Read this if you’re asking God for something.

My husband and I have a Great Dane puppy.


Rori is a little over three months old and, as you can imagine, is a ball full of energy. She makes us laugh with her backtalk (or backbark) when we tell her to go to bed, gives us a reason to work on our patience, and shows us what innocent love looks like.

Lately, I’ve had a bit of trouble getting Rori to eat. Now this is unusual for me because every dog (especially puppy) that I’ve known has always played the same part in the same scenario: they stare wide-eyed at the rattling bowl as I slowly make my way to the floor, and then proceed to eat every last crumb as if they have never had food in their life.

Not Rori.

It’s not because she’s not hungry or because she’s disinterested in the brand of puppy food, but because she’s too excited that I’m in the room.


She’ll only eat if I love on her a bit first. She’s not satisfied to give anything else her attention until I bend down, hold her in my arms, soothe her, and let her love on me back- slobber and all.

This morning as I once again bent down and held her close, it hit me.

We should be more like Rori.

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As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve had a bit of a mental struggle going on the past year. As I’ve been praying for healing and wrestling with God over the ‘why’s, He’s been saying to me, “I want you to want Me more than you want the healing.”

Gosh, what a thought to ponder.

Rori gets it. She may not understand the ‘sit’ command yet, or even the ‘don’t wreck the house’ command, but she understands loving her mommy before she loves the things Mommy gives her.

God wants us to love Him like Rori loves on me – with wild abandon, passion, and excitement. He wants us to love and desire Him first, to come and sit with Him and be still in His presence, before we ask and expect and want other things.

Does He long to bless us? Of course He does, He’s our Father. But even more – He wants our hearts, He wants a relationship with us.

So I’m actively working on this, and I hope you’ll join me. Let’s choose to seek Him first before all things, and before we enjoy the blessings He gives us or ask for even more, let’s sit in His presence as He bends down, holds us in His arms, and soothes us.

After all, what in the world is better than being in the presence of our Savior? Absolutely nothing.

What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving.

People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. – Luke 12:31-32 MSG, emphasis mine

 

…and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health.       – 2 Chronicles 7:14 MSG

 

I’m asking God for one thing,
    only one thing:
To live with him in his house
    my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
    I’ll study at his feet. – Psalm 27:4 MSG

Accepting His Gifts

I went to class as I’m (for now) in the habit of doing. I sat in my seat and watched as people came in, one by one. My professor sat down and cracked open a small book and started class by reading a prayer – one that spoke to my heart so beautifully with every word.

“Teach me, O God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith.”

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I’d never heard something that pinned me so well.

You might’ve noticed I haven’t been here in a while (and trust me, with an uplifted spirit, new glasses, and a red tint to my hair, I’m glad to be back). Part of staying quiet was just not being able to discern what God wanted me to write about, being that I was learning so much and healing so intently that I couldn’t imagine where to begin. Most of it was because I needed the quiet to process and heal.

If I’ve learned anything about myself over the past few months, it’s that my mind is all kinds of screwed up. I can start with a thought and five minutes later I’m completely anxious and nearly shaken at the made-up scenarios and thoughts in my head.

Sometimes God has to even remind me that it’s okay to be joyful in the good things He’s provided. I’m an over-thinker, vulnerable to confusion and disorder in this mind that’s constantly spinning. The Anxiety is real and comes with a mission.

It’s so wonderful how God works in the most personal ways. This prayer, probably randomly chosen by my professor this morning, spoke to my situation and my healing process that I’m currently in – and perfectly matches the phrase God’s written on my heart for this season of life.

Breathe in My blessing. Breathe out My praise.

Accept His blessing and make Him known for it. To glorify Him, I must first acknowledge what He’s given and accept it as a gift.

That’s hard for me.

I guess what I’ve been mostly wrestling with these past few weeks is the idea of being blessed with a gift from God that I’ve been waiting for. I’ve had my desires match up with God’s plenty of times, just never in this capacity. Following what I want, even when it’s what God wants, sometimes feels selfish, like trusting myself, and too good to be true.

It’s in the moments when I believe those lies in my soul that I question my intentions and why God would ever want what I want.

You are probably thinking, “that sounds completely screwed up,” to which I would completely agree. Herein lies the problem.

But God.

He’s constantly showing up and calming my heart. Healing me each day at a time, I’m seeing clearer and walking in more confidence. He’s faithful to speak truth to me again and again, even when I’m doubting Him and His goodness over and over. I doubt His willingness and desire to bless me with good things, and there He is again blessing me even more. He’s helping me to remember that it’s not about what I’ve done but who He is.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18, emphasis mine

Can I just say what a beautiful Father we have? I’m constantly amazed. I don’t know if anyone else deals with this struggle like I do, but it was on my heart to share. If you’re with me on this, I hope you’re encouraged today that He wants to bless us far past what we’d ever begin to feel worthy of.

Maybe you don’t deal with this particular struggle, but still face The Anxiety in other ways.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! What verses do you cling to when The Anxiety hits? Do you struggle with the idea of blessing?

Be Still

I don’t mean to downplay the struggles of other ages, but being 20 is hard.

With school and the pressure to perform and time management and getting relationships to work, it’s just a lot. This week is hitting me hard with failing at people’s expectations and being in the moment (but at the same time being intentional about the future…because *hello* that’s coming soon).

My heart searches for reasons to worry and my mind is overcome with stress. And I’m exhausted on this dreary Monday.

I look at my planner and see evidence of the attempt to manage my time and my relationships correctly. A coffee date here, a study date there. A trip home and small group. Yet I feel as if it’s still not enough. I look around and I still see people I need to be spending time with and pouring into. I still see things that need to be done and friends who are struggling with bigger things than I who I want to be serving.

