If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking..

Grace
A Free Gift..
Undeserved..
Covering All..
Wiped Clean..
 
    Grace is a hard concept for me sometimes. I like gifts just as much as the next person. I enjoy giving gifts, and i enjoy receiving gifts. When someone offers us a gift, it’s human nature to get excited and accept it – rarely will I ever turn down a free gift. I love free things, but how can I accept a free gift from someone that I’ve wronged – someone I’ve let down. 
    Grace is this free gift offered to me time and time again. Grace doesn’t compare. Grace doesn’t discriminate. Grace doesn’t judge. Grace is given freely, and I don’t deserve it. I’m not worthy. I can’t accept it. I would feel guilty taking it. 
    However, my thinking isn’t logically sound. When was I ever worthy? I wasn’t. I can’t earn grace, and I never could earn it. And, grace and guilt do not go hand in hand. Grace doesn’t know guilt. Grace is from God. Guilt is from the devil. Grace is a gift – free to me – that isn’t based on my actions. Grace has nothing to do with me, and it has everything to do with Christ. 
     I’ve been reading this book called “Jesus is ______.” and it explains grace really beautifully. Judah Smith writes, “When some people hear about grace, the first thing they think is: So, I can go out and do whatever I want, and God had to forgive me? They haven’t met grace – they’ve met a concept. They’ve met an idea. They’ve met a nice sermon. When you look in the eyes of grace, when you meet grace, when you embrace grace, when you see the nail prints in grace’s hands and the fire in his eyes, when you feel his relentless love for you – it will not motivate you to sin. It will motivate you to righteousness. When we meet grace, it becomes the fuel of our faith. We pray, we read our Bibles, we worship, and we live the purest lifestyle we can because we love a person. Allegiance to a doctrine can only last so long, but relationship trumps everything. We’ll do anything for someone we love.”
 
Jesus is Grace.
 
   When we know that, everything changes. Grace is no longer this concept. Grace takes on flesh and bones. Grace is our friend, our Savior, our Lord. How can we not accept him and be motivated to live for him? Grace isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free-card. No, too me, grace is a reminder that yes, we are sinners, but we have a King who died for us and loves us. God knows we aren’t perfect – since the fall we aren’t capable of being perfect. We will sin, but with grace, we have the opportunity to keep living for Christ and becoming more and more like him. That’s a beautiful concept. 
    Knowing that, I hope it’ll be easier for me to extend grace. People are people. They sin. They let you down. They hurt you. They mess up. They make mistakes. But they are made in the image of God, and they are insanely loved by their creator. Everybody will disappoint you or hurt you at some point, because they are people, but grace is a beautiful gift that needs to be extended out of love for that person and love for our Savior. 
   Maybe this didn’t make any sense, because Grace is hard to explain. Hopefully, it shed a new light on grace. 
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Grace is not a concept.
Grace is a person.
Grace’s name is Jesus. 

