Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Don't Want To Be Guilt Tripped

I went to Jesus Culture Conference this past weekend, which I'm sure would surprise no-one-ever by my social media activity. 



This was my second time going, and both times have been absolutely amazing. Worshipping along with so many other Jesus lovers, and hearing incredibly inspiring and passion inducing messages? Can't beat it. I'm pretty sure the Jesus Culture experience is a little slice of heaven. And if so, I'm pumped. 


At one point on the first night, a man came on stage to speak about a featured organization, Feed The Children. He shared a story about his experience with the hunger and poverty epidemic, and then he invited the audience to get involved. He set loose volunteers carrying packets symbolizing children across various countries needing financial sponsors, and as he did, my arm shot up. 

In that moment, I learned a very clear lesson about myself. 

I don't want to be guilt tripped. 

 The truth is, as this man spoke on stage, I only half listened. If I'm being honest, I had heard the spiel before. I had heard the grip-your-heart stories about world poverty, and the touching testimonies of the impact of ____ dollars per day. I have an incredibly sensitive heart that is often quick to grab my check book, so when moments like this happen, I've learned to put the brakes on. I've learned to put my guard up, and check to make sure I'm responding wisely, and not just out of emotion. 

It's true, I don't want to be guilt tripped. And I see the wisdom in that. I see that I'm only given finite finances, and while I wish I could support everything, I can't. I have to discern what is the best use of my resources, what I'm called to invest in and support, not be driven by guilt or impulse. 

That being said, I realized something this weekend. I recognized that I don't want to be guilt tripped, but

I do want to be God-tripped. 

If I'm too busy running my race to check out the opportunity passing me by, I want to be God-tripped. If I'm so stuck in my routine that I mindlessly make decisions, I want to be God-tripped. I give God full permission to stick that speed bump right in front of my path so that I slow down enough to hear His voice. And if I'm not hearing? 

Please, God, trip me. 

This weekend, I got tripped. Zero part of me expected to sign up for a monthly giving plan, but something in my heart moved. I may not have heard all of the details of the man's story, but I've seen my own. I've seen the children in Africa lining up for medical attention, only for 90% of them to be diagnosed with malnutrition. I've seen them beg for food and water, and while keeping my hand down at a conference might be easy, rejecting a hungry child is hard

Something in my heart jumped as I did the math, and realized that even if it didn't add up, it didn't matter, I was doing this. As my hand raised without hesitation, I silently prayed that God would intentionally choose my child. And guys, when I saw her? I cried. 

Christians can have a reputation of getting taken advantage for their generosity. We can be known for mindlessly giving, because we're called to. And really, I don't mind if I seem to add to that stereotype one bit. But here's the thing: 

I'm not guilt-tripped, I'm God-tripped. 

And I pray that He never stops tripping me. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thoughts on a Saturday

I'm sitting here at 8:08AM on Saturday morning with this as my view:


And I figure, what better thing to do than blog out some thoughts. You know, the ones that I've been thinking "I need to blog about this!", and then never doing. I know it's not the strategic blog move to post on a Saturday, but let's all take a moment of silence to remember strategic blogger Amy. 

...

Okay, moment's over. And to be honest, she never was much "strategic" anyway. So, let's commence!

One, I got my first anthro mug. And I adore it, I 100% understand the obsession now. It's so pretty and sturdy and unique and I love her. I fill her with steamed almond milk, because I'm a child apparently. This past week, I thought to myself dang, this would be good warm. So I heated that shiz and boom, hooked. 

Two, let's talk worship. There have been some songs that have been on repeat for me, that definitely warrant a shout out. 



Worship is kind of my jam. I am in no way, shape, or form annointed to serve in that area, but worship changed me. It changed my life. And now, I can't go an extended period time without jamming out to some good, solid truth, or else my heart goes all out of whack. 

My life changed in a worship set. It didn't change after hearing a stellar sermon, or during an intense altar call. It changed during worship. And I have no idea what song was playing, but I know that God's presence was thick. Thick enough to reach down and wrap me up and make me feel safe enough to finally let go of my life. 

