Perseverance and Grit…

 

I love the show American Grit on Fox. I so much enjoy watching people dig deep and do things they never thought possible! (Although admittedly, the first season was way more intense and challenging than the second season.)

September is now, and forevermore known as “Sucky Sober September.” Obviously the name alone makes it sound like it is connected to alcohol only, but in reality it is a shout out to a friend who almost died a year ago. – You see, in solidarity, the best friend Trifecta adjusted our eating habits for a month to help one of us get healthy again, and in that process we also gave up alcohol. Because we do all the healthy things, we also change the name depending on how we are feeling and add various descriptive S words.

To some people, Sucky Sober September sounds dramatic and crazy that we remove alcohol from our diets for a month, and yet other people don’t understand why that’s even necessary (“do you drink that much?”).. In all honesty, it’s not hard, but, the reality is that living in DC, most social activities revolve around alcohol. So, we have removed alcohol from September moving forward, but alcohol is only one facet of what happens throughout the month…

In September, I am finding my perseverance and grit.

My grit physically looks like running 3 days a week, and doing strength training at the gym 3 days a week.
September means choosing to hydrate appropriately (and praise the Lord for sparkling water), exercise 5 days a week (usually meaning I have to get up early and workout before work), meal prep for the week, and remove sweets and junk food from my diet.
It is difficult to describe how challenging it is, I hate running, I hate mornings, and I hate being up before the sun. But, it is also hard because I have a disorder that means my tendons and ligaments don’t have enough collagen and I dislocate easily… Meaning, I am in some sort of pain most days, and while getting into shape definitely helps hold my body together, it’s significantly harder for me to get into shape because I cannot over fatigue my muscles or I will dislocate while I sleep.

Yet, here I am, 5 days a week, making it happen because I have decided. Simply saying I am showing up isn’t enough, it’s actually more about being diligent, persistent, holding steadfast and persevering day after day no matter how I feel.

On top of getting my life together physically, I am also in this corresponding spiritual season of resetting all of the things.

I have started doing a morning devotional phone call at 6:45am (it also helps to make sure I’m up and out of bed to workout too!), I have purposefully created time each day to journal through my thoughts and prayers, I have desired and created space to spend a ton of time reading scripture, and reintroduced fasting into my spiritual diet, I am also fairly certain I have been living on worship music alone. – This month I realized that when I’m not listening to worship music, my heart begins to fill with fear, anxiety, and insecurities… Neat.

There is a war going on, do not be fooled, the enemy is fighting whether you are or not.

Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually I am hitting reset for September; which sounds super fun, easy, and like it should be the type of motivation that gets others up and going too… But, let me assure you, it is actually insanely hard, it sucks most days, it hurts in every single sense of the word, and many days I am not sure how I will make it through.

Two things the Lord has consistently communicated to me this month:
Steadfast and Perseverance. 

Doesn’t that sound like I should post such a nice little inspiration about how great and important being steadfast and persevering is? – In raw honesty; it looks more like a $h!t show, brokenness, hurt, pain, exhaustion, joy, faith, hope and then choosing obedience no matter how I feel day to day. It is much harder to be steadfast and persevere than anyone can easily explain.

Don’t get me wrong, some days have been so amazingly good, full of fun, laughter, joy, contentment, gratitude, and so much Grace from the Lord.
But, many days have been headphones in, head down and just getting through the day while hurting, and choosing to be obedient to what I have had laid out before me.

In my attempt to heal and restore my heart and insecurities, to work through and calm fears and anxieties, and to gain greater understanding, clarity, and more wisdom, I have spent hours every day reading through scripture. I have copied impactful passages into my journal and reviewed them almost daily. This month I have lost track of time as I research and read through scripture on peace, steadfast, perseverance, obedience, character, the armor of God, and fruit of the spirit.

In Ecclesiastes 3 it talks about how there is a season for everything; this season for me is intense, it is hard, and I am learning how to be steadfast and persevere regardless of how I feel. Yet, I am unable to close down my heart like I do naturally.

I am finding my perseverance and grit emotionally.

