Hit the Ground Running 

This blog post is way over due, yet perfectly timed. It’s been a message on my heart for almost a month now; however, God is still revealing new meaning to the phrase He placed on my heart in a moment of flooding anxiety. But, the full story starts in January during a time of prayer and fasting. During my churches 21 days of prayer and fasting, God challenged me with an image that stems from Matthew 14 when He called Peter to walk on water. 

“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:29-33‬ ‭NLT‬‬).

I felt God challenging me with the questions, “what would have happened if Peter had made it to my arms? What would have happened if Peter didn’t sink?” With that challenge came the image of me dancing on top of crashing waves with my loving, Heavenly Father. So, I made a commitment to dance this year. I made a commitment to trust God over trusting my physical feelings of fear or doubt and my logical explanations of why I can’t possibly walk on water. 

In May, I decided to leave my job so that I could open up my schedule to serve more in my church. I had been praying for months (and chatting my family’s ears off) about this decision, because I knew logically it didn’t make sense. I had a good job, loved my coworkers, and keeping my job would have been better financially; however, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that God was calling me to step out of my boat. I quit my job, believing that God would provide opportunities to serve in my church that I could not see yet, and that He would provide financially. The crazy thing is…He did provide! I had short term, flexible job opportunities that perfectly complimented my desire to serve in my church! Also, in the beginning of July, I was given an opportunity to serve on a creative team in my church that I NEVER could have predicted…an opportunity that I would not have had if I was still working at my past job. I’m constantly amazed at what doors open in my life when I follow the whisper of God! 

With new opportunity came new resistance. For the first time in months, I began to experience suffocating anxiety. One night, as my head spun with critical, anxious thoughts, I decided I needed to distract. Anxiety is just what the enemy wanted, and I refused to entertain his lies. So, I put my music on shuffle and the first song that played was It is Well by Bethel! Message received, God. In that moment, I paused to praise and pray! I felt God reminding me to hit the ground running. I may not be the most experienced or qualified to serve on this specific creative team; however, I knew without a doubt God was already there calling me to step outside of my boat and into His arms….and I refused to settle for anything less than dancing! I refused to doubt myself. I had been asked for a reason, and with God on my side I could not fail! 

One of the most relieving things about serving God is that it isn’t about personal ability. It’s about obedience and willingness. So instead of looking at what I lacked, I boldly offered what I had (willingness) knowing that God would provide the rest (ability). 

Fast forward a month and I’ve found myself in a season of transition. I’m transitioning into a new season of greater responsibility and greater independence. I’m creating myself in ways that I haven’t had to do before. And so, with that comes the need to be more intentional, brave, and patient. Growing up is an imperfect process, and I never want to get to a point where I think I have everything under control. I just want to find peace in knowing that God is in control (which hasn’t always been easy for me….heck, it’s still really hard some days!). As a part of this new season, I’ve decided to train for a half marathon in April! Running allows you to embrace the uncomfortable, escape the logical, and live intentionally. I want to spiritually and physically hit the ground running as I go towards where God is calling me next! Tonight, God gently reminded me of His empowering love and constant desire to run the race with me!  

“And He gives you faith, 

So you can lift your head, 

And you can run real fast, 

And you can feel His joy”

https://youtu.be/zEL4Oqfcgn8

An Open Letter to my Eating Disorder

Dear Ed,

I want to hate you. I want to hate you like my friends and family hate you. I want to hate you so much that I cannot stand to be in your presence. But I don’t hate you, and I’m not sure why.

You have taken more from me than you ever gave, but you did still give. You gave me comfort when the world became too much to handle. You gave me an escape and an obsession that I could use to distract myself. You gave me a feeling of mastery when I watched the number on the scale decline. You gave me answers when all the world could give me was questions. You gave me a feeling of accomplishment. You gave me an out when obligation bound my hands and taped my mouth. Even when the relationship was abusive, I still woke up in the morning hoping to feel your presence by my side.

For all of that, I am thankful. I am thankful for the experiences, regardless of how miserable I was. Saying goodbye to you feels like mourning the loss of a close acquaintance. Because of you I have grown wiser, tougher, and more disciplined; however, there is no longer room in the relationship for me to grow. Like a tree planted in a flower pot, what once provided stability and guidance now suffocates my roots. I need to branch out and ground my roots in a more stable foundation.

You are not good for me. You have taunted me with false promises, and 10 years later I am empty handed. You made me a puppet, unaware of all the strings that yanked me in a million directions until I was too weak to dance on my own. You disguised happiness in a blanket of false hope, and manipulated my thinking to match your plan. Looking back over the past few years, it’s hard to know what was me and what was you. You blurred the lines so thick that not even hindsight can sort through the mess you made.

I still find comfort at times when I hear your words on a quiet night. I still see you in memories distorted to seem good even when I know otherwise. But I no longer see you when I close my eyes. I have different visions of my future where I wear purpose and passion instead of shame and guilt. I no longer find peace in pain. I am ready to blossom, because a powerful oak tree was never meant to be delicate rose. I will never say goodbye to you, because you will always be a part of my story. Not in the chapters or words, but in the font and punctuation. I am more loving, gentle, and encouraging because I know that not everyone can advocate for themselves.

