letting life happen

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Well March came, and March went. And April has come and we’re already a week in. And I’ve been nowhere to be found on this space. To be honest, there were a couple times this month that I sat down to put something together for a post, but the publish button never got pushed. And it’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. It’s just that I’ve been simply living.

Nothing extravagant has been going on (minus our recent vacation to Mexico, but I consider that an exception). I’ve simply been working, maintaining the house, working out, building relationships, and spending quality time with my husband and pup. And this past month, that was enough for me to manage. Everything was steady. It was simple. It felt peaceful. And so each time I sat at the computer and typed out some of my thoughts, all that came out was words expressing my desire to just be living life and utilizing the time in my days to the best of my abilities (I can thank the gorgeous weather at the beginning of the month for that inspiration – where that weather is now I’m not so sure). It’s not that blogging isn’t worth my time. I love having this space and I look forward to seeing it grow in the time to come as I find new and better ways to invest in it. But this past month it was nice to take the break and just let life happen. To take the moments as they came and experience them fully. To not overwhelm myself with too much on my plate, especially with my new job. To enjoy the simple evenings of sitting next to Adam on the couch or tossing a ball around with Boone. To take advantage of the few spring weather days we’ve had so far and get outside more. To soak in the opportunities to invest in relationships, both near and far. It was all worth it.

As we’re already a week into April, I’m excited to get things rolling again around here. I have a month’s worth of life to catch you all up on. I have overdue words to share with you. I have a new series to continue in. But I also am giving myself the grace and the wiggle room to deal with life as it happens. I’m not a full time blogger, so I feel comfortable giving myself that slack at this time. But know that I care about sharing the words that I do with you here. And therefore I don’t want to give you second rate stuff. It’s just that sometimes the quality I aim for takes a little more time. So be patient with me. And trust that there is more to come soon.

Until then…

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?

when good intentions aren’t good enough // part two

when good intentions aren't good enough // part two

A few months ago I spilled my heart out on how I had been having the best of intentions in my pursuit of God & my investment in my relationship with Him, but my actions did nothing to reflect that. I wasn’t actually doing anything to set the longings of my heart into motion. We all can fall victim to letting our thoughts be enough, and as a result our lives stop matching up with our words or thoughts. Therefore it is a commitment to keep pursuing God each day. It’s a choice every morning to turn away from our selfish desires and look towards Him. It’s a choice to love Him. Just like it’s a choice to love our spouses. Just like it’s a choice to love our friends. And that’s where I want to pick up this topic today: loving our friends.

A little while back I read a short article by Shauna Niequist called “Why it doesn’t matter how you feel about your friends.” It wasn’t what I was expecting when I first clicked a link to it, so go ahead & give it a quick read for yourself. For me, it shed some light on something that was already resonating in my heart. Because the truth is, we can feel all we want about someone, but if we never do anything to communicate it, how is that person going to know? Too often in my life I’ve gotten caught up in believing that certain friends don’t care about me, because I rarely, if ever, hear from them. Mix in the fact that the majority of my relationships are now long distance and it gets even harder. I can get stuck in thinking that I don’t matter that much to these friends. That I’m not important to them. & that hurts deep. It’s hard to swallow.

On the other hand, I’m also guilty of being the person that doesn’t pursue contact with people too. Most days I’ll think of friends. I’m reminded of memories I’ve shared with others and think about how much I appreciate them. But then I move on with my day. I can fail to reach out to that friend and let them know that I’m thinking of them. Or I can fail to take out the time to make plans with them. They don’t hear about how I feel about them. They don’t hear anything at all. Simply because I let other matters weigh more important. & by all means, we all have important things going on in our lives. But we also have plenty of not-as-imperative things going on in our lives that we make out to be important (i.e. social media, cleaning the house, focusing on ourselves). Is it really that hard of a sacrifice to give some of our words, time, or attention to someone we say we love?