Loving Deeply

  If I were to summarize what following Jesus looks like in one phrase, it would be: to love others well.   Loving others is easier said than done. Loving others takes time. Loving others is selfless. Loving others is work. But, it’s so worthwhile. To step into another’s shoes is a beautiful thing. It teaches you. It molds you. When you experience life with others, you open up the opportunity to grow and learn even more. Sometimes, loving others looks like sitting in the quiet with nothing to say but arms open for a hug. Sometimes, loving others looks like going the extra mile to be nice and forgive when someone has wronged you. It looks like turning the other cheek. Sometimes, loving others looks like refusing to slander another person. It looks like stopping yourself from making a joke at another’s expense. I’m learning the power of loving people where they are at — sitting in the immaturity — sitting in the ignorance — sitting in the poor decisions — sitting in the victories — sitting in the pit — sitting in the brokeness — sitting in the struggle — sitting in the confusion — sitting in the frustration — sitting in the hurt. 
“When you choose to love someone who is damaged…you take on the weight of 
their past,
their pain,
their guilt.
You must be strong. You must be patient. 
You can stop the bleeding…and help them scar over, But they will always, always be a little broken. 
If you can handle that…
If you can accept the dents and cracks…
If you can get them to trust you…
you will never find a better ally than one who is damaged. 
Above all else: they know about survival. After all, they are still here…”
    I love this. Everyone is a little bit cracked and broken. If you haven’t experienced something in your life that has left a scar, you haven’t experienced much of life yet. To truly live means to fail – to be hurt, but to triumph. The more I learn this and the more I learn to love in these times, the more passionate I become about becoming a counselor. I love helping people. I love listening. I love seeing victory. But what about when you aren’t seeing victories? What about when you are frustrated with God. How do you lean in to Him in the hard times? How do you keep pushing into him? How do you encourage your friends? These are all still things I’m learning. I honestly don’t know. Beth Moore says, “Sometimes we stand to learn the most about God from the situations we understand the least.” There’s so much truth in that quote. Today, I’m leaning into that. God is present. God loves us, and he loves well, and I will continue to try and love others in the way that he loves us. Love others well.          
     Loving others well also means loving those who were once so easy to love but then walked away. This is, to me, the hardest thing to do – they are the hardest to love. It’s one thing to forgive them, but being able to love them is nearly impossible. But we are called to love them – and love them well. This challengs me a lot, and hopefully it will challenge you too. Take time to really think deeply about
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Little Victories

I left my Athletic Trainer’s office, and I was slightly depressed. I honestly thought I’d get to start some ball work after meeting with him this time. I’d gained full motion which was their goal, and my leg is getting stronger everyday. My heart aches to play – to pass the ball – to juggle – to go into a racquetball court for hours and just begin to get reacquainted with the ball again. Another month I told myself. It’ll fly by. I sat in the waiting room for another 45 minutes as I waited to see my surgeon. I tried to stay positive. I was frustrated that I couldn’t start on ball work. I was frustrated that I was still at the Dr’s office – two hour visits aren’t fun.
Finally, Dr. Klootwyk had time for me. I went in, and he praised my motion and my progress. Then, he said, well i’d really like you to start on agility and ball work. Immediately, my heart soared. I’ve waited 4.5 months to put on my indoors and kick the soccer ball around. While previously I had been annoyed by my long wait to see Dr. Klootwyk, I now would’ve waited around all day to see him because his news was that good. I can play. I can juggle. I can do cones. I can start to get back into soccer!
I don’t know how I’m getting through classes right now. All I want to do is get in the racquetball court and mess around with the soccer ball for hours. It’s consuming my mind. I cannot wait to be reunited! This may seem way to extreme, but honestly, this is how I feel.
Just yesterday I was talking to my friend about how down I was – how I needed an outlet but I couldn’t find it. I have all the emotions and struggles from just life in general and there is no release. I was almost in tears because I was just so frustrated because I had all these emotions, but I just can’t release them. I literally said, “I am the end. I don’t know what I’m going to do if I can’t find a release.” Then today, I find out I can do ball work. I just needed to share how good God is – He is listening and present, even when it doesn’t feel like He’s there.

Powerless Planning

couple nights ago, i was driving around Marion after dark. Honestly, I dislike being behind the wheel and driving at night. I find it incredibly difficult to see what’s out ahead of me. I feel like I can only see 10 yards ahead, and that scares me and frustrates me. As I was thinking about that, I couldn’t help but think about my life and how life is similar to driving at night. So often, we want to see far ahead. We wish God could just give us a glimpse of the road ahead. It’s hard to take life day by day. It’s hard to plan out our lives without knowing where we are going or how we’ll arrive at our end goals. It’s frustrating to be in a valley and wonder how far we’ll have to travel down the road to reach the mountain top.

