Be careful what you wish for

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On December 31st, I did what I hadn’t done in a while. I said a prayer. Feeling God start to create these sentences in my head, I reluctantly picked up my laptop and started typing.

What am I doing? What am I even going to say, God?

He said, "I want to you to write this resolution. But it won’t be a typical resolution. It’s a proclamation and acceptance that your life will become significantly more difficult this year... but I want to know you accept it and will embrace it." That inner voice that I know comes from God continues. He goes on, "So I need you to write it down and blog about it, so you can come back to it in a few months and remember in tough times, that this is what you asked for."

SIGH. PAUSE. WHAT?

My fingers finished typing. I prayed over it and I published it.  You can read it here. It’s my elevator pitch to 2018. It’s what I want from this year if I only had an elevator ride to blurt it all out. If you didn’t read it, that’s okay. Here's the even shorter version. I asked for hardship. I asked 2018 not to go easy on me. I asked for the real thing so when I look back in a year, and achieve some goals, I could say, I did all I could and didn’t take the easy way out. You might be thinking I am crazy. And for a few minutes, I thought so too. Did God just tell me to write that I want my life to be difficult this year? Who would ask for that?

After I published that blog post, and shut my laptop, I fell asleep. Happy New Year! I didn’t know that within a few weeks my Jeep would break down. I’d get in a car accident. I’d start an entirely new fitness journey and then I’d get laid off at my job. This all happened before mid February, and I felt it was one of those “be careful what you wish for moments.” I complained to God and said, “why me?! This is throwing off my plan! My savings take a hit. My goals are going to be delayed and take EVEN longer. This is a mess. Why me?!"

God answered and reminded me, “because this is what you asked for.” Leave it to Him to ALWAYS show up and show off.

I rolled my eyes. "But God," I pleaded. "Don't you want me to be successful? Don’t you know the desires of my heart? Don’t you want me to be happy?! If this happened all within two months of the new year, what other setbacks and bad things are waiting for me around the corner? 

And here was my ah-ha moment. The lightbulb clicked on. It’s not a setback and we all need to stop seeing it that way.

These blunders and absurdities that I considered set backs are actually opportunities for growth!

I need them in order to get where I’m going. To grow. And to change. To become who He wants me to be. He’s right. I DID asked to be uncomfortable. I wanted the challenge. I’ve been challenged heavily this month to not do things for my glory but for God's.

I’ve asked: "Why is He leading me down this path I’m not sure I want to be on? Does He have something better in store?" I still don’t know the answer to all of these questions! But I think I may have offended God. It was like I gave him a checklist with things crossed off and just one more item left to do and said," here okay. I’m ready for you to do this now." But He crumbled up that list and tossed it behind Him. Learning not to rush God is so hard. I'm learning He isn't ever late... but sometimes I am early. 

God's delays are not necessarily God's denials. 

I still struggle with fulfilling my own dreams and desires vs. God's plan for my life. We all say, "But God I want this!" But He says, "my ways are better than yours. My plan will be pleasing and perfect."

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There’s a song I heard at church this week by Hillsong Worship and the lyrics are, “if the wind goes where you send it, so will I.” A tough pill to swallow. We’re supposed to just blow in the wind wherever God pushes us? Aren’t we supposed to go against the current and chase our dreams no matter the risk or the cost? I don’t have the right answer for that either. But what I do know is that I’m still going to chase the things I want, while praying. Every time I have, He has answered me in his timing!

When I asked for clarity, he gave me clarity. 

When I asked for life to come at me hard, it did and will continue to.

But it’s all in his timing. Not mine. 

Prayer is not a get results quick gimmick.

If it was, I think we’d have a lot more faith out there. It’s so so hard to trust God’s plan for your life, especially when we are all selfish human beings deep down. Sure, I have goals, aspirations and things I want to make happen but none of them are going to happen if I’m stuck focusing on what I don’t have yet. How can I get after my dreams if I'm busy buying things to feel more worthy or adequate, comparing myself to others and sitting around asking, "why me?"

When God asked Jesus to do things throughout the Bible's stories, Jesus barely questioned God. He just knew God asked him to do it and He was obedient. And after he was obedient, there was a peace. But the peace didn’t come before the decision. Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church said, "We don’t always have a peace about a decision we are making but once we make it and are obedient, in God's timing, there will be peace."

