N O T | A F R A I D

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy sitting in Starbucks. Whether it is reading, meeting up with an old friend, blogging, or cranking out some school work, this girl is OBSESSED with the atmosphere.

Yes, I have tried other coffee shops. Occasionally I will entertain the thought of a local coffee shop and support the small business, and don’t get me wrong, supporting small businesses is what I’m all about…

But they are always crowded with the same hipster crowd and there are never enough tables next to outlets forcing me to leave after my laptop dies and interrupting a state of productivity that once I am distracted from I will most definitely not ever get back until I have driven around the whole city twelve times, got something to eat, and walked into three different stores for small purchases like cinnamon or a novel that most definitely could have waited until after my paper was written.

action-asphalt-auto-6147Or sometimes these local coffee shops are in locations that are not accessible to someone with social anxiety. I mean, I’m a country girl, parking on the street ain’t no small thing for me. So, I spend my allotted coffee shop hours hermiting in many different Starbucks locations.

No, the baristas do not know my name and order by heart, just want you to know that I don’t go that often. I just don’t want to spoil the experience. It’s like that time when I went to school five minutes from Chipotle and ate it so much I got tired of it. Yeah, that horrific season of my life ended, but c’mon I can’t live without my coffee!!

Today as I sit here and blabber on and on about my deep affection for the world’s largest coffee shop that many would not even classify as a coffee shop, I am so intrigued by the population dwelling here with me.

You have the creeper dude in the corner (yes I just made eye contact with him) that I have seen at other Starbucks locations too. There is the important business man speaking through his apple headphones on a business call, but because he is using his apple headphones and not Air Pods, I am guessing that his business is a startup.

There’s the diligent college students/hipsters/young adult population doing whatever 1527186071.grees_gollum_vodo_mensithey do to occupy their time, more businessmen meeting to discuss a proposal that will score a raise from the big man back at the office, and what I like to call “the passer-buyers”- they come in and get their coffee for some odd reason because the drive thru is not promising enough that they will get their precious coffee (I’m picturing Gollum from the Lord of The Rings here). 

I got up to use the latrine because that’s what coffee does to poor souls like mine and there was a really sweet lady waiting in front of me that complimented me on my hair. We got to talking and from just a small conversation, she learned that I am a traveler and have large ambitions. Little did she know that I haven’t talked about traveling in a really long time (maybe a few months or so).

This is because I have accepted a position, a big-girl job, and know that I will not be doing any long-term traveling for quite some time. But ya know what I noticed in that conversation? I was not afraid to talk to her about my past experiences and future hopes and goals of traveling anymore. I was ready to have the conversation, use my voice, and I allowed myself to dream again.

Recently I have been limiting my goals and dreams because of the fear of not having enough money, not being successful, not being used in a manor according to the skills I have gotten from my education, and the list goes on and on and on.

adventure-blur-close-up-346885I didn’t just put my desire to travel on hold, I completely removed the potential and vision from my life. I narrow-minded my thinking and basically put God in a box. But in this conversation with this lovely woman, I learned that this desire is still quite strong in me. And just like I believe I have the desire to be married and be a social worker because God has put that there, I also believe that He has put the desire in me to travel and see His glorious creation.

When God turns our path a different direction from what we expected (or even what we have planned), that doesn’t necessarily mean He is saying we can’t experience those certain things on that path, it just means God has a beautiful plan in allowing us to have those experiences.

And we can trust that even if we don’t get that desire, then it was not truly aligned with the Lord. The very fact we followed God down the less desirable path that wasn’t part of our plans, and from our viewpoint looks like we will never be able to receive the things we desire proves to God He can trust us.

Luke 16.10 states, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Can God trust you with the little right now?

My friend, if you are feeling the same way… maybe you are waiting of that special someone to come into your life, maybe you want to change careers, have a child, make a big move, write a book, etc. -whatever it is you feel like God is keeping from you, even though you believe God has placed that desire in you, God is preparing you for that very thing, or in some cases, He is preparing you for something better!

I’m going to use the example of a recent breakup. I remember crying and being so angry about it and my mom, good ole’ faithful Mommy (no Mom I am not saying you are old), sat on my bed and reminded me that it just means God has someone better for me. Yes, it is cheesy, but whether it’s Cheddar or Swiss, that cheesy quote is good! (or should I say Gouda!)

Sometimes God has more teaching and things for us to learn before we can be handed the great desire in us. Bu ya know what, that doesn’t mean we need to fear that we will never ever in a million years receive that desire. Friend, scripture tells us that there is no fear in love and that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4.18).