And you know what, that Bible verse {Matthew 16:25} is true. When I finally gave up my life, I finally found it. 

Three, I was gonna go on, but I kinda feel good about ending here. To be honest, this has been my first blog post in a while that has just flowed. I miss that, I miss coming to this place with a heart full of passion, and watching as my fingertips almost effortlessly tap a keyboard to present those thoughts. I like when there's no overanalyzing about tone and wording, just me pouring out into a blog post. 

That's how today felt. Maybe I should blog on Saturday mornings more often. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Currently

I am currently laying in bed at 1:42PM on Sunday afternoon with not a single plan for the remainder of the day. Heavennnn

Perfect time to write a post on life's current happenings. 

***

I'm currently reading this book:


And let me tell you, it's wrecking me good. Isn't it funny how Christian lingo takes these terrible verbs and turns them into profoundly positive statements. 

"This week's sermon wrecked me." "That bible verse destroyed me the first time I heard it."

AKA it spoke to me in such a way that it changed everything in the best possible way. And yes, that's exactly what this book is doing. I'm hoping to do a complete post once I'm done with the book, so more on this to come. For now, I'll just say that if you've ever once thought you struggle with insecurity, pick up a copy of this book stat. And then text me as you read it and we'll gush about how spot on it is. 

***

I'm currently mourning the ending of The Office. 


Unlike everyone else, I decided to jump on this bandwagon a year and a half after the show ended. I binge watched like nobody's bizznass, and finished all 9 seasons in a matter of months. I did fall asleep in a fair amount, but still. Just gives me permission to rewatch all 9 seasons at a later date. 

They were that good. I now understand what all the fuss was about, and I both want to work at Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, PA, and be BFFs with Pam and Jim. And Angela and Dwight. And everybody. 

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with my free time anymore. 

***

I'm currently getting back into real life mode after spending time at home for the holidays. Don't be fooled by the fake snow. We were most definitely in San Diego. 




***

I'm currently still relishing in the deliciousness that was consumed at last night's Friendsmasgiving. Yum. 





PJ and I made the green beans, and I was quite happy with how they turned out! 


Sauteed them with some olive oil, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and gave a good solid shake of sea salt and pepper, and boom. Yummy green beans. 

I just may volunteer to make them for Thanksgiving next year!

***

And now, I'm going to go pop myself some pop corn and pick a movie on netflix. But before I head out, I've got a question for ya'll. {Leave it to me to end a light post with a serious question}.

How do you Sabbath? The Lord put it on my heart to spend some time this year really developing a consistent pattern of rest. What does that look like for you? I'd love to hear it!

It's Sunday for me, but this will post on Monday. So happy Monday, friends! Over and out. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Speak Up Link Up - Wild and Freeee

Happy 2nd day of 2015, loves! I hope your year is off to a fabulous start. And if it's not, like some of mine have in the past, I hope you're feeling fully wrapped in His love and infinite grace, and encouraged by the idea that January 1st is just another day on the calendar.

I'm here to link up with Annie and Amber for the first Speak Up! vlog link up. I'm beyond excited for this, and was even more pumped when I found out the topic was wild + free. Hopefully, this vlog is the perfect way to kick off consistent 2015 blogging, yes? 

A couple disclaimers & fun facts about this vlog:

One - The sound quality is spectacular. If you're wondering how you can recreate it for yourself, just film your video on the edge of a cliff, on a windy day, directly beside a busy high way. 

Two - The comment I made about the scenic route being "just a tiny bit longer," bahaha. Try 3 hours longer. 

But totally worth it, right babe? 

Three - It's a good thing I filmed this when I did, because hours later I completely lost my voice. 100% gone. Something about the slightly sore throat or the 9 hours of singing along to the radio did me in. 

And with that, I present to you my wild + free vlog. 




Mr. Thomas and Me


Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Letter

Each year, I have a tradition of writing a letter. I write a letter that reflects on the prior year, and dreams about the year to come. It's become one of my favorite posts to write, along with the Year In Review posts. I guess sentimental things are my jam. 

