Category Archives: Contentment

what do i do when i don’t get the blessing?

blessing blog

I’ve been writing this one in my head for a few weeks, so it’s probably time to put it on internet paper.

With graduations and engagements and weddings and new seasons in general, I’ve seen a lot on social media about God being so good because people are so blessed.

I get really excited when people acknowledge that we serve and are known by a good, loving, gracious, merciful God who gives His children good things.
But I get pretty bummed out when we only acknowledge Him along with completing a degree, getting engaged, receiving a promotion, getting pregnant, starting a new relationship, get a new car…insert “good thing” here.

I believe those things are all good things, and again, it is of utmost importance to recognize that good gifts come from our good God. That, ultimately, we don’t earn or deserve what we have – it has all been given for us to steward and use for God’s glory.

But what happens when I don’t get the blessing?
Is God still good?

What happens when:
I fail a class and have to retake it, putting graduation off for another year…
My boyfriend breaks up with me because he’s just not feeling it anymore…
I receive a formal reprimand because of relational friction in the workplace…
I have miscarriage after miscarriage and just don’t understand why my body isn’t cooperating…
Both of my grandmas get cancer at the same time…
Friends that I thought would be by my side forever have now rejected me and I have no idea why…
My car gets totaled in a hail storm…

Is God still good?

Or have we become a people who condition His love for us, and dare I say, our love for Him, along with what He gives us?

Tonight I’m going to the church I grew up in to open up a youth rally with some worship time. I’m going to play a song that has these lyrics:

Though You slay me, yet I will praise You
Though You take from me, I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me, still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who’s all I need

I’m straight up nervous about this one because I know it will rock some worlds.

“Umm…nah…I’m not interested in that God.”
“If God is good, He wouldn’t take from me.”
“But doesn’t God just want us all to be happy and feel good all of the time?”

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Do you know what God’s Word says is perfect? God’s love & Jesus’ life.

Jesus is the perfect gift.
Jesus is the good gift.
Jesus is the blessing that none of us deserve but all of us can freely receive.

My blessing isn’t that I receive every material gift I’ve ever wanted and have no hardship in life.

My blessing is that the God of all creation sent His one and only Son to live a life that I cannot live – a life free from sin – die a death that I deserve to die because of my sin and rebellion against His perfection, and raise again on the third day so that I am now made spotless, whole, complete in Him.

I’d rather have that blessing than anything this world has to offer.

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it is well.

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I’ve been practicing some songs for my church’s upcoming Women’s Retreat. Not necessarily just to show off my snazzy vocal range (because I don’t really have one), but because I have the awesome privilege of leading a room full of ladies in worship.

Moments like these, I’m glad the Bible talks about making a joyful noise, not necessarily a beautiful one…

I digress.

One of the songs I’ve been playing over and over is It Is Well.

This song is ruining my life.

In a good way though.

Let me explain.

I get to the second verse of this song and my eyes start watering:

Though satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

(yes, I still use Old English)

But do you see the beauty here? Though times are gonna stink occasionally, and it may seem like the enemy is getting away with A LOT, Jesus still sees me. He has, and is, looking upon my helpless situation, and He gave His own blood to redeem me. No one took it from Him. He willingly bled on my behalf.

(Kinda reminds me of Dodgeball…“Nobody makes me bleed my own blood! Nobody!”)

Sorry. I’ve had a lot of coffee today.

And then, the third verse, where I’m lucky to make it through without my voice cracking multiple times:

My sin – oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

My sin, every last ounce of it, is nailed to the cross where the Savior of the world took my punishment. It is no longer mine to bear. I have freedom because the Lamb of God decided I was worth it.

Man. How can you not cry about that?

I’m not going to get in to anything else tonight, because I think this is enough. We have been redeemed. Our sin is nailed to the cross and we can stop beating ourselves up about it. Repent, draw near to Jesus, and know that He has regarded your estate and paid the price for your sins.

Rest secure in that tonight.

It truly is well with my soul.

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the badge of busyness

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Really hoping I spelled busyness correctly. I can never remember if it’s with an ‘i’ or a ‘y’…also, you don’t put ‘an’ in front of ‘y’, right? Even though it’s sometimes used as a vowel? English teachers, chime in as you feel necessary.

Also, just Googled it. I definitely spelled ‘busyness’ correctly.

Whew. I was worried.

ANYWAYS.

