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.

sarah and me

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.

My first lesson of 2017

2017 has kicked my butt so far. It has been the hardest start to a new year I think I have ever had.

Since graduating college, I got a new job and new relationships. Explored new places and had new responsibilities. Everything was new and exciting and I was in love with my life. It all felt too good to be true.

But as Matt Carter, one of the pastors at the Austin Stone Church, says:

We are always in three stages of life,

  1. Suffering
  2. Getting out of suffering
  3. About to enter into suffering…and I was about to enter into suffering without ever realizing it.

This past month I have been overwhelmed by loneliness, purposelessness, and emptiness. I felt like I didn’t matter, and that I wasn’t making a difference in anyone’s life. I have gone through heartbreak and struggled with where my value and identity truly comes from.

But if there is one thing I have learned so far in 2017, the biggest lesson that is on my heart to share with y’all today, it is this:

ASK FOR HELP

We cannot get through this life alone y’all.

People care about you. God cares about you. You are not alone. I have felt more alone than ever this year, but I know that that is a lie. I told my friends how I felt and they pushed me toward joy again, toward feeling again, toward community again, toward gratitude again.

It is incredible the people God puts in your life to help. It is okay to not be okay. I have needed help more than ever this month, and I would not be able to be where I am today or to have had the help or support I needed if I never let my needs be known.

Sure, it can feel scary to be vulnerable about what’s hard and to admit that we need real help. Not just the “yeah, I’d love some help with that,” kind of help, but the literal crying out for help. Desperately needing prayer, love, community, and support. My friends have sent me Bible verses and prayers, they have called to pray over me, taken time from their work to walk with me, eaten with me, cried with me, held me, and, most importantly, listened to me.

I have never experienced love like this before. Even though I have experienced heartbreak recently and have felt rejected and unloved, now that I am really thinking about it, asking for help has led me to feel more loved than I ever did before.

Our God shows up in incredible ways. For me, it is in work, it is in travel, it is in being able to literally call ANY and I mean ANY of my friends whenever I need to talk and I know they will listen and talk to me about anything I need. If I need to talk and cry about what’s hard, they’ll be there. If I want to be distracted, they’ll tell me about their lives. Or sometimes, all I need is to laugh really hard about funny moments we’ve shared. So many of my friends have been through what I am experiencing, and having them as examples of hope and encouragement has been beautiful.

Truly we go through suffering so we know how to comfort others. So many of my people have been able to relate to me, and nothing feels better when you are feeling alone and unloveable than for someone to say, “I know how it feels. It is shitty and so hard. But you will get through it and you will be stronger as a result of it.

I was so mad at God for making this month so difficult. But it has shown me to own where I am at, who I am, and that I need help. In whatever ways. And it all comes from Him. He is my rock. He is my provider. He knows what I need even though I hard core doubt that some of the time.

I just wanted for anyone who is reading this who may be feeling alone and unlovable to be reminded that you are NOT alone, and you are worthy of the most infinite, unconditional love in the world. I have learned the importance of asking for help and have seen so much healing come from it. My prayer is that we would encourage one another to let our needs be known, and that we would be people who love, support, and care for our friends deeply.

If you’re not okay, that’s okay. If you’re not always the strong one, that’s okay. If you’re often the weak, scared one, that’s okay too. You’re human. And it’s really challenging to be a human sometimes. Be gracious with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be loving to yourself. And embrace struggles and trials and fear as just another part of the human experience. God can bring you through those challenges and leave you not only stronger but also able to reach back and help pull others out of their struggles. But most of all, know that you are not alone. We have all been there at some point or another. And maybe if we can be a little kinder to ourselves, and to each other, we’ll find our way back to the light a whole lot faster.

~Mandy Hale

 

Breathe in Grace, Breathe out Peace

Breathe in Grace, Breathe out Peace

I fully believe I have the greatest job on the planet. I have the opportunity to travel to universities all across the country to help women develop into strong leaders. These exciting, new places and faces fill me with great joy, and have helped me grow and develop immensely.


But sometimes…I don’t get to travel for a few weeks.


Sometimes…there are weeks where I am in the same place, not meeting anyone new, and not having much to do.


And that has been my past few weeks. I’ve been home. With familiar faces. With comfortable spaces. With super normal life.


And to be real? It is super hard for me. 


When my life is fast-paced, flying from state-to-state, making new friends every week, taking cool pictures of what I see, I feel fulfilled, known, and purposeful. I feel like I am using my time to the full and that I am truly making a difference. But sometimes life slows down, and does that mean I am any less purposeful? Any less difference-making? Any less fulfilled?


It should not mean that, but to be honest, I feel that way sometimes.


I can feel empty and alone and purposeless.


Because when I am alone in the silence, I see my worth for what it is: founded in my work, in my travel, in my relationships. So when there is little work, travel, and relationships, I feel a hollowness. 


And I am convicted, once again, that my value was being placed in this world’s beautiful creation and not the Creator. 


But I am learning to not be as afraid of the stillness, of silence, of little-to-do-ness:

I used to be afraid that I was hollow somehow, that I only existed if someone could see me and hear me, like a toddler playing peek-a-boo. My whole life was an elaborate attempt at never having to be alone with myself. But the invitations kept coming, grace upon grace, to leave things behind, shed old skins, release long-held brokenness, and when I finally walked away from all those things, there I was, alone with myself, and what I found astounded me: I wasn’t afraid at all. More than that, instead of being afraid, or hollow, or nothing at all, what I found was strength. I found an unshakeable core of love and passion and desire to make the world better. I found focus and a sense of power I’d never known. 

~Shauna Niequist, Present over Perfect

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It is so easy for me to zoom from place to place, never taking a second to slow down and find stillness while on the road. Never cracking open my Bible to root myself.


See I have zero daily rhythms with my job, since each month, week, and day looks so different. But, there is one rhythm that I can be fighting for, and will be fighting for this year: To ground myself and find my worth in Jesus alone, and not in where I am or who I am with. 


I want to feel as fulfilled in the crazy, new experiences, as I do in the mundane, ordinary days.


I want to offer each day to Him, trusting Him to make each ordinary day extraordinary.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity. God bring the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2, The Message 

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Well, alright, God. Each day you give me breath, you have given me a home, you have given me purpose in just knowing you more. Apart from you, I can do nothing, God. I trust you in the timing of my travel and the people you introduce into my life. I trust you with keeping me home for a while so I could see all of this clearly. So I could see you more clearly. You will never let me down, even when my circumstances or relationships do. I will breathe in grace and breathe out peace each day. Peace with wherever I am or whatever I am doing because you are with me. 

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. 

~Philippians 4:14, The Message