A Little More Like Love

“I used to think I needed all the answers, I used to need to know that I was right. I used to be afraid of things I couldn’t cover up in black and white. But I just wanna look more like love” // “More Like Love” by Ben Rector

A few weeks ago, I was sent an article, published on Deeply Rooted‘s blog, titled Writing for Christ’s Glory. There is no exaggeration when I say that it changed my life and stirred something deep within my soul. I printed a copy of the article and keep it close by as a reminder with particular sections highlighted. There are so many excellent points, but the words that resonated with me were about how writing for Christ’s glory means that we give up our right to praise and fame. “It means that our heart’s aim is not to secure our own fame, but the fame of our King,” Ann Swindell writes.

I may never have a blog that becomes wildly popular and I may never have anyone besides my close friends and family read these words. But still I write. If the trials that I have endured in my life have taught me anything, it is that the things we say, think, and do in this one and only life that we have matter. Our Savior has done amazing things in my life and in my heart. When we have tasted and seen of God’s goodness in our own lives, how can we not feel compelled to share it? God didn’t carry me through the loss of six family members, completely and wholly changing my heart, just to have me keep the glory to myself.

God gave me a story to share amid the mess and the muck of the past two years, and he also gave me a voice. He’s giving me the strength to add my voice to the sea of others already proclaiming his glory. For so long now, this has been done primarily through this space, my blog. Gradually, He has been giving me opportunities to actually speak of God’s work in my life and my personal walk with Christ with those around me. There was a time when sharing my faith with others out loud would have seen like an outlandish thing for me to do so for me to do this and feel joy doing so, feels amazing. Where my head may have once been buried in the sand, I now see clearly where, and to whom, Christ is leading me and how I could be used there. We are called to live by example, even when it may be uncomfortable, even a little awkward. As I was praying over this post and thinking of what God would want me to say, the words of 1 Timothy 4:12 came to me.

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” // 1 Timothy 4:12, NLT

When my family lost Nellie, my grandmother’s precious cousin, I wrote of how inspiring it is to see lives lived wholly for God. She so clearly lived and breathed her faith and she was probably never asked whether or not she followed Christ because of how she lived her life. I believe that we are called to be daily examples and reminders of God’s power and goodness with both the believers and non-believers in our lives, I pray that I always remember this and live my life in this way.

His Will Be Done

His Will Be Done

There’s an interesting thing that happens when you decide to loosen your grip on your life. When you release the hold on your carefully crafted plans and allow someone much more capable to determine your next steps. No, your world does not come clattering down the second you let go.

Luke 17:33 (NLT) says, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.”

For a long time,  I couldn’t even begin to grasp what this could look like in my own life. I had my plans and my future set, nailed down, and written down in stone. But our best laid plans are no match for the things that God has in store for us once when we step back and allow him the opportunity to really move.

Since graduating from college in 2013, I have gone from writing pop culture articles to sharing my heart and my story for the glory and honor of our King. I have gone from envisioning a future in social media marketing to hope in a life and career that serves the least and the lost of this world; our children. I have watched loved ones grow ill and I have said goodbye to six irreplaceable people. I may have been far from God at the start of this journey, but He was never far from me.

It’s nearly three years since the beginning of what has been the most transformative season of my life, thus far. It’s difficult to adequately relay to you just how much God has moved and shaped me during this time. Sure, I still have a slight addiction to my planner and I love to daydream about what the future may hold. But no longer do I give myself a say in what my future may bring. Lately,my prayers have regularly consisted of the following words; Lord, help me to discern what comes from you and what doesn’t. If it doesn’t come from you, than I don’t want this. The passion and conviction I feel when I pray these words sometimes leaves me breathless. To love and live with abandon while trusting in God’s will and plan is a beautiful thing.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” // Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

When The World Remains the Same

Psalm 126:5

While I can’t speak for everyone, in my life I have found that one of the most isolating experiences that a person can have is loss. Any feelings other than isolation are essentially an illusion to the outsiders looking in so that they believe that the grieving individuals in their lives are fine.