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What I’m starting to find is that everytime I plan out my life, my year, my month, my week, my day, my next hour, it doesn’t seem to go as I planned. I’m learning to let go and let God. Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”How cool is that. If we just rest in God’s plan, he will fight for us. Yet so often, we don’t. We want to fight for ourselves. We think we can do it on our own. And it’s at those times, when we are fighting our own battles, when we are planning out our lives that worry begins to creep in. It’s at those times that stress creeps in.
       And I wonder to myself why I’m so stressed, I wonder why I can’t seem to plan out my life. I wonder why God won’t show me the future. I wonder if things will ever be “normal” again. I wonder if I’m going to come into preseason ready to go like the rest of my team. I wonder if my left knee will ever feel like my right knee again. I wonder when I’ll stop having pain. I wonder when I’ll be able to run again. I wonder when my friends will finally be given a break. I wonder where God is in the midst of the valleys. I make up things to worry about, and then I start worrying that I’m worrying too much. I lose sight of the fact that I need to just be still and let God fight for me. I forget that my life is in the hands of the God of the universe. And when I really think about it, I would much rather my life be in God’s hands than in my hands. I’d rather God was planning out my life instead of me planning out my life. I’m a planner at heart, but if anything, I’m learning that life is uncertain. Things can be taken away from you in a heartbeat. One day, you can be playing the game you love, and then next day, it’s been over 4 months since you’ve touched a soccer ball or gone for a hard run. So I’m learning to let go and let God. I’m learning to be still and let God fight. I’m learning to put the work in on my part and expect God to do his part. I’m learning the power of prayer and the comfort in prayer. So although it’s frustrating to only see a few yards ahead, it’s also exciting to rely on God and watch his plan for us unfold. In the end, his plan will prevail anyways, so my advice? Pray, work hard, and let the Lord fight for you.
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Haunted

Sometimes, we think we can leave the past behind us. We can move on to our present and futures and ignore our past. I don’t believe that. Sure the past is the past, but our pasts have molded us into who we are today.  I’m not saying we need to dwell on the past and live in the past, but our pasts play a big part in our present and our future.
“There are scars on my hands from the people I have touched.”
     My past has changed me. Through my past, I’ve learned that nothing is certain, and people are human. I’ve learned what it is to forgive – truly forgive. I’ve known the feeling of rejection. Rejection is hard, rejection hurts. I’ve known what it is to trust someone completely only to have them break your heart. Living through these experiences has made me choose my friends carefully. To start with, I’m not a person who wears their heart on their sleeve. I take time to open up. Now, I will only open up to a small amount of people. Very few people know the depths of my heart, know the pain I feel, know the fears I have, know the joy I have, know me. I’ve learned how blessed I am to have the family I’ve been given and I appreciate their unconditional love – never fearing rejection.
     Forgiveness is hard. True forgiveness takes time. To wish good things upon someone who has ripped your heart apart and never looked back long enough to even apologize is not an easy task. But it’s worth it. And some days, the pain comes back like a flood. You think you’ve completely let go and moved on, and something reminds you of the hurt. Something opens up that scar. How do you get past that? Can you?
     If I’ve learned anything, it’s that when your heart is broken, you learn to patch it up. It’s not whole anymore, it has wounds that have turned to scars. Those scars are real. They don’t leave. They’re a constant reminder of the pain you’ve been through. And sometimes, those scars can rise up more than usual. That’s just a part of your past, but it’s also a reminder of how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned.
The following is one of my favorite quotes..
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 I don’t regret the past. I don’t regret anything that has happened. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had. If not for the past and the people in my past, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I can honestly say I’m happy with where I am. I’m happy with who I’ve become. I have a long way to go, I still have a lot to learn, but I’m slowly learning to open up again. I’m learning to love and be loved and I’m grateful for this journey I’m on. So don’t ever regret the past. Don’t try and repress the memories. If you’ve been hurt, it’s because you opened up your heart and loved, and those memories were real and at one time that relationship was good. Hold on to that, remember the lessons you’ve learned, and keep moving forward.

