the girl for the job

Hi friends! I know it’s been a bit quiet around here over the summer and the past months. And rather than just pick up where I left off and pretend like it never happened – which trust me, I kind of wanted to do – I feel compelled to share with you why.

I’ve been in a confusing spot when it comes to this blog. It’s been on my mind consistently – whether I’m thinking of ideas for posts, or I’m just thinking about how I haven’t produced much for it. It’s something I truly want to be investing in. And yet, I haven’t been making time for it.

One reason why comes down to distraction. The biggest culprits of time fillers in my life lately are scrolling on my phone or binge watching Survivor, making my schedule feel deceptively more “busy” than it actually is.

A similar reason why comes down to procrastination. Putting it off until the time feels right. Until I’m in the mood. Until everything else on my never ending to-do list is done first so that all of my distractions are diminished. Until I have more time and more focus.

But truthfully, what it really comes down to is fear.

What if no one reads what I write? I put so much thought and attention into what I put on here, so if no one really engages with what I share, that can be really disappointing.

What if people do read it and don’t like it? All the more disappointing.

What if I’m a fool for thinking that I have anything original or unique to share?

What if people think I’m being “extra” for being a blogger? I mean, I already feel silly enough mentioning to someone that I have a blog. Extra is one of the last things I want to be.

Or what if it people do read it? What if what I share from my heart and about my life is put out there and complete strangers know too much? What if I don’t set good enough boundaries and I find myself too vulnerable? I mean, the internet is a scary place these days.

And what if I make it about me? I know the Lord has called me to write for this blog, but what if instead of Him getting the glory, I miss the point and become a distraction from the gospel?

And the biggest whopper of them all – the one that encompasses them all – what if I fail?

Whether those “what ifs” are reasonable or not, they have been real thoughts and fears in my mind. They are thoughts and fears that I have had to wrestle with. They are still thoughts and fears that I have to fight with.

My general fear of failure came to light in my life in big ways last year, but it has shape-shifted a bit when it comes to blogging. As strange as it feels sometimes, I truly believe this blog is something God has called me to. I don’t think it’s coincidental that after all these years, whether I have been posting or not, that this space is regularly on my mind. Through many prayers about it, I have felt nothing but affirmation that this is an open door God has placed before me. It feels like a natural way for me to utilize some of my God given gifts. It’s felt like that since the conception of this space.

With that in mind, this blog is not something I want to take lightly. I don’t want to treat it passively, but very intentionally. If it’s meant to be for the glory of God, then I want to do it well (a perspective that I hope one day reflects all capacities of my life). But with that perspective I unintentionally put pressure on myself when I rely on my own strength, and it gives way to my fear of doing it wrong, because I feel like there’s more on the line.

Towards the end of the summer, amidst wrestling with some of these lingering fears, I joined in on the launch team for Jess Connolly‘s latest book “You Are The Girl For The Job.” If you are unfamiliar with Jess, she is one of my favorite authors and truth speakers (I highly recommend following her on instagram for a daily dose of truth and encouragement). But I digress…To be honest, I was excited for this book simply because it was written by Jess, and I liked what I saw of the build up for what it was about, but I didn’t realize just how much it was for me. It ended up exposing some of these fears I had been facing, and it spoke straight to them – or against them, I should say. It unveiled a lot of deep rooted reasons I was holding myself back from truly running on mission for Jesus, and it equipped and spurred me on to choose obedience in all capacities of life, INCLUDING this blog, so I could glorify God, benefit others, and in the process experience the Lord’s abundance.

I could share quote after quote from this book (trust me, I have literally half of the pages underlined), but in correlation with what I’m sharing here, this was one excerpt that literally took my breath away and almost left me in tears:

“I need the gentle reminder that I can’t fail God because He never put me on a pedestal. Not once has God gotten our relationship confused and expected me to be the perfect one. Not once has God put pressure on me to produce something worthy of His affection. Not once in my entire existence has He forgotten that I am the workmanship and He is the creator. I often forget that, but He never does…Jesus cannot be disappointed by your failure, because (A) He is all-knowing and chose you anyhow, seeing all your wins and all your losses, and (B) He has never put pressure on you to produce. You are HIS workmanship, and the rest is worship.”