If I think back to prayers I've prayed and journal entries I've written, I can see that every time I’ve been obedient and prayed fervent prayers about life, I eventually get answers. The key word is eventually. Sometimes it's within a few days and sometimes it's years. There are still some situations where I don't yet have peace. But I have faith that I will eventually get some sort of peace. So my lesson? Maybe there isn’t one.

Maybe I’m just here to remind you and myself to be careful what you wish for, but don’t ever stop praying for it. 

My elevator pitch to the new year

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Hello New Year. Allow myself to introduce... myself.

Last year, I wished you’d go easy on me. I said EASY. And I didn’t know it then but when I said it, I cheapened myself out of all the stuff actually worthwhile. I was trying to take short cuts, read the cliff notes, get the quick fix & skip to the end. “Cut me some slack. Give me a break,” I said. I thought I deserved it. And for half of that year, I got exactly what I asked for. Easy, cheap, hollow stuff.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that it happened. It had to.

But this year, I changed my mind. I want to earn the good stuff. Because I know nothing that’s really good ever comes easy. So 2018, I don’t want the easy way out. Don’t let me win just because I’m a girl. Don’t give me a head start. Don’t fight with one arm behind your back. Give me all you’ve got. Drop the gloves;) Reveal the ace up your sleeve. Give me your best, new year. I’m giving you mine.

Where there's His will, there's a way

 
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I live by my iPhone GPS. I use it all the time. Google Maps is right on my phone. How else would I get to an unfamiliar place? How else would I navigate my way through a city by foot or subway? 

When stepping on to unfamiliar territory, we never know which way to go. Clueless and confused. Which WAY?

I stopped to think how relevant this is in my life too. And it's not just about physical locations like how to get to a new yoga studio, a doctor's appointment or catching the train. We often find ourselves asking God "which way should I go? Which direction is right?"

Should I apply for this job? Should I move to this city? Should I date this person? Should I make this choice? 

I'm hearing that Carrie Underwood song in my head now. "Jesus, take the WHEEL!" I've asked God to steer me in the right direction before. But sometimes I hear nothing. I feel nothing. 

In my experience, sometimes the walking directions on my iPhone don't work. We get flustered! Why isn't this working? It says I have to go the other way now? I'm L O S T. 

If you're lost, well then you're in good company. So am I. But the good thing about being lost, is that you'll be FOUND. 

We make it so complicated. We make our own road blocks and we set up construction cones and detours in our lives because we're confused, scared and uncertain. 

But I usually trust the GPS, so why don't I trust Him too?

The Bible lays out countless ways for us to trust Jesus. He provides the way, the direction, the path. 

Think of all these countless verses proving just that. 

In Isaiah 43:18 He says, "I am making a WAY in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

Psalm 143:8 says "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the WAY I should go, for to you, I entrust my life."

Proverbs 3:6 says, "In all your ways, submit to him and He will make your paths straight." 

Isaiah 30: 21 says, Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the WAY, walk in it."

He shows there is a WAY, a path, a plan if we just can find it in ourselves to wholly trust him. 

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He shows us in all those verses, that he's going to make a way. He knows the way. We are found in him, We don't have to live lost. He's going to show you which way to go in your life.

We've heard the saying, where there's a will, there's a way. Sure. 

But what about when it's His will, do we trust the way? Do we make room for God to move in our lives?

Lately, I haven't. I've been living with all this uncertainty. 

I challenge you as I challenge myself to trust that His plan will be pleasing and perfect for you. Psalm 18:30 reminds us God's way is perfect. Even if we think our way is better.

And remember that we're simply not powerful enough to mess up His plan or miss the next turn. 

 

Reset Your Password

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Last night, my debit card number got stolen and my email got hacked. How annoying it is to have to close the card and reset my passwords to make them stronger, more secure and un-hackable. But then I felt a tug... What is God calling ME to reset, make bulletproof, solid, steadfast? What is God asking me to fix before I’m hacked.

You see, it’s about prevention.

We make our passwords lengthy to prevent the threat of being hacked and our info being stolen, our identity even! So, what is God calling us to change, reset, and protect with an even stronger foundation? He’s already strengthened and improved my friendships, how I treat others and the time I spend listening to others. He’s already made me bold, ready to take on risks and new challenges. 

