Cone of Uncertainty

Cone of Uncertainty

The past few weeks have been some of the most hectic and unpredictable of my life. I moved to South Carolina and my team arrived to begin our recruitment process. Hurricane Irma also decided to arrive right around the same time my team did, leaving us in a literal cone of uncertainty about what to do.

Should we go? Should we stay? Where are the students going? What is going to happen to our plans and our processes?

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We didn’t have many answers to those questions, so we did what we thought was best and packed our bags and left.

The next six days consisted of us traveling to four different cities and staying in four different places. From Camden to Atlanta to Greenville and back to Myrtle Beach, this team did it all. It was a wild ride, but in the end, everything worked out and we were still able to finish our recruitment process on time and celebrate our bid day as originally scheduled. I couldn’t believe it!

 

On the news, when reporters were talking about Irma, they kept referring to the cone of uncertainty and how they couldn’t be too certain of where the hurricane was going to hit. Well, that is the best way I can describe how my life felt the past few weeks – like a cone of uncertainty. Moving out here to a totally new city where I knew few people living by myself while trying to recruit an entirely new chapter virtually during a hurricane…all of that just left me feeling a bit uncertain about how this whole experience was going to go. BUT I am so excited to share with you what I learned about God’s faithfulness throughout the past few weeks and how He so graciously provided for me and my team when we really didn’t think we could do it.

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In the midst of this storm, I turned to Mark 4 and the story of when Jesus calms the storm. Scripture says,

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” ~Mark 4: 37-41

It is so easy for me to feel like Jesus is asleep and not listening to me. In times of uncertainty and fear, sometimes it can feel like God is silent and He doesn’t care at all. But then I read this passage, and remembered that even when it may feel like God isn’t doing anything, He still has the power to prevail and to calm any storm in my life. He is sovereign over all, even the storm, and this passage reminded me that He will protect me no matter what and He will never leave me.

It’s hard to have faith when there is little physical evidence of it. But I guess that’s when our faith is tested the most…when we can’t see it and when storms are raging. We have to have faith that Jesus is not asleep, He hasn’t checked out on us, but rather He is still in perfect control, even over what seems scary, and He will never abandon us.

While we were in Atlanta, we had the opportunity to visit Passion City Church and hear Louie Giglio preach a sermon. Ironically enough, the sermon was about the cone of uncertainty and living fearless in an age of fear. I think everyone at that huge church that morning needed to hear this message as Irma was hitting land that day. There were two phrases that really struck me during his sermon. He talked about having

Confident Concern and Empowered Engagement

I learned that I can be concerned about what is going on in the world around me, but at the same time, I don’t have to be afraid because I can be confident in the provision of the Lord and how He is always with us as our refuge and strength. I can be engaged in the difficulties with the empowered strength that comes from Christ alone. I don’t have to be afraid.

To throw a little Chi Omega at you, truly I have never witnessed a group of women embody our Symphony more than I did in my team over these past two weeks. There were moments where I was really scared and discouraged, where I didn’t think that we could make this colonization happen on time and that we weren’t going to hit our goals. But this team never quit, never made excuses, and never gave up. There was never one moment of negativity or doubt, never one moment where we couldn’t find a laugh or a smile amongst our group. These women showed me what being discouraged never  looked like in the midst of uncertainty and displayed to me how incredibly resilient and fearless Chi Omega women are.

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This chapter, the Gamma Mu Chapter of Chi Omega, means so much to me already for so many different reasons. I think the biggest reminder it gives me of all is that this chapter was created in the midst of a storm. It was created in the midst of uncertainty mixed with a lot of innovative ideas for how to recruit virtually. This chapter came together because of the faithfulness and hope of my team. I am confident this chapter is going to be full of resilient, strong, positive women who make a difference in the world despite of our ever-changing circumstances. I am so thankful for the endless joy these women bring me already and the incredible lessons they remind me of whenever I think of them.

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I never thought I’d say this, but God, thank you for the uncertainty you bring into my life. Every time you challenge me, I become stronger and more confident in who you are and how you provide for me. I know that no matter what comes my way, you can be trusted and you will fulfill your purpose for me, whatever that looks like.