These words cut me to my core in the most disarming and freeing ways. I think because they speak against so many of my natural thought processes (I’m a 1 on the enneagram if that helps explain anything). I’m still working to let these words, and so many others from YATGFTJ, change me, and a step in that for me is through choosing obedience when it comes to this blog.

I’m fighting to believe that this is something the Lord has called me to and equipped me for. And because that belief has carried on from the day I started thinking about starting a blog, I’m fighting to believe that He has abundance in store through it. The truth is, I’m doing it wrong if I don’t even try. God isn’t going to be glorified by this blog if I sit back and shirk away from an opportunity He has given to me specifically. He will certainly go on and continue to be glorified in other ways, but then I miss out on the abundance I could experience by joining in.

I’m tired of missing out. I’m tired of having fun ideas to post about and letting too much time pass and it’s no longer relevant. I’m tired of getting excited about sharing something the Lord’s put on my heart and talking myself out of doing so. I’m tired of thinking, and not doing.

So I’m stepping out. Stepping out from the fear because I won’t let it be king anymore, and instead stepping out in faith, because if the Lord has called me to this, then whom (or what) shall I fear? Stepping out because I am the girl for the job. There will certainly be failure and setbacks and flops along the way, but “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

I’ll leave you all with this, in case you need the encouragement to fight your own fears as well:

“Let’s…not be limited by what might come our way. Let’s be…defined by action and activated faith, trusting God and His Word over how things look, how we feel, or what we fear.” -Jess Connolly

Until next time,

P.S. I cannot recommend You Are The Girl For The Job enough for you ladies. You can find out more about the book and order a copy for yourself here.

weakness, not perfection

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I have a hard time with vulnerability. Like, real vulnerability. The kind of vulnerability that sheds light on my deepest weaknesses, heaviest burdens, and darkest sins. It takes the right time, place, and person for me to really open up about those things, and even when I do it’s likely weeks, months, or maybe years, after I’ve already been dealing with the weight of it.

You see, somewhere along the line I started to believe the perception that a mature Christian should be able to get through the tough stuff – that someone who is following Jesus shouldn’t be so easily tripped up by the little things. I believe this lie that I should be able to handle things on my own. Most of the things I have dealt with, or do deal with, in life do not seem that big compared to the people I know (& don’t know) that go through so much hardship and struggle, so much pain and heartbreak, so much heaviness. And so I don’t want to burden people with the things that I’m facing.

At the root of it, my natural tendencies towards perfectionism lead me to believe that as a Christian I’m supposed to be all put together. I’m supposed to live a life unlike those of this world. I’m supposed to live a life redeemed by Jesus and so I should show how I rise above it. But a problem enters in when I don’t have it all put together. When I’m hurting or feeling weak. When I’m dealing with my own sins. And I’m too prideful to ask for help. Because then I hold it all in. And it piles up and entangles. And then I can’t even make sense of it when it does comes bursting out. So my persona of perfection is shattered, and I’m left feeling broken and confused.

I wrote about all of this in my journal back when we first arrived to North Dakota in October. I was flipping through the other night and re-read the words that I wrote, and they still resonate. I added some additional thoughts in the margins, and out of nowhere I was reminded of the concept that God is made perfect in my weakness. So I opened my Bible and found the Scripture that went along with this. This is what I read:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecution, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]

This is Paul speaking to the Corinthians in response to some people within their community that were boasting of their accomplishments, their heritage, and their experiences. Paul was so agitated that the only way he knew to get through to the people who were hearing these things was to boast back. So he told of the hardship he has faced while following Jesus. Then he started to speak of this heavenly vision or experience (he said himself he’s not sure what it was) that he had. But he stopped himself and explained that he was not allowed to share the details of it so that no one may think more of him. And a thorn was put in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. He pleaded with God to remove it three times, and God’s response was what I read in verse 9. And Paul went on to explain his understanding in verse 10. [You can check out the entire context in 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10]. I dug deeper into these words and looked into our study bible and found this explanation:

“Paul was not allowed to speak about his heavenly revelations, but he quotes Christ’s declaration to underscore that his earthy weaknesses (not his revelations) would be the platform for perfecting and demonstrating the Lord’s power.”