But what about My relationship with him? Absolutely. He knows it’s not as secure as He and I would like it to be. He’s calling me to make it stronger and impenetrable because He knows right now, the slightest setback or delay can sometimes leave me reeling, wallowing and questioning my faith. He wants me to be more patient and more understanding while I wait for answers. And most importantly, He wants our faith to be locked securely with an awesome password filled with upper case letters, numbers and special characters (Him, scripture, verses and life lessons). All of this is contributing to your awesome, secure, lengthy, edited password (your faith).

Each person’s is unique and special to only them.

So what is God asking you to reset today? Which wire is He tapping? What feels weak right now? Your faith, your bravery, your friendships, your time management, your finances? Whatever it may be, take the extra time today to log on, dig deep and reset your password. Make it stronger so that it is indestructible and strive toward an unwavering faith.

 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)

There was another life I might have had, but I am having this one.

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I have been oh so very busy lately. Between work, vacations, and starting my new job with the NHL/ Columbus Blue Jackets, I have hardly been home. But all this hustle and bustle has me thinking about the life I have, the life I might have had and the life I am yet to have. Here I am right now, busy as ever, with little time to reflect. But on my vacation, I considered that my life could have gone one way, but went the other. I could have been in one situation, but chose another. It's funny how things work out. How we have a plan A, B, and C. We weigh the options and we say, if A doesn't work out, then I'll consider B. I did this with the Blue Jackets. After, I auditioned, I thought, "If I don't make it, I'll consider other options and look at new opportunities, maybe even in different cities." But I made it. So here I am. 

There was another life I might have had, but I am having this one. 

This week, I decided to work on embracing all the changes in my life and being tousled in a storm of new and old and bad and good.

Because a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

I'm ready for this season, this fall and whatever is to come after that. And after the leaves change and spring makes things new again, I'll consider new options. Maybe a move, but maybe not. I love this season of my life where I am open to whatever; letting the wind and God's voice lead me. It's nice to know it's up to me to decide, with a little help from prayer, of course. I've met so many wonderful and exciting people during this new season of my life, and I hope they're around for seasons to come. 

I'm reminded somehow through all of these changes and experiences to rest in God when I can. I aim to make time for resting in his presence, when I have a second to catch my breath. 

He says, “Rest with me a while. You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days.  The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. Look neither behind Me nor before you. Instead focus your attention on Me, your constant Companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey. 

I designed time to be a protection for you. You can’t bear to see all of your life at once.  Though I am unlimited by time, it is in the present moment that I meet you. Refresh yourself in My company, breathing deep draughts of My Presence. The highest level of trust is to Me moment by moment. I am with you, watching over you wherever you go.”

Genesis 28:15 says: "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

How refreshing is that? He says, "have a life, have your life but also embrace that tomorrow may look different. Embrace the busyness and the journey, but when it gets to be too crowded and crazy, rest with me a while."

I love the feeling of peace that brings and I think I'll cling to that upon my return from vacation as I step into a busy season of work, dance and hockey, of course:) 

But I'm not ready...

Sometimes I am just not ready. I wasn't ready for this picture. It's human nature to be afraid to move forward or to start something new. Lately, I've found myself telling God, "I'm just not ready- to start a new project, to make a change, to accept an ending, to start over. We want to feel prepared, but that's when I feel a tug from the Holy Spirit saying, " You don't have to be. Just begin."

I find myself white knuckling the doorway when He says, "let go" or "go," giving me a little push.

I've been fearful to move forward. I keep waiting for my scars to heal and my wounds to close. But God takes the scars we aren't ready to expose and he turns them into glorious ruins.

I've never been sky diving but I imagine when people get up there to finally jump, they say to themselves, "I'm not ready!!" Before my first roller coaster ride, I'm sure I held up the line and said "I can't. I'm not ready. You go first." But that's a perfect example of something that ended up being so much fun.

This reminds me that some of the best things I've ever started or been a part of, were things I wasn't quite ready for. These things ended up being some of the most rewarding times in my life. How many experiences would I have let pass me by or never tried, if I waited until I was "ready?"

These things I wasn't ready for catapulted me into learning just how much I could handle; how far God could stretch me. They forced me to grow and find out more about myself. They've tested my stamina and my endurance.  The comeback is always better and bigger than the setback, even if we aren't ready for the comeback to begin. 

So what aren't you ready for that you feel God is calling you to start? What will you begin today as you take the first step toward your comeback?  

