Breathe in. Breathe out.

Hello friends. As you know, lots of crazy things have taken place this past week. So I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve been experiencing, and a little bit of the effect these recent attacks in Paris have had on me.


 

Last Monday, November 9th, 2015, I found myself up until 2 and 3 in the morning researching the religion of Islam, and googling things like “What separates peaceful Muslims from the extremists?” and “What kind of person was Muhammed?” I felt like I’d been slacking on current events, and what was going on the past two or so years ISIS has been around. I knew about al-Qaeda, and was alive through 9/11, but was way too young to comprehend what was really going on. I knew it was a responsibility of mine as an American and as a Christian to stay educated for myself rather than be dependent on some random tweet I found (because there are a lot of idiots on twitter).

So somehow, I found myself engulfed in all things Islam, reading up on the separation between the Sunni’s and the Shiites (correct me if I’m wrong (which I don’t think I am) but ISIS are Sunni extremists). I dove straight into a world I felt I should of known about years ago.

This all took place Monday-Thursday morning of last week. As Thursday night came, the topic of conversation with a friend at church switched to my love for Paris. I took a trip there with my family Spring of 2014, so I started showing her pictures, and going on and on about the magic you feel as soon as you arrive, a feeling most people get when they are blessed to visit this incredible city.


 

Friday, November 13th, 9:20 pm. As my family and I were on our way to a church service, we turned on the radio to hear that the first of 6 terrorist attacks had taken place outside the city of Paris. Sheer terror filled the streets of France, and the rest of the Western World tuned in as we found out as this beloved country was now under the attack of Islamic extremists.

My heart fell to the floor. I was devastated. Perplexed. Confused. This whole thing totally rattled me. I kept asking myself why I had the sudden urge that I did to learn about these very people. Why Paris was brought up the night before when I typically don’t talk about it too much. Why Paris was attacked by these people. As I said, my family and I were headed to church, and as you can imagine I was totally distracted the whole service (sorry mom and dad).

I may not have found the answers to these questions (not sure if this was spiritual or just a crazy super weird coincidence) but the confusion led to a weekend filled with tears, lots of news anchors, and a good amount of angry journaling (cause really what else was I supposed to do). I found myself afraid to go out to lunch with a friend, and the whole time I was there every cell phone ring, dog bark and car horn made me twitch and freak out.

But what was so comforting was to see how the city of Paris, and France as a whole, were refusing to let fear stop them from living their normal everyday lives. I was happy to know there was still joy and peace to be found in such a devastating situation.

And then I remembered, “Oh yea, I’m a Christian!”

In the midst of the chaos and confusion, I heard the Lord say, “breathe in, breathe out.”

I decided to listen, and in an instant, the peace of God covered me like a blanket. I was able to think straight. I could smile again. I didn’t feel afraid to leave my home. It was as simple as breathing. I switched my focus to the things of God, His power, His omnipotence.

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

So I urge you, whatever city, state, or country you’re in, to not be afraid. We do not have to fight with fear or with hate, but with prayer and love.

For the Muslims and Christians living in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Kurdistan and so on, there are Christian brothers and sisters praying for you. We’re praying against the spirit of radicalization in your countries. That peace, not fear, would flood your hearts. We know that the issues of our world are beyond political, they’re beyond what our president can and can’t do. God is ultimately in control, and all that the enemy meant for evil, God can turn around for good. Let’s not forget about the story of Joseph as he found his brothers that had betrayed him as a teenager:

Genesis 50:20 “You planned to harm me. But God planned it for good. He planned to do what is now being done. He wanted to save many lives.”

God saved the lives of thousands through a man who was betrayed by his very own brothers. A man who should have been dead, who should have been bitter and vengeful toward his family, but instead was confident in the plan and purpose God had for him. In-turn God showed insurmountable favor on Joseph, and brought forth life and provision for His people.

Do not let fear overcome you. Breathe. Refocus.

Deuteronomy 20:1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.”

And remember:

Matthew 16:18 “ And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

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Don’t Skip It

Hi guys. So. This is my first official blog post. I’m really excited to start sharing some of my heart with you, and I hope that many of you can relate to some of the things I share here. This has been on my heart for quite some time now, and I’m excited to finally get to write down some of my everyday life/thoughts/epiphanies/random stories with you and more than just my nonsensical super random tweets about anything and everything that comes to my mind…I promise this will be much more worth your time than scrolling through my twitter feed (but if you happen to be on it I can promise you will be entertained). Ok ok, I’m done rambling. Thank you for reading!