Now that I am on the other side of a season of loss that spanned two years and one month, it is startling to me how drastically different the world looks when you make it out. And you do make it out, my friends, let me be clear on that. Our Heavenly Father always sees you through to the other side. For me, my entire world changed when I said goodbye to six family members in that short time. I was lucky, though. God, in his infinite wisdom and love, strategically planned my life and my journey of faith so that I was in a place that I could rely on Him solely for comfort and refuge when I needed it like the air I breathe.

There’s something about experiencing something so tragic and life-altering that can leave you feeling as though you’re carrying this invisible mark or sign. You’re haunted by the things you have seen, the things you have experienced and yet the world continues moving. It almost seems impossible. Life goes on, whether we want it to or not. I can remember vividly, even through the myriad of emotions that I felt on September 19, 2015, how badly I wished I could scream out to everyone I passed.

Look at me! Can’t you see that I have just experienced something tragic? I just watched my grandmother die two days ago and my aunt died this morning as I was outside. She died this morning and we still had my grandmother’s funeral, hours later. How can you just go through your day??

But they just keep on going. Kind words like thank you, have a nice day can feel like a slap in the face. I couldn’t help but think back to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry’s encounter with the thestrals. A grim creature that one can only see if they have seen death. As the days moves forward, it gets easier to accept the passage of time. You become better at smiling genuinely and not feeling as though you’re breaking some sort of “grieving person” code. But as I began to put one foot back in front of the other and get back into a routine, I realized that I was never going to survive this season without opening my heart to the idea of joy and gratitude, as foreign as they seemed in the state I was in. True joy and true gratitude can only come when your heart has been healed and your soul has been comforted by our Lord.

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” // Psalm 126:5 (NIV)

The world looks different to those of us who have experienced death and understand what tragedy looks like and feels like. September is never going to be just another Fall month for me just as my drive through Burlington on the way to Raleigh is never going to not bring back the memories of the week that was spent there. I have been shaped and molded by what has happened to my family and I have experienced the peace that could only come from our Savior to my very core.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” // 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)

Happy Birthday, Grandmommy

Happy Birthday, Grandmommy!

Today is your 90th birthday, and although I wish so desperately that you were here to celebrate with us, I know you are having the time of your life where you are. Last year, on your 89th birthday, we celebrated with a party at the rehab center with family and friends. We had cake, shared laughs, and celebrated the amazing life that you lived. I’m sure you even managed to tell a few people that I was your youngest grandchild and how I went to Appalachian and became a teacher. You so loved to tell everyone that.

Happy Birthday

You are still with us everyday, Grandma. You’re with me in the way that I laugh; the kind of laugh that takes over your whole body. You’re with us when we’re cheering on your beloved Tarheels. I can picture it like it was yesterday. The way you’d be sitting on our front porch when you used to drive down to visit. You’d usually get there before Mom could bring us home from school and there you were, perched on the steps and waving those Carolina pom-poms so enthusiastically. And you’re with me every day because of the mother that you were. Thank you for raising the amazing woman that I call my momma.

We miss you more than words can express, but we know that you are finally walking and experiencing true paradise in Heaven. You’ve been able to see your parents, your brothers, and your little girl, Aunt Shelia. Although I never thought, when we were celebrating your 89th, that we wouldn’t have you here to celebrate your 90th, I can’t say that there is anything that I wish we’d done differently.

Happy Birthday

You were there for so much of my childhood. Dance recitals, birthdays, and so much more. You might not have been able to make it to my high school graduation because of your stroke a few months prior, but you watched me graduate from college thanks to internet live streams. I so cherished the short visits that I would have with you when I would drive through on my way home from Raleigh. Even if it was just five minutes, you never minded and I loved seeing you break out into that smile when you saw me walking in the room. You would even try and bribe me with candy to get me to stay longer sometimes.

So Happy Birthday, Grandmommy. I love you, I miss you, and I thank God for your love and presence in my life every day.

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