Thursday, April 24, 2014

Current Favorites

Current Favorite Song: I Lived by One Republic

I've listened to it more times than I can count. And I just found the song today. 

Current Favorite Place To Eat: Natural Cafe

Current Favorite Thing To Get: Half arugula salad and a cup of ranchero tempeh 

Oh em yum. 

Current Favorite Bible Verse: "Not one of all the Lord's good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled." Joshua 21:45

I'm gonna be sitting on this one for a while, til it sinks in good and deep. 

Current Favorite Starbucks Drink: Skinny vanilla latte with soy milk

Current Favorite Thing To Wear: These pants from American Eagle

They're jeggings, so think material like jeans, but stretchy like leggings. Best of both worlds, yes?

{Sweater: Stitch Fix, Top: Clothing Swap, Shoes: Target}

Current Favorite Thing To Work Out In: These shorts from Lorna Jane

They seem pretty close to these, and let me tell you, they are amazingggg. Softest material ever, and there are spandex shorts built in underneath, so no need to worry about pulling them down 243 times during your work out. 

{Top: Also from Lorna}

Current Favorite Thing I'm Expecting In The Mail: These protein bars

Hurry, hurry mail!!

Happy We-Made-It-Past-Humpday, friends! Have yourself a mighty fine one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Very Merry Easter

This Easter was so, so good. I really couldn't have asked for a better, more full weekend. 

I spent Good Friday evening in the Santa Barbara High School theater, although I'm fairly certain I was actually up in heaven. That's certainly how it felt, anyway. The message was short, and sweet. A reading from the Bible depicting exactly what happened on that cross for us so long ago, and then the simple words were stated: "let it wreck you." 

Our lives are so busy, so full. The moments where we can simply sit and be wrecked by the love that is Jesus? I live for those moments. Those moments are the ones that change your life. 

I knelt on that prayer carpet, and I'll admit, I didn't feel much at first. Is it weird that I can honestly say I praise Him in those moments? Why? Because there was a time when I could only worship when I felt the emotional build up. And I'm thankful that now, I've come to find that worship, like love, is a choice. Sometimes there's emotion, but sometimes, there's not. Emotion doesn't have to correspond with worship, though. It isn't a requirement. 

But on this momentous occasion, I wanted to do exactly what was humbly suggested. I wanted to be wrecked by the cross. So I prayed, "Lord, let me be moved."

I stood up to get communion, and looked around the room. I saw one roommate standing, arms out stretched to the Lord. I saw another roommate kneeling before Him on the carpet up front. Beside her on one side, a dear friend's husband. On the other side, another close friend who I've had the privilege and blessing of watching transform before my very eyes in these last few months. Walking past me was a couple who I adore, the husband holding his sweet 2 month old baby girl who I practically beg to hold each opportunity that I can. 

Right when it was my turn to get communion, the tears came. The memories came. I remembered less than two and a half years ago, standing in this very church body and knowing two people. Two. I remembered the desperation I felt as I begged the Lord to help me really, truly surrender my life to Him. 

The gravity of what He's done in the past two and a half years hit me as I looked around at my surroundings, looked at this life He's crafted for me. He really did give me new life on that day. And as I took of the bread and the juice, I remembered that His life is what did it. 

Easter morning was spent in another local high school theater, this time Dos Pueblos. {sidenote: I think God may be doing something in our high schools.

I celebrated with the church family that I never would have met, had the Lord not opened my eyes to a path I couldn't have imagined for myself. I cried during the baptisms, praising Him for all He is doing in these California coast lands, and in this church. I nodded along side the powerful message about the importance of letting go of the things we hold onto instead of God. And I laughed and danced to this video that captures the joy in this church family. {Bonus points if you find me.}

And after a morning full of some serious Jesus, I enjoyed the rest of the gorgeous day with some spiffed up friends for an Easter brunch. 

There was some seriously amazing homemade food {yes, even that gorgeous fruit tart!}, and lots of fun lawn games to be enjoyed. 

I missed my family at home, but am so thankful for this home away from home that I've been blessed with. 

Hope your Easter was full of all good things, too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ripple Effect

We were driving in the car, to a fro yo date to be exact. Me in the driver's seat, her diagonally behind me in the back, our usual seating arrangement. I was doing what I always do when she's in the car, blasting ridiculous tunes with corresponding ridiculous dance moves. She was indulging me with giggles that will probably only last a few more years before they turn to embarrassment. 

She asked me if I ever wear my contacts anymore. I said I wear them on special occasions, the way she does with the pretty dress she had on that day. She asked if it's because I didn't take care of my contacts. Clearly, one: she is too smart for her own good, and two: Mom took advantage of a "learn-from-your-older-sister's-mistake" moment. 

She then said in her proudest voice, "I'm going to get glasses soon!" 