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This one day as I was sitting in class, I was looking over my life and picturing how I’d want it to look in the next ten years (I tend to daydream about far too serious things). Staring off into space, I had a sudden glimpse into a foggy, but pretty clear picture of me with my future family. I saw us all playing in our backyard on a typical Saturday afternoon. There’d most likely be some burgers on the grill, our golden retriever playing fetch, and one kid driving a mini Barbie jeep (only cause I always wanted one as a kid, living my dreams through my imaginary daughter as you can see). Big smiles. Lots of laughs. Completely content.

Although I have a lot of dreams and things I’d love to accomplish, lately my dream of having a family has seemed to take the lead in things I think about most. So the thought of me, with my husband, and a bunch of cute little kiddies running around (they’d look like me, of course) is a pretty common occurrence. But just as quick as this picture-perfect glimpse came, an overwhelming feeling of sadness came right along with it. And the sadness came because this dream seemed so far into the future that I started to think I wouldn’t be truly fulfilled until I saw it come to pass. That all my efforts to find true joy in the meantime would be for nothing, because this season of life wouldn’t come ’till who knows when. Now, as most of you know, I’m pretty young. I’m still a teenager actually, and I just want to clarify that under no circumstances am I planning on starting a family right now. Jesus help me Lord, NO!

BUT, as I was in class, hearing bits and pieces of what the teacher was saying (sorry NGI interns it was one of those days), while at the same time having all these thoughts flood my mind, an almost audible voice spoke to me and said “Don’t skip it”. Along with these words came a clear visual of someone watching a movie for the first time, and skipping several scenes to get to the “good part”, meaning the end, so they can see how everything eventually turns out. Now, as I did relate to the visual (because I love watching movies) at the same time, it didn’t make any sense to me, because I’ve NEVER actually watched a movie for the first time and skipped through it just to see how it ends. The idea of skipping character developments, plot twists and the overall story line seems crazy to me, and I can only hope that no one actually does this! (hey listen if you’re that person and you skip through movies I don’t wanna watch movies with you)

But what if we did skip to the end of a movie we’d never seen before? How little would we know about the movie? Or what the characters had been through? We’d learn nothing at all about their lives. About their story. We’d have nothing to learn from or be inspired by. Because we didn’t have enough patience to watch it all the way to the end!

So then why do I as a Christian continue to struggle with wanting to skip through major scenes/seasons of my life? Why do I struggle so much with wanting to fast-forward to where I “really want to be”? Am I painting a picture that this one dream is far greater than where I am right now? Or any other dream I have? Am I making a habit out of this?
To be honest, I’m nowhere near ready to be a mother. Let alone a wife. I CAN’T skip the next “scene” because of my impatience or inability to see the bigger picture. It’s in the next scene that I even figure out HOW to be a good mother/wife. I’ve gotta see that there’s so much more that God wants to do in me right now, as well as in the seasons to come. And how that’s a GOOD thing! I don’t have to be sad about this great dream not coming tomorrow, because God’s doing something new in me today, that could lead to something in the next FIVE years that I never could have dreamed up!

Remember that through the waiting comes the character development. By being patient and taking the time to watch the next scene, we figure out the story. Our story. By waiting we see the bigger picture, and realize that maybe the best part of the movie isn’t the end, but everything the characters learned on the way there.

“Life’s not about the destination, but the journey”.
We all know this over-instagrammed but incredibly accurate and life changing quote.

So let’s apply it to our lives, and remember how great the journey really is. I can wait to get married, and I can wait to have kids. I can get excited about my life NOW, and start making plans to move forward with the other ideas and dreams God’s given me before that happens. So that means starting a blog. Dying my hair. Going through a gluten-free phase (currently still in that phase). Helping those in need in my city. Writing songs. The list goes on.

JUST DO IT ALL.

All we have is right now. The future’s not always guaranteed. But I know that we have the power to make our NOW pretty great. We have the power to control how we feel, and when we take hold of that, we ultimately change our destiny. When we start making little, but effective decisions everyday to keep a positive attitude, to live a life full of expectation, that’s when we truly start getting the best out of the life God’s given us.

I don’t want to skip ahead. I don’t want to miss the good stuff. I wanna give this life all I have. Right now. Tomorrow. When I’m at the mall. When I’m running an errand for my mom. Enjoy it. Don’t waste your time wishing you were somewhere else. Don’t miss out on what could be. Love your life RIGHT NOW. Just don’t skip it.