Hunting for God’s will

{November 6}

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? I do. They are TOMS brand Cordones. My mom got them for me for Christmas my junior year of high school (that was four years ago). They were not cheap shoes, even with the coupon I had for Journeys (one of the most popular shoe stores in the mall). This was my first pair of shoes that I had ever gotten from Journeys. This is the shoe store that all the cool kids shopped at. It’s the shoe store that when I was a kid I thought I would never be able to afford a pair of shoes from.

Well, my favorite pair of shoes have just about had it. There are holes everywhere, the inside soles have just about ripped out, and I cannot wear them on just any occasion anymore.. I have to wear them when the ground is not even the slightest bit damp or else I will have wet, cold (probably smelly) feet. That being said, last weekend I set off on an adventure to buy a new pair of shoes.

Now, I was not looking for anything too significantly expensive. I had a specific pair of shoes in mind, however. There is a pair of black, ankle high, slide on booties. I thought, those would be perfect for the upcoming fall/winter season. Plus, they would look adorable with my flannels and cuffed jeans. So, I began the search that ended up being the search for the impossible.

First, let me tell you how rainy it was. That automatically put a “damper” on my day (no pun intended). I thought that maybe I would get lucky and find a nice pair at a hand-me-down store before I went to a more expensive store. So, I started at Goodwill. Apparently, I did not read the sign, because when I walked in I looked about as lost and confused as a polar bear in the middle of Hawaii. It was a distribution center and I did not know how to “work it” or shop there. I did a quick loop and was on my way.

Next, naturally, I went to Plato’s closet. Surely, they would have SOMETHING. Well, I did end up getting a new pair of New Balance tennis shoes because my Nikes have also just about had it (if you are guessing that I probably hate shoe shopping you have guess right). I took that visit as a win.

There was a Burlington Coat Factory right around the corner, so I thought maybe I would stop in there and see what they had. As I was browsing the shoe selection, I noticed how anxious and anticipating I was. Everyone knows that you have to start at the beginning of your shoe-size section, look through every shelf and shoe, and then work your way down the aisle. I was just so excited that this might be the place that has the shoes I want. I wanted to peek ahead, but I didn’t want to spoil it for myself, and I didn’t want to miss anything.

Eventually, I got to the boots section. And low and behold, they had my shoe. But there was one problem, they were in the wrong color. These shoes were brown. I wanted black (because everyone knows black matches everything). So, it was a no deal there. There was a TJ Max next door and I thought, well, while I’m here I might as well look. Now, this store also had my shoes. BUT they were like $150. That was certainly well over my budget. So, again, another no deal.

I proceeded to go to Target, where I had done previous online research and knew they had a pair similar to what I was looking for. But once I tried them on, I was not impressed. This simply would not do. The price was right, but my overall satisfaction in the shoe was not. They were not what I was expecting. So, I continued on my hunt for the pair of impossible shoes.

I went to Kohl’s, which usually has every shoe known to man, but apparently, not mine. Then I went to the mall, where I looked at Sears, Payless, Journey’s (where the store clerk commented on my now drenched TOMs), Bath & Body Works (obviously I did not find shoes here, but I did get a new wallflower for my dorm room and a car air freshener that smells like flannel), Macy’s, and then accidentally stopped a skater store and almost bought a $15 hat and a long board for $150, but realized that if I did that, I would most definitely not get my shoes. I left the mall disappointed.

Then, I drove to 5-Below, looking for some type of hope that maybe they would have a cheap pair of rain boots that I would make-do with. But, again, I left in disappointment. That’s it, I thought. I had decided to go to a somewhat expensive shoe store. I looked at Famous Footwear before heading into DSW Shoes. They had nothing, so I proceeded to the store that I knew I would gasp at the prices, but I thought maybe, just maybe, if I found the right shoe I would be willing to put the money into them.

In DSW Shoes I was getting to the end of the aisle and getting worried, but then I saw them. In the flesh. The exact pair of shoes I wanted. Another lady was looking at them. Immediately, I marched right up to the shelf, pulled the size 8 off, found a seat and tried them on. I stood up, took one look in the mirror, and I gasped.

I did not like these shoes one bit. They did not compliment my legs like I wanted them too. They made me look shorter than I already am, even with a cuffed jean. They were what I was looking for, but they were $59.00 (on sale). I was not in love. So once again. I walked away empty handed.