Jesus is not withholding this one thing from you because He is bitter, angry, or punishing you, for these things are contrary to who Jesus is, but He is doing it out of love! Embrace that! Soak it in! Live in that love! Why? Because that alone will remove your fears!

We can stand confidently in the will that God has for us, knowing that He will not leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13.5), that He has a plan to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29.11-13), and He does not withhold any good thing from us (Psalm 84.11).

Paul reminds us that Jesus wants us not let ourselves be troubled and anxious but to submit our requests to Him with thanksgiving (Philippians 4.6-7). We are called to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” (1 Corinthians 15.58).

Friends, we are more vulnerable to the enemy when we begin to think Jesus is withholding something from us because of punishment or anger. That allows the enemy to attempt to put a foothold in our life.

And ya know what, over and over and over in scripture we can see how God worked His promises (personal and communal) to come to be in many lives! Sarah wanted a child, but had to wait, the Israelites wanted out of the wilderness, Job wanted the pain and suffering to be removed from him, Jonah wanted out of the whale, Ruth wanted a husband, Paul wanted a thorn removed from his flesh.

And while these things did not happen right away, the Lord orchestrated events with perfection to give them what they desired. So whether you are waiting on the news that the cancer is gone, or that you are going to be a parent, you can trust God and not be afraid that He has forgotten about you.

This song came up on my Pandora playlist while I was sitting here in Starbucks and it was the most amazing reminder that God is in control and we do not need to be afraid anymore because HE has won the battle. He is leading and guiding us! Take some time to get with God today and thank Him for this current season of growing and waiting!

I’m Falling Into A Routine And I Think I Like It

So here we go again. It is exactly one week since I blogged last. I definitely promised myself that I would try to blog twice this week. I don’t even think I was that busy… just lazy. Watching Gilmore Girls seemed more intriguing than writing I guess. Yep, you’re right, that’s something I need to work on.

There are a few things I noticed this week actually that I think are worth blogging about. Have you ever gotten into a routine? Even if it’s on accident. But just because it’s on accident doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing.

As of now, I accidentally stumbled into this grocery shop, meal prep, blog and Netflix routine on Sundays. It’s not such a bad thing. But here is what I noticed about routines… sometimes we get so caught up in the routine that we don’t take the time to notice what’s actually going on in the world.

I was sitting I my favorite place, Starbucks, reading a book about human trafficking. The guy who took my order seemed to be in another world and the barista took a very long time to make my skinny vanilla iced latte. The girl in line behind me was wearing leggings and a long sleeved t-shirt with her hair tied back in a messy ponytail. She looked like she had just left the gym or something. Definitely a college student.

I sat down at one of the “comfy” chairs and pulled out my book. Two kids came in and sat at the two comfy chairs closest to the window to the parking lot. The younger one took his coat off and sat back in the seat while the other one stared out the window waiting for someone. Sooner than later a gentleman with long hair in a ponytail walked in and the kids ran to him. He went to the counter to order and while he was waiting he peeked behind the corner at me and the other chairs.

I think he saw the title of my book  (“Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking”) and sat far from adult-black-and-white-body-271418where the kids could see it. I put the book down in my lap just in case. Then, a middle-aged man came in very swiftly and went directly to the outlet next to me. He plugged in his phone and went to order. Ten minutes later he came back with a breakfast sandwich and a coffee and gobbled it up as quick as he could. He sat there scrolling through his phone for a moment and then hurried up and gathered his phone charger and left.

On my way out a gentleman held the door open for me. We awkwardly headed in the same direction in the parking lot. But what made it more awkward was that he stopped at a car with the driver door wide open and said “oh sorry, this is me.” I didn’t know if he had left it open on purpose or not, so I chuckled and said, “it happens,” and went straight to my car. Poor guy was probably embarrassed.

Do these people know though? Do they know of the injustice of trafficking taking place across the globe and even in our own backyard? Do they know Jesus?

I mean, this isn’t an “it happens” kind of thing. But I’m afraid to think that those who are caught up in their routines actually believe that. Or maybe they are in denial that this kind of thing happens here in their own backyard.

It’s so heartbreaking to see that people go about their daily lives and don’t know these things.

I guess I am feeling convicted in getting caught up in a routine because I don’t ever want to be unaware of injustices happening. I want to be aware so that I can pray and do my part as a social worker/follower of Christ in spreading the Good News that even though these injustices are happening, there is still a GOOD GOD that cares deeply for victims and you and me.

Maybe this means that instead of saying “it happens” I should mention something about an injustice happening. Like, “hey did you hear about the latest statistics on human trafficking in Ohio?” OR “do you know the facts about Refugees?”

