The Love I Want Someday

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Will anyone ever love me? It’s a question I ask myself often. I’m not talking about the family/friend kind of love. I’m talking about the mushy, gushy fall in love kind.
The kind where a guy makes a total fool of himself because he thinks you’re more beautiful than anyone he’s ever met and so he gets speechless or tongue tied or exceptionally clumsy around you. The kind where he just wants to be with you—ALL the time, ALL his life. That’s the kind I’m talking about here: forever and always love. Where you’d rather die than live without them.
I used to read romance novels ALL the time. Love stories made my heart soar. But what I cherish even more now are the real stories. The 75 year old gentleman with the crooked back who still opens the car door for his high school sweetheart. The couple that just celebrated their 60th anniversary but still hold hands all the time like they’re newlyweds. It’s the young dad who takes the crying baby out of the sanctuary Sunday morning so his honey can sit and relax for a second. I love to see real love in action. And I can’t wait until one day I’m that elderly lady clinging to my husband’s arm.
I volunteer at a nursing home a couple Saturdays a month. The residents I assist have alzheimers. I have begun to form a connection with some of them. I’m sure the staff there sees the handful of teenagers and thinks we’re blessing the residents when we play bingo. But it’s quite the opposite actually.
Sure I have to remind the lady in the purple sweater to use the bingo chips and not her food to mark the numbers. Sure I have to help the elderly gentlemen as each number is called because his brain confuses what each number looks like. Sure I have to be patient when one of the ladies tries to talk to me but her words slur together and she forgets what she’s saying. But I always walk away feeling so blessed to have been there and to have gotten to spend time with them.
This last time I visited, my family came with some of our friends from church. One of my friends asked one of my favorite ladies what was her Christmas wish. This lady often didn’t seem to be there mentally when we played bingo. She would parrot whatever someone said. Over and over again. She was adorably sweet but you could tell that alzheimers was slowly wearing her down, she was fading away. But this question…oh I cried when I heard her answer: “My christmas wish is that my husband would come back to me from heaven so that we could live happily ever after.” Tears came to her eyes at the same time they came to mine.
This was the kind of love that brought her back to reality. Her husband was so deeply rooted in her heart that it seemed that not even alzheimers would cause her to forget him. She couldn’t remember my name but his…she would never forget. This is the kind of love that I dare only dream of one day having. The kind that doesn’t die with death or disease. The kind that lasts forever.

His Life, Not Mine

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Galatians 2:20 is the verse I’m looking at today: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
To crucify is to put someone to death by nailing or binding them to a cross. My old self, my flesh, died with Christ. And my new self now lives because Christ lives in me. What would being crucified with Christ look like practically in my life?
A.W. Tozer says that people who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks:
1. they are facing only one direction,
2. they can never turn back, and
3. they no longer have plans of their own.

