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

XO_NLC_1718-251

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.

Charleston & Louisville

Charleston & Louisville

My first job gave me 15 + of the greatest, new best friends I could have ever dreamed of. If you had told me this time last year that I would be taking trips across the nation to visit my co-workers and celebrate their weddings, I would think you are crazy. I mean it’s not THIS normal to be so close with all of your co-workers right?? Dang do I feel lucky.

The past two weeks I had the pleasure of traveling to Charleston, SC and Louisville, KY to spend time celebrating life with the greatest of friends.

Charleston

18446733_10213192887119123_3948714958932021089_nKJ Daley, my sweet ray of sunshine, got married two weeks ago in Charleston. About 12 of us Chi Omega employees came flying in from across the nation to celebrate her. We all stayed in a massive Air B n B and experienced the widest array of Uber driver personalities you could ever think of. We ate yummy Southern cookin and danced the nights away. It was the most perfect vacation I could have asked for.

Nothing is better than celebrating a beautiful marriage alongside your best friends. It is such a joyful occasion and always gives me hope and excitement for what is to (hopefully) come for me and all my other single ladies. KJ is the most faithful friend you could ask for, and it was such a joy to get to support her as she began her life with Austin.

The last day I was in Charleston, my girl Div and I pretty much spent the whole day together just us18527420_10154621126711586_993903960169657461_o two since everyone else had left. We were sitting on the dock by the water and thinking about how much has changed in our lives this year and all the ways we’ve grown. It is tremendous when we really thought about it — how God can change so many things about your life in a matter of 12 months. It is beautiful and awesome and challenging, and I will never go back to playing it “safe” ever again.

 

KJ and Austin, I love you SO much and am overjoyed I got to celebrate you in one of the greatest cities with the greatest friends.

Louisville

Wait…WHY are you going to Louisville again?

For a vacation to see my friends!

Oh….okay.

This was the conversation I shared with nearly everyone who asked me why I was going to Kentucky. People thought I was super weird for taking a trip to Kentucky just to visit my friends that I never get to see. But, to me, it was 100% worth it. When you only get to see your co-workers/best friends twice a year, you prioritize whatever it takes to spend just a little more time with them.

My girl Dani and I visited our friends Jenna, Elaine, and Katie who all hail from the great state of Kentucky. I didn’t know a single thing about Kentucky until this year, and then, all of a sudden I started working with three women from this place! Funny how places and people can just enter your life like that sometimes.

18582285_10155346824884836_4347404723201571422_n

Never have I seen more horses in my life than I did during my few days in Kentucky. We explored Lexington and Louisville, and even walked across the bridge to Indiana one afternoon. The grass is super green and there are horse barns that look like mansions.

But the best part of this trip was simply the time I got to spend with my friends. Again, when you don’t see your co-workers every day, the time you do get to spend with them is so precious. 18582553_10155346825524836_6363573789704431325_n

I’m so thankful that this job has given me a whole new perspective and appreciation for friendships. This job has provided me with more relationships than I ever thought possible. It has taught me to not take them for granted and to be absolutely present when I am with my people. Time is precious currency, and I am grateful for the friends God has put in my life in the past 12 months that have shown me what a gift time with friends is.

 

When I was in Charleston, I picked up this book called Joy that is filled with impactful quotes. This one really struck me and sums up how I have been striving to view my precious time with my people. Here’s to more minutes and more joy to come!

Resolved, that I will take each precious minute, and relish all the joy within it.

~Kathleen Rice

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.

Image-1

 

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.

hidden-ig

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

 

 

Encouraged Forever

Encouraged Forever

This past weekend, Chi Omega hosted its bi-annual Firesides weekend in Memphis, where we invite the chapter presidents, advisors, and another member of the executive board into town for a weekend of learning, connection, and growth.

Coming into this weekend, I was selfishly so excited simply because I was going to be with many of my best friends. Having virtual relationships with your co-workers and best friends can be tiring at times, and I was ready to get some big hugs and share some big laughs in person.

img_4388

The weekend was so life-giving, and I am so proud to work for an organization that does not shy away from talking about the hard stuff-the real stuff.

Our focus this weekend was on mental health and wellness, which is so scary to talk about. In a world inundated with the need to be perfect all of the time, we spent the weekend encouraging our women to not shy away from their imperfections. To admit when things are hard or when they are struggling. And to inspire their members to do the same.

Chi Omega is not here to make our members perfect or to provide perfect programs or perfect houses or anything like that. Rather, we are here to make our women feel known and loved in a  safe place where they can then grow into the best versions of themselves. Not the perfect versions, but the best, real versioimg_4387ns of themselves. I am so grateful to be a part of an organization that cares about our women in an authentic way, and wants them to know that it is okay to not be okay.

Personally, it’s pretty ironic that this weekend was about self-care and mental health, because I had been facing some hardships and sadness coming into the weekend. Our messaging reminded me that I am blessed to be surrounded by women who love me exactly where I am at and will walk with me through whatever it is. They are strong for me when I am weak, and they love me when I feel unlovable. I was reminded of that truth this weekend.

Rather than run from the inevitability of life’s tragedies, we are invited to face them, head-on, with hope. We can even begin to call things what they are–rather than what we wish them to be. ~Tullian Tchividjian

Our keynote speaker this weekend was a man named Dennis Gillan, a mental health motivational speaker, who has been through multiple tragedies in his own life. Instead of choosing to be defeated, he has used his suffering for good, and now travels speaking to groups of people across the country who need to hear his message.

Dennis took our Chi Omega Symphony and made me think about it in a way I never had before. In our Symphony, it reads to be womanly always, to be discouraged never. And Dennis urged us to flip that last thought and instead, think of being encouraged forever

Due to my relationships in Chi Omega, I truly am, encouraged forever. Our leaders have the purest intentions and the biggest hearts for each and every one of our 300,000 members. From the National President to the freshman new member, I am consistently inspired by what we are doing and how our women support one another. I am encouraged forever by the fact that Chi Omega never asks me to be someone that I am not. We want our women to come as they are, and we promise to love them, no matter where they are at.

Here’s to every Chi Omega woman who leaves me encouraged, forever.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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.