So I began to think about if I don’t boast of my weaknesses, how will people know my need for Jesus? And if I don’t boast of my weaknesses, how will people know God’s grace in my life? If I don’t speak of the things that are messy and hard, people won’t know God’s transformative work in my life. They will only see that I’m put together and maybe that I’m a “good person.” And He is therefore robbed of that glory that He deserves.

If we boast of ourselves, we ask for eyes to be on us. If I emphasize all that I have done, I’m not pointing to Jesus, I’m pointing to myself. And in comparison to Jesus, who the heck cares what I do? I am nothing without Christ. I accomplish nothing of worth apart from Jesus. My greatest triumphs in this world are meaningless and worthless unless they give complete glory to God. My grades in school, my past accomplishments in sports, the job that I have, the amount of my salary, the size of my house, the quality of things that I own, the health of my marriage, the car that I drive, the number that shows up on the scale – none of it means anything a part from Jesus. There’s a reason God never really permitted for me to be number one at anything. Yes, I’ve finished at the top of the line up in many things, but never quite first place. And I understand why now. If I had done so, I would find all the more reason to boast in myself. Any bit of seniority I’ve ever had has gone to my head. And it has ultimately seeped through the fingers of my grip. Leaving me empty, with nothing. Because the only thing worth holding onto is Jesus. When I do that, I might receive blessing alongside of it (or maybe not), but regardless both of my hands should be gripped on him. Both of my eyes should be focused on Him. The words that I speak should speak of Him. Because nothing else matters. Period.

Folks, I’m a mess. I make mistakes. A lot. I have so many flaws and quirks that still need refining. I choose to reach for things that steal my affections from Jesus. Daily. And all with the knowledge of the things that stir my affections for Him. I turn my back on Him even when I know that nothing is sweeter than throwing myself into His arms. I hurt people with my words. Sometimes to their face. Most times behind their backs. Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes unconsciously, but the scary part is many times on purpose. Only Jesus and I are aware of just how much, and how quickly, my mind and heart turn towards judging and criticizing others, but you can trust me when I say it’s a lot. I fight my natural tendencies towards pride on a daily basis. And then when I recognize the pride, I fight the tendencies to lean into insecurities. I hold grudges, especially against those that hurt me in ways that I hurt others. I expect perfection of others, but then don’t hold myself to the same standards. I’m a walking contradiction. At the root of it all, I’m terribly selfishness. Terribly, terribly selfish. Who I am on my own taints the picture of Jesus that I claim to represent. And to be honest guys, all of this doesn’t even begin to cover it.

So the moral of the story: I need Jesus. Desperately. And that is why I get chills and my eyes fill with tears every time I sing of his amazing grace in my life. I need that grace. Daily. Hourly. Minutely. And it is ONLY by that grace that I have been redeemed and washed cleaned. I’ve been purchased and my sins have been pardoned by the blood of Christ and His resurrection. It has nothing to do with who I am or what I have done. So I need to stop holding onto my idea of my own perfection and embrace my mess so that God may be glorified, not me. It has everything to do with Jesus. And so it is HIM that I praise. It is only in HIM that I can boast. And so I boast of Him today to you, in the hopes that you may know that He is capable of doing the same thing in you that He has done in me.

when God’s will doesn’t match up with my own

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This weekend Timehop reminded me through a Tweet I posted last year that we were embarking in a significant season of transition. “The walls are getting whiter,” said year-ago Kelly. I remember it well. I was preparing for our apartment to get packed up by movers. And my heart was experiencing all kinds of emotions. Let me give you the back story:

A year ago we received the news that our world was being flipped upside down faster than we expected. Our anticipated September move to California for Adam’s training was moved up to May. Not only that, but we would need to leave the day immediately following his graduation. Not only that, but we received word of this all just shy of a month before we would need to leave. Talk about overwhelming.

Now May was the initial time frame for our departure when we first found out what Adam’s job would be in the Air Force. At first we were prepared for it. We were excited to know that his career would start right off the bat as he finished up his undergrad years.

