Category Archives: Identity

2017 – the year of joy

2017 - joy

A few years ago instead of making a bunch of resolutions at the beginning of a new year, I resolved to instead choose a word representing my desire for what the year could bring or what I hope God would specifically shape in my heart over a 365 day period.

2016 was the year of dwelling.
2017 was the year of joy.

In many ways 2017 has sucked.*

Amy Poehler writes in her book, Yes, Please, “Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading up that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”

Now, obviously, I have never been divorced. Or married.
But in a lot of ways, 2017 was a year of loading up the blanket, tossing it in the air, and seeing what would happen when things landed.

Friendships shifted in ways I didn’t expect.
I experienced spiritual warfare in the most personal, physical way that I have never experienced before.
The hope of a budding relationship and a life of non-singleness didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.

And that’s just, like, 17% of the past year.

But…

God didn’t leave me.

While some friendships shifted away, others moved even closer and grew even deeper.
In the midst of the battlefield, Jesus took up His sword and fought on my behalf.
God showed me, yet again, that He alone is the true lover of my whole self.

God didn’t leave me without.

And that’s why it truly was the year of joy.

On the outside looking in, it probably wouldn’t be labeled a joyful year.

But on the inside, I know in the core of who I am, that joy is not defined by my circumstances.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  – James 1:2-4

(Jesus speaking, after talking about abiding in Him) These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. – John 15:11

You see, my joy – by God’s grace – is Him. It is a deep, abiding truth that He will never leave me or forsake me. That in Christ, I am loved and known and treasured, and in turn can love and know and treasure the One who has come to set the captive free.

I don’t think my journey with joy is over – but I do think that in the midst of all the tossing, this is what has landed: the joy of the Lord is my strength.

 

 

*but also, my baby sister got married and is now going to also have a baby of her own, SO THAT’S REALLY COOL!

wedding edit.jpeg

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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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dwelling in 2016

dwelling-in-2016

Well my friends, we have reached day 366 of the year 2016. At least that’s what my big ole wall calendar tells me. I don’t want to do any research beyond that, so if I’m wrong, just let me be wrong. Leap year, right?

Anyways.

For the past few years, rather than making a New Year’s resolution, I’ve chosen a word or theme for the coming year – what I hope to learn, settle in to, or be intentional about in the days ahead. For 2016, that word was dwell.

According to the people who make up meanings for words, dwell means: to live or continue in a given condition or state; to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing.

As I entered in to 2016, I wanted to figure out what dwelling with God, myself, and others could look like. To live or continue in a state of rejoicing or mourning with those I care about. To linger over what the Lord was doing in my life, and not freak the heck out about it. To ponder anew what the Almighty can do if I just sit and continue with Him.

I wanted to ask, is this a relationship worth me dwelling in? Is open, honest life with this person a mutual calling to good, or one-sided exploitation that does both of us harm?

And ultimately, I wanted to sit in this question: If all I ever do is dwell with the One who came to dwell with us – if Jesus is all I ever get – is that enough?

You know how when they say if you pray for patience, be ready to experience opportunities to practice patience? Well, same principle applies.

2016 was full of opportunities to let life get the best of me. To be anxious and afraid and feel a lot of crap that the enemy wanted to use against me. Sometimes dwell was the last thing I wanted to do – unless it was dwelling in my bedroom, under the covers, with my eyelids shut tight.

Many times I felt a stirring in my heart/soul/insides/whatever that made me restless, itchy, anxious, and afraid. Insecurities I thought had been put to bed came bubbling back up. The opposite of dwelling seemed like the easier choice so often in the past 365 days.

But the most amazing thing happened.
I stuck around.
I continued in the state I was given.

And God didn’t leave me.
My friends didn’t leave me.
I was able to dwell in the midst of some disruptive crapitty-crap and I am coming out the other side still alive.

There are marked moments of God showing up, helping me to dwell and to settle in to life, disrupted, but not shaken by the world around me.
He allowed for words to be spoken to me that applied an instant salve on my heart.
He illuminated His mercy for me in new ways that left me speechless.
He dwelled with me throughout the entire time, not leaving me on the rickety boat alone, but stuck around, hoisting the sails, bailing water that came in over the sides, making sure that if nothing else, we stayed afloat.