A few months ago, I began praying that the Lord would help me learn how to better navigate my head and heart together simultaneously. I have a tendency to shut my heart down and set it aside when I need to get things done, when I’m hurting and have to push forward or when I feel overwhelmed… I very often forget to check and see how I am feeling or what my heart is working through. My go-to is to think through my feelings, sometimes obsessively before I share them or even allow them to be seen or experienced by anyone else. – I want to have a grasp on what I’m feeling before I expose myself and choose to be vulnerable. And yet, a few months ago, after something my pastor said, I realized that the Holy Spirit is the perfect blending of both head and heart. In order to follow after and be more like Christ, I absolutely must do a better job of balancing both at the same time.

So, earlier this summer, I began intentionally working to balance both and not requiring myself to have my heart figured out before I shared it with anyone else… I decided to choose to let people into my process if they asked, and to take the time to actually consider my heart in the moments.

In September, I began the month not well, I found myself full of insecurities coming out to play. I was struggling with the things the Lord and I have been slowly exposing in my heart over the last couple months. In order for Him to heal the brokenness in my heart I had to be open, and yet, in my fear and anxiety, I shifted my focus from the Lord healing and restoring me, to someone tangible being responsible to fix my insecurities.

Nope. Not good, not healthy, not ok, and not acceptable.

Hard reset.

Once I shifted back to the Lord, I began asking Him to heal me, restore me, and to show me what He wants from me right now, in this season.

Repeatedly I keep coming back to Steadfast and Perseverance.

I know what it means, I know how it applies, I am aware of the situations in which Steadfast and Perseverance are directly connected. I know that the Lord is putting the challenge before me to be obedient. I have a choice, and it is not an easy one.

I am finding my perseverance and grit spiritually.

This season has been equally beautiful and rich but also hard and painful spiritually. My heart desires a closeness with the Lord that I have not experienced in more than five years. I cannot say that I feel like the Lord has “said” anything specific to me, but more a confidence and guidance as I press in and spend more time with him.

This September has felt a lot like God is asking me to “adult”…

Almost like He is saying,
“Ok, you know these things, you hear me telling you to be steadfast, to persevere, to be obedient.
But, will you?
Are you going to choose to exhibit the fruit of my Spirit?
Are you going to come to me when you are weak and weary?
Are you going to be selfless and love unconditionally like I do?
Are you going to look to me when your heart is hurting and broken?
Are you going to come to me when you’re angry?
Will you decide to give up your anxiety, fear, and insecurities to me?
What will you do with what I’ve taught you?”

Yes. Yes, I will be obedient.
Yes, I will turn to you my God when I’m hurting, broken, angry, weak and weary.
Yes, my sweet Lord, I will choose to be selfless, and I will choose hope and faith. Help me when I cannot and give me more Grace.

I believe that God’s Grace is sufficient for me. That today, in this moment, He will give me what I need to persevere, to hold steadfast, to be selfless, to love well… I cannot worry about tomorrow, next week, next month or the one after, I have to hold steadfast in the here and now; the Grace for today.

Today, I choose to be obedient.

But, let me tell you: It. Is. Effing. Hard. – being obedient is not for the faint of heart, it takes grit, determination and willpower to push through the moments and days that I just don’t have it in me.

On my hard days, my perspective is very much that I do not get an option, I have to dig deep and find my grit to persevere, to actively decide to choose grace, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. It rails against everything I want to do in those moments, but it is obedience.

I have also realize that sometimes I literally run out of my ability to navigate and hold steady, to persevere, to choose to be obedient. And that sometimes, by the end of the day, it is like those parts of me have been exhausted and tapped dry. – Those are the moments when journaling my struggles and processing the day, when reading scripture and praying for the Lord’s blessing the next day, asking for more of His Grace make every bit of the difference.

He is faithful and He is enough.

So, Sucky Sober September is a month of making decisions against myself and my natural way of doing things. It sucks, it is hard, it is not easy, and I have no idea what is to come, but it is so good! I am not promised that things will change or get easier in October or November. I am not given assurance that everything will pay off…

But, what I do know and what I am holding fast to believing in Faith and choosing hope:

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:11-12

Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.” – Colossians 1:10-12

“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” – Romans 8:25-26

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Yes, It Is Normal…

I want to be known for my blending of Grace and Truth exactly perfectly…

Unfortunately, I tend towards Truth naturally and really have to work on being better at HOW I say things.

