A Calling

As Christians, we have a calling, something bigger than what we are. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true. As we grow in our faith, we grow more in the knowledge of this calling. And the awesome thing about God’s calling for your life is that it is completely unique to you. Not everyone will have the same calling.

For example, not all Christians will be called to be missionaries in China or be ministers of troubled teens on the south side of Chicago. The Lord has made our calling unique to us. That is what makes the Church body so intricate, because we all function as different parts of the body to fulfill one call. God uses us in our brokenness and struggle, and uses it to glorify him. We all have the same call, the Great Commission, but we all approach it differently from the next person.

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

It is by no means easy to remain faithful to the call the Lord has brought to you. It is challenging, and sometimes it feels impossible. One could even feel doubtful that this-so-called, “call” isn’t actually what the Lord is calling them to do. That is why it is so important to remain in fellowship with Christ and with the Church, in order to be filled constantly with the Spirit. We will remain fulfilled and obedient to the calling, versus feeling spiritually drained and doing life on your own.

“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, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

Ultimately as Christians, our desire should be to grow in closer relationship with Jesus, to glorify him in all that we do. I have learned that this must be my greatest desire because it is the only desire that will not fade away. My earthly desires are not eternal and the only desire I need to focus on completely is my relationship with Christ to grow stronger.

Recently, the Lord really convicted of my desire to serve and grow in relationship with him. As I spoke with the Lord, I was convicted and honestly said, “Jesus, I would die for you.” But then the Lord asked, “But will you live for me?” This response made me wrestle with a lot. Death is quick and even temporary when you have a relationship with Christ. But to live day to day, choosing Jesus first before anything else seems to be so much harder.

After meditating over this response, I felt incapable, but wanted to pursue a life that lives for Christ. It won’t lack its set of struggles and challenges, but when I choose to live for Christ, remaining obedient to the call; I become more aware of the complete awe of Christ. And I realize, my life is nothing without him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”” Romans 8:28-31

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My Friend, Jesus

This week has been especially hard emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I have struggled to not be overcome by my hurt, resentment, frustration. I have made efforts to process everything that has happened this week, but it is difficult when you’re constantly running around trying to check off task after task from the never-ending list.

This week, the desire I had was confirmed, but not in the way I had hoped. I longed for my desire to become a reality, but that didn’t happen. Instead, it was full of pain and hurt, questions and surfacing insecurities. My emotions have been so present and it is hard to process everything I am feeling.

Midweek, things became even more difficult. My childhood best friend that I hadn’t spoken to in a year contacted me. Recently, I had made an effort to reconcile conflict with her. Back in September, I had written her a letter expressing everything that had happened and the part I played. I then waited four months, praying and considering if I should send the letter or not. Ultimately, I decided to send the letter a couple weeks ago. When I saw her response, I realized things were not going to work out well. She did not take my apology as sincere and went as far as to give a woman my number to text me as well. Both accused me and attempted to bully me into submission.

I was in complete shock at the response and in addition, I was already processing what had happened earlier that week. I felt so small, like the smallest tap would break me into a million pieces. I was distraught to say the least.

But, I have found that even when things seem so hard and hopeless, Jesus comes along and surprises me. I am thankful that the Lord has given me so many moments of joy during this week. He has reminded me of the people He has placed in my life that are so encouraging and have the Holy Spirit speaking through them.

Going through this hard week, people have rallied around me to comfort and encourage me. They speak truth into my life and remind me where my identity lies. Jesus reminds me of His faithfulness in the people around me and in His Word.

I have continued to go back and reread 1 John 4, about how God is love and that we if we only abide in HIM, He will abide in US. The word abide is one that has been on my mind lately. The dictionary’s definition of abide is to “continue without fading or being lost.” When we abide in Christ, we remain in Him and Him in us, it doesn’t fade or become lost.

I thank the Lord that He constantly reminds me of where my identity, hope, trust, faith, and affirmation is found. I was talking with a friend today and we were sharing our common sense of awe for how good Jesus is. She shared that even in our “unbelief and and failures,” Jesus continues to remain a faithful and good friend. And this came to mind when she said that: You see, I have learned that God isn’t motivated to bless us only in our successes. He desires to bless us even when we struggle to remain obedient to Him or struggle to see the bigger picture because He shows us how truly good and loving he is. He is the ultimate, true friend who will never disappoint us.