To my team, thank you for showing me what resilience and positivity and perseverance looks like in the face of uncertainty. To my Gamma Mu gals, know that your journey is just beginning and that Chi Omega will never stop making you stronger. Give it your all, because if you let it, it will change your life.

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The Tension of In-Between

You ever feel like you’re in a period of waiting? Like full-on state of limbo waiting? Like it feels like nothing is happening right now but once this begins…THEN…

Well, that’s how I’m feeling right now. I am full on in the tension of the in-between.

I am in-between moving from my home in Fort Worth with roommates I love and friends who know me deeply to moving to South Carolina for a new work project where I barely know anyone.

Big. Change.

And I am so pumped for this change, do not get me wrong. But it has been more challenging than ever for me in this season to remain grateful for the period of waiting I’ve been given.

“Why can’t it all just happen right now, God??” That’s what I feel like I’m asking him each day. But I KNOW there is purpose in this time. There is reason behind the wait. There is growth. There is perfect purpose in every season, no matter how exciting it may seem.

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The biggest thing I’ve learned through this season of waiting, where I really don’t feel like I’m doing much or accomplishing much, is that just because I feel like nothing is moving, God is still moving and always using me. He never stops. He never sits around and just waits for me to get somewhere or meet someone or do something to use me. His love never ends.

Just because I feel like the best is yet to come doesn’t mean that God isn’t still giving me His very best for me today.

There is a lot of unknown in my life right now in multiple areas of my life. This unknown usually leaves me feeling scared, but this time, it leaves me feeling excited…and a little scared still. I’m beginning to enjoy these periods of uncertainty because it strengthens my faith so much. It makes me confident in the One I can always be certain of. Who knows what is going to happen in the next few months, but I can’t wait to find out.

Trust the wait.

Embrace the uncertainty.

Enjoy the beauty of becoming.

When nothing is certain, anything is possible.

 

Life is short. God is big.

Life is short. God is big.

Recently I read Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio and it impacted me greatly (I highly recommend this read!!) In the book, Giglio walks through five different giants that we commonly face in life: Rejection, Comfort, Addiction, Anger, and Fear. Seeing as I struggle with all five of those giants in some way, the book helped remind me of how powerful God is in helping me fight them and how it’s not up to me alone to conquer them.

In his chapter on comfort, Giglio shares this idea that life is short, and God is big. He reminds us that faith thrives in discomfort, and that nothing worth having comes without a cost.

These two sentences have impacted me greatly this week as I wrestle with losing comfort and worrying about the future:

LIFE IS SHORT.

GOD IS BIG.

Big transitions come with a lot to be nervous about or fearful of. I am in the process of moving twice in the next four weeks and leaving the people and places I know and love. It is easy for me to become consumed with worry about my to-do list and the “what ifs” in this season of uncertainty.

But, what can I be certain of today?

This truth. The truth that life is short and God is big. So why would I waste this precious day I’ve been given by filling it with worry of could or could not be? Why would I not spend my day being grateful for the good in it and worshipping this great God who gave it all to me? In his book, Giglio also shares that,

Worship and worry cannot occupy the same space.

When worry of the future, or even the present, starts to creep in, I must instead choose to be thankful and choose to worship. I don’t want my life to be comfortable anyway, that would be no fun!

In moments where I feel overwhelmed, I’ve learned to run to God first after making many mistakes of not doing that in the past. Yesterday, I opened my Bible to Psalm 40 and these words rocked my world:

Lord, you do not withhold your compassion from me. Your constant love and truth will always guard me. For troubles without number have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me; I am unable to see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my courage leaves me. Lord, be pleased to rescue me; hurry to help me, Lord.

Psalm 40: 11-13

God does not withhold his compassion from us. He does not abandon us. He walks alongside us through every moment of every day. He cares for us and provides for us. He is a good Father. I believe that and trust in that, particularly when worry and fear begins to creep in. When it does, I remember that life is short and God is big. He is powerful, sovereign, and will never leave me. Rejoice in that today. Replace your worry with worship.

Unexpected Gifts

Unexpected Gifts

The best kinds of gifts are the ones we don’t expect. You know, like when a friend surprises you or you open that present and it was way better than anything you imagined. I love pleasant surprises, and when God surprises us with unexpected blessings, it reminds me of how ever-present He is in my life, how He is always thinking of me.

This past month God gave me many unexpected gifts and I am so excited to share them all with you.