Sad, full of disappointment, near starvation, and ready to give up, I thought I would give old faithful Walmart a try. But, that was a quick in and out. Now, my focus had changed from “get these exact boots” to “get the shoes that are going to keep your feet warm and dry”. I did not like Walmart’s selection of rainboots. So, just as I was about to give up and head back to campus, I thought it might be worth the slightly distant drive to the nearest Shoe Dept. I walked in, praying to our God who created all things, that they would have shoes I would like. Sure enough, they had a decent pair of paisley black and white rainboots. I was so content, that I even bought two pairs of socks to wear with them. Now, I could sleep at night.

SO, you’re probably like okay, is this post just a rant about your horrible shoe shopping experience on a rainy Saturday? The answer is no.

You see, shoe shopping is kind of like trying to figure out God’s will for our lives… except one is a little more important.

We might go out on this hunt, knowing exactly what we want and being willing to go to the ends of the Earth  (or for me Canton, OH), to get what we are looking for. We tell God that we are open to anything and willing to abide by whatever He says, but in the back of our minds we know exactly what we want to happen.

Sometimes, we want to peak ahead and anticipate anxiously what might be up there, but then we are scared that we might miss what is in the moment, or directly in front of us. We might find what we are looking for, but not be satisfied. We might think we know what we want and need, but then when we finally get a glimpse of it and see what it might be like, we are instantly dissatisfied.

I thought these booties would be perfect. I thought they would do their job and would mesh well with my style, but when I saw them, I was not happy. I was disappointed that I let myself get so carried away trying to find these “perfect” shoes that I didn’t even like once I saw them. But then, eventually, I found an alternative. I found a pair of boots that did the job. They were also satisfying when I wore them through puddles and a rain storm.

Sometimes, we think we know what we need/want in our lives. But then we might get a taste of that and not like it. If we are so open to go to the ends of the Earth to seek God’s will for our lives, then we need to be accepting of what the will might be, no matter what. We need to just give up control and trust the God of the universe with the outcome.

Because He knows just what we need. He knows how to fulfill those needs. God is all knowing and all powerful, so why not put our trust in Him?

Saturate Me

// October 16 //

I know I have missed the past four days or so of blogging, but the truth is, I really have not made time for it. I let other things become the priority instead. But I guess we all slip into that at some point in our lives don’t we?

It’s a human thing really.

Today, I turn 21. It is my 21st year of being on this Earth that God created. 21 years of breathing, eating, sleeping… It feels like just yesterday my best friend and I were driving after a shopping trip saying how crazy it was that we just turned 16 and could drive ourselves.

The thing is, I never really looked at my birthday as a start of a new year or anything like that. Not like we do New Year’s. I’ve never really thought to myself that I had a goal before I turn the next set of digits and get another year older. But this year I was challenged to look at things differently.

This thought may have come up just because I am reflecting on who I was a year ago. I look back and see how much I have grown- both spiritually and personally. I look at the picture of who celebrated my birthday with me then and compare it to the friends I have plans with tonight- they are all the same. There is something about consistency in relationships despite personal change that really speaks to my heart.

It reminds me of our individual relationships with God.

Even though I am someone completely different then who I was exactly one year ago today, my friends are still the same people and those relationships have deepened.

In scripture we are constantly reminded that Christ is making us like Him in His image. He is working us to complete perfection for when we are to enter the gates of Heaven and see Him face-to-face. But despite our growth and changes, in an constantly changing world, God is always there with us. In fact, we even grow closer to Him. It is such a breath of relief to know that.

I have never set a goal for myself between birthdays, but this year I am going to. It’s not a goal like lose amount of pounds, less Netflix and chill, or stop spending so much money on unnecessary Starbucks. It’s a goal that actually has no end. It’s a lifelong goal, but I am setting in expectation that I will see growth in one year from today.

This next year, I want to grow spiritually. I want to be taken into the throne room with my Jesus.  I want to see HIS face and hear HIS voice. I want to be covered in HIS blood everyday of this next year and to recognize HIM. I want to be a person of peace that has faith in the LORD. I want to be saturated in the Spirit.

It’s not about being a certain amount of spiritual. It’s about becoming closer to Jesus, my Beloved and my Friend. I want to be so close to Him that I don’t miss a thing He has for me. I want to be so immersed in all that He has for me that I stop worrying about my future plans and finances, but give up control and trust in Him.

