Evidence of Grace

Evidence of Grace

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Simple Bare Tree

The stockings are no longer stuffed; where the gifts once lay, wrapped in hope and expectation for the New Year, there's nothing but a few leftover, dried-up pine needles scattered about. The Christmas bulbs are placed in their boxes and the star topper is wrapped, safely awaiting next year’s commotion and hype.

The Christmas candles are all burnt down; no more leftover sweets or pies and the infamous tree—once full of life, lights, and all sorts of shiny things—lays bare by the common dumpster outside my door, patiently waiting for the garbage man to come haul it away.

There are no more Christmas tunes whistling through Founders Hall, Hearst Tower, or Modern Salon and Spa. No more three-story trees or Christmas cheer at all! But this year as we come to the end of yet another chapter in this storybook called life, I've realized some things I never have before.

For the first time ever I have realized just how much I can relate to that tree that lavished my bare wall in the living room. You see, no matter how much you water it—how many ribbons, bows, lights, bulbs, or snowflakes you place upon it—under it all it’s still just a bare, plain, tree that cannot stand on it's own.

It's a lot like us.

You see, unless it stays rooted in the ground where it was planted and is in its natural environment, it will never survive.

It was never made to be cut down and "transplanted."

It will now forever be dependent on someone to water and care for it. Trees were never created to be dependant on someone or something else. They were created to stand on their own. Just like we were. No, it might not have the bright lights, bulbs, bows, ribbons, and sparkles, but it does have what it needs to survive. It has life, independent life away from having the burden of needing desperately to rely on someone else. 

This past year I have found myself sawing at my roots, trying to find a "stand" to place my trunk in and clothing myself with all sorts of ribbons, bulbs, lights, and sparkle when all I ever really needed was already given to me in advance.

I loved the moments I had, things I did, places I went, and the people I shared it all with. I traveled Europe this summer to "find myself" and it’s comical to me that six months later, in an almost empty apartment living room, because of those experiences, I have never felt closer to God or myself.

I guess finding myself was more about the journey than the actual destination. It's a journey that I will be on the rest of my life. 

As I reflect on the past year I can see God's hand, protections, and blessing in ever area of my life: my relationships, situations, job, private life, broken hearts, and shattered hopes. He has never been more real to me than is this moment of reminiscing.
This year I am thankful for new friends found in old loves, friendships that never need to be questioned, broken hearts, shattered hopes, and the beautiful picture He has promised to make out of it all.
I am grateful for second chances, and learning the hardest lesson I have yet to learn thus far in life: that above all else I need to guard my heart, because everything I do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)
So here is to a New Year, new heartbreaks, new lessons to be learned, a heart full of gratitude, and the confidence that God's hand is still over my life; that He is creating a beautiful picture that screams evidence of His grace, and that he never gives up on me.
2012 it's been a long, hard year, full of lessons learned and memories made. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Here's to you 2013: may we make more memories and then—remember what we’ve learned. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Empty House, Empty Heart

So, I realized lately that I haven't been writing at all, I mean, sure, I write in my journal about what's happening in life, I write notes to friends and relatives, I craft tweets, update status', and even shoot texts. But as far as writing from the heart, the way I used to be so passionate about, I haven't. Perhaps it's my hectic schedule, lack of down time, or just the place in life I am when everyone and everything around me seems to be screaming, "What now?" "What next?" "Where to go?" And somehow in the chaos of life, trying to figure this all out I am brought back here, to the the one place where I really, truly, and honestly can answer those questions and be reminded of who I am. Here, on this January night, I am slipping back into the old familiarity of what it feels like to see fresh ink dance across the empty pages of my once bland Journal and witness it come back to life for the first time in a really long time.   

I am a writer, I will always be a writer, it's what makes me thrive, it's what brings me back. Sometimes we just need a little help and a small taste to remind me of the freedom I am capable of experiencing. 

Tonight I lit a half burnt candle that scented my room with the sweet aroma of cinnamon from a very dear friend. I reached for my matches, threw on my pajamas, flicked off the light, and crawled into my comfy bed, pen in hand and Hot Coco an arm's length away. As the flame of the candle shine as the solo light amidst my dark room shadows danced across the walls and ceiling. The slightest bit of wind swayed the light but it stayed lit, it was still there, and it still shown into the darkness. 