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I spent almost the entire month of June in National Leadership Consultant (yes we got a new name) training with 15 of the best and the brightest from across the nation. Six of us were returning this year, and we were so excited to meet the ten new consultants joining us on the road this year.

Spending every minute of the day with a group of people for three weeks straight will make you pretty close to them fairly quickly. These new friendships are expected in a way, but I am always pleasantly surprised by how greatly these women impact me for the better. We begin to open up to one another and share about our experiences and how we ended up where we are today. It is such a gift to get to share life with these women all across the country. I am constantly challenged by their differing perspectives, and they push me to grow in ways I didn’t consider before. I am so proud of this class of consultants and how hard each and every one of us worked to be prepared for the fall. It is going to be a great year.

PSA to all the Chi Omegas out there: get ready for your NLC this year because whichever one she is, she is a ROCK STAR

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Along with all of us consultants, the six Regional Directors and our incredible boss, Rachel, also spent hours on hours with us each day at HQ learning and growing. These women are outstanding role models for us with unreal insight on what we do. They each possess different gifts and strengths that provide for us all the perspectives we need to excel in our roles. They are incredibly humble and never act like they are better than us. They make us feel at home away from home and support us fiercely. These women I work with and for are an unexpected gift in the ways they treat me and encourage me.

It has been such a joy seeing how my relationships with my co-workers has deepened throughout this year. I know they will have my back for anything. I know they will share wisdom with me and tell me like it is. I know I can count on any of them for anything and they’ll be there for me. Fierce friends like this rarely come around at all, let alone in the work place. What an unexpected treasure.

I also have to give my girl Katherine Mendieta a huge shout out in this post. You, my friend, are an incredible, unexpected gift. Katherine and I met for the first time four years ago when she came to TCU to take pictures of our chapter. I maybe said hi to her, but that’s all. Fast forward to now and we have spent the past year working together and building a friendship that led us to a trip to Nashville last weekend with all our gals. And we had the best time.

What is special about Katherine is that she has this remarkable ability to make others feel confident in themselves and proud of who they are. Whether it is through a conversation or through her photography, Katherine empowers others to be happy with who they are. I love her honesty and the ways she uses her gifts to make others feel important. She makes all of us feel beautiful and special no matter how we may actually be feeling on the inside. I hope everyone has a Katherine in their life, because she is truly a treasure.

And then sometimes God introduces other new relationships into your life that you really didn’t expect. People who impress you and care for you beyond what you could ask for. It fills up your heart knowing that sometimes new people come into your life for a season or for a lifetime, but for no matter what length of time, you know there is purpose in you knowing them. Simply because they make you better.

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. 

~Marianne Williamson 

I see God equipping me for this new stage of life in so many ways, particularly through the people he has put in it. I am getting ready to move to South Carolina for a season and it is going to be a whole new adventure. I am excited, but, of course, a little nervous. I know I have nothing to fear for God is with me every step of the way. I have nothing to fear because I have an incredible support system of friends who love and care for me better than I could imagine. I have people who push me to be my best version of myself each day. Thank you, Chi Omega, for giving me these unexpected gifts.

Letting Go

Today, a chapter in my life closed. Today, I accepted the freedom Christ offers me each day by trusting him. Today, on Easter Sunday, I looked to the empty tomb and rejoiced in my risen King who loves me deeper than I will ever understand.

See today, I saw someone for the first time in a while. I saw someone who had broken my heart. Someone whom I loved and cared for deeply. Someone I was worried about.

In my season of broken-heartedness, I knew God was close to me, I mean it even says so in his word:

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there. ~Psalm 34:17-18

But I couldn’t feel it. I wasn’t “feeling” any better. I was still crying, still longing for love, still demanding an explanation for my pain and loneliness. I felt like I was reaching for God but missing each time. My heart didn’t feel like it was healing but rather that it was opening itself up to more pain. Really, I know now, that my heart was being transformed and changed into a heart that wants more of Jesus and less of this world.

One day, I had a conversation with a friend who asked me if I had given control of him to Jesus. If I trusted Jesus with him. I loved and cared for this person, had made him an idol in my life, and would not let God have control.