I want to know Him as the Good Shepherd, the Lord of Hosts, and my Beloved.

Isn’t this something you desire to? Don’t you want to be intimate with the one that created you? Think about it, we have the opportunity to be in unity and relationship with the creator of the entire universe- doesn’t that make you want to just seek HIM?

He is the only King that literally left His throne to die for us. He loved us that much. I want to love like Jesus. I want to be saturated in that love more and more each day.

Psalm 73.23-24 reminds us of Jesus constantly being with us:

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.

Friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, people on the other side of the world that may be reading this, join me in seeking our Father in Heaven with all that is within me. Let’s be saturated in the Lord together.

Step Out 

// October  11 & 12 // 

I am aware that I completely missed October 11. To be honest, I did not know what to write about. I sat in the prayer room digging through my thick pool of topics, but nothing intrigued me. In fact, I actually ended up falling asleep. I am going to attempt to incooperate both days into one. 

First, I woke up Wednesday morning at 5:30 am to be at work on time. You can bet your bottom dollar that the first thought that went through my mind was “Lord, please let them send me home early”. Well, God answered that prayer and I got to leave two hours early! It was such a blessing and gave me time to rest from being sick. 

Today, I accomplished a personal goal. A few months ago some friends and I that were brought together with the likemindedness of missions gathered around two small tables at the smallest Starbucks I have ever been to to talk about things we could do to spread missions on our college campus. I had this idea of asking students that had been on a missions trip or had cross-cultural engagement experience to speak to other students and share. 

I didn’t think it would ever happen because our missions club fell through for the semester. But God gave me another outlet- through the cross-cultural engagement office that I work at. When I told my boss, he was all for it. 

I began contacting people, applying for it to be a spiritual-formation opportunity (so students grt credit for being there), and just asking the Lord to guide the evening. Well, tonight it finally happened. 

Now, let me tell you, usually when I am trying to lead something or put on an event of some sort, I get aggravated easily when things don’t go as planned or when people don’t respond. But this time was different. I felt so calm about peaceful about it. When a student told me last minute they couldn’t speak, I quickly prayed and God provided another. 

I wasn’t nervous speaking in front of a small group of people, but I actually enjoyed it. The best part, however, was hearing the students speak about their experiences and how God shaped their hearts and lives from the trips they took. It truly was an incredible experience and I am honored that the Lord allowed me to help plan it. 

That being said, I want to encourage you to step out. Take that leap of faith. Trust the Lord with your dreams. He is BIGGER and MIGHTIER than all of your dreams. Know that if you submit to Him, He will bless you greatly and make your dreams come true. 

When we lean on the Lord and show Him our dependence for Him, He opens doors and uses us in ways we never imagined possible. Three years ago if you asked me, I would never have thought I’d even be capable or adequate to put on an event like this. The Lord can take those insecurities and reign in victory over them! 

Step out my friends! Step out! Just like Peter, we too can walk on water when we fix our eyes on JESUS. We just need to step out! 

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14.19

YOLO ✌🏻

// October 10 // 

So I know this one is a day late and I’m probably a dollar short, but hey, we all have those days right? 

Something that spoke to me yesterday is this concept of YOLO- You Only Live Once. I’ve never really liked this phrase because it connotates that you might as well do the thing because you won’t get to again. But I want to challenge that. 

I was at a Bible study yesterday morning and the speaker began talking about what you think JESUS will ask you when you finally get to the gates of Heaven… many of us think He will ask us about our service, prayer life, and devotion to Him, but what if He asks about something else? Like come on, God has placed so much good on this earth, what if He wants to talk about that? 

Like, I really enjoy coffee, books, and being outdoors, since JESUS is the man that wants to invest in every. Single. Person. I feel like He would want to know what we enjoy and maybe ask us about it… man, imagine getting to Heaven and Him saying “did you enjoy the coffee? The thousands upon millions of books? The hammocking and hiking?” 

God has given us these things to enjoy. So, back to YOLO… 

If you only live once, don’t you want to make the most of it? Like, enjoying these good things God has given us? 

There’s a song that says “you only live once so you better live it well”. I don’t want to walk through life stressed, defeated, and bored. I want to step out and be adventurous, trusting that my God, my ABBA Father in Heaven, is leading the way day by day. 