Surrendering Desires

I often wonder why the Lord gives us desires that don’t always become reality. In fact, I have found that most of the desires I have had in the past become the complete opposite as time goes on. Desires can be good, sweet and full-hearted; but they can also become painful, hard, and down-right depressing.

I have recently come into a time where I have a strong desire, one that is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. A desire, if I should act on it, could either make or break me. I have debated whether or not if I should act on my feelings, my desire to just become known. I have had this desire for a while now, I have waited patiently, trusting the Lord and giving my desire over to Him every second of every day. But, the desire is becoming so strong, I want to simply “get it over with” in a way and make my desire known.

However, I am hesitant, hesitant because I want to remain obedient to the Lord. I want my love for Christ to be stronger than my desires. In fact, I want HIS desires to become MY desires.

It’s funny…there are so many people who want to act on their desires. But they also want their desires to become God’s desires. But, I realized that that’s not how God works. He has a bigger, better, more perfect plan than anything I could ever plan for myself. And the ultimate goal is to glorify Him, not me.

You see, I have to remember that just a short time ago my desire was to be a veterinarian. I wanted to pursue a career helping animals and one day having my own clinic. But, that all changed and though I still love animals, I came to love someone more…Christ.

He took my previous desires and transformed them into new desires. I went on to have the desire to pursue a career in ministry, to serve the Lord full-time. I never thought that my old desire would change, but it did and I gained a better desire.

Now, this new desire that I have, the one I want to act on, I have to surrender that to the Lord. I have to turn my focus from this desire to the Lord and my relationship with Him. It’s hard, oh trust me it’s so hard. But, through surrendering my desire to the Lord, trusting Him and making Him my focus, I know I will be okay.

His plan for my life is bigger than I can imagine. And I have learned that the Lord says “no” only so that He can give you something better. I pray that through this struggle of having this desire, I can remain obedient to the Lord in whatever way he has called me. I don’t know if there will be a time where I will act on my desire, but I know that if I do, it will be because I feel the Lord leading me to act on it. I won’t be bound to my feelings, acting on them whenever I see fit. I want to control my feelings and desires in a way that is God-honoring and in a way that a woman of spirit would act.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love.” 1 John 4:16-18

Hope…

Hope…where is your hope found? Where do you place your complete hope and trust in? Or better yet, how do you have hope when you’re going through a hard time? How can you trust that things will work out when the situation seems hopeless?

I heard a sermon today on this very topic known as “hope.” As Christians, we claim that we put our hope in Christ because “that’s what Scripture says we should do.” But in reality, we tend to put our hope in materialistic things instead of the very One who made those materials.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

As people, we tend to put our hope in things that are easily seen, something we can grasp on to and hold for dear life. We put our hope in people, our friends, family, relationships. We tend to put our hope in people of higher position; like presidents, celebrities, or politicians. We even put our hope in things like money, or jobs, or academics.

However, while these things are good, we should not place our hope in them. Eventually, all of it will wither to nothing and that thing we placed our hope in will cease to exist. Or life will get hard and the things you once placed your hope in will not help you.

BUT…

If we switched our focus to someone REAL, someone TRUE, someone who will never disappoint and never changes; our life changes. That someone is Jesus Christ. Even as Christians, we have a hard time placing our hope in the Lord. There are so many distractions, it almost seems like God is being drowned out by it all.

However, when we focus on putting our hope in the Lord, everything changes. Life still can be hard or it can be easy. But either way, you have your faith in Someone who you can fully put your hope in and He will never let you down. This is regardless of the circumstances you are experiencing.

“Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” Psalm 3:2-6

A thing that really stuck out in the sermon I heard was this: The struggles that we experience, the greater they are, the more joy you will have in them and coming through them. I find that to be so true because in the hardest of struggles, we are stripped away from everything we put our hope in until we are only left with Jesus. Through this, we lean on Him and put our trust and hope in Him. And when we do that, we are overcome with who He is and His glory. We are overcome with the joy that the Lord calls us to have and cannot help but live out a life centered around the Lord.