I’ll be the third one to admit that I can be a slave to my schedule. I prefer to make plans with people at minimum 3 days in advance. I do not do well with spontaneity. It makes me a little sweaty. I like to know (read: control) what I’m doing well in advance of when I’m doing it.

I’m working on it though. #babysteps

And along with that, for an introvert, I enjoy having a full calendar. Mainly, I think, so I can control my environment. Even if the thing that’s on my calendar is alone time.

Seriously.

I’ve scheduled alone time with myself before.

Often, I like to think that I’m back in my Brownie days with my vest on and everyone can see my little badges. And one that I like to flaunt quite frequently is my badge of busyness.

“So, long time no see! How have you been?”-person
“Oh man…ya know…busy.”-me

“Anything new happening in your life?”-another person
“Not really, just super busy all the time.”-me again

I want to move at a fast pace, filling my life with things and commitments, yet I struggle to slow down and be with Jesus.

Then I get confused and frustrated and hurt when I feel far from Him. I feel like God isn’t keeping up and that I need to pull His weight as well as mine. I don’t understand why He isn’t honoring all of the good things I’m doing by giving me what I want when I want them.

Then, I do slow down. I take the time to be with Him. I make myself busy with Jesus. And I see this in His Word:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…

2 Peter 3:9a

Hittin me with that truth stick.

The Lord is not slow like I think He is. His patience is for me.

It’s humorous to me how I think that I know better than God. That I think He just needs to get with the program and move at my pace. That He is just holding out on me because He feels like it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth is that God is still God, and God is still good. He is patient with a crabby little sinner like me. He gives goodness for the good of His people, to the glory of His name. He who has promised is faithful, and His promise will come to pass as He sees fit.

And you know what His promise is? Jesus. Redemption through the blood of His Son. Restoration with Him for eternity.

I can take my badge of busyness off – I can stop working so hard to control my circumstances and my feelings and my future and all other things – and rest in the security I have in Christ.

I can put on the badge of Christ and “let the peace of Christ rule in (my) heart” [Colossians 3:15], knowing that my busyness doesn’t save me. My calendar is not my savior. My good deeds do not redeem me.

Christ redeems me, and that’s the only badge I need on my vest.

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fulfilled. kinda.

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I went to Chicago this past weekend and had some of the most delicious barbecue I’ve had in a llllloooooonnnnnnggggggg time. Growing up as my father’s daughter, that’s saying something, because that man can GRILL. Also, growing up in the MidWest, barbecue is a big deal.

I ate a pork plate with fries and bread and coleslaw alongside my friend and was filled to the brim. Metaphorically, that is. I don’t really have a brim, since I’m a human.

Anyways.

I was stuffed. I was satisfied. Fulfilled.

Then I woke up the next day.

I was hungry all over again. My fulfillment had subsided. I was pretty empty as far as calories go.

And my stomach is not the only thing that happens to.

So many times I am fulfilled by a coffee date with a friend, dinner out with the ladies, a trip to my favorite city, a tweet from one of my favorite actresses (it should be noted that I’m still on an adrenaline high from that, and yes, that was a shameless plug for myself).

I am on a mountaintop of emotion, so full of joy and happiness and all the good things one can feel.

I am completely satisfied by the circumstances of my life.

And then I wake up the next day.
Or I have a minor argument with a friend.
Or I see an ex and am immediately reminded that my life is not what I thought it would be by age 26.

My fulfillment is oh so temporary, and it is so easily replaced by emptiness when I allow external people/places/things to be the source of my satisfaction.

I’m like the people Jesus talks about in John 4 that drink of water that will cause me to thirst again. Instead of drinking of the water that Jesus gives me – the water that will become in me a spring of water, welling up to eternal life. (John 4:13-14)

Instead of seeking a deep drink from the Living Water that is Jesus, I am content with sipping from dry wells that the world has to offer.

And I wonder why I’m on such an emotional rollercoaster 83% of the time.

My head and my heart know so well that nothing of this world can satisfy in the deep way that Christ can. Yet, the things that we often seek for fulfillment are not bad things – relationships, food, shelter, work. The trouble is when those things become my god. When I rely on my friends to fulfill me, I am left empty, because guess what, they are just a bunch of sinners too. When I go to food for satisfaction, I end up gluttonous and desiring the created thing over the Creator.