Overall, I cannot change what was done, but I can choose who I become. I am not a victim or survivor because you do not define me. I am on a journey. You are not the only enemy I will encounter. I choose to live a life defined by my savior not by my sin. I choose to love God without saving any room for hate for the enemy. The enemy has been defeated and victory is mine. I choose to celebrate my God-given victory, even when I do not feel victorious. I choose to wear my gold-medal even when I feel like I am losing, because freedom in God is not a destination but a team.

oak tree wisdom

How Much Does My Faith Cost?

The Apostle Paul was awesome. I am blown away and slightly intimidated by the life he lived. One of my favorite characteristics that Paul had was that he knew his identity. In the letters Paul wrote, he opens with “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” or some variation of that. If only we all lived like that, crediting God for the calling he placed in our life. What if we let God define us? “Abbey, a student/friend/daughter/etc of Christ Jesus by the will of God”. Knowing who we are allows us to pursue God with a fearless and confident passion. Paul was willing to sacrifice everything because he knew that God was with and for him. In his letter to the Ephesians he wrote,

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.”- Ephesians 3:12-13

Paul was in prison at the time for preaching the gospel to the Ephesians. He was willing to sacrifice comfort, time, freedom, and his own selfish desire to glorify God. He did not care how much it cost him, as long as God’s love and good news were being spread. How much am I willing to sacrifice to spread the gospel? How much does my faith cost?

If I were to answer these questions honestly, I would say that I’m willing to go as far as my comfort zone reaches. Right when I begin to feel uncomfortable or let fear creep in, I freeze. It’s not that I doubt God calling me to a situation, I just fear judgement or failure.

“‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.”-Matthew 4:19

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow Him, he made their calling personal. He spoke to their hearts by using their passions to glorify Him. Jesus did not ask them to build a nation. They were not carpenters. He did not ask them to teach about God’s love. They were not teachers. He asked them to fish for people, because Peter and Andrew understood and loved fishing. At once, Peter and Andrew followed Jesus.

God’s calling for our life is personal. He plants passions in our heart, and asks that we use them to glorify His kingdom. We must be willing to break past our comfort zone knowing that God will walk with us. Our faith is nothing if we are not willing. Faith is not believing that God has a plan for our life…Faith is pursuing that plan.

So when I think about how much my faith costs, I realize how little faith I have had. I tend to live in my comfort zone. It’s safe. It ‘s easy; however, it is very limiting. I truly believe God has big plans for my life, but I lack faith. As I enter this new chapter in my life, I vow to give God control. I vow to allow him to direct me outside of my comfort zone and into His greatness. I vow to live a life that is not limited by my fear of judgment or failure. I vow to have faith.

Chosen and Marked by His Love

Today, July 26th 2015, was a good day. Today, I was baptized. I had wanted to be re-baptized for almost four years, but considering I have been a part of three different churches in the last four years, it never worked out. Two months ago, The Cause KC announced upcoming baptisms, and I felt God calling me to go. Honestly, I was not sure if I was ready. Two months ago I was in a terrible season spiritually, mentally, and physically. I did not want to be baptized unless it meant something special. I did not want to get baptized unless I could commit to recovery; but, I heard God calling me to sign up, so I did.

Fast forward two months, and I am in a completely different season. I have stopped comparing my christian walk with those around me. I have learned that God loves me in ALL seasons. I have gained a deeper insight into my Christ-given identity. I have learned to make God my number one priority. I have changed, or in other words, God has changed me. God, in His perfect timing, has transformed my life and prepared me for today.

“The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit-it looked like a dove-descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: ‘This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.'”- Matthew 3:16-17

Today, as I came up out of the waters, I felt God saying the same thing to me: “This is my Daughter, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life”. I have been reading Ephesians with one my best friends, and together we have been reading about who God says we are. As I emerged from the water, my new identity finally felt true. I am not a number on a scale. I am not a grade on a test. I am not a hateful word said in a moment of anger. I am not a mistake. I am not a burden. I am not worthless. I am not a failure. All of that was washed away in the water because God sent His one and only Son to die for ME! I am chosen. I am loved. I am a daughter of God.

“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy.”-Ephesians 4:23-24

baptism

Today I chose to put on my new identity. Just like the clothes we put on, it is something I’ll have to continue to put on each day. I am clothed in strength and dignity and laugh without fear of the future (psalms 31:25) I choose to let God lead and guide me. Goodbye to the girl who fears weight gain, fears she’ll never be accepted, fears failure, carries shame, carries guilt, and who is tired of this fast paced world. Hello to the girl who sees herself through the eyes of God, who walks in the confidence of a future planned by God, and who loves herself because of John 3:16!

“‘My daughter, your faith has made you whole. Go in peace, and be healed of your trouble'”-Mark 5:34