Rather than to continue to grasp for control and demand answers from God, I began to pray for him and to pray that God would have him and that I would trust God. Knowing how God was rescuing me, I could trust that he was rescuing him too. But deep down, I don’t think I fully believed that. At least, not until this morning.

You see, sometimes I don’t believe God is listening to me when I pray, or that he even answers some prayers. And then there are times like this morning when you see God answer prayers instantly and it knocks the truth of his faithfulness right back into you.

It’s Easter Sunday. So naturally I was praying that my someone would be at church this morning. Not so I could see or speak to him. But so that I could see him drawing near to God again, that I could see evidence of God’s unending love moving in him. I bowed my head, closed my eyes, prayed for him, and when I looked up, he was in the front row.

So here’s the thing…

God is ALWAYS listening to our prayers, always crafting the perfect response in His perfect timing.

He IS near,

He IS moving,

He CAN be trusted.

Today, this chapter of my life closed. I no longer desired control or answers, but was overwhelmed by peace. My heart has changed, I no longer want the same things I used to. God was saying to me, “Look Mere, I’ve got him, I’ve been listening to you, I’ve been moving, I won’t let him go, but YOU can.”

So I did. And I am. I thought I had closed this chapter a few weeks ago, but until we fully sacrifice something, whether it be a job, relationship, or really anything, can we really move forward?

God wants to free us from ourselves, and there’s nothing like suffering to show us that we need something bigger than our abilities and our strength and our explanations. There’s nothing like suffering to remind us how not in control we actually are, how little power we ultimately have, and how much we ultimately need God.

~Tullian Tchividjian

So here’s a shout out to God for answering my prayer instantly this morning to reassure me that I can give up control. That I can trust him. That I can leave this chapter behind and look to what comes next. He indeed rescued me from my heartbreak, and He will rescue you from yours. He strips us of our idols to lead us back to the throne of grace. He is risen, He is here, and He is worthy of our praise.

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Words

Words are a gift. The ability to write them, say them, read them. Recently, I have been greatly impacted for good by the words in my life. Whether that is a word of encouragement from a friend, a catchy song, or the words of Scripture-words are shaping who I am becoming.

And I believe we all are shaped by the words in our lives more than we realize. The words I choose to listen to or not listen to, to read or not to read, to surround myself with or not, those all impact how I think and how I speak.

Say only what helps, each word a gift. ~Ephesians 4:29

Each word is a gift. A precious gift that we can either give or receive. What if we really took time to recognize our words as gifts? As an opportunity to give something beautiful to another person?

When I actively listen to words being spoken to me, and do not anticipate what I am going to say before I fully listen, I find that they take deeper root in my heart. The words from another hit my ears and travel down to my heart, giving me space to process them. Then with careful thought, I want to take time to develop a response that uplifts, encourages, and reassures them.

Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. ~Colossians 4:6

Every word spoken is an opportunity to make an impact. Our words have much more power than we realize.

The words that shape my thoughts also have significant impact on how I vieImage-1-1w myself and the world around me. When I choose to be self-critical and over think every decision I make, I feel awful about myself and do not think others should think much of me. But, when I choose to fill my mind with God’s promises and replace that negative self-talk with truth, my confidence shines because I know where my true value lies. Over and over again I find myself repeating God loves me very much and has placed His hand on me for something special, and I believe that truth reigns true for each and every one of us.

 

Reminding myself of the other gifts in my life through words also helps me remember God’s promises and provision for my life. Whether it is a list of gifts or filling days in my planner with how I saw God move, I need constant reminders through words of God’s goodness. My feelings are so fleeting – one moment, I could feel like God is present and working, and the next, I may not. I need words of truth and evidence of how God shows me His love during my days.

Another way words have impacted me recently is through song. Beautiful, honest lyrics fill my mind and shape my thoughts into prayers. The tune and rhythm of song gets lyrics stuck in my head so easily, and when those lyrics are life-giving, encouraging words of truth, my head and heart are filled with goodness. Musicians have a gift of crafting words to songs that give us joy. Fill your head with lyrics of life.

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My words in how I speak to The Lord too are such a gift. The fact that I have a good Father who wants to listen to me and answer my prayers is such a gift. That He would listen to the words I have to say. I want to take more advantage of such a blessing. He cares about every word that leaves my mouth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~John 1:1

Finally, the Word is a gift. We have a source where we are able to read God’s words and see evidence of His power over generations and generations. We have words that will ground us in the truth about our lives. These words are our source of life. What a gift! What a gift that we have the ability to read words of comfort, love, and hope that will never change.