I see the lasts and the precious opportunities to be here when my mind is tons of places at once. It’s a blessing to be wanted in all those places and to have places at all, but it’s a struggle when you can’t seem to figure out when to be where.

And as I feel the pressure to collide the worlds of school, home, and sanity, I forget all about the cruciality of being still before the Father that holds it all in His hand.

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I’m starting out this week by taking time to do that. To just sit and be in His presence and worship Him for who He is despite who I am.

Do I have other things to get done? Yes. But what in the world could be more important than investing time into my relationship with Jesus?

Take the time today, friend. Close the books and shut down the electronics. Pull out paper and a pen and write to Him, sing to Him, be with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him. He’s waiting for me and for you with open arms this morning, ready to show us His love and grace.

I want to share with you a few verses that I’m reading today:

I love the LORD because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!

-Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT, emphasis mine)

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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 on me.

-2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV, emphasis mine)

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Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

-Psalm 68:19 (NIV, emphasis mine)

He bears our burdens daily. Read that again and again, friend, because it’s such a beautiful truth. Let it encourage your heart today. The God of the whole universe. Bearing my burdens, bearing your burdens, for us. Wows me every time.

Will you take some time to be still today? Allow the Lord a piece of your day to love you through His still small voice. Let Him give you strength and peace. He knows what you need before you even ask.

A Good Habit :: Counting Gifts

Do you know the sound of silence?

I’ve once again become familiar with it this week. It’s been a while for me and part of me is glad to have it back. People are busy and I’m that college student who decided to give myself a break before school starts back for the final go-round.

I crave silence when I don’t have it, being the introvert that I am. But after I have it for an hour at most I start to hate it, being the introvert that I am.

I think and think and think until things that are so small become almost life-changing and I start to reevaluate everything. I’m a deep thinker and a close tie for a deep feeler and those two hand-in-hand can sometimes be toxic when they’re the only voices around.

It’s funny because I’ve found that the same practice that helps me when I’m too busy to remember to be still helps me when I have too much time to be still.

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, but her words of wisdom and her thoughts about Heaven on Earth still impact me every day.

I was suggested to read it by some friends in my Bible study a couple years ago, but started practicing counting gifts even before then alongside those sweet friends. We counted all throughout the week and shared what we wrote down every meeting.

Cue the question: “What exactly do you mean by ‘gifts’?” Well I’m so glad you asked. Gifts can be anything that come in contact with your five senses that you’re thankful for. They can be things you see, situations that happen, people that impact you, cereal you eat, books you read, air you breathe, coffee you drink (or inhale, whichever), teachers that teach you, bosses that lead you, small children that hug you, air conditioners that cool you, and anything and everything else that you could consider a gift from God.

It’s all about looking around and practicing the attitude of thankfulness.

Ann says it this way:

“I redeem time from neglect and apathy and inattentiveness when I swell with thanks and weigh the moment down and it’s giving thanks to God for this moment that multiplies the moments, time made enough.”

– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, Chapter Four

Since I started counting years ago, I’ve reached 3,250. And yeah, you better bet I’ve repeated a few here and there (mostly the aroma of coffee in the morning and funnies from my friend Elizabeth), but all in all I’ve been amazed by how many things I’ve counted that I can thank God for. Here are some just from the past year:

1903 feeling known

1918 Dobby

1952 the power of prayer

1967 a beautiful sky reminding me of the depth of Christ’s love

2045 seeing Him make a way

2088 poetry reading and cappuccinos in the caf

2102 feeling His love in the quiet of morning

2470 exposing the lies — I am chosen!

2487 calling a church home that I never want to leave

2515 a close parking spot

3054 A ‘B’ IN FINANCE. BOOYAH.

3180 sitting by my mom at church

3181 the opportunity to be real and honest with people without fear

3182 Katie’s voice on the phone

3196 being missed

3199 Sophie’s little voice and pitter patter of feet

3203 Mango tea

3210 N’sync radio 

3215 my mom loving me, even when I’m a jerk

3220 a 3-hour Skype date with Liz 

3229 Flannel

3242 Jesus talks in the middle of the lake

If you find yourself not taking the time to be still and thanking God enough for what He’s given you, or if you’re seeing that (like me in this moment) you’re experiencing too much silence with not enough praise, take a minute and jot down some ways you’ve seen Him love you today. The spirit of thankfulness overcomes the ones of fear and worry and drowns out the one of selfishness as long as we practice it.

Happy counting, friends! And hey, feel free to share some in the comments if you’d like!

a window sill moment

It’s days like these that take my breath away.

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There’s just something about the early morning cold beneath my feet on the bedroom floor. The aroma of coffee bouncing off each wall. The stillness of my little world right here in the vulnerability of my little room. A time to rest our minds and bodies and refresh our souls in the middle of this busy week.

Today’s a little gift amongst the madness. We’re out because of snow but I also think God knows some of us need some time. I feel Him saying, “take a breath.”

It’s that thought again about being still that comes to mind. Do I do this when I sabbath? Of course. It’s during the week when I forget how.

Today I’m being still and thanking Him for the little things all over again- every sip of coffee, the view out my window, the comfort of my bed, the stillness of my room, time and opportunity to sit in His presence, my natural (and very wavy) hair, and answered prayers.

May we remember to sing His songs to heaven in the beginning, middle, end, and all throughout our weeks. May we take the time to be still in front of His throne every day because we need it and He’s gracious to give us His presence. May we not forget that He wants our time and for us to abide in Him.

May we breathe in His grace and breathe out His praise every moment.