Heart Connections

DSC_0069

Recently, I was talking with some friends over dinner. In Austin, this past weekend was ACL which is a huge music festival so we were on the topic of concerts. One guy was talking about all these concerts he’d been to over the past few years. Someone asked how he managed to get such cheap tickets to so many amazing shows. And his answer was simple: Jesus.

He explained that he connected best with God through live music so he truly believed that God knows that about him and thus makes sure he gets to do that. Isn’t that awesome?

I was reminded of that comment when I was reading a textbook for one of my classes. I’m taking a class on the history of the papacy and the Church in Italy. Many of the popes are known for the vast amount of art they commissioned. It often was for self-aggrandizement however and not for the glory of God. That’s why this one comment stood out to me.

The book read, “To [Nicholas] the arts were neither vain nor frivolous; they too bore witness to the glory of god.”

I love that. I love how that are so many different ways we can connect with God and how He meets with us through the gifts He’s given us.

This week, meet with God through your passions. Search for opportunities to connect. He knows how He created you and He’s longing for you to see Him through your loves.

Stuck

DSC_0544

I love when a verse or a quote really gets stuck in my heart. When encouraging truths are on loop in my head, the rest of me is so much more at peace. I remember the first time I memorized scripture for myself (and not for candy in sunday school), it was the verse “I will cast my burdens on the Lord and He will sustain me.” That was repeated constantly in times of trial.

Recently, this phrase has been played again and again:

I am a child of God. Nothing more. Nothing less. And nothing else matters. 

I love that. It was from a guest preacher’s sermon on Mother’s Day this year. He was talking about giving ourselves grace and not comparing ourselves with those around us. I think everyone needs to be reminded of those two things once in a while every day.

So if you’re in need of some grace today (who isn’t?), listen: you are a child of God. Nothing more. Nothing less. And nothing else matters.

On Dance and Sacrifice.

ef0607bbe5518d7e03159170aceab475

 

{not me}

I was talking with a someone recently who hopes to be a missionary when she’s older and she mentioned how many sacrifices people who choose that life have to make. It made me pause, because I don’t usually think of the word sacrifice when I think about my time overseas. But the more I think about it, there are so many sacrifices involved in flying across the world and scattering your heart along the way.

This past weekend, I was in a dance recital for my school. I needed a fine arts credit to graduate so I chose dance. Even though I haven’t danced in forever, the teacher let me skip Dance 1 (which is just a PE credit) to Dance 2. While I’ve overall enjoyed the class, it’s been rough. And I wasn’t so sure about this required recital we had to be in. But as the day drew nearer, I was ok with it…not super excited, not dreading it. It would be fine.

On the day of, I got to school early with everyone else in my class and we did our hair and makeup. And it was even kinda fun. I hadn’t gotten to get ready for a game or meet or recital in years and it was fun to feel those flutters of excitement and nervousness again.

Before the show started, everyone had to watch the drill team perform (our show was just high school and middle school dance classes…the ‘real’ show was that night) their opening number. And they are good. So good. I was so sad to miss their show.

As the lights dimmed though and they started to dance, a familiar feeling crept into my heart. What if. What if we hadn’t moved…would I be on that stage with them? Would I be on some other sports team? What could I have done if I hadn’t moved? Oh so familiar tears filled my eyes as the dancers on the stage blurred under the bright lights. Every football game. Every dance show. Every school dance. Every homecoming. Those tears. Sacrifice.

The actual show was great. No one messed up and it was fun to finally perform the dance we’d practiced so long. The feeling of “what if” faded, like it always does. But it lingers in the back of my mind – the constant struggle to accept that God’s plan for me overseas was better than my dreams of having a “normal” high school life.

But, honestly, if I had the chance to go back and do it all again…I’d still choose Italy. I’d still choose the long hours in an Italian classroom. I’d still choose the loneliness. I’d still choose the house that was freezing in the winter and dizzingly hot in the summer. Because with those moments came meeting my Italian friends. Learning the language. Seeing places I only dreamed of visiting. Finding community with other MKs. Starting Not of this World. Seeing the world with a different set of eyes. High school is only four years of my life and in a few years, it will be a distant memory. But Italy. That’s a forever memory. And it was worth the sacrifice.

On Comparing.

“Stop judging and evaluating yourself, for this is not your role. Above all, stop comparing yourself with other people. This produces feelings of pride or inferiority; sometimes, a mixture of both. I lead each of My children along a path that is uniquely tailor-made for him or her. Comparing is not only wrong; it is also meaningless. The source if real affirmation is My unconditional love.”

-Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

I keep Jesus Calling (brief daily devotionals from the perspective of Jesus) on my dresser and usually try to read that day’s message on my way out the door for school. My hope is that it’ll stick in my head as I walk through the halls of my school and sit through classes. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. On February 28th, it definitely stuck.

Comparison is such a struggle for me. All day long it’s difficult to not compare. In the morning, it’s hard not to compare my hair when it just won’t do what I want it to. During school, it’s hard not to compare grades and clothes and beauty. At home, it’s hard not to compare my writing and blogging. All day long. It’s exhausting and demotivating.

This weekend, I noticed it especially with blogging. I started Not of this World because I love to write. I love to design. I love to be creative. I love MKs. But it’s hard not to look at blogs with hundreds of comments and lots of followers and gorgeous design layouts. And then come here. But God’s been reminding me that it’s what I write that counts, not how it looks. One of my new favorite blogs is simple, at best. No pictures. No fun fonts. Barely any color. Yet I read it because the words are so encouraging and true. It was a good reminder for me that though it’s ok – and even good – that I care about doing everything with excellence when it comes to presentation (side note: did you notice the new social media buttons in the top right corner? Aren’t they cute! Highlight of Saturday! 🙂 ), that’s not why I do what I do.

Ever since I read that entry in Jesus Calling, I’ve been trying extra hard to hold each thought captive, to stop the comparison game before it even truly begins. Because only then will I truly be able to enjoy the life and gifts God has given me.

2013.

Screen shot 2013-01-16 at 11.01.35 PM

 

 

{source}

I’m not a big fan of new year resolutions. At least for me. Because I can’t really remember any of the resolutions I have made and I don’t think I’ve ever followed through with any of them. And I tried picking a word for my year and, while that’s such a cool concept, it didn’t work out well either because I forgot my word was “joy” two months in (even after I wrote this long blog post on it).

Tonight, though, I made out a list of things I want to see happen in 2013. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t know what I was going to write, but I just started to write.

Spend less time on the computer and more time doing things that fill me.

Exercise more, drink more water, and get more sleep.

Sharpen my weapons as a prayer warrior.

Listen more, talk less.

Start taking pictures again.

Invest in Not of this World.

Continue to strive for excellency even when those around me are not.

Invest in the relationships I have now, not the ones I hope for in the future.

These are all fairly abstract, not specific details of things I want to accomplish. They’re not on a post-it note on my bathroom mirror to guilt me into change. They’re in a book that is not on the top of a stack of books. If 2014 starts and I haven’t fulfilled all these things, it will be ok. They are simply things that have been bouncing around my head and my heart and I wanted to write them down so years down the road, I’ll remember what I was thinking about.

Do you have any resolutions or a word of the year? If you’re thinking of picking a word for your year, I highly recommend reading this blog post by Natalie Lloyd about her “year of the lion.”

Do Not Lose Heart

article-new-ehow-images-a08-2b-c1-run-getting-out-breath-fast-800x800

{via google}

I am not a runner.

But I run. And I mostly hate it, but I do it because it’s good for me. I’ve played sports for most of my life, but these past two years have been some of the few that I haven’t. At my school, sports are double-blocked classes, meaning two of my possible eight classes would be sports. Sadly, because I came to the school my junior year, all of my eight classes are filled up with things I need to take in order to graduate. Which means no sports, which means running.

During the summer and the first few weeks of school, I would run most of the two-mile loop in my neighborhood. Occasionally, I managed to make myself run the whole thing without stopping, but that was rare. And then, slowly, I started running less and less, until I was just walking in the neighborhood. Fast walking, but walking nonetheless.

In December, however, I signed up for two races: the Color Me Rad 5k (which was SO MUCH FUN!) and a Christmas 5k. The color one was just for fun with friends and we ended up walking for most of it, but my goal for the second one was to not stop running for all 3.1 miles. And I did it! It was exhausting and painful, but never once did my legs stop running and I was so proud of myself.

I started running around my neighborhood again and every single time, I ran the whole loop without stopping. I needed that 5k to prove to myself that my body could take it.

Running is still painful, but knowing that I’m fully able to do it makes it ten times easier. And when I’m on the last hill leading to my house, I just have to keep pushing and telling myself I can make it.

The past month, I’ve been reading 2 Corinthians and found a verse that I not only love, but think really applies to my running story. Chapter 4 verse 8 reads, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…So we do not lose heart.”

I love this verse. It’s for fighters. It’s for perseverer. It’s for the exhausted. It’s for that last hill when you think you can’t go any further. This world will have troubles and hard things will come your way, but God will never let you be broken. Not only will you be stronger for overcoming the evils in this world,  you’ll know the next time you face them, you can take it.