The Secret Place

When your heart is worn, when your heart is heavy, where do you go? Where is your place of strength, of rest, of comfort? When you feel like life just won’t let up and you’re completely and utterly exhausted and overwhelmed, where do you run? Do you have a place that takes all the emotions and feelings and pain away? Do you have a place where you can just forget everything for a little while, or a place where everything in your life starts to make more sense? 
I have a couple places. The moment I step onto a soccer field, I feel at home. For a couple hours, my mind can relax and shut off. I’m not saying this works 100% of the time. Sure, sometimes, there are days when soccer can make me even more confused or frustrated, but for the most part, when it’s just me and the ball, I feel at home.
   I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about a good hard run. When your mind is running in a million directions, when your heart is overwhelmed, and you’re mentally and emotionally exhausted, a run can clear your head in a second. There’s something about the wind in your face, and the trees passing with each step you take. There’s a greater comfort in knowing that your struggles might not be going anywhere but for 20-30 minutes, your mind can relax. And as you take each step, those problems seem to lose their gravity. They seem to shrink down to a size that you can handle. I draw strength with each step. I can feel it empowering me and moving into my veins, and my heart draws hope with each step. 
    And the final place that I draw my strength from is just in the arms of my friends. It’s hard to open up. It’s hard to be vulnerable. Not only is it hard, it’s something I actually have to train myself to do. I know I need to talk to people. I know I need to share my emotions, but how can I do that when I don’t even know what I’m feeling. How can I do that when it’s just easier to lock them all inside and pretend they don’t exist. If I don’t deal with them, maybe they aren’t real? 
    So where do you go to find strength when you can’t run? Where do you go to find strength when you can’t step onto the soccer field? Maybe through tearing my ACL, God’s teaching me to find my secret place with Him. Maybe I’m learning that soccer and running will never be enough and that people may be great, but they aren’t enough either. Maybe God’s teaching me that in the quiet of my soul, that’s where He will meet me. When my heart is overwhelmed and my mind won’t shut off, it’s then that I need to just quiet my soul, open my Bible, and pour my heart out to Him. People aren’t enough. Soccer isn’t enough. Running isn’t enough. I’ve always known that God is where I need to go, and I do find security and peace in a song – in a sermon – in a Bible verse, but I have never found my secret place with Him. I’m learning what that means though. It means that He is the first place to turn. He alone can restore. He alone has answers. He knows my emotions and feelings already. He knows exactly how to comfort. He holds the future and the world in His hand. 
   I’m learning what it means to get lost in a moment with Christ. I cherish those times when I am by myself and I have on Rend Collective Experiment Radio in the background and I am just pouring my heart out to the Lord. I don’t have to put on a front. I don’t have to act like I have it all together. I can be completely myself with Christ, and I can find peace in the fact that He is holding me in his arms, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I can find comfort in the fact that when I feel like I’m drowning and my eyes are barely above the waves, my King walks on water, and He’s reaching his hand out to me. 
    I’m learning to open my heart up to God and let down all my walls. I can share my fears, my struggles, my triumphs, and my insecurities and Christ replys with these three words, “I AM ENOUGH.” Whatever you’re going through, I am enough. When you’re scared that you’re falling behind your teammates and that you’ll never be able to make up the ground, “I AM ENOUGH.” When all you want is to walk outside and not be scared of slipping cause you could injur yourself again, “I AM ENOUGH.” When you don’t know how to comfort your friend and you feel helpless – like you fail again and again, “I AM ENOUGH.” When you are scared to open up to a new relationship, and all you see is the unknown, or you’re scared to let someone in, because what if it doesn’t work out, “I AM ENOUGH.” When you feel like your life is spiraling out of control and you can’t balance everyone and everything, “I AM ENOUGH.” 
   “I AM ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH.” Rest in me. Rest in the secret place. In me there is no fear. In me there is victory. In me there is peace. In me everything makes sense. 
    And so I’m grateful for the challenges. I’m grateful for the trials. I’m grateful for tearing my ACL. I’m grateful for the opportunity to comfort my friends. I’m grateful for the late nights, long talks, tears and confusion. I’m grateful for the helplessness. Because through these things, I’m maturing. I’m growing up. I’m learning what it is to find my security, my peace, my comfort in Christ. I’m learning what it means to rest in the secret place. I’m learning what it means to love. I’m learning what it means to rely completely on Christ. 
   I don’t have it all together – in fact I have nothing together. But I’m grateful, because I’m learning to rest in Christ.