Point One. Facing only one direction. Our eyes should be focused on Christ. Our feet should be turned towards Christ as we follow Him in every step and every action. Joshua 23:6 says, “Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left.” It is not always easy to do what’s right. That’s why this verse says that we need to be very strong to obey God’s commands. Sometimes jumping the ditch and turning left into the forest or swerving right to walk with your friends seems like the easier choice. But that doesn’t make it right.
Proverbs 4:27 says, “Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” We cannot say we are following Christ one day but then follow the world the next.  We cannot have one foot in sin and one foot on the right path and say that we are obeying God. If we truly are wholeheartedly committed to Christ, we will not be pursuing evil or the things of this world. We will be running hard after Christ.
Point Two. Don’t turn back. Philippians 3:12-14 says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We need to pursue growth. We can’t let the mistakes of our past weigh us down and cause us to stop trying. If we repent, Christ forgives us completely. We need to get up, stop sinning, and keep going. We will always have room for improvement, areas in our life that need work, but if we keep looking back over our shoulder at the mistakes we’ve made or all the times we’ve fallen, we are much more likely to trip up again because we are not focused on where we are going. Our eyes need to be fixed firmly on Christ.
Point Three. No more plans of our own. My plans are just that. They’re MY plans. They don’t take into account anyone but myself—not even God or His Will.  I make plans because it’s MY life. And I want to live it however I want to live it. I have dreams because those hopes or those chapters that I want to write into my life seem like the best fit for me. Those stories that I want to tell with my life are what I think would ultimately make me happy.
But if I stop to think about that logic, I realize…it’s not my life in the first place. Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” If this life is truly Christ’s, then I won’t be focused on my dreams, my calendar, my agenda, my hopes, or my desires. Instead I will be focused on accomplishing His Will for me.
Ian Thomas says it this way: “The Christian life can only be explained in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it!” My desires should not be describing me; my dreams should not be defining my future. When people see me, they should see me reflecting the love of Christ. When people hear my name, they should link it with my Savior. My life should make it obvious who I follow.
Crucified with Christ. Following Him so closely that nothing can squeeze itself between you and Him. Obeying Him even when it’s hard. Surrendering our desires and replacing them with His. Living this life for Him.

 

Streetlight Distractions

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I went on a walk last night. And I couldn’t see the stars.It’s not that they weren’t shining. It’s not that they were any less brilliant than usual. It wasn’t even cloudy.Actually, the streetlights were affecting my ability to see the sky above. From my vantage point, the surrounding night was illuminated to the point that the stars didn’t seem to shine. The stars needed a canopy of darkness to shine out brightly but the streetlights were affecting the black backdrop.
Up until two years ago, I lived in the country. Out in the middle of nowhere. You could lie down on the grass and stargaze for hours. So I’m still not used to going outside late at night and not being able to see the stars as clearly as before.
You see, it’s not that the sky has changed in those two years. Instead, where I’m standing has. Sometimes, we need to get away from the distractions in our life so that we can again see who God truly is. Without realizing it, we’ve let distractions block our view of Him. He hasn’t changed. His glory hasn’t lessened. His majesty has not dimmed. But the bright, flashing lights of this world, the showy, sparkly attractions, have affected our vision. Our focus is drawn to the glittering pleasures instead of the glory of Christ.
My spirit has been restless and easily distracted lately. I used to pray in my car as I ran errands or drove to and from work. Now I find myself in the midst of talking to God and all of a sudden ten minutes have passed in which I am captivated by some other thought completely unrelated to Christ. I’ll be reading my Bible when my phone rings or I get a text and 15 minutes later I end a conversation and realize that I’ve been distracted once again.
When I’m spending time with God, I don’t want to be distracted.  What I find helps me the most is going somewhere where I won’t be bothered. Not a public area in the house where people can sit next to me and strike up a conversation. Or come find me to ask a question. You may find it even helps to set aside a specific time. Some of my friends say that their minds are the clearest at night, others say the morning. Also, when I’m spending time in the word or prayer, I silence my phone. I hate being with a friend and in the middle of a sentence when they get a text and have to reply it right then. It makes me feel unimportant. It makes me feel like what I have to say means nothing to them. It makes me wonder why we’re even together. It certainly doesn’t make me feel special or valued or loved. So why do we do that to God?
You may have entirely different distractions in your life. Or maybe something that used to be just a distraction has now turned into an idol. If this is the case, I would recommend a fast. Not all fasts have to be with food. You could take a technology fast. A month without tv. A week without your laptop. A day without your phone (yes, it’s possible). If you were to say that it’s not possible, then your phone has DEFINITELY become an idol in your life. Think of your parents and your grandparents. They survived just fine without cell phones. You can too. Maybe you need to fast from social media for a couple weeks. Or even hanging out with friends for a day or two. Whatever you feel has come between you and God. Let’s turn off the streetlights so we can clearly see God’s glory.