I asked her, "Really? Did you go to the eye doctor?" To which she responded, "No, Dad tested me by holding up notecards with letters on them." {Got a good laugh imaging that. Way to go Dad, who needs them eye doctors anyway?}

I asked her how she felt about getting glasses; she said she was excited. "2 of my friends wear glasses," she said, "and you do too."

I praised, and praised, and praised Him in that moment.

 I praised Him for every visit to the eye doctor in the last year and a half that left me with the same diagnosis: your eyes hate contacts. I praised Him for every failed attempt to fix that. I praised Him for every time I sat and cried because I felt ugly in my glasses, for every time I wrestled with the lie that I would never find a husband in these things. 

Sound a bit dramatic? Isn't that just how the enemy works? He plants these lies in your head that just spiral, and spiral, and spiral. 

Until they don't spiral anymore. Until you put your foot down on that rock solid ground of God's truth and say enough. Until you look up to heaven, and through teared eyes confess that you need help believing His truth, because you're done with the lies. 

And that's what I've done these past few months. I've looked up to Him and asked Him to help me believe His truth that says I'm beautiful. That says I'm altogether beautiful, beautiful in every way. {Song of Solomon 4:7} 

Beautiful with or without makeup, give or take 5, or 10, or 20 pounds, in a perfectly coordinated outfit or in sweatpants, and with or without glasses

I praised Him in that moment, because He came through. I'm not sure when or how it happened, but some time during Catalyst, my mind just shifted. The lies started fading, and the truth started solidifying. It will be an ongoing process, I'm sure, but it's happening. 

And it's not just affecting me. It never just affects us, does it? Our lives affect the people around us whether we realize it, or not. Whether we want it to, or not. 

And in this particular situation? I want it to. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that little girl grows up knowing she is beautiful inside and out because her Father in Heaven made her that way. 

Just two weeks ago, I was hard core wrestling with this. I knew there was good in the outcome, but I was very much mourning the process it would take to get there. I wanted to use this to help as many girls as possible learn the lesson that I was learning, that we put conditions on our beauty when we try to live up to the world's standard of beautiful, conditions that God never created, nor intended for us. I wanted to help others learn this, but I was really struggling with learning it myself. I was really struggling with giving up those conditions. 

And you know what, it was worth the struggle. It was worth it to hear her little, tiny, 9 year old voice talking about wearing glasses with pride

He really, really does work everything together for good. {Romans 8:28}

Happy Tuesday, friends. Whether you're wrestling, resting, or rejoicing today, I hope it's a blessed one. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

That time I went to Catalyst

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Catalyst West Coast Conference down in Orange County. The fact that I was even there was just such a God thing; I had been planning on going to Hope Spoken {which I hope to go to in the future!}, until just a matter of months before plans were switched around. 

I can't even begin to dive into everything I felt / learned / experienced / enjoyed at this conference. There was just so much good stuff. I was blessed by speaker after speaker just laying down the Word of God, and there's nothing quite like worshiping in a room full of 3,000+ people. 

Since I have yet to digest even just day 1 fully {and it's almost a week later}, today I give you some of the messages and moments that spoke to me the most. Along with lots and lots of pictures.

"God calls us to have a voice not for a million things, but a few things that are very important." - Dr. Henry Cloud

"When we live outside our comfort zone, that's when we'll actually need the Comforter." - Bob Goff

"Instead of seeking to be known, seek to know and bless others." - Lysa Terkeurst

Getting to meet the incredible couple behind Hope Heals

"Great leaders would never sacrifice people to save the numbers, they would sacrifice the numbers to save the people." - Simon Sinek

Praying over Phil Wickham. {Hands down one of the most powerful moments.}

"Stop worshiping achievement, and worship the Lord. Jesus didn't die for my works; He died for my righteousness." - Francis Chan

"If I am vertically reconciled to God, I must be horizontally reconciled to others." - Bryan Loritts

"A career is something you are paid to do. A calling is something you are made to do." - Robert Madu

The pleasant surprise of Shauna Niequist speaking. 
{Bittersweet wrecked me in the best possible way.}

I have no words for Christine Caine's message. I literally did not take a single note. By this point in the conference, all I could do was nod with a passionate heart and a fired up "Amen!"

Amazing, ya'll. Just amazing. I feel so blessed to have been able to experience this with the amazing church family that I'm so thankful to call my own. 

Happy humpday, loves!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What I want to tell you

I'm sitting here in bed at 10:42PM listening to the rain, and trying to figure out how to kick off this blog post. And since I really want to say 'why hello there!' but I've already typed and erased that a few times cause it just doesn't sound right, I figured I may as well get on with it. 

I'm really glad I don't have an English teacher grading these blog posts. Pretty sure she would cringe at that introduction. 

There's just so much that I want to say right now. I want to tell you about the wonderful, fun, relaxing Bachelorette weekend I had in Palm Springs. 

I want to gush about the fact that I've known this girl since second grade, and it's crazy to see how the Lord has worked in each of our lives, and in our friendship. It's equally crazy that in exactly two months from yesterday, I'll be standing beside her as she gets married. Like, woah. 