May my fulfillment come from Christ alone. May I be able to say along with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on each that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73: 25-26)

learning to dwell

dwell

For the past few years I’ve done this pretty cool (to me, at least) thing where I pick a word or theme of the year. One year it was discipline, last year it was #toshowingup, and this year it is “dwell.”

I think we can all agree that the only thing most of us resolve to do is not follow through on our New Year’s resolutions, so, in place of that, a friend introduced me to choosing a word/theme for the year.

I like the consistency of learning how to implement a theme over the course of the year. I enjoy the process way more than the outcome. AND it’s a lot less pressure than having to stop drinking coffee and go to the gym 8 days a week starting January 1.

So here we are, 2016, and I’m going to dwell.

I want to learn what it means to be in the present with God and myself.

I want to stop being anxious over uncontrollable circumstances.

I want to know deep in my soul that my identity and value are unshakable in Christ.

I want to dwell in the presence of my Maker, resting in His goodness alone.

Merriam-Webster defines dwell as a verb that means, “to remain for a time.”

It is active, yet it is passive. You have to make the choice to remain somewhere.

It’s easy for me to talk about rest, and dwelling, and sitting, and remaining. It’s a WHOLE ‘NOTHER BALL GAME for me to actually do it for a time.

I’m decent at dwelling for a day or so, when it’s convenient for me. But this year, this go ’round, I want to dwell forever. I want the time to not have a frame – I want to be with Jesus and remain in Him.

I doubt I’ll have this whole dwelling thing figured out by 2017. If I do, maybe you could take me out for queso and I’ll tell you all the secret things.

But I am excited about what 2017 will look like because I will have dwelt with the Savior. I will continue to learn more and more every day what it means to have my identity anchored in the Unchangeable One.

This year will be one for the books (blogs) and I’m excited to share it with you.

*what is God calling you to in this coming year? Is there a theme or word you can own for 2016?

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unquenchable thirst

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I’ve been sitting in my chair in this coffee shop for a solid ten minutes trying to figure out a clever line to open this blog with…

I was also eating a breakfast burrito, so I’m not that mad about it.

But for serious.

I often think that I have to be this quick-witted, funny person 24/7, and when I’m not I get a little insecure. When I don’t live up to the expectations I believe people place on me, I feel like a failure and I’m often concerned that people won’t want to be around me. Dramatic? Yes. Honest? Also, yes.

I thirst for approval. I long to be known. I desire deep satisfaction.

And I don’t think I’m the only one.

This past weekend I was reading John 4, the story of Jesus and the Woman of Samaria. This is a story I’ve heard 1.7 billion times (where my grew-up-in-the-church kids at?!), but I saw this bit of Scripture in a new light this time around.

Jesus approaches this woman who was the town outcast, had multiple husbands, and was such a social pariah she had to go draw water when no one else was around.

In reading this story I became empathetic toward the woman. She was searching for something.

Approval.
Being known.
Satisfaction.

She=me.

And what does Jesus say to her?

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give will never be thirsty again (John 4:14)

And the woman says, “Sir, give me this water…”

I picture her, with her hands cupped, kneeling next to Jesus, begging for Him to give her a sip of the one thing she thinks will complete her, will fix her.

Now, I’m not sure she really got what he was saying. I’ll never know this side of heaven.

BUT, I do know that Jesus saw a woman thirsty for something only He can provide.

He sees me, thirsty and longing for something more, and offers the only thing that can truly, deeply, and fully satisfy.

He offers Himself.

He doesn’t make me draw from the well before He redeems me.

He redeems me, and my well runs even deeper.

I pray I am never over that truth. That there is a God who left His throne in heaven to dwell among His people in order to save them and place them back in to right relationship with Him…man…that’s a God I hope I never get over.

That’s a God I hope I never stop thirsting for.

 

*there’s no clever SNL skit about thirst (at least not one I want to put the effort in to finding right now), so instead, enjoy one of my all-time favorite Amy Poehler characters – Kaitlin!

entering rest

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I like naps. A lot. Really, I probably love them. Snuggling up in a blanket on my bed while it’s still sunny is one of my favorite things to do.

Physically resting is definitely a norm in my life. Spiritually & mentally resting, however, is a different story.

If letting my mind run wild with different scenarios, worries, anxieties, etc. were an Olympic event, I would most likely win gold.