I remember when I received that candle, the first time I light it the flame was high and bright, there was just the rim of the crystal clear jar to taint the glow. But over time the wax melted from the heat and the flame began to be consumed by the jar. As the candle burned the jar acquired a cloudy haze that eventually turned into a black as midnight soot that bared witness to the constant flame. The light became less vibrant, yet it still burned. 

Sometimes I feel like this candle. Lately I feel like it ever day. My flame was so bright when it began to burn, when I got that new job, that new car, that new relationship, or even that new ambition; But, over time, that flame leaves a residue on my once crystal clear life. The soot slowly blurs my vision and vibrancy. It's in these situations that I always want to give up. But we need to not forget that this only means our flame is indeed burning. Sure, we need to take time to stop and clean out our jar and make things clear again but this is a good sign, not a bad one. The soot in our lives bares witness to the fact that we are still burning, we are still giving off light, and even though we might think it isn't as bright, it is light. Just like that candle in the night, we might be the only light someone has in their life. 

In 2011 I tried to figure myself out, I tried so hard that I ended up losing myself in ever single way. I have forgotten who I am, who's I am, and why I am. I haven't been taking time to clean the sides of my jar in order to let more light through. I have been trying to settle into my new reality and figure out this crazy thing called life. I've always hated New Year's Resolutions, I think you should set goals and set them daily. But this year I have decided to set a New Year's Dedication, this year I have decided to dedicate to re-finding myself, reminding myself, rededicating myself, and reassuring myself that I am a strong, confident, independent, princess of the King and no one can change that. 

I am deciding that my song for this year is The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert, the chorus goes like this,

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Holding nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

 It is only appropriate that this is my song because this year, on Christmas Eve my parents took us all back to the house we grew up. We saw our hand prints in the driveway, ran through the empty house, sat in an empty living room, and, for myself, brought an empty heart. Yet somehow in all the emptiness there was love, forgiveness, grace, and hope overflowing. There was such a peace in that cold and empty house that I haven't found anywhere else, ever. Thank you mom and dad for taking us to Travor Street! St, I'm letting "this little light of mine shine," and am not letting anyone blow out my hope, my passion, my confidence, or my flame. 
This was always where we sat together...

..... and almost 21 years later we still loved sitting by the old heater, even though it was off. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Trust and Obey, for there is no other way

I know it has been a while since I have written but that is only because life has been crazy. I mean let's face it, when isn't it?

So many things have been going on and God is moving and working in ways that merely 6 months ago I would of never even thought possible.

Right now I sit writing to you in the cozy house of my amazing boss! Him and his wife were out for an Operator's Meeting and will probably be home shortly. I have done dinner, read books, changed diapers, painted nails, quoted scripture, said prayers, given kisses, and even done my abb work out. So I thought I would sit down to share with you where God is taking me.

My whole life I have always struggled with believing that God is in control. Sure we are told that, we even say it to others, and ourselves. But to truly live everyday in faith and know without a doubt that God is in control is easier said than done. I have always had so many plans for my life and so many different things I've wanted to do, and although I am ashamed to say this I have never had enough faith to just step out and do them. For instance I have always wanted to go on a missions trip over seas, but have been too scared that when the time came I wouldn't have raised enough money, my job would hold me back, or something like that. So I have never done it. But this summer I have been given the opportunity to go to Germany, I prayed about it and I think I am going to take it! I can't wait and I know that God WILL provide. He has complete control of this situation

Another thing that has been going on in my life is that I am trying to transition from my Jobs now to the next without totally giving up the two ones I have now... wow I even confuse myself sometimes, so if you followed that you can see how hard that might be. But just today the very salon I really want to be in called and said that even though they usually don't make exceptions they would be willing to meet with me tomorrow and talk about my availability. I am stoaked and nourvious all at once! Of course, God has control of this situation too.

A huge blessing in my life is that this coming up saturday I am leaving for a week long resort and criuse with the two families I work for and the family I live with and even in that God is reminding me that He is not only meeting all of my needs but so many of my wants too. He knows my hearts desire.

Lately, through all of this, I have been reminded of the verse in the bible that tells us to look at the Birds and see how God's had is on them, how much more is his hand on us? On me? Who is made in his likeness, who he loves more than any other creation?

