Florida: One Year Down!

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This week marks one year in Florida. How did that happen?

Feeling a little sentimental, I’ve intentionally set aside some time to reflect over the past 365 days, to re-walk my blessings and to see God’s hand in the midst of the hard times. While I will always consider myself a Washingtonian, I am learning that my home is where my heart is. And I’m choosing to plant it here, investing and trusting that’s here I’ll stay until I die, or God moves me.

Looking back over the past year, here are few nuggets that stand out to me:

  • Obeying and trusting God isn’t always easy, but He’s always good
  • Keep an open mind and be willing to learn
  • Asking questions is wise
  • Community is important
  • Building lasting relationships take time and effort
  • Skype and FaceTime are awesome
  • I have a really great group of friends
  • Never say never…
  • With time, my hair actually adjusts to humid climates
  • I really love sharing the Gospel with children
  • God is always faithful

I’m so thankful for the life I’ve been given. I really do feel like I have much more than I deserve. Thank you to all of you who pray for me, encourage me, challenge me, make me laugh, buy me coffee and are consistently in my corner. I love you guys, and I wouldn’t be where or who I am without you. Community is a gift. And you play a huge part in that.

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What about Bob?

I worked in the coffee industry for close to seven years.

During my time slinging espresso, it wasn’t unusual for people to open up and tell me seemingly every detail about their lives, from their kids to their jobs–the happiest of moments to the darkest. It didn’t really seem to matter where I worked, or who I came in contact with, people just seemed to open up. It was almost like someone had pinned a “Hi! You can tell me anything…” badge on my apron without me noticing.

Through the years, I’ve learned the art of striking up conversations with nearly anyone; but more importantly, I’ve learned to listen and seen how powerful it can be to simply notice the individual who seems to be lost in the crowd.

A little over a month ago, I met a friend of mine for coffee at a Starbucks in my favorite South Floridian beach town. After ordering my usual (an unsweetened iced coffee with 2%), I routinely made my way to the handoff bar to pick up my treat and to meet my friend. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a well dressed elderly man walking my direction. I turned to him and smiled.

As we both waited for our drinks (he had ordered a venti vanilla bean frappuccino, incase you were wondering…), he began telling me about his life in advertising and marketing. He worked many years in The Big Apple, climbing the corporate ladder and sacrificing much to land large profile accounts.

Bob, he later introduced himself as, looked like he had it all. He was well dressed, drove a nice car, had plenty of money to spare and wrote copy for a famous standup comedian. But, after spending more than a couple minutes listening, you could hear in his voice and see it in his eyes he deeply felt lacking.

Bob went on about his life. Slowly, his conversation shifted from work to his wife. “She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” Bob trailed off with tears in his eyes. “If I could change anything, it’d be to change places with her. I’ve got all the money in the world and I can’t make her better.”

Bob’s wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. He watches her as she slowly slips away, forgetting who he is and the life they’ve built together. He feels helpless. “Chelsea, if you find someone you love, grab them. Hold on and never let go. They’re the things that really make life worth living.”

As Bob and I continued to talk, I couldn’t help but feel thankful.

Thankful for my Jesus and His beautiful reminder to slow down and to take the time to see others; thankful for the opportunity to reflect His character to those who are hurting and thankful for those He has placed in my life–these are the things that really make life worth living.

Since my coffee interaction last month, I have often found myself asking, “How many people like Bob–put together on the outside but falling apart in the inside, do I miss everyday?”

My prayer today is that I would learn to see others as Jesus does; slowing down to take time to add value to others and to reflect His sweet nature to those who are hurting. May I learn to live in the present, grateful for what I have and who I get to share life with.

 

Thoughts on Trust from a Hot Mess

Wow. First off, how is it already October? And second, have I really not blogged since April? My secret inner social media guru just did the math on how long it’s been since my last post… And she’s embarrassed.

What happened?

Life happened. New job, new state, new church, new roommate, new friendships. Sunny South Florida has seemed to invade my calm, routine life, replacing it with a whirlwind of newness. It’s been an adventure. It’s been exciting. It’s been fruitful. It’s been really fun.

And truthfully at times, it’s been really difficult, painful and lonely.

Several weeks ago I went home to Washington State for the second time since my cross country move. Because my first visit back went off without a hitch, I wrongfully assumed this would be the same. In reality it wasn’t. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that I returned a bit of a hot mess.

But, do you know what? Amidst my mess was Jesus. He so tenderly loved me and spoke to me both through His Word, through circumstance and through others. It was if every conversation breathed the same central message, “Trust Me. I’ve got you.”

God has never promised me an easy life. He’s never said I’d have one without heartache, grief or confusion. And truthfully told, walking out life with Jesus is often a bit difficult.