The bigger the struggle, the greater the joy and in Him we find hope.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

 

Having Joy in Vulnerability

I struggle with being vulnerable…there I said it. Vulnerability is really hard, scary and unpredictable. I hated being vulnerable with people who were closest to me because I was afraid of being hurt. Now, this mentality is a valid reason for not being vulnerable, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

I had many instances where I would be vulnerable, someone I trusted and they wouldn’t be encouraging about it. They would discourage, critique and even reprimand every word that was said.

My reaction…I felt hurt, betrayed even. The person I trusted to share something hard, didn’t give me the reaction I was expecting.

BUT…

This should not discourage you from being vulnerable. When you are vulnerable with the right people, close friends or family, your church or Christian community; it opens up so many opportunities for joy.

Yes…JOY

This word was pretty unknown to me for a while along with “vulnerable.” I struggled to find my way and I didn’t want to trust anyone. I had been beaten and battered by so many people I thought I could trust with some pretty deep stuff.

I put on a face, in a way, pretending that everything in my life was fine. I wasn’t good at it by any means, in fact, I pretty much show every emotion I am feeling on my face. But I definitely gave it my best shot. And when the pain was too much and shown through my words and actions, I played it off or would say something else was wrong contrary to the truth.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2

Even though I couldn’t be vulnerable with people, God saw straight through my act. He knew exactly what I was going through and didn’t give me a hard time or critique me. Instead, he brought me closer to him. He was showing me that vulnerability and having joy in being vulnerable was okay, accepted.

I found that the closer I became to Jesus, the more vulnerable and joyous I became to the people around me. It’s still difficult, but I have found there has to be a balance.

First and foremost, you have to bring whatever issues you’re going through to the Lord FIRST. He is the ultimate Healer, Comforter, Father and Friend. He is right beside you, holding your hand and listening to your struggles. Sometimes the Lord calls for giving some “tough love,” always using every situation and circumstance as an excuse for growth. He is teaching you and challenging you in being vulnerable.

Second, it is okay to be vulnerable with people. Being vulnerable isn’t about constantly bleeding your heart out to someone. In fact, that can be emotionally and spiritually draining after a while. But it is good to share your struggles with people you can trust like friends, family, people at church, your discipler. The people who know you well are the people you can be vulnerable with. Yes, sometimes they will disappoint you with their reaction, their words. But, don’t let that completely discourage you from being vulnerable.

The unfortunate reality is is that people are sinful, they were born with a sin nature. Even Christians aren’t perfect (trust me on that) and know that there will be times of disappointment.

Last, but certainly not least, you learn to be vulnerable with yourself. Sometimes, we tend to hide issues from ourselves because “we don’t want to deal with it.” But ignoring it is not necessarily a good idea. All ignoring does is allow the issue to fester and grow, until one day you’re absolutely debilitated because you ignored the problem. When you become vulnerable with yourself, you are more easily to be vulnerable with others.

The result of being truly vulnerable the way God designed you to be results in joy. Having joy is a choice and it is something as Christians we are called to practice.

“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, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have in no way mastered being vulnerable or having joy, just ask my parents or roommate when I wake up in the morning (there is no joy there). But I am learning that the more I trust the Lord and be vulnerable with him, the easier it is to have joy in being vulnerable with others.

 

My Faith Journey

I want to share with you where my life began, leading up to this point with me sitting in a coffee shop in a small town, typing on my laptop. It all starts with my faith journey: the moments leading up to accepting my relationship with Christ and all the moments after.

You see, I was raised in a Christian home in San Bernardino, California and was familiar with the routine of waking up every Sunday morning and going to church. I would sit through our church service for what seemed like an eternity, until kids were dismissed for “children’s church.” I would always make it a point to sneak by the table of coffee and doughnuts to grab a doughnut or two.

I went through the same process week after week, until one day I had a discussion with my parents. We talked about the Gospel and I already knew what it was. After all, I was raised in church. The Gospel was nothing I hadn’t heard before and I knew what it was inside and out. My parents were confident that I understood it enough to be baptized and before I knew it, I was standing before my pastor. I told him the Gospel and that I understood the meaning of it. After “evaluating” me, he told my parents that I was in the ideal position to be baptized. So in July 2005, at the age of 7 year and 10 months my dad baptized me in our friend’s pool in front of my entire church congregation.