I am learning to let go, trust God, and not only say with my mouth that I believe that but live it out every day of my life. I know that he will provide for me in ways I can never fathom if I will be faithful, obedient, and trust that he is bigger than ANY situation I may face. This makes me think of the Hymn Trust and Obey...So tonight as I fall asleep I will hum that song into my dreams and hold onto that promise, that if I only trust and obey I will be Happy in Jesus!


Monday, March 21, 2011

My weekend I wont overlook.

What an amazing, crazy, packed weekend I had! This past weekend I was able to fly to Jacksonville Florida and meet up with my mom and Cheri Keaggy for a woman's retreat! It was one of the best conferences I have ever been to! The lady who was in charge of taking care of us was the sweetest lady ever, and always eager to help with whatever we needed. The coordinator of the conference was the most genuinely kind-hearted lady ever. She was so full of joy and peace. They made us feel like Princesses, which was great because that was the theme of the conference. We had worship time, speakers, food, and shopping! I was able to sign a couple of songs with Cheri and it was so special because for the first time in all my years of knowing her it really hit me that I was on stage with Cheri Keaggy, the dove award winning lady who's music I used to dance around my childhood kitchen as a little girl! What an honor!
I would have to say that the best part of my weekend thought was when I realized just how much I missed my mom. She has been such a big part of my life, even if I wanted to pretend that she wasn't at times. I had such a blast with her and am so blessed to have her not only as my mother but my friend! We stayed up way too late laughing about some cheesy Halmark Movies and giving back rubs! I miss her already and am looking forward to seeing her again soon!

The weekend ended with hugs and some chocolate for the road. We flew together to Atlanta and then, in a hurry as to not miss our plans, scurried to our connections and said our farewells via Twitter! Thanks to my amazing tweeting lessons I gave on the car ride to the airport. :) After a long, hot, plane ride of being hit on by High-school, spring-break, sun-burnt, probably hung-over boys I was so grateful to Jesus for the Star
bucks I barley had time to grab just before boarding my next crowded plane. I landed safely and even thought I lost my parking ticket...and my car, the nice security guy took a break from checking his myspace and helped me to find it. (I didn't even know myspace was still around) However, it didn't occur to me to ask him for help until I had walked around EVER long term parking lot in the Charlotte-douglas airport, in heels, and a dress. (Man I need to find new travel clothes) I ended up getting home late and found a new BED in my room all set up and ready for me to crash, along with my sweet roommate and family! Man I am blessed!

Isn't it funny how, with family especially, we take so much for granted when we are right next to it, living in the same house as family members, sharing the same bathroom, and eating the same food. But when we grow up and move out we realize just how well we had it! This week I am trying to find those things I take for granted because they are right under my nose and so "convenient" and taking the time to appreciate them
before they are gone.

What are somethings that you can be thankful for that you usually over look?

This week I am going to be thankful for Coffee, for family, for friends, and my bed. I will be grateful in knowing that my car is parked just outside my door and will be ready for me in the morning, I am thankful for air conditioning, pretty dresses, and high heels that make me feel tall! For friends to travel with and great ones to come home to. But most of all for the memories that are made regardless of the situation we are in!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Complete Control.

SO I realized I haven't written in a while...not because I don't enjoy writing rather because I work way too much! But God is good and he is moving in my life.

God has differently been making some huge changes in my life and opening my eyes to things that I would of never thought possible...

When I think back to my life in High school I think of how unimportant God was to me. Of course I went to church and was involved in ever missions, youth, and leadership thing possible, but I did not rely on God to get through my day to day life. Now, as I am nearing my 20th year on this earth I have realized just how important he is to me. You see, for me it was never this huge life changing experience that made me choose God over the world. I have always been a "good" kid. But it was purely putting God First, before the world that was the hardest. I always tried to put God and the world in the same box, all the while, in scripture, it has been made very clear that if anyone is a part of the world they are NOT a part of God.

The other day I heard the lady I work for state it so perfectly. Her son came to her saying he needed a Bible because he couldn't find his and it had been over a week, she said "how did you do that? That is like starving your soul....that is like telling your body it can't have food for a week...it just doesn't work" it made me realize how right she was, it really doesn't work, my bad days are not a coincidence, it is a DIRECT connection to the time I spend with God. I know that there are days I feel like I am going to snap, but instead of letting the devil get a grasp on my situation, I let God take control of my situation. I let him calm me, control me, and comfort me. I choose to allow God to help me rise above it!