But it’s always best. Jesus is most concerned with the condition of my heart rather than my state of comfort. He desires that I love Him well and in turn love others as He does. He longs for me to trust Him, not because He is power hungry, but because He knows me intimately; because He is not constrained by time, distance, resources or circumstance. Because regardless of my restrictions, He remains faithful.

Wherever I reside, whether that be in the Northwest or the Southeast, my desire truly is that God would be glorified in me, around me and because of me regardless of how I interpret my surroundings.

And lastly, if you have interacted with me within the last several weeks, thank you. More than likely God has used your words and actions to breathe new life into me. I truly feel like God has hand picked each person in my life. I am thankful for you each.

My prayer for you is the same as it is for myself. May we learn to trust Jesus regardless of what we feel like. May we learn to lean on His promises and walk them out as Abraham did–as truth before they even seem possible.

From Apples to Oranges

apple to orangeMany of you have heard the rumors and murmurings  regarding what my next life step is, but for those of you who haven’t (and as a fairly decent excuse as to why I have been neglecting my blog…) here it is:

I’m moving to Florida!

I have taken a position with OneHope, an international ministry with the mission of providing every child with God’s Word. Currently, I am cleaning out closets, packing, storing and donating more stuff than one wants…

I head out the beginning of February.

If you think about it, I’d love for you to keep me in your prayers over the course of the next month or two as I make this transition. While I am both excited for what’s to come, I am also a bit heartbroken and overwhelmed as to what I am leaving behind.

All in all, I can’t wait to see what doors God opens. May He prove Himself faithful in my life and in the lives of others again and again.

Oh, and if you’re in the area, I’d love to see you before I head off!

Learning to Trust from a Rocky Boat

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.  And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” -Matthew 14:22-32

Oh how I love this chunk of scripture. To me, this story is a beautiful picture of the rawness of humanity wrapped in the presence of Christ. Lately, I feel a bit like the disciples must have felt stuck in that boat. Circumstantially, I am at a bit of a crossroad, causing me to spend more time in prayer and in my bible.  Being faced with major life decisions and being unsure of your intended direction can make one feel like as if they are stuck in a storm.

While reading through this story for the catrillianth time (yes, I’m pretty sure that is a real number…), I am noticing something I haven’t before: Jesus doesn’t calm the storm immediately.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. I should have already known that, right? I mean, I guess I did, the concept just must have slipped till now.

The disciples had rowed for hours. They were nearly four miles from the shore and they were seriously getting their butts kick by the storm.

When Jesus arrives, he presents himself to his followers and Peter joins him on the water. It isn’t until the two step back into the boat that the storm ceases. He had the power to stop the storm earlier, but he chose not to.

Sometimes, I think we are asking for the wrong things from God. His primary desire is not to create picturesque, comfortable lives for us. His desire is for us to know Him, to love Him, to trust Him and to serve Him regardless of the storms raging around us.

Life may seem uncomfortable. You may, like me, feel uncertain about what’s next, but know this: Jesus is ultimately in control. He desires for you to fix your eyes on Him and to trust in His timing and control.

My circumstances may be rocking my boat a bit, but I am choosing to rest in the comfort of the storm’s calmer. I want to become a person who says yes to Jesus, who fixes their eyes on Him, regardless of what is raging around me.  He alone knows my heart and He alone knows what it was made for.

You’re important

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person. -Fred Rogers

The Scandalous Gift of Grace

I love to wrap presents. And even more, I love giving gifts. I love the element of presentation, the look of glee on a person’s face when they untie the bow and the delight that arrises when the box is opened and its contents are discovered.  A gift represents the notion of care, love and thoughtfulness. I love that.

I have been thinking a lot about grace lately.  In all reality, grace is a giant gift given to us by God our Father.  This beautifully wrapped present gave us life forever, freedom and endless chances.

Our gift of grace is personified and displayed beautifully through the life of Jesus.

When I think of a gift of high price, I think of it as something that should be carefully placed on a table or shelf and be ooed and awed over.  Jesus does the opposite.  Jesus left Paradise, entered into a human body, suffered a gruesome death and bankrupt Heaven so we could be forgiven and enter into a perfect relationship with Him.  When I think about it, my natural mind can’t wrap my brain around the concept.

graceGrace is scandalous. Jesus loves those whom we deem as unloveable.  He transforms lives, gives endless chances and loves extraordinarily and unconditionally, knowing fully we won’t be able to return the sentiment or hold up our end of the deal.

We turn our backs, He still loves.  We make mistakes, He picks us up.  We are selfish, He is selfless.  Ridiculous.  Scandalous. Unthinkable.

It doesn’t add up or make sense, yet He calls us to do the same.

As Christians, Christ calls us to live a life worthy of the calling.  He calls us to know Him, to love Him and to reflect His character of grace to the humaniods who inhabit our planet.