Honor the space between no longer and not yet

It was my brother who once gave me some pretty sound advice for a 19-year-old kid. Several years ago, I went through something tough and he texted me and said "Kace, I love you. Where you are right now is where you're supposed to be. Keep breaking tackles." 

This short message from a teenage boy, who doesn't usually have much to say, meant the world to me. "Wise beyond his years" is how I recall that moment now. It led me to think about all the times we look forward too far, down too much, and backward into the past. These are three very dangerous directions to peer our heads. 

The problem with looking forward:

It is good to be eager and be excited about things! It is good to plan and set yourself up for success. But when we wish for someone else's life or for God to give us something we want, we are rushing Him through the process. We are pushing when he says "Be still." We are anxious to rush the timing of His plan. But we forget He says, "be patient. [His plan] will not be overdue a single day." He promises His timing is perfect yet, we want our own. He didn't forget about us. What He has planned for our lives just hasn't happened yet. 

The problem with looking down: 

In Matthew 14: 29-31, Peter asks Jesus to allow him to walk on water with Him. But when a gust of wind passes by, Peter becomes afraid. He looks down and starts to sink. He cries out and Jesus reaches out his hand to catch Peter.

“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Why do we doubt? What an amazing question. We obey God yet we find it so hard to TRUST him. If God created the wind and Jesus tells you to walk toward Him and fix your eyes on Him alone, why do we fear? Why do we look down and start to sink? 

The problem with looking back:

This one is the scariest and honestly the toughest for me to resist. People always say, "the past is in the past, so leave it there. You can't change it." Gatsby tried to rewrite it. It's not possible. Yet, many of us (and I am guilty of this), find ourselves ruminating over and reminiscing in the past. "If I just would have done this... If I would have been more like this... if I would have said this..."

Nope. Nope. Nope. If we keep looking back, we are going to miss what God has planned for our future. And He promises it will be fulfilling and beautiful. Jeremiah 29:11! As long as we allow ourselves to cling to something that broke us or hurt us, Satan will use it to waste us. I've said this before:  I need to learn to leave it at the feet of Jesus and don't look back. We're only cheating ourselves of the joy that awaits us if we keep turning back to see if we missed something. We didn't. That relationship, the job, that person, that situation is over for a reason. You prayed for better. You prayed for amazing and whatever is gone now, wasn't it.

In Genesis 19, Lot's wife, perhaps feeling regret to be leaving Sodom behind and heading into the unknown, cast a last look behind her. When she looks back, she turns to a pillar of salt. 

There may be regrets in your past but look back at them no further. Show them the back of your head. They are behind your for a reason and they could not go with you to where God is taking you next. 

The only direction we need to be looking is up. 

People always say, "chin up" or "keep your head up, kid." It's a positive gesture that represents the notion that everything will be all right if we hold our head high. I believe if we look a little higher and fix our eyes on the One, that is truly when things will start to make sense. Look up to Him for comfort, guidance, motivation, wisdom and peace. There's a peace that comes with knowing the things that are over our head, are still under his feet. 

So honor the space between no longer and not yet. Promise yourself that you will try to look back "no longer" and learn to be comfortable with "not yet."

The space in between is where the growth happens. It's where you can experience life again with new mercies coming at you everyday. My brother is right. Where you are right now is where you're supposed to be. 

 If you feel God is late or that he has forgotten about you, remember he says our walls are ever before him. He has engraved us on the palm of his hand. He's got this! So stay right where you are and just look up! 

Life's Rejections are God's Directions

Ask, seek, knock. But until God opens the next door, praise him in the hallway. 

Matthew 7: 7-8 tells us:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

But it is the same when the door closes? Or what if He never opens it?

I've been thinking a lot about fervent prayers. Does God want us to beg? What if we ask for something and he shuts it down? Does that still count as an answered prayer? When we ask, do we receive what we want or what God wants for us?

I recently read a prayer in my journal from a while back where I asked fervently for answers and clarity. I almost begged. Who am I kidding, I begged. Of course, I wanted it to go well but more importantly, I just needed clarity. 

I was persistent in prayer and desperate in my need. 

A lot has changed since I wrote that entry and prayed that prayer. So when I re-read it, I wanted to rip it out. It made me feel angry at first because it didn't go well and it didn't go according to my plan. I thought, "Well that didn't work. I'm different now. This prayer no longer serves me."