And, in the spirit of honesty, one of my biggest struggles is learning how to blend Grace into my words to mitigate my natural leaning towards Truth in a way that reflects the Holy Spirit and Jesus well.

You see, I believe that one of the biggest tricks the devil uses against us is making us to feel like we are isolated. I think often many do not share openly their lives in a way that could be helpful to someone else because it is personal, private, and feels intimate… But, if we are alone, and if that thing we are struggling through is believed to be abnormal, if we are the only one, then clearly we are weak or there is something wrong with us…

I regularly find myself in conversations with people that allows for me to share my own story, struggles, and in a completely honest light offer them authentic encouragement because, after all, we are now in this struggle together.

Over the last few months, I have been given this amazing opportunity to share about my ministry/job with other churches around the country. Some of them were referred to me, others found my name and title (First Impressions Director) on our website, and others I am not entirely sure how they found me. But, I have gotten to talk to them, encourage their ministries, hearts, and share whatever information I could about how and what I do… As well as simply connect over our common bond of “overwhelmed but passionate” for our ministries.

One of the biggest things I have come to realize, regardless of the ministry, church size and even occupation, it needs to be said frequently: 

What you are feeling, that’s normal. 

It doesn’t really matter what you’re feeling:
Overwhelmed,
Annoyed,
Blessed,
Content,
Frustrated,
Excited,
Like you’re drowning,
Struggling,
Overjoyed,
Dry inside,
Agitated,
Numb, etc…
AALLL of the feelings are normal, they are being experienced by someone else also in your same place trying to keep that same pace.

I have been asked SO many times, “How do you manage it all?”

And, my very real and honest answer:

Sometimes I handle it well, flawlessly, and feel energized!…

Aaand then other times, I find myself binge watching Netflix with a glass of wine and snacks, locked away in my room with my puppy for six hours. – Totally healthy coping mechanism 🙄

Sometimes my daily Jesus time is SO GOOD! Then all of a sudden I look up and it’s been TWO WEEKS and I’m not entirely sure where my Bible is even located.

Sometimes my journal and prayers are overflowing, and other times I just sit and stare blankly.

Sometimes I wake up looking forward to my day, having slept well and stoked about what I have planned. Other times I hit snooze until I’m late for work (sorry boss!) and have to bolt out the door without brushing my teeth (I promise I make up the work time)!

Sometimes I go to the gym and eat so well totally dominating the meal prepping for the week. Other times I can’t even remember the last time I ate something other than fast food.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the love and joy for my job and life. Other times I am just overwhelmed with a heavy and discouraged heart.

Life is hard. 

Following Jesus is hard. 

Life and following Jesus are all real things, real struggles, authentic joys and sorrows, love and hate, anger and repentance. These are normal life things that so many try to hide or pretend are not a normal part of their lives. Why are we not highlighting the good, bad, beautiful and ugly as ENTIRELY normal?!

Some days we will feel ready to go and like we can conquer the world. Other days we will do all we can to merely survive the day. 

So, Yes, it (whatever “it” is) is normal. 

Don’t let the smiles, adventures, Instagrams, Facebook posts, snapchats or 30 second conversations of and with others fool you… We are all swinging back and forth on this pendulum of so good, and really just trying to survive the suck.

 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”– 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Trust me, those feelings are normal, and experienced by others! Share your feelings with others, be honest, choose to help someone else see their feelings are normal and accepted too.

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God is Faithful…

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Life can be so hard sometimes with no real warning.

Maybe it is because I have been going through a bunch of “on this day a year ago, two years ago, three years ago…” moments over the last few months.

Maybe it is due to the crazy juxtaposition of life and death swirling around me as of late. All around me, people, relationships, jobs etc. have died and ended, and then in stark contrast there has also been new life, new jobs and relationships. Seeing and experiencing both sides so dramatically with those I love (and even myself) has been quite unique to say the least.

There have been moments as I walk (since I don’t have a car I pretty much walk everywhere), that I am overwhelmed with the weight of how hard and painful life is. So. Much. Pain. And so many prayers to accompany those feelings.

