and pleaing, also with expression of gratitude and appreciation by recognizing value and significance of God, offer for consideration and make known your intentions of your requests to God! - Philippians 4:4-6 (rewritten)

I realize there are a LOT of run-on sentences but as I was digging deeper and deeper into what God was trying to teach me just through this process and reading just two verses, I realized how great my waiting period is right now and I need to examine my heart. Do I truly delight with great pleasure in the Lord at all times no matter what my circumstances are? Am I joyful on God's strength at all times? Did I just get told again to be delighted and joyful??? Yep, definitely just did. Then I asked myself, when I am delighting in the Lord and bringing requests before Him, do I continually live with consideration for others showing them tender, noble, and friendly kindness no matter what? If God is speaking to my heart in wanting His love to be so clearly presented to others through being considerate and tender myself, how am I really doing in that? The Lord loves me so much and privileges me with being in relationship with Him, why am I worrying? Why am I so eager to know God's plan for my life and so uneasy about trusting in His perfect plan? When I am praying and asking God for the desires of my heart, am I humbling myself and expressing thanks and appreciation even if God's answer may be 'no?' Hmm.... profound awe? Do I really realize that I get to bring requests of my heart before a big and mighty God? 

I can honestly say that God has had me in awe, especially the past two weeks. I am so blessed beyond what I could have imagined God blessing me with this summer between amazing students, amazing adults, amazing volunteer partnerships, and just amazing beauty of the community of Beckley, West Virginia. I took this summer ministry job as part of my waiting stage, to use the time I have in between school years to continue sharing what God is doing in my life and using me to glorify His kingdom. I still don't know what exactly I am doing after graduation, I mean I have a strong idea but it is still a temporary idea. I am very excited and anxious to have the months fly by to February when I am done with student teaching, done with dance team season, and am able to move to the Twin Cities area in Minnesota to start new adventures. This move will definitely be a huge step of blind faith as I don't really know how God is going to use it, how He is going to change my life from it, and who God will bring into my life through it. As I have been easily wishing away time, I realized that even my current plans are still part of waiting for a bigger picture to unravel. I have been reading a lot of scripture on waiting and being patient and fully trusting God's plan. I have been learning a lot about rejoicing in the wait and to continue to use the precious time that God has blessed me with to continue the race of glorifying Him wholeheartedly. As I desire to focus on who Christ is and what God wants to do through the story that He has given me and the ultimate love story that I am so blessed to share, my heart is actually being changed to embrace the waiting period. Embrace patience, embrace simple love, embrace intentionality of where I am right now, at this stage in my life, in this community, and on this specific spot on a journey. 

God has blessed me so much in just the last two weeks. Our programming at our site was canceled last week and this week due to a major power outage here in West Virginia. This week especially as we are back on site with power but still no participants, has been a huge blessing of rest. God totally has my best interest in his mind as He knows that coming back from this summer and going right into student teaching would be heading right into exhaustion from exhaustion. I praise Him that our team gets to have this week to rest, restructure a few things, and get to know our new site director in intentional ways and that I will not be heading back to WI in complete exhaustion and then jump right into student teaching. God has been teaching me a lot and I honestly don't even know how to put it all into words except for that my heart wants nothing more than Jesus and God's perfect plan, even if it comes with waiting. Waiting is worth it and I am learning to let go of my plan and control to embrace the "I don't knows." 

"You won't relent until You have it all, my heart is Yours. Come be the fire inside of me." - Jesus Culture