And then I realized it DID serve me. It dawned on me that every single thing I had asked for in that prayer was answered. I received the clarity God knew I needed. It just didn't look the way I had hoped or intended. I asked Him to show me a glimpse into my future, to give me strength, to give me a push in the right direction.... I asked God, "Is this the right thing for me? Do you have something better in store?"

Just three days after I prayed this prayer, God showed me my future. He gave me strength to make a tough decision. He pushed me in the right direction. He showed me everything I needed to know. It was like he checked all of the items off my list. Although, it wasn't necessarily the way I had hoped it would go or the way I saw it going in my head. Sometimes God sees our wants but knows better than to give us something we want that isn't part of his perfect plan for us. 

Why am I telling you this? Because I feel called to share my encounters with Jesus with all of you. Once I've had one, I've had so many more. It may seem like He is not listening and you aren't getting a response but look closely. Look again. He works all things for good; Even the things that cause sadness, temporary pain or delay. 

I'm so thankful He continues to reveal himself to me.  

I'm thankful for his practicality and his intentionality. He isn't Santa. He doesn't always give me what I want but He ALWAYS gives me what I need.

And I'll wait even longer to find out more.

I prayed this prayer last night after thinking about all of his purposeful gifts and lessons.

Lord, you know my hopes and dreams. You know the desires of my heart. But just as before, with the things you have asked me to leave behind, I lay my hopes and desires at your feet. I know anything left at the feet of Jesus is safe. I know your plans for me are better than mine. Sometimes I am uncertain and confused but I know You will not take me to places that won't fulfill me and your plan for my life. I trust you. Thank you for making yourself known in my heart. You are so faithful. I know that life's rejections are your protection and direction. Thank you for the closed doors. I let go in peace and look ahead in gratitude. 

So I think yes, it's okay to ask (or beg). It's okay to seek and it's okay to knock. But just because He didn't open the door, (or maybe he closed it) doesn't mean he didn't answer the door when you knocked. And if things don't work out according to your plan and He closes a door, thank Him for His goodness and protection. Praise him in the hallway, in the waiting. Another door will open soon and you'll know why the last one was closed. 

 

Let God Perform Your Heart Surgery

I stopped into MMELO Confections yesterday. The man asked me if I wanted more milk in my cortado. I said "sure" and when he poured it in, he said with the most wonderful English accent "oh, I've completely destroyed your heart!" I didn't mind. He let me stay and finish my drink even as they were closing. 

But I thought, while my latte art may be destroyed, isn't it nice to know that our own hearts are never fully destroyed beyond repair? Even when our hearts get broken, and we feel lost and damaged, God promises us it will be healed! But we need not rely on others to do the mending.

Many of us, including myself, are guilty of jumping from one earthly relationship to the next in hopes of the pain going away quickly. When we do this, we are only putting a band-aid on it. We aren't fully healing, we're just masking the hurt for the time being. 

Stop rushing to the CVS Minute Clinic and check into the hospital, baby. Put away the dinky first aid kit and let God perform your heart surgery. You deserve a full and thorough procedure.

We have to focus on God alone and let him place someone in our lives that reflects His love. If we don't wait for Him to reveal our special person with a PhD in loving us, inevitably humans will continue to break our hearts and they do not have the capacity or the tools to fix it. Only God rebuilds and restores our hearts to be more like His.

"Create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me." [Psalm 51:10]

p.s. although it's not in the Bible, I'd like to think God would agree that little piece of chocolate on the right is good for the heart too;) 

Disclaimer: I am not implying that you should only marry an actual doctor...

Bloom Where You're Planted

I'll be honest. When I first moved to Columbus. I wasn't feeling it. I didn't think it was my style and I certainly wasn't in the proper mental and emotional state to give it a fair shot. Growing up in Northeast Ohio, I was always partial to the grit and grind of the Rust Belt region. I love baseball so Cleveland was the place for me. Roll Tribe! I thought, "how could I possibly live in a city with only a minor league baseball team, an MLS team and a professional hockey team?" I didn't even like hockey!  But then I gave those things a try. I went to my first Columbus Clippers game and soon went to more games than I could count. I loved the intimate, small and clean ballpark. Huntington Park has the coolest nostalgic feel to it. Then I moved downtown to the German Village and started walking to Nationwide Arena for hockey games. What a blast! The feeling in that arena is electric and it's hard NOT to fall madly in love with that team. I was hooked. Soon after, I started to try more restaurants and local spots. Columbus really is a foodie city with so much to offer. Here are some of my favorite spots:

Laughlin's Bakery:

What an adorable corner bakery tucked away in the Short North. It has the most delicious baked goods. Recently, I had a slice of zucchini bread and (because I need my salty and my sweet), a ginger macaron. And it wasn't too expensive either. I think I paid $6 total for both! Plus, the staff was so friendly! 