Then somewhere in-between it was pushed back to September. This was disappointing news for about a split second, but the more we thought about it, the better it seemed. September meant that Adam would have a brief period of rest after 4 years of late nights and hard work. September meant that we could spend the summer getting together with friends and family that we hadn’t seen much of throughout our newlywed year. September meant we had plenty of time for goodbyes before we turned the page. September meant that we had a few extra months of life in Carbondale. September meant we had a few extra months of time at Vine Church, where we were growing, learning, investing. September became perfect.

And then in typical Air Force fashion: a last minute change of plans. They pulled a major “just kidding” on us and pulled our leave date back to May. No more time off for Adam. No more time to see loved ones and say goodbye. No more time left with our friends or our church in Carbondale. April to May quickly became a whirlwind of a month. Adam had to scramble to accomplish all the minor tasks to prepare for going active duty – all while finishing up his final semester of college. I immediately had to put in my two weeks notice at work, and I scrambled to get my cases in as much order as possible so that I could transition everything off well for the caseworker that would take over them. We prepared our apartment to be packed up strategically for a cross country move. We planned our road trip across the states – being sure to make it to our new base in time, while still making time to see some landmarks along the way. We made space in the midst of the craziness to host some last minute visits from some family. We said goodbyes. Many goodbyes. Many difficult and rushed goodbyes. Adam graduated. He commissioned. And we were off. Just like that.

In a span of 4 years for Adam, and less than a year for me, Carbondale, Illinois became our home. There’s nothing overly extravagant about the college town on paper, but it has become a place that I will forever love to return to. It was the setting for the start of our life together. It was a town filled with so many unique adventures – most of which we didn’t have time to explore. It was where we could get the world’s greatest fruit slushes at QQ Bubble Tea and the best chicken fried rice at Thai Taste. It was a place where our faith grew exponentially in the midst of new challenges and lessons. And it felt like it was being ripped away from us far too quickly. Why did we have to leave so soon? Why couldn’t we stay just a little bit longer? It’s not like we were getting too comfortable or becoming stagnant there. We were growing. We were serving. We were being challenged. And yet the Air Force and God still bid us onward.

The ONLY thing that kept me moving forward, and resisting every urge to cling to it all and never let go, was that God assured me countless times that this was His will for us. He orchestrated it all. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t want it – at least not yet. But whatever the circumstances would bring – both good or bad – it was his desire for us to move onward. And therefore, that is what would be best for us. It’s a scary thing to admit complete trust in God. Never in my life did I have to cling so tightly to His promises to get me through. I tried, for His sake (and His glory) to point to Him in it all. To let people know that although my heart wanted something else, I was still going to follow God where He wanted me to go. Granted I probably repeated that so often to people because I was trying to convince myself more than I was trying to convince them. But He knows far more than I do. And He knows what I need to be sharpened and refined.

It’s been almost a year since we left. I remember the emotions of that time like it was yesterday. The fear, the disappointment, the excitement, the nervousness, the instability, the peace. It was nothing short of overwhelming. And I remember when the novelty of it all wore off. A short way into our time in California we were missing Illinois like crazy. It was much easier for me to focus on the hardship and the aches that my heart felt than it was for me to focus on God’s plan. Another move later and I still find myself doubting and asking “why?” I still question this even when my heart is far more at ease than it ever was in California. Although I still haven’t figured out the direct answer, God keeps bringing me back to the truth that this has all been a part of His will, and this is what is best for me, for us, and for His glory. And I learn to accept that (keyword: learn). I may have to continuously reaccept it, but it’s where I keep getting brought back to.

Because we are exactly where God wants us to be. We are in a place we begged and pleaded not to go to, and yet it has turned out to be far greater than we imagined. I still miss Carbondale. I still miss home. But it becomes much lighter when I give the weight of it all back to Jesus and rest in the assurance that we have purpose here. More likely than not, purpose far beyond ourselves.