These are things I am passionate about. These are things Jesus is passionate about.

I like the way the Psalmist puts it in Psalms 9.7, “But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice.” 

Jesus sits on the throne forever. He has establised it for justice. I also love the way the big man Himself puts it in Luke 4.18-19 when He is rejected at Nazareth.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Yes, yes, yes, and even more yes!!! Thank you Jesus for paving the way in being passionate about social injustices!

So with all of that being said, I think something I want to personally work on, and something I would challenge you to personally work on, is sharing the heart of Jesus about injustices with complete strangers.

Instead of just having a small talk conversation about buying goat cheese and mini muffins with the person behind you at the grocery store and then leaving in the abyss of people and going off into your own separate life, maybe talk about how some people don’t even have access to mini muffins, or even deeper, how some families cannot afford it and therefore they sell their children in various ways to make quick cash.

Jesus does not call us to be silent. Join me in this challenge, friend.

Love Sundays

Recently, as in like three weeks ago, I moved out of my parent’s house and into my first apartment (or duplex/triplex if you will). I have a housemate that I share the place with, but other than that, I am completely out on my own!

I moved about an hour south from my little hometown because I got a new job. Basically my dream job to be exact. The Lord was gracious to me to open the doors to working for an agency called Rahab Ministries that seeks to provide safe housing and pour truth and love into survivors of human trafficking.

Since the move I have been enduring the rigorous training hours until we jump into our shift rotations. I am quite excited. However, moving an hour away and on my own for the first time has been quite the transition.

I am learning things like cooking for one person, how to budget to make sure I can still get my weekly Starbucks, and taking care of my home (like taking out the trash and cleaning the toilet). I love it.

Sundays have been my dedicated grocery shopping and usually whipping something up in the kitchen day with a little side of herbal tea and good old Netflix.

Unfortunately though, any grocery store you go to on a Sunday is surely going to be packed and loaded with everyone and their mother. Like today, I could barely find a single parking spot at Aldi!

And let me tell ya, sometimes it’s hard to have patience for the people who just stand directly in front of the freezer doors deciding what kind of veggie burger they want for the week. Okay, so that was me today. BUT it was my first time buying it! And I left my cart out of the way. I was quick.

There were a few other people who staggered and I had to sneak past them (yep, the midwesterner ‘sneak’) to get some frozen brussel sprouts, but hey what are ya gonna do. And sometimes, Aldi doesn’t always have exactly what I need. So I am stuck going to Walmart or Giant Eagle to get fresh basil or to buy individual lemons, instead of a three pound pack.

Today was one of those days. Aldi was so crowded I thought I was going to lose my mind. I also needed a cookie sheet and of course they had everything but that. So I proceeded to head to good old Wally World to finish my shopping. I fear this place because there is always the chance of me buying something I don’t need. Today it was a new wooden spoon. But hey, it was only $2.

I guess it was my lucky trip to Walmart because despite my inner groanings at the people who wouldn’t get out of way may so I could get a package of basil leaves and rude remarks inside my car at the people who wouldn’t drive on their side of the lane, I didn’t have to wait in line at the self-checkout.

I definitely thought I was in a grumpy mood. However, I was able to contain that grumpiness to myself. At this particular Walmart they scan your receipt and then an item in your bag to make sure you truly paid for them. I walked up to the guy who had the scan gun in his hand and showed him my receipt.

I simply said, “do you need to see this or scan it?” and he just kind of looked at me like I was kind of crazy. Then he said, “wow, I’m sorry I didn’t know how to take that because it was the most polite thing I heard all day.”

First, I guess I can see how asking people to double-check their receipts to make sure they didn’t steal anything can kind of step on your pride a bit. Second, I didn’t even realize that I was being that polite, which is super sad if the man was THAT surprised.

It reminded me that people are always watching us. Sure, that guy had no idea of knowing that I am a Christian, but still, people are watching our actions and deciding if we are a good egg, bad egg, or somewhere in between with the first attitude we present them with.

It is so important for us to be on our guard and paying attention to how we carry ourselves. As followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to love everyone who is put in our path, whether they stole our parking spot or served our burger with tomato when we asked them not to.

This is something I struggle with a lot. Somehow I have this preconceived notion that I deserve everything to be perfect and my way. It’s like the whole “customer is always right” mentality applies to every aspect of my life.

I hope that even in the second of my grumpiness where I mustered up a polite question I was able to make that Walmart worker’s day.

Let’s all try to work a little harder at paying attention to how we react to people. If we ever want to draw unbelievers to the Kingdom of God, paying attention to our attitudes and actions is one of the most important things we can do.