***

Dear Me, 

This time last year, at 9AM on January 1st, I had already driven 3 hours back to Santa Barbara and was packing up my apartment. At some point during that morning, I distinctly heard a word spoken over 2014. I heard it, and I liked it. I wasn't 100% sure if I believed it yet, but I shook off my unbelief and proceeded walking in faith that my year would be marked with joy. That evening, after hours of moving and multiple dear friends who helped make that possible, I sat sipping a milk shake at my favorite local restaurant. I snapped a selfie, wrote a quick thankful thought, and hashtagged it #findingjoyin2014

Well girlfriend, that's exactly what happened. :)

Joy was indeed found in 2014, and it came abundantly. Moments with radiating joy are pasted all over the imaginary scrapbook of 2014: racing a herd of beautiful African children on the mountaintops of Kisoro, Uganda; walking by faith into a situation that I never could have crafted myself, and watching God consistently and faithfully reveal His presence over and over again; getting to stand up and teach the Word of God for the very first time, and feeling entirely consumed by passion I've never felt before; getting into seminary school, and watching as a dream of studying Scripture unfolded before my very eyes; and of course, the magical evening of May 31st, 2014, when the love of my life crossed my path in the dreamiest 24 hours of my entire life. 

Joy, all-encompassing joy

As I took time to reflect on the year, I realized that not only was it one marked by joy, but it was one marked by learning. When asked by my roommates what I learned in 2014, I was surprised by my response: "I learned how to let go, and go with the flow." I hadn't ever thought of it that way before, but it's true. 

Everything that happened in the last year was not by my planning. I didn't seek out the Africa trip. I didn't seek to change churches for a season, and never dreamed that I'd be given the opportunity to regularly speak and teach on Scripture. I didn't seek to return to my home church when the time came. I didn't expect to begin seminary school this year, and while I certainly hoped to fall in love, I never could have predicted or created the way that it happened. 

2014 was a year of walking closely with the Spirit. Following its promptings where ever I felt them, whether it was a sharp turn, a U-turn, or a 4 and a half hour drive to visit a man I met at a wedding. 2014 was a year of letting go of planning, and experiencing the joy of simply following

Oh Lord, please let me soak up that lesson for years to come. Perhaps that's why the joy was so evident, because what joy comes with releasing our own expectations in exchange for trust in His perfect plan. 



2015. One, how is it 2015 again? I feel like I was just ringing in 2007 as a high school senior. Time is just evaporating into thin air. Cray-zeeee. 

But okay, two: What do I see for 2015? My last two letters, I clearly felt drawn to Bible verses for the year. Philemon 1:6 was the verse for 2014, and 2 Peter 1:6-7 was for 2013. This year, I can't say that I have a clear verse yet. Though, I'll be hunting! But I can say that I've felt a word spoken over the year, and I hope it proves accurate standing on the other side. 

Last night, as I was texting a friend about accountability in regular Scripture study, I felt a word come to mind. 2014 was marked by learning. There were countless, almost daily, lessons that I felt through out the year. But if my 16 years of education have shown me anything, it's that learning is one thing, and applying is another.  

I want to apply what I'm learning to my life. I want to see fruit, real fruit. Whether it's evident heart change, or a shift in my routine and habits, I want to know that my heart is truly soaking up that which I'm learning. 

I hope to see my security more solidly found in Christ alone. I hope to see my heart take joy in serving above all other things. I hope to see a decrease in the number of moments where I choose myself over PJ. Man, a relationship can seriously expose the selfish parts of your heart, huh? (I mean, mine never does. Cough, cough, jaykay). 

I hope to see more responsible financial habits, and more cooking at home versus eating out. I hope to dive deeper into serving in women's ministry, and look forward to the Bible studies and retreats of the coming year. 

2014, you were so good to me. Thank you. 

2015, I'm excited to meet you. Let's see what you've got up your sleeve, shall we? 