As someone who trusts that God is who He says He is, I can confidently and firmly believe that His will is better than my own. Even if I don’t see it now, even if I don’t see it in 20 years, even if I don’t see it ever in this life, He knows far more about what is best for me in this life than I do. My vision most often is shortsighted and selfish. His vision is all knowing, all wise, & all encompassing. He sees beyond me because He knows it’s not about me. Therefore when He calls me onward to something (or tells me to stay put), I want to trust Him that despite what good or bad may come that it is best for my well being and for His glory. He never promised Christ followers an easy life. He never promised anyone an easy life for that matter. He never told us that we deserve great things – we came up with that mindset on our own. But what he has ensured us of is that in our sinful nature and natural rebellion of Him we deserve eternal punishment. But He took care of that on the cross and opened the door for us to have the undeserved and unearned opportunity to find freedom and grace in Him. And as I have come to accept that and believe that, I turn towards Him with a heart of repentance, respect, and love. In doing so I’ve accepted that we are all broken humans filled with flaws due to our sinful nature that need to be refined in the fire of the Holy Spirit. Refinement is a hard pressing process. It means difficult things are inevitable. But refinement can help rid us of the things in our hearts and lives that don’t belong. It can chip away at the dark pieces within us to make more room for Jesus.

And I don’t know about you, but I want more of Jesus. He’s the only thing that has ever been, and will ever be, worth giving up everything for. In doing so, that means giving up my own will, and following His – even when it doesn’t make sense, and especially when it doesn’t match up with my own.

from comparison to contentment

From Comparison to Contentment: a new blog series on The Pruim Life

Within the past two years I’ve been made aware of how much I’ve been stuck in a battle between pride and insecurity. Of vanity and a lack of self esteem. It’s a battle that I lose regardless of which side I land on. Because neither are where I want to be, or where I’m meant to be. I had a hard time grasping onto an understanding of how I can struggle with such opposing attributes. I couldn’t understand how to address my pride when on the other end of the spectrum I also needed to address my insecurities. And it wasn’t until more recently that I realized that my sin goes deeper. That it’s more complicated than simply being conceited or lacking confidence. It’s because of what I measure myself to. It’s because of a competition I’ve created between myself and the rest of the world. It’s because I compare everything I have, and everything I am, to everything else.

I’m not sure when it starts. When do we learn to try to “keep up with the Joneses”? Or do we even learn it? Is it a part of our human nature to look at what other people have in comparison to what we do? I sure feel that way sometimes. Maybe it’s just me. But maybe not.

Our appearance, our homes, our relationships, our experiences, our clothes, our stuff, our whole lives too often get rated in relation to someone else’s. Sometimes we “measure up” and have the better of the bunch. We’re above the rest. We’re encouraged because we’re coming out on top (Enter in the foothold for pride & vanity. Other times we miss the mark and what we have isn’t good enough. We feel like we’re losing (Enter in the foothold for insecurities and low self esteem).

From Comparison to Contentment: a new blog series on The Pruim Life

I don’t know about you, but comparison wrecks my heart. It either lessens the worth of me, my life, and all that I have been blessed with. Or it inflates my head into a pompous attitude. Either I’m not good enough, or I’m looking down on others because I let myself believe that what I’ve got is better. And both leave me frustrated, ugly, broken, and hurting. It’s the kind of broken that I’ve felt on those mornings when none of my clothes look good, my hair does everything that I don’t want it to, and my tired eyes can’t be covered up, so I’m led to tears because it feels like there’s no hope. Real tears, over what on the surface appears to be nonsense, but point to a much deeper heart matter that took me far too long to notice in my life.

The truth of the matter is this: I’m a sinner. We’re all sinners. Born into sin in a sinful world. Our natural human nature is flawed because of it. The human race fell short long ago. All because one devious snake convinced a woman to compare who she was with God. All because the first couple on the planet compared what they had with what they could have had. And as a result, thousands of years later, we’re still naturally inclined to look to others and want what they have. I find it too easy to look away from all of the ways that God has been at work in my life and poured out more blessings than I could ever deserve as I look to the ways that God is working in others’ lives and how he is pouring out blessings on them. But just because that may be our natural inclination, doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for us.

Ever feel like your sin takes you over sometimes? That you feel like you’re in an identity crisis because you know that you know that you know that there are lies being whispered into your ears, yet they still sink in to your heart and affect how you see yourself and the world. My tendency to compare has brought out the worst in me – even if others don’t see it. I can think of moments that I’ve found it hard to rejoice with loved ones over exciting opportunities, simply because my opportunities don’t seem as great in comparison. I put on a face of support, yet I’m envying what they have. I can think of moments that I’ve felt a [ugly] tweak of happiness at someone’s downfall, because that means I’m coming out ahead of them. But am I really? I can think of moments that I’ve looked past other people’s hurts because I’m too preoccupied with my own life – my own self. I can think of moments that I’ve talked down about someone just because I don’t like that something is happening for them that I wish was happening for me. And I can think of moments that I’ve been angry with the people that get the things that I want – just like a child that gets upset when someone else gets the toy that they wanted. Yes, I’m like an immature child. Because all of this is wrong, wrong, wrong. & I know it.