Shauna’s article mentioned this quality parenting advice: “It doesn’t matter how much you love your kids. What matters is communicating that love in a way that they can understand and feel that love.” (I’m definitely storing that one in the vault). But she so perfectly connects that to our everyday relationships. It doesn’t matter how much you love your friends (or spouse, or family, or whoever). What matters is communicating that love in a way that they can understand and feel that love.

When others don’t communicate they’re love for me, I start to doubt them and their care for me. When I don’t communicate my love for others, I open up the room for them to doubt whether I care about them at all. “The things we feel about one another so often go unexpressed, because we’re busy or thoughtless, assuming they know, assuming it’s more than clear.” Our intentions don’t mean a thing if we don’t ACT on them.

For me, my heart lights up when an old friend finally does make contact, and I’m reminded that they do think of me. My world changes when I make contact with a friend and we chat for an hour and everything goes back to the way it was before. I’m reminded that they do care. What if we could avoid the moments of doubt by filling in the gaps with moments of love?

I’m reminded of a life long lesson for me: We will all fail others. We will all let others down. We will all fall short of fulfilling the needs that our friends have. Only Jesus can be that tried & true friend and lover. & there is grace in our imperfections. But what we CAN do is learn to love the people in our lives well. We can let someone know when we randomly think of them. We can go out of our way to express our gratitude of someone by picking up the phone and telling them. Or by doing something to show them. We can spend some of our time hanging out with them. Don’t just settle for good intentions. Give the ones you love your best efforts, your constant efforts. Because if they are worth it, then they should know.

What are some ways that you could start communicating more love to your friends?

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.

rest for the weary

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Today was just one of those days. Or at least this morning was. The kind of day that didn’t go remotely as I expected it to (even though I didn’t really have many expectations of it to begin with). It was a morning that started off with an unexpected jolt, followed by a couple curve balls. & it was enough to leave me feeling weary by lunchtime. & as I sat on the counter top & ate my Chef Boyardee I felt tired. Not just the sleepy kind of tired, but more specifically the emotional kind of tired. I’ve never really used the word weary before to describe my own feelings. But today, I felt it. & it felt much bigger than just today. I didn’t fully understand it. I still kind of don’t. But I shared it with Jesus in prayer. I cried some of it out too.

As I talked with God, I laughed at myself as I pondered over how absurd it sounds to say that I feel like I need rest when right now I’ve been spending my recent days of limbo doing a whole lot of nothing. How can I need rest when I’m not even doing things that necessitate rest? & what I gathered is that this season of transition is weighing heavier on me as the days go by. I haven’t really felt settled or established somewhere in six months. We’ve been in transit. We’ve been in a waiting game. We’ve been in transition, but I don’t know exactly what I personally am transitioning to. & I’m growing weary of trying to make sense of it. Of trying to be optimistic even when I don’t really know what I’m trying to be optimistic about.

To be honest, I feel overly dramatic saying some of this, because it’s really not that bad. I promise you. But I’m just in one of those somber states of feeling weak from relying on my own strength in all things and trying to understand the jumbled mess of thoughts I’ve been processing. But oh how the Lord is teaching me that He took my yoke the day He died on the cross. That HE is my sustaining hope and strength in all things, in all days, even when I think “I got this.” It’s Him that I can always, and should always, rely on.

He’s also been revealing a lot to me about grace lately. One of those words that gets thrown around a lot in church, but I am just now starting to grasp onto the truth of it. Or at least a piece of it. Today, for me, grace meant allowing myself to sit on the couch snuggled up with my puppy and binge watching episodes of The Office, and not expecting anything more of myself. To not feel like I should be accomplishing something instead. To set my mind aside for an afternoon to rest. In reality, I could have been doing something more productive with my afternoon. But sometimes I need to let myself of the hook and not demand so much of me. I need to give myself grace.

Now just because I’ve felt weighed down by this season doesn’t mean that it’s over yet. I’m still in this. & so I’m going to start praying daily to be sustained by Jesus’s strength & for more and more grace. Because Lord knows I need it!

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish. Jeremiah 31:25

Is there anything that you need to give yourself grace for today?