Then, there have been times that as I walk that I have found myself bursting with joy and excitement for new babies, relationships, accomplishments etc.. of those I love. So. Many. Prayers of thanksgiving for them.

The last few weeks I have been praying for clarity, and it seemed as though God had gone silent after speaking for me to grasp onto peace a couple of months ago. I sometimes forget how much we must fight for peace, or rather fight to release the grip of fear and allow ourselves to then claim peace. I recently got clarity, but it only came after I had finally told God some of the things I had been afraid to say. I finally told God my fears, and then told him I was going to leave it all up to Him… He answered me almost immediately.

In the midst of my fear, God was there proving Himself faithful once again.

Not long ago, I received an unexpected package from two people who are not only some of my favorites, but they have loved me deeply for most of my entire adult life. When I opened the package, it contained jewelry that spoke to a word that God had given me years ago… The gift was so unexpected and spot on that it actually knocked the wind out of me and I stuttered into tears.

Community matters, and God is so faithful.

People who know you, who love you, who pray for you, they matter… Community matters, and I have been realizing more and more lately just how much God shows His faithfulness through our community.

When I was going through one of the hardest seasons of my life, it was hands down the community both near and far that carried me through. They say, (whoever “they” is) that time heals all wounds, and that season had a lot of wounds in it to heal from. However, the further away from that time period I get, the more I remember the pain like scars, but the more vivid and grateful I become for the plethora of people who stood by me in literally every way possible. Through these people, God carried me and proved His faithfulness again.

Life is hard, life is painful, life is beautiful, life is full of joy, and when I stop to think about it, I find myself overwhelmed by the community of people God has put in my life. So much gratitude for how He loves me. I am slowly becoming increasingly more aware of why community is so important to my Savior.

Don’t Tell Me I’m Beautiful…

Some blog posts turn in my head for about 13 seconds before it spills out to be shared….

Other blog posts take months before I have words to share, and the bravery to back up what I allow others to see in me.

I was reminded this week of something our Pastor of Prayer says, “Fear is the opposite of love; not anger, but fear.”

It is always interesting when you discover a fear you have carried around for as long as you can remember, but never even noticed that it was there or that you were protecting it so severely.

What is my intensely guarded fear?: My Beauty.

I have been slowly processing with several very patient and diligent friends my thoughts about beauty… or more specifically my beauty. It has been a slow-moving journey to realizing the insecurities I have. But, probably more than that, it is an arduous task of recognizing the walls I have created to try to ensure my heart is not hurt or disappointed.

You see, I do not let people comment on my physical appearance. Meaning, regardless of the comment, good, bad, sweet, rude.. Whatever the comment, I disregard it and protect my heart from feeling or accepting the comment.

It was described to me that it is as though the comments are bouncing off my carefully crafted armor. I wanted to deny it, but the reality is, I am intensely and unrelentingly vigilant in the protection of that portion of my heart.

What I find particularly interesting is that, for as far back as I can remember, I have had this wall built around my heart regarding my physical attractiveness. More specifically, I have been disregarding compliments about my physical appearance my entire life (that I can remember) from everyone… As a young child, my mom and dad (who are amazing parents and people) would make comments to me about my beauty, and I would brush it aside with a laugh, eye roll, sigh or some sort of reasoning that they “had” to tell me these things.

I can point to a hundred different things that added to my reason to protect my heart in this area…

Most of my life I have been (gladly) in the company of guys as their friend and have heard hundreds of times over about how pretty or beautiful my friends are… To which, I definitely agree(d), but I carefully avoided the awkwardness or disappointment of not being seen as beautiful as well.

I have always loved how the martial arts has helped create me to be capable of protecting myself and others. I love practical things so very much, and the martial arts is so practical to me. However, the martial arts certainly added to my already not dainty, but definitely athletic physique that I have only recently begun to appreciate… However, many of the words I have spent my life hearing from men are about how the dainty, tiny, skinny is where beautiful is held.. So, to be effective like I wanted to be, it meant setting aside beautiful things in place of better things.

Then, on the flip side, the times in which men have told me that I was beautiful, I felt like they wanted something from me or worse found out later they had been lying to me and could not be trusted to tell me truth.. or in a couple of instances I felt like the guy wanted to devour me, and I was not safe in their care… So, I protected myself and my heart diligently to avoid any additional damage.