I specifically let my mind keep busy thinking about my future –

“will I get married?”
“what does this text mean?”
“why doesn’t he call?”
“he liked this picture, so we’re engaged, right?”

It goes on and on and never ceases. The fight within my mind over my thoughts is exhausting.

I’ve been reading through the book of Hebrews and using a study from shereadstruth.com. Today’s passage was about true Sabbath rest. A rest that belongs to the people of God. Not one that we have to work for, or even wait on – it already belongs to us.

One line on the blog that hit me in the gut was:

(God) has already assigned you more worth than you could ever create or accumulate. This is the good news today, on Sunday morning and for the rest of forever.

Did you see that? Because of the worth that the Creator of the Universe has already given me, I don’t have to worry about my future. I don’t have to read in to that text message that may or may not mean some dude likes me. I don’t have to exhaust myself with the cares of this world. I can rest, secure and hopeful, in my Savior’s loving arms – knowing that my future is in the hands of Jesus, the One that lived the perfect life, died the death that I deserve, and rose again on the third day so that I am now redeemed.

That’s the rest that belongs to us. We are free from work, worry, being consumed with things that are out of our control. We get to enter in to deep, restorative, and real rest that only Christ can provide.

Do I want marriage? Yes.
But missing Jesus because I chase after a boy isn’t worth it. Not for one second.
I want Jesus, and His rest, more.

Check out Bedelia’s sleepover & her best friend/mom here!

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misplaced contentment

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Warning: this blog will not fix your contentment issues.

The following is an actual conversation that actually occurred between actual people. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

“I think I’m going to get my tragus pierced this weekend.” – Krayla

“Isn’t that kinda dangerous? Just go skydiving instead.” – Whitley

“….I think I’m just bored…” – Krayla

“Mmmhhmmm…contentment.” – Whitley

Fine, I’ll confess. Krayla is really Kayla. It’s me. I was the one that wanted (wants) to get my ear pierced again. And I really think it is because I’m bored. I think it’ll look cool and people will think I’m pretty hardcore.

But really, deep down, I truly do have a contentment issue. My friend is right – I’m not content with my life so I want to change it. I talk about tattoos, or piercings, or a new coat/shoes, a different (insert thing here).

I often think I’m just stuck in a rut of some sorts, so I need to do something exciting to amp up my life. I miss contentment in Christ and work to fill it with new, shinier things.

And, quite honestly, I think the church (at large) has done a poor job at helping singles (men & women) figure out what contentment in Christ really looks like.

Side note: I also think contentment in Christ is an issue that married people struggle with as well, but since I’m not married I cannot speak to that.

I often find myself living this life of singleness, treating it as if it is only a season. I want to pass through it as quickly as possible and get the golden goose egg of marriage delivered on my front door PRONTO!

I become discontent with my life – thinking that God is holding out on me, or doesn’t really want me to experience true joy – because I still file my taxes under a single status.

I misplace my joy in guys, and am never satisfied. I rely on my relationship status for contentment, and am always left disappointed. I lean in hard to the perception that marriage will ultimately fulfill me and give me worth, and when that wall crumbles I’m left face first on the ground.

And I say the church at large has done a poor job in helping me (and others) figure this sin issue out because that’s the realm we play in to. We place marriage on this really high pedestal and leave those of us that can’t climb up that high out. When couples have babies, we promote them to sainthood – especially if they make the ‘right’ choices regarding feeding & waste disposal.

What we don’t do a good job at is teaching and encouraging one another to rely on Jesus regardless of season or status. We don’t do a good job at listening to Paul and trust that we too can experience this truth deeply when he says, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Philippians 4:11)

I don’t have any answers, or really any good input when it comes to living a content life. I’ve obviously got a lot to learn in this area. But I do have a challenge: I’m going to stop referring to my singleness as a season to just pass through, I’m going to stop relying on the next best thing to satisfy me, and I’m going to continue to run, hard, to Jesus when I starting thinking about getting my ear pierced again.

But maybe I will get my ear pierced. Who knows.

**watch Sue get really amped up here**

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realizing your basically just like an ancient tribe

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(just me waving ‘Hi’ from a corn field. photo creds to the ever-lovely H Mae.)

I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus lately. It’s taking me a while to get through the book, but in a weird way, I’m glad I wasn’t so disciplined and rigid about getting through it in a specific time frame. (Read: I just didn’t read it as regularly as a good Christian would have…) [also, please note sarcasm when you read “good Christian would have…”] {okay, I think I’m done with parentheses/brackets now}

Also, I just saw a motorcyclist drive past Starbucks with a GoPro on his helmet. $3 says he pulls some street trix tonight.

