Is It Well With My Soul?

I have always loved the classic hymn, It Is Well With My Soul.  It’s a beautiful [and famous] song that’s sung in most Christian churches around the globe.  It’s filled with lyrics that speak of surrender, peace, and complete trust in a God Who is good and sovereign.  One verse says, “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”

What I didn’t know is that the author of this song – Horatio Spafford – wrote this hymn nearly a week or so after his wife and four daughters set sail on a luxury steam liner to Paris for holiday in 1873.  While he stayed behind to finish up some last minute work, the rest of his family boarded the ship.  After a short time at sea, their steam liner was rammed by a British iron sailing ship and had sunk in the middle of the ocean.  Horatio’s wife was rescued after being found unconscious – but his four daughters drowned and were killed.  Once Horatio got word from his wife about the tragedy via telegram, he boarded a boat to reunite with her.  As he sailed across the exact spot where the steam liner sank (and where his daughters were killed) – he penned the words to It Is Well With My Soul.

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Hectic.  The tragedy that Horatio faced while writing the lyrics to this song gives it an entirely new and significant meaning.  Every time I listen to the lyrics play over my iPhone speakers – I am greatly challenged by this man’s faith, and I am greatly confronted with the lack of my own.

Continue reading “Is It Well With My Soul?”

Being You-er Than You

2 + 2 equals  4… but so does 3 + 1…

Just because someone may do things a little bit differently than you, doesn’t mean they are doing it wrong.  This has taken me years to understand, and I think I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of what this truth actually means.

I used to want to fit in for such a long time.  Before I became a Christian, I would buy the right clothes from the right stores, wear the right hairstyles, and pierce the right body parts.  I’d listen to all the top hits on Y100.7, speak the American slang, and dive deep into the popular teen magazines.  I did whatever it took to blend in with the cool kids and be “one of them.”

Funny thing is… when I became a Christian, that didn’t stop.  I still was desperate to fit in.  I exchanged my “American slang” for “Christianese,” and I swapped out my Brittany Spears CD’s for Bethel Worship Music.  I still tried to wear the right clothes – you know, nothing to “skimpy” but also nothing to “amish,” and I even tried to wear a purity ring.  (Which lasted a whole five seconds, by the way.)  My first few years of going to a new church and trying to figure out how to be a “good normal Christian” was incredibly intimidating.  I still didn’t feel like I fit in even after I received my salvation card—not to mention, I was super unhappy because I wasn’t free to be myself. Continue reading “Being You-er Than You”

Dance in the Rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

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I don’t know about you, but I’m so ready for April to be over.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, April showers bring May flowers?  Well, forget April showers, because this month came fully-loaded with torrential downpours!  It’s been a month full of lost keys, acne breakouts, sinus infections, dangerously low bank account balances, and broken break lights.  The struggle has been so deliciously real.  (Deliciously, because I have never had to eat this many packages of super cheap 2-minute ramen noodles in my entire life.) Continue reading “Dance in the Rain”

Shockproofing Sin: One F-Bomb at a Time

There’s a question thats been floating around in my head these past few days…

It’s been driving me crazy, and it demanded an answer.

Why are Christians so shocked when a fellow sinner… sins?  I mean, think about it.  Say you’re sitting in church, and the guy next to you reeks of weed and bad life decisions.  Or say you overheard your bible study friend admit to fantasizing about a guy she saw on her soap opera. I’d bet 9 times out of 10 you’d avoid eye contact and silently intervene in prayer for the person’s salvation.  But what if that person was already saved?  What if they loved the Lord?  How would you feel then?  Shocked? Disappointed? Angry? Continue reading “Shockproofing Sin: One F-Bomb at a Time”

Embracing Your Sheepish Side

Have you ever heard someone use the word “sheepish” in a conversation?  Maybe you’ve even used it yourself, saying something like, “wipe that sheepish grin off of your face, child.”  Lord knows I’ve heard phrase that plenty of times in my life…

Well, I just discovered that the definition of sheepish is: to show or feel embarrassment because of an act of foolishness; or to resemble a sheep in timidity, meekness, or stupidity.  

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So, check this out.  Last week, I spent a few days in a quiet little garden town called Greyton.  I went hiking (and totally got lost) in the mountains, I frolicked through the grassy meadows (after frantically running away from a swarm of bees), and I stumbled (literally) upon a peaceful river.  I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend some quality time alone with Jesus.  It was perfectly serene, and I honestly didn’t want to leave.  While I was there, the Lord reminded me of Psalm 23.  You probably know it because it’s one of the most famous passages in the bible, but just incase you’re unfamiliar… here’s what it says: Continue reading “Embracing Your Sheepish Side”

A Saving Grace or a Slippery Slope?

The time has come.

After sipping my Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks while simultaneously basking in uncertainty over the topic of my new blog post, I have decided to write about one of my biggest insecurities.  Let the thoughts about picture posting, friend following, and ridiculous hash-tagging begin!