Then, of course people use scripture to point out why beauty should not be something I cared about anyway…

I mean, after all: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30 … And yet, here I am in the depths of my heart unwilling to admit that I still desire to be beautiful. I do NOT want to be vain nor deceitful, so I rationalized that it was better to tuck it all away, and prevent others from speaking into it one way or another. I have spent my life not wanting to know if people thought I was beautiful, and sidestepping every chance I could to avoid knowing.

Throughout my life, I have reasoned that there is no possible way that I am as beautiful as some people have claimed. I rationalize their comments away as purely sentiment because my life circumstances simply do not line up with their nice, sweet or well-meaning comments.

I mean, after all: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so their perspective does not really mean it is true anyway.

Then, to make an intensely personal and private struggle more complicated, I want to be seen in so many ways… I desire to be dynamic and unique. Full of life and adventure, leaving a trail of joy spilling out everywhere I go, seen as capable, intelligent, knowledgeable, loving, graceful, giving, welcoming, compassionate, and full of kindness.. And always reflecting Christ. I desire these things more than beauty, so I have spent my life focusing on these rather than the “vain beauty.”

But, if I am being totally honest, I want beautiful to be included in the list of things I am seen as too… Yet, even typing that, I feel it sounds vain and conceded. The struggle is very real in my heart.

I also know that sometimes your personality and character add to or detract from your attractiveness. I have long thought that I have the type of personality that makes me more attractive… but that it is sort of like a lens in which you see someone; the perspective is changed because of it, but the object itself has not changed.

Even as I process these thoughts and heart feels out with people, I often set up the rule that they too are not allowed to tell me how they see my physical appearance. It is safer to not know… But, I also do not want fake words, nor do I want reactionary comments.

To be clear, I do not want to be seen as more beautiful than someone else. I want to be my own stunningly beautiful woman that requires no one else to be less.

Because I am not yet beyond these struggles, I am once again going to ask you not to share your reactionary comments about how you see my physical appearance.

Please do not leave a comment out of a desire to make it better, that is not what this blog post is for.

The Beauty in Music – @JoshGarrels

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This is a bit of a hike of a story, but I went to my first Josh Garrels concert last night, and I had such an immense amount of emotion throughout the evening that needed to get processed. So, here is the quite long process…

Some back story first.
Several years ago, I was introduced to Josh Garrels Music. I heard a couple of songs, loved it, then realized, I listened to his music all the time and became slightly obsessed.

His music was the perfect easy listening music that I could tap into or out of throughout my day as I worked. His music is soothing and comforting, sharing emotions that I felt or understood with unique sounds and amazing vocals. I have always said, his style is the perfect blend of life, theology and literature with music.

So, I bought every album he had off of Noisetrade. I listened to his music virtually every day for a solid year.

During that year, life was hard, life was good, and life was busy. I felt an immense burden to keep carrying on, pushing through difficulties and making it through my journey well, no matter what I faced.

Then, I had about $9,000 worth of stuff stolen from my apartment from someone I was helping, while I was on mission out of the country. It was just stuff, I could handle this, and I’ve never particularly been attached to my things… But, let me tell you, police reports, insurance, detailed lists.. Who steals 3 bottles of shampoo but neatly lines up the expensive weapons you had stashed around the house?!

Then, in the midst of dealing with the insurance company, I was let go from my job. Thankfully, I was given a stipend that would get me through the end of my lease in a couple of months.

I felt crushed, like my life was literally crumbling before my eyes and I was too weak and small to stop it from happening.

I went home after finding out, and despite putting on a brave face for everyone else.. I sat on my couch with my puppy wanting to play, and I just sat. Feeling no emotions except disbelief… How had I gotten here?

How do I follow God halfway across the country, only to a year later be sitting in my apartment with so many things that were just stuff to me missing? What do I do now?

The job I thought was pursuing Him now gone. And in its place, just nothing.

No direction, no peace, no confidence.

So, in Krista fashion, I got up from that place, I had stuff to do, no one was going to help me. I went to my newly replaced computer, re-downloaded my iTunes music, surfed for Josh Garrels and almost cried when I realized none of his music was bought through iTunes. I uttered a little “Come ON God” prayer and went to Noisetrade again silently pleading that I would find something.