That being said, I’m going to enjoy my coffees, books, and outdoors. I’m going to YOLO right on through life, but I’m going to YOLO for Christ. 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. | Psalm 90:12

Be Grateful

// October 9 //

Today I do not have much to say other than to be grateful. Sometimes we get so caught up in the things we have to do and the things that are readily available to us and we take advantage of it.

I eat in a school dining hall everyday, three times a day. Sometimes I complain that there is never anything to eat. What I really mean is that there is never anything I WANT in that moment to eat. We tend to complain about these little things a lot.

What I fail to realize is that I should just be grateful to have a school dining hall where my parent’s helped me pay for the meal plan.

Why?

Because there are some people that don’t even have a snack let alone three meals a day.

Take a moment to just give thanksgiving to God for the things you have readily available to you daily.

1 Thessalonians 5.8 “In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Be a Winner 

// October 8 // 

Today I feel defeated. 

I have a stack of school work so high it’s taller than me (but I guess that doesn’t say much because I’m so short). I am scheduled to work everyday this week with both of my jobs combined. I feel drained and empty of all my energy. 

I went to bed late and had plans to go to church with two of my favorite friends. I did not want to go and was secretly hoping my friend would sleep through his alarm (he’s known for that). But he didn’t, and I had already committed to driving. 

The service went later than I expected and we got back to campus later than I thought we would. I had about 30 minutes to grab lunch before I had to head off to my next event. I knew that I would be out late (Pssh, is 8:30PM late?). I was dreading the night because I have to work at 7:30 in the morning and have so much school work to do. 

I feel defeated because I have so much to do, but not enough time or energy. Did I bite off more than I can chew? Did I get myself involved in more than I can handle? 

I was reminded, however, in the midst of my chaotic day that God views me much differently. He sees me as a winner. Even though my human self may fail by getting myself caught up in more than I should, He sees me as precious in His eyes. 

He sees you the same. Even though you may feel weighted down and burned out, the Lord still sees you as victorious. 

And how can we say that we are anything BUT victorious when JESUS is the great King that reigns in victory? My prayer tonight is that our Father in Heaven would touch each of us with grace and restore our energies. Also, I pray that He would remind us and still in our hearts that we are winners in His eyes. 

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Self Care

// October 7 //

This morning I woke up dreading the day. Another day of working until mid-afternoon and then an evening of school work. This routine gets old to me. I know that I signed up for these things but sometimes I just need to breathe and take a minute to recollect.

After asking God in many prayers to be sent home early from work, the Lord provided and my manager told me to leave and hour early. When she told me I nearly cried I was in such disbelief, it was incredible (God can truly work miracles).

I got back to my dorm room and was planning on cranking out some large assignments that are due this coming week and the next. However, after eating my leftover pizza and pumpkin bread I realized I was so tired that there would be no way I would get ANY work done. So, I did what any other college student would do, I crawled into bed for a mid-afternoon nap.

After laying there for a while, I got bored (I know, I’m crazy). I remembered it was such a beautiful day out as I drove home from work, so I had this spontaneous idea of hammocking. Not able to bare the thought of just laying in a hammock doing nothing, I checked out some of the reading assignments I have to do for this week and grabbed three different books. For some reason, I thought I was going to be super productive on this hammocking adventure.

I got my hammock all set up and finally got comfortable in a position to read and take notes on what I was reading. I read the first assignment and noticed myself drifting in and out of sleep. I thought, maybe I could just close my eyes for a second and be alright to continue working. BUT, I ended up just throwing the rest of my books and notebook to the ground and taking a nap.

When I woke up I could hardly remember where I was. But when I figured it out, I felt so soothed and “recollected”. It was incredible. Then, I packed everything up, went to dinner, got a coffee, and cranked out some school work for the rest of the night. It was great.

You see, one thing I fail to do is practice self-care. I fail to allow my body to rest, as well as my mind and spiritual side. I am a high energy, go-go-go kind of person (just ask my mom and roommate, they’ll tell ya!). But sometimes, I have to take a deep breath and realize that if I want to do even the slightest of a good job, or be helpful, then I need to take care of myself. Hammocking today was definitely a good decision to help me do that.

Do you have ways that you practice good self-care?

A Biblical way of looking at this is the Sabbath Day. We are called to take a whole day where we basically rest in the Lord. We can be reminded of this in Exodus 20.8-10, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.”