Looking back, the experience with my dad baptizing me, surrounded by people I love was so special. I even recently found a video of 7 year old me making a proclamation of faith. Everything seemed to be going well and then my parents sat me down and announced that we were moving over 2,000 miles away to Illinois.

My parents moved my brother and I to a small town in the Chicagoland suburbs because my dad was given the business opportunity to manage an opening restaurant nearby. It was a hard transition from leaving everything I knew to something completely unknown. It was during this time that I started going to public school (which was a totally different environment from a private Christian school) and going to a new church with my family.

I was involved with AWANAs and would invite the few friends I had at school to come play games and memorize verses for candy for Wednesday night. They came, but slowly as the weeks went on, they stopped coming. I became discouraged and shy, I didn’t want to be as open with my faith as I was before.

This state of being for me lasted until I decided to go with my church’s youth group to a summer camp for the week. I was in a place where I didn’t have many close friends. (Sure, I had a best friend Lauren. We had been best friends since we were eight. We met after my mom decided to take me out of public school and homeschool me. But she wasn’t at this summer camp and I felt a little lost.)

BUT GOD…

A speaker at the camp was giving a sermon on the last night of camp. He started talking of life and death, eternal life and hell. It was a lot of deep stuff to take in as a twelve year old. Then, after he spoke on everything in his sermon, he shared the Gospel. Yes, yes I know…I had heard the Gospel hundreds of times. I knew what the Gospel was like the back of my hand, but this time was different. It was like the switch in my heart and mind was flipped. A light bulb went off and I finally, truly understood what it meant to be a follower of Christ.

Christianity for the longest time was just something I was raised to know, something I was “born in to.” But now, I finally understood that I had to make this faith, the same faith my parents had as my own. That night I chose to follow Christ and accept him as my personal Savior. I was overcome with what I now know to be the Holy Spirit. I cried uncontrollably, to know that I was a child of God and that he LOVED and ACCEPTED ME.

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” Romans 10:9-13

My life didn’t become perfect overnight, but my life was changed. I started choosing Jesus more and more. I strove to know him more through his Word and fellowship with other followers of Christ.

Yes, I did struggle. Through most of high school and part of college, I struggled with depression and anxiety. I struggled with a pornography addiction and with body insecurity.

BUT GOD…

Even through the shame and hopelessness I felt during that time, the Lord was so good and sweet to remind me who I truly am in his eyes. He called me his treasure, his daughter, his chosen one. He is teaching me to see the truth behind the lies and how to overcome the insecurities that I feel with confidence.

These are still things I am continuing to learn…

The Lord called me out of some dark places and even flipped my entire life plans upside-down. You see, I have been in college since I was sixteen. I started at a community college for two years before moving on to Elmhurst College. There, my plan was to be accepted into the pre-vet program and to major in Biology. I had it all planned out.

BUT GOD…(Do you see a theme here?)

“If you ever want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for you life.” –A Wise Person

I had become involved with Cru when I first started at Elmhurst because I didn’t want to become one of the many college students who fell away from their faith because they didn’t have a Christian community. There my faith grew tenfold, I learned what it meant to disciple and how important it was for me to share my faith with the students on my campus.

Jesus had raised the bar for my spiritual growth and I was loving it. I started discipling a freshman girl and would go out “sharing” with people each week. I was involved with going on Cru retreats, bible studies, and prayer sessions.

However, while I was thriving in the community I was involved in, I was failing in my academics. I was taking a majority of heavy math and science classes and I couldn’t keep up. In hopes of saving my GPA and sanity, I dropped a class and switched my major from Biology to English.

Then, God did something surprising. He put it on my heart to join ministry. I had fallen in love with reaching out to college students. I fell in love with pouring into them and meeting them where they were at spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

I made the decision to remain faithful to the call and pursue college ministry. By the end of my first semester at Elmhurst, everything had changed.

I was challenged through this period of transition. My dad had lost his job at the beginning of semester, leaving me to wonder how I would pay for school. I struggled juggling school, work, my community and my social life. I struggled to be a good friend/roommate while also maintaining boundaries.

By the time spring semester rolled around at Elmhurst, I was beat. I had to deal with some hard things, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come ahead.