You see, it’s a downward spiral of selfishness, vanity, envy, doubt, insecurity, pride, gossip – things that Scripture tells us to turn away from. I can praise God for the Holy Spirit and His work in me. Because of Him, these attributes do not have to define me. Because of that, these attributes come up in flares, rather than consume my everyday. But those days that they do fill me up, I just need more and more Jesus to push them out.

What Jesus accomplished on the cross covered these sins of ours (as well as all the rest). His death and resurrection have given us the opportunity to conquer these sins; to put them to death and never have to look back. Becoming more aware of these sinful tendencies of mine has been hard. It’s been overwhelming and exhausting to address a tangled web of sins that have infected my life for longer than I even realize. Like weeds that have taken root and hurt to pull up. But it’s been so worth it to endure. Because Jesus is so worth it. And finding contentment in Him brings my heart, mind, and soul the peace, rest, and satisfaction it aches for. It’s the only kind of satisfaction I will ever need. And one day, I hope to be able to confidently say that without any inch of reservation. Without looking back to the things of this world that try to steal my joy. Because that’s what comparison does. It is the thief of joy. It steals my attention away from the God that sacrificed everything for my freedom. And typing that last sentence out just makes me shake my head at myself as that truth saturates itself into my heart. Because what could be better than that kind of all consuming love? I’ll give you a hint: nothing.

From Comparison to Contentment: a new blog series on The Pruim Life

These struggles, these thoughts, these heartaches have been at the core of my being for years. Sometimes without me even knowing it. But more recently, they have been the inspiration for me to make changes – to turn to Jesus and find true contentment and satisfaction in who He is. And as a result, my heart longs to share the truths I have learned, am learning, and have yet to learn, with you. Because I KNOW that I am not alone in this. I know that this internal sin is one that in some way, shape, or form, attempts to infect us all. This is the topic that I’ve been brainstorming about since October. This is the series that I’ve wanted to introduce to you all for so long, but have been seeking for the right words to say. I’m all kinds of excited/nervous/anxious to finally be getting it out in the open. I’ve almost felt unworthy of speaking on such topics, because in no way, shape, or form have I mastered this. But that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? That in Christ’s redemption of my heart I can share my struggles, my failures, my triumphs, my hurts, and my joys alongside of you all as we can come together to find true everlasting contentment in the One who gives us more than enough, and who is more than enough. So trust me when I say that there is so much more to come. This is only the beginning.

Will you join me in turning away from comparison, and running towards Jesus, and as a result, running towards contentment?

why the books are always better than the movies

Disclaimer: For those of you who have never read or seen Harry Potter, I apologize for how much I may potentially geek out about my favorite novel series ever, but I promise there is still something worth reading in this for you too. & for those of you who have watched the movies, but have never read the books, do yourself a favor & change that, because you will not regret it. Also, I am not so secretly judging you for your lack of commitment to the story. But alas, I’ll forgive you. 😉

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Towards the end of last year, I spent a couple month’s worth of my free time re-reading the Harry Potter series for the fourth time in my life. Yes, you read that right. I said fourth. Guys, it’s just that good. & let me tell you, it was just as entertaining as ever. I grew an even greater appreciation for the spectacular imagination and mind that J.K. Rowling has for not only coming up with such an entertaining and enthralling story, but for also planning it out and putting it together so cleverly.