La Chatelaine Bakery French and Bistro:

This restaurant is an absolute must! It's like you step right out of Columbus and into Paris! The brunch options are to die for. I had the oatmeal and french toast, topped with fruit! The coffee is the best coffee I've had in a long time. Did I mention the people next to me were speaking French and the staff greeted me by saying "Bonjour Mademoiselle!"? It is how do you say.....spectaculaire!

Kittie's Cafe in Bexley:

This is the raddest coffee shop connected to a bookstore! This place has a laid back "surf's up" vibe. The lattes are smooth and the cups are vibrant. You can walk right in to Gramercy Books and check out their selection while you're waiting. Just writing about it makes me want to go back ASAP as possible. (office reference)

Kittie's Cafe in Bexley, OH
Kittie's Cafe- Bexley, OH

Kittie's Cafe- Bexley, OH

Pistacia Vera:

This little cafe and bakery is just a short walk from my place. All I have to say is that their macarons are unmatched. I especially love the pistachio one! Plus, this place is close to the Book Loft and Stauf's Coffee Roasters. You really could make a day out of hanging around this neighborhood. 

Genoa Park: 

Sure, everyone walks & runs the Scioto Mile right? But I don't know why it only recently occurred to me to cross the bridge and head to Genoa Park. It's a perfect view of the whole skyline and right near COSI. The whole experience was scenic for me. It's nice to see the greenery and the trees on a summer day. I'll definitely be going  back soon and bringing a book along when I'm not trying to get my cardio on! 

There are many other places I love but didn't mention. Day date? The Roosevelt makes a good cup of coffee. They have vinyl and you get to pick the tunes! Fun night out with friends? Head to Oddfellows or Pins! Want to have a great glass of wine? The Market Italian Village is amazing. Have a sweet tooth? Try The Chocolate Cafe. My point is, go out and explore the city you live in. Be a tourist in your own city. You are here for a reason. There are pros and cons in every location! I've been here a little over two years and there is still so much more I'm discovering. 

I'll admit my love affair with Columbus is a slow and gradual one. It wasn't love at first sight, at all. But I am learning to bloom where I'm planted, instead of running away or thinking the grass is greener somewhere else.

Because when you bloom where you're planted, you open yourself up to new opportunities and end up liking things you never imagined you'd enjoy. 

Being Productive

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Last night, I was feeling pretty productive. I had just cleaned my apartment and watched a few episodes of House of Cards. (Still catching up! No spoilers pls!) I decided that because I was on a roll, I would get more work done too. I wanted to read a chapter of a novel I'm reading called "The Hopefuls." It's about Washington D.C. and the Obama campaign. Apparently, I am in a political mood lately. I wanted to blog, bring you guys my latest book review and had some emails to catch up on (yes, on a Friday night.)

And I felt flustered, of course. I always start a million little projects and end up finishing none of them! I was tired but there was so much I wanted to get started. What to do first? So, I got out my bible and honestly just opened it to whichever page fell open. It wasn't even the page where the silky book mark ribbon was! When I flipped open my Bible, it was on John, Chapter 15.

It says,

"I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener ... Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Apart from me, you can do  n o t h i n g. 

Oh. That's right.

I kept saying that part of the verse over and over again to myself. Wow. I sat back and realized that if I wanted to get anything done... if I have any goals, short term or long term, I have to go to Him first. 

So I prayed and I remembered that God wants us to rely on Him.

How would we ever know his strength if we don't experience moments of weakness?

How could we ever climb the mountain if we didn't start in the valley? 

How would we know he is a healer if we are not put in situations where we need to be healed?

He really is in control when things seem to be the most OUT of control. I think that's pretty comforting. 

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think we are helpless human beings without Him. We still have free will to make our own choices and decisions that shape our lives. And it is still important to have dreams and goals. But I'd much rather be connected to the vine. I certainly don't know which direction I am supposed to go but there's good news! He does. I know it takes a lot of trust to follow Him blindly, right? It's scary. But when the verse smacks me in the face and it's the first thing I see when I open the Bible, well I don't feel so blind after all. I think that's his way of communicating with me. And I suddenly don't think that's so scary at all. I think that's pretty cool of Him. 