Even with the things that happened before and after spring semester, my faith only grew. Yes, I still struggled as we all do through trials, but I never doubted God. I never doubted that he was there or what he was doing is still good. Even if you feel this way, that’s okay. God is near to the brokenhearted and he is ready to walk you through whatever place you are at in your faith.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Spring semester was not terribly hard academically, like it had been last semester. It was hard in terms of spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I was rooming with my three close Christian friends in a house off campus. We were all involved with Cru and all loved the Lord. However, my one roommate struggles with many mental health issues. She struggled with depression and anxiety, and we later learned that semester that she struggles from Borderline Personality Disorder. It became very difficult on all of us as she would go through episodes with her medication fluctuating. She experienced self-harm and suicidal urges.

I found myself having to help her bandage her arms after she would self-harm. A few times, we had to rush her to the hospital because she wasn’t “safe” with herself and she would have to be admitted into a psychiatric facility.

All the while, the three of us dealt with out own battles. We all experienced depression and anxiety and heartache.

During this time, I experienced depression like I had never known. I would have panic attacks multiple times a week and I struggled to keep my head above water emotionally.

I felt alone…

I couldn’t talk to my roommates because there was so many struggles and unresolved conflicts there and I hated the idea of being a “burden.” I would talk to my discipler, but there was only so much she could do. I even sought professional help at my school’s counseling center, but that made little difference.

And to top off everything, I had to make the almost impossible decision to separate myself from my best friend of twelve years, the one I was going to be the maid of honor for in her wedding. She had broken my trust and hurt me, but refused that she was in the wrong. (But that’s for another time) Just know, I had hit my breaking point.

BUT GOD…

He was showing me and teaching me through this process where I needed to place my identity. I had placed my identity in so many things leading up to this point. I put my identity in academics, activities, relationships, etc. I really struggled with placing my identity in my relationships. I had put so much work into my relationships: my classmates, Cru, my roommates. I was putting my identity in so many other things that I failed to put my identity into the one thing that truly matters, Christ.

I have found it is when a person is at their weakest, when they have nothing to give is when the real work happens. I was beaten down to nothing and that is when the Lord laid his hand on me and started healing me.

I had decided to transfer from Elmhurst College to Moody Bible Institute because the Lord called me to remain faithful. The summer before entering Moody, I experienced a beautiful and struggling time in Colorado. I was apart of a leadership training program through a Christian organization and I was pushed to the edge. I experienced many insecurities that I had avoided for years, I battled lies that were ingrained in me with God’s truth and worked to resolved conflict with my two roommates who were also in the program.

As I entered Moody, the Lord continued to teach and grow me. He is teaching me the importance of trusting him with blind faith and having joy in the struggle.

With as far as I have come, there is still farther to go.

BUT GOD… He remains faithful and good. He is so patient and sweet with me in my stubbornness and obliviousness. He continues to place people in my life who challenge me to put my identity in Christ.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Yes, this was a long blog post and I hope it wasn’t too tedious, but in all honesty this is just the beginning of my faith journey. I am twenty and I have the rest of my life ahead to struggle, grow, mess up and succeed.

If you have a faith journey, I would encourage you to share it with the world, starting with you friends and family. Share what Christ has done and is doing in and through you. He has equipped you to impact the lives of others because of the Holy Spirit within you. I encourage you to live out the Great Commission in whatever way the Lord has equipped you.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Matthew 28:16-20

 

Why a Blog?

So, “why a blog?” You see, for the longest time I have always wanted to have a blog. I love writing, always have and what better way to start the new year, right?! Writing was something I would use to collect my thoughts, express my emotions, and truly be me.

The one to give me the final push for creating my own blog was my mom (a.k.a. my best friend/soulmate). She has always been one to support me and push me to succeed. And one day, she came to me and suggested that I would do well with starting my own blog. So, here I am…

My hope for having this blog is to be able help and encourage others. I don’t want to be your typical blogger/instagrammer who is always posting cute pictures and talking about how great their life is. I want this blog to be raw, real, and relatable.

I want to talk about life: the good, the bad, and the beautiful. I want to share my struggles and how through it all, Christ has been walking alongside me. I am working towards being a woman of spirit. Someone who is confident in who they are as Christ created them to be, someone who still struggles but still pushes for success. So, without further explanation let the writing commence…