And just for kicks:

I want to tell you that I'm reading this book

I want to tell you how reading Dave Lomas' vulnerable account of his own identity crisis has helped me identify my own. I want to tell you all about my Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis diagnosis, which is basically a super professional way of saying my eyes hate contacts. I would probably make a lot of jokes about it, and say a lot of positive things about how there is so much purpose in this & God is using it for His good and His glory. 

And, to be fair, both of those things are entirely true. God's using my broken eyeballs to do a lot of good in my heart, and it is pretty funny to say that I have broken eyeballs. 

But I also want to tell you that it's hard. I want to be authentic and say that it's shown me how much I was relying on feeling confident in my physical appearance. Sometimes you don't realize you're using something as a crutch until God so graciously takes away the crutch. 

Actually, it's not exactly when He takes it away that you realize it; it's what happens after. It's when you find yourself ugly crying, or grieving like you lost a limb, or feeling the crippling sensation of fear, hoplessness and doubt. All over whatever simple thing was removed in the first place, for me: contacts. 

 I also want to tell you that it's okay to do those things. It's okay to ugly cry; it's okay to grieve when you feel like you don't have a reason to; and it's okay to acknowledge that you feel crippled from fear, hopelessness, or doubt. God doesn't ask us to hide our emotions, and He certainly would never tell us they're invalid. They are valid to Him, because He understands them. He understands them more than we do. 

He doesn't want us to hide from our emotions, He wants us to walk through them with Him. Because guess what: there's a light at the end of the tunnel. A light that we might never have found had we not gone through the crutch-removal surgery in the first place. 

For me, I see that light. I see the fact that my heart and mind and vision are being restored to see beauty the way He sees it. I see that I'm learning to truly find confidence in the Lord above all other things. I see that I'm learning to throw up my hands, and surrender to Him what every part of my flesh wants to control via wikipedia/google/wedMD. I see that I'm learning to trust that He has good plans for me. 

And now that I've turned what I thought would be a tip-of-the-iceberg post into a full blown heres-my-life post, it's your turn. 

What's new with you?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When Mercy Found Me

Yesterday, my friend Leah shared about how mercy found her on a bathroom floor

As I read her beautiful, vulnerable, honest words, my head was nodding and my heart was swelling. I praised the God who crashed through her walls on that bathroom floor, because He's the same God who crashed through mine in a city college gymnasium. 

I've told this story before on the blog, multiple times in fact. But it's my absolute favorite story to tell, and so in case you haven't heard it, or in case you want to re-hear it, today I share the story of when mercy found me. 

I woke up on January 1st, 2012 around 6AM on the couch of a house I had only been to to celebrate NYE the night before. There was enough champagne left in my system to hold off the inevitable hangover, but it wasn't enough to erase the memory of how I had spent the first few hours of the new year. The time spent crying in a bathroom due to finding out a freshly-ex-boyfriend was in a new relationship. Again. 

It wasn't the first time this had happened. As a matter of fact, it was almost humerous how regular of an occurrence this was. It seemed as though every relationship in the past 3 years had ended this way, replaced in a matter of days. It was enough to kill a girl's hope, for sure. Not only kill her hope, but kill any shred of self-worth that was left from the prior heart break. 

If you pull out your iPhone, open up that calendar ap, and scroll back a few years, you'll notice that January 1st, 2012 fell on a Sunday. And thank the good Lord that it did. 

I had made arrangements to go to church with a friend that Sunday, my first time in longer than I could count. I was checking out a church that I had never been to before, but had heard incredible things. As soon as I woke up on that couch, my heart was aching to get in that building. It was probably aching for other reasons as well, but something inside of me knew that I needed to hear the word of God. 

The 4 hours between 6AM and 10AM felt like forever. It was just enough time for the hangover and shame to sink in, both were wrapped around me like a thick blanket when I walked into that gymnasium-turned-church. 

The worship music started, and as I looked to my left and right, I saw people reaching out to the Lord. It gave me permission to do what felt so counter-intuitively natural to me, and my arms shot up towards the ceiling. I felt His presence for what very well may have been the first time in my entire life, and I reached for it with every fiber of my being. 

The words "I'm desperate for You" repeated over and over and over again in my mind. I have never felt more broken in my life, but I have also never felt more hopeful. The gravity of the fact that I had been living my life in entirely the wrong way sat heavy on my shoulders, but with it, came the life-giving freedom of realizing there was a different way. This wasn't the first time I surrendered my life to Jesus, but it was the first time that 
I fully let go. 

Tears were streaming down my face, my head was throbbing from hangover world, my wonderful friend was praying words over me that I'll never remember, mercy & grace hit me like a ton of bricks, and to this day, my life has never been the same. 

Mercy found me in a hungover, heart-broken state in a college gymnasium. 

Where did mercy find you