The Beauty of Waiting

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I’m almost twenty. I feel so old. People hear me say that and they laugh. They find that thought ridiculous. But to me, I’m far behind where I thought I would be by now. I thought I would be in a relationship years ago, engaged by 17, and married by 18. But I’m still single. I find myself feeling lost because the path I had determined for myself swerved off in a direction I had never intended to walk.
I never thought I would need to go to college or pursue a career because my husband would provide for me while I stayed home with the kids but I’m officially starting college classes in about a month. I never thought I would be a nanny—I thought I would have my own children by now. I never thought I would still be alone. But I am.
I had preconceived ideas of where my life was headed. I still do actually. I have lots of dreams and hopes. But for whatever reason, God has decided it’s not time. He hasn’t said it won’t ever be the time. For now, He’s just saying wait.
Shortly after graduating high school, I sort of put my life on hold. I thought Prince Charming was right around the corner. Any second he would come into my life, sweep me off my feet, and we would live happily ever after. I was living as if getting married young was a right that God owed me, something I deserved because I felt I was ready. I would read Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” And I would think “well I love God and He knows that I want to be married by 18 so He’s going to make it happen.” Or I would read Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I would get so excited because I desired marriage and I thought I delighted in the Lord so this was going to happen just as I wanted!!
Now, two years later, I look at Romans 8:28 and it holds an entirely different meaning for me. Just because something works out for good, doesn’t mean we will like the circumstances that bring the end result. It doesn’t even mean that the “good” will align with our plans or desires! What this verse is saying is that God can use anything for His glory, to accomplish His plan. Think of Joseph’s response to his brothers in Genesis 45:5-8, “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God…” Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery because they were so jealous of him. And look at his response! “God sent me here.” Joseph sees that God had a plan in spite of all the pain. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” We are too quick to see something in life and feel that God is being unfair. He can use anything, even singleness, for good.
Even Psalm 37:4 has come alive to me. A synonym of “delight” is “captivate” which means to attract and hold the interest and attention of something. If God is truly holding my interest and attention, then what will be the desire of my heart? God Himself. If God holds my heart, then my heart will long for that which He longs for. My desires and hopes and dreams will be that His will would be accomplished in my life, that He would be glorified. If I am delighting in Him, I will long for Him and what He wants for me.
Don’t get me wrong. Waiting is hard. There are times that I feel so empty and incomplete. I want someone to be at my side to share my whole life with me, every single millisecond. I want to be loved just as much as any of you.
But no matter how badly I want to be married, I know that waiting is important in life. It’s often in these seasons of waiting that I find I grow the most. My 20th birthday is around the corner and I look back two years and I am so glad that God’s time frame is different than mine. I was so not ready to be a wife when I was 18. In these past 24 months, I have grown and matured in so many important areas in my life. I feel like an entirely different person than who I was then. I’m not saying that I’m ready now because I know I still have so much left to work on.
When I get really sad or lonely, I try to remind myself that I don’t want to settle for less than God’s best just because I don’t want to wait any longer. I would much rather have to wait years to be become Mrs. Right and find Mr. Right than be Mr. and Mrs. Wrong now. It’s the things you have to wait for the longest that are the most beautiful and the most treasured..

Dear Sissy

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Sisters are pretty amazing.  Today my younger sister turns 18.  I think I may be more excited than she is.  Because this is the day I celebrate that God decided our family needed some extra girl power.  The day God gave me a friend I wouldn’t see just once or twice a week but every single day.

My sister has filled many roles.  From listener to sympathizer, from exercise buddy to relationship advisor, she’s always been there….