Scandalous grace is love in action. It’s lived out when we choose to love those the world deems as unloveable, when we create healing over hurt, pray rather than slander, offer second chances, keep the names of others safe in our mouths, believe in others, choose to see their God-given potential and choose to forgive rather than hold grudges. We model grace when we reflect on who Jesus is and ask Him to help us duplicate His character in our own lives.

When we are empowered with the grace of Jesus, we have the ability to make broken lives beautiful.

The lifestyle of grace is only created by pursuing Jesus both individually and corporately.  We need to be daily in the word and in prayer and then connecting with the body of Christ.  Learning who Jesus is, falling in love with Him and His people naturally build a culture of grace.

I don’t know about you, but I long to be a person who actively loves Jesus by loving others. I want my choices to model after Jesus’, to point others towards Him and set them free, no matter how many mistakes they’ve made or how unflattering their life looks.  Jesus lived a scandalously beautiful life and He’s invited you and I to be a part of it.

Jesus gave us an extravagant gift.  It can never be repaid, but should be shared without reservations. This gift was not meant for display only, but to be given away.

Garbage Man Hero

My nephew, The Cub, loves the garbage truck.  In fact, I’d go as far as saying he’s obsessed. All week he talks about it and he watches for it. And when it arrives, He drops everything to give it his full attention.

Several weeks ago, my sister and I went for a walk on garbage day. My nephew had been told the garbage man was coming that day and he kept asking about it. While we were out we saw the truck.  We stopped the stroller so my nephew could watch the anticipated garbage man drive up and down the alley, picking up cans and dumping them in the back of his truck.  At the end of the road, the man rolled down his window and talked to my nephew.

The Cub was speechless.  He looked at the man as if he was trying to soak in every moment, every word and action of the man driving the truck he’d waited all week to see.

Sometimes, I feel like God longs for us to have this approach in our relationship with Him.  His desire is for our love, our hearts, our thoughts and to be our obsession.  I don’t know if there is a day that goes by where my nephew doesn’t look out the window and ask about the garbage truck.  In The Cub’s mind, the man who drives the garbage truck is larger than life, he’s a hero.

May we learn to fix our eyes, thoughts and actions on Jesus as my nephew sees his garbage man hero.

#selfieevangelism

Sel-fie- a picture taken of one’s self, by one’s self.

E-van-ge-lism- the preaching of the gospel

#selfieevangelism- a picture of one’s self, taken by one’s self with a bible verse scribed on the picture’s base

Let’s face it. We’re living in the era of the selfie. Lately, I’ve seen a new twist on the photography sensation, one I’m dubbing as #selfieevangelism.

Okay, so I’ve never really heard anyone other than myself use this phrase. But seriously, we’ve all seen those posts, right? We all have friends who post these kinds of pictures onto our News, Twitter, and Insta feeds (or maybe you are one of my friends who posts these to my feeds…). Maybe you’re like me. Maybe this drives you crazy.

Why? Why do I even care? Maybe it’s because I tend to think that social media can easily create “me monsters” out of us. Or maybe it’s because I think selfies can be a symptom of this. The pairing of this “me monster” idea and the message of Jesus bothers me. In my mind, they clash.

Maybe they bother me because they paint for me a pretty accurate picture of myself. I am a “me monster.” I have an awful habit of putting myself first. I naturally gravitate towards lifting myself up, I love to be glorified, to be recognized. I am the picture of a selfie. I point others oftentimes toward myself, trying to cover up my actions with a bible verse slapped on the bottom of my self glorified portrait, hoping to point others towards Christ; hoping to justify my thoughts, actions and pride. Gross. Why do I do that?

But, Jesus’ message of grace and love transcends my self-centeredness. His words are spoken and heard regardless of how many times I screw up. He continually extends to me His grace, gently drawing me back to him, regardless of my thoughts, actions or pride. He reminds me to take my eyes off myself, to die to the “me monster” and pick up my cross and follow Him.

I recently heard someone say we ultimately trade our lives in for something. We get to choose what that is. No one can truly say their life belongs to themselves. We are all slaves to something. We all allow something or someone to master us. What will it be? What are you in pursuit of? Will you choose vanity or Jesus?

“Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. ”

– Proverbs 31:30

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a woman who truly fears the Lord. I don’t want to be so wrapped up in my own emotions, fears, and vanity that I need to seek the approval of man. Jesus already loves me. He’s already chosen me.

We are all insecure. We all forget who we are and in whose image we were made in. May we remember our value in Jesus and learn to accurately reflect that to those around us.

I’m alive… and resurfacing…

FYI:   I’m still alive, well and pondering life, love and the pursuit of Jesus.  Posts are in the works, and thoughts are being mulled over.

And if you must know, I’m embarrassed about how long it’s been since I’ve blogged.

It’s been over a month and half since my last post. The end of college happened, life got crazy and I was writing my brains out.  I graduated with honors and then simply quit writing. I felt burnt out.

Sorry y’all.

Thanks for being patient and for reading my thoughts.  I’ll be back in full force soon.