So my advice: If you want to be productive, go to Him first. If you are feeling anxious about tasks, your future, your job or finances, ask him to seek you and know your thoughts. I pray you find the answers there or can at least walk lightly knowing He knows your next move before you do. He's got your day planned and has already walked your path. 

to the one who has rescued my soul...

I am a lover of many things. It always sounds so cliché when people say that....but really I love dance, photography, my family and friends, among many other things. But I am first and foremost, a Christian and I love Jesus. However, that love hasn't always been easy. I moved from a great church in Youngstown where I was re-baptized and re-committed my life to Christ (hey yo! shout out to The Movement) and moved to Columbus. Shortly after I moved, my long relationship ended and my world was rocked. There I was in a small one-bedroom apartment, in a city where I practically knew no one and I couldn't even find a church family I connected with.

It is safe to say, I was miserable. I didn't want to be there or anywhere anymore. It was a dark time for me. I lost my job, gained a lot of weight I wasn't comfortable with and was utterly depressed. I blamed myself and I'm ashamed to say I blamed God. How could I once have so much, and then be knocked so far down? 

Then one night, coming home from a long day, I mozied up my stairs to find a door hanger on my apartment door from a church called "Rock City." I had tried a few other churches but didn't feel like they were the right fit for me. So I decided to attend a service at Rock City and I knew I was home.

I started going more often, volunteering and even joined a Life Group, where we gathered once a week and discussed the word, our faith and struggles. We essentially just live and experience life together. It was a wonderful and fulfilling feeling for me. 

But life happens, right? We get caught up in relationships, busy with work and other commitments. I got into a relationship with someone who didn't quite share the same beliefs I had on faith. He'd ask me often about my faith, curious about what got me to trust in God so deeply. I said, "He's the one who rescued my soul. He saved me and brought me out of my pain in 2015 and back onto higher ground. He fixes me, molds me and shapes me into who I am supposed to be." But in that moment and moments after, I realized I wasn't giving God enough of my full attention and commitment. I was distracted. After all He has done for me, I wasn't thanking Him and praising Him as I knew I should be.

Too much time passed. It got away from me and I truly believe God wrecks our plans before they wreck us. Once again, my plans were wrecked. He reminded me that his ways are higher than my ways. He knew I was getting away from him and he brought me back. I heard him say, "Focus on me."

And so I did. With help from my parents, and my close friends, I picked myself back up and started over. My Life Group graciously accepted me back into their homes and their lives. My church graciously allowed me to get back on the serving schedule again.

That's the beauty of God's love, isn't it? We can mess up a hundred thousand times and he graciously accepts us back, time and time again. It's truly the definition of grace and unconditional love, and I'm so glad I have His. 

If not now, then when?

Lately, I have been telling myself things will be different when I do a number of things I am yet to do... When I move here, when I meet the man of my dreams, when I make this much, when I finally do *blank* then I'll be happy. But after reading and praying A LOT, I've come to the sometimes harsh realization that this is it.

Why am I waiting to live my life when I am in it right now? I'm learning to develop a "this is it" attitude about my day. Life coach Maria Forleo writes about it in one of her books. We have to be the go-getter in our own life story! Wear your favorite perfume because this is it. Wear the outfit you have hanging in your closet with the tag still attached because this is it. Book the vacation you've been dying to go on. This is it. And the one close to my heart: Stop worrying about what people will think. Start the blog. This is it. We keep saving things for special moments in our lives and instead, the perfume sits full on the dresser. The dress stays in the closet. The trip to Europe stays unexperienced. The blog stays unwritten. I've challenged myself to treat every day like this is it, like a special moment.

Because whether we like it or not, we're already living out our lives and developing a "this is it" attitude helps us enjoy our lives right now, in the moment. 1 Timothy 6:17 says God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." He wants us to enjoy our life and I believe He is happy when we do.

So I've started Mess Full of Grace, among all of the countless other Columbus based bloggers and bloggers around the globe. I think it will be therapeutic for me to write and practice living imperfectly with great delight. I often journal and this will be another wonderful outlet that I hope inspires someone else. If not, that's okay too. Because I'll keep living this frazzled and faithful life I've been given. It's the only one I've got and this is it.