Apathy.

Loss. Destruction. Hurt. Fear. Agony. Distrust.

These are just a few of the emotions and realities that have come the past few days.

But fortunately for us Americans, we can soon forget all these things. There will be no one to remind us of these horrible events. The media will soon move forward, social media will spin into Christmas mode, and the thought of all of these events will be less than memories in our hyper, fast-paced, American minds.

We won’t have to worry about the Syrian refugees walking onto our soil in masses in search of help and care like European countries.

We won’t need to rebuild our cities and public entertainment centers destroyed by a suicide bomber.

We won’t have to try to rebuild thousands of years of history because of a massive earthquake literally ripping our culture from its foundation.

Our reality, as Americans, is that we will be more worried about cooking our huge meals for our families, finding the perfect gift for our loved ones, and we will continue to fight about who is the loudest candidate running for President. We will fall back into our habit of picking apart each other’s opinions, Facebook status’, and outward appearances. We will return to being jealous when a friend does well on a project, being angry about immigrants coming to our country, and looking down on those living in poverty. We will continue to fight each other to be the best, fastest, or most liked.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it- How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow everyone the chance to experience it-

While we definitely have problems of our own, abandoning the plights of others seems incredibly selfish and small-minded. We see the struggles, fears, and life-threatening circumstances of those in other places everyday on the news, and yet can find a way to justify our forgetfulness and apathy. We want to help, as long as it doesn’t affect us. We think that the refugees need homes, but are unwilling to give them our own. We feel the sadness of the attacks in Paris, but the next day decide to fight about Facebook pictures.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it? How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow people the chance to experience it?

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I feel turmoil and anguish writing these words. Not out of fear, but of great sadness. The loss is so great; and yet all we can seem to muster is a Tweet that hopes those in need will find somewhere else to go.

But I am asking, if not to us, then where?

Why not us?

Friends who claim lives of love and peace in Jesus Christ: why are we so unwilling to help the helpless? Excluding our “rights” to freedom, liberty, and saving our economic system, is there a justifiable reason? Who are we to turn away the needy? Are we not instructed to give freely, even at the risk of our own safety?

Please know that I write these words with love and not judgement or anger. I write this blog to be a light in an ever-dark cyberspace. Sometimes that light comes out as encouragement. Other times that light must be truth. We must be aware of our fellow man in hurt and agony. We must show compassion and love to those in need.

Now is the time.

Much love. Much grace.

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“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

-Statue of Liberty

No Fear November

Fear is such a tricky and subtle thing. It can creep up in unexpected ways, like being scared of whales. Or it can develop over time coming from insecurities or traumas.

This past month I was asked to write as a guest blogger for a regional blog about marriage in my area. While I was so excited at first, I slowly began to become nervous and somewhat stressed. I began to become so stressed that I developed writer’s block.

I mean, how could I write about marriage when I have only been married for five months? I know nothing of trials and struggles that marriage can bring. People keep saying I am still in the “Honeymoon Stage”.

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As I began thinking of what to write about the more desperate I became. I would try writing whatever I could just to try to find an idea that stuck. I started and stopped about eight different times just trying to write one post.

As I said before in a previous post, writing was never my strong suit in school, and I began to remember the comments and even my grades as I would try to write this guest post. I was struggling.

Insecurities have a way of tearing us down.

Not quickly like outside or hurtful comments do. No, insecurities come from the inside. They come at us from our core and who we think we should be.

“I should be more graceful by now” “Why can’t I just stop eating Oreos?! That’s probably why I am so chubby” and on and on.

These little thoughts of negativity eventually bring us to a place of inhibited living or avoidance of certain activities, just like true fears do.

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This month is November, and in honor of Halloween being over, I am dedicating this month to overcoming my fears and insecurities. I will continue to write what is on my heart and I will begin conquering the insecurities that make me doubt myself.

Who’s with me? Let’s overcome our fears together this No Fear November. If you want to do this challenge with me, be sure to fill out the contact section on the blog and let me know!

Let’s see just who we can be without fears and insecurities weighing us down.

Much love. Much grace.

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My Year Off from Titles

Before I go any further, I just want to say that absolutely none of this comes from a place of anger, bitterness, or regret. I have learned these lessons on my own because they were lessons I needed to be taught. I am not blaming, accusing, or hating on any person, group of people, or organization. This is just what I have learned and how I have grown from my experience.

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I have learned how to be strong. I have learned how to have the courage to keep going.

For the first three years of my college career I was in a whirlwind of activities. I was a part of several different school organizations, on leadership at my church, and also a leader in on-campus ministries. Not only did I participate on paper with titles, but all of my free time was consumed with leading others or being present every single time anyone asked me to be there. I would stay up all hours of the night, get up early, and sometimes miss my homework deadlines due to the amount of responsibility I had put upon myself.