All of Josh Garrels’ music was free.

Every. Last. Song.

I could replace every album without having to pay a for it second time. I had one of those huge sighs that gets stuttered when you’re about to cry. So, I once again downloaded his albums, put them on blast and proceeded to start cleaning and packing.

Fast forward several months.
I had applied for several hundred jobs around the country, I no longer lived in my own home, but instead stored my stuff with one aunt and uncle and moved in with another aunt and uncle. I knew how blessed I was because I was being so amazingly taken care of by people who made me feel like it was the simplest thing in the world and that I belonged. I knew I was given precious time with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews that all lived close by.

Yet, I had been told by God that life would get worse… and worse it got.

Months went by and I spent every day all day applying for jobs and doing freelance work to pay my monthly bills.
Winter was the worst one in MI, with snow storms every three days for months, no sunshine, and I was alone all day long trying to force movement in my life that simply wasn’t budging.

And, every day, Josh Garrels music played in the background.

I often would crawl into bed at night, and my heart would be aching, feeling abandoned by God, fearful of tomorrow, stressing about every dollar I had to spend, trying to rationalize the season I found myself in, and feeling nothing but pain. So, I created a sleeping playlist hoping that the music would wash over me, and usher in peace as I slept. The playlist had everything from Hillsong and Enter the Worship Circle, to Brooke Fraser and Josh Garrels. Anything that said something to my heart softly was played.

For months this went on; my head knowledge was full on at war with my heart knowledge.
My head knew full well that my savior is always faithful, always has been, and always will be; but, my heart-felt none of that. I struggled to understand, but always came up short.

Then, in a horrible series of events, a friend needed help, and I had the availability to go. So, we spent months together in both of our utter brokenness trying to help the other in different ways, while leaning on the support we offered each other. But, for the first time in almost a year, I had purpose, I was needed, I finally was capable to do something productive. I still spent hours every day applying for jobs and seeking out freelance work, and never quite let go of the deepening feeling that despite how I looked on paper, I was not enough.

All the while, Josh Garrels music played in my headphones. Other music was certainly a part of my life, For King and Country was played often, as was Brooke Fraser’s music. But, the constant that I returned to was Josh Garrels.

Then, last fall, I got an interview, then a second, then a job, moved, and began slowly rebuilding my broken life in DC again.

Still feeling as though I was building a house of cards that would come down, surely life was not yet good. I enjoyed my new life, friends and job, but I was confident deep down that the other shoe would fall and I would be once again useless. Fear began seeping into every small facet of my life. Not once before would I have described myself as a fearful person, I have always loved to dance in the unknown and “see what happens” because after all, what is the worst that could happen? Yet, here I was trying to push through, hoping deep down that eventually I would feel safe again.

Josh Garrels released his new album Home a couple months ago, and it is perfect. It reflects such a peace, joy and comfort that home has. That safe feeling that you belong, are known, and that it’s ok to mess up because that doesn’t change who you are or how much you are loved.

I’m fairly confident I have listened to the album every day since it’s release.

Last night at Josh Garrels’ concert in VA, he talked about the emotions of Home. He described the season of life he was in, and how on paper it was good, yet he was struggling through these feelings of fear but needing to know things were going to be alright. I could have spoken every single one of those words (except for being married and having three children haha).

I love his new album immensely, but his old work carries deep inside of me cause it was the backdrop of so much pain, life, wrestling, and working through who I was and my worth when all else was stripped away.

My Abba Father and I have been sifting through where my identity rests. What worth do I have when I am incapable of helping someone else? How do I accept my good when I mess up so often, handling things so poorly more often than I ever care to admit.

Throughout the concert, Josh Garrels played some of his new music, but also much to my delight, some of his old music as well. So, in the course of an hour and a half, I felt all the feels of the old life of the last few years, and the hope that is slowly seeping into my new life.

So, today, I find myself feeling an immense amount of thankfulness.
Thankful to my friend who gifted me with tickets to the concert.

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Thankful for Josh Garrels, his wife, his music, and how he shares his journey towards Christ.

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Thankful that God is working, and moving, and creating something new in me.