Even though today is the last day of the year and most resolutions are resolved, I think this whole dwell thing has really only begun. Today – right now – Jesus is enough. Other days, honestly, it doesn’t seem like He is. But the best part about dwelling with Him is that, even when I tell Him that I don’t believe He’s enough, He still sticks around.

I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings – the joy and hope in what God is up to, the depth of relationship He will continue to grow, and the promise He is the God that will never leave or forsake us growing more and more true in my life.

Now, I need to go pack my gold sparkly heels (that I will have officially worn for the 3rd time in 4 years after tonight). I’ve got a wedding to go to and a rug to cut.

Smith out.

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bad for my soul

bad for my soul

This one’s been stewing in my head for a couple weeks.

I was in a coffee shop not long ago shootin the breeze with a friend, like ya do, and I mentioned a movie that I had recently seen. It was just bad. Just a bad movie. I saw things and heard phrases that shouldn’t have been exposed to my eyes and brain.

And, hear me, I’m not a hyper-conservative viewer of entertainment. I watch movies that have cuss words and dark story lines and are not necessarily something I would take my Grandma to see.

But this one was just bad. It exposed me to things my soul just didn’t need to be exposed to – reintroduced my brain to sin patterns that God had healed me from years ago, and in an instant produced unhealthy guilt and shame that I hadn’t felt in quite a while.

As I said to my friend, “oooohhhh DON’T see that! It was NOT good!” she responded with, “But did you think it would be?”

My honest answer – no. No I did not. I knew it would be bad.
My answer to my friend – “Well…I can handle quite a bit…I thought I could handle it…I’m usually able to deal with that kind of stuff…”

What a load of crap.

I was justifying my indulgence in a coping mechanism – to escape, to laugh, to pretend like I am immune to the tactics of the enemy.

This past week, another friend and I were talking about how easy it is to have our minds just flat out messed with. She can look at a post of someone selling their house on Facebook and immediately be thrown into insecurities of never being able to afford something like that, and not having the house she’s always wanted that has the carriage house her blogger friend can live in, and not being able to live in a good school district, and basically screwing up her children-that-she-doesn’t-have-yet’s lives because she can only afford half of what her friend is asking for their house.

I can look at a friend’s family photos on Facebook and cry because I don’t have what is so perfectly portrayed on the computer screen.
I can browse Pinterest for wedding ideas, planning the perfect day for my to-be husband and I, and then wonder why I’m struggling with loneliness and being single.

I think sometimes we like to think that our minds are completely fine and protected and NOTHING CAN GET IN HERE BECAUSE JESUS. But I’m coming to find more and more that while yes, God does protect us, I think He also desires for us to desire good things. When I know something will not be good for my soul, I don’t need to watch it. When I know Instagram will make me doubt God’s goodness, I need to stay off of it. If I know before I even start it, that the thing I’m getting ready to watch/read/do/experience will push me farther from Christ, I need to flee from it.

I’m glad I have people around me that ask, “But did you think it would be?”
Because that pushes me to think – to think about what I’m exposing my soul to. To think about honoring who I am and Who Jesus is with what I put into my brain and body.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

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why wait until Monday?

why wait

Have you ever heard the phrase, “I’ll start on Monday.”
Or decided to take on a new lifestyle habit (diet, exercise, etc.) and used that phrase yourself?

Just me?

Okay. Well. I’ll just talk to myself then.

I’ve been undisciplined in writing lately. I feel uninspired and dull and like I have nothing to say. And that’s not true. I have things to say, I’m just nervous about saying them. Nervous about revealing just a little too much and pushing people away. Nervous about saying something offensive and never recovering a relationship from it.

The enemy has been, quite frankly, pissing me off lately. So I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to pull out my sword and start cutting him down.

Starting tomorrow (not Monday) I’m going to read and write my way through the Psalms. The Psalms are my favorite (hhaaaayyy emotions!!) and I haven’t read through them in a while. And I want to do that in this space, with you.

I don’t know if I’m going to get through all 150 without missing a beat, but I do know that it’s going to be a regular, daily practice for me. And doing it here will keep me accountable. So I’m giving you that permission. Give me a big, virtual smack in the face if you have to!

This is me saying, why wait until Monday? Thursday is a good day to start something too.

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