By the middle of my Junior year I was flat out exhausted. I was tired. I was discouraged. I was burnt out. And it wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t being “filled” spiritually… I was in SO many Bible studies it is CRAZY. And I actually was learning from all of them. It was just that I felt the need for rest. Maybe instead of being at six (yes SIX) ministry related activities each WEEK, I needed to take time to rest in God’s presence. To remember why I had loved doing what I did.

And that is what I did. I had become too attached to the “Leader” label. I loved it. I loved hearing people say I was on leadership or was a team leader. I loved being super involved and having a voice. I loved fighting for my passion when others did not deem it important. But I loved it too much; I loved it more than the reason why I was doing these things. So with that, I pulled out all of my leadership and membership applications for my Senior year, ready and willing to see how God would use this last year of college for His glory.

This year has literally been the hardest year yet. Being a senior brings life change with harder classes (and then getting engaged…) and less time, and I felt it. So I tried to reach out. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to love, encourage, or meet with people, things never worked out. I began to feel the loneliness.

I began noticing how since I had no label, I was not important. I knew nothing of events to go to until after they were over. I could never meet with the people I needed/wanted to. My community was lost. All because I let go of a title. Something I believed would be freeing and joyful and encouraging turned in to loneliness, sadness, and hurt.

I felt feelings of betrayal and being forgotten. I had wrapped my community up into one place, and it was shattered when I could no longer give as much of me as I had before.

These depressing thoughts loomed over me daily.

I could not escape the trap of loneliness that I thought was so unjustly cast upon me.

And in someways I am still dealing with these emotions. While this year is coming to an end, I have realized the purpose.

The Lord does not call me to a life of comfort.

The Lord does not call me to a life of popularity.

The Lord does not call me to a life of half-heartedness.

The Lord calls me to live a life that invests. A life that loves deeply. A life that encourages even when I am not being encouraged. A life of rejection. A life of being an outcast. A life of joy that only comes from Him.

See, I lost that when I was a part of these leadership teams. I loved being a part of the team so much that i would become surface level in my friendships.

I realized that even though it seems like it is, the church is not supposed to be a fraternity.

That is what my community was. Surface level. Giving to me only if I gave all I had. I felt that I had to have a certain personality to fit in. I had to wear certain clothes or say certain phrases to be included in these ministries. And I did these things. I changed to become like others. And that was what had burnt me out. I was being a different person that I was called to be.

God used these experiences to show me how far I had gone into my safety bubble. My little Christian bubble was so thick, I could not see outside of it. I could not see when people were hurting. I had to live a year of my life outside of the bubble. Make friends with those different than me. To feel the rejection and bitterness. To feel alone.

I don’t understand everything (obviously…). But I do feel more open. I feel more compassion to those outside of the selective ministry we have created. God is bigger than just that small group. He loves everyone.

What am I doing to share that?

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Digging Deep

Making friends and starting relationships has always been a bit of a difficult task for  me. When I was younger I would make friends, but then move on to the next ones quickly, effortlessly and without a second thought.

Part of this I owe to the multiple locations that my family has lived since moving tends to make friendships harder to keep up with and to start in general. Now that I am older, I am about to move on to a new part of life. I will be graduating from college in a few months and I keep feeling that there is no point in creating new relationships since I will be leaving in a short time. Why cause unnecessary heartbreak or waste anyone’s time?  I feel this way because I tend to be such a tourist in life. I have always loved meeting new people and having new experiences for the excitement… but once I decided I wanted to know that person on a deeper level, that friendship became too difficult for either me or the other person. I would enjoy learning about the deepest fears or joys a person has, which in the world we live in is  scary for most people to acknowledge or feel comfortable doing.

This behavior makes loving others so difficult.

It becomes harder to love that person once you know them on a deeper level…. because you truly know that person. You come to know their quirks and habits, but also what dreams they have or who they find facinating. We as people -even if you aren’t a part of the Millennial generation- are finding these relationships take too much time, energy, and are ultimately not worth the time.

What if we spend months or years getting to know someone and then not like them? Or what if they find they don’t like me for who I am?

All of these are FEAR. Fear of commitment. Fear of intimacy. Fear of rejection. We are beginning to let our relationships be overrun by fear.

But perfect love casts out fear.

If you are familiar with the Bible (even if you aren’t), you have heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. One of the most common verse passages spoken at weddings, but one that shows what love is even in platonic friendships. It talks about what love is, and isn’t. The last few words say that “love always perseveres”. Even through the fear, the quirks, the joy. Love is supposed to keep going forever.

This is such a hard message to accept. This means I cannot be a tourist. It means that I must try to dig deep to help the roots of relationships grow. Even if I am in a place for a short amount of time, I need to invest in others and love on them.

Love does not care about the time had, but about the effort put into the relationships.

Give love. And give it deeply. Get to know those around you, even if you are just passing through.  I encourage you, no CHALLENGE you to make deeper friendships.

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