Thank you for letting me share my story and unpack another layer and element of what is happening inside of me.

Overwhelming and Overflowing..

Sometimes life is overwhelming.

Sometimes life is overflowing.

Such little differences in the word, I mean, they could almost be interchangeable. In order to overflow, it has to overwhelm.. but I think the emphasis has more to do with which action is the focus.

Lately, I have felt like life is overwhelming. As if, I am trying as hard as I can every day to keep up, tread water, make an impact… whatever it is, but despite my best efforts there is no overcoming it all.

I want my life to be overflowing. So that, no matter what I do or how hard I try, it is from the abundance of grace I have that is spilling out all over the place. Going before me and following after me.

Not long ago, I went to the doctor because I was fairly confident there was something wrong with me. I was perpetually fatigued, yet I had insomnia. I never felt good, like there was just something off. My throat hurt all the time, and I was tense, as in my muscles couldn’t completely let go. Then, one night while taking a hot bath, I had a full-blown anxiety attack. I couldn’t get my heart rate to come down, I was struggling breathing.. and all while candles were lit, soft music played, and I attempted to sooth my aching muscles in hot water.

Surely something was wrong.

I went through a few tests and some blood work to find out that I am in fact surprisingly healthy. So much so, that my doctor was quite pleased with my workout routine, my eating habits, the supplements I take, how much water I drink daily… Literally everything was perfect.

So what the heck?

Tension.

All of my symptoms now pointed to tension, which was a possibility even before he ran the blood work, but he wanted to make sure no chemicals were interfering.

Now what?

I’m the picture of healthy at 30.

I spent some time trying to figure out what else I could do to make it better… How do I make MORE time? I was already burning the candle from both ends in my attempt to fit everything in.

Jesus time.

I deduced I have been woefully negligent in carving out space for my Jesus time. As in, the I will sit here, and we will spend quality time together, talking, listening, learning.. being together. Like you would a best friend. Yet somehow I had forgotten to do this… for months on end… much longer if I’m being entirely honest.

So, slowly, I am beginning to force myself, regardless of the time of day or night to spend some quality time with my Savior, with my Abba. I need Him more than I need the bombardment of distractions I encounter every day.

And, little by little, the throat feels better, the percentage on my sleep app is inching upwards, and I realized that the action has changed. I am beginning to no longer drown in the overwhelming and instead, I am inching towards living in the overflow.

Seasons of Healing…

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I typically love seasons of healing, there is life and death taking place together in the process. I am entirely guilty of wanting to rush the process, but I never regret the time it took on the other side… This particular season of healing has proved more difficult than I anticipated. Which, I suppose no matter the injury, healing always takes longer than we think or hope for in the beginning.

One of the things that has struck me about this particular season of healing is how little the Christian community addresses what seasons of healing look like. And then, in the absence of clarity, I have found myself feeling a bit crazy in the process of what I have recently realized is actually pretty normal..
Should I feel this way?
Should I think like this?
Should I be this emotional?
Does this show my lack of faith?
Is this normal to feel this way?
Why can’t I seem to shake this off?
Am I depressed?
Is it normal to be so tired all the time?
Have I always been this stressed?
Have my muscles always been so tight?
If I love my life so much, why am I still feeling anxious?
And on and on and on….

I was talking with a friend who went through a similar experience, and her response was, “I’m sorry, I should have told you that you were going to feel all of these things for much longer than you would expect to.”

We then talked through all of the random feelings, all of the irrational emotions, the physical effects of everything… and how the season of healing on the other side of a dessert season is often forgotten about by those who have gone through them. I can see why though, I do not want to “stay” stuck in the past, so even I do not want to talk through my own situation… I just want to push forward.

I cannot possibly blame someone else for not thinking to tell me that this season of life sucks almost as much as the last. However, it is of utmost importance to work through and not barrel through this season. I must feel, sit in, deal with and process each step; then and only then will complete healing take place.

True growth and learning must happen in the midst of the whirlwind that feels like this season has been.

I am so thankful and beyond grateful for the plethora of people who have encouraged, challenged, given undeserved grace, shared wisdom or a listening ear, and for all of those who have prayed for me throughout.

So. Grateful.

On the other side of all of this God will make my ashes into beautiful art.