The Meaning Behind my Blog Title

There’s a famous poem called “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson. Ever since I can remember, I have loved this poem. It’s so raw and true. It’s about a man who has a dream and in his dream he sees many scenes from his life, and in those scenes there’s two sets of footprints, but in the hardest times of his life, when he’s at rock bottom and doesn’t know how to get up, there is only one footprint. This bothers the man and so he asks God why he would abandon him in his hour of need. My favorite part is God’s reply. It was then that I carried you. What an incredibly beautiful picture of love. At our lowest point, when we feel like we can’t go on, and we don’t have the strength to stand, God simply reaches down, picks us up and wraps us in the safety of his arms. He then proceeds to walk for us. “In our weakness he is strong” (2 Corinth. 12:9). This promise is so raw, real, and beautiful, but in the moment – in the heat of the trial, it doesn’t always feel like we are in God’s arms. In all honesty, it can feel like we’ve been abandoned. But, I think that feeling stems from being focused on where we are and not knowing how to move on or get up. At rock bottom, the only place to look is up. But looking up – takes courage. Having hope – takes courage. Thinking that you’ll ever leave rock bottom – takes courage. And where do we find this courage? Katie Davis is the author of “Kisses from Katie.” She is one amazing woman. In her blog she says, “And I cry, because I do not feel courageous. I feel downright defeated sometimes. Maybe courage is not at all about the absence of fear but about obedience even when we are afraid. Courage is trusting when we don’t know what is next, leaning into the hard and knowing that it will be hard, but more, God will be near. Maybe bravery is just looking fear in the face and telling it that is dos not win because I have known The Lord here. I have known The Lord in the long, dark night.” Her words are so true and raw. They are hard. Leaning into the hard and knowing it will be hard can seem impossible. But the Lord is victorious, and everything is redeemed in and through him. And it’s hard to remember that, and it’s hard to have hope. But.. It was then that I carried you. That will always be true. God will always be there carrying us up out of the pit. He’s constant and he doesn’t change. He’s good and he’s sovereign. He’s there in our rawest, hardest, most painful moments, and he’s not about to leave. Just a few days ago, I was just mentally and emotionally drained, and I hadn’t spent the time in the Word I needed to refill my soul, and I was driving to my appointment with my AT and surgeon, and I spent a solid hour in the car just listening to Christian music and crying out to God. I felt like God was by me, but He was just choosing not to answer. And I needed to hear from Him. And then at just the right moment, the song “Reason to Sing” by All Sons and Daughters came on. And God said, “I’m here. I haven’t left. I’m enough. I’m carrying you, and I’m carrying those who are hurting around you.”

“When the pieces seem to shatter
To gather off the floor
And all that seems to matter
Is that I don’t feel you anymore
No, I don’t feel you anymore
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in your hands
I need a reason to sing
When I’m overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I’m afraid I might let go
I’m afraid I might let go
Oh Oh Oh
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in your hands
I need a reason to sing
Will there be a victory
Will you sing it over me now
Your peace is the melody You sing it over me now
Oh Lord
Will there be a victory
Will you sing it over me now
Oh Lord
Your peace is the melody 
You sing it over me now
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
That is a reason to sing”