I get distracted easily.

Back to Exodus.

So, I’m reading through and early on in the book I’m just totally blow away by God showing up with His people. I can consistently see Yahweh coming to His people, actively working to redeem them. And I was always like, “YES! I KNOW this God! I see and feel His active redemption in my life too!”

Then I get to the part(s) of the book where the people of Israel decide it’s a good idea to open their mouths. And grumble. And question God. And sorta roll their eyes at Him and complain about dumb stuff.

Specifically in chapter 15 they are complaining about some bitter water. I can sense some smart mouth (probably named Kayla) saying, “Well, what are we gonna do now? What are we supposed to drink?!”

I read that and immediately wrote down, “The people of Israel didn’t give God time to work. They immediately began grumbling.”

Then again, in chapter 17, the issue of water comes up again! Geez Israel, stop being so thirsty!!

Anyways, they move from the wilderness and “there was no water for the people to drink.” They go before Moses and complain, again, and he goes before the Lord on their behalf, again, and God (I imagine) gives Moses a slight eyebrow raise and says, “Watch this…”

God literally tells Moses to hit this random rock with his staff & water will pour out of it. And it does. Water flows from a ROCK. Because, God.

What gets me about this passage though, is what comes in verse 7:

He called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Here’s what Kayla’s scribblings say about this: It’s so funny/amusing to me when Israel doubts God’s presence or goodness during their time of physical need – YET, I am just like that. If I want/desire something physical, material, and God doesn’t give it to me in my time frame, I ask with Israel, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Hi, I’m Kayla, and I am just like ancient Israel.

Israel experienced the plagues in Egypt, walked THROUGH THE RED SEA on DRY GROUND, was led through the wilderness by a pillar of fire and a cloud of smoke…AND THEY STILL QUESTIONED GOD’S GOODNESS.

Kayla has experienced God’s faithfulness in her life in MULTIPLE ways, YET STILL DOUBTS GOD’S GOODNESS!

It is easy to forget how truly good God is when things aren’t going our way – in relationships, jobs, friendships, financially, *insert scenario here*.

I’m not going to pretend like I never get ticked with God. In fact, He and I had a really long conversation last weekend about how mad I was at Him. But you know what? He is still good. He still lovingly draws me in and says, “I know. I know it’s hard for you right now. I know your heart hurts. But just wait until the morning. Wait until you can see what I see.”

I’m holding on to that right now. I may be frustrated. I may be hurt. But I’m holding on to a God who sees the promised land before I do and knows that I will get there in due time.

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heaven came down

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I’ve had this 1961 song stuck in between my ears all day. Every time my mind has taken a little break from work, these words have popped into my head:

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul (filled my soul), when at the cross the Savior made me whole (made me whole); my sins were washed away and my night was turned to day – heaven came down and glory filled my soul (filled my soul)

I can’t remember the church I grew up in going more than 2 months TOPS without singing that song. And yes, my brain sang the bass parts in the parenthesis as well.

Today I think the significance really hit me.

For the past month or so I’ve found great peace in God coming down to His people. We just finished the Christmas season and celebrated Jesus coming to dwell with and save His people. I’ve been reading in Exodus where God comes to Moses and rescues Israel. I’m reminded of Isaiah when God comes to him in a vision.

Heaven came down.

And then I think of me. I think of how I treat the Almighty as if it’s His privilege to come to me. I act as if I’m in control. I play the part of god while leaving Him in the shadows when I may need Him out of convenience.

BUT. Heaven came down.

And glory filled my soul.

At the cross the Savior made me whole. He made me whole.

It’s so easy to search for wholeness, satisfaction, and love in things other than Jesus. Heck, I even search for it in ‘good’ things – friends, family, coffee. But I never find it. Nothing comes to me, but Jesus. Nothing fills my soul, but Jesus.

Last week I wrote about showing up, and today I’m writing about how God has shown up, and continues to do so, by meeting us where we are, as we are, and loving us for who we are regardless.

My sins were washed away, and praise God, my night was turned to day. Because heaven came down.

*watch this clip of Oprah/Maya giving out presents to the audience…because if we really got God’s love, we might react like this…

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