Throughout my reading I also re-solidified my appreciation of how much better I think the books are than the movies. This probably applies to most books-turned-movies, but seeing as this one is near and dear to me, it’s easiest for me to paint this picture in light of the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Here’s the deal: when you choose the movie over the book, you’re passing up SO many details. & the details are what tie a story together. Some may be more of the background pieces of the puzzle, but they still fit into the big picture to make it is what it is. They string everything together to help it all make sense in the way the author intended. Movies oftentimes have to leave out those details to fit as much into a 2-3 hour time frame as they can. Movies oftentimes even have to tweak those details to make what they do include make sense (ergo changing the original story). Not only that, but they do it to make the movie more entertaining and appealing to the audiences. For example, prior to the Half Blood Prince movie coming out, I remember reading an article that said the movie would be emphasizing a lot on the romantic relationships within the story to draw towards a greater audience. This frustrated me then, and it still frustrates me now (you probably shouldn’t bring this up around me unless you want me to rant for at least ten minutes), because the movie makers missed the point. They focused on the wrong details. While there are relationships that spring up in the storyline, they are far from being the focal point of the story as a whole. Therefore, in order to focus on what they wanted, they left out some of the key pieces of the Harry Potter puzzle. When a book becomes a movie, there’s always the risk that what is produced will taint what has already been created to be a masterpiece.

When we settle for just the highlights in the movies, we can lose sight of the whole story – the true story. I’ve read the books four times now, and I’ve seen the movies more times than I can count. Yet as I was turning the pages, I still found myself going, “oh yeah, that’s how it happened” or “I don’t remember it being like that because the movie showed it a different way.”

And this got me to thinking…how often do I settle for the highlights rather than focus on the details? Especially in regards to the Gospel. That’s right. For all of the folks in the world that think Harry Potter is sacrilegious, I’m turning the tables on you and explaining how it led me to in-depth thoughts on my faith. I started to think about how often we share a watered down version of the Gospel to appeal to the type of person we’re sharing it with.

As we share the Gospel overtime in our words, and in our actions, are we really sharing the full life-giving story? Or are we only talking about the hot topic matters? Are we only discussing it in light of popular debates? Are we only talking about the feel good details that make us feel warm and fuzzy? Because while those are PART of the story, by themselves they are not the whole story. They are not the whole truth. We risk leaving out the harder to grasp and harder to swallow details that are a part of the whole story. We risk sacrificing some life giving details just to try to attract someone to the incomplete truth.

I write this not to condemn anyone for misrepresenting the Gospel. There are probably plenty of loopholes in my thinking here, but I believe they are thoughts worth thinking. Really I write this as a call to myself, and to anyone, to be more aware of the Good News that we are sharing. I want to aim to live my life in a way that represents the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. & while I’m going to fail at it because of my incomplete understanding of the complexity of the big picture, there is grace. While it’s going to be a lifelong process of getting it right, there is grace. But I at least want my intentions to be aimed at honoring God by honoring the truth of who He is.

Deep thoughts from a novel series, huh? This definitely wasn’t what I was expecting to get out of this entertaining read. Don’t get me wrong though, regardless of how much I will always love (and prefer) the books, the movies are still great pieces of work worth watching.

So what do you think? How do you feel about the book vs. movie debate? Do you think the Gospel is misrepresented when we withhold some of the details?

white as snow

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Happy Monday friends! And Happy Christmas week! I don’t think that’s actually a thing, but it baffles me that Christmas is three days away, so let’s just go with it.

I don’t know how the weather has been by you, but it’s no surprise that North Dakota in the wintertime brings about the cold. We’ve already have some days that have dipped into the negatives with the wind chill, although we’ve had some nice 20-30 degree weather these past couple weeks giving us a nice break before we head into the frigid cold expected in January (what up heat wave!). Our first big snowfall came just before Thanksgiving and it has yet to fully melt away because the temperatures haven’t gotten high enough to do so. Some days the snow that is trying to melt turns into ice that likes to hide in patches on the roads, and on our driveway (checking the mail is an activity that requires extreme caution).

On Saturday we experienced a new kind of cold weather occurrence for us: freezing fog. Did you know that was a thing? Because I sure didn’t. But the fog caused everything to be covered in a thick, snow-like frost like I’ve never seen before. The trees, the bushes, the fences, the grass. Everything looked like it had been sprinkled with powdered sugar. And it was GORGEOUS! I couldn’t help but head outside with Boone to take pictures as he tried to eat the frost off of the bushes (sometimes all I can do is laugh & shake my head at the pup).