Thank you, sister.  For staying up late as I talk about everything and nothing and eventually bore you to sleep (quite literally).  For going looking for me when I go on a walk upset because you know I don’t want to cry alone.  For going places with me because then I’ll never have to step outside of my comfort zone.  You are my comfort zone.  For fiercely defending me when I’m too weak or speechless to defend myself.  For telling me when I have spinach in my teeth, my makeup’s smeared, or I have a stain on my shirt.  For knowing me so well that we can telepathically communicate…kind of.  For being my whisper buddy, my confidant.  For keeping all my secrets safe.  For giggling (or crying) over guys with me.  For telling me when I’m being a jerk or an annoying, immature brat.  For singing off-key and out of tune with me to all the songs we hate and dancing with me to all the songs we love.  For going on walks late at night with me.  Who needs sleep anyway?  For laughing at me because sometimes I forget to laugh at myself.  For not staying mad at me.  For always being the sweet fetcher of refills for your lazy big sister.  For reminding me why you love me when I forget to like me.  For always giving me reasons to hope when there are none left.  For seeing through the smile to the pain in my heart.  For making me laugh when tears are threatening my composure.  For being my navigator when I have no idea where I’m going.  For dreaming big with me.  For encouraging me to be adventurous instead of the timid little mouse that I usually am.  For being my best friend.  Happy Birthday!

What My Heart Wants

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Psalm 23.  A popular passage.

I’ve had it memorized for years.  Been able to quote it since I was 5.  It’s funny how those passages you’ve grown up reciting usually take the longest to sink in and mean something.

Verse One for instance: “The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want.”  Wow.  Gut punch.  Why should I not want?  Answer: Because the Lord is my Shepherd.

But I’m still wanting.  I want everyone to like me.  I want my opinion to be valued.  I want to find true love.  I want to get good grades.  I want to be prettier, thinner, smarter, funnier.  I want nicer clothes, new shoes.  I want more money.  I want my dreams to come true.  What is that whole list telling me?  That the Lord is not my Shepherd.  I’m not letting Him guide me.  I’m not letting His ways control my life.  Because if He was truly my Shepherd, there would be only one item on that list: the Lord.  He alone can fill my every desire, my every longing.  He truly satisfies.  Fills the cup of my wants to overflowing so that there is no room, not even a milliliter, left for me to be wanting something that this world has to offer.

Another version of verse one says: “I lack nothing.”  In the world’s eyes, we may lack everything–the biggest house, the newest phone, the highest salary, a significant other.  But in God’s eyes, you don’t just have everything you need (eternal life) but also everything you could ever want (in Jesus).

Is your heart hidden in Jesus?

Dear Future Husband

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I write letters to my husband all the time.  I hope that once I’m married and I give him everything I’ve written, that he feels special.  But his reaction, his response, is NOT why I’m writing these.  Each and every letter helps me more than it will ever impact him.

Yes, he will realize that I’ve loved him for years and years without even knowing him.  But each word I write connects my heart to him in a way that nothing else ever could.  Each page reminds me that I may be alone now but someday this wait will be worth it.  Each thought that I put on paper reminds me to trust God because this guy is going to be absolutely amazing.  Sometimes writing him helps me understand my feelings or recognize a sin issue that has been hiding deep beneath the surface.  I think these letters are more beneficial to me than they will ever be to my husband.

Normally I wouldn’t share a letter like that with anyone.  It would be like letting all of you read someone else’s mail.  But I decided to make an exception just this once and give you a taste of a letter I wrote late last night, hopefully it will help you start writing your husbands some of your own:

“I woke up today and missed you.  Well…it was happening long before that I guess.  I went to sleep missing you.  And dreamed of meeting you and woke up missing you more because the image of you and I together faded as my eyes opened.  While I slept, I pictured us holding hands.  Now all I’m holding is my lonely heart.

“But loneliness isn’t why I miss you.  Because just about any guy could solve that problem.  Hello, boyfriend.  Buh-bye, loneliness.  But that wouldn’t fix anything because I don’t just want a guy who will take me out to dinner on a Friday night or tell me I’m beautiful.  I want you.