Social media can be difficult.  It’s an awesome tool, but it can be used in some very un-awesome ways.  It’s an incredible resource for staying in touch with people, raising awareness (and funds), sharing photos with family and friends, and above all else – networking.  It’s a fantastic tool for building relationships (and maintaining those relationships) with people all over the world.  I can personally vouch for all of this! But social media also has it’s downsides, and I can honestly say that I’ve experienced those too.  It’s a place where insecurity, discontentment, and comparison thrive.  It’s a place where bullying and shaming occur daily, and it’s a place where someone’s value can depend on how many “likes” they get.  Been there done that, folks.  And let me tell you, putting your value and worth into the hands of other people who can tear you apart with a single word or phrase… really sucks.  It’s time to get free.

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When I have compared my life to the lives of other people (especially via Facebook or Instagram), I usually felt one of two ways:

  • I end up feeling totally inadequate – like my life doesn’t measure up or even matter to other people around me.
  • I end up sitting atop my high horse (in all my arrogance and pride) trampling down on the small peasants who didn’t quite reach my standard of awesomeness due to their own mediocre lifestyle choices.

(Hypocrite much?)  Neither of those things are good things to feel.  In fact, they are terrible things to feel.  No, seriously.  It’s a complete waste of time.  Believing the enemy’s lies that give birth to those feelings of self-pity and pride… don’t benefit anyone.  So let’s snap[chat] ourselves out of it.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Paul talks about this issue of comparing ourselves to others in Scripture.  In Romans 12:6a he says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…”  I love that.  Quick example: I love to speak and write.  I enjoy inspiring and encouraging people with words of honesty and affirmation.  That’s a gift God has given me.  Now, my friend Ilse is also really gifted, but to my knowledge, she doesn’t write poetry or speak in front of large groups of people on a day-to-day basis.  Instead, she makes these amazing stuffed bears called iBears (Click for Website), and she pours her heart and soul out into every single teddy bear she makes.  She even makes teddies to bring to the children in the hospital that are battling with cancer.  She is super creative at sewing and she knows how to use fabric like a boss.  I’m pretty sure she can sew almost anything.  (Let’s just call her the MacGyver of sewing.)  If I made one, my bear would most likely scare the cancer right out of the children because it would probably end up looking more like an evil monster.  I can’t sew to save my life (nor to even clothe myself).  Thank God for Target and the Nike Store.

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My point is that our Creator has made us all different for a reason – and yes, I know I say this all the time, but if we were all the same, it would limit God’s reach and creativity.  It would limit the positive impact we can make on our world.  He is using our passions and dreams and joys to bring life to the people around us.  Arts and crafts, music, sports, drama, writing, speaking, tattooing, dancing, medicine, building, stamp collecting, or whatever other hobby you can possible think of – if you have it, embrace it!  The things that come naturally to us were ingrained into us for a reason.  We shouldn’t be jealous or envious of others for their talents or gifts because those same people will also have their own unique battles to fight.  The grass is not greener on the other side.  Instead of envying our fellow human beings, we should praise them, build them up, and spur them on.

So when I share about my life on social media, I want it to inspire and encourage.  I want it to radiate hope, because I strongly believe that hope brings life.  I want everyone to see that there is no such thing as a “cookie cutter Christian” – quite the opposite is true, really.  We are all unique individuals who have a unique purpose in this life.  For me, instead of holding others back, I want to help them get ahead, at any cost to my own ego or success.  And believe me, that was harder to type than you may think.  The Bible says in James 3:16, “For wherever there is jealousy [envy] and contention [rivalry and selfish ambition], there will also be confusion [unrest, disharmony, rebellion] and all sorts of evil and vile practices.”  And I don’t want that for anyone.

I used to be on social media for approval and validation.  I really wanted those likes and I wanted to be “known” by others.  Little did I realize, I was already approved, validated, befriended, and known.  Someone way more important than anyone on my social media feeds was already calling me worthy and I hadn’t even done anything to deserve it.  Once I realized that, I didn’t need to earn “likes” from the world anymore because I already had unconditional love from my Savior.  This wonderful truth gives me the freedom to share my story with anyone and everyone who might be interested.  It gives me the opportunity to be completely myself without fear of judgement or rejection from people.  If my value is rooted in God’s opinion of me, then I don’t ever need to be afraid of man’s opinion of me.  (Again, easier typed than lived, but I’m willing to speak it out in faith even if my feet struggle to follow along with this truth from time to time!)

I have the freedom to be me – to play soccer, to make friends, to sketch, to learn a new language, to climb mountains, to write spoken word poetry, to wear muscle tee’s, to sleep with a moose pillow named Chauncy, and to speak boldly about Jesus in front of thousands of high school students in South Africa.  The beauty is that I get to do all of those fun and exciting things with the joy and peace in my heart that come from knowing that I am loved and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

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Psalm 139:13-16
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”