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As difficult as snow and ice can make our lives sometimes (i.e. driving in it, and I don’t know about you, but I dread shoveling the driveway), it still brings such beauty to this world. The pure, white snow that falls ever so softly and gently from the sky and covers the ground like a soft blanket is a wonderful thing to see. (We can just pretend that the kind of snow that comes with violent winter storms doesn’t exist for the sake of appreciation). And the crystal clear ice that hangs from houses and trees is a whole other level of cool.

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Seeing snow and white everywhere, I can’t help but reflect on the purity that Jesus has provided me through his death on the cross. I think of how although I was covered in the filth of my sin, he wiped it all away. By His blood He washed me white as snow. How fitting that snow comes at the time of year that we commemorate and celebrate His entrance into this world as a humble baby. He came into this world at that exact moment in time not to condemn it, but to save it. To save you and me from the punishment we deserve for rebelling against the righteous God, by suffering a crucial and terrible death that we surely deserve, and conquering sin & death by rising again three days later, so that we may praise His holy name and glorify Him now, and in eternity. How marvelous! How wonderful! How beautiful!

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I hope that whatever you are facing this week – be it excitement, heartache, busyness, hardship, or joy – that you face it knowing that there is hope & peace in Jesus in the midst of it all. That He pursues you, and knows you, and loves you regardless of the grime and dirt that exists in your life. He is more than capable of washing it all away. He desires for you to come to Him so that He can cover you like the pure, white snow.

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Merry (early) Christmas friends! I hope for an exciting and safe week for you all!

God’s never-ceasing will

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Things are slowly falling into place for our new life here in Minot. Tomorrow we finally move into our new home. We won’t be receiving all of our belongings, or internet, until early December, but we will have our own space. The space that we can finally lean into and get a little comfortable for awhile (that is, as long as God doesn’t want to throw us another curve ball). Adam is phasing out of the in-processing stage of his work and is on the path to actually start his job responsibilities in these next couple weeks. We’ve found a church already that we believe is going to be a suitable place to grow in and invest in. We’re meeting new people and building new relationships already, which is making the extrovert side of me extra happy. It’s been a baby steps kind of process, and it certainly hasn’t all been glamorous or easy. A lot of days I’ve been bored and borderline restless. Some days I’ve been impatient. But I’ve been trying (keyword: trying) to keep my eyes on Jesus and trust that all of this is a part of the plan. It’s all happening for reasons beyond my comprehension. & it’s all going to work out for our good and for His glory. Believe me when I say I have to remind myself of those things often.

As we’ve inched closer to a feeling of permanency here, I’ve started to wonder what God’s will is for me here. I’ve looked ahead to this time and place knowing that Adam’s career will really be kick starting and that we will be journeying on a new life here, but I didn’t take much time to consider how my piece fits into the puzzle here. I have plans to start looking for work with the new year, and my mind gets a little baffled trying to determine what it is I actually want to do, because after being a year and a half out of college, I’m still figuring that out. I learned to trust God awhile back that He’ll fill me in on the path he desires for me when I need to know, but I think this next path is coming more into focus, and I have no idea what’s next. Apart from work, I know that building relationships and investing in our community are in the picture, but I have no idea what that is going to look like at this point. I know the skeleton ideas, but the meat of the matter is beyond my imagination. And that’s okay. I’ve just been in an in-between state of wondering “what do I do next?”

I’ve failed to really ponder over this with God though. I don’t think it’s because I’m afraid of what’s next. It might be because I’ve been in transition so long that it is just going to take a leap of faith to jump off of this train onto another. But despite my failure to pray about what is next for me, my faithful God still communicated some truth and comfort and direction to me through his word today:

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Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. // 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

These words immediately clicked with my soul. Regardless of the details of what my life is going to look like in these next months, and years, part of God’s will for my life will still be to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. It doesn’t matter what job I may have in the months to come. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing in my free time. It doesn’t matter what circumstances God allows to take place that are beyond my control. In all of this it is His will for me to still rejoice, pray, and give thanks. Always, without ceasing, and in all circumstances. There are other things that He is going to call me to. But these things are to remain constant. They are to always apply to my life. It gives me great peace and encouragement to know that even when I don’t know what’s next I can still move forward in faith.