Thanksgiving is our dialect. ~Ephesians 5:4

In all of this, my prayer is that Thanksgiving becomes my dialect. I want words of praise and gift-giving and God’s provision to shape how I speak. I want Him to be glorified in my words. I want my words to positively impact others. I want to be more mindful of how I speak. My hope is that we all take a moment to think about how the words we choose affect our thoughts, our work, our perspective, and our relationships. Words are precious, and the ones we choose to listen to, read, and speak shape our thoughts and actions and impact.

Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.

~Proverbs 18:20-21

 

 

Thank You

Thank You

I need to feel more connected to Him again and ask for help daily.

January 3, 2017, I wrote this in my journal. I was writing about SUPPORT and how I needed more of it from God and how I wanted to experience that more.

Well, God definitely answered my prayer by taking away comforts from me that have forced me to lean on Him for support more than ever this year.

And honestly, I just wanted to write out, for myself and for whoever is reading this, a thank you list to God for the ways He has supported me through this difficult season.

Thank you, Father, for:

  1. Co-workers who also are my best friends. For the hours of phone calls I have shared with them. For being able to laugh and cry with them. For them being able to relate to me exactly where I’m at. For their patience with me. For their unconditional support. For knowing that just because we are not physically in the same place does not mean I am not loved or supported by them.
  2. Mentors who also function as my best friends. For strong women of God who offer to pray for me over the phone or in person. For vulnerable conversations where I am not afraid of being judged. For the wisdom they share with me. For the perspective they give me. For the comfort they bring me in knowing that I can get through this with God’s help.
  3. Married couples who love on me so well. For being invited over for breakfast or dinner. For sharing meals at Panera or Salsa Limon. For having examples in my life of Christ’s love embodied through the sacrificial love of marriage. For seeing them sacrifice for me. For these couples following up with me so well and listening to me.
  4. My mom and dad. For not being afraid to tell them exactly what’s going on. For them holding me while I cry and staying up with me to talk things out. For knowing that when I call, they will always answer the phone. For the hope I can see for me in them. For feeling loved by them no matter what I’m going through. For my dad’s wisdom. For my mom’s care.
  5. Old friends that I can still depend on. For knowing that even if it has been months since seeing or speaking to them, I can call them up, and they will be here for me. For coffee with my best friend from high school. For FaceTime. For friends who have walked with me through so much already and can remind me of God’s grace to me in those times.
  6. Feeling known and understood by people who I actually do not really know. For finding blogs and articles that show me I am not alone. For words of vulnerability shared by women who have gone before me. For their bravery in sharing and for them inspiring me to do the same. For random acts of kindness that simply blow my mind.
  7. A greater understanding of self-care. For a healthy body that allows me to work out daily. For a cycling studio that leaves me feeling better about myself than when I walked in the room. For conquering shame and seeing a counselor. For massages and yoga and candles. For discovering that taking care of myself is so important and helps heal.
  8. My church community. For being embraced by them and knowing that they put no expectations on me to be okay. For big hugs and kind words. For sermons that encourage me. For knowing that no matter how far I run, they will always be here for me.
  9. Chi Omega. For this community of women who near and far, that I know well or that I just met, love me so big. For our Symphony that reminds me to be discouraged never. For a chance to make a difference in someone else’s life. For the lessons it teaches me as I travel. For my family. For my friends. For all the ways it has made me a better woman.
  10. My friends. For the absolute greatest friends in the world. For roommates who hold me while I cry. For my sister who comes over at any hour of the day to comfort me. For ice cream dates and funny movies. For every hug, word of comfort, and prayer.

I honestly have a loss of words when it comes to describing my friends and how much they have meant to me this year. God has blown my mind.

I read this list and I legit tear up. It is SO EASY for me to forget how gracious God is to me in the midst of suffering. Look at all He has given me. I don’t deserve any of it, yet He gives and loves still.

I pray this encourages you to do the same. To make a list of what you are deeply thankful for. You know, I think I am beginning to be thankful for the hard times too…because without them, who knows if I would have seen all of this beauty.