I am so grateful to God for his comfort and the small things he does to get me through each day. In what way are YOU thankful? How have you let Him take control of hard time in your life?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Forever Friends

Recently I have realized what amazing friends I had growing up, especially in High-school, when my world seemed to be caving in (and now I see that it wasn't) God had me surrounded with the most amazing friends ever. They never gave up on me or on our friendships.

These past two years I have seen many people fade in and out of my life. This being because I have lived in 2 different homes, in two totally different area's of Charlotte, I have started and finished school and gone through 4 jobs, and found MANY new friends. But I haven't really found many of those amazing friends that are the ones that will stick with me through thick and thin. For a while I thought that there was something wrong with me for the longest time and wondered why I couldn't find those constant friends. But in crying out to God begging Him for true friends He has not only brought along a handful or amazing individuals but He has also, for the first time, brought to my attention just how blessed I was in High-school. I had the most amazing friends who followed hard after God and were true to me no matter how awful I was.

God has given me some really close friends that I get to work with. one girl I went to school with, my wonderful Hope who we have been through it all together Thick and veryyy THIN! I am so thankful for her because I can truly say that if it weren't for her I would not of stuck it out and be in North Carolina today ....and especially my roommate who I love beyond words and seriously couldn't live without! Along with my new friends here God has brought me closer to people from home that I was never close with before, and more than anyone my brother and I have become best friends and if you knew us when we were younger you would see how amazing this is! :)

So today, think about the friends in your life...tell them how much they mean to you! Remember how lucky you are to have them in your life!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

At the Feet of Jesus

Why is it that we can give God our "everything" yet still hold on so tightly to that one thing that binds us? I mean, think about it, theoretically, if you were in chains and it was holding you back from freedom, would we sit there and clench tightly to those chains? What if someone came and had they key to unlock the hold it had on us, all the chains fell to the ground, and we were deemed free? Would we say, "NO! I will stay here and hold these chains up so that they appear to be holding me back because that is what I am used to?" NO, we would run, dance, and skip for joy. So why in life when Christ has come and set us free from ALL our sins and trials, do we hold onto them? He wants to carry our load but we do not have enough faith to allow Him.

We are merely humans, we cannot carry this load alone, this we know, however we try to say "Here God, you take this, and this, and I'll hold onto this one because I don't think you can handle it, but you can have this." Our God is the God of the universe, He spoke and made the sun rise, the hung the stars with nothing but words. But I always find myself holding onto the one thing that I want to control. And if we aren't careful that thing we want control over, will soon control us.

Tonight at C4 (A college ministry I attend) Tyson, the leader, spoke about how Abraham trusted God so much that he would give up his only son because God had commanded him. He sacrificed the thing he loved for the one he loved. Now, I can't think of anyone who God's asked to give up their child as an offering, and if He did, they are probably sitting in a cold, hard, jail cell somewhere. But what about the little things, what about our diet, our friends, our job, our time, our relationships, our want for a relationship, our worship? These things are so small in the grand scheme of things so why can't we let go? You see, it is because we are controlling, selfish, doubting humans, that have no faith in the God who saved us. We instead cling to these things and obsess until we stress over them, but guess what!? It doesn't change the outcome one bit. Why? because we are NOT in control, GOD is! So no matter how much we try to say we are in control, or act like we are, we have NOTHING to do with the outcome of trying situations and the only one who can change the outcome is the one who created it.

During Worship I experienced God in such a way that it, physically, brought me down to my knees. I was convicted that I haven't given God my worship, I mean sure, I worship Him at church, in the car, or even in the shower through song, but worship as a way of life? No, I hold onto worship so that when it is convenient for me I can pull it out, get that spiritual high and then tuck it away till I need it again. But our lives should BE worship. We should worship God the way we clean the floors, or how we make dinner for the family, or the way we greet costumers at our work place. It all boils down to this, if we would just give God our heart then everything else would fall into place. Our friends, relationships, worship, fears, doubts, everything would follow.

So tonight, as I lay down in my comfy bed, I am going to make a vow to not hold onto my fears and worries about the future and what is to come. I am going to give God my heart and only worry about Worship, as a way of life, and eventually, everything else will fall into place. I am done obsessing until I stress over things I have no control over. I have fallen down, and I lay my worries, fears, hopes, and dreams at the feet of the only one who can control them, at the feet of Jesus.