“So I’ll wait for the day that God decides your heart is ready for mine.  The day our lives will intersect in the beautiful arrangement God has orchestrated.  But honestly, love, I hope that day is soon.  Because any second without you is a second I could have spent with you.  Every day that passes leaves me with 24 hours less of memories with your name on them.  Every week that crawls along brings me 1/52 closer to another year without you by my side…

“I can’t wait for you to be here so that I can hold your hand all the time. So that I can have a screaming war with you at Six Flags. So that you can be my chauffeur to new places because I hate driving when I don’t know where I’m going. So that you can beat up anyone who makes fun of me. So that I’ll always know that at least one person on earth values my opinion. I can’t wait to sing to our favorite songs on the radio. And maybe even make up some of our own. To lay out back and stargaze on a clear, cloudless night. Get stuck in the rain while we’re out on a walk. Cuddle up on the couch some chilly Saturday and turn it into a movie day. To bake new recipes. And then wash all the dirty dishes together. I can’t wait to steal one of your sweatshirts so that I’ll always be able to smell you even if we’re miles apart. I can’t wait to spend a whole weekend with you and not give a thought to college or work. To be able to dress up and do my makeup and go to a fancy restaurant. To have someone who will help me make decisions like where we should go to dinner or what I should order because I just never seem to be able to. I can’t wait for you to tell me if you like my hair long or if I should cut it short because I just can’t decide what I like better. I can’t wait to hear the word beautiful and have it refer to me. To be able to snuggle close to you with your arms wrapped around me as I shiver in an attempt to get warm. I want you to push me to try new things, to overcome my fears, to be the best me possible. I can’t wait to be pampered. To have doors opened for me and drinks refilled. To be dropped off at the front entrance while you go and park and run through the rain. So that I can stay warm and dry and loved. I can’t wait to have fun with you. To be able to have tickle wars and pillow fights and inside jokes. To laugh at every little thing and enjoy each second together.

“But you know what I’m most excited about? The love part. I can’t wait to know that someone loves me. And it won’t matter if I have spinach stuck in my teeth or ketchup on my face. It won’t matter if my hair is sticking up all over the place or if I have a stain on my shirt. You’ll still love me even when I’m cranky or grumpy or nasty or annoying or immature. On Sundays and Mondays and Saturdays and all the days in between. Each and every year for the rest of my life. But it’s not even just that part… You’ll be voluntarily offering the rest of your life to me. That blows my mind. You won’t just love me. You’ll love me for forever and you won’t ever, ever stop. Just the thought of that makes me feel so valuable, so precious. Why you would pick me is beyond my ability to comprehend. But I guess that was your decision and I’m so glad….

“Someday I’ll be able to hold your hand.  I’m already excited so don’t be surprised if I never let go.  Someday, I’m gonna wear your ring.  And don’t be surprised when I squeal.  Because I will.  And even if I hate it, I’ll love it because it’s from you.

Your other half”

 

Why Are We Still Searching?

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3 things people.

I can think of 3 things that everyone my age (myself included) is searching for right now:

  1. I want to find my purpose in life
  2. I want to be happy
  3. I want to have fun

We want our lives to be worth something so we search for the meaning for our birth, the reason for our existence.  We study hard so we can get good grades so we can get a diploma and maybe even a scholarship so we can go to college and eventually get a good job so we can buy a house, pay the bills, and start our life.  But is that what life’s all about?

We also want to be happy.  We have dreams for our future that we want to see fulfilled.  We have desires that we hope will align with our destiny.  But will having all that we want, all that we hope for, make us happy?

And we want to have fun.  This is the time to live it up.  Experience life.  After all, you only live once.  But will hanging out with friends or being adventurous or spending all our money on the newest gadgets satisfy our longing for pleasure?

3 questions.  One answer:

Psalm 16:11

Part I: “You make known to me the path of life.”  We search for purpose but God has already made it abundantly clear.  And guess where that path leads us?  You got it.  Straight to Him.  He gives us purpose.  He is the reason for our existence

Part II: “You will fill me with joy in Your presence.”  FILL.  This is complete joy.  Not halfway full but to the tippy top.  And when do we experience this joy?  When we spend time with Him, when we are in His presence.