XO

Me



Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year In Review

2014 was hands down the best year of my life. Pretttyyy safe to say that I'm stoked to relive it. Although, remind me again how it's already this time of year? 


<< January: January 1st, I left San Diego bright and early to pack up and move to a brand spankin' new apartment. I've never been more thankful for good friends than when some were willing to wake up early on New Years Day to help me move. I spent half the month in Kisoro, Uganda, on both my first mission trip and first time out of the country. Most definitely returned changed, and just in time for our housewarming party. >>


<< February: Watched the winter Olympics opening ceremony in style, and started the Beth Moore Breaking Free Bible study (aaaamazing). Spent lots of time with my wonderful girlfriends, hosting multiple Valentine's Day celebrations. Saw Frozen for the first time (game changer), and wrote one of my favorite posts about love languages, and how they relate to God. >>


<< March: Ran the Girl on Fire 10K (gorgeous local race), and spent a weekend camping with the family. Enjoyed gorgeous Santa Barbara, and had a spectacular weekend in Palm Springs at my childhood bestie's bachelorette party! Also, wrote a post about the moment mercy found me, my favorite story to tell. >>


<< April: Heard some powerful truth at the Catalyst church conference, and had a blast running through a vineyard at the Vines Into Water 5K. Celebrated Passover with a local church body, and enjoyed some classy Easter festivities with friends. Wrote a post about the ripple effect, which I still praise the Lord for each time I see my sister proudly rocking glasses. >>


<< May: Was blessed to meet Francis Chan at a free local church event (say whaaa?), and was in my first wedding, which I loved! Not only did I get to celebrate my best friend marrying her dream man, but I happened to walk out with a dream man of my own. ;) Though this month was quite magical, I can't ignore a local tragedy Santa Barbara faced when a shooting took 6 lives in our college town of Isla Vista. Those lives are dearly missed, and will be forever remembered. >>


<< June: After 3 weeks of texting, snap-chatting, and late night phone calls, I made my way up to Northern California for an official date with my sweet PJ. It was a dreamy first date, and I left with confirmation that this wedding crasher was now indeed my boyfriend. Celebrated my birthday surrounded with loved ones, and praised God for an entire year of sobriety! Some favorite posts from this month were on conflict, and the story of how PJ and I met. >>


<< July: Spent 4th of July at home in San Diego, and surprised my roommate with a Brad Paisley bachelorette party. Was rocked at Jesus Culture conference, and had one of the most incredible experiences of my life getting to share my testimony on Sunday, July 20th. I didn't blog much this month, but I did share a sweet story of God's faithfulness. >>


<< August: Was privileged to stand beside my roommate in her wedding, and got into seminary school! Visited the wonderful Kerrie in Tex/Mex, and celebrated Labor Day up in Northern California with the Peej. Also, wrote a post on purity, a topic that's suuuper close to my heart. >>


<< September: Had a blast at Women of Faith, and at the wedding of PJ's best friend. Ran the She Is Beautiful 10K for the second time, and officially started seminary school! >>


<< October: Had our second annual Reed Sister Vaycay with a San Diego staycation, and surprised PJ with tickets to see Luke Bryan and Lee Brice. Went all out with fall festivities at our house, The Hideaway, and brought my roomie up north for halloween weekend! >>


<< November: Kicked off the month with a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and had a magical time at Disneyland later in the month. Continued trekking through Leviticus for my seminary class, and for the first time, enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners! One with my family, and one with PJ's. Perfect holiday weekend. :) >>


<< December: Finished my seminary class!! And ran my second half marathon of the year, perfectly timed to celebrate the engagement of my best friend. Started getting back in the blogging groove with a post on people pleasing, and on why I write. Enjoyed multiple holiday parties, and celebrated Christmas at home with my family. >>

Such a magical, wonderful, dreamy year. So many big life events packed into 12 months: going to Africa, starting seminary school, falling in love. I close out this year feeling soooo utterly thankful, and thoroughly excited to see what 2015 has in store. 

Happy New Year, friends! Love you all. 

** Previous years in review: 2013, 2012 **