Part III: “With eternal pleasures at your right hand.”  These aren’t temporary.  These won’t fade.  Hanging out with friends brings a fleeting form of pleasure.  Sitting next to God?  Eternal.

Where’s your mindset?  In the here and now?

Mine’s in the forever.

Keep Shining. Keep Smiling.

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I recently wrote a post about random acts of kindness (https://wordpress.com/post/thejourneyofmyheart.com/130 ).  I’ve had my share of friendly, wonderful people who have made me smile with a word or a kind gesture.  But the other day, one older gentleman outshone them all.

I was walking out of a store, rummaging through my tiny purse trying to find my keys beneath the gum and chapstick, pens and lipgloss.  That’s when he stopped me.  “You have beautiful eyes.  Keep smiling.  And keep shining.  I know that God is in you.”  I was momentarily taken aback.  “You’re right,” I finally managed to say and my hand went to my heart.  He just smiled and added, “I know.  That’s what makes you so beautiful.”

I hadn’t said a word.  I wasn’t wearing a Christian t-shirt or a cross necklace.  But somehow he knew.  I’d always felt that I didn’t shine as brightly as some people around me.  I’ve never been as bold as I should be to share my faith publicly.  I’m not the person who hands out tracts or evangelizes at every street corner.  But God used my smile to show His love.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  Does the light of Jesus’ love shine in your eyes?  Is your joy evident in your smile?  Are you shining in your actions as well as your words?

Christ My Life

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I was at a Bible study where we were studying “Seeking the Lord.” One of the verses we read was Colossians 3:4- “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
The teacher moved on but my mind stayed behind. Christ is my life. Wow. Without Him, I’d be dead. Physically because my heart would not beat without his omnipotence. And spiritually because without His sacrifice I would not receive the gift of eternal life.
I sat there stunned momentarily. These were truths that I’d heard my whole life but it struck me hard that night. Perhaps it hit home because the past few weeks I had begun to feel that the importance of my life would be determined by something I decided to do. If I went to college, my life would be defined by a degree. If I got a good job, my career or my salary would be the description matched with my name.
Or perhaps this verse touched my heart because my number one dream of getting married had not been fulfilled and there were many days I felt desperately lonely. My future husband, my dream house, the kiddos I wanted to have—these filled my thoughts and described what I wanted my life to look like.
Or perhaps it was because I had begun to compare aspects of my life with those around me. Whether it was a part of my personality or an aspect of my appearance, I would often let comparisons control my life as I tried to be someone that I was not.
Whatever the reason, God used Colossians 3:4 in a mighty way that night. I had been trying to fill an emptiness inside of me with whatever object or person was closest at the moment. When really Christ was the only one that would ever satisfy that longing. I could try to stuff boys or marriage, a degree or a career, style or intelligence into that void but it would be like trying to put a puzzle piece in the wrong place. I could try as hard as I liked but it would never fit right. It would never complete the picture on the box. Without Christ as my number one love I would never feel complete. My life would always feel meaningless because IT’S NOT MY LIFE. It’s His. I belong to Him and therefore I should be living like it. Every day in every way it should be my aim to glorify Christ. Every second I’m awake should be devoted to serving Him and furthering His kingdom. But too often self gets in the way. What do I want? What do I feel like doing? Instead of, what would please God fully in this situation?
I don’t like being controlled so there have been moments in the past when I get frustrated because I feel like, “this is my life I should be able to live it however I want. No one can tell me what to do or how to act.” But, really, it’s not even my life. And that makes it so much easier to follow God. To realize I wouldn’t be here in the first place if it wasn’t for Him. He doesn’t just get my decisions. My actions. My words. He gets my everything. My every step. My every thought. My past. My present. And my future.
Let’s live like He’s our life.